For The Trees
Who is our economy FOR, anyway?
About the Authors:
BEST OF STF:
Articles not at STF:
The ATLA Speech on building a progressive infrastructure
Lowering the Bar
The Attack on Trial Lawyers and Tort Law
Who's Behind the Attack on Liberal Professors
On the Right and their communications infrastructure:
Why Republicans Win
Win or Lose
The "Conventional Wisdom" Machine
Some History of the Conservative Movement
HOW TO FIGHT BACK
An Amplifier Of Our Own
Don't Blame the Democrats
How They Do It 1 2 3 4
You're Gonna Get Drafted
Scalia and Self-Government
Who is Our Economy For?
Voting Machine Story Link Collection
What's Wrong with this Picture? (Voting Machines)
Like Meat in the Supermarket
Thin Line 1 2 3
Fixing Social Security
Seeing the Forest I, II, III
"Incredibly Positive News"
The Breadth of It
The Republican Crony Club
Ralph Nader is a Scab
John's Best Of:
Kerry Smear Page
9/11 Commission Report Damages Bush -- if you read it
Florida Goon Squad Intimidated the Supreme Court
The Use and Abuse of George Orwell
Zizka's Archives (John's previous identity)
Information Clearing House
What REALLY Happened
Links to Other Weblogs:
Another Discouraging Poll
Many Still Link Iraq With WMD,
Half believe Iraq was either closely linked with al-Qaida before the war (35 percent) or was directly involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on this country (15 percent).What is there to say?
What The Republicans Are Up To
David Horowitz is one of the main strategists behind Karl Rove's success. He wrote a book, The Art of Political War, that is used as a key strategy document by Republicans across-the-board, state and local. The following is from an article about Karl Rove by Sander Hicks: (alternate source)
"Horowitz wrote The Art of Political War to call on Republicans to create a politics that appealed to the masses: the working families, gays, unions, etc. Karl Rove praised The Art of Political War as indispensible and provided the cover blurb. ("A perfect pocket guide to winning on the political battlefield"-Karl Rove") It is recognized today as the genesis of "Compassionate Conservatism" and is used nation-wide by the Republican Party Chairs in 32 states."From The War at Home:
"During the 2000 presidential and congressional elections, every Republican member of the U.S. Congress received a free pamphlet, compliments of Congressman Tom DeLay, the party's majority whip. Written by conservative activist David Horowitz, the pamphlet was called The Art of Political War: How Republicans Can Fight to Win. It came with an endorsement on the cover by Karl Rove, the senior advisor to then-candidate George W. Bush. According to Rove, The Art of Political War was "a perfect pocket guide to winning on the political battlefield from an experienced warrior." In addition to DeLay's gift to members of Congress, the Heritage Foundation, one of the leading conservative think tanks in Washington, found Horowitz's advice so impressive that it sent another 2,300 copies to conservative activists around the country." [emphasis added]Take a look at what Horowitz says, writing about the "romance of the underdog." From this review of Horowitz' work (go to page 2):
"Horowitz argues that it's necessary "to manipulate the public's feelings in support of your agenda, while mobilizing passions of fear and resentment against your opponent." This is best accomplished, he says, by capitalizing on the "romance of the underdog" and painting oneself as a victim."Keeping in mind that Horowitz' book is considered the "Bible" of Republican strategists, take a look at this news story today:
"Republicans said they would seek to turn any disruptions to their advantage, by portraying protests by even independent activists as Democratic-sanctioned displays of disrespect for a sitting president."In case you hadn't already noticed, portraying themselves as victims is an important component of the Right's strategy.
Again, with current news in mind, let's take a look at some of the other components of Horowitz' recommended strategies. (While reading, understand that Horowitz often says that the things he is writing about are things that "Liberals" do as tactics, which is itself just another tactic of persuasion, to make his right-wing readers feel like victims who must adopt these tactics.) In April, 2000, Horowitz wrote Full-Contact Politics. In it, Horowitz writes,
"3. In political wars, the aggressor usually prevails. [. . .] By striking first, you can define the issues and define your adversary. Definition is the decisive move in all political wars. Other things being equal, whoever winds up on the defensive will generally be on the losing side.Please take a moment to read David Horowitz: Beating the Dems by Going on the Attack. I'll be writing about this later. There will be a test. I think it is especially useful to read the full text of each of the articles cited, to gain understanding of what the Republicans are doing in this election.
** Extra Credit: Read what Media Transparency has to say about Horowitz, with a focus on his use of racism.
(Update - Edited, and a quote added, shortly after posting)
MediaMatters has posted an analysis of the current brouhaha about "Unfit for Command", comparing it to an earlier book on Bush.
In 1999, St. Martin's Press published a book by author James H. Hatfield called "Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President." The book, which contained allegations that then-candidate George W. Bush had used cocaine in the 1970s, received barely any media coverage -- until Hatfield's own past came into question, at which point Hatfield, not the allegations in his book, became the media's primary discussion topic during the story's short life.
I heard Hatfield interviewed by Amy Goodman on the Pacifica network radio show 'Democracy Now' about six months ago. A transcript is posted here. It was a rather haunting interview, as it was aired after his suicide. He must have been an unstable character, having been convicted of trying to hire someone to kill his boss, and then killing himself after this fact came out in the press. Of course this doesn't reflect on the merit of his allegations about Bush. Personally I think if Bush has committed drug felonies, it needs to be exposed, to expose his hypocrisy, if nothing else.
But comparison of "Unfit for Command and "Fortunate Son..." reveals more illuminating similarities than differences. I was shocked to learn that Hatfield was in some sense seduced into this story. He was contacted by others. Sources were open with him who were not open with others. And why is that? Hmmh. It seemed that none other than Karl Rove had picked the messenger, in this case. It appeared that Rove understood that the message would be discredited by the flaws of the messenger. Who better to break it to the American public that brutish Bush was a former cokehead, than someone whose own flaws would make any tale they told impossible to believe.
In other words: "Fortunate Son..." was plotted by the Republicans, in order to insulate Bush from his own sleazy past. "Unfit for Command" was also plotted by Republicans, in order to turn Kerry's asset, his war-hero sheen, into sleaze.
What have the Democrats plotted?
Such cynicism and manipulation the Kerry campaign must prove itself equal to. At this point they are stuck in a sort of dog paddle of name calling and defensiveness. What is the strategy? It is not enough to poke holes in the other guys argument. That just won't cut it in this election, I fear. Kerry has to demolish Bush, period. Morally, politically, intellectually, economically.
Right now the Kerry campaign is trying to stay positive. They are not flinging political slime. That means no political slime will stick to Bush. Is that going to defeat Bush?
Look at the 'Swift Veterans' campaign, especially at its network of advisors. This was very well planned. They've trotted out spurious charges, in a format that makes them hard to dismiss. When one person makes a statement which is false, or that contradicts his previous statements, it is easy to dismiss that person. When you get a herd, such as that pack of 'Swift Veterans', one's first impulse is to say, Well they couldn't all be lying. That first impulse might be enough to deliver a close election. Of course what really happened is the Texas political sleaze machine worked those Veterans very carefully. They were 'handled' by the masters, who gave the vets a chance to revenge themselves on the anti-war movement.
This incident has really shown what kind of machine Kerry is dealing with. I hope plans for a counter-attack are in the works. This kind of insinuation, that is staged more than argued, that corrupts the climate of opinion despite the fact that the claims are false, may require a response which is intended to slime -- to morally obliterate -- Bush.
Dave has asked me to blog about the Republican Convention. Of course I'm not going to be at the convention, will probably not be allowed anywhere near the convention, so I'll only be able to give you my impressions of the effect the convention is having on the city. Well, that's going to be a story in itself. It already is. Manhattan feels like it is under threat, and with good reason. We're treated to news reports of the police preparing to deal with protesters. They're holding drills. Like they need to. They handle dozens of major events every year, so why all this special preparation? Intimidation, of course.
There's just no telling what conditions are going to be like in the city during the convention. They announce something, the public screams, they change it. One choice bit -- there's a huge apartment complex near Pen Station (the Garden is on top of the station -- what a nutty place to put the convention considering the security requirements) called Pen South. It's not a housing project but the city subsidizes it somewhat so a lot of retired people live there -- but so does every other kind of middle-class family; it's not a retirement community. They're not really that close to the station. I never considered it even the same neighborhood. They were given official notice that they should stock up on food and plan to stay inside during the convention! Naturally, being New Yorkers, they immediately took this to the media and are not planning to comply with the instructions. Especially, it turns out, the elderly. There are going to be plenty of those peace sign, cane waving, little old ladies picketing the convention.
It sounds like the plan is to cut the city in half, so a lot will depend on where the Dead Zone is and whether I can get transportation, since the subways they're planning to cancel happen to be all the west side lines because they run under the Garden -- and the busses on the west side are going to be routed to Hell and back. As though that isn't enough, I may well be trapped right here, in my apartment or at least on my block, assuming I'll even be able to walk around the block! I've been planning to lay in food, just in case. The demonstrators are being routed -- right here, on the West Side Highway, which of course means out front. If so, there should be an army of police out front, hostile and demanding ID. I go through a minor version of this every year with the Gay Pride March, so I have some idea what to expect, and just stay inside all day, cursing. This should be like that, only 10 times worse. Of course, that would be a blog in itself. I'll have a ring-side seat.
Assuming the police show up instead of carrying out their proposed sick-out, they're going to be in a terrible mood. They've been following Bloomberg around threatening him because they haven't had a contract for two years. Neither has the fire dept. I expect lots of cracked heads from the demonstrations. I hope not, but that's the mood. A lot of that will probably be up at Central Park, where they're sure to go because they've been refused a permit. Frankly, I'd rather just get out of here while the damned convention is on. The question of where the protestors will go is in court right now. We'll probably know on Monday whether they'll be allowed to use Central Park or end up in front of my place.
I am sure that no groups of demonstrators anyone knows about are planning violence. Everyone is expecting violence. Anyone planning to be here should get a copy of "The People's Guide to the Republican National Convention." Republican, Democrat, demonstrator, or innocent bystander. I've been in situations like this before. How are you going to prove you're a good Republican if the cops pick you up? What if they decide your Convention ID is forged? The Guide is in subway map format, includes a map, and is full of good information and advice. It will easily fit into a purse or pocket. Even if you live here, get a copy. I don't know how to get legal help in a hurry, or where all the free bathrooms are, for example, so I'll keep my copy with me. If you're even thinking of coming here, check out their website. It contains all the information that's in the Guide. Even if you've read through the website, you'll still want to have the Guide with you.
The Guide includes a calendar of events. These started today. An amazing number of events are planned, now through the convention, including live music, films, marches, walks, vigils, ferry rides, rallys, many events in parks, many in churches. Plenty of street theater, too. Major subversive events like the planned Reading of the Constitution and the reading of the names of those killed in Iraq. More about events coming up later.
One Volunteered, The Other Smears Him For It
The bigger picture. One went, the other hid.
"The sad thing, of course, is that Kerry will never have his reputation back and at a time when Vietnam veterans were finally beginning to receive their due for their service a bunch of self righteous, petty old men stepped in to cast doubts on them all over again. Nice bunch of patriots selling out their brothers toward the end of their lives to protest a man they claim sold them out when they were young. By any means necessary I guess. "Yep.
He also said,
"However, there is an interesting example of how a smear can be fought to a standstill (although with your reputation forever shredded.) That is the method by which Clinton fought the Monica frenzy. He turned it into an attack on Ken Starr. And it largely worked because people instinctively recoil at the idea of nosy creeps like Starr rifling through other people's underwear drawers.But don't forget, it worked against McCain.
Finally, Digby says,
"I am e-mailing the following quote to members of the press today. And, I think that all talking heads should have it on a 3x5 card and repeat it everytime they face a swift boat liar or one of their mouthpieces. Everybody needs to be reminded of what the real contrast is here. It's not between Kerry the hero vs Kerry the alleged liar, but rather, the combat volunteer vs the chickenhawk smear artist.Read that quote again. Bush, the war supporter. But for him, serving wasn't even one of the options to be considered. Only ways to get out of it. Sounds like the story of his life, doesn't it? How to get around the hard parts.“I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes." George W. Bush on why he joined the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, 1990.
Go Read About Big Goverment
Go read about Big Government over at The Stakeholder: The Stakeholder :: A Word on "Big Government".
But of course this pales in comparison to the now-famous memo regarding interrogations claiming the right of the President to "set aside" both domestic law and international treaties. In this memo, the administration's lawyers attempted to essentially sever the bonds holding the executive to the will of the people, arguing that the executive transcended the citizenry. Sovereignty no longer rested with the people, but with the President, who now was uninhibited from expressing his will not only over Americans, but over the entire human race. Perhaps the words "Big Government" are not strong enough.Stakeholder, by the way, is the blog of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Informed and Not Informed
(Trying again, after Blogger ate the great post I had been working on...)
In case you were wondering...
Poll: Many Still Link Iraq With WMD:
"More than half of Americans, percent, continue to believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or a program to develop them before the United States invaded last year, according to a poll released Friday."I keep saying, you and I are different. We read blogs, we follow the news, WE ARE INFORMED. We listen to all the evidence and then weigh it, deciding what we think about the sources, and finally all of that leads us to reason out a conclusion. But this is not how most people learn about what is happening in politics.
This is why things like Bush's Swift Boat smear are so effective. We look at it and think, "How could anyone fall for something like that?" MOST people get their information through channels that are very different from what you and I would think. The e-mail chain letter, the "joke" with the premise that Kerry is a flip-flopper, a comment by the DJ on the FM station...
You and I (like to think that we) get information from many sources, and balance what we learn with what we know about the sources, and weigh the evidence, and we think that logical arguments lead to conclusions. But that is not how it works for most people. The Right understands this, so they study the process. They learn how people DO receive and process information, and use that. The Right, like the marketing industry, has been studying this for 30 years. Books like 'The Tipping Point' or 'Why We Buy' or 'Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion' are excellent sources of info on persuasion.
The instant I saw the Swift Boat smear ad I knew it was going to be effective. But I was looking at where and how it was being spread. I think maybe the people at the top of the Kerry campaign were looking at what they saw in the mainstream papers, and the mainline pundits, and thought that having McCain denounce the ad would be enough. I think they were seeing the world through their logical, reasoning eyes.
Do you remember some time ago I wrote about a flurry of letters-to-the-editor and talk-show call-ins claiming that Kerry pushes in front of people in lines and says, "Don't you know who I am?" One I heard was on a financial call-in program and out-of-the-blue a caller says she was in a drugstore and Kerry pushed his way into the front of the line... (The second time I wrote about it was here. Can't find the first.)
Here is another example, from an e-mail a friend innocently forwarded to several people, including me, the other day:
Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?Innocuous? You tell me.
Violence at Republican Convention
I'm 100% sure that provocateurs and police will coordinate their activities for maximum prime-time coverage, and that the leaders of previously-unknown violent anarchist groups will mysteriously disappear at the key moment, leaving their hapless followers to battle the police and eventually do hard time.
A significant proportion of the violence during the 60's was found afterwards to have been instigated by undercover agents posing as protestors. If it is not supported by the great majority of the population, "direct action" has a polarizing effect which helps the right wing. The right-wingers will produce their own anarchists if none show up naturally.
Provocateurs played a role at the 2000 Republican Convention in Philadelphia, where there were many arrests -- arrests which were aggressively prosecuted.
Police also have the ability to turn a peaceful demonstration into a violent one by crowding in on demonstrators who have no way of escape. Some of the demonstrators will resist, allowing the police to say that the demonstrators started the whole thing.
Anarchists are by definition not Kerry supporters; as far as that goes, they really can't be Nader supporters either. This is an example of a case when the Kerry team should have a media response ready to go instantly at any hint of trouble, and it wouldn't do any harm to put out a preemptive statement disavowing disruptive activities. We can be sure that the Bush team has something ready to go blaming everything on an "anti-war left" defined nebulously enough to seem to include Kerry supporters.
Sample anarchist story
Philadelphia Convention I
Philadelphia Convention II
(Based on a comment I left at The Talking Dog. I will now return to my retirement).
Overtime Pay Goes Away
New Overtime Rules to Take Effect Monday:
"The Labor Department says as many as 107,000 workers could lose overtime eligibility under its new rules, but about 1.3 million will gain it. The Economic Policy Institute, a liberal Washington think tank, says 6 million will lose, and only a few will get new rights to premium pay for working more than 40 hours a week."Coming, if Bush wins in November, end of minimum wage and right to join unions, no more vacations. Think I'm kidding?
Question - Why is the news media completely ignoring Edwards? I have not heard a word about him since the convention. What's he doing? What's he been saying?
washingtonpost.com - Best political blog contest
washingtonpost.com - Best political blog contest, blogs about politics and elections, top bloggers. They are taking nominations (hint, hint).
Kerry Responds to Smear -- And It's Good!
Kerry finally responded directly to Bush's "Swift Boat Veterans" smear. And he did well. I hope this is just the start of a coordinated response that takes it straight back to Bush, making Republican smears an issue in this campaign.
There is a new ad that addresses the smear itself. To see it, go to the Kerry website and watch "Rassmann." The ad is good, addresses one of the main points by saying "Today he still has shrapnel in his leg from his wounds in Vietnam." This is a good approach. The ad itself doesn't get bogged down in detail, it just puts the lie to the heart of the smear that his wounds were not real. If he still has shrapnel in his leg, that makes Bush a liar for smearing his Purple Hearts. Short, simple, forest (big picture) not trees (details). The Kerry website is stressing the response, as well as a strong press release that details the lies, AND the money behind the smear. Definitely worth a read! (This is the right place for details, where those who care can find them.)
Today, addressing firefighters in Boston, Kerry said,
"...Over the last week or so, a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has been attacking me. Of course, this group isn't interested in the truth -- and they're not telling the truth. They didn't even exist until I won the nomination for president.They're doing everything right today. The ad is going to get this in front of the people that matter -- the people the smear campaign was targeted to -- people like this veteran, from a San Jose News story this morning,
"The pro-Kerry talk elicits guffaws from the other end of the bar.Two weeks ago I wrote,
"And now a big Kerry smear arrives. What response has Kerry prepared? To me, this is the question of the election. What does Kerry have ready in response? Did I say that we all knew it was coming. This is what Bush Sr. did to Dukakis. This is what Bush did to Gore. The Big Smear. This is what Republicans do.Well, it looks like the Kerry campaign is starting to respond effectively. The ad talks to the people who are questioning Kerry. The campaign is taking it straight to the source -- BUSH. It is STRONG, and done well. Go see the ad and read the release. You'll feel better, you'll like Kerry a lot more, and you'll feel like he will do the job. You'll feel like this guy will protect us from the Republicans as well as foreign threats -- something I think a lot of us have worried about (remember things like Lieberman in 2000 caving, saying it was OK to count illegal absentee ballots?)
I hope they keep this up, and make the Republican tactic of smearing the issue in the campaign. Take it back to Bush, talk about the history of Republicans smearing opponents, and make THAT a big issue in this campaign. That makes it hard for them to try another smear, and gets them on the defensive about this on an issue they really can't defend. It's what they DO! So make them pay for it.
Update - Just saw it on CNN. They showed part of Kerry's speech, where he was laying it straight on Bush! It was GOOD, it was STRONG!
Reuters headline at My Yahoo: Bush Uses Surrogates for 'Dirty Work,' Kerry Says
"Kerry said a group called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which has attacked the Massachusetts senator's war record via television advertisements, was funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Republican contributor in Texas, Bush's home state.AP headline at My Yahoo: Kerry: Bush Lets Groups Do 'Dirty Work'
"Sen. John Kerry accused President Bush on Thursday of relying on front groups to challenge his record of valor in Vietnam, asserting, "He wants them to do his dirty work."Oh, I'm happy today!
Effect of Ad
I just caught a poll reported on MSNBC that says about 30% of independent-swing voters who had been leaning to Kerry change their mind after seeing the "Swift Boat Veterans" ad.
It's working -- big time.
So I turn to Fox, and guess what - they're repeating the story. And, as I said, it's the ONLY story on any AM radio station you tune to.
Meanwhile, new polls show Bush catching up. DUH!
When is the Kerry campaign going to figure out that they need to respond?
Bush Says Kerry Soft On Weather
Bush Says Kerry Soft On Weather:
"Electing Kerry Is Just What Terrible Weather Wants, Says GOP
Bill at LiberalOasis points out that Kerry is "conserving money for the 10-week homestretch after Labor Day" and that groups like MoveOn.org and The Media Fund are running ads in the swing states.
I don't live in a swing state so I decided to go to The Media Fund's website to see some of the ads. You can even contribute money to help them put these ads on the air!
Also, MoveOn.org is running an ad responding to the Bush smear on Kerry's Vietnam service. Go see it. And, of course, give them some cash to help get this ad on the air.
Mad As Hell!
Beat the Press by Air America co-founder Sheldon Drobny:
"I want everyone to go to their windows open them and scream out "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" or words to that affect. Since we all cannot do that at the same time, there is an effective way to fight the media and demand news that is useful, informative and somewhat independent. People who are upset with these media giants have to stop watching them until they change. Get your families together and start talking to each other. Read books or listen to CDs and alternative forms of entertainment. Rent or buy videos. Watch the History Channel or the Food Channel. Do anything but do not watch CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, CNN, MSNBC or any of their affiliates. It is a very small sacrifice to save your country. Our fighting men in Iraq have sacrificed their lives, limbs, and families to fight this illegal war that an independent media could have prevented. It is a very small sacrifice, but if you really care and participate, the media giants will have no choice but to change. They will be on their knees begging for the liberals that they demonize so much to start watching again. And the liberal audience is the most lucrative for the networks in spite of how terrible we are treated. That audience is the Jon Stewart, David Letterman group that the networks are so hungry to get. "Take action!
Take a look at the chart over at Angry Bear.
Update - link fixed.
More on the Swift Boat Mess
I seem to have hit a nerve.
Of course I'm saying that Kerry was a hero. A double hero. First, during his service under fire. Second, for his outspoken service in VVAW. As we are about to find out once again, it takes genuine guts to openly oppose an oppressive government. At this moment, the FBI is VISITING -- not just investigating but VISITING THE HOMES of those they expect to turn up in NYC to protest the Republican Convention and questioning them. One person I've seen on TV who was "interviewed" by the FBI was a nice old guy whose neighbors were pissed off and turned him in because he has anti-Bush posters in his window! Now, that's like Nazi Germany or the worst days of the Soviet Union. Neighbors turning in neighbors -- and the government acting on it, instead of telling them to mind their own business. Things are getting pretty bad, folks. We're going to need our heroes, and we're going to have to examine our own supply of courage and how willing we are to personally take risks. The Bush crowd has made it very clear that they're a nasty, vindictive bunch. Get out of line, say anything that angers them, and they're going to get you. The shocker is that this isn't just at the higher political levels. It's starting to reach into ordinary people's homes and lives.
By now we've pretty much forgotten how much courage it took to join VVAW. Or any of the other groups opposing the draft and the war. I had friends who escaped to Canada after being mauled by police dogs. Some are still there. Yeah, things sometimes really got that bad back then. I saw plenty of heads being cracked, too, and I'm afraid I'm going to see lots more of that during the Convention.
At the same time, it is not a sin to be willing to serve your country. There were those who believed then, and those who sincerely believe now, that the government is doing the right thing. This is America, folks, and they have a right to believe that. That's not the problem. The problem is that feelings on both sides are running very high, and those feelings are being exploited in the most cynical ways possible by people like Rove for political gain. This should be a dialog, not overwhelming hatred for each other. That's what has happened to the Swift Boat crowd. Whether they're right or wrong in their feeling that Kerry betrayed them is ultimately beside the point; they do feel that way, and that feeling comes from 30 and more years of emotional pain. I'm not a bleeding-heart liberal saying we have to forgive them. They're acting like a bunch of jackasses and allowing themselves to be exploited. What I'm trying to say is that things are rarely as simple or one-dimensional as they look on the surface and we're ALL being manipulated. To the extent we're aware of this, we can fight back. There's really no reason for well-meaning Americans to be at each other's throats -- we've been manipulated into it.
As for the soldiers now fighting in Iraq, that isn't all that one-dimensional, either. We already know they're not going to be treated very well -- by the Bush administration. Yeah, we have a volunteer army. Yeah, some will have enlisted because they're maniacal killers at heart, but these things go on a sliding scale. What about those who enlisted for economic reasons? There just aren't that many good jobs out there, and many have enlisted, during peace time, for the traditional reasons of learning a trade and maybe "seeing the world". And how about the reserves and the National Guard? Nobody expected to be fighting a war in Iraq. The cold war had ended, remember, and we were at peace. Undoubtedly, some even enlisted because of patriotic feelings of being of service to their country. If we dispose of values like honor, patriotism, and service, because that cynical crowd in the Bush administration has turned these into dirty words, what will we have become? We can't let these robbers destroy us.
The Swift Boat Mess
The Kerry campaign has to have known that it was waving a red flag when Kerry's Vietnam war record was made the focus of the campaign. They couldn't possibly have overlooked the bitterness that still exists among veterans because of his leadership role in Vietnam Veterans Against the War, could they?
The sad truth is, the vets have a point. Attacking Kerry's war record makes little sense, but they're cynically being led to do that by the corrupt group behind the attack. It was the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and Kerry's role in it, that finally turned public opinion against the war. The result was that the returning vets were treated HORRIBLY, and they blame Kerry for it. To them, Kerry was a traitor to his fellow vets. Yes, they really were treated horribly, and they should have at least been treated with respect.
I remember one night, returning by plane from New York to Detroit. There were some crippled veterans, in uniform, on the plane, and they were derided and made fun of by other passengers during the entire flight.
One of the vets, in uniform and on crutches, happened to be the son of a neighbor, so we decided to share a cab. It was a rainy night, late. NO cab would stop for us. Crowds from other flights appeared and cabs took them away. I finally moved away from him, got a cab immediately, and forced the driver to take him home. Not funny.
I was avidly opposed to the war and took part in every demonstration against it I could. Even so, I knew many of the vets and saw how horribly they were treated -- for years afterward. The war was not their fault, and no wonder they are still bitter. Kerry's message about the war is double-edged. Yes, he was undoubtedly a hero. Yes, the vets consider him a traitor who caused them incredible pain. Both are true.
This is a far more complex problem than most of us realize. Yes, it's also true that Kerry's stand against the war was as heroic as his war service. It had a huge impact on public opinion and helped end the war. That's certainly a good thing. Turning against the soldiers who had served their country was a horrible thing to do. They not only had no parades, no welcome when they came home, which all other returning soldiers in our history had received, but were treated with contempt. This was as shocking and damaging to many of them as the war itself.
Dismissing them as a bunch of evil, worthless drunks doesn't cut it. It's true that the vets returning from Vietnam had a rougher time than any previous group of soldiers adjusting to civilian life. Vast numbers of them never did adjust. The homeless population is filled with Vietnam vets, even now. Isn't this largely because they were treated so badly instead of being welcomed home and helped to adjust, as all other groups of returning soldiers had been? Of course plenty of them are still bitter. And of course this bitterness is being exploited by the Republican party. Aren't they cynically being made victims once again?
The question is, what to do about this now? I can't help wondering whether the Democratic leadership didn't cynically know that stressing Kerry's war record, while ignoring his stand in Vietnem Veterans Against the War, was bait, that the result would be irrational, frothing-at-the-mouth attacks they could ultimately use to their advantage to make the Republicans look as nutty and evil as possible -- thus victiming the vets once again, and submitting them to even more abuse from both sides. Life is never as black/white or as one-dimensional as we like to think it is. Another sad truth is that we're making the same mistakes in Iraq that we made in Vietnam -- setting up a puppet government, turning the mess we've created over to them to handle, while we pull the puppet strings in the background. Just so this time we remember how these troops got to Iraq and don't treat them as badly as the Vietnam vets were treated when they come home.
With the Bush administration, we have a government that runs on a toxic combination of faith and greed. The first covers the amorality and corruption of the latter. Have you heard any the exchanges at Dubya's prayer meetings - Oops, I mean intimate gathering with Christians - Oops I mean voters. "I want to thank you for stepping up," the faithful declare, and our prez chuckles. Oh he is loved by his flock: "Thank you for taking on the immorality of the secularists, the gays, the scientists, Thank you!"
No wonder their policies are so incompentent, in such a staggering variety of ways. Faith greases a lot of human endeavor, not just the struggles of the spirit. It's a grease for reason, argument, it motivates the drive to find common ground. Faith turns insight into policy, but it is, fundamentally, faith in reason. This administration has turned its back on that faith. "Harumph," says Laura Bush, "Who knows whether this stem cell science will result in any useful treatments at all!" Yes, who knows - and if you don't believe in science, not knowing the result of the experiment is sufficient reason to cancel it.
A corollary to this disdain for reason is the incredible arrogance of one administration official after another in hacking data in order to feed the base & accumulate power. A good example is from the disheartening current series in the WashPo, called "The Fine Print", in which they introduce
the Data Quality Act, a little-known piece of legislation that, under President Bush's Office of Management and Budget, has become a potent tool for companies seeking to beat back regulation.
Using perversion of technical standards to gut policies that are based on technical standards! Over and over at the heart of it all there's just a staggering amount of bad faith: Government as charade. It's as if they don't think they live in a real world. Certainly the lack of planning for post-war Iraq showed an extraordinary disdain for the world outside their talking points. Condi and Dubya have their 'chemistry' - so how could it matter that neither knows a thing about the Middle-East. Pshaw on such quibbles. The Administration hired for the Occupation from a stack of resumes acquired by the Heritage Foundation, with no screening for any other qualification. Of course they dumped the State Department studies on the the post-war challenges, which were put together by many knowledgeable people.
The most potent mystery is how our country could have produced such a bunch of idiots and swallowed their lies for so long. Is it the corporate media? Suburban culture? 9-11 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Shut It Down!
What a great idea!
NEWSFLASH: THERE WILL BE NO MODERATES SPEAKING AT THE GOP CONVENTION!
If I read one more article talking about all the "moderate Republicans" who are going to be speaking at the upcoming GOP convention, I'm going to have a seizure.
I've been very busy today, but have checked in to right-wing radio and news a bit, only to find that the Kerry smear is the ONLY story. Today they are portraying the Swift Boat Veterans, the organization DOING the smearing, as VICTIMS of smears and unfair attacks. Their regular talking points are that Democrats are trying to shout them down, smear them, etc...
Here are some more smear-related stories:
Swimming From Cambodia
"John Kerry is desperately trying to slide safely away from the collapse of his "Christmas in Cambodia" fairy tale. Two embarrassing "failures of memory" now permanently scar Senator Kerry's campaign to gain trust and demonstrate strength as he tries to move from war hero to war president.Kerry Made False Cambodia Claim 50 Times
"It won't be all that easy for John Kerry to revise his demonstrably false claim that he spent Christmas 1968 in Cambodia, since he's on the record more than 50 times making the assertion, according to former Vietnam Swift Boat commander John O'Neill."Christmas in Cambodia?
"Kerry’s Christmas-in-Cambodia claims were first noted in the widely read instapundit.com on Aug. 6. As this is written, on Aug. 13, not a word about them has appeared in The New York Times or The Washington Post, nor have they been discussed much or at all on ABC, CBS or NBC News. This is a vivid contrast with the treatment by these news organizations of the charges -- false charges -- by Michael Moore and Democratic Chairman Terry McAuliffe that George W. Bush was AWOL while in the National Guard."Kerry's quagmire:
"If Kerry didn't fabricate, he exaggerated. Or misspoke. Or got confused. Or something. But whatever the differences among versions, the story is part of a larger narrative that may matter more than the details.Democrat Attacks Help Swift Boat Veterans for Truth Raise Money
"Rather than address the substance of the organization's charges, which are backed by 254 riverboat vets, many of whom served alongside Kerry in Vietnam, Kerry's campaign falls back on the hackneyed claim of a "vast right-wing conspiracy."
And new smears emerge:
"Kerry: I Wouldn't Respond to Nuclear Attack"
"John Kerry told Democrats gathered in Boston two weeks ago that he defended his country as a young soldier in Vietnam and he would defend it again as president.Brothers band together against Kerry
"After three months of combat, Kerry had collected enough film footage for his political campaigns, so he went home. He even shot three different endings to the episode where he chases down a VC guy after test audiences thought Kerry shooting a wounded teenager in the back was too much of a "downer." After filming his last staged exploit, Kerry reportedly told a buddy, "That's a wrap. See you at the convention in about 35 years."AIM Report: Kerry Subverted Reagan's Pro-Freedom Policies
"While Kerry was trying to defeat aid to the Contras through a smear campaign, Senator Tom Harkin and several liberal House members were raising money for pro-Sandinista and other communist front organizations in the region. One such group, "Medical Aid for El Salvador," provided surgery for a captured communist guerrilla leader whose organization had assassinated U.S. Embassy Marine guards in El Salvador in 1985."So the question is, when does the Kerry campaign move to stamp these out. Even if he wins, these stories show the intensity of the internal opposition he will face. This is about more than winning this election, these right wing nutcases are fomenting nothing less than civil war.
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