True Cost of War

TalkLeft pointed me to Daily Kos (earning both a place in my Essential Links) where there is a piece on the true costs of Gulf War I. That's the war where we had the "easy" victory. Just one example, from a Rocky Mountain News story that they reference:
More than 159,000 American Gulf War veterans are receiving disability payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
That should give us all a LOT to think about. Remember, the justification for war is that Iraq has and will use weapons of mass destruction. If we REALLY think Iraq will use them, maybe we shouldn't be so hot for war. And if we DON'T think they will use them, there goes the justification so maybe we shouldn't be so hot for war.


A Divider, Not a Uniter

E. J. Dionne, Jr. in today's Washington Post:
A president seeking a unified nation does himself no good by distorting the arguments of others -- or by obliquely accusing them of failing to act in the interests of the United States.
As I have been saying, we learned from VietNam that it is so important for the country to be behind any military effort we must engage in. For this reason it is essential to do everything possible to keep such an important decision AWAY from the election, not schedule it to COINCIDE with the election. Forcing this decision during the election is divisive.

WWMCD - What Would Mrs. Clinton Do?

As soon as I finished the previous (Krugman) entry I saw the next piece by Hillary Clinton, Helping the Jobless. "In 1999, the Department of Labor found that when unemployment insurance is extended, every dollar in benefits generates $2.15 in gross domestic product.


Paul Krugman today on Bush and the economy.

What I want to say to Bush: OK sure, Bush blame Clinton, fine. Settled. So YOU'RE President now, and here we are with this problem. What are you going to DO about it?! (Hint - WWCD.)
During the presidential campaign George W Bush said that his guiding philosophy is “What Would Jesus Do?”

I wish he would consider changing this to “What Would Clinton Do?”
And look when that was written.


How They Do It (Part 3)

(Part 2 is here, Part 4 is here.)
I came across this in a review by Jerry M. Landay, of David Brock's book, Blinded by the Right. It summarizes the process of the right-wing "conveyer belt" that I described in today's previous entry, How It's Done.
They ape Leninist, Trotskyite, and Maoist tactics to undermine the left. Wealthy patrons of the radical right have copied the architecture of Stalin’s international popular front, creating a constellation of hundreds of activist front-organizations that comprise a network of right-wing activism:

• Well-heeled policy assembly lines like the Heritage Foundation;
• Such comfort zones for scholars and faux scholars as the Claremont Institute;
• Litigation hit-squads such as the Washington Legal Foundation;
• Harriers of mainstream journalism, including bloviator Reed Irvine’s Accuracy in Media;
• And the powerful Federalist Society, the legal think-tank that penetrates the Federal government under Bush and reshapes American law and jurisprudence by suing the life out of it.

Hard-starboard forces importantly exploit the tactics of Antonio Gramsci, founder of the Italian Communist Party. Gramsci preached that a political movement, to prosper, must capture a nation’s culture.

For two decades, the well-meshed power apparatus of the radical right has been doing just that, leaving the enfeebled Left in the dust with its single-issue myopia, dilettanti politics, weak-kneed funders, and a Democratic Party chained by Clinton, Gore, and Lieberman to a paralyzing dependency on corporate handouts. The right has conceived and promoted the policies America argues about, then frames the debate around them. Those doing the job are rep-tied, horn-rimmed members of the massive conservative propaganda machine who operate under the mythic smokescreen they created called the “liberal press.” Conservatives go on to manage the anti-left political dirt that oozes into newspapers and onto television news.

The mode of these squads of self-serving young propagandists is take-no- prisoners polemics – writers, journalists, and lawyers who earn good money and get big foundation grants trashing the left in rightist journals and talk shows, and force-feeding the corrosive content into mainstream media.
If you haven't read it yet, Blinded By The Right is an important book for understanding what is happening to the country.

How They Do It (Part 2)

(Part 1 is here, Part 3 is here)
The other day I recommended this article, Lessons of Right-Wing Philanthropy, by Karen Paget, which gives some very good background information about how the right has built the "conservative movement" that has become so powerful. Paget describes how the right-wing "think tanks" crank out messages that are repeated over and over again and eventually become conventional wisdom. They use a "conveyer belt" approach. At one end is the "knowledge production" process where so-called "research" is done by "scholars" who publish in right-wing "journals." Then the marketing departments translate this into "popularized" wording using carefully researched words (like "death tax" to replace "inheritance income tax"), and the result is pumped out to the public through the media using op-ed pieces, right-wing pundits and columnists, and repeated endlessly.

Examples of this process include years of pounding out messages like "Social Security is going broke - the money won't be there" or "public schools are failing, give the poor a choice." After the public is softened up the right-wingers come in with their "solutions." (These "solutions" always seem to involve schemes that make the rich richer and the poor poorer.)

I just found another great article, also from The American Prospect, by Robert Kuttner, titled, "Philanthropy and Movements." Kuttner attended a right-wing roundtable where panelists bragged about what they have accomplished over the years - and how they pulled it off. And he gets into what needs to be done to balance this.

The people and foundations that fund moderate- and progressive-oriented programs need to learn from what the right has done. 25-or-so years ago the right got organized and pulled together several "foundations" plus individual and corporate donors to set up the Heritage Fondation and several other of the "think tanks" described above. This can be done by moderates and progressives, using the right's success as a blueprint. Plenty of money is there on the progressive/moderate side, it just has not been used as effectively; it has not been coordinated and used as part of a long-term "movement" strategy. (See How They Do It (Part 1), about the Heritage Foundation, from a couple days ago.)


Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal has this, about deflation. Worth reading.


Got this from Tom Tommorrow, "According to Education Week, the Department of Education is scrubbing from its website research and statistics which do not support Bush Administration policy."

Great Debate

There's a great debate going on over at Eschaton. Should we "liberate" the Arab countries? Click on the comments under this entry.

Unions Actually Mentioned in Media!

I forgot to mention - I saw something in the New York Times Sunday that blew me away! There was an article about professionals joining UNIONS, and people talking about joining unions! This was the first such article I've seen in -ANY- media for YEARS! It blew me away - the NYT actually moving a little toward the center, mainstream America.

Previously the NYT had not written much about unions that I have seen, which placed it squarely in the middle of the corporate-dominated Bush agenda. So I guess they really ARE a little to the left of Bush, possibly as far left as what we used to call centrist Republican. From the story:
A union provides job security, which isn't a bad idea in this economy. A 1999 Hart study found that young union members are more likely than young nonunion employees to have full-time, permanent jobs (74 percent versus 49 percent), earn more than $20,000 a year (70 percent versus 38 percent), be covered by a pension plan with an employer contribution (63 percent versus 39 percent) and have an employer-provided health plan (76 percent versus 40 percent).
If you set up any kind of reasonable yardstick to measure media bias -- reporting on unions and regular working people organizing unions, discussion of socialized medicine, editorials calling for capping executive compensation at a reasonable amount like, maybe, $500,000, increasing the progressiveness of the income tax and increasing the top levels to 90%... -- by ANY yardstick that takes into account left-of-center views, I do not know of a single media outlet in the United States that even comes close.

But it sure felt good to see this one.


Gota Go See This!

Gotta go see this!

Thanks to Shadow of the Hegemon for catching this one.

How They Do It (Part 1)

Suppose you need to do some work involving an important issue like tax cuts, minimum wage, the environment, globalization, etc. Perhaps you'll be talking to a class or writing an article. Maybe you're in a political campaign or trying to get a law passed or just trying to build up public support for an environmental cause. Where can you get information and materials – perhaps even some coaching with the wording?

If you're coming from a moderate or progressive perspective it can be quite difficult to quickly find resources – information and materials – to help you prepare. But if you are in the "conservative movement" there are very powerful resources available to assist you. I've been looking at the resources offered by the Heritage Foundation, just one of the many "think tanks" that give the conservative movement so much power. These think tanks use a process that takes supposedly "academic" research and plugs it into a marketing machine, "popularizing" the language used so that it will connect with ordinary people, and finally sending this product out through dozens of communications channels. (There's a 1998 article about these think tanks and this process here. If you really want to get started at understanding why the right seems to be just storming over everything that we - and most of the public - believe in, read this article as a starting point.)

Let's pretend we're right-wingers all worked up by Rush this morning, and looking for information to help us stomp some liberals. Let's take a trip to Heritage Research. (Note - right-click and use "Open in New Window" so you can keep reading this while looking at the pages I'm referring to.) Notice the list of issues to choose from. As the page says, "All thirty of Heritage's policy issue pages feature archived research, expert contact information, and links to related interactive products."

How does this work? Suppose you need information to help you argue from the right-wing perspective about taxes. Click on their Taxes research page. This page links you to to research articles, backgrounders and WebMemos, all offering the "conservative" perspective on the issue, with the implied credibility of being prepared by "experts" and "scholars". (Never mind that these so-called experts and scholars have credentials that come from other right-wing funded organizations.) On the right of the page are links to "Commentary" prepared by experts to feed you ideas, and even "Experts" for you to contact on your issue. There are links to multimedia materials, news about related events, and supporting materials like charts & visuals. Click on (because I like the title) Corporate Expatriation Protects American Jobs. The author explains how companies moving offshore to avoid taxes is good for Americans.

You have a one-stop shop for all your far-right propaganda points!

Click Back a few times to get to the Research page again. Click on The Candidate's Briefing Book on the right of the page. Here you get another list of issues, but these direct you to information that is useful in a campaign-type setting, presented in short, ready-to-repeat wording. (You might recognize some of this wording, because you can't turn on a TV or radio without hearing it.) Click on Briefing Book Chapter. Here you get a comprehensive briefing on the subject, with lists of "facts" – all supporting the "conservative" view – charts, and strategies. At the end of the briefing book is a list of experts you can call on, with their phone numbers. Click Back and be sure to look at the downloadable "Pocket Card" with its prepared "talking points." (Extra credit, see how many people on TV and radio, or op-ed pieces and letters-to-the-editor in the paper repeat these very points word-for-word). Click Back again and take a look at Quick Hits, with its short bursts of ready-to-spread propaganda points.

Also available at Heritage are webcast lectures, media clips, speakers (for your TV or radio show), newsletters, and books (written by Heritage staff).

Heritage also has a database of "2200 public policy experts by area of expertise", and "A searchable database of the conservative movement, presenting detailed information on over 300 public policy organizations in the U.S" searchable by organization type.

Once you are thoroughly indoctrinated there's also a Job Bank, that "assists conservatives in finding employment with conservative Congressional Offices, faith-based organizations, other public policy organizations, lobbying groups and trade associations".

Finally, Heritage offers links to "The Conservative Community" where you can find your way to The Insider, "A monthly compilation of publication abstracts, events and news from conservative policy organizations around the country."

If you are a conservative, you have powerful resources available, Heritage being just one of many. It can be completely overwhelming to start digging into what's going on with the right-wing movement, and can be demoralizing as well. There are hundreds of millions of dollars each year going into this operation and it is so well-established and has vast resources. And all of this to what end? To convince blue-collar workers they should sacrifice affordable health insurance and better schools and so much more just so the rich can get more tax cuts! But don't lose heart - even with this going on for almost 30 years now Gore got more votes and Bush STILL needs to drum up a war to distract the public from their terrible (and obvious) failures.

I'll have more later.

Part 2 is here, part 3 is here.

It's ONLY the Politics!

On The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer today, Senate Majority Leader Daschle said that the Bush Administration has not actually come to Congress to request a resolution about Iraq. In other words, this all really was just a political marketing campaign to the public, to get political support before the election. It was all about going to the press and the public with a "wedge issue" to beat up Democrats with and make them look bad. "General" Rove forgot to even bother to actually approach the Congress for the Iraq resolutions - it wasn't a part of the equation! The ACTUAL resolutions didn't MATTER!

A Recent Exchange

(8/28/2002) Sir, Thanx for posting your web log. Your entry today, "Today's Google Experiment - Watch a Smear Spread" just floored me. I've known of this machine for quite some time and it amazes me how many of my fellow citizens either "don't get it" or who just don't care. Do you have a clue as to why this propaganda machine is so effective, why there are so many people who actually believe all this stuff? Are they hearing what they think they want to hear? Do you see any hope that things will change for the better anytime soon or do you think things will have to get a lot uglier first? Sorry to dump, but I don't see any reasons to be optimistic... Thanx - XXXXX

Dear XXXX -- I'm writing because I still haven't had the time to finish and post the research I'm doing into this stuff. Can I suggest as a good starting point reading the book, "Blinded By The Right" by David Brock. He goes into such good detail and the book is causing more and more people to start being aware of the web of right-wing organizations and how they pump out this crap. A very good background article is available here. This article talks about how this right-wing web was formed. Even though it is 4 years old it lays out what was happening then and has only accelerated since.


Go Joe!

Joe Conason has been poking around in Bush's book, "A Charge to Keep." He found this passage,
"I also learned the lesson of Vietnam. Our nation should be slow to engage troops. But when we do so, we must do so with ferocity. We must never go into a conflict unless we go in committed to win. We can never again ask the military to fight a political war. If America's strategic interests are at stake, if diplomacy fails, if no other option will accomplish the objective, the Commander in Chief must define the mission and allow the military to achieve it."
Joe writes, "I know he didn't really write his book -- politicians rarely do -- but did he read it?"

To repeat, Bush (or someone) wrote, "We can never again ask the military to fight a political war." So why bring it up NOW, just before the election?

Democrats Growing Spines!

Washington Post: Democrats are starting to question the timing of the Iraq campaign.
Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser, has been photographed with the president in meetings about Iraq and has been put forward to speak publicly about the timing of the Iraq rollout. was Rove who argued earlier this year that the war on terrorism should be part of Republicans' campaigns this year. Last week, White House political aides encouraged GOP candidates to emphasize national security. Also, Andrew H. Card Jr., Bush's chief of staff, said last week that the White House held back on promoting the Iraq policy in the summer because, "from a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August."

And Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (Va.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, made an Iraq vote explicitly political, saying, "People are going to want to know, before the elections, where their representatives stand."
As I have said before - we learned from VietNam how important it is to have the country united behind major military operations. Sensible leadership would do everything they could to AVOID the divisiveness of having the war debate occur during campaign season. This was planned to occur DURING campaign season.

He is a divider,not a uniter. He is using the lives of tens of thousands of our military forces and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis as his "wedge issue" to divide us before this election.


Democrat Party

Sideshow points out that Dick Cheney, in his non-partisan "uniter-not-a-divider" appearance on the Rush Limbaugh show last week, talked about the "Democrat Party". Sideshow thinks the mispronunciation sounds illiterate. (I thought this about Bush using "nucular" all through Thursday's UN speech.)

Actually, this particular misuse of "Democratic Party" dates back to the early-60s John Birch Society days, and those far-right-wingers that we used to call "kooks." ("Precious bodily fluids.") These are the guys who used to say "Jew York Times" but now have PR training so they say "liberal media" to cover what they really mean. In this new Republican Party it's a badge of honor to come from the farthest-possible-right-wing backgrounds, and the kooks show off by using "Democrat Party" as a code word to each other. Listen for this, you'll hear the older far-far-right guys saying it.


Some days the bad news flys at you so fast ... it seems like the Bush strategy is to overwhelm people by doing so many bad things that you lose track and give up... (See Scorecard of Evil. They list the major ones, except even they have a hard time keeping up.)

Today starts with, With White House Approval, E.P.A. Pollution Report Omits Global Warming Section. Here's one - using government money to fund churches. Or how about funneling government money to help The Party recruit religious voters - vote for us, you get the money - don't vote for us, you don't get the money.

Here's one about the Bush people planning the Iraq invasion even before he took office. Not only that, it's essentially a blueprint for dominating the world. (Why spend all that money on military if you don't put it to good use taking over the world?)

Here they're talking about the spoils of war being the reason for the war. "The importance of Iraq's oil has made it potentially one of the administration's biggest bargaining chips in negotiations to win backing from the U.N. Security Council and Western allies..."

The White House and Administration departments are not cooperating with Congressional investigations of what led up to 9/11.

This isn't Bush, it's his comrades, Christian stations working to get NPR stations thrown off the air.

The pharmaceutical industry will be running ads for Republicans who help them kill prescription drug bills.

Those thee Moslem men who were falsely accused in Florida are no longer welcome at the hospital they were travelling to work at - even though they did nothing wrong at all.

To top it off, the housing price bubble might be ready to burst.

This is just a little bit of today's news. Maybe I should just stop reading the papers on Sunday mornings?