The Divide

Posting by mail has limitations, so I'll keep this short. I was "tabling" for Dean at a farmer's market today, and we got talking to this guy who is a Bush supporter. I brought up the problem of there being no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Rather than go through the entire conversation, which went on through a while and through many twists and turns, it came down to he said that we need to oil, because we all drive cars. He started by defending going into Iraq because of the terrible threat. When I pointed out that the lack of WMD means there was no threat, then it was about liberating the people of Iraq from the terrible dictator. When I asked why we needed to divert our entire military from the war on terrorism, it became about 12 years of Saddam violating the end-of-war agreement. When I pointed out that his violation was supposedly having WMD, it became about "his" shooting at our airplanes in the no-fly-zone. So then it was back to why NOW, in the middle of the war on terrorism, and he finally said it was good because we need the oil. When I asked why Bush didn't make that case, he said because we also had to end the threat.

There, I just went through the conversation anyway.

My point, I was left with this feeling of a vast divide based largely on the different sources of information. The guy appears to get his information from the radio. (You know what that means.) You and I get information from the Internet, which means a variety of sources. You and I represent, what, maybe 2% of the public? He represents maybe 40% if you add in Fox News.

Two comments. One, this is an incredibly dangerous situation, because most people get their news from what amounts to one source - The Party. Let's assume for the moment that The Party is benevolent, and has only the best interests of the country and the world at heart. But suppose The Party were to be taken over by some malevolent force. With no other sources of information this could be a very dangerous thing.

My other comment is that the guy was ready to accept lying to the public to achieve any end. There's a "wink, wink, nod, nod" mentality at work here, where they all recognize themselves as being part of a movement. It's like the old communist party - infiltrate and subvert, say anything to get what you want. I think that The Party (as I call the Republicans) has conditioned its followers to accept the necessity of deceiving the public to accomplish its unspoken goals. I say unspoken, because while they don't ever bring this in front of the public "movement conservatives" all seem to have an end in mind. When you look at their websites it does become clear that they are talking about things like getting rid of Social Security, Medicare, any assistance to the poor, public schools, worker protection, and anything they might decide is "socialistic." But they understand that it would be bad politics to bring this in front of the public, because the public would vote against doing these things, so they accept that the ends must be accomplished by subversion. That this is fundamentally opposed to democracy, or even self-government, is not an issue to them.

I can't tell how this will look on the blog. When I can get back onto Blogger I'll edit this, if needed.

Update - I finally was able to log in, so I'm editing this a bit.

Update - I took the dogs for a walk and thought about what I'd written. I was just dashing off a thought, and now I need to clear it up. I'm not saying that because the guy at the farmer's market is a Bush supporter he's a "movement conservative" who accepts deceit as a way to eliminate Social Security, though that's what it sounded like I'm saying. I was jumping from this guy's acceptance of Bush's deceit - doesn't even bother him - to a rant about the "movement" right-wingers who are fully conscious that this is the method, and who share the goals. Does that clear anything up? This is a blog, so I can get away with this kind of writing, right?

Where's Digby

So what happened to Digby?

Can Post

Posting my mail worked. So I'll post.

Can't Post

For some reason I can't log in to blogger. So I can't post. I'm TRYING to
post this using the old "post-by-mail" address, if that still works.


Annoying Pop-Up

I have added an annoying pop-up ad, soliciting money for the Howard Dean campaign for President. I'll take it down at the end of the month.

The end of June is a crucial reporting time for presidential campaigns. The press will determine how much coverage to give to candidates based on the amount of money they raise this quarter. So if you can give even $5, please contribute. This is about getting rid of Bush, and I think Dean is the best candidate because he has shown his willingness and ability to effectively voice a message that resonates.

I will, of course, support whoever the Democratic candidate is because we need to get Bush out of the White House before he completes the damage he is doing to the country, the world and the ideals we share.


Here's a story I doubt you'll see in the American press, US Turns to Taliban.
KARACHI - Such is the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, compounded by the return to the country of a large number of former Afghan communist refugees, that United States and Pakistani intelligence officials have met with Taliban leaders in an effort to devise a political solution to prevent the country from being further ripped apart.
Go read. A somewhat different view of what is happening than you'll see from FOX News.

The Bush administration in talks with the Taliban. Try telling an average American about this and they'll think you're crazy -- sort of like a few years back when it was discovered that Reagan was giving missiles to Iran. Of course, the difference is that was investigated and this will never be.

Scorecard of Evil

Have you taken a look at the Scorecard of Evil lately?


The Idea Of Democracy

Lately I have been seeing variations of a standard right-wing anti-democracy line, "Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner." Here's one in a letter to the editor in this morning's San Jose Mercury News. Scroll to the letter titled Tyranny of 51 percent.

Has anyone been seeing this elsewhere? Is it organized?

Some Democrats Certainly DO Get It

Go read what San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown has to say about beating Bush. I don't want to hear about how "the Democrats" are cowed, silent, trembling, don't have a message, aren't speaking out, etc. Some Democrats certainly DO get it!


Seeing the Forest has joined ePatriots. ePatriots is a way to help beat Bush by donating to help the Democratic Party, through bloggers! The Boot Bush button on the left takes you to ePatriots. Go help them out!

Jobs Data

For those of you with memories, something might sound fishy about today's weekly jobless claims that "dropped 17,000 to a still-higher-than-expected 430,000, remaining above 400,000 for more than four months now."

Here's why: "The previous week's data were revised to show a 22,000-claims increase to 447,000."

Using this patented method, jobless claims can fall every week, boosting the stock market and Bush re-elects, and be over 500,000 soon.



How many of you have spent time listening to Michael Savage? The other day I suggested that it would be smart to spend some time listening to Rush, to become familiar with the thinking of the Right.

I won't go so far as to suggest actually spending time listening to Savage -- he is so vile, so beyond civility and decency that it is actually a sickening experience to tune in. And I mean that I believe that listening to his show regularly would affect one's mental health. (A subject of a piece I hope to write soon - the effect on one's mental health of listening to right-wing radio.) But I do want to point this out - Michael Savage now has a show on MSNBC! I think little more needs to be said about television and the quality of the information one receives from watching television. Michael Savage is on TV and Phil Donahue is not. (Not to mention - when was the last time you saw an advocate of the labor unions on TV?) That says it all.

I realized the other day that I have almost completely stopped watching TV news! Both network and cable. I think that around the time MSNBC got rid of Donahue and put Savage on that all of the cable networks seemed to change, and move violently to the right. Every time I turned on the TV I found myself disgusted and just turned it off, and soon I just stopped turning it on at all. I get my news online now, and listen to the radio. In fact, I find myself listening mostly to ieAmericaRadio.com online now during the day. Later in the day, sometimes, NPR.

This has made a big difference in how I see the world. The biggest difference is that I have stopped worrying about what the smarmy Washington pundits think! Because I am not exposed to them, I have stopped thinking like them. I don't worry about the "horse race." Instead I look at issues. I don't spend endless time thinking about the strategizing. I don't spend time on gossip-style character assassination concerns. I'm still trying to put words on this difference in my outlook, but as I withdraw from the effects of the TV Nation I feel like my mind is spending time more honestly and rationally evaluating the information I get.

Rather than get into that I wanted to say that I see this huge gap between people who are getting news from a variety of sources - namely online - and people who are getting news from major media - TV and radio. And the polls clearly reflect this division. Professional politicians and pundits tend to think that once the public has a belief, that settles the issue -- that spin determines the truth. It's a Gingrichian view that says what the public believes is what is true politically, so they should play the game according to what they can make the public believe, and according to what the public already believes, rather than according to truth and honesty. I think there is an opportunity here. I think that the actual truth can be very hard to argue with, so there is always a possibility of restoring the public to sanity by exposing them to the truth.

Anyway, I'm in a hurry, and rambling, and I'll try to put this into better words soon. That's what a blog is about, right?


New Official Dean Weblog

The Howard Dean campaign has launched a new, redesigned weblog at a new address. It's called Blog for America. I have updated this in the blogroll, except there it's called Howard Dean Blog For America.

It's The Information, Stupid

Please go read this poll, Many Americans Unaware WMD Have Not Been Found. It says a lot about what's going on in the country. It's the information, stupid.
While 59% of those polled correctly said the US has not found Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, 41% said they believed that the US has found such weapons (34%) or were unsure (7%).

Another widespread misperception is that Iraq actually used chemical or biological weapons in the war. Twenty-two percent held this misperception, with 9% being unsure, while 69% correctly said that Iraq had not used such weapons.

Asked, "Thinking back to when the US government was making the case for going to war with Iraq, according to the government, what was the most important reason for going to war with Iraq?" 60% said "the evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction," and 19% said "the evidence that Iraq was working with the terrorist group al'Qaeda." But 20% said the most important reason was "the fact that Saddam Hussein was an oppressive dictator." Asked for the second most important reason, another 32% chose "the fact that Saddam Hussein was an oppressive dictator," while weapons of mass destruction were chosen by 24% and links to al'Qaeda by 42%.
Got that? We went to war because Iraq HAD weapons of mass destruction, and because they were working with al-Queda. They used WMD against us during the war, and those WMD have been found.

It seems like we have such a struggle in front of us, when the public isn't even getting basic factual information. One thing that we CAN do at this stage is work to get people informed. I can't think of anything more important. Please write to everyone in your address book to let them know that there are places they can get honest news. Look at the way MoveOn and the Dean campaign have been able to get their message out. But we need to add more people to the "base" of people who are getting honest information. I think the most important place to tell them about is BuzzFlash, because it offers frequently updated headlines of basic news. And, of course, refer them to your favorite weblogs.

Kerry or Edwards, etc.

I'm curious. Can someone please point me to some weblogs that actively support Kerry or Edwards or Gephardt or any of the Democratic presidential candidates other than Dean? Thanks!

Update - I found one for Edwards, and it lists some other blogs, but none are up-to-date. One, Regular People for Edwards, requires a password. The Edwards campaign website doesn't link to any blogs.

The Kerry website doesn't link to any blogs.

The Gephardt website doesn't.

The Bob Graham website doesn't.

The Kucinich website doesn't.

The Al Sharpton website doesn't.

I found a weblog called "Bush Lites." Does that qualify? HEY - it links to Seeing the Forest! Oh, never mind, it's a pro-Dean blog.

Should I count this? I hope this isn't really Kerry's weblog!

UPDATE - OK, I found this: John Kerry's Unofficial Blog.

Update - Here's an active pro-Edwards weblog.

Blog Hero

A coveted Seeing the Forest Blog Hero Award goes to Billmon at Whiskey Bar. Whiskey Bar posted a list of pre-war quotes from Bush Administration officials that, it appears, many "journalists" have picked up on. But the Blog Hero Award is given for this post.
Keeping track of what those in power say -- and holding them accountable for it -- is not brilliance. It is (or should be) the stuff of ordinary journalism. It's the kind of thing the American media used to do, sometimes -- before 9/11 and our endless "war" on terrorism caused it to shut down the part of its collective brain devoted to critical thinking.

The fact that some dinky little blog now has to do the job does not reflect great credit on the blogger, but rather great shame on the media. Like the rest of American society, American journalism appears to have flushed some of the most important lessons of the Vietnam War down the toilet.


Top 100

Well, Seeing the Forest is back in the top 100. Number 100 anyway. Today, anyway.

Link slutting: If you're weblog is on the left there in my blogroll, consider linking back. (Link slutting is such an ugly thing.)

Update -Well THAT sure didn't work. 104.


For those who think that a Southern, conservative Democrat is more electable, I offer you this, from the Des Moines Register, about Senator Bob Graham:
Republican National Committee spokesman Chad Colby said Graham's comments are "outrageous statements."

"He's a conspiracy theorist," Colby said. "That's the only way he can get his name out there."
Also this kind of crap, from the Republican National Committee:
A Tax-And-Spend Liberal In Moderate's Clothing
Graham's Liberal Record On School Choice
In other words, if you want to play the "electable" game instead of talking about what's the right thing to do on the issues, you aren't going to get anywhere. The right-wingers are going to use their character assassination on you no matter what. So you just gotta be real.

I'm not criticizing Bob Graham here, and previously wrote that he also represents the Democratic Wing.

Bush, Politics and Policy

A great read in the LA Times today, Bush's Scorched-Earth Campaign.
From the moment of his disputed election in 2000, President Bush has been dramatically reversing the traditional relationship between politics and policy. In his administration, politics seem less a means to policy than policy is a means to politics. Its goal is not to further the conservative revolution as advertised. The presidency's real goal is to disable the Democratic opposition, once and for all.

The difference between Rove and former political operatives like Michael Deaver in the Reagan administration and Dick Morris in Clinton's is that he doesn't just advise on the political consequences of policy; he seems to be involved in crafting policy, making him arguably the single most important advisor in the White House. Rove's hand and guiding spirit are everywhere evident. As John DiIulio, who briefly headed Bush's faith-based initiative, indiscreetly put it in an interview last year, everything in this administration is political, by which he meant that everything is the product of political calculation and everything is devised specifically for political advantage.
The column goes on to say that the model for getting rid of political opposition is "defunding" in the same way that the tax cuts are really about defunding government so it just dries up and goes away. Specifically:
  • Tort Reform - Caps on jury awards are really caps on trial lawyer income, so they can't donate to the Democrats.
  • School Vouchers - Getting rid of public schools gets rid of teacher's unions, so they can't donate to the Democrats.
  • The FCC Ruling - Getting rid of opposing voices in the media is really about getting Democrats off the air.
  • The Faith-Based Initiative - Funneling money to the Right's friends and undermining "more liberal-oriented community institutions and advocates that might aid the Democrats."
  • Appointing Far-Right Federalist Society Judges - To "disable laws -- like the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform act -- that favor Democrats by regulating fund-raising, but also to make laws that will aid Republicans in a host of areas, from the environment to product safety to redistricting."
  • Getting Rid of Affirmative Action - "a long-range political plan to slow the growth of a minority professional class that would be likely to vote Democratic."
  • Privatizing Social Security and Medicare - "a blow aimed at the base of the Democratic Party, because these programs are most identified with Democrats and are still a reliable source of goodwill for the part."
  • Iraq War - "struck the Democratic Party at one of its vulnerabilities: the idea that Democrats are weak on defense."
  • Middle-East Peace - "pry Jewish voters and contributors from the Democratic Party."
  • 9/11 Response - "an all-purpose excuse for any anti-Democratic policy and pronouncement, including accusing Democrats of deficient patriotism."
From the column:
Rove can operate in broad daylight partly because what he is doing is perfectly legal, partly because his plan is so bold that he realizes no one in the media is likely to call him on it, and partly because demonizing and destroying Democrats is now a tenet of the party he guides. It has been said of Bush that he intends to finish the Reagan revolution by embedding conservatism so deeply into the governmental fabric that it will take generations to undo it. What he is really finishing, though, is not the Reagan revolution but the Clinton wars, which had far less to do with ideology than with politics.
For Bush policy is about politics ONLY. There is no "policy" in this administration that is designed to help the citizens of the country or the interests of the nation. It is ALL politics.
That is why, one suspects, Bush elicits such deep antagonism from the left — deeper perhaps than any political figure since Nixon, even though he is personally genial and charming. At some level, maybe only subliminally, liberals know what the president and Rove are up to and fear that they will succeed in dismantling an effective two-party system. The left knows that Rove and company aren't keen on debating issues, negotiating, compromising and horse-trading, the usual means of getting things done politically. On the contrary: The administration is intent on foreclosing them.

As much as liberals abhor the conservative agenda, there is something far more frightening to them now — not that Republicans have an ideological grand plan but that they don't have one. Instead, the GOP plan is policy solely in the service of politics, which should terrify democrats everywhere.
Maybe the clue was when Bush said during the campaign that he would work with the Democrats, and said he was "a uniter, not a divider." That was a tip-of that he wouldn't work with the Democrats and would divide the country right down the middle. This is the guy who said he doesn't look at polls and focus groups - because polls and focus groups told him to say that. The guy who was willing to say Al Gore would say anything to win.

Update - Calpundit comments on the same column:
[Bush is] a furious political animal who is uninterested in compromise and whose main goal is to defeat his enemies, not advance a cause. Ideology is actually secondary, and is useful mainly as a way to batter his political opposites.

Although this has been evident in a number of battles, nowhere was it more striking than in the runup to the Iraq war. From the very beginning, it was clear that Bush wasn't trying to build bipartisan support, the normal course for a president embarking on a foreign war, but was using it as a partisan club and a campaign issue, a way of dividing the Democrats and making them look weak on national security. It's true that it's been a while since politics truly stopped at the water's edge, but Bush has well and truly put that particular political maxim to bed once and for all.

The 2004 election is going to be one of the nastiest on record, I think. I hope the Democratic nominee is up to it.


I'm working on fixing the comments, and maybe changing over to Squawkbox for comments. In the meantime I'll have both HaloScan and Squawkbox comments here. Chaos.

Update - OK Sqauwkbox comments lasted about 15 minutes. I couldn't get their home page to come up so I could login and change my preferences. That's a bad enough start that I took them back off. Sorry if you left a comment - it's gone.

Out It Goes

I just thought I'd post a reminder that the money going out to Bush's tax cuts today is the money that was supposed to pay our Social Security when we retire.

S&L Crisis

Don't I recall that one of the causes of the S&L Crisis was long-term fixed-rate mortgages at relatively low interest rates? Wasn't another an administration intent on deregulation?

The Far Right

I'm listening to Thom Hartmann's radio show. He just talked about Nelson Rockefeller's speech preceeding Barry Goldwater at the 1964 Republican Convention, warning of the takover of the party by right-wing extremists. So I looked it up.
The atmosphere at the Republican convention was heated as Nelson Rockefeller stepped up to the podium to address the belligerent crowd: "During this year I have crisscrossed this nation, fighting … to keep the Republican party the party of all the people ... and warning of the extremist threat, its danger to the party, and danger to the nation," he said, taking his time as the crowd cheered "We want Barry!" "These extremists feed on fear, hate and terror, [they have] no program for America and the Republican Party... [they] operate from dark shadows of secrecy. It is essential that this convention repudiate here and now any doctrinaire, militant minority whether Communist, Ku Klux Klan or Birchers." It was, according to many, Nelson Rockefeller's finest moment -- but it did little to stop the conservative wave that was transforming the GOP.
Goldwater responded with his famous line: "Let our Republicanism, so focused and dedicated, not be made fuzzy and futile by unthinking and stupid labels," he summoned the crowd. "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice -- and let me remind you also, moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue."

Do you think Rockefeller was warning us of what's happening to the country today.

For Real?

Is this for real, or is it more babies being thrown from incubators?

OK Kerry, Go For It

OK John Kerry, here's your chance. You have been handed what potentially is the biggest presidential scandal in American history: the President, intentionally or incompetently, mislead the public and the Congress into starting a war with a nation that had not attacked or even threatened us.

For the good of the country and the world, this is not the time to hold back. I was in the room when you said you had seen no secret intelligence beyond what the public had been told backing up the President's claims that Iraq was an imminent threat, so I don't think you are holding back because you know something that the public does not.

You're the front-runner, so it's your responsibility as well as your opportunity to take the lead on this one -- and if you do then you might just deserve the presidency for that alone. Otherwise, perhaps you should think about getting out of the way.

Update - Since writing that I came across this:
IN FIERY SPEECHES Sunday to 400 Democratic activists gathered in Mount Pleasant, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio assailed President Bush. While Kucinich said the Bush administration "lied to the American people," Dean compared Bush to President Nixon during the Watergate crisis. "What did the president know and when did he know it?" Dean asked, in a reprise of the famous question posed about Nixon in 1974.

"The country is facing a serious crisis," Dean told the crowd. "Our people are dying in Iraq at the rate of nine a week and the American people may not have had the full information about why we went there."
Now all we have to do is get the media to actually report the facts.

This One is Worth Sending

Everybody in the country should read John Dean's piece on Bush and weapons of mass destruction. This is one that is worth e-mailing to everyone you know.
To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be "a high crime" under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony "to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose."
Of course, the right controls the Justice Department, the Congress and the Courts. And the media. This is the big one. This is where we find out if we are still a nation of laws.


In my opinion, a key book for understanding why liberals and conservatives think the way they do is Moral Politics by George Lakoff. Lakoff's research shows that conservatives use a "strict father family" metaphor for thinking about government, and outlines the morality that follows from this. Obedience to authority, reward and punishment, things like that. The book explains why conservatives think it is immoral to help the poor. He says that liberals use a "nurturing parent" family metaphor, and follow a moral structure of helping each other. Lakoff's book gives you a good insight into why right-wingers mocked Hillary Clinton for writing a book titled It Takes a Village.

A key book for understanding "movement conservatives" is Blinded by the Right, by David Brock.

"My Fight"

To understand the Republican plan, read this. Then tell me if it doesn't confirm this.