Moron brownshirt fucks defeat Matt Yglesias

Matt Yglesias has just closed down his comments section due to an influx of imbecile trolls sent by Matt's conservative employer, Hugh Hewitt. Kevin Drum is thinking about doing the same.

Before doing my customary rant, I will make one of my rare constructive suggestions. Kevin and Matt should deputize a few of their regulars to delete trolls. Not me, obviously, but someone nice and moderate who still has a vestige of a backbone.

Now the rant part: Matt and Kevin have always wanted to maintain a dialogue with the opposition, even though they have been given good reason to understand that the opposition is made up of angry, misinformed, dishonest people who hate us and want to destroy us by whatever means necessary. Sabotaging liberal comment boards, thus disrupting liberal communications and damaging liberal morale, is just one of their dirty tricks. There always have been trolls and wreckers on Matt and Kevin's comment boards, but they have refused to do anything about it.

This calls to mind Robert Frost's old quip that liberals are so open-minded that they won't even take their own side in a fight. Closing down the comments means that the terrorists win. Something of value was given up to the opposition because it was really too much of a nuisance to do anything to protect it from saboteurs.

Matt and Kevin's trolls often praise them for their open-mindedness, which they contrast favorably to other, small-minded "liberal echo chambers". And they reward Matt and Kevin by peeing on them. Trolls express their love and respect rather disgustingly.

Matt and Kevin, unlike me, are moderates who believe that the Democrats have to move to the center and generally accomodate themselves to the country's move to the right. But they have missed an important point. Dukakis didn't lose because he was too liberal. He lost because he responded feebly when the Republicans talked about raping his wife. He was a wimp.

Republicans admire predators and prey on what they see as weakness -- for example, openmindedness and fairness. They worship private property, but if you let them do so they will squat on your property and laugh in your face. And they really enjoy making bullshit arguments about free speech when you threaten to delete them -- not because they believe what they're saying, but because they think that it's funny when they use liberal ideas against liberals.

Matt and Kevin, of course, have been blessed by the print establishment, and both have stated that the blogosphere is really no big deal. And certainly, comments section aren't anything very important. So it's quite possible that pretty soon Kevin's comments will close down too, and one more common good will fall to the attacks of the angry, starved ghouls.

29% of Americans believes that France is an enemy of the U.S., like al Qaeda. We're really dealing with a vicious mob. Dealing reasonably with them is stupid. Banning trolls to keep the comment lines open is a small step in the direction of winning the election and defeating terrorism, but it's a necessary one, and you can't make the big steps if you won't take the small steps first.

Jay Rosen on Swift Boat coverage

Jay Rosen has a great piece up about the Swift Boat issue:

"There is a smear campaign launched against John Kerry. But that is not the only thing going on with the Swift Boat Veterans. The press may have knocked down the most serious charges. But the idea of the press as the great adjudicator has also been knocked down. "

Read the whole thing. The gist is that even though the legit press has theoretically published enough information by now to discredit the SBV's, it really didn't make any difference. The SBV smear is still alive among people who get their information from other, partisan channels which ignore or deny inconvenient facts.

It's worthwhile to read the comments too, for another sickening glimpse at mad-dog determination of the Kerry-haters.

New Article in Harpers

Harpers Magazine is over 150 years old. There was no internet way back then, and for Harpers, there still isn't. But the current issue is worth buying for a piece by Lewis Lapham: "Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, a Brief History".

I've only glanced at it so far, but it looks pretty good. I doubt that Dave will learn much from it, since it's in his own area of special interest, but most of the the rest of us will, and it's something you can show to people.

UPDATE: Read it here. Thanks to Jeanne at Body and Soul.


Truth Or Consequences

Everything I read today, people are discussing the role of truth in our democracy. This is in reaction to the Republican convention. It has been just such a shocking experience to see this unfolding. It is a jolt to see such dishonesty for a week, with such national prominence. (The vitriol is a topic for another piece - but let me mention that Miller challenging Matthews to a duel means he is saying he wants to kill him.)

Kerry has proposed $2 trillion in new spending? Kerry would ask the UN's permission before defending the country? Kerry wants to raise taxes? Kerry was against supplying the troops with weapons and even body armor? (My personal favorite was seeing Rove say to Blitzer that it had never occurred to him that the podium looked like a church pulpit!) One lie after another after another in a constant stream that battered our sense of reality.

The magnitude of it makes it difficult to step back and take this in. Has anything like this happened in America before? Have there ever been such blatant falsehoods projected to the public -- from the very top -- day after day, with no shame whatsoever? This is beyond even the lead-up to the Iraq war. This is just all-out, no apologies lying, by everyone involved, in front of and with the approval of millions. The press doesn't really stand up and challenge it -- no one in positions of authority does. People in positions of authority recognize now that they will lose their authority if they question what is happening. This is intimidation reinforcing the lying. (As with the lying, what will be the ripple effects of such widespread intimidation?)

Does truth matter? Does honesty matter? Are there consequences for lying? Or does the biggest lie achieve the biggest reward?

It kept me up last night. I couldn't sleep, wondering what it would mean if Bush can win this election with a campaign that is entirely lies. Worrying. Fearful. What effect must this have on the country and the long-term viability of our democracy? How can we survive this poisoning of our spirit and civility?

I believe it necessarily harms a person to lie, or to be associated with lies. It's like stealing. You lose yourself. What does it profit you to gain the whole world if you lose yourself? Are we watching as we lose everything?

Blog Hero Award

Stirling Newberry is hereby awarded the coveted Seeing the Forest Blog Hero Award for his post 1968, The Sequel. Excerpt:
"The military world is about lack of choices, the metropolitan world about multiplying them. The last thing that both agreed on was that Vietnam was a mistake, but their responses were completely different.
To the metropolitan world, the response was to end the draft. Unable to stop the political class from going to war against its will, it opted out. Like the gold bug who doesn't trust the fed, they wanted to be able to withhold their specific consent from the acts of society. The metropolitan mind says "since I did not give my consent, the war is not my fault".

The military mind embraced the volunteer army -- all the better to make sure that it is "we" and not "they" who serve. But, for the same reason that a white person cannot use the word "nigger" criticism of war cannot be allowed. The military man will tell you about the endless errors and stupidity of the military. The Second World War created an entire series of kinds of "Fuck Ups", from "Situation Normal: All Fucked Up", to "Things Are Really Fucked Up" to "Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition". However, outsiders are not allowed to criticize the war: because it strikes, as noted, at the core of the being of the unit and the service."
In news the rule is that liberals will watch the news, and conservatives will watch conservative news. A liberal will watch to see what you think, the conservative will watch to see how much you agree with him. This is why the headline world is so far to the right even of the content. Consider this week’s Newsweek – it has an article which dishonestly tries to look at Bush in a "balanced" way – soft pedaling his unbroken record of sacrificing the national good for his own short term gain, but still admitting Bush does seem to have problems changing course until it is too late. The headline, however, does not even preserve this level of obsequious pandering – and instead proclaims in large letters "No Excuses!" with a determined Bush on the cover.

The editors know that the conservative will not accept anything less than pure hagiography, while the liberal will at least read the article to find out.

Hence, we have a press which is almost unrelentingly propagandistic for the right, not because the people in the press lean to the right particularly – but because the audience that swells the viewership, and the advertising rates, is a heavily reactionary one.
Right now the Republican Party is not more numerous than the Democratic Party, but its lunatic fringe – wanting to repeal Darwin and Keynes, Einstein and Mahler – is much more numerous and much more plugged into the televsion. The consumer electorate – the consumerate – is incapable of knowing right from wrong. The media is incapable of telling the truth: we cannot say that America has committed war crimes in Iraq. We cannot say that America is now locked in a depression, no longer contracting, but never to reach the peak we had again unless we change policies.

A Constitution is what the nation is constituted upon. It must work. Ours does not. Until the Democratic Party faces the hatred and anger of the military and agrarian castes, and the economy associated with it, it will not be allowed to take power even if it wins the election, as was shown to Gore. Or if it takes power, it will not be allowed to use it, as was shown to Clinton in his second term. Until the will of those whose appetite for lies and paranoia is broken – in a Clauswitzean sense – there will be no peace or stability in the American Republic.
But, please, go read the whole thing.

As likely as not

Ruy Teixeira lifts the veil on pollsters' "likely voter" selection techniques.

The Payoff

Two Anti-Kerry Vets Tapped for VA Panel:
"Two former Vietnam prisoners of war who appear in ads attacking Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites) were appointed by the Bush administration to a panel advising the Department of Veterans Affairs "
Quid pro quo.

Michael Moore's attempt to cover Republican convention sabotaged by security

Cursor, my own favorite one-stop web news source, has a special election page up called "Derelection 2004".

I highly recommend the new site. They've already found me this story:

"....Moore, who entered the building at about 9 p.m., was stopped several times as he made his way through the convention to a press table, where guards surrounded him. Security guards then blocked access to several rows of press tables for an hour while he remained in the building.Gallegos, who has overseen daily press credentials for each political convention since 1972, said the guards and New York City police had no authority to stop access for Moore, or close off a press area without proper cause. "Not since 1968 in Chicago did police get this involved in media access," Gallegos told E&P Thursday. "When you have the police force telling individuals what access they are going to have, and it is not based on a safety issue, that is scary."

Guantanamo on the Hudson

OK -- I've been an academic most of my life and now I'm going to be shrill and alarmist. We had better wake up and start paying attention to our civil rights. Here in New York, we don't seem to have any civil rights any longer. This is like Argentina or Peru back in the days when people just vanished and frankly I don't want to live in a third world country.

I have a beautiful, very sweet new cat. He was found by a friend in a bus depot. When she found him he was very sick. The vet she took him to thought his liver had been damaged by the oil slick on the floor of the depot. He almost died, but she nursed him back to health. He seems fine now, but has to have a special diet and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can keep the little guy healthy. Why am I telling you this? Because if that kind of contamination can make a cat sick, it can make a human sick.

Pier 57, which was used as a bus depot until recently, is where the demonstrators who were arrested were taken. My neighbor's daughter was arrested on Monday evening. Her mother was lucky. She'd gotten a call from her daughter saying she thought she was going to be arrested before she vanished. The other hysterical parents around here whose kids vanished got no calls. My neighbor's daughter didn't surface again until she managed to call her mother from Central Booking around 9:30 last night. She wasn't released until 11. When she got home she was covered with black oil from sleeping on the floor. It seems they did get some food now and then. I'd heard they hadn't.

It's illegal to hold people for more than 24 hours without arraigning them. People have a right to make a phone call, to see a lawyer, to have medical treatment. That's now a big joke. The almost 2000 who were arrested were denied access to phones, lawyers, medical treatment for up to 66 hours. I've heard on good authority that extra judges and lawyers had been appointed to process up to a thousand protesters a day, and sat in their court rooms with nothing to do. People arrested for committing real crimes were being processed through the system as usual, but not the demonstrators. State Supreme Court Justice John Cataldo issued an order yesterday, over the protests of the city attorneys, that those who had been held beyond 24 hours be released by 5 PM. The city ignored this and has been held in contempt of court, ordered to pay $1000 per protester still being held. We'll see where this goes from here.

The protesters were held in wire pens set up inside Pier 57. Many were told they wouldn't be released if they didn't plead guilty. Many of the people arrested were innocent bystanders, some as young as 13, who were simply swept up in the crowd. Central Booking seems to have had the phones "off the hook." Desperate parents couldn't get through. Those who went to Central Booking were told there was no list of names of those held at the Pier. One mother was told by a clerk that they were planning to hold everyone until Bush left town.

Those held at the Pier were put into wire cages like those at Guantanamo -- thus the name given to the Pier -- but the conditions were worse. There were no cots or beds and few benches. People had to sit on the floor and sleep on the floor, in the oily filth. Bloomberg compared the demonstrators to terrorists, so it's clear what the city administration was thinking. That bastion of Bush style thinking, the Cato Institute, of all unexpected places, was quite right when they expressed their alarm about the Patriot Act. The term "terrorist" is so vague it can apply to anybody, even to 13 year olds riding their bikes, trying to get home. There's a hideous logic to Bloomberg and Kelly, the police commissioner, applying the Patriot Act to the demonstrators. In their minds, the law's there, and they used it. We can just kiss free speech and the rest of our civil rights good-bye. Say one word against the Bush administration and our rights are gone. I hope nobody gets sick from having spent days in those filthy pens in Pier 57. I hope they sue the city if they do, but I'd rather they not be damaged for life. It's bad enough that our government lied to us about the air quality at Ground Zero because a proper clean-up would have cost money and now hundreds of people's lungs are damaged for life.

I watched the last night of the Convention and then I watched Kerry's speech afterwards. I hope to God he will keep it up and that his finally getting tough and honest isn't too little, too late. I don't want to live in a country where people are treated like this.

I am an anti-intellectual Yahoo

This is a response to an academic scholar speculating that the Democrats might be better off if Kerry loses and Bush has to face the consequences of his mistakes. Contrary to my usual practice, I didn't become insulting, but I really should have.

I think that simple-minded Democratic partisans are in this case, as often, wiser than the sophisticated strategic thinkers. In fact, I think that sophisticated strategic thinking is one of the curses of the Democratic Party. When Enron was breaking I was told again and again that the wise Democratic strategists were waiting for the right moment to exploit the issue, but that moment never came. (The truth was that Lieberman and others were so implicated with Enron themselves that the issue was unexploitable for them. I often find it easy to understand why Nader went crazy).

The statistical distribution for political leaders is not a Bell curve. It's thick at the bottom and middle and thin at the top, like graphs of any other difficult accomplishment. There are many more 1's and 2's than there are 9's and 10's, and mediocrity is a considerable achievement.

There's also a disproportion between the good a good man can do (make significant finite improvements) and the bad a bad man can do (plunge the world into interminable war, destroy the world economy, exterminate a people, bring a civilization to an end). This is because there are lots of ways to do things wrong, and only a few ways to do things right, so a random or uninformed choice will normally be wrong. It's not a 50-50 split.

So the choice between a mediocre candidate and a bad one is really pretty large. Probably Kerry's a 5 or a 6, and Bush is a 3 at best, and (judging by Zell) more likely to move down than up. That's an enormous difference, and not one to play games with.

Today the shrill and alarmist are much wiser than the urbane and crafty.

Academic life has a taboo against substantive, decisive, concrete, practical thinking in favor of toying with interesting and ingenious conceptual abstractions. This is one of the reasons that a lot of Americans hate Democrats and liberals, and smug explanations that they're all just anti-intellectual Yahoos are nothing but self-serving denial.



After Bush's speech I'm going from channel to channel and it might just be a freak of coincidence but every single channel I flip to has a Republican commentator on, praising the speech. I was in the convention hall in Boston (watching them trying to get the balloons to drop) after Kerry's speech, so I didn't have the chance to see what the TV was doing. Did they have Democratic Party commentators on, praising Kerry's speech?

Bush Just Said

Bush just said, words to this effect, "We gave Saddam a final chance to disarm, and he refused. So I had to make a decision." And then he talked about how he had to "defend America."

Disarm? Saddam refused to disarm?

Question for Non-Californians

In California the Republican governor has frozen election funds that would normally be used "to train poll workers, educate voters or adequately monitor electronic voting systems." San Mateo Daily Journal:
"State and county election officials are negotiating use of federal election money after a portion of it was frozen last week by the Schwarzenegger administration."
I'm wondering a\if anything like this is happening in any other sates? Is this part of a national voter-suppression scheme?

No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service

Digby has a post up (referencing Ruy Teixeira) about a noticible recent trend of Democratic defeatism. I've been a nay-sayer myself at times -- I think that Kerry's media relations have been weak and inept, and I think that he was stupid to ask MoveOn to pull the Bush National Guard ad. But nonetheless, things look pretty good for Kerry. Bush has gained a few points, but there are always fluctuations in the polls. The only short-term changes that makes any difference are the ones in the last week of the campaign, and you only really find out about these when the votes are counted. As Teixeira points out, Kerry's still in good shape.

Morale is important, and a lot of Democrats have the morale of a whipped dog. Even well-intended nay-saying can have a bad effect, and we can expect tons of ill-intended naysaying on top of that. Which leads me to my main topic: trolls.

Why do trolls waste so much time making stupid posts on opposition sites? Are they just loony, pathetic, losers?

The answer may be yes, but it's not because they are trolling our comment threads. The purpose of trolling is to derail productive discussion and to hurt morale. Whether or not trolling is organized or not, and whether the trolls are paid or not, they are rational political operators who know what they're doing. They're disrupting the opposition.

(Some people pooh-pooh blogs and blog comments and laugh at the idea that organized disruption might take place. I personally think that some people are being silly. Websites play a significant role in the internal communications of the most committed Democrats, and the Republicans would not be foolish if they were to spend money disrupting them).

Today I've seen several threads that were half troll. The effect was depressing. This is an especially critical time, and I don't think that we really need to find out what Al and Adrian thought about Zell's speech.

The answer is easy: delete their posts. Ignoring them doesn't work. Ridiculing them and cursing them is more fun, but that doesn't really work either. Banning them can work unless they're IT-proficient, but deleting their posts is the only effective response.

No host has the obligation to allow anyone he doesn't like on his comments: "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone". Anyone who feels like it run a forum open to all, but there's no obligation to do so. An internal center-left dialogue is a good thing, and certain people need to be excluded in order for that to take place. We have lots to talk about among ourselves, and morale-building is a good thing.

Policing a thread is work, but it can be delegated. Matt, Kevin, Atrios, and the others should give some of their regulars the codes required to delete hostile posts (Kos is a model).

You can expect them to whine about free speech and open debate, blah blah blah, things they don't care about at all, and accuse us of running an echo chamber. But let them whine elsewhere.

If Democrats can't defend themselves against feeble little moron shits like Al or Adrian Spidle, how can they defend the US against Osama?


Matt Stoller has been attending a Republican training session for GOP grassroots leaders. In one session they showed a focus group of women, and what they want from this campaign. It's well owrth reading. Also Jerome has his notes from another session. (Be sure to scroll down.)

Something I've been saying: People are scared and they want leaders who will protect them. Kerry needs to tell the public how he is better at protecting them against terrorists than Bush is. He needs to make a convincing case. That is what the public wants to know. That is the ONLY question today. The Republicans know this.

What Can I Say?

First, the WARNING FOR TODAY: The game plan keeps changing and the public is not being told what the new rules of the game are. If we were, they couldn't catch us breaking the rules we don't know about. If you are visiting or live in Manhattan, DON'T PHOTOGRAPH AROUND THE HARBOR, THE RIVERS, BRIDGES, OR ANYTHING TO DO WITH WATER. IF YOU DO THE COAST GUARD IS GOING TO GET YOU. This is part of the new security against "terrorism." Never mind how irrational this is, the tens of thousands of photographs that exist, that the New York City waterfront is a major tourist attraction, or that it happens to be very beautiful. This restriction may not end when the Convention ends.

Out of a sense of duty, I've been keeping track of the Convention -- and the demonstrations. First, the demonstrations. These have been greeted with the usual paranoia and overkill. Down by the WTC, where a group had negotiated with the police to march for a reading of the names of those killed in the attack and in the war in Iraq, it seems that someone stepped off the sidewalk curb. So having gone about half a block, not blocking any traffic, even on the sidewalk, the first three hundred were immediately arrested. I don't know the exact figure as of this Thursday morning, but as of yesterday roughly three times the number arrested in Chicago in 1968, at least 1600, had already been arrested. Some of the arrests were bloody but I don't know how many have been injured.

About something you'll see on TV -- the black guy stomping a policeman. Yeah, that's a real video. He did that. What you aren't going to see is the video of the policeman in plain clothes riding a motorcycle into the crowd and the terrified look on the faces of the people he was attacking. Nobody knew this was a cop, but, cop or not, he shouldn't have done that. Yeah, the guy shouldn't have stomped him once he was down, but pulling him off that motorcycle was self-defense, and defense of the rest of the people there. Real video can lie, too. You see the image, you believe it. Like with the Dean scream. It's wonderful what editing can do. I hope I get jury duty for that kid's trial.

The demonstrations have mostly been announced well in advance. At the NY Public Library, at 42nd St., a gathering place announced in advance, the police were ready. Not only was anyone who happened to be on the steps arrested, whether there to demonstrate or not, but people were knocked to the ground as they came out of the subways. The 42nd St. station is a major transportation hub. The routine used is to surround people with orange netting, sometimes keep them trapped for hours before arresting them. Those arrested seem to -- vanish. My next door neighbor's daughter called her mother Tuesday evening to say she thought she might be arrested. After that, nothing until late in the afternoon yesterday. We frantically called everywhere. Central Booking seems to have its phones off the hook. The lawyers supposed to look after demonstrators hadn't been allowed to talk to anyone. Her cell phone had been confiscated, she was finally at Central Booking when she called, she thought she'd be kept for at least 24 hours. I'm not sure she's home yet.

Meanwhile, demonstrators managed to get inside the Garden and disrupt the Convention at least four times yesterday. What kind of security is that? Paranoia, hysteria, intimidating and terrorizing people, public displays of how tough we are and how we mean business do not equal good security. Obviously, a well-trained terrorist could have gotten in there and killed people. That this didn't happen was pure luck, not good security.

As for the convention itself -- where's the beef? Day One -- our glorious president got us through 9/11. Yeah. After he finally surfaced, and I don't mean that seven minute delay so he wouldn't scare the school children. I mean the several days he was -- well -- not available for comment, and definitely not acting as Commander-in-Chief. Leadership. Courage and strength, eh? That seems to be the message we're supposed to take away with us. Giuliani managed to get to the WTC immediately, almost got himself killed. Even Pataki managed to show up and he had to come down from Albany.

Second day -- compassion. Yeah. You can tell when you're dealing with passive aggression because it makes you choke with anger you can't express because the other party's being so "nice". Republican delegates went around the city to teach us New Yorkers how to be charitable and do the compassionate conservative thing. Nice photo-ops. Painting walls in one of Carter's Habitat for Humanity houses, as though that's not a volunteer project, Serving food to Senior Citizens. Who did they think those people working next to them were, anyway? And the speeches -- Good God! The Muscle Man telling those unemployed because of Bush policies not to be girly men? Laura Bush (does she own any clothing that's not powder blue) telling us how sweet her husband is? We've already seen three years of this kind of compassion, thank you.

Third day -- pure, spitting hatred. The religion of hate. How is this different from the Islamic fundamentalists? I've never seen such hatred spewed in one place before. Even Hitler was FOR something, loved his Master Race, dogs, and blond children, So far as I can see, these people need an exorcism. The Devil's got em.

Obviously, I'm depressed. Can't wait for tonight's display! What are we supposed to take away with us? Oh, yeah. Leadership, courage, strength, compassion, vote for us, and the other side ain't go any of it. Hate, lies and deception. Outside on the streets, hate, paranoia, hysteria, macho men in uniforms with machine guns, attack dogs, no genuine security. This bunch is gonna protect us from terrorists? Terrorists are rational and intelligent. They are watching this sham and see the holes in it; the unprotected chemical plants, the rear of airports not guarded, wide-open ports, the vulnerable nuclear establishments, how easy it is to get into the convention hall.

And where's the social policy? So far as I can see, there isn't any. Carrying meals to the tables of Senior Citizens doesn't cut it, doesn't even look so good on TV. What about the elderly who can't get around and can't afford food or medicines? What about the homeless in a city where the average rent is $3000 a month for places I wouldn't put a cow in? What about health care, the failing economy, where's the plan? Lies and deception. Don't I realize that everything's coming up roses?

I can't eat roses. We'll see what tonight brings.


Flip Flop

Now I'm going to do a complete flip-flop and say that I have realized that all the talk about Bush surging in the polls sounds like a classic Carl Rove scam to discourage the opposition and try to create a wave that Bush can ride.

I know, insider talk again. Let me explain. Bush's political advisor is a guy named Carl Rove. One of the tactics he employs is the old "bandwagon" effect. This is where you convince everyone that things are going a certain way, and when enough people start believing that, things DO start going that way. In the last election Rove even had Bush going to California in the final days to try to convince people that they were so sure they were going to win, even in California, that they would just give up... Because a campaign NEVER expends resources on states that are a lost cause. So by having Bush go to California, he was trying to get the press and the Democrats to believe that Bush was even going to win California.

So maybe the only surge happening is a surge of Rove-generated stories. And maybe I have fallen for it, and become discouraged about Kerry and the Swift Boat smear, and the ability of the public to detect blatant liars and reject them.

So Wrong

So very, very wrong

Single payer explained

Everyone should see this. (via the goddess Avedon)

Can't say this too often (well, I could, but I won't)

I posted this as a comment over at BOPNews. I post a similar comment somewhere or other about twice a week.

I don't get it. Everybody continues to talk as though the media have somehow failed. They are lazy, or cowed, or "unable to frame", or working for evil editors ("Who are these editors?!") or maybe just feeling a bit under the weather.

But that is all a very basic and very dangerous delusion. They are doing their jobs very well. This is a competitive world, and careerists everywhere know that capital rules and labor is shit. They know what they have to do to keep their jobs, whether they are paid $80,000 or $80,000,000. They are doing a great job for their bosses.

Stop whining about the media. It's like whining about Halliburton. Like they care? Like it means anything that you disapprove of them? Jeeesh.

Billings (Montana) Gazette - Columbus swift boat vet angry about letter

[The article quotes a second swift boat vet, Bob Wedge, to the effect that he had not granted permission to add his name to the list.


"Anderson said he first learned about the situation last week when he received an e-mail from a third party. The e-mail, from a Tom Pyle, said Pyle had contacted a dozen men whose names showed up on the list. Of the dozen, three said they had not given permission, Anderson said."

Article "suspects the list was pulled from the Swift Boat Sailors Association, a nonpolitical, not-for-profit organization linking swift boat veterans."

In other words, the Swift Boat Veterans Against Kerry appear to be scum sucking liars.


Columbus swift boat vet angry about letter


Of The Gazette Staff

COLUMBUS - Swift boat veteran Bob Anderson of Columbus is ticked.

It bothers him that Sen. John Kerry's swift boat history has become such a political hot potato. But he's even more irritated that his name was included - without his permission - on a letter used to discredit Kerry.

[... continued ...]

--Thomas Leavitt

Picking up the torch

Last night Ahnold told us about his political genesis. How he became a Republican. He watched on television, he said, Nixon debating Humphrey. His friend translated. And blah blah blah. One problem (as Randi Rhodes reminded us today) -- Nixon and Humphrey never debated.

It's heartwarming to some, I guess, to see that Ronnie's torch (of endless bullshitting and never getting called on it) has been picked up by another fantasy hero.

What Did Kerry REALLY Say?

I've been looking at the statements the Republicans are making about Kerry, and as I look into them every single one turns out to be either a flat-out lie, a deliberate misquote, a "doctored" statement, or at best a misleading distortion! Every single one!

Shouldn't this kind of absolute dishonesty from a President and his party be THE issue in the campaign? Lies, doctored quotes, outright distrotions, all repeated daily form the campaign of a President of the United States! What have we sunk to that such blatant, brazen dishonesty from the highest levels is not a national scandal?

Here is a Washington Post story documenting how Giuliani used dishonest Kerry "quotes" in his speech.

The most widespread example is the lie that Kerry said, "actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it." Yes, doctoring the tape - editing it down to just that part of what he said does make him sound two-faced. But in the ENTIRE statement, Kerry said he voted for the bill in a form WHERE IT WAS PAID FOR - and of course all the Republicans voted against that. And he voted against it in a form where the money was borrowed - which means taken out of the Social Security surplus -- your retirement funds. An LA Times story said,
"Kerry's staff said he was trying to indicate his support for an amendment funding the appropriation from increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans. When that amendment failed, he voted against the bill."
In fact Bush threatened to veto the bill for similar reasons.

The next most-repeated lie is the charge that Kerry accused fellow veterans of committing atrocities. You can find the entire text of what Kerry said here, in How Do You Ask a Man to Be the Last Man to Die in Vietnam?. There is also a Meet the Press transcript here. Since this is the basis of the Right's current campaign of slime against Kerry, it's a good idea to go read the entire thing, and understand what he REALLY said.

We're Waiting

Loves Dogs, Hates Kerry: A Two-Prong Campaign Tactic, a story about how the Republican convention is almost all Kerry-bashing while the Democratic convention avoided similar mentions of Bush:
"Senator Larry E. Craig, an Idaho Republican, argued yesterday at a breakfast at the Harvard Club in Manhattan that Mr. Bush was edging up in polls precisely because of the continuing stream of attacks."
And the Moonie Washington Times writes,
The word to Republican speakers at the national convention is that bashing Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry is fine.

Unlike Democrats, who put out word that they were editing speeches to tamp down on harsh criticism of President Bush at their convention in Boston in July, the Republicans are not shying away from full-throttle engagement.
HELLO! WAKE UP!!! We're WAITING for the Democratic Party to respond to the attacks! Kos, talking about how the TV coverage of BOTH conventions features mostly Republican commentators, says,
What the hell? Was it the DNC that dropped that ball? And if it wasn't them, and they were excluded by the networks, why haven't they been raising a stink about it?
Salon, in They knew how to win. Does John Kerry?, says,
Over the years hardball-loving Republicans have done a masterful job of painting their opponents with a damning brush, the way the elder Bush easily wiped out a double-digit lead over Dukakis in 1988 by portraying the Massachusetts governor as a weak, out-of-the-mainstream liberal. In 2000, with the help of the press, they turned Gore into a duplicitous exaggerator.
Have I said before that EVERYONE KNEW this is how the Republicans campaign? Have I said before that the Kerry campaign should have been preparing an effective response for two years now? Instead they waited two weeks after the Swift Boat smear started, did some REALLY GOOD responding for about two days, then dropped it. What happened to the threatened lawsuit?

I know, the election is still a ways off, and they don't want to drop the neutron bomb on Bush too soon. But responding to the smears and attacks is another story. They are letting the Republicans get away with this. Why?

Maybe they are afraid that Rush Limbaugh will say something bad about them if they fight back.

Trolls For Hire

Recent experiences at Seeing the Forest have given us an idea. Dave, John and Richard have decided to hire out as trolls. (John and Richard don't know this yet.) We will show up at right-wing blogs and leave obnoxious comments for $2 each. (Richard will do it for $1 if he is allowed to mention torches, pikes or guillitines.)

Either way, please see John's recent bleg.


On His Watch

Holding Bush Accountable for 9/11.

Old Smear By The Same Crowd

Two years ago I wrote about what happened to Jimmy Carter's presidency:
"looking back now, it is much easier to see than it was at the time. Carter was being attacked in a new way, by the newly-formed web of right-wing organizations ..."
Well someone else has seen this, too.
Go see Ledeen Involved in Smear Politics as Far Back as 1980. Look at the players in this smear: Ledeen, Arnaud de Borchgrave, Accuracy in Media... And the date -- just before the election...

New Evidence of Recent Torture in Iraq

Through Digby, this: TNS: American Lawyer Finds New Evidence of Recent Torture in Iraq


Hardball with Media on AWOL: Publish Story Now or Face Massive Boycotts.

Spread the word.

Defenders of Wildlife Cartoon Blog

Defenders of Wildlife's new weblog Defender Bear has a cartoon for US!

I'll write more on this later, after the convention, so that it gets more exposure.

So, Has the Smear Worked?

Larry Kudlow: Swift surge for Bush:
"Clearly, the Swift boat veterans are having a major impact on this presidential race. In truth, not one of the political pundits saw this coming. Perhaps John Kerry should have anticipated it, but judging from his tepid, halting, and per-usual flip-flopping responses, it would appear that he was totally unprepared.

And the worst may be yet to come for Kerry: Two other surveys show that the impact of the Swiftees could be even greater than established polling data suggest.

The Tradesport.com survey shows Bush opening up an absolutely incredible 58 percent to 42 percent lead over Kerry. Two weeks ago this survey had them locked at 50. Similarly, the Iowa Electronic Market has Bush surging with a 55 percent to 45 percent lead over his opponent. That's also up from a dead heat only a few weeks ago."
This is from a wing nut, but still... The Iowa Electronic Market chart. And, the Electoral College Predictor.


Keeping in m ind what I wrote about Americans looking for a leader who will protect them, take a look at the "prepared remarks" of Laura Bush, in Laura Bush Says Husband Leads with 'Strength':
First Lady Laura Bush said on Tuesday that President Bush (news - web sites) had led the United States with "strength and conviction" after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and deserved re-election so he could finish the job of making America safer.

As Republicans hoped to show a softer, more compassionate side on the second night of their convention, the first lady said in prepared remarks her husband was leading "the most historic struggle my generation has ever known. The stakes are so high."
I repeat: People are scared and they want leaders who will protect them. Kerry needs to tell the public how he is better at protecting them against terrorists than Bush is. He needs to make a convincing case. That is what the public wants to know. That is the ONLY question today. The Republicans know this.

Seven Minutes

I just saw Andrew Card (White House Chief of Staff) on CNN, saying that when he told Bush on 9/11 that the country was under attack, he also told him not to scare the kids. He explains that this is why Bush sat there and did nothing for 7 minutes. They have been using this "didn't want to scare the kids" story for a while to explain why Bush froze up when it counted. It must have tested well in the focus groups. (Better than the other stories they tried, anyway...)

The country is under attack, but they don't want to scare the kids in the room by responding to the attack that is occurring. Bush doesn't want to stand up and say, "There is something I have to take care of." Right, THAT's the reason he sat there for seven minutes.

Seven minutes.

Seven minutes is a very long time when you are under attack. If we are attacked by a missile launched from a submarine that missile is going to hit in just a few minutes. Such an attack could very well start with an attack exactly like what happened on 9/11. Or, the 9/11 attack could well have been followed by other kinds of attacks. We could have been mobilizing our forces. But we weren't. Our government literally sat paralyzed for seven minutes.

This happened On His Watch. For our own protection it is time for a change. I repeat, People are scared and they want leaders who will protect them. Kerry needs to tell the public how he is better at protecting them against terrorists than Bush is. He needs to make a convincing case. That is what the public wants to know. That is the ONLY question today. The Republicans know this.

When the Chips Were Down ...

... George Bush threw up. (Play the movie...)

The point is that even the smallest comparison of what Bush and Kerry were doing in their youth tells us Bush has NO BUSINESS being in the White House. He is in WAAAYYY over his head! Think about the pure audacity of Bush running a smear on Kerry's war record, considering his own background!

But, look at it another way for just a minute. With all the smears and lies and dirty tricks, Bush and the Republicans are demonstrating that they are willing to do what it takes to get what they want. ("You got some shit I want, I TAKE it." Movie - DSL or cable recommended.) People on "our side" don't respect this, but people on the other side do. Digby has been running with a "Triumph of the Will" theme, talking about how they respond with a fight. I don't think the Republicans are making a mistake running with this theme at this time.

If you think about it, roughly half of the public is convinced that we are in a war to the finish, Christians against Muslims, and that the Muslims will stop at nothing to kill all of us. The Right is spreading this, and a lot of people believe it. (More on this shortly.) So people are afraid and WANT leadership that will stop at nothing - nothing - to destroy their opponents. Sure, we could try educating the public between now and the election. We could try that...

I think what is happening with this Swift Boat smear is a metaphor for this larger battle. The Republicans are fighting like there is no tomorrow (because a lot of them are going to jail if honest oversight is restored to our government...), and a good part of the public wants fighters. So their ruthless unprincipled stomping of Kerry tells the public that they are the ones to do the job against the Muslims.

When the smear first appeared, I wrote,
And now a big Kerry smear arrives. What response has Kerry prepared? . . . 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.

[. . .] To me, this goes beyond the campaign. This goes beyond protecting their own political careers. This goes to protecting us. What is the criticism of Bush for 9/11? That all the signs were there that we were going to be attacked, and they ignored it.

Does Kerry have a devastating response ready for The Big Smear? To me this is the same question as: Is Kerry ready to be president?
Josh Marshall also wrote about this, calling it the "bitch slap" tactic of demonstrating toughness.
"Consider for a moment what the big game is here. This is a battle between two candidates to demonstrate toughness on national security. Toughness is a unitary quality, really -- a personal, characterological quality rather than one rooted in policy or divisible in any real way. So both sides are trying to prove to undecided voters either that they're tougher than the other guy or at least tough enough for the job.

In a post-9/11 environment, obviously, this question of strength, toughness or resolve is particularly salient. That, of course, is why so much of this debate is about war and military service in the first place.

One way -- perhaps the best way -- to demonstrate someone's lack of toughness or strength is to attack them and show they are either unwilling or unable to defend themselves -- thus the rough slang I used above. And that I think is a big part of what is happening here. Someone who can't or won't defend themselves certainly isn't someone you can depend upon to defend you.

Demonstrating Kerry's unwillingness to defend himself (if Bush can do that) is a far more tangible sign of what he's made of than wartime experiences of thirty years ago."
How did you feel when Lieberman said it was OK to go ahead and count illegal absentee ballots in Florida? Did you feel like your party leadership standing up and fighting for you? No, you felt like Democrats were the party of wimpy appeasers. So seriously, after that would you want Joe Lieberman leading the fight to protect your family if they were in danger from a terrorist attack?

Of course, the other side of asking for a "ruthless leader" is that when you get people like Bush and his cronies in power there is no reason to believe they are going to fight for you -- these guys would just as quick take everything you have and leave you naked in the cold. Look what the Bush administration and Enron did to California just after the election. And look how they gutted your retirement by handing out the Social Security surplus as tax cuts to their rich buddies.

I was VERY HAPPY with Kerry when he finally (after waiting two weeks) responded to the smear. But even then I wrote,
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.
Well, they started running a very effective ad, telling Bush "Shame on you!" for the smear. BUT THEN THEY TOOK IT OFF THE AIR because they THOUGHT that John McCain might not approve -- the same John McCain who is campaigning for Bush right now. The same McCain who said this weekend that he didn't see what else beside the smear could be causing Kerry's drop in the polls.

So I am not sure what to think today. Today it seems like the Kerry team has backed off from fighting back, doesn't have it in them to see this through, SEEMINGLY DOESN'T SEE THE LARGER ISSUE IN PLAY HERE. Is the Kerry campaign ready for the fight to come? It's going to get a LOT worse than just this Swift Boat smear. But Kerry is running against a fraud, a man who received a memo warning of a coming attack and went on vacation, who sat reading "My Pet Goat" for SEVEN MINUTES, after being told the country was under attack. Thinking purely in terms of being protected from terrorists, I do not want the Pet Goat man in office. I do not want to trust my life to the man who CREATED the terrorist threat that Iraq is now, but wasn't before. But to get that man out of office we need a campaign team that is willing and able to explain these points to the public.

People are sc ared and they want leaders who will protect them. Kerry needs to tell the public how he is better at protecting them against terrorists than Bush is. He needs to make a convincing case. That is what the public wants to know. That is the ONLY question today. The Republicans know this.

Update - Charles Pierce over at Altercation today:
If this campaign is lost, it was lost on the day on which John Kerry was persuaded to "denounce" a MoveOn ad concerning C-Plus Augustus's blithe attitude toward his sworn military duty. What in God's name did Kerry hope to gain by this? Did he expect to shame the Bush people out of the Swift Boat hoax? Did he expect to get credit for taking the high-road on the campaign-reform issue by a press corps that has treated this pack of obvious lies mainly as an effective campaign tactic? That decision more than any other enabled the R's to shift the debate onto "shadowy" 527 organizations and off the Bush family tradition of outsourcing the really nasty stuff to the hired help. No surrender, my aunt Fannie. And now Kerry can't go back.
Maybe he was afraid that Rush Limbaugh would say something bad about him if he didn't.

Welcome to La La Land

So that effete little prince who cross-dresses as a cowboy and loves to don macho uniforms sometimes sporting medals he doesn't seem to have earned is planning to run for his second term on the basis of what happened in New York on 9/11, is he? And he's so lacking in decency and good taste that he dares to present this here, in New York City? All this simpering sentimentality over 9/11! This guy really knows how to tug at the heartstrings, doesn't he? This whole damned (and I mean damned in the religious sense of the word) convention is nothing more than a slick -- very pretty, very slick -- lie.

What did Bush have to do with 9/11 except to allow it to happen because he was too arrogant and ignorant to pay attention to Clinton's warnings about al Qaeda? The 9/11 Commission seems to have been able to find plenty of indications that something major was about to happen. Even strong indications that whatever was about to happen would involve hijacked planes. To not have enough airport security to prevent four -- count em, four -- planes from being hijacked at the same time, and then to not even notice that four planes had been hijacked until they began to crash into buildings -- and then, once aware that something was amiss, not be able to figure out what to do about it, has to mean that those responsible for protecting public safety were not only asleep but in a deep coma.

And what has he done since then for this city besides showing up three days later for a photo-op? His immediate REAL response was to betray us by not allowing the REAL reports on air quality at the WTC site to be released, thus poisoning all who worked there and everyone who lived near there. How many of the workers at the site, who could have been protected by at least wearing a mask, are now sick, probably damaged for life? Yeah, now he calls them heros. I guess they just weren't heroic enough or important enough to protect their safety by telling them the truth. The police and firemen who sacrificed so much that day certainly aren't being rewarded like heros -- they've been working without a contract for two years. Or, in the Bush every-man-for-himself ideology, they should have figured out for themselves that the air was poisonous and not believed the reports that the air was safe? Oh, there's a long list of sins against the city, a history of utter contempt for the city and its suffering, the most recent being that remark about the "unseemly scramble for money" by city officials afterwards. Only a bunch of psychopaths could act like this and then come to this wounded city to claim credit for how noble their response has been. Their response? Establishing the huge, incredibly expensive, meaningless "Homeland Security" department, taking away the workers' rights to do it, which seems mainly tell us to buy lots of duct tape, to issue dubious terrorist alerts based on a color scale -- and, of course, the amazing decision to attack Iraq while ignoring the real terrorist danger.

Yeah, McCaine has to tow the party line if he wants to advance his political career. I can understand that. I can understand Giuliani, too. I've always known that he's a man of overriding political ambition. If anyone in the Republican party has a right to talk about 9/11 he does. He went to the site immediately, at great personal risk, and the city owes him a lot for the calm way he handled the aftermath. At least the officials in NYC had been aware ever since the first attack on the WTC that something was going to happen, had planned for this, and had held disaster drills for years. I know this, and know this began long before Giuliani was on the scene, because I worked for city government. But he deserves full credit for steering the city through impossible times. Even so, shame on both these men for pandering to Bush!

Then, of course, there's Pataki. A notably weak governor who can't ever get a state budget passed on time, to the point where last year the Assembly rebelled and overrode his veto. He will introduce Bush for his acceptance speech, He also has his political ambitions and knows how to pander. A perfect courtier for the effete little prince. We'll see how long it takes Bush to turn on him. Bush has a charming habit of doing that to his "friends." What's weird about Pataki is that he seems to actually believe the lies and the garbage about why we're at war in Iraq and that it has something to do with 9/11. He's said that he wants to include a piece of that statue of Saddam that was famously pulled down, thus "liberating" the Iraqis, in the foundation of what gets built at the WTC site.

Yes, they're all still insisting that the war in Iraq is part of the "war on terror" to the point where it becomes impossible to tell which they're talking about. In spite of the fact that it's perfectly clear that Iraq had no connection to al Qaeda. Wrong religious sect for one thing -- al Qaeda had ties with Iran, and maybe Bush didn't know the difference between the two countries? Well, a large portion of the country still believes there was a tie between Iraq and al Qaeda, and that if Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction, they would have gotten hold of them.

Of the people. By the people. For the people. We've managed to govern ourselves by this principle for a very long time. Either the State exists for the people, or the people exist to serve the State. These are two extremely different points of view. If you believe the state exists to serve the people, you believe that people are capable of intelligent choice. That's why we've had free public education in this country. If you believe that the state is superior to the people, then you believe that an elite must subdue and control the "masses" because the "masses" are a churlish mob. Thus, if you're a member of the elite, it's not only OK but a duty to deceive the "masses," lie to them, it's for their own good. And who are those inferior masses? That's us, folks, you and me and everyone we know, unless we happen to be members of that elite governing group. We're those churlish brutes, and that's how we'll be treated. We're expendable. That's why there's so much security around Madison Square Garden. To protect the elite from us churlish brutes. That's why the Republicans are lusting for violent demonstrations to prove we're the churlish brutes. That's why there will be so many arrests justified or not, every incident reported by the media, true or not, instigated by the police or not. Don't say I didn't warn you.

There are those who understand this all too well. There were those who understood in ancient Rome, in Germany, in Russia, in every country throughout history that lost its liberty or its chance for liberty. That's why that army of people in Sunday's demonstration was chanting: This is what Democracy looks like. Well, folks, which is it going to be? Do we lose our Republic and allow ourselves to be conned into Empire?

The Uniter

President Bush will give a live interview on Rush Limbaugh'a radio show today at 1:45 PM ET.

Update - He AGAIN repeated that he had to go to war because Saddam refused to disarm (I again ask, DISARM WHAT?!!), and because of all the connections between Iraq and terrorists.

It's obvious why they are keeping Bush away from any press people that might ask serious questions -- this guy is in WAAAY over his head. Certainly there aren't going to be any press conferences between now and the election.


The focus-group tested talking point word for yesterday was "Courage." Republicans everywhere were using the word.

Remember when the word was "bold?"
Gotta give those right wingers credit for sticking to their talking points. A week or so back a focus group must have said that X% of target demographic Y responds favorably to the word "bold." So now everything is "bold."
The Courage Factor
GOP salutes Bush's courage
Jeers for Moore as Bush courage hailed
In Search of Courage
9/11 Courage at Forefront of Republican National Convention

Lobbyist Received $40 Million for Swift Boat Smear

A Swift Shift in Stories:
"Four days ago, retired naval Rear Adm. William L. Schachte Jr. seconded accusations made by the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth seeking to discredit Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry's record in Vietnam. But since then, Democrats have discovered that Schachte is also a long-standing supporter of President Bush and a lobbyist whose client FastShip Inc. recently won a $40 million grant from the federal government." [emphasis added]
And, of course, the so-called "journalist" that the Bush campaign arranged for Schachte to talk to? Who else?

They just lie! Sometimes they lie for money.

I lied: a bleg

OK, I lied. I swore off blogging a week or so ago, and I really tried to quit, but I'm obsessive. Dave predicted this.

So anyway, I'm trying to figure out how to keep on going at least until the election. In order to do that I'll have to put a quick patch on the various deficits that impelled me to quit. One of them is an obsolescent, parasite-ridden, software-defective computer showing signs of impending hardware death. I need to replace it more or less immediately, or the question of blogging will become moot.

Another is just money to live on. I have a part time job for the rest of the month, but no prospects after that, and if I have to work and jobhunt both that will cramp me a lot. I have a small steady income, but it doesn't really support me, so I always need a little more. Unfortunately I've been falling behind for months as I madly blogged along, and the day of reckoning has arrived.

And finally, I've been asking myself whether I haven't really been taking my political writing too seriously as my finances deteriorated. I really don't have much of an idea whether my writing means much of anything to anyone else. During my first year I was happy to just vent, but during the second year I've been hoping for it to become more than that. So I could use a vote of confidence.

So anyway, if you feel like it, chip in here: the tarsier (little bugeyed animal) is the paypal button. I realize that the campaign season is the worst time for almost everyone here, but in a way I suppose that this is also a referendum about the validity of the internet as a political tool.


John Emerson / Zizka

emersonj at easystreet dot com


What Did I Tell You?

What did I say earlier about Republicans and accusations?

Here's what Maryland's Republican Governor accuses Democrats of:
"Gov. Bob Ehrlich told Maryland delegates at the Republican National Convention Monday that the Democratic Party is 'racist' in its appeal to black voters."
Well, many Americans are black, and they are mostly Democrats. (Gosh, I wonder why?) See, in his statement, the Republican Governor of Maryland ASSUMES that political parties are controlled by white people, who tell black people what to do... Do I need to go on?

Black Eyed Peas

One thing I didn't mention from the Deomcratic Convention was that the Black Eyed Peas came out and did a tune, Let's Get It Started, and it was just great. I thought it was better than the one on the radio. Thanks to C-Span you can judge for yourself. Play this stream and in the Play menu "seek to" 43:50.

Steve Has Questions About Donnie's New Direction

Steve Gilliard's News Blog : Donnie McClurkin, closet case at the RNC

S.F. Chronicle exemplifies shift of center in American political spectrum

I was astounded to open up today's Chronicle, and see it declare

"GOP speakers lean a bit left"

on the interior bridge heading today's lead article, "GOP strives to pitch a bigger tent". The only response I could come up with was gale force laughter... the kind of pained laughter that is spontaneously evoked by tragic absurdity.

Rudolph Giuliani, John McCain, and Arnold Schwartzenegger "lean a bit left"?!? Not on any planet I'm aquainted with. Eugene Debs, Norman Thomas and Henry Wallace must be turning in their graves!

I can't think of a better example of this blog's lead premise, that the "center" of American politics has been dragged right (far to the right) as the result of a meticulously organized media-oriented propaganda campaign bought and paid for by the ultra-right.

--Thomas Leavitt

Accusing Others

The Republicans have more than a little problem with their party being WAAAY over on the fringe. So, being Republicans, how are they going to address this? Regular readers of Seeing the Forest know the answer.

From this NY Times story:
". . . the party seeks to pivot to the center and seize on street demonstrations to portray Democrats as extremist."
For those new to Seeing the Forest -- Here is how you inoculate yourself against an expected accusation for something you're doing: You accuse your opponent of it first.

Has your candidate been flip-flopping? Accuse Kerry of flip-flopping.

Does your candidate have a problem with his service record? Accuse Kerry of having a problem with his service record.

Has your candidate been making shit up? Accuse Kerry of lying.

Is your candidate a political extremist? Accuse Kerry of being out of the mainstream.

Etc. When you know to look for it, you see it in everything they do. It even becomes a good way to figure out what is going on when the news is confusing you. Just look for what they are accusing others of doing, and it's a good bet that they're up to their necks in whatever that is.

UPDATE - Well, well, well. All this time I've been talking about looking at what Republicans accuse others of, to learn what they themselves are up to. So get this: They have been accusing Kerry of claiming service medals that he did not earn. So, with our new "Republicans accusation" rule in mind, think about the implications of their accusation. Then take a look at this, and this and this. There are photos of Bush wearing medalsribbons he never recieved.

Al the Communist Troll speaks

For about a week I've been stalking Al the Troll, whose natural habitat is the Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias comments. (Link). I've been trying to get an an explanation for this anti-capitalist, demagogic smear of George Soros, the Democratic moneybags:

"Soros earned his money
Yeah - he earned it by bankrupting proverty-stricken countries.
Soros takes from the extreme poor and gives to himself. Sounds like every limosine liberal I've ever heard of.
Posted by:
Al on August 23, 2004 at 8:48 PM PERMALINK

(On Kevin Drum's site.)

Al has finally responded (here and here):

"Hey, Zizka.My apologies for not getting back to you on this topic earlier -- real life has largely decreased the amount of time I have for reading and commenting -- especially my ability to engage in extended blog comments conversations -- for the past couple of weeks. I've been able to put in a couple of comments here and there, but nothing real extended.

So, as to your question: I'm certainly not anti-international finance. Hell, that's part of my real-life job. But I expect that most people in the industry engage in transactions for economic, rather than political, reasons. And with Soros, I don't think that's the case. You just need to look at his shorting of the US dollar to know that.

So, did Soros attack the Thai Bhat and Malaysian ringgit for political reasons? I suspect that the answer is yes. Can I prove that? Of course not; I just think it is how he operates. And I think it is unarguable that the Asian crisis put a lot of people in poverty.

So, bottom line, did Soros put a lot of people in poverty for purposes of his political positions, all the while enriching himself? Yeah, I think so.
Al Email Homepage 08.30.04 - 4:59 am #

To which I responded:

Jesus, Al, that's loony. He became a billionaire for non-economic reasons? He made himself rich for non-economic reasons? If he made money on the transaction, it was economic.

"I suspect that the answer is yes. Can I prove that? Of course not; I just think it is how he operates." Al, that's how YOU operate. You're making it up. You admit you have no evidence on the specific case, but deduce it from Soros' general operating principle, but you have no evidence of that either. You're making a serious accusation on the basis of a hunch.

The collapse of the Thai bhat was widely agreed to be the result of real weaknesses in the Thai economy and serious problems such as cronyism and graft in its economic structure. Soros may have precipitated this, but it couldn't have happened if the weaknesses weren't there -- Soros would have gambled and lost in that case. Sooner or later something like that would have happened, but to you, the answer is "Soros did it".

In any case, Soros made his fortune on the poor third-world British. The later episode was secondary.

You were just cherry-picking some reason -- any reason -- to dump on Soros because you disagree with him politically. You have to do this in order to neutralize the creepy Republican billionaires and near-billionaires: Scaife, the Koches, and Moon. Accusing Democrats of what they themselves do is a primary Republican tactic -- "inoculation".

Soros really played a major role in bringing down Communism and and is an estimable guy in his own right. When compared to Moon and Scaife, especially, he's night-and-day superior. Nobody playing at a high level is pristine and Soros is not perfect, but his adversaries are a motley lot, including anti-semitic demagogues, retread-Communist dictators, LaRouchies, Republicans, and Al.
zizka Email Homepage 08.30.04 - 7:07 am #

I think we can continue to call him Al the Communist.

Not Your Mother's Convention 2

CBS News said this morning that the demonstration yesterday was the biggest ever at any American political convention. I assume that includes 1968. Eventually I'll get around to explaining the title for this blog, but this will be more or less straight reporting.

What I'm interested in is the mood, the general tone, the feelings and passions behind what's happening. So I'll start with Saturday. It was one of those hazy, hot, humid NYC August days when it's like breathing under water, early enough so that there were still plenty of people from the woman's march in City Hall Park, late enough to start thinking about Ring Out down by the WTC site. I was on my way to the deli. Next to me on the street was a guy on a bike staring hard at the sky. I looked up, too. Looming out of the haze, really low, was the NYPD blimp, a gaudy Fuji blimp they've rented for the convention and fitted out with the latest Si Fi technology. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. What was it doing HERE? There was nothing going on in the West Village. It was sinister and creepy. I'd have been less creeped out if it had been a UFO. When I compared notes with him, the guy on the bike said he felt the same way. He pulled his camera out of his pocket and photographed it. I didn't take mine out of my purse and photograph it. It's an image that will stay with me forever, but the thought of photographing THEM while it was photographing US photographing THEM was just too Si Fi, too surreal, for me to play the game.

Sunday morning I had to go to the drugstore. I wasn't planning to go straight to the demonstration from there, but it took so long to fill my prescription that I went over to 7th Ave. afterwards without going home for my camera. The Village was in its usual late August where's the party mood, people coming out of the churches I passed, groups of potential demonstrators heading towards Seventh Ave. with everyone in a good mood. The humidity had dropped a little, and there was a breeze. There was the constant drone of many helicopters, and the silent presence of that Fuji blimp. Not too bad a day, at least near the river. I didn't have to go far up 7th Ave. to reach the demonstrators because the crowd was so huge. Since I broke my leg and have a pin in it, I can't walk as far as the march was going, and I knew from past experience that when you're in a march all you see is the group you're with as the crowd pushes you along. I wanted to observe this, so I went home to watch it on C-SPAN. I'm glad I did. There's no way to observe all of a demonstration of this size, except by helicopter or from a blimp. MSNBC was occasionally giving reports from Union Square, where the march was to end. NY1 was doing an unexpectedly terrible job of reporting, spending more time interviewing two officials about security than on the march itself. The other channels were essentially ignoring it.

The demonstrators started passing Madison Square Garden at noon, and this continued until 4:30 PM. I don't know whether everyone got up there, or whether the police decided that was enough and cut it off. This was one truly massive river of people, every possible age, race, and ethnic group, at first rather heavily white, largely baby boomers and older. The oldest woman interviewed was 77 and had managed to get there from New Jersey, but at least one person there was 90. The crowd rather quickly became more mixed, with occasional drums, trumpets, and even bands playing mostly music from Latin America. It was as things were getting a bit hedonistic that the Dragon Float was set on fire; the police handled this, I thought, pretty professionally. They had to get the crowd to move away; this was dangerous. It was also damned annoying since all it accomplished was to disrupt the march. You'll hear a lot on the news about the angry demonstration. Of course there was anger, but the mood went far, far beyond anger. One sign said, "They Stole Our Anguish." Meaning the city's anguish and pain since 9/11. The vast majority of the signs were variations on "Bush Lies." Yeah, they've caught on to this. The mood was more anti-Bush than anti-war. Although there were plenty of anti-war signs and banners, Bush is being blamed for a lot more going wrong than the war. Unfortunately, the mood was vastly more one of desperation about getting rid of Bush no matter how than pro-Kerry. There were very few pro-Kerry signs.

Warning for today: There were a lot of arrests, no reliable figures yet, maybe around 200, maybe as many as 400. Many of these had nothing to do with the demonstration itself. A lot of them were people on bicycles. Police Commissioner Kelly has a thing about bicycles. He said on TV that activists often come in on bicycles. That may be true, but this is a city where people routinely ride bikes! Be very careful riding your bike around town for the next few days. Also, if you're doing the tourist thing and want to take photos of landmarks, no matter who you are, Democrat or Republican, don't do that. If there are any police around and you want to take pictures, ask them first if it's OK. If you don't, you might be in for a big shock. Nobody wants to be arrested for being a terrorist spy.

I hate Kelly, for reasons that date back to his previous appointment as police commissioner. He's a total cynic who controls crime by moving it around the city, and I might write about this later because he's doing this to us again. I do not hate those noble souls who serve in the New York police department who are doing their duty in spite of the fact they haven't had a contract for two years now. Someone -- unfortunately I forget who so I can't give credit -- researched the instructions Kelly has given to the police department about what to watch out for during the convention. Much of the information about what demonstrators are likely to do is an outright lie; much of it exaggeration. Anything anyone ever did anywhere in the world is included, regardless of whether anyone in this country ever did it. How are the police supposed to sort this out under the pressure of dealing with crowd control? So be careful if you're in the city this week, no matter why you're here.

What you won't see

Who better than Kevin Phillips for the cable networks after Zell Miller's speech? Yeah, sure.


Tracing a Smear Artist

Some of you know that I've been writing for some time about hearing planted stories -- anonymous callers to talk shows, letters-to-editors, forwarded e-mail letters, etc. - saying Kerry cuts in front of lines and says "Do you know who I am?" I've been saying this obviously is part of a coordinated smear campaign. Well, I think the following adds some weight to what I have been suspecting.

Take a look at John Kerry: Uppity Rich Guy with a Superiority Complex:
"In Boston, where the junior senator from Massachussets [sic] lives when he's not skipping Senate votes, John Kerry stories are commonplace. Most of these stories involve Kerry pulling rank on a "little guy," cutting to the front of the line, expecting special treatment, or demanding something for free. When confronted about his behavior, Kerry defiantly asks, "Do you know who I am?" Evidently, Kerry believes that once the "little people" understand how important he is, they will simply back down and shut up."
Read the whole thing. It's just wonderful propaganda -- the stuff that comes out of the Right's think tanks and gets repeated through their editorial writers, talk-show hosts, cable TV pundits, etc. You've seen every line from this piece used in one form or another lately. (There must be a template provided by the Right's think tanks, sent to their writers, all of it tested in focus groups...)

It says the writer, George C. Landrith, is "is an adjunct professor at the George Mason School of Law". Check out the funding and the other funding.

To show you how this kind of stuff is spread far and wide, here's a Landrith piece, circulated by Heritage Foundation's TownHall (see Heritage funding here), reprinted at the Western Missouri Shooters Alliance,
"As dubious as Kerry's claims of foreign endorsements may be, there is at least one foreign leader who hopes for a Kerry-Edwards win in November. However, even the two Johns are smart enough not to brag about having this foreign leader's support. Of whom am I speaking? Osama bin Laden."
If you want to hear some more of this sort of slime at your organization's upcoming event, you can hire a right-wing subsidized speaker. Here's Landrith's info at the Young America's Foundation's (check their funding here) "Conservative Speakers Program," where it also says he is "President, Frontiers of Freedom." ("A TownHall.com member organization," they boast.) While at their webite you can take their poll, "If Osama Bin Laden were a U.S. citizen, who do you think he would support in the upcoming presidential election?" And here is THEIR funding. Here's more info on them. Frontiers is described as "a conservative group that maintains that human activities are not responsible for global warming" in the (reprinted) NY Times article "Exxon Backs Groups That Question Global Warming."

Here's Landrith info at ExxonSecrets.org.

Here is his bio, at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. And here is their funding.

OK, it's late and I'm tired so I'm going to stop and make my point. Did you notice anything in common in those funding sources I pointed to for the organizations above? I just wanted to show how the Right's smear machine, funded by a small core group of funders, employs people like this, (so many), setting them up in think tanks or other jobs, paying them (very well) to crank this stuff out, citing their stuff at their OTHER think tanks and organizations to give them an aura of credibility, and then spreading this awful, smelly stuff around through every channel through which people receive information, poisoning the national debate, always pushing, pushing, pushing the public further and further to the right. There are billions of dollars at work behind this stuff.

Here's an interesting thing about this -- most if not all of those think tanks and other organizations I pointed to are tax deductible charitable organizations - which is another way of saying government subsidized - that are forbidden from engaging in partisan activities, all of them are engaged full time in working to get Bush a second term, all of them are funded by the same crowd, and none of this spending counts toward the election-spending totals you read about in the papers. And the Bush administration is now pumping more millions into this network through various schemes including the "faith-based funding" initiative, or direct contracts or other subsidies. This is The Apparat. This is the Right's network of advocacy think tanks and communications organizations at work, and this is what they do.


Just for fun, from a Moonie thing, a story with another form of the same smear,
"The talk about Hillary Rodham Clinton [. . .] There was that business about her primping while the troops stood waiting in the chow line for a half-hour and then cutting in front of them to scoop up her Thanksgiving dinner. Then she smeared and attacked their commander in chief and told them no one at home supported the war."
All those damn rich liberal elitists, cutting in front of regular people like us... That line must have focus-group tested as well as "only served four months in Vietnam."

More on Koch

Dave sent me some links showing how big dod

Major GOP Donor Receives Federal Oil Contract OK

here prospect
here Cato

The Moonies object to big money in politics: "They Just Lie, Chapter 25"

According to Mark Twain, there used to be a Christian sect called the Lying Baptists. They weren't as much fun as it seems -- they were just less absolute than the other Baptists, and were willing to lie to save the lives of innocent children (for example.)

But we now seem to have a batch of Christians (and Moonies) who are completely brazen and shameless, and who are willing to lie all the time. Look at this interview with the godly Dennis Hastert from the Moonie Washington Times (complete text):

Washington, DC, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., had harsh words Sunday for Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros, a major financial backer of anti-Bush 527 groups. "You know, I don't know where George Soros gets his money," Hastert said on Fox News Sunday. "I don't know where -- if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from." A number of Soros-backed groups, operating as part of the Open Society network, have been advocates for the legalization of what, in the United States, are illegal narcotics. "The fact is we don't know where (Soros') money comes from," Hastert said. "Before, transparency -- and what we're talking about in transparency in election reform is you know where the money comes from. You get a $25 check or a $2,500 check or $25,000 check, put it up on the Internet. You know where it comes from, and there it is," Hasert [sic] said.

Link: Washington Times

What's wrong with this garbled mess?

First of all, Hastert is following the standard RNC script interpreting the Swift Boat Veterans controversy -- which is in actuality a slanderous and dishonest character assassination perpetrated by allies of President Bush -- as just a problem with soft money and specifically the new 527's (which the Democrats have used more effectively than the Republicans so far). He's not the only one doing this.

Next, Hastert is slandering Soros, suggesting that he's been involved in the drug trade: "You know, I don't know where George Soros gets his money," Hastert said on Fox News Sunday. "I don't know where -- if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from". (He will be able to back down by saying that he admitted that he didn't know where Soros' money came from -- and perhaps even claim that he meant the same legal drug manufacturers who have given so heavily to Bush).

Of course, we do know where Soros' money comes from, and it is indeed from "overseas": his money comes from international currency trading -- a legitimate business which Soros has revolutionized, and which all good free-traders should support (though possibly there should be reforms, as Soros himself has suggested.)

But international currency trading is one of the Jewy-Jew types of businesses, and we can be sure that Hastert's audience understands this. Republicans still have a strong nativist streak, and their present philo-Semitism is limited to a calculated attempt to lure the seven-headed dragon out of the sea in order to bring on Armageddon, the end of the world, and the Rapture. (The Israelis are just dragon-bait, in case they don't know that yet).

In this short interview, Hastert also confuses the meaning of disclosure. Disclosure doesn't have anything to do with the question of where Soros' money came from. It has to do with whether Soros' political donations are disclosed.

And finally, perhaps the biggest sinister foreign moneybags in American politics is the Rev. Moon -- the publisher of the Washington Times where this interview appeared! Moon has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to conservative and Republican causes over recent decades. He is a convicted felon who has literally declared himself to be the Second Coming of Christ (Moon's unsuccessful "little brother"). And while nobody knows exactly where Moon's money comes from (he's much more mysterious than Soros), the best bet is that it comes from brainwashed cult members and bamboozled Japanese widows. Moon has kinky ideas about marriage and seems to think that homosexuals should be exterminated, and his various foreign entanglements include the sale of missile-armed submarines to North Korea.

But Soros is the sinister one -- not Moon! In short, not only do they Republicans not care at all about big money in politics, they don't care at all about mentally deranged foreign-born billionaire cult leaders taking over the American political process.

Soros is actually an estimable guy who played a significant role in the fall of Communism, but you won't find out about that from the Republicans.

They just lie. All the time.

My earlier piece on Soros and his enemies

Salon, 2004: Moon declares himself the Messiah, and is crowned in the halls of Congress / Salon, 2003 / Gorenfeld Moon page / Rotten Moon page / ZMag Moon page / Perkel Moon page / Moon and Bush the First / Moon's daughter-in law testifies

BONUS: The Koch brothers.

The secretive Koch brothers of Wichita, Kansas have given hundreds of millions to conservative and libertarian causes. Their special interest are low taxes and deregulation, and they have a special hatred for environmental laws. Their oil company is the second largest privately-held company in the U.S., and since it is privately held it can be managed in virtual secrecy. Their father, who founded the family business, was also a founding member of the John Birch Society (which claimed that President Eisenhower was a Communist), but the brothers have found it possible to work more within the system.

2004 Koch story / Koch family feud (1998) / Consortium News Koch story (1999) / Media Transparency (beneficiaries of Koch money) / Wikipedia Koch story / Public Integrity Koch story