Friday, August 09, 2002

How to BS the American People

That should be the title of a campaign primer the ReTHUGlicans have prepared for their candidates. Or perhaps How to Sell Snake Oil. Here are some choice excerpts from the AP news story about the primer:

If challenged on school vouchers, the suggested response is, "I'm not going to engage in class warfare. The real issue here is opportunity."

"When discussing Medicare, be careful to choose your terms carefully," Republican strategists advise. "Always emphasize that you will: preserve Medicare, protect Medicare, strengthen Medicare. ... Never use the word 'privatize' when referring to Medicare modernization or reforms."

In 1984, George Orwell coined a word for this kind of dishonest use of language: newspeak.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

It's Not My Fault, Mom...It's His Fault

Don't these people ever take personal responsibility for their own actions?:

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Although last week's revision of U.S. gross domestic product data for 2001 may have been old news for the economy, it was something of a stroke of luck for President Bush, who has since used it as evidence that he inherited an economic mess when he took office.

Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, in separate speeches Wednesday, both claimed the U.S. economy was already in recession when they were inaugurated in January 2001, implying the blame for the slowdown rested on President Clinton's shoulders.

Sheesh! Are we gonna have to listen to them whining that anything bad that happens over the next two and a half years is President Clinton's fault?

It must be something in the ReTHUGlican gene pool -- I remember Ronnie Reagan blaming everything bad that happened on President Carter as late as 1987.

Forward to the Past

I'm anything but a Luddite. In fact, my idea of a fun afternoon is visiting a computer store and salivating over all the goodies I can't afford right now. If a regular activity can be computerized, like shopping, paying bills, listening to music, I'll do it.

I do, however, make one exception: voting. I've never really trusted the mechanical voting machines I've used in New York City and the Philly area, and I remember one incident in the city of Philadelphia where there was an extremely suspicious breakdown of hundreds of voting machines, almost entirely in black and liberal areas.

Using computers as voting machines, however, is simply an open invitation for massive vote fraud. Do you realize how easy it would be to, say, hack a machine to make every 3rd Democratic vote a Republican vote, or vice versa?

Lynn Landes at Democratic Underground tells a cautionary tale about computer voting involving none other than Theresa LePore, the "Democrat" responsible for the Palm Beach County travesty in Election 2000. Unlike me, Landes does endorse a computerized system that has paper ballot backups, but frankly I don't see the point.

Why not just return to paper ballots? No voting system today appears as secure and accurate as the old-fashioned making an "X" next to a candidate's name and sliding the ballot into a box.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Honor and Dignity Dept.

Once again, Paul Krugman -- practically the only reason to read The New York Times these days -- details the Orwellian lying and dishonesty that are such an integral part of The Little Dictator's "administration."

You know, I think I'd much rather have a president who lies about blowjobs that were none of our friggin' business in the first place than a "president" who lies, and lies, and lies and bald-faced lies about issues that are very much our business.

Journalistic Felons II: The Evidence on the Web

Yesterday, in a post about a Daily Howler article, I mentioned the following:

In case you're not familiar with Connolly's "journalism," you should be aware that in January 2000, she and fellow journalistic felon, Katherine Seelye of The New York Times, got caught red-handed -- by high school kids! -- lying in print about something President Gore had said about Love Canal, and then using the phony quotes to smear Gore as a liar. Now, if someone at my college newspaper had gotten caught using phony quotes to smear someone, they would've been fired on the spot.

One of the interesting aspects of this affair is that Connolly's and Seelye's lies went completely unchallenged in the mainstream media -- with the sole exception being a segment on a Public Radio International program called "This American Life," which is not a news program, but rather more of a cultural magazine show, and has no connection with NPR or NPR's news division. "This American Life" keeps up a web archive, so you can hear for yourself the story about the high school kids who got very ticked off when the media lied about what President Gore said, in order to smear him as a liar. Just go to the 2000 archive, scroll way down to the January 28, 2000 episode (#151), and it's about six minutes into the program, the first story after the prologue. You can also watch a video of President Gore's unedited remarks, which proves conclusively that Connolly's and Seelye's quotes were misrepresentations and lies.

Today's edition of the Daily Howler tells another story from New Hampshire 2000, this time about how the Beltway Blowhards were screaming hysterically that President Gore was a liar when in fact he was telling the truth about Bill Bradley's not very well thought-out health care proposals.

Tear off the Tutus...Put on the Gloves!

In the latest American Prospect, New York Magazine political columnist Michael Tomasky presents the clearest concise analysis of what's wrong with the Democratic Party -- and how it could heal itself. Here's a small taste:

For the better part of two decades now, Democrats have operated according to so timorous a model of partisanship that they no longer know how to fight. They know how to argue policy. They do that quite well, and indeed they often win those arguments, if for no other reason than that so many of the policies Republicans support harken back (if I may) to the Gilded Age. But when it comes to hardball partisan politics, they've been fighting a raging fire with a garden hose. They've been afraid, even petrified, of arguing politics, of stepping outside the comparatively safe zone of policy and assertively debating the core principles that are the reason many of them enter the civic sphere to begin with. Arguing politics means challenging not only the other side's positions but the very moral and cultural underpinnings of those positions. It means using emotional arguments to link the opposition to a set of values alien to this country's best traditions. It means finding the symbolic representations of the enemy's masked agendas and exposing them. It means not only attacking the other side but defending one's own side (and not with statistics, but with moral arguments advanced with conviction). And, finally, it means doing all this on a permanent basis, day after day, with lots of warm bodies standing next to one another, saying the same thing over and over, until the media has to cover it. But all these are things the Democrats no longer know how to do.

Not only should you read Tomasky's piece, you should also e-mail it to your Democratic officials, particularly congressmen and senators. It's a call to arms directed to the Democrats, challenging them to strip off the tutus (Are you listening, Joe L? How about you, Russell F.?), put on the boxing gloves, get in that ring, and score a knockout against the totalitarian right wing that now controls the ReTHUGlican Party.

Most of all, President Gore should conisider Tomasky's arguments. IMHO, the biggest mistake the 2000 Gore campaign was not responding loudly and forcefully to the smear campaign against him conducted by the GOP and its lackeys in the so-called "liberal media." Al, when they try to smear you as a "liar" or as someone who "reinvents himself," don't just deny it and put out the facts...make the GOP Smear Machine the issue. Show how the GOP Smear Machine is so perfectly representative of a party that will spread any lie, slither through any gutter, pull any dirty, sleazy trick, in order to seize power.

Al, run on the issues in your 2004 election campaign -- you've been singing great notes the past few months, so keep it up. But if they try to smear you again, make the GOP Smear Machine itself an issue.

The Yellow Wall of Silence

Speaking of the 2000 election, Bob Somerby of The Daily Howler has published another exposé of the Washington Post's Ceci Connolly's dishonesty. This time Somerby proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Connolly's sneering insinuation regarding President Gore's draft lottery number wasn't just mistaken, it was an obviously deliberate and dishonest attempt to smear him.

In case you're not familiar with Connolly's "journalism," you should be aware that in January 2000, she and fellow journalistic felon, Katherine Seelye of The New York Times, got caught red-handed -- by high school kids! -- lying in print about something President Gore had said about Love Canal, and then using the phony quotes to smear Gore as a liar. Now, if someone at my college newspaper had gotten caught using phony quotes to smear someone, they would've been fired on the spot.

But this is the Washington Post and New York Times we're talking about. Not only weren't Connolly and Seelye fired...they weren't even taken off the Gore campaign beat!

Funny how the only places I ever read about this kind of journalistic malpractice is on websites like The Daily Howler and Media Whores Online. Just as good cops all too often protect their corrupt and brutal colleagues with a Blue Wall of Silence, so too do good journalists protect their corrupt colleagues like Connolly, Seelye, and the New York Times' Frank Bruni and Jeff Gerth with a Yellow Wall of Silence.

That's why you'll never hear about this on the Conservative News Network's (CNN) alleged media criticism program hosted by Howard Kurtz, "Reliable Sources."

But Were They Wearing Brown Shirts with Their Brooks Brothers Suits?

Probably not...but the ReTHUGlican mob that shut down the vote counting in Miami in November 2000 might as well have been.

In an article published on Monday, journalistic treasure Robert Parry described the scene of that day when Totalitarianism American-style reared its ugly head for all to see:

On Nov. 22, 2000, after learning that the Miami canvassing board was starting an examination of 10,750 disputed ballots that had previously not been counted, Rep. John Sweeney, a New York Republican, called on Republican troops to “shut it down,” according to Down and Dirty. Brendan Quinn, executive director of the New York GOP, told about two dozen Republican operatives to storm the room on the 19th floor where the canvassing board was meeting, Tapper reported.

“Emotional and angry, they immediately make their way outside the larger room in which the tabulating room is contained,” Tapper wrote. “The mass of ‘angry voters’ on the 19th floor swells to maybe 80 people,” including many of the Republican activists from outside Florida.

News cameras captured the chaotic scene outside the canvassing board's offices. The protesters shouted slogans and banged on the doors and walls. The unruly protest prevented official observers and members of the press from reaching the room. Miami-Dade county spokesman Mayco Villafana was pushed and shoved. Security officials feared the confrontation was spinning out of control.

The canvassing board suddenly reversed its decision and canceled the recount. “Until the demonstration stops, nobody can do anything,” said David Leahy, Miami’s supervisor of elections, although the canvassing board members would later insist that they were not intimidated into stopping the recount. [Down and Dirty]

As Parry notes, not only weren't any of the Miami mob arrested -- as they surely would've been had they been left-wing radicals or, horrors, angry black folk -- but several were congressional aides and three are now working for the ReTHUGlican "administration"!

Ironically, this assassination attempt against American democracy occurred on the 37th anniversary of President Kennedy's murder. The corrupt Supreme Court dealt the final blow less than two months later, on December 12, 2000, The Day American Democracy Died.

Monday, August 05, 2002

Media Whores Online Is Back -- And They're Kicking Right-Wing Butt!

After a well-deserved vacation, the watchdogs at Media Whores Online have returned with an excellent collection of articles. Interestingly, the best pieces are those directed at two New York Times columnists who haven't totally prostituted themselves to the ReTHUGlicans, Thomas Friedman and Maureen Dowd. Friedman is basically a good guy, and the column cited in the article is an excellent critique of the "administration's" foreign policy, but MWO points out where he has a huge blind spot. Dowd is another story; while she's not completely evil -- like, say, Susan Schmidt, Katherine Seelye or Howard Fineman -- she does try awfully hard to be a Heather: a "kool kid" in the school's most prestigious clique. While Dowd writes well, her columns are all style and little or no substance.

Why Am I Not Surprised?

When this week's Time revealed that after he seized power, The Squatter's priorities listed dissing President Clinton much higher than fighting terrorism, my first reaction was, "Tell me something I didn't guess months ago."

As the U.K.'s Guardian summarized in an article in its Monday edition:

The Bush administration sat on a Clinton-era plan to attack al-Qaida in Afghanistan for eight months because of political hostility to the outgoing president and competing priorities, it was reported yesterday.

The plan, under which special forces troops would have been sent after Osama bin Laden, was drawn up in the last days of the Clinton administration but a decision was left to the incoming Bush team.

However, a top-level discussion of the proposals took place only on September 4, a week before the al-Qaida attacks on New York and Washington. In the months in between, the plan was shuffled through the bureaucracy by an administration distrustful of anything to do with Bill Clinton and which appeared fixated on national missile defence and the war on drugs, rather than the struggle against terrorism.

When it comes down to a choice between ensuring national security and getting President Clinton on something, on anything, the ReTHUGlicans will always choose the latter. After all, didn't they pretty much shut down the entire country for over a year so they could attempt to force him out of office over a lie about a blowjob?

Sunday, August 04, 2002

monchie's Top 5 Documentaries

On a board I frequent, someone started a thread about favorite documentaries, so I added my two cents. After all, many of the videos I collect are documentaries, some politically oriented, others not. For the record, here's my annotated Top 5:

1. The Panama Deception - How America was conned into supporting the killing of 2500-4000 Panamanian civilians in order to get revenge against a double-dealing former Bush Crime Family soldier named Manuel Noriega. If you want to understand just how thoroughly evil and dishonest the Bush Crime Family really is, see this documentary. Directed by Barbara Trent and winner of 1993 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.

2. The Thin Blue Line - Errol Morris's memorable portrait of a case where an innocent man spent 12 years in jail and almost got executed. Thanks to this film, he was finally released.

3. The War Room - James Carville just exudes charisma in this film about the 1992 Clinton campaign. Also, look for Paul Begala's dead-on and very funny Ross Perot impersonation. Directed by Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker.

4. Gates of Heaven - Errol Morris's pet cemetary epic. Animal lovers will cringe as they recognize themselves, and the son who tries to adapt modern business techniques to the pet cemetary biz is a hoot.

5. Straight, No Chaser - The joyful eccentricity and the sad descent into madness of one of the 20th century's greatest musicians, Thelonious Monk. Directed and Produced by Charlotte Zwerin and Executive Produced by Clint Eastwood.

Does Josh Marshall Visit monchieland?

The first blogger I read on a regular basis was Joshua Micah Marshall, a D.C.-based left-of-center pundit who, miraculously, has mostly avoided the dreaded Beltway Blowhard Syndrome. Alone among his colleagues, early on he declared on national TV that the White House trashing story was most likely a crock of BS -- which is exactly what it turned out to be, according to the expensive GSA investigation requested by the terminally insane Bob Barr.

Yesterday afternoon, in the introductory post timestamped August 3rd 5:06 PM EDT, the following passage appeared on monchieland:

While ideologically he's at the center or even a bit toward the right in the Democratic Party, Mr. Monchum has no time for those he calls "pink-tutu Democrats." "While over the past 20 years the Republican Party has increasingly been taken over by totalitarian thugs, some Democrats think the proper response to this bizarre situation is to cower in the corner and beg the right-wing bullies for forgiveness. They remind me of abused wives who constantly make excuses for their brutal husbands."

Then, just minutes ago, I was checking out Josh's blog, Talking Points Memo. In a post about the ridiculous Republican complaints of a "double standard" with regard to Robert Rubin, Citigroup, and Enron, timestamped August 4th 12:06 PM EDT, I came across the following paragraph:

It's time to say it: this is a stupid argument. It's being made by a) mau-mauing Republicans and their journalistic allies, b) morons, and c) chumps. Absent any new information those are really the only groups who can be involved. The first group I don't much begrudge. They're involved in a political fight and that's how the game is played. The second group requires no explanation. The rest are journalists -- largely, but not all, of vaguely liberal politics -- who have so long been slapped around and cowed by conservative complaints about liberal bias that the desired Pavlovian response has become second nature. In the seedy vernacular we call this being 'whipped.' The better analogy might be to the emotionally-damaged battered woman who perversely respects her abusive husband for keeping her in line.

Great minds think alike? Or did Josh suffer an attack of Mike Barnicle Disease after reading monchieland?

Either way, I'm flattered.

Can't Anyone Stop this Madman?

No, I don't mean Saddam, though he is a classic mad dictator. I'm talking about the other mad dictator, The Squatter in President Gore's House.

His Illegitimacy is determined to achieve "regime change" in Iraq, no matter how much opposition there is at home or abroad. Given the current intifada and the criticism of practically every sane voice on Planet Earth, the "inevitable" Gulf War II carries the unmistakable stench of the wrong war, at the wrong time, in the wrong place.

In fact, I could only come up with two possible reasons to go to war against Iraq at this time:

1. The Shrub wants to time it right for the 2004 elections; and

2. The Shrub wants to avenge his daddy.

Lots of Time with Nothing to Do/Lots of Time to Spend with You
It’s so quiet in the street
You can hear the sound of feet walking by
I’ll put coffee on to brew
We can have a cup or two
And do what other people do
On Sunday morning…
Sunday morning…Sunday morning
Sunday Sunday
I love Sunday…Sunday morning

- "Sunday Morning" by Spanky and Our Gang, circa 1968

I'm not quite ready to take on the big political issues of the day, so let me praise some perfect Sunday morning music . Even though they had several Top 40 hits, Spanky and Our Gang never quite achieved fame and fortune. In their all-too-short chart life, however, they recorded a number of memorable tunes, including the ultimate portrait of an early Sabbath morn, "Sunday Morning." Every time I hear it, I wanna lie there in bed as I slowly achieve consciousness -- as opposed to the racing around so common to the other six days -- then get up, pour myself a glass of iced tea, and slowly sip it as I peruse the Sunday New York Times.

Ahhh, life is good.

Spanky and Our Gang's Greatest Hits CD is highly recommended, not just for the familiar Top 40 tunes, but also for several songs that showcase their jazz and blues influences. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for their versions of Yip Harburg's Depression-era protest song, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime," and Hoagy Carmichael's masterpiece, "Stardust."

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