Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Can Bush get away with once more conning the country?

During the Nixon White House, it was not the stupid Watergate burglary that brought down the entire Nixon administration, but the cover up, the COVER UP, all the machinations and manippulations to cover up the Republican involvement, a stupid political burglery to obtain information from the Democrats.

It is simply outrageous that this uncovering of American CIA spy Valerie Plame happened at all, but to have it orchestrated from the White House itself violates one sense of justice. Indeed this is a criminal conspiracy (since to uncover a spy is a crime) and urgently needs to be investigated.

The Democratic presidential candidates lashed out today over revelations that President Bush and other high ranking administration officials misled the public about their direct involvement in leaking CIA operative Valerie Plame's name.

Senator Chris Dodd, D-CT, was the first to weigh in on the matter, which was disclosed by former White House press secretary Scott McClellan in his upcoming book. Noting that the president deliberately kept McClellan in the dark so that the spokesman could unknowingly lie about the White House's involvement in the leak, the Senator implored newly appointed Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate.

"During his confirmation process, Attorney General Mukasey said he would act independently," the Senator said in a statement. "Accordingly, today, I call on the Attorney General to live up to his word and launch an immediate investigation to determine the facts of this case, the extent of any cover up and determine what the President knew and when he knew it."

Dodd's primary opponents were not far behind him in condemning the Bush administration's actions.

"The President should immediately come forward and explain any action taken by him or his administration to mislead the American public. The American people deserve the truth," said Sen. Joe Biden, D-DE. "President Bush himself said that he would take action against anyone who leaked the name of an American agent. Far from punishing anyone, it appears from McClellan's account that the President himself was "involved" in spreading false information. That is outrageous."

Added Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico: "It is a low point in our history when the leader of the free world fights to deceive the American public. Rather than defend the Constitution, President Bush has bamboozled the country. Whether it is outing a CIA operative, illegally spying on Americans, or advocating the use of torture, the Bush administration has made a mockery of our legal system."

Sens. Barack Obama, D-IL, Hillary Clinton, D-NY, and former Sen. John Edwards, D-NC, were all contacted for comment. Among Republican presidential candidates only Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has publicly weighed in on the McClellan revelation.

In an excerpt from his forthcoming book - entitled "What Happened" - McClellan details how he was set up to lie to reporters in 2003 news conference, in which he told reporters that Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby were "not involved" in the leak involving operative Valerie Plame.

"There was one problem. It was not true," McClellan writes. "I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff and the president himself."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

LIES in the White House now admitted and revealed

Long before the White House Press Corps became saddled with Dana "The Gift That Keeps On Giving" Perino, they got to receive their briefings from Scott "The Gift That Gave As Well As He Could Given The Relative Lack Of Confidence He Had In Just About Everything He Was Ever Asked

To Say" McClellan. McClellan stepped down from the position in May of 2006, and has since penned a book that will finally allow him to do what he never could as press secretary: tell all.

Public Affairs, who will be publishing the book, has posted this excerpt, which gives one a helping of insight into how McClellan views his years of service:

The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

There was one problem. It was not true.

I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the president himself.

McClellan's book is titled What Happened, after the question he muttered to himself every night before the clutches of fitful sleep claimed him, and is scheduled for an April 2008 release.

Monday, November 19, 2007

PATHOLOGY OF THE PRESS: The Narrative Narrative by Marty Kaplan

Meta makes the MSM go round. Reality isn't real any more; to the press, all the world's a stage. Or rather, all the world's an onstage and a backstage. Candidates don't have beliefs; they have positions. Campaigns don't have meanings; they have narratives. In the postmodern funhouse that imprisons prestige media, the job isn't to cover events, but rather to reveal their theatricality; the trick isn't to find truth, but to disclose "framing"; the task isn't to establish facts, but to transform them into he-said/she-said Mexican standoffs.

The Washington Post's coverage of the CNN circus in Las Vegas set the tone: "For Clinton, it was a chance to change the story line." Not only is this a depressing observation about what politics has become, and a dispiriting illustration of what political coverage has turned into; it's also, tragically, true. Was there anyone in that Nevada audience who believed that Hillary's asbestos pantsuit line wasn't scripted in debate prep? Did anyone mourn when the rhetorical role reversal of Obama and Clinton on drivers licenses for illegals actually meant a victory for Dobbsian demagoguery on immigration reform? Did any candidate care that the price for delivering this sexy spectacle to CNN was Wolf Blitzer's bearbaiting and Campbell Brown's (Mrs. Dan Senor's) branding?

As far as the media's concerned, the purpose of politics isn't democracy; it's to provide product that's not-boring. For the networks, campaigns are just another kind of "reality" programming, equally cheap to produce, equally suspenseful, personality-driven, and potentially -- deliciously -- humiliating. For print journalism, campaigns are an opportunity to put more reporters on the show biz beat; everyone's now a theater critic. Apparently it's our fault, too. If we audiences didn't demand entertainment uber alles, if Amy Goodman or Bill Moyers weren't such niche tastes, Big Media wouldn't be serving up so much cockfighting to us. You want more vitamins in your news, America? You're sick of politics-as-horserace or -as-boxing match? Hey, says the New York Times public editor, if you want broccoli, that's what the internet's for.

It kills me to quote Peggy Noonan, it really does, but on this point she got it right the other day:

"[O]ur political coverage consists of daily disquisitions on 'targeted ads,' 'narratives,' 'positioning' and 'talking points.' We really do make politicians crazy. If a politician cares only about his ads and his rehearsed answers, the pundits call him [sic] inauthentic. But if a politician ignores these things to speak of great issues we say he lacks 'fire in the belly' and is incompetent. So many criticisms of politicians boil down to: He's not manipulating us well enough!"

There are American kids who will be wounded, or worse, in Iraq and Afghanistan this week. I bet that they and their families won't experience what happens to them as a "storyline." There are Americans whose homes will be lost to foreclosure this week, or whose illnesses will go untreated because they can't afford health insurance. I bet they don't live their lives as "narratives." Just because the political/media class treats politics as kabuki doesn't mean that all Americans have completely abandoned their existence as citizens in favor of their roles as audiences and consumers.

Sure, the Founders cared about their images, too. But when Jefferson wrote, "We hold these truths" in the Declaration of Independence, I don't think he meant, "We frame these talking points." The Preamble to the Constitution starts with "We the people" -- not "We the polled." It's ironic how, in this post-9/11 world that was supposed to be so post-ironic, "authenticity" is as phony a concept for the candidates as it is for those who cover them. As for the rest of us, it looks like people who actually have values, and who think that the notion of "values voters" does condescending violence to what is in their hearts, just haven't gotten the media's memo yet.

DEPRESSING UPDATE: If you're masochistic enough to want an illustration of the media's covering Giuliani as a gladiator -- rather than as someone whose dishonesty might be terrifyingly germane to America's fate under his possible presidency -- check out Greg Sargent's takedown of this Meet the Press moment. It's a good thing this press pathology doesn't have any real consequences to real people, isn't it? Oh, wait.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Plight of American Veterans.

The Plight of American Veterans
The New York Times | Editorial

Monday 12 November 2007

As an unpopular, ill-planned war in Iraq grinds on inconclusively, it can be a bleak time to be a veteran.

There is little outright hostility toward returning military personnel these days; few Americans are reviling them as "baby killers" or blaming them for a botched war of choice launched by the White House. Indeed, both Congress and the White House have been hymning their praises in the run-up to Veterans Day. But all too often, soldiers who return from Iraq or Afghanistan - and those who served in Vietnam or Korea - have been left to fend for themselves with little help from the government.

Recent surveys have painted an appalling picture. Almost half a million of the nation's 24 million veterans were homeless at some point during 2006, and while only a few hundred from Iraq or Afghanistan have turned up homeless so far, aid groups are bracing themselves for a tsunamilike upsurge in coming years.

Tens of thousands of reservists and National Guard troops, whose jobs were supposedly protected while they were at war, were denied prompt re-employment upon their return or else lost seniority, pay and other benefits. Some 1.8 million veterans were unable to get care in veterans' facilities in 2004 and lacked health insurance to pay for care elsewhere. Meanwhile, veterans seeking disability payments faced huge backlogs and inordinate delays in getting claims and appeals processed.

The biggest stain this year was the scandalous neglect of outpatients at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and a sluggish response to the needs of wounded soldiers at veterans clinics and hospitals. Much of this neglect stemmed from the Bush administration's failure to plan for a long war with mounting casualties and over-long tours of duty to compensate for a shortage of troops.

Thus far, more than 4,000 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, many more than died in the almost-bloodless Persian Gulf war, but only a fraction of the body counts in Vietnam (58,000) or Korea (36,000). A higher percentage of wounded soldiers are surviving the current conflicts with grievous injuries, their lives saved by body armor, advances in battlefield medicine and prompt evacuation. A study issued last week estimated that the long-term costs of their medical care and disability benefits could exceed the amount spent so far in prosecuting the war in Iraq.

NOTE: CBS Special last night says that approximantely 4000 vets have committed suicide.

To their credit, Congress and the administration have poured billions of added dollars into veterans' programs and streamlined procedures in a scramble to catch up with the need. That is only appropriate. The entire burden of today's wars has been carried by a voluntary military force and its families. The larger public has not faced a draft, paid higher taxes or been asked to make any other sacrifice. The least a grateful nation should do is support the troops upon their return.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Study the master of symbolism and metaphor in Politics: Reagan Racist.

Righting Reagan’s Wrongs?

Let’s set the record straight on Ronald Reagan’s campaign kickoff in 1980.

Early one morning in the late spring of 1964, Dr. Carolyn Goodman, her husband, Robert, and their 17-year-old son, David, said goodbye to David’s brother, Andrew, who was 20.

They hugged in the family’s apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and Andrew left. He was on his way to the racial hell of Mississippi to join in the effort to encourage local blacks to register and vote.

It was a dangerous mission, and Andrew’s parents were reluctant to let him go. But the family had always believed strongly in equal rights and the benefits of social activism. “I didn’t have the right,” Dr. Goodman would tell me many years later, “to tell him not to go.”

After a brief stopover in Ohio, Andrew traveled to the town of Philadelphia in Neshoba County, Mississippi, a vicious white-supremacist stronghold. Just days earlier, members of the Ku Klux Klan had firebombed a black church in the county and had beaten terrified worshipers.

Andrew would not survive very long. On June 21, one day after his arrival, he and fellow activists Michael Schwerner and James Chaney disappeared. Their bodies wouldn’t be found until August. All had been murdered, shot to death by whites enraged at the very idea of people trying to secure the rights of African-Americans.

The murders were among the most notorious in American history. They constituted Neshoba County’s primary claim to fame when Reagan won the Republican Party’s nomination for president in 1980. The case was still a festering sore at that time. Some of the conspirators were still being protected by the local community. And white supremacy was still the order of the day.

That was the atmosphere and that was the place that Reagan chose as the first stop in his general election campaign. The campaign debuted at the Neshoba County Fair in front of a white and, at times, raucous crowd of perhaps 10,000, chanting: “We want Reagan! We want Reagan!”

Reagan was the first presidential candidate ever to appear at the fair, and he knew exactly what he was doing when he told that crowd, “I believe in states’ rights.”

Reagan apologists have every right to be ashamed of that appearance by their hero, but they have no right to change the meaning of it, which was unmistakable. Commentators have been trying of late to put this appearance by Reagan into a racially benign context.

That won’t wash. Reagan may have been blessed with a Hollywood smile and an avuncular delivery, but he was elbow deep in the same old race-baiting Southern strategy of Goldwater and Nixon.

Everybody watching the 1980 campaign knew what Reagan was signaling at the fair. Whites and blacks, Democrats and Republicans — they all knew. The news media knew. The race haters and the people appalled by racial hatred knew. And Reagan knew.

He was tapping out the code. It was understood that when politicians started chirping about “states’ rights” to white people in places like Neshoba County they were saying that when it comes down to you and the blacks, we’re with you.

And Reagan meant it. He was opposed to the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was the same year that Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney were slaughtered. As president, he actually tried to weaken the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He opposed a national holiday for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He tried to get rid of the federal ban on tax exemptions for private schools that practiced racial discrimination. And in 1988, he vetoed a bill to expand the reach of federal civil rights legislation.

Congress overrode the veto.

Reagan also vetoed the imposition of sanctions on the apartheid regime in South Africa. Congress overrode that veto, too.

Throughout his career, Reagan was wrong, insensitive and mean-spirited on civil rights and other issues important to black people. There is no way for the scribes of today to clean up that dismal record.

To see Reagan’s appearance at the Neshoba County Fair in its proper context, it has to be placed between the murders of the civil rights workers that preceded it and the acknowledgment by the Republican strategist Lee Atwater that the use of code words like “states’ rights” in place of blatantly bigoted rhetoric was crucial to the success of the G.O.P.’s Southern strategy. That acknowledgment came in the very first year of the Reagan presidency.

Ronald Reagan was an absolute master at the use of symbolism. It was one of the primary keys to his political success.

The suggestion that the Gipper didn’t know exactly what message he was telegraphing in Neshoba County in 1980 is woefully wrong-headed. Wishful thinking would be the kindest way to characterize it.

George Bush is the best Republican of all time

By Ed Martin

By adhering to Republican ideals and principles, George Bush will leave an indelible legacy. By following his Republicanism to its inevitable conclusion, here's what he has accomplished. Some of the information here is from an article in Vanity Fair by Joseph E. Stiglitz.

The tragedy of the Iraq war and its consequences.

Coming up on 4000 US soldiers killed.

About a million innocent Iraqis killed.

An expected cost to exceed $2 trillion.

Torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

The viewing of the US as a rogue nation by the world.

A tax code biased in favor of the rich.

A national debt that will probably have grown 70 percent by the time Bush leaves office.

A swelling cascade of mortgage defaults.

A record $850 billion trade deficit.

Oil prices at record highs. They tell us that supply and demand determines the price of oil, but even though the price has risen dramatically, there's been no shortage of supply. Strangely, I have no problem finding gas at exorbitant prices.

A dollar that has reversed its value in relation to the euro.

A budget surplus of 2.4 percent of GDP ($2.2 trillion) that Bush has turned into a 3.6 percent deficit, the greatest since World War II.

A $45 tax reduction for the bottom 20 percent and a $162,000 reduction for millionaires.

More than five million more Americans living in poverty now than when Bush took office.

An increase to 47 million without health care.

Personal bankruptcy rate increase of 60 percent.

The borrowing of $5 trillion from abroad.

The subversion of the constitution.

The rescinding of habeas corpus.

The curtailing of civil liberties.

The politicizing of the government.

Lying to the people and Congress.

The blatant practicing of cronyism and corruption.

This is just a partial list of the legacy of George Bush, and it ain't over yet. It's just his tangible accomplishments, so far. The list doesn't include the intangible effects, such as the fact that the mere mention of George Bush's name sends people into a blind, incoherent, screaming rage, raising blood pressure, causing indigestion, increased pulse rate, the involuntary, automatic blurting of gross vulgarities, leaving us breathless and depleted, with the thousand yard stare, unable to comprehend how this could have happened. There's no record of the medical and psychological cost to us caused by the existence of George Bush.

Even though most of us see Bush's accomplishments listed above as the prelude to the destruction of the US, the Republicans can take great pride in what their man has been able to do for them. He has faithfully fulfilled, with the above list, all of the most cherished ideals and principles of the Republicans.

There are two kinds of Republicans who fervently support George Bush. One kind is affected not at all and the other kind is affected negatively by his Republican policies. The one kind is the wealthy Republican who, due to his wealth, is in a position of power that allows him to bring about his repressive, restricting, regressive policies, policies that, again due to his wealth, do not in any way affect him. He can call for the elimination of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and all the other progressive social programs, because he will not ever need any of them and will not be affected. The analogy of me to him is that I can call for a 100% tax rate for income over $1 million and I will not be in the least affected, because I'm not a millionaire. So, like the Republican, why should I care what happens to other people as long as it doesn't affect me?

The other kind is the guy who is very much like me, except that he is a Republican. He professes support for all of George Bush's Republican policies without realizing that he is civilly and economically repressing himself for the benefit of the wealthy Republicans. He's his own worst enemy.

The preamble of the Constitution requires that the government it created is to "promote the general welfare." This is a liberal, progressive mandate for our government to follow. Liberal, progresssive policies are aimed at benefitting everyone. Conservative, Republican policies benefit only Republicans. This requirement of the Constitution is against everything the Republicans believe in and is the opposite of what they have worked so hard to accomplish. The Republicans only promote the general welfare of Republicans at the expense of everyone else. It's an easy case to make from this that Republicanism is unconstitutional, since it obviously does not promote the general welfare. According to the Constitution, Republicanism is illegal.

It's against the law to advocate policies that are illegal and are destroying the United States. With the godawful mess that the Republicans have made of the United States, we're going to have to outlaw Republicans before they finish destroying the United States. The Constitution says so.

Authors Bio: Ed Martin is an unindicted curmudgeon. He is not a Democrat, Republican, conservative, liberal, deist, atheist, or a member of any -ism.