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We Are All Wearing The Blue Dress Now

by The Brew

Whether Republicans like it or not, if George Bush is elected in the fall, the world will view the election as American approval of the torture and sexual humiliation of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison. It might not be fair, it might not be reasonable, but it is nevertheless reality. Apologies, prosecutions, firings and courts martial will not be enough to expunge the stain this scandal has placed on the honor of the United States. The pictures are simply too graphic. The abuses are simply too horrible. If George Bush is elected President, the world will view the election, at a minimum, as tacit approval of these events.

This election will thus no longer merely determine the Presidency. This election is now much larger than the office. The United States' place in the family of nations is now on the ballot. This election will determine whether the United States will ever again have any standing or moral authority in the rest of the world. The United States cannot simultaneously stand against depraved sexual torture and the wanton abuse of human rights, while electing the commander in chief upon whose watch these events occurred. The seven hundred thousand or so viewers of Fox News may be able to rationalize such cognitive dissonance; the six billion people who make up the remainder of the world will not.

The stakes are thus immeasurable. For better or for worse, a strong, just and moral United States is not simply a luxury. Instead, it has become a precondition for human progress. For better or for worse, the United States has become the indispensable nation. Our economic, technological, and military position in the world insures that we will remain as such for the foreseeable future. The only question that remains, therefore, is whether the United States will have a moral authority on par with our economic and military dominance. That question will be answered in the fall. The election will determine whether America can ever again be seen as a shining city on a hill, a beacon of hope and freedom that illuminates the entire globe. Sadly, the election of George Bush will mean that the United States will instead be viewed as a rat hole prison in Iraq, where nude prisoners were bound together, tortured with hot chemicals, and beaten to death. --posted 05.24.04

Will Baghdad Be Bush's Stalingrad?

by The Brew

I realize I am months behind the curve of comparing Bush to Hitler, but there is one aspect of the comparison that I don’t think has been plumbed to its proper depth. No, I am not talking about the vicious attacks against dissent, the dubious means used to seize power, or the callous disregard for civil rights. Those have been given their due. Instead, now that Bush is describing himself as a “war president,” I think it is appropriate to size up Bush as he compares to the Furher as commander in chief, because both serve as good examples of what happens when you hand the world’s best military to a petulant egomaniac.

It is popular among anti-semites and faux intellectuals to describe Hitler as a military genius. I take issue with that characterization because while Hitler’s Germany did achieve some initial military success, in my estimation those successes are more accurately attributed to German engineering, rather than the tactical brilliance of its political and military leadership. When you have the best pitchers and the best hitters in the league, winning the pennant doesn’t necessarily make the manager a genius.

Hitler’s biggest blunder was, of course, invading Russia. Intoxicated, perhaps, by the success of the German military machine against technologically inferior foes in Poland and France, Hitler decided to open up the eastern front. The war with England wasn’t yet won, but Hitler’s hubris was sufficient that he went against the advice of his generals. In a very similar manner, Bush ignored the advice of scores of military and civilian planners to attack Iraq, when the war against al Qaeda was not quite over.

Even if one believes the Bush administration’s propaganda, and feels that Iraq was a sufficient threat that it was only a matter of time before Saddam needed to be removed from power by force, it doesn’t take a genius to see that the timing of the war was misguided. Last week’s serial bombings in Spain, coming nine hundred and eleven days after the September 11 attacks, were almost certainly organized and executed by al Qaeda, and stand as a testament to the terrorist group’s ongoing capability to inflict mass murder in western democracies at a time and place of their choosing.

Unfortunately, this did not have to be the case. While mistakes were made in the conduct of operations Afghanistan, (the use of surrogates at Tora Bora springs to mind), the fact is that the United States and coalition partners were mostly successful in putting al Qaeda on the defensive. This balance began to change when the military and intelligence resources devoted to Afghanistan were redirected towards Iraq in the winter and spring of 2004. While the initial attack in Iraq proceeded with stunning speed, in the aftermath, the United States found itself bogged down as an occupying force at an enormous cost in both men and materials. Al Qaeda was able to regroup and retrench, and the results are now evident in the blood of Spanish citizens.

In a similar manner, Hitler’s initial attack on Russia proceeded with stunning efficiency. After crossing the Russian border in June of 1941, the German war machine quickly gobbled up huge portions of Russian real estate. But when winter set in, the Germans found themselves mired in a quagmire. In the meantime, German resources had been diverted away from England, which enabled the English to develop radar systems that provided the early warning capability that was crucial to countering German attacks, both in the air and by U boats in the North Atlantic.

Incoming Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero has it exactly right. Right wing reactionaries who dominate the media in the United States called his election just after the attacks in Madrid an “appeasement” of al Qaeda, because he has promised to remove Spanish forces from Iraq during the campaign. However, Spanish forces have served continuously in Afghanistan, and while some of the aforementioned right wing reactionaries have inaccurately claimed that Zapatero has plans to remove them, he has made no such statement. Quite the contrary, in his first public address after the election, Zapatero told his fellow Spaniards “My top priority is fighting all forms of terrorism. My first initiative will be seeking the political support to focus all our resources in this direction.'' In light of the bloody attacks last week, I have every expectation that Zapatero has no intention of appeasing al Qaeda, and will continue to use, if not expand, the Spanish forces pursuing al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

I rather doubt that Baghdad will prove to be the United State's Stalingrad. At the same time, it might prove to be Bush's. If at some point between now and next fall’s elections al Qaeda mounts an attack in the United States as bloody as that in Madrid, one can hope that the voting public will finally see that Bush’s war in Iraq was a misguided diversion towards an enemy with little ability to attack the United States, and away from a dangerous foe with the demonstrated capability to do exactly that. --posted 03.19.04

Bush, The Bait And Switch Misleader

by The Brew

Give Karl Rove some credit. He at least recognized that the old sales pitch wouldn’t cut it this time around. Five hundred billion dollar deficits and all the children still getting left behind can’t be sold as compassionate or conservative. So Rove rolled out a new slogan. The latest jingle in the Bush commercial is “steady leadership in times of change.” I can understand why Rove changed the tune. What I can’t understand is why Democrats are dancing to it.

Any agreement on this bit of conventional wisdom is nothing short of dilusional. When four or five Republican talking heads are kvetching on a network propaganda show, one of them will inevitably intone that "at least with Bush, you know he is going to do what he says.” Every token Democrat who solemnly nods his head in agreement should be banished from the party. The fact is, whenever Bush takes a position, it is pretty much a rock solid guarantee he is going to do the opposite the minute it is in his political interest to change his mind.

On the domestic side, for three long years Bush has been flip-flopping around like a fish on a sidewalk. Bush told us he supported the privacy of our medical records, but that was only until it became expedient to declare them collateral damage in the right wing's culture war. Bush then sent his attorney general out to subpoena women’s medical histories, to put the fact that these women had received abortions in the public record. Not because these procedures were even suspected of being illegal, mind you. They were sought simply as evidence in Bush's crusade to uphold the ban on so-called partial birth abortions.

Campaign finance reform? Bush fought it as a matter of principle. At least he fought it as a matter of principle right up until the moment he signed the bill and claimed credit for it.

Gay marriage? First Bush said it was best left to the states, until some of the states starting tweaking Bush’s base, when it then became an emergency requiring a Constitutional amendment.

Free trade? Bush was for free trade, until he imposed steel tariffs, which were an economic necessity, at least until he lifted them.

Education? While signing the No Child Left Behind Act, Bush carried on like he was the chairman of the NEA. But when it came time to provide the money to pay for it, he morphed into the Grinch who stole Christmas.

The one thing Bush has been steady about is tax cuts. He is for them during times of peace, during times of war, when the economy is booming, and when we are in a recession. You might call that “steady,” but I sure wouldn’t call it “leadership.”

On foreign policy, where Bush is supposed to be at his steadiest, even a passing glance shows that he wobbles like a weeble. The Department of Homeland Security? Bush was against it, until the midterm elections came calling. Then he changed his mind just in time to attack the patriotism of Max Cleland, who left three limbs in Vietnam, for having the gall to suggest that the Department of Homeland Security should provide security for the homeland, instead of patronage for the Republicans.

The New York Times reports that Bush spent hours helping to put together political ads showing the Twin Towers smoldering in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Since "the day that changed everything" is supposedly the reason for all Bush’s “steadiness,” you might expect that his record on September 11 would be paragon of single mindedness. But you know the drill by now. First he was against forming an independent commission to investigate. Then he was for the commission. Once the commission was formed, he fought tooth and nail to keep them from seeing the pertinent records, but he insists he is cooperating fully. He doesn’t think he should talk to the commission for more than an hour. In other words, Bush is willing to give the commission investigating the key tragedy that occurred on his watch only a fraction of the time he gave his ad men to create the images he is using to exploit it. With respect to actually finding out what caused September 11, Bush has been a vacillation wrapped up in a flip flop stuffed inside a waffle.

Even the “war president’s” big event was a bait and switch. Bush campaigned as a foe of “nation building.” He told us he wouldn’t invade Iraq except as a “last resort.” He demanded Saddam let the UN send in weapons inspectors. But Saddam called his bluff. Remember? Hans Blix was crawling through the underwear drawer in Saddam’s Presidential palaces, but Bush was in such a hurry to begin the attack even complete capitulation wasn’t enough. He told the UN team to get out. Blix was begging for more time to complete the inspections, but Mr. “Last Resort” couldn’t wait even another week before he started killing Iraqi civilians and US servicemen. The Iraq war wasn’t a “last resort” for Bush; it his only resort. Then, when the weapons of mass destruction failed to appear, the Bush apologists then had the gall to try and justify the whole fiasco as a necessary exercise in “nation building.” Hello? Did those guys even watch the 2000 campaign?

Over the past few days, John Kerry has shown he isn't about to play defense this entire election. He has been unequivocal in pointing out many of Bush’s equivications. But in an era when wars are fought and economies destroyed based on bumperstickers and slogans, the facts just aren’t enough. We have to attack the sound bites as well. It is well past time to point out that the conventional wisdom is a crock, and Bush’s slogans are pure baloney. It might be true that we are living in a time of change, but it is also true that Bush’s “leadership” has been about as steady as a ping pong ball in a wind tunnel. --posted 03.09.04

You're On Patrol In The Mekong Delta...

by The Brew

It is 1969. You are a 21 year old kid in the Navy, serving on a Swift boat in Vietnam. You might have joined the National Guard, but some Congressman's kid jumped ahead of you in line, grabbing the last spot available.

Right now you are on patrol in the Mekong Delta, and you have run into an ambush. A mine goes off under your boat, throwing you in the water and injuring your skipper. Weighed down by guns, grenades, and ammunition, you sink to the bottom while five more boats pass overhead. You shed your gear and surface. As the boats disappear down the river, you are taking machine gun and small arms fire from both banks of the river. You can’t swim to either side without getting shot, and even if you did, getting captured means getting killed. You have one, and only one chance, to get out alive. You have to hope that your skipper turns his boat around, heads back into the crossfire over the mine infested water, reaches down with his bloody arm, and drags you back up on the boat.

Now for the quiz.

Who would you rather have as your skipper, George Bush or John Kerry?

Jim Rassmann is alive and well living on the Oregon coast because when it happened to him, his skipper was John Kerry. I don’t know what George Bush would have done if he had been skipper that day, but I do know that on September 11 when he was commander in chief and this nation was under attack, he was nowhere to be found. He was busy flying around the country, eventually landing his plane in Nebraska. It was Rudy Giuliani, not George Bush who stepped in front of the cameras in New York City and let America know that while we were down, we weren’t out, and no made for T.V. fictional account of history changes that fact.

Now it is America that is in the middle of the river, taking fire from all sides. Our foreign policy has been hijacked by neoconservative ideologues who have isolated us from the world community. They have embroiled us in a war we didn’t need to fight, forcing us to move resources away from the one we must. More importantly, they have poisoned the well with the allies we need to win. Our domestic policy has become the plaything of plutocrats who want to gut social security to give more money to billionaires. If we allow them to finish their agenda, America will resemble Haiti, with a handful of families having permanent control of all the nation’s wealth, with no social safety net for the rest of us. We need a hero to pull us out, and John Kerry is the only guy who can be that hero.

The next six months of this campaign may well decide the race. Bush’s plutocrats have given him $170 million. Karl Rove’s plan is to use that money to define both Kerry and Bush in the public mind. Have no doubt, when Rove is done, he hopes that the public will believe that it was Bush who took machine gun fire to save his fellow sailor, and Kerry who disappeared from his National Guard unit to who knows where. If we are going to stop that from happening, we are going to have to give John Kerry some money. And we are going to have to do it right now.

If you are like me, you believe that special interests wield way too much power in our government. I hate to point out the obvious, but there is a reason for that. The fact is, when it comes time to elect a president, the special interests pull out their checkbooks and people like you and I, for the most part, don’t. So if you have spent the last six months saying “anybody but Bush”, guess what? The mystery is over. It is no longer “anybody” who has a chance. The next president will either be John Kerry or it will be George Bush. And if Kerry is going to win, it is going to be because people like you and I put our money where our mouths are and write Kerry a check. You might not be able to afford a lot, but you can afford something. Don’t let Rove define John Kerry. Let his own record as a decorated war hero, prosecuting attorney, and the environmental Senator who started the ball rolling on the Iran-Contra and BCCI investigations define him. Pull out your credit card and give Kerry some money. Do it today. Do it now.



In all fairness, I don't know if I would have had the courage to go back to pick up John Rassmann. I’ve only had to make a decision remotely approaching that once. I was selling my truck in the corner of a parking lot of a defunct convenience store by the side of Interstate 395, where the highway leaves Kennewick. Traffic is pretty dangerous there because it is right next to the curb, the speed limit is 50 mph, and there are a lot of trucks going by since it is the main route running north south across Eastern Washington.

I had parked my truck right next to the highway, so people driving by wouldn’t miss my “for sale” sign in the window. Right after dark, a poor Latino family met me there to look at it. They parked their battered Dodge Colt right next to the truck, so that their car was hidden from oncoming traffic. The man had got out, leaving his wife and two small kids inside, but he had forgotten to set his brake. His wife was in the backseat with her baby, and their toddler was up front. The little girl was playing with the steering wheel and with the levers and such, and she pulled the car out of gear. When his car started to roll down the incline of the parking lot toward the highway, he was on the far side of my truck, so he couldn’t even see what was happening. The car was headed for the curb that dropped down to the highway and moving at about the speed of a slow jog when I got to it. I hopped in, pushing the little girl into the passenger seat, and stepped on the brake. The car stopped about a foot from the curb, just in time to watch a semi going fifty miles an hour pass about three feet in front of us. If I hadn’t hopped in, the three of them would have rolled off the curb right in front of that truck, and likely would have been killed. If I had hesitated just a half a second, the front wheels at least would have gone over the curb, which was more than enough to get hit by the truck's right bumper, and I would have been killed right along with them. But nobody was shooting at us, and my arm hadn’t just been injured in a mine explosion, so I am not pretending I am some kind of hero. I was just trying to sell my truck. He didn't buy it.

If you would like to thank me for writing these dimwitted columns, or for saving that family, do me this favor. Send some money to John Kerry. If we don't combat Rove right now, it might be too late. Second, when you do, tell him that he needs to go windsurfing with Doug from Washington. When I was in New Hampshire working on his campaign, I met him. I told him I had flown across the country to help his campaign and I only wanted one thing. When he was elected President, if he ever came back to the Pacific Northwest to go windsurfing, I wanted to go with him. I doubt he remembers it, but CSPAN caught it on tape. I’ve got a copy, so I can remind him if I need to. Anyway, if a few contributions come in reminding him of my request, maybe you can save the country and give me a chance to go windsurfing with the next President at the same time. You might want to thank him for his service, and for pulling John Rassmann out of that river while you are at it. --posted 03.05.04

Bush Family, GOP Defending The Scnctimony Of Marriage? Right.
byThe Brew

Perhaps sensing that the Bob Jones University crowd might not be as motivated towards electoral politics as they would like, the Bush administration has come out of the closet supporting a Constitutional amendment to cement the status of gay and lesbian Americans as second-class citizens. Casting the amendment as necessary to protect the "sanctity of marriage," Bush has found the perfect issue to move the debate towards more comfortable ground than the war in Iraq, the economy, and his Vietnam era service record. But with each passing day, the spectacle of the ongoing celebration of love and devotion by monogamous gay couples in San Francisco is convincing more and more heterosexual Americans that married gays pose no real threat to them, or to the sanctity of their marriages. So, to avoid the perception that this amendment is really a political stunt designed by Karl Rove to mobilize Bush's base, Bush needs to go further, get out in front of the curve, and really push for getting the amendment passed. I have a few suggestions for the Bush team.

First, Bush should appoint his brother Neil to act as his point man in promoting the Constitutional amendment. On an important issue like amending the Constitution, Bush needs someone he can trust to coordinate the massive lobbying effort that will be required to secure supermajorities in the House, Senate, and state legislatures. Only someone inside the Bush family should be trusted with such an important job. Besides, who better to promote the sanctity of marriage than a man who admitted during his divorce trial he contracted herpes while cheating on his wife with prostitutes in Thailand?

To stoke the base, Neil could ask Rush Limbaugh to give the issue daily attention on his radio program. Having been married three times, Rush has significantly more experience with the sanctity of marriage than your average American. Rush could also compare his own marriage with the gays lining up to get married in San Francisco. Homosexuals obviously require years to figure out if a person is right for them, as many of these couples have been together in monogamous relationships for decades. In contrast, Limbaugh met his current wife on the internet. With talent on loan from God, Limbaugh can obviously smell out sanctity sight unseen.

For some star power with younger voters, Rush could invite Britney Spears on the program. Unlike most of the Hollywood elite, Britney has been outspoken in her support for the President, so the Bush administration can trust her not to embarrass them on this important issue. Raised in bible-belt "Bush Country," Britney recently married her childhood friend Jason Alexander in Las Vegas. These traditional kids practically wrote the book on the sanctity of marriage. As told by Alexander, "It was just crazy, man, we were just looking at each other and said, 'Let's do something wild, crazy. Let's go get married, just for the hell of it.' Spears' high-powered visibility with younger Americans, her outspoken support for the President, and the fact that she managed to stay married for a stunning 55 hours before getting it annulled, all combine to make her the perfect spokesperson for the White House.

For the more erudite set, columnist George Will should be brought on board. Syndicated in hundreds of newspapers across the country, Will has spoken with enormous authority on cultural issues for decades. Like Limbaugh, Will first hand experience with the "sanctity of marriage." While still married to another women, Will was romantically linked to Lally Weymouth, daughter of Washington Post owner Katharine Graham. When Will moved out on his wife and children, he found his office furniture dumped on his front lawn with a note reading, "Take it somewhere else, buster." It is this kind of first hand experience with the sanctity of marriage that allows Will to sit in judgment of others and to convince them to amend the Constitution.

Finally, for the cable television assault, the obvious go-to-guy is former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. The leader of the Republican revolution that captured the House of Representatives in 1994, Gingrich has the proven political skills to move a constitutional amendment to ratification. Already a Fox News regular, Gingrich has years of practice in the kinds of rhetoric that is crucial to win this battlefront in the larger cultural war. After he married his first wife Jackie Battley to avoid service Vietnam, Newt enlisting Jackie to write a letter attacking his opponent for planning to leave her family in the district: ''When elected, Newt will keep his family together,'' declared one campaign ad. Gingrich ended his 19-year marriage shortly after his victory, visiting Jackie in the hospital where she was recovering from surgery for uterine cancer to discuss details of the divorce. He then failed to pay alimony and child support for his two daughters, causing a church to take up a collection, and then left the congregation in response to the pastor's criticism of his divorce. Gingrich then married Marianne Ginther. He called her ''the woman I love'' and ''my best friend and closest adviser'' in his first speech as House speaker, in January 1995. At the time, Newt was having an affair with wife number three, Castilla Bisek. In his political testament, Newt criticized sex outside of marriage, promoted traditional family life and opined that ''any male who doesn't support his children is a bum.'' In May 1999, eight months after she told him she had a neurological condition that could lead to multiple sclerosis, Gingrich called Marianne at her mother's home. After wishing the 84-year-old matriarch happy birthday, he told Marianne that he wanted a divorce. Newt then wed Callista Bisek, the ex-congressional aide 20 years his junior with whom he had an affair while still married to Marianne.

All in all, the President has a deep bench of family members, celebrities, and seasoned political operatives who are perfectly positioned to take his message of sanctimony to the masses. Let us all hope he uses them. --02.24.04

Kerry's Timne To Fight The Bush Mud Slingers Is Now
byThe Brew

I won’t bother with Matt Drudge’s foray into John Kerry’s sex life, except to say that that by now it should be obvious that Drudge’s true function in the GOP media ecosystem is as the liar of last resort. The everyday lies, the ones that can be dressed up as jokes, opinions, or exaggerations, come from a million sources. But when the polls numbers are crashing, and the GOP really needs a hard-edged smear to change the subject, Drudge is the go-to-guy. His willingness to make the over the top accusation is critical, because without someone willing to take the fall, the rest of them can’t repeat the lie without tarnishing their own credibility, such as it is. So Limbaugh, Fox, The Wall Street Journal, the National Review and the whole cast of print pundits and media talking heads who form the Republican spin machine need a designated stooge. Drudge fills that role.>

Far more insidious than the Drudge-type lies, however, are the ones that fit into the GOP’s preferred meta-narrative. These are dangerous because they bear a passing semblance to the truth, and they get repeated in the mainstream press. The worst one I see on the radar right now was repeated by staff writer John M. Glionna in the Los Angeles Times yesterday. As told by Glionna, when John Kerry testified before Congress in 1971 he “accused fellow servicemen of committing wartime atrocities against civilians.” What Kerry actually said was that he was present when his fellow servicemen had testified about war crimes they themselves had committed. There is a big difference between these two versions of the event. In the GOP-preferred version, Kerry is stabbing his fellow vets in the back, accusing them of crimes. In the real world, Kerry wasn’t accusing anyone of anything. He was simply repeating stories told by his fellow vets and bringing them to the attention of the Congress. But don’t take my word for it. Read Kerry’s testimony and decide for yourself.>


The reason that this particular lie is so insidious is because it fits so tightly with the emerging GOP narrative. Judging by the poll numbers, figuring out how to beat Kerry is proving a tough nut to crack. But Karl Rove has the focus groups are working overtime, and we are starting to see the rough outline of what is coming. Bush's overarching theme is shaping up to go something like this>

: "George Bush is a strong, war-time leader who puts the safety of the American public first. John Kerry is a blame-America-firster who puts our troops and our nation at risk by criticizing our government while our troops are in the field. He did so by leading protests against Vietnam, he did so during his Senate career with his votes against funding our military and intelligence services, and he is doing so today with his criticism of our efforts in Iraq."

Allow me to offer a rebuttal of this narrative for use by my fellow “Anybody But Bush” patriots and the Kerry campaign.>

On the first point, I would suggest that Kerry get out front and battle the lies being spread by writers and pundits like Mr. Glionna head on. The Hanoi Jane tag is getting so much repetition that it threatens to become the “invented the internet” myth of the 2004 campaign. Gore let his real legislative accomplishments on the internet and Love Canal be used against him by not providing an early and forceful rebuttal of Karl Rove’s twisting of the truth, and Kerry is making the same mistake with his principled stand against the Vietnam war. Kerry's testimony helped end that war, and there would be more names on the wall, not fewer, if he hadn’t spoken out.>

On the second point, I would suggest that the best defense is a good offense. George Bush's record includes the biggest terrorist attack in our history, which happened just after he had completed a month long vacation. Prior to the attack, he had ignored warnings from the outgoing Clinton administration about the threat posed by al Qaeda, and he had disregarded the detailed and bi-partisan Hart-Rudman plan that had been constructed at great expense to fight it. Instead of focusing our resources on terrorism, Bush was pursuing initiatives in missile defense and in the process breaching international treaties that had stood for decades. He has fought an independent investigation into his failure of leadership ever since. In contrast, Kerry's record in the Senate reflects the thinking of a man who was and is in front of the curve. Our national defense would have been far better served if the money that was spent on weapons systems and intelligence technologies targeting threats from the Soviet Union and favored by Bush’s far right base had been spent on human intelligence and a force structure geared towards combating terrorism.>

On the final point, I would suggest that the enemies of freedom in Iraq are given far more aid and comfort by the fact that our American troops in Iraq are essentially fighting the war alone than they are by protest groups back home. Protest groups, by the way, who are being infiltrated by law enforcement agencies in what has to be the worst misallocation of homeland security resources since the search for the Texas state legislators. Conscientious Americans exercising their first amendment rights didn't put our troops in harm's way by rushing into this war as a first resort; George Bush did.>

When the Democratic primary winds to its inevitable conclusion in early March, the Republican war chest is going to be put to use in full force pushing this narrative. Theresa Heinz-Kerry, whose $650 million inheritance is more than enough to meet the Bush Ranger's juggernaut dollar for dollar, has intimated that she would use her fortune if the Republican’s attacked Mr. Kerry's character. My advice to Mrs. Heinz-Kerry, who I met a few weeks ago when she visited a Mexican restaurant in my small, GOP dominated corner of Washington State, is that these attacks have already begun, as is made plain by Mr. Glionna's sleight of hand with respect to Mr. Kerry's 1971 testimony. It will be infinitely less expensive to fight them now than it will be to wait until the ink has dried on the media's script. --posted 02.20.04

If you have comments on this article, you can write to brew@thedailybrew.com, but due to the evils of computer viruses and spam, any message that contains an attachment or which does not list "Re: The Daily Brew" as the subject is deleted and never read.

I've Gotten Off The Fence
byThe Brew

I've decided to get off the "anybody but Bush" fence and officially endorse my favorite among the Democratic hopefuls. My reasons are mostly intuitive. We both ski, windsurf, play guitar and are liberal lawyers. I figure anyone I have so much in common with has got to be a pretty good guy. If the fact that he and I are recreation junkies isn't enough to sway you, let me tell you a little bit more that might be more persuasive.

Contrary to popular myth, he didn't grow up fabulously wealthy. Like most of us, he had to work during the summers to help put himself through college. He graduated from law school and started his career in the prosecutor's office. Working with victims to put murderers behind bars can make people pretty jaded, but he has been an opponent of the death penalty for his entire career. Given the public's blood lust for executing violent criminals, (politicians with no moral compass like Bush have actually used executions to boost their careers) I view this as a highly principled stand, and it tells me a lot about his character.

Working in a prosecutor's office doesn't make you rich, and when he entered public service his net worth is said to have been less than $150,000. I don't have to tell you about the temptations that befall a middle class public servant who needs to constantly raise money to keep his job. But despite the fact that he wasn't independently wealthy, he never gave in to the corrosive influence of special interest money. In the four times he has been elected to the United States Senate, he has never taken a dime of PAC money. That is Paul Wellstone credibility in my book.

Serving in the Senate, he showed some real spine. Ever hear of Iran-Contra? It was his Senate office that initiated the investigation. I like a guy with a track record of being a thorn in the side of powerful Republicans. I have a feeling our next President is going to have his hands full investigating the crimes of the current administration.

There is also no question that he is on our side. A liberal's liberal, he has voted with Senator Ted Kennedy about 95% of the time. He also has a thirty-year career as a Democrat, so he hasn't done any of Karl Rove's work for him. There are no films of him giving speeches at Republican fundraisers in Arkansas two years ago, praising the Bush administration and its war on terror. His environmental record takes a backseat to no one. His filibuster single-handedly kept the Bush administration from drilling in ANWR. His tax plan would keep the economically beneficial and electorally advantageous middle class tax cuts in place, while repealing the portion on the very richest that threatens our long-term solvency. Health care isn't some academic policy debate for him. He is a cancer survivor, which gives him some real credibility on the issue with seniors. For me, he is hitting just about every issue with just the right amount of force.

By now you realize that I am talking about John Kerry. If you are a dove, I hope I've given you some reason to consider something besides his vote on the Iraq war. I won't go into all the reasons that he wasn't voting for the war Bush actually fought, I'll just say that if you are willing to ignore a life-time of public service over a single vote, or if you think the election is going to be decided on that single vote, I don't think you are exactly looking at the big picture here.

If you're mostly worried about electability, relax. Bush's State of the Union speech made it perfectly clear that he has nothing to run on but lies, and the American people have finally woken up to the truth. The poll numbers show a pretty clear trend. By the time next November rolls around, Carol Moseley Braun will be able to beat Bush. --posted 02.06.04

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Would A Civil War In Iraq Produce Justice And Democracy In The U.S.?
byThe Brew

Just as with every other executive branch decision over the past three years, any doubt that the war in Iraq was driven by politics rather than policy was laid to rest by the Republican's reaction to the capture of Saddam Hussein. Over the past three days, for each hour discussing the implications for the safety of our troops, the fawning corporate media have spent at least 20 hours discussing the implications of the news for Bush's chances in the 2004 election. And, as is often the case, the George Wills, William Safires and Robert Novaks of the world have again managed to miss the big picture in their euphoria over Bush's mild and temporary bump in the polls brought by Saddam's capture. Anyone who is willing to look further into the future than say, next week, will readily recognize that having Saddam in custody actually places the Bush administration on the horns of a dilemma.

To see why, one must first realize that each and every stage of the war has been planned by the White House for maximum political gain. Bush's initial bellicosity toward Iraq began when the Enron scandal, and then Bush's prior career as an insider trader at Harken Energy, was dominating the news. The congressional vote authorizing the war, which the administration originally asserted was unnecessary, was also timed to complicate the Democrats strategy going into the 2002 elections, and succeeded brilliantly. But as Karl Rove learned last fall, when downed helicopters and mounting casualties made a mockery of his "Mission Accomplished" stunt aboard an aircraft carrier 30 miles off the coast of San Diego, not everything in a war zone can be as carefully stage managed as Bush's Thanksgiving display of a turkey while surrounded by troops who had been handpicked to include only his supporters.

Karl Rove's nightmare is that the insurgents in Iraq will again succeed in a series of deadly attacks in late stages of the presidential campaign, when it is too close to the election to produce another face saving photo op with the troops. The Bush administration had planned to be handing over political power to the Iraqis in the final days of the campaign, to show America a light at the end of the tunnel. Rove hoped this would seal the deal removing the asterisk next to Bush's presidential legacy. Unfortunately for the Committee to Finally Elect Bush President, Shiite clerics refused to go along with the Bush plan of forming a government through a caucus process, and instead insisted on direct elections. Ahmed Chalabi, the neo-con's handpicked leader of the Governing Council, pulled back the political bedsheets on the timing of the turnover when he was quoted in the New York Times saying: "The whole thing was set up so President Bush could come to the airport in October for a ceremony to congratulate the new Iraqi government. When you work backwards from that, you understand the dates the Americans were insisting on."

What does any of this have to do with the capture of Saddam Hussein? Plenty.

The transition to Iraqi rule will almost certainly escalate the violence in Iraq because the main victims of Saddam's brutal regime, the Shiites and the Kurds, will finally achieve some measure of political power over their former oppressors. Karl Rove isn't the only one who can do electoral math, and the Baathists and the Sunnis know that if the Shiites, who comprise a 60% majority, hold an election, their days are numbered. The US military's job at this point is to decimate the insurgents in time to prevent them from escalating the violence when that happens.

So far, the Shiite majority has been content to allow the US Army to do their fighting for them. But while a televised trial of Saddam Hussein in the months leading up to the US presidential election might play well for Bush to US audiences, it can only aggravate what promises to be the Sunni Alamo. The televised spectacle of Saddam's crimes against the Shiites will only inflame passions on all sides of Iraqi society. In addition to enduring the ongoing suicide bombers of the insurgent attacks in the real world, the Shiites will be graphically reminded of the worst abuses of their Sunni oppressors on their nightly news broadcasts. For their part, the Baathists will be enduring the Mother of All Public Humiliations, even if it is vicarious. The combination may well cause both sides to take the gloves off, and for the violence to spin out of control into a full blown civil war.

Rove's plan for September is not for the television cameras to be cutting back and forth between police tear gassing demonstrators at the GOP convention in New York and angry mobs of Shiites and Sunnis shooting it out in the streets of Baghdad, with US troops caught in the crossfire. But the trial of Saddam Hussein, coupled with the prospect of the long oppressed Shiite clerics finally taking power, could provide the impetus that makes it happen. Thus, the harder the Bush administration pushes for justice and democracy in Iraq, the more likely they are to precipitate a civil war in Iraq that would bring forth their electoral defeat back home in the United States. The irony is that this would also produce justice and democracy in America, which has been sorely missing ever since the 2000 election. --posted 12.20.03

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The White House Plumbers at the Weekly Standard
The Daily Brew

With 10,000 screaming fans in Seattle, Howard Dean's rock star summer tour sure looks like the hottest show in politics. In a two day swing through the Northwest last weekend, almost fifteen thousand came out to see people-powered Howard. This was the same weekend that the White House cancelled an appearance in Tacoma Washington because planned protests promised to be large enough to make the nightly news. Padding his lead in New Hampshire, with his internet cash machine humming, Dean has the look of a guy about to break away from the pack for good.

But for all his success, Dean isn't a man who interests William Kristol and Fred Barnes at the Weekly Standard. They could care less about a former Vermont Governor who is on the verge of running away with the Democratic nomination. You would think Kristol and Barnes would be covering Dean's prairie fire. You would be wrong. As I write this, two of the three top stories at the Standard's website are about a former NATO commander who hasn't even announced his candidacy, and who is largely unknown to the democratic base.

To be sure, earlier this month the Standard was doing the usual grunt work for the White House, dishing out Karl Rove's standard weekly spin points about the governor. According to the August 4 issue, Dean was "an antiwar McGovernik who will lead his party to a crushing defeat." Comically, instead of comparing Dean to Bush, the Standard compared Dean's military record to Kerry's, neatly avoiding the "AWOL" problem. But the Standard still allowed that Dean had a chance, if only because Dean has tapped into a partisan hatred of George Bush created since "a substantial segment of the party's base has been radicalized to the point where it does not recognize the legitimacy of the Bush presidency." (Italics theirs).

Kristol and Barnes are partially correct; a substantial segment of the party's base does not recognize the legitimacy of the Bush presidency. This is to be expected, since more people across America, as well as Florida, voted for Al Gore. But the Standard is disingenuous in suggesting that the benefits of Bush's illegitimacy can only inure to Howard Dean. It is obvious that whoever wins the Democratic nomination will benefit from a backlash from Bush's illegitimacy. The nominee will also benefit from the disaster spawned by Bush's following the incompetent advice of neocon chickenhawks like Kristol and Barnes. And if the nominee is Kerry or Clark, they will also benefit greatly from any comparison between their own biography, and that of AWOL Texas Air National Guardsman, Bush. For that reason, they are right to fear that the man who will ultimately benefit from all this outrage isn't Dean; it is Wesley Clark.

In back to back pieces now dominating the Weekly Standard website, the Standard has attacked Clark with what they obviously hope to make the standard narrative about the General. In the August 25 issue, the magazine accuses Clark of putting forth "three versions" of a story that he received a call at his home the afternoon of September 11, 2001, urging him to say on CNN that the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were connected to Iraq. The charge is repeated in a story in the September 1-8 issue: "Another slippery candidate from Arkansas." Not surprisingly, the Standard is spinning the facts wildly. The right wing media carnival is being given its marching orders. They are to attack Wesley Clark for changing his story about that phone call.

So, did Clark give "three versions" of the story? Of course not. If you read the just the quotes in the Standard, instead of the spin, that much is obvious. Let's review. The Standard begins by pointing out that on "Meet the Press" on June 15 of this year, Clark noted that intelligence about the Iraqi threat had been hyped. (While Bush himself has essentially conceded this point, the Standard apparently has not.) The magazine quotes the exchange.

"Hyped by whom?" asked moderator Tim Russert.

CLARK: "I think it was an effort to convince the American people to do something, and I think there was an immediate determination right after 9/11 that Saddam Hussein was one of the keys to winning the war on terror. Whether it was the need just to strike out or whether he was a linchpin in this, there was a concerted effort during the fall of 2001 starting immediately after 9/11 to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein."

RUSSERT: "By who? Who did that?"

CLARK: "Well, it came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over. I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, 'You've got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein.' I said, 'But--I'm willing to say it, but what's your evidence?' And I never got any evidence. And these were people who had--Middle East think tanks and people like this, and it was a lot of pressure to connect this and there were a lot of assumptions made. But I never personally saw the evidence and didn't talk to anybody who had the evidence to make that connection."

Note that while Clark says that the White House was asserting there was a linkage between 9/11 and Iraq, he does NOT say that he got the call from the White House asking him to affirm that linkage. Instead, he says the call was from "Middle Eastern think tanks and people like this." As we will see, that is Clark's story, and he sticks to it.

The next time Clark addresses the point it is two weeks later, when he is accosted by Faux News' Sean Hannity. Again, the Standard faithfully printed the exchange.

(Quoting directly from the Standard) "Referring to the Russert transcript above, Hannity said of the call, "I think you owe it to the American people to tell us who."

Clark replied, "It came from many different sources, Sean."

HANNITY: "Who? Who?"

CLARK : "And I personally got a call from a fellow in Canada who is part of a Middle Eastern think tank who gets inside intelligence information. He called me on 9/11."

HANNITY: "That's not the answer. Who in the White House?"

CLARK: "I'm not going to go into those sources."

Unless you are an editor at the Weekly Standard, the substance of this second exchange is entirely consistent with the first. Clark again says there were "many sources" for the story that the White House wanted to link Saddam Hussein to 9/11. Clark repeats his prior claim that he himself was called by someone who was part of a Middle Eastern think tank. He is a bit more specific, allowing that the call came from Canada, but he clearly does NOT claim that the call came from the White House. When pressed on his sources who are in the White House, he refuses to identify them. Two right wing talking heads, Hannity and Russert, have now been given the same version of events by Clark. But in the spin addled brains of Kristol and Barnes, Clark has somehow changed his tune.

The water then gets muddied a bit. Three days later, in his usually unassailable New York Times column, Paul Krugman makes an uncharacteristic mistake. He states:

"Literally before the dust had settled, Bush administration officials began trying to use 9/11 to justify an attack on Iraq. Gen. Wesley Clark says that he received calls on Sept. 11 from 'people around the White House' urging him to link the attack to Saddam Hussein."

Even if the timing described in Krugman's first statement is in doubt, the substance is not. Public statements by the Bush White House reveal that 9/11 was continually used by members of the administration to justify its eventual attack on Iraq. While the question of exactly when they started to discuss this amongst themselves might be an issue, the fact that they eventually did is indisputable, and Krugman was hardly being unfair to the White House for stating the obvious.

However, in the second statement, Krugman clearly mischaracterized Clark's prior remarks. As shown by the transcripts published in the Weekly Standard, Clark did NOT say that "people around the White House' [were] urging him to link the attack to Saddam Hussein." On two separate occasions, Clark had identified these people as members of "Middle Eastern think tanks." How did General Clark respond to Krugman's column? By writing this letter to the Times:

"I would like to correct any possible misunderstanding of my remarks on 'Meet the Press,' quoted in Paul Krugman's July 15 column, about 'people around the White House' seeking to link Sept. 11 to Saddam Hussein.

I received a call from a Middle East think tank outside the country, asking me to link 9/11 to Saddam Hussein. No one from the White House asked me to link Saddam Hussein to Sept. 11. Subsequently, I learned that there was much discussion inside the administration in the days immediately after Sept. 11 trying to use 9/11 to go after Saddam Hussein.

In other words, there were many people, inside and outside the government, who tried to link Saddam Hussein to Sept. 11.

Little Rock, Ark., July 18, 2003"

Thus, not only had Clark been entirely consistent in identifying the source of the call in his public statements, when he became aware that his assertion had been mischaracterized in the press, he took the time to correct the record. For the third time, Clark said the exact same thing.

One might have expected the Weekly Standard to take the opportunity to attack the White House's least favorite Ivy League economist. After all, it was Krugman who got the facts wrong, not Clark. But that would have meant conceding the obvious and devastating point that the Bush administration dishonestly exploited 9/11 to attack Iraq. It also would have required praising the General for correcting the record.

The Bush White House (and thus the editors of the Weekly Standard) aren't served by this bit of inconvenient truth. So, comically, they have instead attempted to provoke yet another GOP psuedo-scandal by pretending that Wesley Clark's statements were somehow inconsistent. But as we have just seen, quotes from their own magazine prove the opposite. Clark consistently said two things. First, he said that he had a call from a Middle Eastern think tank. Second, he said the White House trying to connect 9/11 to Saddam Hussein from virtually the minute it happened.

We may never know whether Clark got a call from someone in a think tank on 9/11. But either does the Standard. All we do know is that ever since he began talking about it, his story has been entirely consistent and the emerging Republican spin point here is simply another Big Lie. We may also never know exactly when the Bush administration started trying to link 9/11 to Saddam Hussein. Wesley Clark says his sources tell him it started immediately. No one has proven otherwise.

But whether Clark's sources were right or wrong, we do know this. We do know that no linkage has ever been brought forth. And we also know that last January, when Bush was giving the hard sell on the war in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he stated the following:

"But, see, our fellow citizens must understand that September the 11th, 2001 changed the equation. It's changed the strategic outlook of this country, because we're not protected by oceans. The battlefield is here. And therefore, we must address threats today as they gather, before they become acute.

There's a reason why the world asked Saddam Hussein to disarm -- for 12 years. And the reason why is because he's dangerous. He's used them. He tortures his own people. He's gassed his own people. He's attacked people in the neighborhood.

What's changed for America -- besides the fact that he's still dangerous and can create havoc with friends in the neighborhood -- is that there's now a shadowy terrorist network which he could use as a forward army, attacking his worst enemy and never leave a fingerprint behind, with deadly, deadly weapons. And that's what's changed."

So, as the Right wing media starts attacking General Clark for an obscure phone call trying to link 9/11 with Iraq, gently point out that no matter what the Weekly Standard says, Clark's story has been entirely consistent. You might also want to mention that, in contrast, George Bush's public statements related to the very same issue are demonstrably false. --09.05.03

Honest Pragmatism Will Beat Dishonest Ideology Every Time

by The Daily Brew

Remember in the 2000 election when politicians were falling all over themselves to profess their deep religious convictions? Dubya with his "favorite philosopher" act and Lieberman's pious campaign schedule? I have a suggestion for the current Democratic crop: Lose the most-religious-guy-in-the-race shtick. It didn't work then and it isn't going to work now.

No matter what happens, Democrats aren't getting the votes of people who believe that Bush's selection by the Supreme Court was ordained by God. So ignore the advice of consultants praying that you pander to the faithful. You aren't going to out-religion GW and the Shiite Baptists down in Texas. More importantly, you might be giving up your best line of attack just by trying.

Karl Rove plans on making the theme of this election that we live in a dangerous world, and that George Bush is the only man we can trust to steer a course through it. But Bush is charting that course not with facts and reason, but with the superstition born of blind belief. Time and again, when facts fail to fit Bush's dogma, it is the facts that are discarded, instead of the dogma. Whether it is global warming, military intelligence, or economic projections, when facts confront ideology in the White House, the facts usually lose and the ideology usually wins.

But facts are stubborn things. So no matter how many times Bush says his tax cuts have turned the economy around, the lost jobs still remain lost. Whether George Bush believes in the science of global warming or not, the heat wave in Europe is still killing people by the thousands. And while Bush might have told us that "combat operations in Iraq were over" and our "mission was accomplished", the Iraqis apparently weren't listening because our soldiers continue to die in Iraq almost every day.

So a smart strategy would be to attack the entire premise of Bush's religious right base. Public policy choices should not favor divine inspiration over facts and data. It is great to have a faith in God. It is irresponsible and dangerous to allow your faith to blind you to an objective view of reality.

Out of public view, where Karl Rove placates the fundamentalist base, Bush's "Road Map" for Israel was formed with input from the same televangelists who routinely preach that an apocalypse centered there is eminent. If I were running for President against Bush, I would push that connection as far into the light of day as I possibly could. Does Bush think the second coming is eminent? Is he starting wars with that in mind? Just asking the questions is enough. It is a dangerous world. Putting a fundamentalist fanatic waiting on the rapture in charge of nuclear weapons makes it a hell of a lot more dangerous. Does Bush believe that he is going to usher in the apocalypse or not? I am sure his fundamentalist base would be as interested in his answer to that question as the rest of us.

If Democrats make the race about putting facts before blind ideology in public policy, they will win plenty of votes of self described "Christians." The majority of Christians aren't convinced that Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Jack Van Impe ought to be calling the shots in the war on terrorism. Many Christians aren't at all convinced that Bush's particular brand of right wing fundamentalism has anything at all to do with God. After all, if God supported the tax cuts, don't you think the budget would be a little more balanced? If Bush's billion dollar no-bid contracts to Cheney's pension plan were God's idea for capitalism, wouldn't more Americans be working, instead of less? Just because Bush turned a blind eye to campaign contributor Kenny Boy Lay's bankrupting a few thousand families with the Enron fraud, are we supposed to believe God did too?

Faith and religion played a big role in election 2000. It will again in 2004. Hopefully, Democrats will have learned by then that honest pragmatism is going to beat dishonest ideology every day of the week. --08.20.03

Iraq War Sold To Citizens Like Defective Used Car

by The Daily Brew

There is no longer any real question about whether Bush lied to Congress and the American people about Iraq. He did. The aluminum tubes, the uranium from Niger, the unmanned drones rigged to spew clouds of bio-toxins over New York City at any second? All lies. The Bush administration's public statements themselves demonstrate these were lies, and no further Congressional inquiry is necessary to prove it.

But if the lies were bad, the innuendos were worse. Brazenly exploiting the tragedy, the administration intentionally (and successfully) created a connection between Iraq and September 11th in the mind of the public that simply did not exist. Bush sold the attack using the same smoke and mirrors Enron used to earn "profits." Again, Congress need not hold hearings to establish this fact. The Bush administration's public statements already on record are all that is needed.

Thus it really doesn't matter if they ever find weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration isn't going to find Nigerian uranium or drones capable of attacking the United States no matter how hard they look. Even if they do find something else, Bush still lied.

While congressional hearings might provide some nice political theater (and have therefore been blocked by the Republicans), they are not really necessary. The fundamental question created by the war on Iraq has been answered. The Bush administration deliberately deceived the American public. To what degree matters not. They did so to drag the Nation into a war. They did so at least partially, if not principally, to influence the 2002 Congressional elections, and solidify their hold on domestic political power.

That ought to be enough. That their war has now become a guerrilla campaign, with no end in sight to the loss of American blood and treasure, ought to be entirely too much. But for the supplicant US corporate press, somehow the lives of US servicemen sacrificed on the alter of Rovian political calculations is not a cause for concern.

To everyone but the press, Bush's defense against the charge that he lied is so completely inept as to be laughable. The cover-up looks exactly like the work of an administration that can't eat a pretzel and ride a Segway at the same time.

First out of the chute was the theory that the weapons were squirreled out of the country by terrorists. They dropped this line when they belatedly realized that the whole purpose of the war was to prevent that from happening. The more recent justification is that Saddam had these weapons in the past, and that everyone from Bill Clinton to the United Nations thought he still had them. You know they are desperate when they start invoking the UN and Bill Clinton to support their cause. But the issue isn't whether others believed Saddam was a danger; plainly they did. The issue is whether the Bush administration lied to portray him as a bigger menace than he was. And clearly they did exactly that. So they are left with the same song and dance they started with; they will find the WMDs, and Saddam was a really bad guy who killed his own people.

That Saddam is evil was never in dispute. No one has forgotten that when Bush's father inspired and then abandoned an Iraqi revolution, and Saddam quickly killed everyone in Iraq stupid enough to read Bush's lips. The pictures of dead Kurdish children published in Newsweek were hard to forget. So is the reality that these crimes were insufficient to mobilize US public opinion to support a war. Ergo, the administration invented its tales of weapons of mass destruction.

Just as with the cover up, the hunt for the WMDs has now become a joke unto itself. The search first turned surreal when Bush was confronted with a question as to their whereabouts while in Poland. Reflexively lying again, Bush claimed we had found them! Since we hadn't, the American press was ordered not to dwell on the President's words, and administration officials hastily explained that President did not mean what he said, and to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. The desired effect was nevertheless created as the number of mouth breathing Bush voters who believed United States had found WMDs went over 40%.

Back in the real world, the search for WMDs essentially ended last week when the military announced it had more or less run out of places to search, and would basically stop looking. Perhaps the US soldiers in Iraq thought the rocket propelled grenades getting shot at them were a more pressing issue than looking for Republican campaign props. Whatever the reason, the fact that the search had ended, of course, did not prevent the Bush folks back in Washington from continuing to insist they would eventually be found. It just gave it an "OJ Simpson on the golf course" kind of feel when they said it. No one in the national media thought to ask them how they intended to find weapons that might not even exist now that they were no longer even looking.

As attacks in Iraq linger on, and casualties continue to mount, Bush's "Mission Accomplished" stunt off the San Diego coastline is looking more and more premature on all counts. Perhaps the banner should have read "Photo-Op Accomplished" or "Mid-term Election Diversion Accomplished" because if anything is clear in Iraq, it is that the United States has a long way to go before it is done cleaning up after the administration's lies. Yet the media has replaced its saturation coverage of the war in Iraq with saturation coverage of the Lacy Peterson trial, so the Bush administration won't have to pay a price for any of this.

This is, in some sick way, appropriate. The media's relationship to the Bush administration has become analogous to that of a beaten wife. They live in such fear of the administration they can no longer sort out reality when the administration speaks. Just one example; when discussing the not-quite-accomplished mission, the patriotically correct media has now adopted the military's convention of referring to Iraqis who attack a foreign army occupying their country as "terrorists."

Yet the media blame themselves for the abuse they suffer. So they dutifully write down the administration's immoral and implausible narrative that the reasons for the war on Iraq don't matter, and echo Republican claims that anyone who questions the administration's laughable stories about the war is politically motivated.

One can only hope that despite the battered press corps, people will come to understand that the war was marketed to the American public like a used car, except more dishonestly. Hopefully, the public will remember the sales job came on the eve of the mid-term elections, and they will connect the dots and realize that the lead up to the war was intended to distract the public from the story that Bush's biggest financial backers were crooks who bankrupted thousands of their own employees while becoming fabulously wealthy in the process. Hopefully, they realize that although Saddam was a nasty piece of work, the American public was never going to go to war on the real facts, so lies were told by Bush to sway public opinion in favor of the war. Finally, one can only hope that the enormity of this deception will matter. Because if it doesn't, nothing will. --07.07.03 (c)The Brew, 2003

Bush Is Holding Up Democracy For Iraq

by The Daily Brew

In case you didn't notice, the neocons who lied through their teeth to get us into this mess don't have a plan to get us out. For some odd reason, pouring millions of taxpayer dollars into Cheney's pension plan via no-bid contracts to Halliburton doesn't appear to be getting it done. Instead, we are treading water at best, rebuilding infrastructure only to see it blown up the next day, along with a few of our neighbor's kids.

So how do we get out of Iraq? I'll give Howard Dean credit. Among the current crop of democrats, he is the only one I've heard who even acknowledges that we need to try something different. But even Dean's solution, "send more people", only provides about 1/100th of the answer.

Maybe some of my fellow internet pundits would like to offer their suggestions. Go ahead, post them on your blogs. Maybe we can get someone running for Bush's job to notice. If Wesley Clark or John Kerry stood up with a workable ten point plan, maybe it would shame Bush into doing something different. I certainly hope so. Because even though I am glad that the incompetence of this administration is on display like never before, I am damn sick of watching our kids die for the latest in Bush's lifelong string of failures.

I'll get to my suggestion in a moment. First, let me indulge myself with a little bit of I Told You So.

Way back in February, before our illegitimate President launched his illegitimate war, I pointed out that Iraq may be so rife with internal hatreds and incompatible competing interests that it cannot be transformed into a stable democracy. It is now too late to take that view. I also stated that were it so transformed, the lives of both the Iraqi people and the rest of the world would be infinitely better. Thanks to our illustrious leader, we now have no choice but to try. But the point of my column then, as now, was that Bush has repeatedly shown little affinity for exporting America's most precious value; our democratic system of governance. I suggested that this was because if Bush did share this value, he might try something that would actually form a legitimate Iraqi democracy. I stand by my prior observations.

Since a free and democratic Iraq is also our only hope for an Iraq without a US military presence (and the attendant slow bleed of US casualties), it is well past time for the Iraqi people to start hashing out what kind of society they want to live in. The first step of this process inevitably involves the creation of a document that forms the basis for their new government. The sooner we get on with the process of having the Iraqis come up with that document, the sooner we can transition power to them and get our kids home.

I would suggest that, with the firm encouragement of the American military if necessary, the Iraqi people would more or less be forced to start picking representatives for a Constitutional Convention. Once those representatives are selected, put them in a room, guarded by US troops if necessary, and let them form a government. The emerging Iraqi press should be allowed cover the entire process, and we should broadcast the whole event over Iraqi television and radio. I can envision no single spectacle that would better serve to put the final stake through the heart of the old regime than a full public display of this process. I can also envision no single spectacle that would better serve to engender our military presence in Iraq to the Iraqi people. The fact that it is not happening is Bush's fault, not the Iraqis.

Assuming this process occurred, I would hope that the Iraqis settle on a secular government, with protections for minorities and checks and balances of power. But to be legitimate, the final document can't dictated by us. If it is going to work, it has up to the Iraqis. A free and democratic Iraq might even be hostile to the US. After all, thanks to Bush, the rest of the world is. But if we are going to build a democratic Iraq, we are going to have to take that chance. The Bush administration isn't willing to, and their actions speak much, much louder than their words.

The process of forming a democracy isn't a secret. A little over 200 years ago, a handful of thoughtful chaps in Philadelphia gave the world a pretty good road map. Unfortunately, the Bush administration doesn't believe in the democracy the founding fathers formed. They've shown nothing but contempt for fair and free elections here in America, so why would anyone be surprised that they aren't about to cede authority and let it happen in Iraq? Three months after declaring "Mission Accomplished" thirty miles off the San Diego coast, nothing even close to a fair and open process has even begun. Instead, the Bush administration has apparently spent all of its energy trying to build an Iraqi government in smoke filled rooms, where they can game the process with the ex-patriots they flew in for the various post war photo ops.

While Bush's corporate sponsors have been busy trying to get the infrastructure and oil exports up and running, Bush has announced no process that would create a democratic power structure truly representative of the Iraqi people. The fact that there is no process for forming a democratic Iraq shows that Bush far more determined to have a puppet regime friendly to US oil interests than a truly democratic Iraq. I guess it is just too damn bad that he is willing to pay for it with the blood of our kids. Somebody hoping to replace Bush might want to point this out. (c) 06.29.03

Threat Assessment And The Dems

by © The Daily Brew

Recently, I argued in this column that "to win the election in 2004, the Democrats must attack what are now perceived as Bush's strengths" and that "Democrats must realize whatever downside exists in confronting Bush on national security issues, the downside for failing to confront him is worse."

It appears they got the message.

The nine Democrats who have announced their candidacy for the presidency are now singing a challenge to Bush's wartime leadership in perfect harmony. Democratic activists who are concerned about a second Bush term should join the chorus.

As I predicted, the Democrat's new challenge has received extensive media coverage, including articles in local and national newspapers, and segments on all of the national network news programs. Even the deeply partisan and borderline fascist media giant Fox News carried the story. While Democrats might not be thrilled that Fox News commentator/GOP spokesman Joe Scarborough presented a power point presentation of spin developed by the White House to counter the challenge, at least it was a topic for discussion.

If Democrats hope to continue to be successful in getting heard by the American public, they must continue this line of attack.

While pressing this criticism on the Bush's national security performance, Democrats cannot ignore the fact that the Bush administration will likely do everything in their power to insure that the 2004 election will be fought in a climate of fear. Originally generated by the attacks of September 11, fears about terrorism and the threat posed by third world dictatorships like Iraq have been terribly overblown by both the White House and their accomplices in the corporate media. Judging from the opinion polls, the war on Iraq benefited George Bush as much as it must have pleased al Qaeda. No one should therefore expect the Bush White House will stop deliberately scaring America. If the mid-term elections are any guide, Democrats should not be surprised if Bush puts forward a proposal for an attack on another adversary, most likely Iran, sometime in the coming year. To be effective, Democrats must take the Bush administration's fear mongering as a given, and learn to use it against him.

To turn the Nation's anxiety against Bush, Democrats must demonstrate that the long- term national security problems faced by America center not around terrorists and third world dictators, but around adversaries with the ability to project real force, and how the economy, the national debt, and the Bush tax cuts degrade America's ability to confront such adversaries. Fortunately, that shouldn't be too hard to do.

Fighting terrorism doesn't require that we go billions of dollars in debt. Mostly it requires a concentrated intelligence effort and good relations with other democratic governments. At the same time, however horrific terrorist attacks are, no one should be so foolish to believe that eliminating them would be the end all of our problems. Sooner or later new problems will emerge. If the Bush administration is allowed to bankrupt the country in the interim, we will be very vulnerable to those threats when they arise.

A sober assessment of all geopolitical concerns, both short and long term, reveals that while the threat of terrorism is real, it is still a limited threat. More Americans will die this week from smoking related illnesses than have been killed by terrorists in our entire history. No matter how devastating any future attacks may be, Osama bin Laden is not going to be moving into the White House. Fundamentalist Mullahs are not going to take Bill Bennett's place on our television screens issuing religious edicts telling Americans how to live their lives.

While terrorists undoubtedly will continue to kill small numbers of Americans all across the globe, Democratic challengers can stand tall, and in stark contrast to Bush, by pointing out that it is inconceivable that they represent any real threat to the long term health of the republic. It is also worth pointing out that effectively stopping these murderers won't be accomplished with massively expensive military intervention, but will require coordination with the same governments all across the world the Bush administration has spent the last two years alienating.

However, in contrast to the threat posed by terrorism, larger threats do loom on the horizon. Some of these may actually threaten the republic. Democrats who are willing to consider those threats are also free to point out the Bush administration has been AWOL in planning for them. In fact, the Bush administration has been hard at work insuring America will not be prepared.

Grover Norquist admits that the GOP strategy of running ever expanding federal deficits is a strategy deliberately designed to eventually kill popular social programs, like social security and medicare, by first bankrupting the government. Since Bush is following Norquist's tax and borrow budget prescriptions, Democrats should not only attribute the intended result to Bush, but should also attribute these same motives to Bush. Democrats should also not be shy about pointing out the long-term national security consequences of this strategy.

While Bush would have Americans believe that his administration's maxing out the national credit card has no national security implications, one simply cannot bankrupt federal social programs without simultaneously bankrupting the national defense. Democrats cannot repeat this bit of common sense wisdom enough. If American's have a reason to be fearful about the future, it is because the Bush administration is making sure America will be financially crippled when it arrives. Democrats operating in Bush's climate of fear should repeat this charge like a mantra.

We don't know what the future will hold. But we do know that Republicans are writing tax laws with huge balloon payments that come due right in the middle of the baby boomer's retirement. We also know that the Bush administration is pushing the national debt to unprecedented levels. About the time these debts become due, China's economy is projected by many to become the largest in the world, and world oil reserves are projected to be in a rapid decline. It is not hard to imagine that the day will come when the Middle East will be in chaos, and the same communist leadership in China that demanded apologies after bringing down one of our spy planes will be demanding apologies after sinking one of our supertankers. It would be nice if the United States weren't trillions of dollars in debt when that day arrived. --06.23.03

Wealth Transfer And Idiots At The Mic

by The Daily Brew

Watching Al Franken cut Bill O'Reilly to pieces recently on CSPAN, (it sure is tougher debating someone when you don't control their microphone, huh Bill?), Mr. O'Reilly spouted a number of oft repeated right wing platitudes that constitute his "beliefs." Among them was the popular right-wing tonic; Mr. O'Reilly doesn't believe in "wealth transfer." Ever since Tom DeLay gave an expanded child credit to everyone but the poor and Bush told him he had gone too far, the idea of the government facilitating "wealth transfer" has become something a political hot potato. So let's take a look at what the right means when it says it doesn't believe in "wealth transfer." When Republicans talk about "wealth transfer," they are usually referring to programs like welfare and food stamps, where poor people are prevented from starving. Let them eat cake! say the Republicans. Since Republican constituents hate the poor, there is little downside for Republicans who object to the wealth transfer that keeps poor children alive. But programs for the poor are just the tip of the federal iceberg when it comes to "wealth transfer." A "wealth transfer" program Republican's love is farm subsidies. Farm subsidies allow Republicans to dole out billions of dollars of taxpayer's money to huge corporations, keeping commodity prices low and destroying family farmers and the economy of a variety of third world nations in the process. The large corporations then recycle a small portion of the graft back in the form of campaign contributions, keeping the whole happy cycle going. A few small family farmers do get a tiny portion of the money, which serves to keep the few farm state Democrats left in the Congress on board. Republicans would like to do away with that feature. One of the "wealth transfer" programs Republican's hate is social security. Current payors, also known as "workers," pay into the system, and current payees, such as retirees and the dependent children of widows, draw out of the system. Far more money is paid into social security than comes out, so about $300 billion dollars a year from worker's social security taxes doesn't go into the social security system. This money is instead used to finance tax cuts for the rich, efficiently transferring the worker's money to millionaires. Republicans would like to get rid of social security, but as long as they are able to use the money to keep the millionaire's taxes low, they aren't going to admit it. Yet another "wealth transfer" program Mr. Reilly doesn't believe in is public education. At the primary level, children, who don't have any money, are subsidized by adults, who do. Republicans aren't exactly in love with this form of wealth transfer, either. They would prefer a system of "vouchers," a first step toward a system whereby primary education was financed without any public money at all. Colleges and universities are another mechanism for wealth transfer, since taxes cover more than half of tuition costs at a typical public university. The on-going financial crises in state governments are forcing students to pick up a larger and larger share, so eventually, the only colleges and universities that will be able to subsidize their students will be the private ones Republican children attend as legacy admittees. No one else will be able to afford to go. Republicans are happy with this trend. Of course the biggest wealth transfer program in the country is capitalism itself. Since no business in its right mind is ever going to hire anyone who doesn't make more money for the company than they are paid, the entire economy acts as a giant wealth transfer program, efficiently moving money from workers to owners. It is no coincidence that Wal-Mart is the biggest employer in the country, earns the most profits of any retailer, and pays its workers the least. For Republicans, this mechanism of wealth transfer is literally what America is all about, and anyone who suggests that America is really about protecting the least among us from the most powerful, or having a government elected in free and fair elections, should obviously be declared an enemy combatant, stripped of their citizenship, and shipped off to a military prison in Cuba to await execution. It goes without saying that any mechanism that might slow a company's exploitation of the workers is therefore a target for the Republicans. Whether minimum wage laws, unions, worker safety rules, or overtime pay laws, the Republican agenda is to remove any statute, rule or system that has the effect of slowing the wealth transfer from workers to owners. Lately, the Republican's execution of their anti-worker agenda has been seen more and more in broad daylight. The Republicans appear to be emboldened since the public, the vast majority of whom are on the receiving end of this royal screwing, have yet to express anything approaching concern, much less outrage. Perhaps they are distracted by the ever more difficult task of surviving in the America the Republicans are building for them. I tend to suspect the bigger reason is that they are brainwashed by the small handful of giant corporations who control the media, and who benefit mightily from the status quo. These corporations feed America a non-stop stream of useful idiots. Idiots like Bill O'Reilly, who usually controls the microphone, and can shut off anyone who disagrees with him. And so it goes. © 06.16.03

Dirty Bombs, Dirty Wars, And Dirty Lies

by The Daily Brew

When George W. Bush was running for the presidency, he described an American military decimated by Bill Clinton, with an urgent need for "rebuilding." That was a dirty lie.

When Clinton left office, the United States military was the most dominant fighting force in the history of the human race. It still is. US soldiers demonstrated that fact when the government of Iraq was subdued in under a month by troops recruited and trained during the Clinton administration using weapon systems developed and deployed during the Clinton administration. The hard fact is that the core operational capabilities of the United States military were designed and built during the Clinton administration. Bush's war was fought with Clinton's military.

In the weeks leading up to the war, Bush justified the attack by accusing Iraq of possessing and producing chemical and biological weapons, specifically "thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas." Bush also told the American public "the evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program." Supposedly, all of this activity had gone on during Clinton's presidency. Bush's entire rational for the war was based on the proposition that a failure to attack would allow Saddam Hussein to gain the ability "to threaten America" and "to pass nuclear technology to terrorists." These were also dirty lies.

Much of the "evidence" the Bush administration presented in the weeks prior to the conflict was revealed as fraudulent even prior to the start of hostilities. Nevertheless, George Bush, who had promised a "humble" foreign policy during his debates with Al Gore, proceeded to attack Iraq. After controlling Iraq for over a month, US weapons inspectors have been unable find any evidence that Iraq was pursuing any significant chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons programs. Bush's dirty lie was revealed.

Caught with their pants down, the Bush administration began retroactively altering their justification for their dirty war. Recent discoveries of mass graves have seemingly bolstered the new rational; that the war was necessary because Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator. Left unsaid is the fact that the bodies in those graves are there because Bush's father encouraged the Iraqi people to rebel against Saddam Hussein at the end of the first Gulf War, and then abandoned them when they did. An earlier dirty lie.

Also left unsaid is the fact that Bush's war has made it infinitely more likely that terrorists will gain access to nuclear technology, or at least the key components of a "dirty bomb."

Prior to the war, it was no secret that Iraq possessed significant quantities of partially enriched uranium, cesium, strontium and cobalt. Interestingly, Iraqi possession of these waste materials did not violate the terms of the UN sanctions; the International Atomic Energy Agency simply monitored the materials, yet Iraq was under no obligation to remove, neutralize or dispose of them.

Since President Clinton no longer controlled the US military when Bush launched his attack, he couldn't make sure that it was a priority that these materials were accounted for. Sure enough, while US forces were busy following Bush's orders securing Iraqi oil fields, the Iraqi's themselves were busy looting the Tuwaitha Nuclear Facility, about seven miles south of Baghdad. As reported in London's far right Daily Telegraph, residents in villages close to the facility are now turning up at local hospitals showing signs of radiation illness, including rashes, acute vomiting and severe nosebleeds.

There is one, and only one, reason to steal nuclear waste. To sell it on the black market. There is one, and only one, reason to buy nuclear waste. To put it in a dirty bomb. So, far from removing the threat of a nuclear attack on America, Bush's dirty war has likely guaranteed it. --05.16.03

Bush's America: Crushing Dissent

by The Daily Brew

When Jerry Grant, the manager of country station KKCS in Colorado Springs, suspended DJs Jeff Singer and Dave Moore for playing the Dixie Chicks, the un-American crushing of dissent orchestrated by the Bush administration hit a new low. But it shouldn't surprise anyone who has been paying attention. The Bush Administration's war against a free press and free speech has only grown more aggressive with time. A few highlights from the record demonstrate the White House's growing contempt for American citizens who exercise their first amendment rights.

When Dana Milbank, one of the Washington Post's two White House correspondents, was first assigned to the White House, Karl Rove called Milbank's editors and asked them to reconsider the decision. This was before Bush was even sworn in. The Post declined. Milbank has since broken a number of stories that have created political problems for the Bush administration. He reported a plan to exempt the Salvation Army from state and local anti-discrimination laws, early stories about the vice president's secret energy-task-force meetings and Bush's decision to abandon school vouchers. Administration officials have regularly attacked Milbank's reporting and on at least a few occasions have logged complaints with his editors.

At the daily news briefing on May 10, 2001, Bennett Roth, of the Washington bureau of the Houston Chronicle asked Ari Fleisher, the White House Press Secretary, about the Jenna Bush's citation for underage drinking.

"Ari, the president talked about parental involvement today. How much has he talked to his own daughters about both drugs and drinking? And given the fact that his own daughter was cited for underage drinking, isn't that a sign that there's only so much effect that a parent can have on their own children's behavior?"

Fleisher replied: "No, I think, frankly, there are some issues where I think it's very important for you all in the press corps to recognize that he is the president of the United States; he's also a father. And the press corps has been very respectful in the past of treating family members with privacy, and I'm certain that you are going to do so again. I hope so."

Fleischer later called Roth to chastise him, telling him that his question had been "noted in the building."

If the Bush administration limited itself to merely threatening reporters like Roth and Milbank prior to the September 11 attacks, the gloves came off in the immediate aftermath.

Dan Guthrie, a columnist for the Oregon Daily Courier, was fired for writing that Bush was "hiding in a Nebraska hole" the day of the attacks. The city editor of the Texas City Sun, Tom Gutting, was also fired after writing a similar column critical of Bush's actions. Reporting the truth would now cost you your job, if the truth happened to be embarrassing to the White House.

Apparently, Bill Maher didn't get the memo. In response to guest Dinesh D'Souza's observation that people who are willing to die in service to their cause, whatever else they may be, are not "cowards," Bill Maher opined "We have been the cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly." Shortly thereafter, Maher was fired from ABC, and his show "Politically Incorrect" was cancelled.

Asked about Mahrer's comments, in the press briefing of September 26, 2001, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleisher said:

"I'm aware of the press reports about what he said. I have not seen the actual transcript of the show itself. But assuming the press reports are right, it's a terrible thing to say, and it unfortunate. And that's why -- there was an earlier question about has the President said anything to people in his own party -- they're reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do. This is not a time for remarks like that; there never is."

Did the White House mean what it said? Should reporters and commentators "watch what they say"?

Ask the Dixie Chicks, or any DJ still willing to play their songs. --05.09.03

Pakistani Clerics Calling For Jihad Over Iraq Add To Admin. Miscalculations

by The Daily Brew

For months, commentators from both the left and the right have sagely parroted President Bush's solemn assurance that the United States will ultimately prevail in Bush's war against Iraq. The problem with this bit of conventional wisdom is that it is only true if one accepts "prevail" in the narrowest sense of the word. If victory is defined as achieving any objective other than the removal of Saddam Hussein from a position of power, it is becoming increasingly clear that the United States cannot possibly achieve any of the broad and ever changing justifications used by the Bush administration to launch the attacks. Instead, the end of the conflict seems certain to herald an era of increased terrorism and weapons proliferation, and little in the way of true democratic reforms.

The invasion already shows every sign of increasing the prospect of terrorist attacks against the United States and its allies. Recently, 14 leading Islamic clerics from nuclear-armed and supposed US ally Pakistan urged a "jihad," or holy war, against the United States. Included on the list of prominent clerics were Dr. Abdul Razzaq Sikander who heads the Islamic seminary of Binori Town - one of the biggest and most influential religious schools not just in the port city of Karachi, but in all of Pakistan.

The clerics said jihad had become mandatory for the more than 1.2 billion Muslims. "They have to participate in the jihad according to their capacity. This has become mandatory against America, its allies and the Muslim rulers" who are siding with Washington, they said in a statement. "Those who keep a soft corner for America compared to Saddam Hussein, or think that it is not a war of Islam, they are wrong," they said. The United States has used "Saddam as an excuse to attack Iraq." Against this background, both Iran and North Korea have substantially ramped up their capabilities for the production of nuclear weapons.

Daily protests throughout the Middle East demonstrate that the cleric's assessment of Bush's motives are broadly shared, including a much larger segment of the Iraqi people than had been assumed by US military planners. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney's earlier predictions that the Iraqi people would turn on their despotic leader have proven to be a disastrous miscalculation. Coalition forces have encountered significant resistance in southern Iraq where forces loyal to Saddam have engaged in guerrilla-style hit-and-run attacks. Reports of intimidation, brutality, and summary execution of the local population by Saddam Hussein's fedayeen and paramilitary forces may explain the reticence of the local populations to join with their US "liberators," but it really doesn't change the outcome. In the end, these people will be massacred as a result of events set in motion by the US led invasion.

In response to these setbacks, the US military has announced plans to insert as many as 100,000 more U.S. soldiers into Iraq by the end of April, bringing the total U.S.-led force there to about 225,000. While this may or may not have been according to the original plan as claimed by Rumsfeld, it has become increasingly clear that, just as with the cities further to the south, the final assault on Baghdad will be fought against a motivated guerilla army in an urban setting, almost certainly resulting in massive Iraqi casualties.

Thus, given what is now known, it appears that to remove Saddam Hussein from power will require a massive toll in Iraqi civilians. To even attempt to rule such a country after inflicting such carnage will almost certainly require the imposition of martial law. One needs only to look at the almost daily attacks by suicide bombers in modern Israel to imagine the prospects for the coalition forces tasked with rebuilding Iraq. --04.02.03

Corporate Journalistic Malpractice And The War In Iraq

by The Daily Brew

Any American with access to the internet can see what the American corporate media won't show us; the dead bodies of our American servicemen cut down in the prime of their lives. It is, without question, a disturbing sight. Our kids. Our neighbor's kids. Our future. But just because the media averts our eyes, it doesn't change the facts. Just because Fox News and CNN won't show us the real costs of this war, it doesn't mean we won't be paying them.

Sadly, the war is an all too predictable culmination of lies and omissions by the corporations who control our media dating back for years. While the incompetent and dishonest diplomacy of the Bush administration might remain a mystery to the bulk of the American public, it is well understood by the rest of the world who isn't saddled with our duplicitous press corp. With half of the American pubic still believing the Bush administration's often repeated and utterly false innuendo linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks of September 11, how can any fair minded observer help but conclude that the media has utterly failed in its job of keeping the American public informed? Whether it was the forged evidence presented to the UN security counsel that Saddam tried to buy uranium, or the missing link between al Qaeda and Iraq, when it comes to correcting the lies and misdirection of the Bush administration, the corporate media has been AWOL, just as Bush was with his Texas Air National Guard unit during the Vietnam War. The result of these lies and omissions is that the American public broadly supports a war that is perceived by the rest of the global community as akin to Hitler's advance across Poland.

The apex, perhaps, of this corporate degeneracy are the pro-Bush rallies organized by the radio goliath Clear Channel. How many of the patriotic Americans attending these rallies know that Clear Channel is headed by a long time political patron of President Bush, or that important regulatory issues that will reap Clear Channel millions of dollars are currently before Bush's FCC chair and Colin Powell's son? How many of the patriotic Americans attending these rallies to "support our troops" know that as Bush prepared to send them into battle, he cut federal support to schools disproportionately attended by the their children? How many of them know that as our troops were fighting and dying in Iraq, Bush was cutting the Veteran's benefits they will need when they return? One thing is all but certain; Clear Channel won't be telling them. "Support our troops" indeed.

The genesis of this journalistic malpractice was, of course, election 2000. The corporate millionaires of cable TV, intent on receiving their promised tax cut, ignored Bush's outright lies concerning tax policy, social security, and medicare. Instead, they projected Bush's deceit onto poor Al Gore, inventing clever quotes concerning the origins of the internet. Real journalism, which would have revealed the illegal purging of thousands of democratic voters in time to make a difference in the stolen election, was forsaken for catty stories about "earth tones" and "Love Story."

And so, it has come home to roost. The best of our children are now dying in Iraq in a war that, even if successful, will brand the United States as an aggressor nation in the eyes of most of the world. It is a war that was launched by an illegitimate poseur, in equal parts to secure a congress sympathetic to his right wing agenda, to secure oil for his political benefactors, and as a misguided attempt to remake the politics of an entire region of the globe. The corporate celebrity spokespeople who masquerade as reporters won't let on to these grisly facts. The reason is simple. To do so would be to admit they have blood on their hands. --(c) 03.26.03

No Integrity At The White House

by The Daily Brew

Last night, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh denounced the Bush administration's approach to Iraq last night while accepting the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism at the Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Hersh began his acceptance speech by discussing the difficulties today's reporters face, especially in Washington. "I have never seen my peers as frightened as they are now" commented Mr. Hersh, who was recently described as a "terrorist" by Senior White House advisor Richard Perle. Mr. Hersh also spoke of his own frustration with the Bush administration. "There is no real standard of integrity because the White House doesn't have any," he said.

While Mr. Hersh's observation that the White House is deliberately intimidating the Washington press may be correct, it is disingenuous at best to blame President Bush for the White House's success in this effort. The catastrophic failure of our national press corps began well before Mr. Bush assumed office, at a time when American journalists were free to critique Mr. Bush with little fear of retribution.

During the Presidential campaign of 2000, journalists had the ability to compare Bush's mendacious campaign sloganeering with his record as the governor of Texas with little to fear from the White House. They did not, and Mr. Bush was able to convince a large segment of the American public that he was somehow qualified to be the President. The press was then free to point out the breathtaking and criminal tactics Mr. Bush's campaign used to steal the Presidential election in Florida. They did not, and the American public was sufficiently lethargic to embolden the Supreme Court to sweep these tactics under the rug and install Mr. Bush into office. Early in Mr. Bush's term, the press was again free to point out the easily predictable disaster that would result were Mr. Bush's tax proposals written into law. Again, the press took a pass, and since that time millions of Americans have lost their jobs and slipped into poverty. Perhaps most catastrophically, the press was free to point out that Saddam Hussein had nothing whatsoever to do with the attacks of September 11, and that White House assertions to the contrary where a most odious form of political sleight of hand. The press again failed to make the public aware of these basic facts, and as a result, our democracy stands poised to embark on a war of aggression in violation of both international law and the wishes of virtually the entire world community.

The significance of these failures cannot be overstated. Opinion polls conclusively demonstrate that the American public is fundamentally misinformed about key facts that have driven the Iraq debate. It is these misconceptions that are allowing the Bush administration to pursue a foreign policy that is decidedly not in our national security interests. One can only wonder if support for the war would fall to levels seen in our NATO allies (levels that would make the attack political suicide) were Americans made aware of the same stories that have received widespread attention in the foreign press. Would the American public support the war if they were aware that, contrary to Mr. Bush's assertions, Iraq and al Qaeda are essentially enemies? Would the American public support the war if they were aware that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were originally provided by the American military? Would the American public support the war if they were aware that the Bush administration had grossly overstating Iraq's military capabilities and the threat posed by Iraq to American interests? Would the American public support the war if they were aware that the White House was spying on UN counsel members in an attempt to influence their votes? Would the American public support the war if they were aware that Dick Cheney's former employer Halliburton, which still pays him a million dollars a year pension, is all but certain to reap hundreds of millions of dollars in the conflict and its aftermath?

We will never know the answer to these questions, because the press has never informed the American public of these and other key facts. The British press, on the other hand, has informed its public, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair is perilously close to losing his job as a result. One can only wonder if Mr. Bush would suffer a similar fate were Mr. Hersh and his colleagues to finally stand up to the intimidation emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. One thing is certain. Whatever retribution the press might receive pales in comparison to the price that will be paid by American servicemen, Iraqi citizens, and America's stature in the world for their failures. It is long past time for a little courage, men and women of the press. --(c) 03.13.03


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