"38 people recommended Mein Kampf in addition to Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right"
"40 people recommended Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative instead of Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right"
Recommending Brock's book instead of Slander is fine but the Mein Kampf bit goes too far.
UPDATE: I have been taken to task for criticizing these pranksters because it was Coulter who compared Katie Couric to Eva Braun. Yes, the pranksters were as fair to Coulter as Coulter was to Couric but I don't endorse it.
Bill O'Reilly Lampoons Himself Today, on his radio show, he does it again. O'Reilly was pointing out how the rich can afford private security but the nonrich can't; referring to the nonrich, O'Reilly said, "the working people, we..." We?
Happy Thanksgiving I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving day. In case you're here for the first time because you were referred to yesterday's post on Limbaugh's duplicity (thanks Rittenhouse Review, Buzzflash, and American Politics Journal), I want you to know that I'm not a one-trick pony; scroll down and check out this week's other posts that include how I cheesed off wingnut David Horowitz and how I was almost cited by the Columbia Journalism Review. Also, if you want to contribute to my surfboard fund, that would be good karma (see the Amazon honor system below the FAQ). Happy Holidays.
LIMBAUGH: Here’s Scoobie in Los Angeles. Hi, Scoobie. Welcome to the EIB Network.
SCOOBIE: Hello, Rush. How are you doing?
LIMBAUGH: Thank you.
SCOOBIE: I agree with Al Gore in the sense that the right-wing media is an uneven playing field that disinforms people.
LIMBAUGH: You know, I have to laugh. I am loving this. You actually—you agree with Al Gore that that there is a right-wing media conspiracy?
SCOOBIE: Absolutely. And you’re really on the forefront of that—along with the Moonie Times, what you call the Washington Times—which is nothing but a Moonie newspaper.
LIMBAUGH: Now, Scoobie. No need to be bitter here--just because it prints news that you don’t see anywhere else.
SCOOBIE: No, disinformation. Let me give you an example—[from this point on, I was muted. I was beginning to explain the Moonie Times smear of Bill Clinton’s 11/01 Georgetown speech (see below)—a smear that Limbaugh broadcast to his listeners as fact. I discovered that Limbaugh was talking but that I couldn’t interject anything into the conversation. When I played the show tape back, it confirmed that I was muted.]
LIMBAUGH [talking to himself because I’m muted. Rush did that the last time I spoke with him]: No, it’s not. Scoobie, it isn’t disinformation. The Washington Times reports factual things. It reports things that you won’t see in other newspapers and sometimes it does. I mean, some of the news is common, but it also—it reports things that happen, say, at a Daschle press conference that the New York Times will ignore. It reports things at an Al Gore press conference or a Clinton press conference that the Washington Post and New York Times will ignore. They just have a different filter with—through which they look at the news—same as I do...
REALITY: Being a talk radio host is a good gig. If you can’t stand the heat, mute the caller. It’s unfortunate that I was not allowed to elaborate on my point to the people who believe in the healing powers of Gold Bond Powder. Since I was not a part of the last part of the conversation, let me answer briefly before I segue to a more comprehensive answer. First, there has been reporting in the Washington Times that constitutes gross journalistic misconduct that has gone unpunished (those of you familiar with this blog know examples). The case study below is a case in point. Another example is the deliberate and systematic twisting of a Washington Post story by Times reporter and Fox News political analyst Bill Sammon in his book At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried To Steal the Election—portions of which were reprinted in the Times. Although I am not a trained journalist, my parents have a combined 90 years of journalistic experience for a small-town newspaper. If Sammon’s misconduct had been committed at the paper my parents work for, the perpetrator would be fired on the spot. Why hasn't the Washington Times (or Fox News) fired Sammon? Because the filter through which the Washington Times looks at the news is a microcosm of Sun Myung Moon’s worldview: it is a filter of intellectual dishonesty, predation, and malevolence.
This leads me to the article I was working on when I called Limbaugh:
Case Study Number Two: The Right-Wing Media Nexus
The Event: Bill Clinton gives a sensible speech in the aftermath of the horrific 9/11 terror attacks.
Step One: A “reporter” for the Washington Times covers the event. In this case, it is Joseph Curl.
Step Three: The Fox News gang and talk radio people treat Curl’s story as if it were from a reputable news outlet. Click here for what the Fox gang had to say. Limbaugh compared Clinton’s words to Jane Fonda’s anti-war activities. Months after Curl's spin was debunked, Sean Hannity rehashed it in his book Let Freedom Ring. Let’s also not forget that Drudge posted Curl’s story on his web site. This is the most important step. Although the Washington Times is considered a joke by serious journalists and has a very low circulation (despite massive subsidies from Moon’s charity scams), it does provide fodder for the other two components of this triad of dishonesty which have a larger audience. The result: tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of people are fed Moonie propaganda. It is a tidy exercise in disinformation transmission. It is an effective way to reach the masses by those who have no conscience.
Step Four: When the legitimate media refused to tow this line, the Fox News gang and talk radio jocks give this as evidence that the mainstream media has a liberal bias. This increases the audience for talk radio and Fox News—and they can increase fees to advertisers who want to sell baldness cures, precious metals “investments”, MLM, impotence medicine, "no money down" real estate scams, and Hooked On Phonics. I guess Rush was right when he said that the Washington Times reports things that the Washington Post and the New York Times don't report.
Exclusive: Rush Limbaugh and Me I got on the Rush Limbaugh radio show today. I barely finished my opening salvo and was starting to give an example to support my argument when Limbaugh muted me and then gave a response (giving listeners the impression that there was a dialogue between us--as he had done during the last part of our previous discussion). I will transcribe and give an analysis soon.
Epigram of the Day Joshua Micah Marshall: "I've often thought George Will must be a great inspiration to those who want to believe that even if you lack insight, honesty, or wit you might still succeed as long as you dress like you have all three."
In an 11/20 post for his blog for Salon, Joe Conason wrote about the double standard practiced by prominent members of the right, such as David Horowitz, who tar the anti-war left as unpatriotic while leaving their anti-war colleagues on the right relatively unscathed. Conason cited “Horowitz's FrontPage Magazine [which] features ‘The Fifth Column,’ where political adversaries are smeared with treason.”
Salon gave Horowitz space for a full response; Horowitz made the argument that Conason was wrong for accusing him of "smear[ing] his adversaries with treason.” When I read Horowitz’s response, I was flabbergasted that he cited the web site HorowitzWatch to buttress this contention. I am a contributor to HorowitzWatch and back in July, I read Horowitz’s hypocritical call for the execution of John Walker Lindh (Horowitz previously had admitted to have violated the Espionage Act). So in my typical wise-ass manner, I called Horowitz on it--pointing out how by Horowitz's own logic, he called for his own execution (unfortunately the July archives of HorowitzWatch are down but I wrote something similar on this blog). Horowitz’s response to my posts was wild and bizarre. He accused me of living to betray my country and being friends with the communists who killed millions in Indochina.
I pointed this out on HorowitzWatch; Conason linked to it in his rejoinder to Horowitz’s Salon article. Horowitz’s responses were strange to say the least. On Monday, Horowitz called me a “scurrilous blogger” and gave as evidence that I hate America the fact that I link to MediaWhoresOnline, Eric Alterman, and Bill Berkowitz. Don’t ask me why. Today, Horowitz called me “a deranged blogger from www.horowitzwatch.blogspot.com who claims not to be part of the progressive left.” Don’t ask me about that either. I don’t ever recall denying that I am part of the progressive left. It’s a good thing Thanksgiving break is a couple days away; David is obviously working way too hard.
The Columbia Journalism Review Mentions Me--Almost
I finally saw the Columbia Journalism Review article on errors and misrepresentations in Ann Coulter's Slander. It is a short article written by Michael Sherer and Sarah Secules. I was hoping I would be mentioned by name. No such luck but the article mentioned "liberal columnists and bloggers [who] alleged that [Coulter's] new book Slander misreads history, selectively (and deceptively) presents facts, and misquotes the media..." I think this is important because it was bloggers like me, the Daily Howler, Dr. Limerick, and Tapped who were the first to point out the gross distortions in the book; The reviews of Slander in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post dropped the ball big time. The article points out that CJR examined forty alleged errors in the book and determined that twenty-one of the assertions Coulter made "would not pass [a fact-check] without major debate." One of these twenty-one problematic assertions was something I uncovered: Coulter's misrepresentation of a Frank Rich column. Open memo to Glenn Reynolds: Psst, Glenn, I know how much you are concerned about literary integrity. You had a major beef with the methodology in Arming America. How about getting on the bandwagon and addressing the intellectual dishonesty in Slander?
Weekend Homework Assignment As I and others pointed out, Tom Daschle is right about Rush Limbaugh (read my 11/20 post and click here, here, and here) Howard Kurtz's excuses for Limbaugh (click here and here) are worse than pathetic. E-mail Kurtz at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him it is time for him to go. He doesn't deserve his job.
I'm disappointed with you and your radio factor staff, but let me preface my criticisms by saying that I have a great deal of respect for you. In fact, you’re my favorite working-class millionaire son of an accountant who grew up in the suburbs. Like you, I enjoyed reading Jim Bouton’s Ball Four--though, unlike you, I wouldn’t list it as one of my top books.
Now here’s my beef: on your radio factor, you talk about it being your “no-spin zone” (today you said that George W. Bush—unlike Bill Clinton--was “honest and decent”) that is a forum for discussing relevant topics. You also complain when people like Al Gore and Hillary Clinton turn down interviews with you. Plus, you weren't content with just whining about it, you had an absurd mock interview in which you stumped Hillary Clinton with some lame questions in your book, The No-Spin Zone.
Yesterday and today, I have called your show and was able to get to your screener four times (twice yesterday and twice today) to discuss relevant matters. On all occasions, I was shut out and disconnected by your screeners. Something your screener said today, along with some other information I have received, leads me to believe that I’m listed as a troublemaker by your show. Yesterday, I explained my topic with the screener (giving a different name both times); each time, the screener put me on hold and then disconnected my call when I was on hold. I called today and was disconnected by a female screener who needs to go to charm school. I called back and asked why I was disconnected. She informed me that this was my fourth call to the program. This led me to believe that the screeners have Caller ID and were able to see that I was the one calling each time from my business partner’s place.
Okay, your screeners don’t want me to talk with you on the air. That’s fine with me, but please don’t whine about people not wanting to be interviewed by you. However, don’t think that I won’t get past your screeners if I want to. I’m an expert at bypassing security. In fact, your former show Inside Edition interviewed me for getting past two massive police checkpoints and to the red carpet at the Oscars (FYI, I spoke to a couple Inside Edition people who worked there when you were host; they said you were a dick). So getting past Miss Congeniality and the other screeners will be easy for me. So why not make it easier for us all and let me speak my mind on your show when I call? Having me on would be a change of pace from the typical lame talk radio caller.
Stuff Coming Soon I'll be posting some interesting stuff within the next two hours. Stay tuned. Also, go Buckeyes, Beat Michigan!! UPDATE: I had some things to do, so I'll have today's post up by 3:30 PST.
Roger Ailes and Bill Clinton Versus Roger Ailes and George W. Bush
In yesterday’s post defending Tom Daschle for his criticisms of hate radio, I also mentioned that Roger Ailes was Limbaugh’s executive producer. Some people noticed this and wanted to know if the inclusion had something to do with the revelations from Bob Woodward that--as head of the alleged journalistic outlet, the Fox News Channel--Ailes had given advice to the Bush regime.
Yes, that is the reason. David Plotz once called James Baker “the Bush family janitor” for his longtime practice of cleaning up messes for the Bushes. Ailes deserves to be considered for that title. As an adviser for George H. W. Bush, Ailes was assigned to do dirty work. After that, Ailes was executive producer of Rush Limbaugh’s television show. I watched the show and it ranks as one of the most dehumanizing shows in American TV history.
This leads me to suggest how we should assess the advice-giving transgression by Ailes. The New York Times has a thoughtful editorial on the matter. However, what is needed is an comparison of his treatment of Bush versus his treatment of the prior occupant of the White House. Defenders of Ailes are coming out and say that Ailes was simply being a patriotic American who was offering Mr. Bush some advice during some troubling times.
Fine. I’m willing to cut Ailes some slack (something he would never do for the left) were it not for the way he treated Bill Clinton at times America was facing some troubling times. In the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, Ailes was spreading his smears about Vince Foster’s death being caused by the Clintons (to date, no apologies to the Clinton or Foster families). In the aftermath of the tragedy in Somalia, the television show he produced had a segment in which Limbaugh showed footage of a US soldier being dragged through the street to which Limbaugh said something to the effect of “They [the Clinton administration] wanted this to happen." Ailes stood by when Limbaugh spread the Gore/Monticello hoax (click here and scroll down to 7/5). Let’s not forget that Ailes was executive producer of the show that had the host mentioned the White House dog and put up a picture of 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton (The riotous laughter by the mouthbreathers in studio audience wasn’t exactly Nuremberg 1934, but it was a loathsome and nauseating spectacle). Ailes also stood by Limbaugh when he lied and said it was an accident. Even before Woodward uncovered this advice giving, there were some in the mainstream media who gave Ailes the benefit of the doubt when he said that his alleged news channel would be “fair and balanced.” However, for those of us familiar with this man’s past, the “fair and balanced” label is just another weapon in his ideological arsenal.
Why Tom Daschle is Right about Rush Limbaugh and Talk Radio
Tom Daschle came out and finally addressed talk radio hatemongering—pointing out how talk radio increases the number of threats against public officials. The reaction by the usual suspects was swift and predictable. I didn’t hear what Limbaugh said about it but I heard Rush-clone Sean Hannity (see my previous post). Although I wasn’t able to get on the program, I listened to the program. Not surprisingly, Hannity accused Daschle of “McCarthy-like tactics.” Hannity is wrong.
Talk radio is, on the whole, a pathological medium in the hands of the American right. As someone who listens to talk radio, I could spend days explaining why Daschle is right. In the interest of time and space, I can give five reasons why Daschle is right about Rush and talk radio encouraging threats and violence:
1) Limbaugh’s show and American talk radio has been the home to lunatic conspiracy theories regarding political opponents that rival the famous hoax, The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. The purpose of these conspiracy theories is to foment hate.
2) Limbaugh’s show and talk radio have engaged in systematic hatemongering, rumor-mongering (rarely with any retractions once the rumors are discredited), disinformation campaigns, demonization, as well as attacks on the families of political opponents that are reckless. This deluge of hatred creates an atmosphere of hostility.
3) Limbaugh and other talk radio jocks have engaged in reckless behavior that comes very close to advocating violence against political opponents. In fact, a tragedy was narrowly averted because of the reckless behavior of Limbaugh and other media people.
4) Limbaugh and talk radio have been apologists for political violence.
5) There is evidence that Limbaugh and other talk radio jocks have targeted their message to an audience comprised of a significant number of people who are obviously motivated by hatred and who are incapable of processing information with logic and reason.
Let me elaborate on each of these points.
1) For those of you familiar with this site, you know that one thing that sticks in my craw is how the right has gotten away with some particularly ugly and heavily funded attacks on the Clintons during the 1990’s. One of the most noxious of these attacks involves a paranoid conspiracy theory created by the American right after Vince Foster’s death. Limbaugh and the executive producer of this television show, Roger Ailes were just two of the media heavy-hitters who posited the loony smear that Foster was murdered and the Clintons had something to do with it. The vicious innuendo on Limbaugh’s show was an affront to human decency. According to a story in Extra!:
The executive producer of Limbaugh's TV show, Roger Ailes (a Republican campaign consultant and president of the CNBC cable network), didn't claim that his star had debunked the rumor--he boasted that Limbaugh's report of "a suicide coverup, possibly murder" was a scoop. On the Don Imus radio show, Ailes remarked: "The guy who's been doing an excellent job for the New York Post [Chris Ruddy]...for the first time on the Rush Limbaugh show said that...he did not believe it was suicide.... Now, I don't have any evidence.... These people are very good at hiding or destroying evidence."
This last part of Ailes’ apologia for Limbaugh is a hallmark of most whacko conspiracy theories: the lack of evidence for the conspiracy is evidence of both the conspiracy and a cover-up (so much for Orrin Hatch’s contention on Hannity’s show today that Ailes has never gone “over the line”). Captain Queeg would call it a good example of “geometric logic.”
The fact is that if you spread whacko conspiracy theories such as the Vince-Foster-Didn’t-Commit-Suicide conspiracy theory, you are one or more of the following 1) isolated and woefully misinformed; 2) clinically paranoid; 3) a political assassin; 4) a mercenary (media whore). Limbaugh and other talk radio hosts who put forth these hateful lies are not only responsible for causing further suffering for a grieving family, they are responsible for fomenting action by their more unhinged listeners.
2)The dehumanization, demonization, disinformation campaigns, and vicious attacks on politicians and their families by Limbaugh and his clones are the mainstay of American talk radio. Just a few examples: the comparison of Daschle to Satan by Limbaugh; Limbaugh spread the GOP lie that Bob Beckel was trying to blackmail electors in 2000 (Beckel received numerous death threats); the vicious Chelsea/dog joke by Limbaugh on his Ailes-produced TV show; Limbaugh’s spreading the Moonie Times Clinton/Georgetown speech hoax. I could go on.
3) As far as I know, Limbaugh’s reckless rhetoric has not led to any fatalities. One near-fatality occurred when Limbaugh not only repeated the false allegations by Kathleen Willey that a man had stalked and threatened her, but Limbaugh did the odd act of spelling out the man’s name. This is the type of thing one would do if one wanted potential predators to make sure they knew the correct spelling in order to track him down. One unhinged person( Pat Buchanan’s brother; who would suspect mental illness in the Buchanan family?) went after the hapless man and a tragedy came close to happening because Limbaugh didn’t bother even trying to get the story of the falsely accused man.
4)When the GOP political operatives flown in to Florida to disrupt the vote-counting rioted and pummeled various people, Limbaugh was part of the chorus justifying the violence.
5) There is good reason to believe that at least a significant percentage of the talk radio audience have impaired reasoning ability. Just one example, When Limbaugh made the following wacky claim (called a “scoop” by Ailes):
OK, folks, I think I got enough information here to tell you about the contents of this fax that I got. Brace yourselves. This fax contains information that I have just been told will appear in a newsletter to Morgan Stanley sales personnel this afternoon.... What it is a bit of news which says...there's a Washington consulting firm that has scheduled the release of a report that will appear, it will be published, that claims that Vince Foster was murdered in an apartment owned by Hillary Clinton, and the body was then taken to Fort Marcy Park.
Even though this was highly publicized accusation, Limbaugh later claimed on his show (3/1/95) that he never mentioned anything about the alleged murder occurring in Hillary’s apartment. This transparent lie is something out of 1984. Obviously, Limbaugh knew his audience and didn’t fear any credibility problems with them. That’s scary—especially considering Limbaugh reckless rhetoric. Also, if you are the type of person who would believe that Bill and Hillary Clinton are responsible for the death of Vince Foster and dozens of other people, you are a whackjob. On his radio show, Limbaugh indulges these whackjobs, giving them additional conspiracies for their Clinton-hating fantasy world. This is potentially dangerous stuff. Thank God nobody has been killed.
Busted? I wanted to discuss Tom Daschle's comments about talk radio to Sean Hannity today. I got through to the screener and told her what I wanted to say and she said my call wouldn't be good to put on air and hung up. Did she remember me as the guy who called Hannity a few weeks ago? (see my October 28 post, Republican Sexual Hypocrisy) I'm going to write more about this and other things in the next few hours.
Isn't That Ironic, Don't You Think? Kudos to Maureen Farrell for her edifying article on conspiracies on Buzzflash. What I found most ironic in the article was how Daniel Pipes, author of Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From was once head of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, which receives funding by my second favorite paranoid conspiracy theorist Richard Mellon Scaife (Jack Chick is numero uno). This is especially interesting to me because Scaife reminds me of the late Robert Welch, the founder of the John Birch Society, who was one of the main targets of historian Richard Hofstadter who coined the phrase "paranoid style" back in the 1960's. Sadly, while the American right of the 1960's, headed by William F. Buckley, repudiated Welch for his paranoid extremism, the contemporary right has embraced Scaife (and his money). What a pity.
Extreme Compared To Whom? The attacks on Nancy Pelosi’s supposed extremism are often as amusing as they are distorted. George Will on This Week tried to marginalize Pelosi by pointing out that voters in her congressional district overwhelmingly voted for Al Gore in 2000 (Psst George, more voters in the country voted for Gore than Bush).
Today the Moonie Times has an editorial on Pelosi that is pretty weak stuff. Examples given to illustrate Pelosi’s extremism are for her opposition to state-sanctioned school prayer and the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools (The Times doesn’t say whether Pelosi favors the teaching of the "Reverend" Moon’s sexual purification rituals to public school children).
Ben Fritz of Spinsanity has a great column on the right’s attempt to demonize Pelosi. The previously mentioned editorial by the Moonie Times is not the only time the Times editorial page went after Pelosi—Fritz also points out the Times’ Balint Vazsonyi’s paranoid fantasies: “Exactly 40 years ago, the 'Manchurian Candidate' was a movie," [Vazsonyi] writes, referencing the film where American soldiers are brainwashed to become assassins by communists. "Could it be that Thursday it will become reality?"
This nasty piece of character assassination deserves comment. The Manchurian Candidate analogy is nothing new with the paranoid right. During the election of 1992, assorted wingnuts such as Bob Dornan and Rush used the Manchurian Candidate analogy to describe Bill Clinton because he had toured Moscow when he was a Rhodes Scholar. It is also worth noting that Vazsonyi also accused Bill Clinton of treason because of the Moonie Times’ journalistic hoax regarding Clinton’s November 2001 Georgetown speech (for links on the hoax, see my 11/12/02 post, “Glutton For Punishment”).
I agree with Spinsanity that there is more heat than light generated on Pelosi supposed extremism. My take on the matter is that most of the critics of Pelosi’s supposed extremism view Pelosi’s House counterpart Tom DeLay as mainstream. Now that’s extreme.
Howler of the Month? Two days ago, I listed a couple sentences of cloying praise of George Chucklehead Bush by Michael Kelly as the howler of the month. I wrote this a bit too early. Matt Drudge in writing about Bob Woodward's forthcoming book, Bush At War: "Woodward's BUSH AT WAR follows on the heels of Bill Sammon's NYT Bestseller FIGHTING BACK, THE WAR ON TERRORISM FROM INSIDE THE BUSH WHITE HOUSE, intensifying the cross-town rivalry between The WASHINGTON TIMES and the WASHINGTON POST." Rivalry? I'm no big fan of much of the Post's reporting (Steno Sue Schmidt and Ceci Connolly come to mind) but at least it's a real newspaper. Despite Moon's dumping of over a billion dollars into the Times, it is still a journalistic monstrosity with a circulation less than the Tacoma News Tribune.
Sitemeter report My Sitemeter report indicates that there are some sick puppies out there. In the past few days, this site has received hits from people who did Google searches with the search words "nude pictures" coupled with "Andrew Sullivan," "Ann Coulter," and "Peggy Noonan." Egad.
In my 11/8 post, I warned Democrats not to take “advice” from the right because their advice is wrong. Today’s column by Kelly is a good example of the kind of crap that doesn’t merit their attention. Earlier today, I noted how Kelly wrote, against all evidence, that Not-My-President Bush had the potential for greatness. This is swill. In other places, Kelly makes some noteworthy omissions. For instance, Kelly writes:
More is fundamentally wrong with the Democratic analysis-by-wish-fulfillment. As the New York Times reported last Saturday, Democratic strategists studying the elections are coming to realize that, in closely contested races in key states (South Carolina, Maryland, Georgia and Florida), the immediate conventional wisdom was wrong: What cost the Democrats these races was not the failure to motivate "base" (especially African American) voters, but the failure to win over middle-class, independent-minded, moderate white voters -- the voters who put Bill Clinton into office. Blacks, in fact, turned out in expected numbers -- it was non-left whites who stayed home or voted for Republicans.
What Kelly ignores is that in at least two of the races (Georgia and Florida), there were areas in which the media were abysmal for their underreporting of major issues that should have sunk the Republicans in those races. For instance, regarding the Florida Governor’s race, early in the campaign, Bill O’Reilly was getting on Jeb Crow’s case regarding the Child Protective Services debacle. Of course, for balance, O’Reilly would blather about how Bush’s likely opponent Janet Reno was worse. Echoing the rest of the “fair and balanced” network, O’Reilly’s criticism of Jeb Bush diminished substantially when a more viable candidate Bill McBride got the Democratic nomination. McBride was the kind of Horatio Alger candidate who should excite a “working class” commentator like O’Reilly (In case you can’t tell, I was being sarcastic for calling O’Reilly working class). As the Church Lady would say, “How convenient.” Also, the mainstream media didn’t do squat when Jeb Crow and company continued to keep tens of thousands of disenfranchised voters in the same plight they faced in 2000—when Governor Crow and Katherine Harris stole the election for George W. Bush.
Almost as bad was the Senate race in Georgia. Saxby Chambliss had an outrageous commercial that impugned the patriotism of Max Cleland—who lost three limbs in Vietnam. The idea that such a scoundrel could get way with this without a hue and cry that should have sunk his campaign is a an indictment of the competence of the mainstream media.
This discussion segues into the topic of Kelly’s column from two weeks ago. Kelly wrote a column full of sophistry defending the chicken hawks (those in favor of war who assiduously avoided doing any of the fighting when they had the chance; click here for a full list). Kelly tries to explain away the culpability of the chicken hawks (I prefer the term “war wimp”). Kelly’s column is not completely without merit. If one is opposed to military action against Iraq and one’s main argument is that many of the latter-day Rambos (1980’s hawk Sylvester Stallone himself never served in Vietnam) in favor of military action avoided military service when they had their chance to become cannon fodder, then Kelly’s article makes some sense. However, the issue isn’t that simple (and even if it were, it would be no good reason for Kelly to cite Orwell on his behalf).
For me, the Chicken Hawk epithet became particularly salient beginning around 1992 with the emergence of what I call the Chicken Hawk Brigade. During the 1992 presidential campaign, a loathsome movement emerged with Bill Clinton’s presidential candidacy. When it was uncovered that, as a college student, Clinton avoided military service in Vietnam, a chorus of Republicans came out of the woodwork to criticize Clinton and distort the words in his letter to Colonial Holmes (claiming that Clinton claimed that he wrote that he personally loathed the military when he wrote no such thing; in fact, Rush Limbaugh had an actor who sounded like Clinton record the words “I loathe the military” in order to confuse his listeners). Members of the alleged liberal media such as Tom Brokaw have also spread this vicious canard.
What these critics conveniently forgot to point out was that Clinton didn’t want to go to Nam, but he didn’t want any other Americans to go either. Many of these critics also failed to mention that Vietnam was a very unpopular was not with just those who opposed it. The list is striking of young Republican types who avoided the war when they were in favor of military action in the war. For example, Rush Limbaugh was able to use his famous pimple-on-the-ass excuse to keep out of a Southeast Asian rice paddies. This led me to think of these people as the Chicken Hawk Brigade because their willingness to criticize Clinton for not wanting to fight in a war he opposed matched their unwillingness to fight in the same war they wanted others (working-class whites and minorities) to fight.
The utter noxiousness of the Chicken Hawk Brigade deserves some elaboration: Since many of the Chicken Hawk Brigade were from affluent and connected Republican families, they could use family connections to avoid stepping on a bouncing betty or being sent to the Hanoi Hilton. One example of this was then-Representative George H. W. Bush and his ne’er-do-well son, George W. Bush. Representative Bush approved of military action but wanted to keep George W. out of harm’s way. So Friends of Daddykins pushed George W. to the front of the Air National Guard line. On his application, “fighter pilot” Bush requested no overseas duty. Then for the last eighteen months of his Air National Guard obligation, Dubya didn’t bother showing up. A long bender? Anyhow, it was a foolproof plan (except, of course, for the guy who had to take George W’s place in Vietnam).
Members of the Chicken Hawk Brigade sent others to do their fighting. They usually provided lame excuses for not serving--e.g, Tom DeLay told reporters that all the minorities had taken all the well-paid military positions leaving no spots for patriotic Americans like himself. I wish DeLay would go to a small town near to where I grew up, Beallsville, Ohio and tell the people there that (The American mortality rate for the Vietnam War was about one in 4000; in Beallsville, it was one in 90. Yes, one in 90. ).
Utilized in the proper context, the Chicken Hawk epithet is neither tautological nor reactionary. The crucial question is: if it is right for the right to criticize Bill Clinton for not wanting to fight in a war he opposed, is it right for the left to criticize those avoided fighting in a war they supported--and, by logic, wanted other Americans to fight? Fucking-A right it is.
Howler of the Month Michael Kelly: "Bush is not a stupid or incompetent president. In the ways that matter, he is smart and very competent. He possesses the first requirement of greatness in a president -- not the only, but the first -- a clear understanding of what he wants to achieve and the determination to achieve it, seemingly regardless of the risk of personal failure." More on this later today (I'm going to the Jeopardy! tryouts).
UPDATE: 5:05 P.M. I took the Jeopardy! 50-question test and failed (I have passed it before). I will post the Kelly piece in the next two hours.
Glutton for Punishment? Random House just announced the publication of a book by Ann Coulter scheduled to be published in June 2003. Its title is Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism. I imagine as I'm writing this, Coulter has her broad brush out and is working vigorously to put every crackpot who said something stupid about foreign policy in the liberal camp. I have created a web site to deal with Treason the same way I addressed Slander. I hope I can get her publicist to get me a radio interview with Coulter for this upcoming book.
Irony and Synchronicity I heard Fox News' Bill O'Reilly on his radio show yesterday. He was railing against the degrading and nihilistic lyrics of Eminem. No disagreement there. What was ironic was that I switched stations and heard a commercial for an episode of the Fox Network's show, Boston Public that dealt with sex inside the school building.
Catching Up I hope everyone had a contemplative Veteran's Day. Did anyone catch the tweaking of the Republican's favorite cult leader on The Simpsons Sunday night? Moe the bartender said, "The last time I had front-row seats was my Moonie wedding!"
1. Relax. Their position is not as bad as some people would have us think. As others pointed out, if it weren’t for 9/11, the boy-king would have been trounced. On 9/10/01, George W. Bush had very low approval ratings—because he was out of touch with the American people. Ironically, 9/11 changed the American people tremendously, but it didn’t change George W. Bush one bit. Most of the victims weren’t even buried when Karl Rove announced his plans to exploit these horrific events to help the Republicans in the midterm elections. Soon thereafter, Criminal George W. Bush came up with the utterly tasteless Trifecta Lie/Joke. One would think that the news media should have given more ink to these stories (see point number three), and it would have discredited Bush and his henchmen. Go figure.
However, no big deal. Demography is destiny and short- and long-term trends are favoring us. Not-My-President Bush and his brother Jeb Crow may have won the battle in 2002, but let’s make sure they lose the long-term war. A good model is California in the 1990’s because what has happened demographically in California will occur nationally in the next decade or so. In 1994, GOP governor Pete Wilson scapegoated Hispanics in order to win re-election. Since then, demographic changes have made it impossible for the Golden State GOP to have any luck, even when Gray Davis is governor. It’s no coincidence that this year Republicans around the country were suppressing the minority vote through noxious tactics. One thing that Democrats can’t afford to do about his is to let this voter intimidation go on without raising eight shades of holy hell. One of the big mistakes of the 1990’s was to ignore voter intimidation--such as that committed by the North Carolina Republican party to steal the election for Jesse Helms (Remember that? Probably not. If you didn’t, it was because the mainstream media didn’t let you know about it). Democrats should have howled then, but didn’t. Because of demographic changes, expect more GOP intimidation of voters. Catching them in the act and publicizing it will: 1) forever sour the GOP with minority voters; 2) Sour the GOP with fair-minded non-minorities.
My advice to the Democrats? I don't know the answers to their essential questions. I wouldn't want to be them right now. There's no way out but through, and all the options contain some peril. At the moment they should probably do this. Sit down, breathe in, breathe out. You're not going to rush an answer to questions this big. You'll be fighting it out for the next decade. Maybe next week you'll choose a committed leftist to take the place of Dick Gephardt. Fine--see how it goes, whether it works. Don't worry so much right now about your base--they're not going anywhere, at least not soon.
And ponder the big question: Why does the party exist? To do what? The simple act of defining will help you. Do it together sometimes--have a lot of people at the table, but don't invite academics and intellectuals. They got you into a lot of this mess, and they don't know anything about America. They think it's a place with a lot of people. They have no idea.
First, let me say that the feeling is mutual: I wouldn’t want to be Nooner. No Dem should listen to this loon. The Dems won the last three presidential elections: the last one with a left candidate siphoning off votes. Things are going our way in the long run. Nooner claims to be giving advice; in fact, she is trying to dispirit Democrats. Ignore the Dolphin-Queen.
3. Jam the media. The right is winning the media wars. How? 1) By working the ref (Rich Bond’s term)--claiming liberal bias and causing the mainstream media to bend over backwards to give them the benefit of the doubt—something they never did to Bill Clinton or Al Gore (read the Daily Howler if you have any doubts) Also, note how the mainstream media, unlike the world media, has downplayed the fact that Bush stole the 2002 election; and 2) they created their own outlets to counter their mythical marginalization by the media (such as Faux News and hate radio). These are two very vulnerable targets. There is a tendency for progressives to encounter the nonsense on Fox News and talk radio (click here for a small sample of talk radio stupidity) and conclude that all of the fans of these outlets are hopeless mouthbreathers. Yes, it is true that a large portion of the Fox News and talk radio audience are dumbasses (note the ads for baldness cures and other nostrums on talk radio; advertisers know where the suckers are). However, a large number of them aren’t. If you hear something stupid on talk radio, call in and confront the host. It’s fun and it lets the isolated listener know that there are other opinions). These people are being lied to: let them know this. When you let someone know they’re being lied to, they will respect you and reject the liar. Also, use the internet to confront the right’s lies. A good example: do a Google search of the terms, “ann coulter”+”slander” and you’ll find out how a doughty group of bloggers and journalists were able to expose a liar. Homework assignment: Read the article “How Slippery is Slander?” in the November/December Columbia Journalism Review (It's not available online).
4. Find other GOP weaknesses and use the big guns. One big target is Sun Myung Moon and his lame excuse for a newspaper. One important project for an ambitious person is to get Moon deported. The revelations from Moon’s former daughter-in-law are that Moon and his demented “Perfect Family” are responsible for her fraudulent entry into the United States and underage marriage to Moon’s son (this is statutory rape), which led to a decade and a half of pure hell. If the GOP cared about family values, Moon would have been arrested, or at least deported (immigration fraud and crimes involving moral turpitude are grounds for deportation).
Other big targets include questionable groups that fund the right such as Scamway (aka Amway). Amway is a vulnerable target. It would be loads of fun to investigate it.
5. Make more of an outreach to rank-and-file of the right’s core groups. In the goal of exposing and denouncing demagogues like Falwell and Robertson, progressives have often ignored their flock—or worse, they have lumped the flock together with the perpetrators. As with talk radio listeners, this is wrong; the followers of these cretins are the ones who are the biggest victims. They are manipulated and scammed so that these men can have money and wield power. Set them free with the truth about their corrupt and venal leaders. 6.I could include more tactics, but why should I bother? As I pointed out, both short- and long-term trends are favoring the Democrats.
For my own part, I can't blame Horowitz for getting money for nothing. I'm trying to get modest funding for my own indie film, but I know that if I were going to have my hand out to Uncle Sam, I would make sure I hadn't been undermining his security.
An Urgent Call to Action: Call the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Inspector General's Office toll-free at 1-800-599-2170 or you could e-mail: OIGemail@cpb.org (I recommend calling if possible). Ask them why US taxpaper moneys are going to someone who admitted violating the Espionage Act. Point out how Horowitz is still subject to indictment for violation of the Espionage Act.
Call CPB President Ervin Duggan (who privately met with Horowitz about the funding) at (202) 879-9600.
For good measure, contact the Secret Service and let them know that Horowitz, an admitted violator of the Espionage Act, was able to bypass security and meet with George W. Bush (click here to read Horowitz's unintentionally funny and sappy account of his meeting with the Usurper-In-Chief). I don't generally recommend snitching but this could also leave egg on the face of Not-My-President Bush.
Updates 1) I'm a whore now. Not really, but I will take your money. I put the Amazon box on the site (I buy stuff from Amazon and think they're a good company, so I'm really not whoring).
2) After much procrastination, I added a blog section to my "Sites that Rock" links section. I put on a few blogs I read on a regular basis. I will add many others over the weekend.
More articles over the weekend I have been working on a couple articles that I intended to post today but my wiseass phone call to the wingnut on talk radio prevented me from completing them. I will post them over the weekend. This just in: Everyone's favorite anti-Catholic whacko Jack Chick has a new comic tract--God With Us.
Fun With Right-Wing Talk Radio I called into talk to Newsmax contributor Daniel Flynn who was on Al Rantel’s LA radio show to promote his new book, Why The Left Hates America (read more about it on Pandagon). Newsmax is a right-wing web site run by Christopher Ruddy. Ruddy is one-third of what I refer to as The Scaife Monkeyboy Triumvirate (the other two members are WorldNetDaily’s Joseph Farah and FrontPageMag’s David Horowitz). During the 1990’s, billionaire wingnut Richard Mellon Scaife was bankrolling Ruddy and Farah to suggest that Vince Foster didn’t commit suicide. Ruddy made the mistake of daring 60 Minutes to cover the story. Mike Wallace took Ruddy up on the offer and swiftly and decisively put his foot up Ruddy’s venal cornhole. Wallace showed how Ruddy’s conspiracy theory was full of basic errors such as being wrong about Foster’s handedness. Ann Coulter in Slander called Ruddy’s book on the subject, “a conservative hoax book” (As Terry Krepel points out, this led to an awkward situation in which Newsmax was promoting a book that slammed the site’s founder). One final clarification: I didn’t mean to imply that all mainstream Republicans hate America—I was trying to clarify this when Rantel interrupted me.
SCOOBIE: Let me just go to my point: there is a lot of America-hating on the left, but there is a lot of the mainstream right hating of the left—and I’m not talking about some far-out militia types. What I’m talking about--the mainstream of the Republican Party—
RANTEL: Wait. The mainstream of the Republican Party hates who?
SCOOBIE: America, for—
RANTEL: Hates America? Mainstream Republicans hate America? I can’t wait to hear this. How is that?
SCOOBIE: Let me just give you a quick example: recently over 40 members of the GOP Congress paid tribute to the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and his lame excuse for a newspaper, the Washington Times. This is just an individual who just despises America and American democracy. He called America “The kingdom of Satan.” I don’t see why there shouldn’t be more repudiation of this.
[RANTEL DISCONNECTS SCOOBIE]
RANTEL: Alright, Daniel, there’s the example. What have you got to say about that?
FLYNN: This is my point. There are certainly folks on the right who hate America, but they’re usually in log cabins on top of some mountain in Idaho. The folks on the left who hate America are mainstream Hollywood actors, they’re people like Mumia Abu-Jamal...[Flynn gives more examples but ignores my example of Moon entirely].
Posting Soon: More Talk Radio Monkeyshines I just got off the phone with Dan Flynn, Newsmax drone and author of Why The Left Hates America. He was on a local talk radio program. I got a couple zingers in before I was disconnected. They are worth a horselaugh or two. I will transcribe and post soon.
Wingnut Peggy Noonan Channels Paul Wellstone (and accuses Dems of Bad Taste). I would first like to wish sympathy for Paul Wellstone's family. When Paul Wellstone was alive, I wasn't a big fan of his politics, but I did see him as someone who had a lot of character. I would be one of the last person who would claim to speak in his name. One person who truly should be one of the last people to speak in Wellstone's name--especially from the point of political civility--is someone from the Wall Street Journal's editorial page; Remember when Paul Gigot defended the white trash who stormed the Miami-Dade vote-counting center and beat the shit out of people who were outmanned ten to one? Well, Peggy has a hair up her butt about Trent Lott being booed at Wellstone's memorial service. Joe Conason tells Nooner and other GOP whiners to grow up.