BUSH MEETS A REAL REPORTER, FOR ONCE
A pampered Bush, used to handling softball questions from the White House press corps, came face to face with a real journalist during a venture off his Texas ranch.
"Bush's minders usually leave him in the gentle care of the White House press corps, which can be counted on to ask him tough questions about when his summer vacation starts," writes Capital Times columnist John Nichols.
Nichols refers to Bush's interview with mainstream Irish journalist Carole Coleman, who pressed him for answers and maintained follow-up pressure. "My job is to do my job," Bush intoned during the RTE interview. He later pleaded, "Please, please, please, for a minute, OK?"
A Bush aide later said Coleman had "overstepped the bounds of politeness," and as payback cancelled RTE's sure-to-be-powerhouse-interview with the first lady.
Gregg Mitchell writes in Editor & Publisher, "[I]f the American reporters don't think they go along to get along, the White House seems to think so. According to Miriam Lord in the Irish Independent, a White House staffer suggested to Coleman as she went into the interview that she ask him a question about the outfit that Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern wore to the recent G8 summit. Ahern, in case you missed it, wore a pair of canary-yellow trousers."
The U.S. media would do well to shake off its complacency, as Matt Taibi of New York Press implores in his rant against the spineless media and Christopher Hitchens's invective against "Fahrenheit 9/11."
Michael Moore may be an ass, and impossible to like as a public figure, and a little loose with the facts, and greedy, and a shameless panderer. But he wouldn't be necessary if even one percent of the rest of us had any balls at all.
If even one reporter had stood up during a pre-Iraq Bush press conference last year and shouted, "Bullshit!" it might have made a difference. ...
Say what you want about Moore, but he picked himself up and did something, something approximating the role journalism is supposed to play. The rest of us—let's face it—are just souped-up shoe salesmen with lit degrees. Who should shut their mouths in the presence of real people.
BUSH MEETS A REAL REPORTER, FOR ONCE
THE DOG ATE ASHCROFT'S HOMEWORK
Among feckless Bush administration officials, Attorney General John Ashcroft manages to distinguish himself time and time again. In this instance, Republican and Democratic lawmakers are pressing him to explain why the No. 27 guy on the FBI's list of Most Wanted Terrorists was released and sent home to Syria.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., a recent recipient of a Dick Cheney F-bomb, puts it succinctly. He asks, "Why was a suspected terrorist returned to a country that sponsors terrorism?"
The mockery Ashcroft has made of the Justice Department ratchets up another notch or two with this unrelated development:
The Bush administration is offering a novel reason for denying a request seeking the Justice Department's database on foreign lobbyists: Copying the information would bring down the computer system.
"This was a new one on us. We weren't aware there were databases that could be destroyed just by copying them," Bob Williams of the Center for Public Integrity said Tuesday in the AP story.
One suspects Ashcroft was the kind of student who would use the dog-ate-my-homework in his astoundingly feeble attempts to shrug off attention to his incompetence, however handy he may be with his vocal stylings. Lest we forget, Ashcroft is a former incumbent Missouri senator who lost an election to a dead guy.
DISNEY AND EISNER'S 'FAHRENHEIT 9/11' GOOF
Disney CEO Michael Eisner may have definitively answered the question of whether he's a man or a mouse with his bungling of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11."
The film that criticizes Bush and his incompetent administration took in $21.8 million its opening weekend on its way to a potential $100 million at the U.S. box office, the New York Daily News reported.
This, in spite of the fact it played on only 868 screens. The No. 2 "White Chicks" opened on 2,726 screens.
"I fault Disney for passing on it -- and I'm a Republican," said entertainment analyst Robert Routh of Natexis Bleichroeder, noting that Disney spent $95 million on "The Alamo" and it has grossed a paltry $22.1 million since its release nearly three months ago.
Combined with sales of former President Bill Clinton's autobiography approaching $1 million, it may be that the American public's long, complacent slumber is finally coming to an end.
HOUSE REPUBLICAN FROM TEXAS TALKS SOME SENSE
Imagine my surprise to find so much in common with a Republican U.S. congressman from Texas, at least in one area: Our funding of the Taliban with tax dollars in our misguided and short-sighted attempts to further futile agendas.
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, provides a brief history of our actions and rails against the billions we've sent to Afghanistan and our naivete in the "senseless drug war."
Paul, in this 2001 document, spotlights the "staggering sum" of $6 billion spent by the CIA during the late 1970s and early 1980s to prop up fundamentalist Islamic groups in the region, which morphed into the Taliban.
Bin Laden himself received training and weapons from the CIA, and that agency's military and financial assistance helped the Afghan rebels build a set of encampments around the city of Khost. Tragically, those same camps became terrorist training facilities for Bin Laden, who uses some of the same soldiers our military once trained as lieutenants in his sickening terrorist network. Our heroic pilots are now busy bombing the same camps we paid to build, all the while threatened by the same Stinger missiles originally supplied by our CIA. Once again, the stark result of our foreign aid, however well-intentioned, was the arming and training of forces that later become our enemy.
Our foolish funding of Afghan terrorists hardly ended in the 1980s, however. Millions of your tax dollars continue to pour into Afghanistan even today. Our government publicly supported the Taliban right up until September 11. Already in 2001 the U.S. has provided $125 million in so-called humanitarian aid to the country, making us the world's single largest donor to Afghanistan. Rest assured the money went straight to the Taliban, and not to the impoverished, starving residents that make up most of the population. Do we really expect a government as intolerant and anti-west as the Taliban to use our foreign aid for humane purposes? If so, we are incredibly naive; if not, we foolishly have been seeking to influence a government that regards America as an enemy.
Incredibly, in May the U.S. announced that we would reward the Taliban with an additional $43 million in aid for its actions in banning the cultivation of poppy used to produce heroin and opium. Taliban rulers had agreed to assist us in our senseless drug war by declaring opium growing "against the will of God." They weren't serious, of course. Although reliable economic data for Afghanistan is nearly impossible to find (there simply is not much of an economy), the reality is that opium is far and away the most profitable industry in the country. The Taliban was hardly prepared to give up virtually its only source of export revenue, any more than the demand for opium was suddenly going to disappear. If anything, Afghanistan's production of opium is growing. Experts estimate it has doubled since 1999; the relatively small country is now believed to provide the raw material for fully 75% of the world's heroin. How tragic that our government was willing to ignore Taliban brutality in its quest to find "victories" in the failed drug war.
A BRAVE YOUNG ADVOCATE FOR PEACE
Thirteen-year-old Mattie Stepanek, an inspirational writer who penned best-sellers, died of muscular dystrophy last week. Former President Jimmy Carter spoke at his eulogyspoke at his eulogy -- "you-google-ee" in "Zoolanderspeak -- saying, "I have known kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers. But the most extraordinary person I have ever known in my life was Mattie Stepanek."
The Associated Press story included the following paragraph:
Carter said he was impressed with Stepanek's knowledge of international affairs, recalling how the boy was moved to tears by the war in Iraq because he thought world leaders had not tried hard enough for peace.
We could all learn a lesson from the little guy.
JUDGE (SORT OF) APOLOGIZES FOR FASCIST BUSH SUGGESTION
The judge who likened the way Bush was installed into office by the conservative-dominated Supreme Court to the way Hitler and Mussolini came to power has apologized.
Judge Guido Calabresi of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals sent the letter of apology to Chief Judge John M. Walker Jr., one of Bush's cousins.
The New York Times reports:
Judge Calabresi said that in his off-the-cuff remarks he was trying to make "a rather complicated academic argument," but he understood that they had been taken as an attack on President Bush. In a letter that contained no less than four apologies, he said he was "truly sorry" for "any embarrassment" he might have caused the appeals court. He did not, however, renounce the views he expressed.
'FAHRENHEIT' COULD MEAN 911 FOR BUSH
The new Michael Moore film broke single-theater ticket sale records in New York, with at least one theater holding showings all night long to keep up with demand.
Despite a largely disorganized smear campaign, as well as Bush's own exhortations for Moore to "get a real job," Americans seem eager to make up their own minds about the film.
And at least Moore is competent at his job.
SKIRTING USE OF THE F-WORD WITH BUSH
In a reasoned series of examples, syndicated columnist Norman Solomon argues that elements of fascism have begun to creep into the U.S. with the Supreme Court's selecting Bush as the "winner" of the 2000 presidential election.
He quotes Judge Guido Calabresi of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals at the American Constitution Society’s annual convention on June 19:
"In a way that occurred before but is rare in the United States ... somebody came to power as a result of the illegitimate acts of a legitimate institution that had the right to put somebody in power. That is what the Supreme Court did in Bush versus Gore. It put somebody in power."
Later, Solomon adds:
At Cornell University, government professor Theodore Lowi now aptly describes the George W. Bush administration as "a toxic combination of God rhetoric, money, cronyism and severe moral hierarchy that poses a real threat of fascism for our nation."
Curiously, he steers clear of calling our state "fascist," though we are reminded that such political movement can happen piecemeal in a country and with the consent of the people.
BUSH EMPLOYS ADOLF HITLER IN AD
The same twisted logic that continues to ascribe WMD to Iraq and keeps claiming sucess in the "war on terrorism" despite an increase in attacks and deaths worldwide manages to link Democrats to Adolf Hitler in a campaign ad: GeorgeWBush.com :: The Official Re-election Site for President George W. Bush.
Now that's gumption.
HOW CHENEY HANDLES DISAGREEMENT
Sources say Veep Dick Cheney cursed at Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., during a confrontation on the Senate floor, using the F-word.
Typical GOP response of bullying and berating when someone disagrees. That is, when they don't outright spread falsehoods and blame the media for their own incompetence.
The Washington Post didn't shy away from a direct quote.
A chance meeting with Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, became an argument about Cheney's ties to Halliburton Co., an international energy services corporation, and President Bush's judicial nominees. The exchange ended when Cheney offered some crass advice.
"Fuck yourself," said the man who is a heartbeat from the presidency.
Good thing Cheney didn't bear a breast, otherwise he might have incurred the FCC's wrath.
THAT'S ONE GREAT EUPHEMISM
An Orgeon doctor has been jailed for charging the state about $5,000 for treatments he called "trigger point" therapy, i.e., having sex with a patient.
Sounds like he never got past the "playing doctor" phase of toddlerhood.
RECORD-BREAKING BILL CLINTON
Despite sparking quite a sharp ideological divide over his legacy, former President Bill Clinton set a record yesterday, selling more than 400,000 copies of his new book, "My Life."
No matter what the "vast right-wing conspiracy" throws at Clinton, he's still loved by a vast swath of Americans who see through the massive 10-year smear campaign against the boy from Hope, Ark.
Curiously, the New York Daily News story highlighted how Clinton was irritated when a BBC reporter asked him about Monica Lewinsky and independent prosecutor and GOP shill Kenneth Starr:
"One of the reasons he [Starr] got away with it is because people like you only ask people like me the questions," Clinton fumed at David Dimbleby of the BBC. "You gave him a complete free ride." ...
Clinton said Susan McDougal, his friend who was jailed and shackled after refusing to answer Starr's questions about the Whitewater land deal, was put in a "Hannibal Lecter-like cell and ... a uniform worn only by murderers and child molesters."
"You should take responsibility for that," he told Dimbleby. "You should say, 'Yes, I care much more about [the Clinton scandals] than whether the Bosnian people were saved."
Young and old, professionals and housewives, black and white, Asian and Latino, men and women of all persuasions waited in the rain yesterday in Midtown Manhattan for a chance to shell out $26 for Clinton's 900-page epic and an autograph.
I was among them.
Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to approach with anything other than a single copy of his book -- no cameras, etc., so the only photographs I took were beforehand.
He has total rock-star presence, even after having met him twice before (while he was president) in Albuquerque.
I went up to him and said, "You're still MY president."
"It was an honor."
CHENEY IN CHARGE
The report issued by the Sept. 11 commission includes a couple of details that could be cause for concern, including whether Dick Cheney was making presidential decisions of his own accord.
According to The New York Times, Cheney ordered the shooting down of any airplane that posed a threat from the White House bunker, prompting Bush's chief of staff Joshua Bolten to suggest calling Bush to confirm that order:
Neither Mr. Bolten, nor I. Lewis Libby, Mr. Cheney's chief of staff, nor Lynne V. Cheney, his wife, all of whom were in the bunker, said they recalled a phone call minutes earlier that Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush said they had had authorizing the drastic action.
Did Cheney lie to the commission?
Also, if you haven't seen the video of Resident Bush sitting at the Florida elementary school, you might want to check it out. Stunned, he doesn't move for a good five minutes.
At 9:03 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, these two starkly contrasting photos were taken in Florida and in New York. (The Center for Cooperative Research has one of the most comprehensive and well-documented accounts of Bush's actions that day.)
I wonder what he was thinking, with such a blank look on his face. Perhaps he was mulling the plot intricacies of "The Pet Goat."
"Anyway, it was an interesting day," Bush said later, amid joking in response to a question about his thought process in those moments.
PUTIN SHILLS FOR RESIDENT BUSH
Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that he had warned of Iraq's plans to attack U.S. targets, but the statement drew puzzlement from American officials, none of whom had any idea what that information was.
Reuters: "Everybody's scratching their heads," said one State Department official, who asked not to be named.
But it seems Putin might have ulterior motives, says a Russian analyst quoted in the Los Angeles Times. Namely, attention taken off Iraq in a possible Kerry presidency could spark interest in Putin's human rights abuses in Chechnya:
"It's apparent that Russians and President Putin are interested in a second term for Bush," said Liliya Shevtsova of the Carnegie Moscow Center. "We've always had good relations with Republicans. We dislike Democrats, because Democrats always care about democracy in Russia."
Troublesome, that democracy.
THE MEDIA LOVES REAGAN AND WILL BERATE YOU IF YOU DON'T
Julie Staley, a television reporter for WICS in Springfield, Ill., took to shouting and insulting a gay-rights activist who had written in Ronald Reagan's "public memory book," reports the Chicago Reader.
WICS news director Susan Finzen says, "She had a right to express her opinion. Why does he consider it all right for him to express his opinion but not her?"
Perhaps because there's a difference between journalists, who are supposed to at least feign fairness, and people who like to shout down folks with whom they disagree.
I AGREE WITH CHENEY, FOR ONCE
Defending the administration's fallacious belief linking Iraq and al-Qaida, Veep Dick Cheney bashed The New York Times in a CNBC interview, saying, "The fact of the matter is, the evidence is overwhelming. The press is, with all due respect, and there are exceptions, oftentimes lazy, oftentimes simply reports what somebody else in the press said without doing their homework."
It's called reporting what officials say without any independent verification. Had the press been doing its job, we might have never gone to war with Iraq.
DIPLOMATS, MILITARY LEADERS EXPRESS VOTE OF NO-CONFIDENCE IN BUSH
A group of 27 former diplomats and military officials from the United States signed a harshly worded letter condemning the Bush administration for its unilateral ways.
The group accuses the administration of a "cynical campaign to persuade the public that Saddam Hussein was linked to al Qaeda and the attacks of Sept. 11," according to The Washington Post.
Among the retired officials signing the statement were Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Ronald Reagan and U.S. ambassador to the Court of St. James's under President Bill Clinton, and Marine Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, named by President George H.W. Bush to lead U.S. forces in the Middle East.
The participants also include a pair of former ambassadors to the Soviet Union, two former ambassadors to Israel, two former ambassadors to Pakistan and a former director of the CIA.
IN THE ADMINISTRATION'S OWN WORDS
Dana Milbank of The Washington Post takes a look at what the news might look like if Bush were able to bypass the "media filter" on which he blames negativity: All News Is Good News.
WHAT IF HE HAD GIVEN CASTRO $10?
Letters that children have written to presidents over the decades end up in the National Archives.
One came from a pre-teen author who would later make history, as this AP story notes:
Fidel Castro, 12, wrote to President Franklin Roosevelt in 1940.
"If you like," the future Cuban dictator wrote, "give me a ten dollars bill green american, in the letter because never, I have not seen a ten dollars bill green american and I would like to have one of them."
More than 35 years later, Castro told an Associated Press reporter how proud he had been when he got an acknowledgment from a U.S. diplomat and his school posted it for a week on the bulletin board. However, there was no $10 bill.
Is Cuban communism little more than sour grapes toward a tightwad president?
ARTISTS AGAINST BUSH
America Coming Together, a political action committee aided in part by photorealistic painter Chuck Close, will hold an anti-Bush fundraiser June 29.
An AP story includes this illustrative tidbit:
Politics and art have a history, especially in New York. Mexican painter Diego Rivera, a communist, angered industrial tycoon John D. Rockefeller's family in the early 1930s by including the image of Soviet revolutionary Vladimir Lenin in a mural the Rockefellers commissioned Rivera to paint at Rockefeller Center. After a standoff between Rivera and the Rockefellers, building workers destroyed the painting.
A fun, enlightening little time-waster, the Brainworks Interactive Quiz might tell you something about yourself you didn't know. Thanks to KDUNK for this link.
B, you exhibit an even balance between left- and right- hemisphere dominance and a slight preference for visual over auditory processing. With a score this balanced, it is likely that you would have slightly different results each time you complete this self-assessment quiz.
You are a well-rounded person, distinctly individualistic and artistic, an active and multidimensional learner. At the same time, you are logical and disciplined, can operate well within an organization, and are sensitive towards others without losing objectivity. You are organized and goal-directed. Although a "thinking" individual, you "take in" entire situations readily and can act on intuition.
You sometimes tend to vacillate in your learning styles. Learning might take you longer than someone of equal intellect, but you will tend to be more thorough and retain the material longer than those other individuals. You will alternate between logic and impulse. This vacillation will not normally be intentional or deliberate, so you may experience anxiety in situations where you are not certain which aspect of yourself will be called on.
With a slight preference for visual processing, you tend to be encompassing in your perceptions, process along multidimensional paths and be active in your attacking of situations or learning.
Overall, you should feel content with your life and yourself. You are, perhaps, a little too critical of yourself -- and of others -- while maintaining an "openness" which tempers that tendency. Indecisiveness
is a problem and your creativity may not be in keeping with your potential. Being a pragmatist, you downplay this aspect of yourself and focus on the more immediate, obvious and the more functional.
WE WILL/WON'T FIND BIN LADEN
"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him." -- George W. Bush 9/13/2001
"I don't know where he (bin Laden) is. I have no idea and I really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." -- George W. Bush 3/13/2002
FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR ALL?
Not if you're part of Dumbya's inner circle.
In another startling finding on the dark face of this administration, The Washington Post today revealed that Guantanamo Bay detainees' medical files were available to interrogators.
Daryl Matthews, a civilian psychiatrist who visited Guantanamo Bay in May 2003 at the invitation of the Pentagon as part of a medical review team, described the prisoners' records generated by military physicians as similar to those kept by civilian physicians. Matthews said they contain names, nationalities, and histories of physical and psychological problems, as well as notes about current complaints and prescriptions.
Matthews said an individual's records would routinely list psychologists' comments about conditions such as phobias, as well as family details, including the names and ages of a spouse or children.
Such information, he said, would give interrogators "tremendous power" over prisoners. Matthews said he was disturbed that his team, which issued a generally favorable report on the base's medical facility, was not told patient records were shared with interrogators.
Asked what use nonmedical personnel could make of the files, he replied: "Nothing good."
Will anyone be held accountable? I wouldn't count on it.
AGAIN, WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA?
Radio talk show host Amy Goodman, in this Newsweek article, is portrayed as a crusading investigator who dares to pull back the media veil.
She describes what she calls the "disinformation two-step," in which an administration "leaks" information to reporters, after which those officials refer to the published accounts to bolster their assertions.
The tour for her new book, Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers and the Media that Love Them, has drawn large crowds, suggesting that folks are hungry for an independent media voice.
POST RIPS BUSH ADMINISTRATION ON ABUSE SCANDAL
A Washington Post editorial lambasts the administration's logic in looking for a way to justify torture in recently unearthed memos, saying, "Theirs is the logic of criminal regimes, of dictatorships around the world that sanction torture on grounds of 'national security.' For decades the U.S. government has waged diplomatic campaigns against such outlaw governments -- from the military juntas in Argentina and Chile to the current autocracies in Islamic countries such as Algeria and Uzbekistan -- that claim torture is justified when used to combat terrorism."
Perhaps the president's lawyers have no interest in the global impact of their policies -- but they should be concerned about the treatment of American servicemen and civilians in foreign countries. Before the Bush administration took office, the Army's interrogation procedures -- which were unclassified -- established this simple and sensible test: No technique should be used that, if used by an enemy on an American, would be regarded as a violation of U.S. or international law. Now, imagine that a hostile government were to force an American to take drugs or endure severe mental stress that fell just short of producing irreversible damage; or pain a little milder than that of "organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death." What if the foreign interrogator of an American "knows that severe pain will result from his actions" but proceeds because causing such pain is not his main objective? What if a foreign leader were to decide that the torture of an American was needed to protect his country's security? Would Americans regard that as legal, or morally acceptable? According to the Bush administration, they should.
There is a higher responsibility than partisanship.
FREE SPEECH DOES NOT APPLY
If you're an Italian broadcast journalist, ready to cover massive street protests the morning of a meeting between Bush and Pope John Paul II, you'd better have battery backup and a ham radio.
Two left-wing radio stations had their electricity cut off for several hours.
Coincidence or just bad luck?
MEEKLY RIGHTING THE RECORD ON REAGAN
"Righting" is likely too strong a word to use in light of the sugar coating of Ronald Reagan and his presidency over the past few days in an avalanche of coverage. Stories have trickled out about how St. Reagan was, in fact, flawed.
Joan Vennochi of The Boston Globe writes, "Conservative radio talk show hosts were quick to target those who dared question the depiction of Reagan as anything less than the greatest president since FDR. In their echo chamber, just criticism is one more liberal conspiracy to denigrate the opposition."
Reagan deserves some credit, Vennochi says, for "using the world stage to help end" the Cold War, although that seems a bit generous.
With his devotion to tax cuts but not necessarily spending cuts, Reagan made it politically fashionable to put the personal good ahead of the common good. It remains that way today. His photo-op presidency also idealized the notion that Americans need to feel good rather than actually do good.
An AP story, datelined out of San Francisco, also takes issue with the idea of a sterling Reagan legacy. For instance, it took him five years and 21,000 fatalities for AIDS to earn a mention from the White House.
Many won't forget his administration's proposal to classify ketchup as a vegetable as a way of further reducing spending on federally subsidized school lunches.
"Ronald Reagan really was a modern day Robin Hood in reverse — he stole from the poor and gave to the rich," said Michael Stoops, a longtime advocate for the homeless in Washington.
Few politicians deserve as much credit as Reagan for introducing iron-fist-in-velvet-glove agenda of power and money over people and the common good. A quote in the AP story succintly captures that:
"The tone has gotten more venomous, largely because of the people who came after Reagan and carried the Reagan banner," said Roger Hickey, co-director of Campaign for America's Future, a liberal advocacy group. "I give him full credit for unleashing the vast right-wing conspiracy."
REAGAN'S DEAD AND J-LO'S WED
After enduring a night of syrupy media coverage of a former president's death, I received what felt like a more apt headline from a friend: "Ronald Reagan, Apologist for Apartheid, Ignorer of AIDS and Funder of Death Squads, Dead at 93."
He was full of contradictions, left a terrible legacy and one far from the saintly image many Americans were left with -- race politics and racial policies that attacked civil rights, shameless boosterism of big business and Wall Street, shameful education and AIDS policies, an undeclared war not on poverty but on the poor and homeless, a trillion-dollar deficit and the blood of so many Central Americans at the hands of U.S. taxpayer-financed death squads.
All this effusive talk of Reagan as the "Great Communicator" and the "Gipper," his boyish charm and purposed belief in old-time values, doesn't change the fact that he was an actor, first and foremost, well-schooled in the ways of manipulating the media and projecting an image -- that's all, folks.
Below are a few points I thought interesting from the coverage by The New York Times.
As president of the Screen Actors Guild, Reagan refused to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. The Times cites a historian's account that Reagan's FBI file "disclosed that he had named people in secret."
A former General Electric spokesman, Reagan gained familiarity in how to toe the party line. Writes the Times, "Hundreds of times a year he delivered a speech warning of a growing tide of government control and wasteful government programs. He was apparently so convincing that he convinced himself."
Despite his stated and supposedly vehement opposition to big government, the federal payroll ballooned during his tenure, a tendency he showed as governor of California. In that role, the Times reports, "the budget more than doubled and the number of state employees grew by 34,000."
Then came this beauty:
Reaganomics, as his economic program became known, was based on the theory that a cut in taxes would stimulate economic growth, generating higher revenues and making the deficit disappear. In the 1980 Republican primaries Mr. Bush called this supply-side plan "voodoo economics." And Mr. Reagan's own director of the budget, David A. Stockman, suggested that the president was simply proposing a repackaging of economics intended to favor the rich, whose gains would ultimately trickle down through the rest of the economy.
Despite widespread criticism of the idea, Mr. Reagan was able to sell the program to Congress, both a tax cut and a $28 billion increase in the military budget.
Also from the Times, but put in list format by me:
Reagan's budget director and inventor of the "rosy scenario" later wrote a book titled "The Triumph of Politics," in which he describes exaggerating "the administration's success in reduced spending and minimized the projected deficit," writes the Times.
"If the Securities and Exchange Commission had jurisdiction over the White House," Mr. Stockman wrote, "we might have all had time for a course in remedial economics at Allenwood penitentiary."
The Times adds:
On Oct. 16, 1987, The Wall Street Journal reported that the economy was one of the two bright spots in a Reagan administration that was increasingly paralyzed by its Iran-contra troubles. Then, on Oct. 19, the stock market suffered the most severe single-day decline up to that point in its history, dropping 508 points.
And despite getting credit for the downfall of the former Soviet Union, Reagan may not have had as much to do with it as thought, writes the Times:
Some analysts believe that buildup, along with military exercises and reconnaissance that were seen from the Soviet perspective as provocative, may have strengthened Soviet hawks and actually delayed efforts by Mr. Gorbachev to bring reform to the Soviet Union.
Of course, if I'd wanted to be partisan, I might have used the following quote from former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, D-Mass.: "Most of the time he was an actor reading lines who didn't understand his own programs. I hate to say it about such an agreeable man, but it was sinful that Ronald Reagan ever became president."
MORE FBI BUMBLING FOR ASHCROFT
In a situation reminiscent of the mistaken arrest of Richard Jewel in the Atlanta Olympics bombing, the FBI ignored evidence that a Portland, Ore., lawyer was not linked to deadly train bombings in Spain.
Attorney General John Ashcroft, who has consistently trumpeted erroneous information as fact, keeps up his record with the latest FBI bumbling. The bureau determined, according to The New York Times, that fingerprints were a "100 percent match" with Brandon Mayfield's.
But after conducting their own tests, Spanish law enforcement officials said they reported back to the F.B.I. in an April 13 memo that the match was "conclusively negative." Yet for for five weeks, F.B.I. officials insisted their analysis was correct.
Remember, this is the same bureau and the same administration that wants Americans to trust them enough to hand over liberties for our own supposed benefit.
WHAT DID HE KNOW THEN?
The following quote was related in The Nation earlier this year.
When asked why the United States should not invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein, a prescient critic said, "Once you've got Baghdad, it's not clear what you do with it. It's not clear what kind of government you would put in place of the one that's currently there. ... How much credibility is that government going to have if it's set up by the United States military when it's there?... I think to have American military forces engaged in a civil war inside Iraq would fit the definition of quagmire, and we have absolutely no desire to get bogged down in that fashion."
The critic was none other than Dick Cheney, who made these comments as Defense Secretary in 1991, explaining the first Bush Administration's decision to end the Gulf War after Iraq had been expelled from Kuwait.
Once again, it doesn't surprise that the media has failed to recall this in its coverage of the administration.
RUSH WHINES ABOUT 'CONTEXT'
Yes, Oxycontin-head Rush Limbaugh said it, that abuse by U.S. military personnel at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison was "no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation" at Yale.
But now he whines in a Time magazine question-and-answer piece that he was "misrepresented and taken out of context." (The embarassingly entertainment-oriented, softball, kid-gloves treatment by "10 Questions" only once alludes to his drug problem, and that's via a query about the help he's receiving from ACLU.)
Asked about Bill Clinton's upcoming book, the conservanazi is perfectly content to use potential misrepresentation and out-of-context accounts. He says:
I'm not going to open it. I'm not going to believe anything in it, so why would I read it? I'll just listen to what you guys in the mainstream press tell me is great about it, and I'll know everything I need to know.
Who needs credibility these days, anyway?
WOULD-BE PHOTOGRAPHER OUTLAWS
Not content to sit by while a proposed ban on picture-taking in the New York subway system, a group of photographers are planning a peaceful protest that involves, well, picture-taking in the subway.
The photographers interviewed by the Village Voice for its article spoke eloquently. Eliot Shepard, a computer programmer, said the following:
We have been conditioned to accept ever-greater incursions on our liberties in the name of security. But no one has advanced a coherent argument for how banning photography in public areas of the subway — not tracks and switchrooms mind you, but trains and platforms — has any effect whatsoever on security.
The Voice, in a ploy that might as well have come from the pages of screwthegovernment.com, is sponsoring a subway photo contest. And yes, I entered the contest.
THE SPIRALING COST OF WAR IN IRAQ
"Based on estimates from congressional appropriations," says a Web site called Cost of War, a running tally resides here of how much of our hard-earned is heading to military operations in Iraq.
No wonder Bush plans drastic cuts to veterans benefits. Like the king in "Braveheart" says in one battle scene, "The dead cost nothing."
SUPPOSED KERRY INTERN STRIKES BACK
Alexandra Polier, at the center of a rumor linking her to John Kerry, tells her story in a New York magazine story. In it, she relates being hounded by the media and having her e-mail account compromised.
CNN’s Zain Verjee wrote beseeching notes, slipping them under the front gate. It was like a horror movie where the zombies are on the other side of the door and then an arm comes through the window. ...
More alarmingly, my Hotmail account had been broken into, and I couldn’t access my e-mail. Random people in my in-box whom I hadn’t spoken to in months suddenly started getting calls from reporters. My father called to tell me someone had tried the same thing with his account, but that his security software had intercepted them and tracked them back to a rogue computer address in Washington, D.C. When I finally got back into my account, assuming the hacker was a Republican, I changed my password to "Bushsucksdick."
After silence failed to thward the media, Polier and her parents separately issued statements.
My father, in spite of his Republican leanings, suspected a right-wing conspiracy, so at my suggestion he concluded his statement: "We appreciate the way Senator Kerry has handled the situation and intend on voting for him for President of the United States."
The media, in its feeding frenzy fed by gossipmonger Matt Drudge, initially missed that Polier had never worked for Kerry in any capacity. She was an editorial assistant at The Associated Press in New York.
Winston Churchill was on to something when he said, "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."
YOU DON'T KNOW GOOGLE
Sure, many savvy Web surfers know to use quotation marks around exact phrases during a Google search, but this article at mediabistro.com provides a few more helpful hints.
THE TIMES'S WEAPONS OF MASS DISTRACTION
New York Times public editor Bill Okrent writes a piece critical of his newspaper's role in the lackey-like coverage of the Bush administration's assertions and the Iraq war. (It goes further than the Times's note from the editors.) In it, he examines how pack mentality increasingly pervades journalism ahead of context and correctness, even when newspapers should know better.
In some instances, reporters who raised substantive questions about certain stories were not heeded. Worse, some with substantial knowledge of the subject at hand seem not to have been given the chance to express reservations. It is axiomatic in newsrooms that any given reporter's story, tacked up on a dartboard, can be pierced by challenges from any number of colleagues. But a commitment to scrutiny is a cardinal virtue. When a particular story is consciously shielded from such challenges, it suggests that it contains something that plausibly should be challenged. ...
The aggressive journalism that I long for, and that the paper owes both its readers and its own self-respect, would reveal not just the tactics of those who promoted the W.M.D. stories, but how The Times itself was used to further their cunning campaign.
In 1920, Walter Lippmann and Charles Merz wrote that The Times had missed the real story of the Bolshevik Revolution because its writers and editors "were nervously excited by exciting events." That could have been said about The Times and the war in Iraq. The excitement's over; now the work begins.
A New York magazine article details some of the transgressions by Judith Miller, the Times's reporter on WMD who is at the source of the paper's accommodating coverage.
The article, on its second of five pages, states:
In February, on the public-radio show "The Connection," she said, "My job was not to collect information and analyze it independently as an intelligence agency; my job was to tell readers of the New York Times, as best as I could figure out, what people inside the governments, who had very high security clearances, who were not supposed to talk to me, were saying to one another about what they thought Iraq had and did not have in the area of weapons of mass destruction."
Her Iraq coverage didn’t just depend on Chalabi. It also relied heavily on his patrons in the Pentagon. Some of these sources, like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, would occasionally talk to her on the record. She relied especially heavily on the Office of Special Plans, an intelligence unit established beneath Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith. The office was charged with uncovering evidence of Al Qaeda links to Saddam Hussein that the CIA might have missed.
Like so many administration officials, editors at The New York times turned a blind eye to signs of impending trouble.
RATIONAL AND RELIGIOUS
One has to admire the level-headedness of the Rev. Andrew Greeley, named by The Nation as "one of America's most prominent Catholic thinkers."
Writer John Nichols quotes the priest as follows:
"I subscribe to the consistent ethic of life that the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin enunciated some years ago. I believe abortion is wrong. I believe the death penalty is wrong. I believe preemptive war is wrong. I will take seriously the 'pro-life' enthusiasts when they are ready to protest against and denounce the death penalty. I will take them seriously when they also denounce criminally unjust wars."
Reasonable and religious, Greeley serves as an example of how to be both.
IS BUSH CONSERVATIVE?
It's difficult to discern just what Bush stands for if it's anything more than his own twisted vision of good-versus-evil, as this article in The Nation suggests.
"Historically, conservatism in the United States has meant support for small government, balanced budgets, fiscal prudence and great skepticism about overseas adventures," notes Clyde Prestowitz, a former Reagan Administration official who back in the 1960s was among the young Republicans supporting Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, a conservative standard-bearer. "What I see now is an Administration that's not for any of these things."