American Samizdat Guernica
Saturday, December 27, 2003
Republican marching orders: Howard Dean not an optimist. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat...
It seems the Republican marching orders have gone out: Say "Howard Dean" and "pessimism" or "pessimist" as many times as possible in the same sentence.

Of course, there really is no vast right-wing conspiracy to coordinate media messages, so we won't be seeing that focus-group-tested term repeated over and over by supposedly independent journalists and pundits. No, that would never happen.

Blog for America:

When Up is Down, and Hope is Pessimism

Atrios senses a new meme emerging from the right-wing punditocracy, based on this morning's New York Times article on how the Bush campaign plans to distort what it is we're fighting for:



The first appearance of a talking head referring to Dean as "pessimistic" or discussing his "pessimism" was Laura Ingraham on the Friday Dec. 19 Hardball, followed by Mary Matalin on the Sunday Dec. 21 Meet the Press.

Look for it to be coming out of every Republican's mouth soon, and then it will increasingly creep into "objective" reporting. The process will go something like this. First, they'll quote Bush campaign sources describing Dean as "pessimistic." Next, they'll move onto Democratic campaign sources, often anonymous, describing Dean as "pessimistic." Next, they'll stop bothering getting the quote and just write things like, "Some have criticized Dean for his unappealing pessimism..." And, then, finally, process complete, campaign analysis pieces in print and the "objective journalists" on the roundtable shows, will just write/say things like "Dean's pessimistic rhetoric..." By the end no discussion or news story about Dean will see the light of day without the word "pessimism."



So a basic primer is due: there is nothing more optimistic than saying that the American people have the right and the responsibility of self-government. There is nothing more optimistic than running a campaign that is designed to bring people back into the political process. And there is nothing more optimistic than asserting that the American people, armed with the founding principles of our Republic, will prevail over the special interests that write our laws in the current administration.

And there's absolutely nothing more optimistic than believing that once the American people take control of their own government, we will be able to bring health care to everyone, jobs based on a new energy economy to those who are out of work, and effective environmental protection for our children and grandchildren.

This is the most optimistic presidential campaign in a generation. For Karl Rove and George Bush to say that believing in people is pessimistic-- well, that's a bit like calling the gutting of pollution controls Clear Skies, isn't it?


Optimism, optimist.
Republican marching orders: Howard Dean not an optimist. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat...
It seems the Republican marching orders have gone out: Say "Howard Dean" and "pessimism" or "pessimist" as many times as possible in the same sentence.

Of course, there really is no vast right-wing conspiracy to coordinate media messages, so we won't be seeing that focus-group-tested term repeated over and over by supposedly independent journalists and pundits. No, that would never happen.

Blog for America:

When Up is Down, and Hope is Pessimism

Atrios senses a new meme emerging from the right-wing punditocracy, based on this morning's New York Times article on how the Bush campaign plans to distort what it is we're fighting for:



The first appearance of a talking head referring to Dean as "pessimistic" or discussing his "pessimism" was Laura Ingraham on the Friday Dec. 19 Hardball, followed by Mary Matalin on the Sunday Dec. 21 Meet the Press.

Look for it to be coming out of every Republican's mouth soon, and then it will increasingly creep into "objective" reporting. The process will go something like this. First, they'll quote Bush campaign sources describing Dean as "pessimistic." Next, they'll move onto Democratic campaign sources, often anonymous, describing Dean as "pessimistic." Next, they'll stop bothering getting the quote and just write things like, "Some have criticized Dean for his unappealing pessimism..." And, then, finally, process complete, campaign analysis pieces in print and the "objective journalists" on the roundtable shows, will just write/say things like "Dean's pessimistic rhetoric..." By the end no discussion or news story about Dean will see the light of day without the word "pessimism."



So a basic primer is due: there is nothing more optimistic than saying that the American people have the right and the responsibility of self-government. There is nothing more optimistic than running a campaign that is designed to bring people back into the political process. And there is nothing more optimistic than asserting that the American people, armed with the founding principles of our Republic, will prevail over the special interests that write our laws in the current administration.



And there's absolutely nothing more optimistic than believing that once the American people take control of their own government, we will be able to bring health care to everyone, jobs based on a new energy economy to those who are out of work, and effective environmental protection for our children and grandchildren.



This is the most optimistic presidential campaign in a generation. For Karl Rove and George Bush to say that believing in people is pessimistic-- well, that's a bit like calling the gutting of pollution controls Clear Skies, isn't it?



Optimism, optimist.
Friday, December 26, 2003
"British journalists – and British journals – are being manipulated by the secret intelligence agencies, and I think we ought to try and put a stop to it."

So says the British Journalism Review.

It is done three ways:

1) Journos are recruited to spy for them.

2) Intel. agents pose as journos and write articles under false names.

3) Intel. agents plant stories on willing journos, who then disguise their sources.

Information on similar operations in the US can be found here.

The next Bush con job is headed to a television set near you in his upcoming State of the Union Address. It's called "ownership", and Robert Kuttner takes a look at what it's really all about:
The idea is that American workers aspire to be owners -- of stock for their retirement, homes, businesses, good health insurance, and skills they need to navigate multiple changes of jobs and careers. It sounds just great.

Take a closer look, however, and you will recognize the trademarked Bush combination of inspiring themes coupled with an absence of useful tools. In other words, bait and switch.

Yup! Another round of tax breaks and shelters, this time intending to replace all of the benefits your employer may currently be providing for you.

The problem? If your employer isn't first providing you with enough pay, you'll hardly be able to use any of them. Great tax breaks, except that the only people who'll be able to use them are the people who need them the least. Sound familiar?

And the beat goes on ...

I.B.M. spokespeople are reluctant to talk or at least to be named in the press, but BIG BLUE is about to join the offshoring/outsourcing crowd. According to the Wall Street Journal last week, as many as 4,730 high-paying white-collar jobs will be shipped overseas to lower-paid foreign workers. "Our competitors are doing it ...", one spokesperson offered as justification. So what's new?

Bob Herbert takes a look.

Geebus! I wonder if they have any of those "ownership" accounts?

Paul Krugman carves out a simple list of New Year's resolutions for the media and its reporting of the upcoming election:
  1. Don't talk about clothes. (It's an insult to the readers.)
  2. Actually look at the candidates' policy proposals. (Like Bush's "ownership society"?)
  3. Beware of personal anecdotes. (Especially those that reinforce your own prejudices.)
  4. Look at the candidates' records. (Bush is not a centrist, and Dean is not a leftist.)
  5. Don't fall for political histrionics. (The "appearance of outrage" is just so much fluff.)
  6. It's not about you. (The race is about the candidates, not the reporters.)
A rather simple list, and things that perhaps any editor should be demanding of his reporters. Too bad so few of them actually are. One might actually come to think that all these editors are demanding the exact opposite!

Which brings me to my Story of the Year for 2003:

The Collapse of American Journalism

Yeah, I know. That story didn't appear in our mainstream news. But did you think it would?
Irving Kristol outlined what "neoconservatism" is in a Weekly Standard article a few months ago:
One can say that the historical task and political purpose of neoconservatism would seem to be this: to convert the Republican party, and American conservatism in general, against their respective wills, into a new kind of conservative politics suitable to governing a modern democracy.

...

The steady decline in our democratic culture, sinking to new levels of vulgarity, does unite neocons with traditional conservatives--though not with those libertarian conservatives who are conservative in economics but unmindful of the culture. The upshot is a quite unexpected alliance between neocons, who include a fair proportion of secular intellectuals, and religious traditionalists. They are united on issues concerning the quality of education, the relations of church and state, the regulation of pornography, and the like, all of which they regard as proper candidates for the government's attention. And since the Republican party now has a substantial base among the religious, this gives neocons a certain influence and even power. Because religious conservatism is so feeble in Europe, the neoconservative potential there is correspondingly weak.


Via PNAC.info
Thursday, December 25, 2003
Sad but true:
The Bushies are planning to run against a dovish McGovern, but there's a remote possibility they could find themselves running against a hawkish Kennedy. The bigger implication, which the rest of the world should note well, is that the general course of American foreign policy is fairly stable and won't be soon toppled -- not even by Howard Dean.


More on PNAC, see also: PNAC.info
About.com's 2003 Political Dot-Comedy Award Nominees Announced
I'm very pleased to report that I'm a nominee in two categories in this year's About.com Political Dot-Comedy Awards competition. My MadKane.com political humor as a whole is nominated in the Best Parodies (Overall Achievement) category and my Dubya's Dayly Diary is a nominee in the Best Bush Humor category. So if you have time, I'd really appreciate your voting for me in
one or both categories here. Thanks!

And even if you're not in a voting mood, I'll bet you enjoy visiting the terrific nominees in categories including Best Web Cartoons, Best Satirical News, Most Entertaining Left-Wing News & Commentary, Most Entertaining Right-Wing News & Commentary, Best Print Comic Strip, and Best Late-Night TV Comedy. You may even find some new (to you) humor sites to help you survive 2004.

FYI very few blogs are nominated. This Modern World (Tom Tomorrow) in the comic strip category is a notable exception.


Wednesday, December 24, 2003
tobias c. van Veen on Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
Part 1 and Part 2
The historical purview of the good vs. evil whitewash in which we view Nazi politics is complicated considerably when one considers the culpability of the major powers (and some of the lesser ones) in Hitler's rise to power--not to mention, of course, the German people's. How does this compare to today? Tony Blair, despite his rhetoric of virility, is as much an accomplice to Bush's unmitigated war as Chamberlain was to Hitler. Blair has gone out of his way to appease Bush's corporate drive for Middle Eastern power. Unfortunately, whereas Chamberlain eventually had Churchill to contend with, there seems to be no strong opposition to Blair either in the UK (save for London's Mayor, Livingstone), in Europe (save for the opportunism of France, and ironically, Germany), or of course in North America (and to make matters worse, the new Prime Minister of Canada and leader of the Liberal party, Paul Martin, is making it his top duty to bring Canada in line--like Australia--with US policies, despite a majority public disapproval of US warmongering).

Your default gateway into a river of information contagia
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
Monday, December 22, 2003
Oh, my God!
 Today's Terror 
 Threat Level: 
Feel safer yet ?


Yes, it changes automatically, and yes, you can copy this into your own profile also.
Click on Ernie or simply edit this page and scan for the "TEROR ALERT" marker.
From RiverBend at Baghdad Burning come words of new fears taking over the people of Baghdad; the men seem on the verge of war, and the women are afraid. Don't they know it's Christmas?
I once said that I hoped, and believed, Iraqis were above the horrors of civil war and the slaughter of innocents, and I'm clinging to that belief with the sheer strength of desperation these days. I remember hearing the stories about Lebanon from people who were actually living there during the fighting and a constant question arose when they talked about the grief and horrors- what led up to it? What were the signs? How did it happen? And most importantly… did anyone see it coming?
Some do, River. Just never enough.
"studies overwhelmingly show that for every health condition, for every disease, for every cause of death, those who have lower incomes have it much worse than those who have fatter paychecks."
Sunday, December 21, 2003


Yet another case of courageous Israelis "on the ground" refusing to carry our what their hardline supporters in the US and Israel claim are normal operations

15 members of the Israeli army's top commando unit have written to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon refusing to carry out missions in the Palestinian territories.

According to Israeli media reports on Sunday, 15 reservists from the elite Sayeret Matkal unit, said they would no longer participate in the "rule of oppression" and the defence of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories.

The Sayeret Matkal, or General Staff Reconnaissance Unit, is Israel's most elite commando unit and has often been compared to the US military's Delta Force or the British army's SAS.

"We will no longer give our lives to the rule of oppression in the territories and to the denial of human rights to millions of Palestinians and we will no longer serve as a defensive shield for the settlements," private television quoted the letter as saying.

"We will no longer corrupt the stamp of humanity in us through carrying out the missions of an occupation army ... in the past, we fought for a justified cause (but today), we have reached the boundary of oppressing another people," it added.
The story began long long ago in a galaxy far way. Now, eons later, even Princess Leia and Darth Vader are friends of sorts. They are sitting at a bar and R2D2 is serving the drinks. Both are drinking Alderaan Ruge a very rare and expensive liqueur. There are however still pockets of villainy and stupidity in the far reaches of the galaxy. George, yes that George is strapped to a gurney in the corner of the room.

George: Where am I?

Darth: The Death Star

Princess Leia: Yes, THE DEATH STAR, you are strapped to a gurney on THE DEATH STAR. I'm Princess Leia and this is Ani, uh I mean Darth Vader. Mister Vader to you. We have some questions for you George.

George: I'm the Comander see, I don't have to answer questions that's one of the neat things about being the president. I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation.

A mind probe is summoned, the needles are extended to their full length and the prick is about to get pricked. I'd also like to report that Darth would probably smile and scowl from time to time if he could. It will help if you understand that he experiences the same emotions that prompt others to scowl or to smile. The same emotions that lead others to frown or to giggle. Darth would have scowled upon hearing his childhood name, and he might very well be smiling or perhaps even giggling when he says.

Darth: Oh you'll answer my questions George, that is one of the neat things about being a Sith Lord.

George: Why am I here?

Leia and Darth ignore him.

Leia: The probe doesn't seem to be working, it's not registering any content.

Darth: The diagnostics indicate it's functioning normally. Puzzling.

George repeats: Why am I here?

Darth: You're here because, to use the earth's venacular, you're a bad motherfucker, and believe me I know something about bad motherfuckers.

At an unknown location Yoda is practicing his latest moves when suddenly he stops, "There is a disturbance in the force, he says. I fear for the 23rd letter in the alphabet, but that makes no sense. Yoda, somewhat perplexed, returns to his light sabre practice.

Darth: What should we do with him?

Princess Leia: Well we know he's a liar. We know he searches for non-existent weapons of mass destruction. He invades unarmed countries. He doesn't listen to his dad. He says lots of really stupid shit. He's been building weapons of mass destruction himself. He lacks respect for royalty (remember Leia is a Princess and Darth Vader a Lord) can you believe he recently trashed the Queens Garden and refused to eat her food. He also has a thing for Tony Blair, and frankly I just don't like his looks. I'm thinking maybe the trash compacter.

Darth: Leia, your dark side is certainly showing tonight. I suppose we could just give him to Jabba the Hutt as a gift. I've grown quite fond of the Alderaan Ruge and Jabba is the only known source. (for the sake of clarity let me add that's a known known as opposed to an unknown known)

George: I didn't do anything, let me go.

Princess Leia: Give it a rest Chimp.

Darth: Chimp

Princess Leia: Yes a term I picked up listening to an earth news station. I think it is a term of endearment.

George: But

Princess Leia and Darth in unison: Just shut the fuck up George

George: Everyone is starting to use that word when they talk about me John Kerry said I fucked up Iraq.

Darth: I'm not surprised you fuck up damn near everything you touch.

George continues trying to speak but soon begins gasping for breath.

Princess Leia: Stop Darth you're choking him, we don't want him dead, yet.

Darth: Oh alright, but tell him to quit his whining.

Princess Leia: So lets see it's either the compacter or a bribe for Jabba. What did the mind probe reveal?

Darth: Not a damn thing.

Princess Leia: Nothing, hmm.

George: Please I just want to go home I'm the President you know? I have an important meeting with the Republican National Committee they're going to get me reelected.

Leia: I thought I told you to shut up. The RNC is nothing but a wretched hive of scum and villainy. You have enough problems George, I wouldn't be worrying about a meeting with the RNC if I were you.

Leia: Where were we. Oh yes what to do with him.

Darth: We could...

Darth's voice trails off. His breathing is audible. He would be giggling here if he could.

Princess Leia: You mean? He's weak willed, manipulated by neocons, stupid...

Darth: Yes, the mind probe confirmed all that.

Princess Leia: You're thinking of using the power of the force, your fancy Jedi mind tricks.

Darth: Yes

Princess Leia: I don't see why it wouldn't work. I'm sure we could find something constructive for him to do and maybe help the planet earth at the same time. Let's give it a try.

Darth walks over and releases George from the Gurney.

Darth: It's your lucky day.

George: It's my lucky day.

Darth: You don't want to invade unarmed countries and have impure thoughts about Tony Blair.

George: I don't want to invade unarmed countries and have impure thoughts.

Darth: You've been a terrible president.

George: I've been a terrible president.

Darth You don't want to be president anymore.

George: I don't want to be president anymore.

Darth: You'll resign and move back to Texas.

George: I'll resign and move back to Texas.

Darth: Move along.

George takes the next shuttle to earth and promptly resigns the presidency. A grateful nation celebrates, and George moves back to the Crawford ranch. Every once in a while he looks over at Laura and says, "tell me again why I resigned the presidency."

Laura happier than she has been in many years smiles.

Laura: You don't really need to know.

George: I don't really need to know.

Laura: You have some chores to do.

George: I have some chores to do.

Laura: Move along.


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