Category Archives: lefty propaganda

the word is “lie”

The right is all a-twitter about “civility” these days — despite the VP telling a Senator to go fuck himself, which made him “feel better” — and part of that means not calling the president bad words like “liar.” That’s “negative” and “pessimistic.” We’re supposed to say he “exaggerated” or “stretched the truth” or that his statements were “misleading.” Bullshit. He lies. He’s been lying since he entered office, and probably well before. He lies openly and with utter contempt for the American press and public. To wit: Here’s a paragraph from the Poor Man blog, complete with links, should you care to follow up:

He has lied about his time in the National Guard, and lied about his criminal history. He lied about his relationship with Ken Lay, he lied about who would benefit from his tax cuts, and he lied about stem cells. He lied about his visit to Bob Jones University, he lied about why he wouldn’t meet with Log Cabin Republicans, and he lied about reading the EPA report on global warming. He lied about blaming the Clinton administration for the second intifada, he lies constantly about how he pays no attention to polls, he lied about how he loves New York, and he lied about moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. He lied about finding WMD in Iraq, he lied about making his decision to go to war, he lied about the CIA’s dismissal of the yellowcake rumors, and he lied about the IAEA’s assessment of Iraq’s nuclear program. He lied about funding the fight against AIDS in Africa, he lied about when the recession started, and he lied about seeing the first plane hit the WTC. He lied about supporting the Patient Protection Act, and he lied about his deficit spending, and now my wrist hurts.

clinton

Clinton’s book is out, and reaction is what you’d expect. Conservatives are frothing at the mouth with all the same deranged theories. The shallow, lazy national media is obsessed with his penis and reacts with offense to the fact that large parts of his book are about policy.

But remember a few things: Clinton was a more popular president than Reagan. He had a higher average approval rating, a higher average second-term approval rating — and he left office with a higher approval rating, despite 8 years of concentrated, well-funded attempts to drag him down. The American people loved Clinton, because he was sensible and effective.

Also, read this piece in the L.A. Times. It makes another point that gets overlooked in penis discussions: while Reagan, Bush, and Clinton all presided over economic recoveries, only in Clinton’s did the benefits of recovery go to the lower and middle classes as well as the upper class. Through deliberate policy choices, Clinton created economic growth that was fairly shared. The right doesn’t want you to know that — they want you to think that’s impossible. They’d rather you think about Clinton’s penis like they do.

more america haters!

From the L.A. Times:

A group of 26 former senior diplomats and military officials, several appointed to key positions by Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, plans to issue a joint statement this week arguing that President George W. Bush has damaged America’s national security and should be defeated in November. The group, which calls itself Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change, will explicitly condemn Bush’s foreign policy, according to several of those who signed the document.

Watch for these people’s characters and motivations to be viciously attacked by the rightie schoolyard gang. They also want you to believe that General Anthony Zinni, Richard Clarke, and Paul O’Neill are bitter, grasping opportunists. The group of people — all saying the same things about the tragedy that is the Bush administration — that they want you to hate is growing larger and larger.

*UPDATE:* Here’s an interview with the group’s organizer — William C. Harrop, ambassador to Israel under George H. W. Bush. Very interesting.

tax madness

One of the most significant but least publicized stories in the country today is the increasing skewing of the tax code in favor of the extremely rich. Taxes have gotten more and more regressive, to the point that the lower and middle classes pay roughly the same percentage of their income in total taxes — including payroll and sales — as the rich. This is contributing to the increasingly large gap between rich and poor and the ever-ratcheting pressure on the middle class’ income, security, and lifestyle. There are many, many good things written on this subject. Here are three:

1. This post over at Calpundit draws together several data points to show how lower and middle class wages are being squeezed.

2. This review of David Cay Johnston’s new book, Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich — and Cheat Everybody Else by economist James K. Galbraith. It touches briefly on many of the tax code horrors most folks never hear about. (Better yet, read the book.)

3. Radical Tax Reform, by Maya MacGuineas, does some more explaining of how the tax code has become so unfair, inefficient, and insufficient to pay for our expenses. She recommends some interesting solutions, among them a progressive consumption tax that would apply to total spending. Her essay is part of the Atlantic Monthly’s “State of the Union” collaboration with the New America Foundation — all of it is worth reading.

The debate over taxes in this country, like most of our politically dialogue, is simple, verging on retarded, going back and forth about whether taxes should be higher or lower. We should be talking about what _kind_ of taxes we have, and what kind of behaviors and economic trends the taxes encourage. The hijacking of government by the rich is ongoing and in the end will hurt them as much as it hurts the country as a whole.

billmon

I don’t know how I never noticed it before, but I recently stumbled across an uncommonly good website: billmon.org. It’s a blog, but the entries are, in my limited experience, longer and more substantive than most. In particular, check out this entry on the history of the struggles between realists and neocons in the Republican establishment, and this follow-up on what exactly constitutes a neocon. Also worth browsing are this database of quotes about WMD (remember them?) and this database of quotes about democracy in Iraq (remember that?). I don’t know who this guy is or where he gets his info, but he’s certainly better-informed than the average blogger.

is bush a conservative?

Lefties are fond of calling Bush a “radical conservative,” complaining that he was (not) elected under dodgy circumstances but has nonetheless governed from the far right. Conservatives protest in response that Bush has raised government spending and indeed, with the passage of the Medicare bill, created the first new federal entitlement in a quarter-century. This demonstrates that he is (depending on the conservative) either a “moderate” or a betrayer of the right.

Both sides have a point in this confused debate. The best article I’ve seen on the subject, the one that cuts to the heart of this issue, is this one by Jonathan Chait. Here’s the money quote:

Last year, the Associated Press conducted a remarkable study showing how federal spending patterns had changed since the GOP took over Congress in 1995. Republicans did not shrink federal spending, it found, they merely transferred it, from poorer Democratic districts to wealthier Republican ones. This, the A.P. reported, “translates into more business loans and farm subsidies, and fewer public housing grants and food stamps.” In 1995, Democratic districts received an average of $35 million more in federal largesse than Republican districts, which seems roughly fair given that Democratic districts have more people in need of government aid. By 2001, the gap had not only reversed, it had increased nearly twentyfold, with GOP districts receiving an average of $612 million more than Democratic ones.

Like the man says: read the whole thing.

hooray for gay!

There is much to be depressed about these days, with the country drifting seemingly irrevocably toward militarism, classism, and really stupid reality TV shows. However, there’s one issue that pleases me to no end, and that’s homosexuality. Every new development regarding homosexuality, like the recent Massachusetts Supreme Court decision that a ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, or the Episcopal church’s election of a gay bishop, causes me to chuckle with glee. I feel hope and optimism about homosexuality. Yay for homosexuality! Hooray for gay!

What, you ask, am I talking about? Well, as you have probably noticed, right wingers are almost pathologically obsessed with homosexuality. Gay people really, really freak them out. I mean, ostensibly the reason is that homosexuality violates scripture, but hell, all _kinds_ of things violate scripture. You don’t hear nearly as much hue and cry from the right about stealing or adultery or failure to love one’s neighbor as onesself or failure to purify women after childbirth or all the many other behaviors condemned in the Bible. It’s just the homos. They talk about gays more than _gays_ talk about gays, and gays talk about gays a _lot_, especially on Bravo.

Thing is, it’s not only the wingnut evangelists. Most people above a certain age are profoundly uncomfortable with it. Even people who pride themselves on being totally rational abhor it. And if you press them, you find out quickly that there are virtually no reasoned arguments against homosexuality–or homosexual marriage, or homosexual adoption–that don’t collapse into incoherence almost immediately. Even when they appeal to scripture or “nature,” they sound like they’re looking for a peg on which to hang a pre-decided opinion. In the end, it just seems to come down to this: ick. Gay is icky. Some people just seem to feel that way on a level that’s deeper than argument or reason can reach.

Why is that? One might wonder. One might speculate. One might connect it to repressed homoerotic thoughts and desires. One might connect it to misogyny, with disgust at the idea of a man “taking it” like a woman. One might connect it to a certain defensive, emotionally closed-off, uni-dimensional view of “manhood” with deep historical roots.

But whatever. Who cares? I don’t care. If you think God cares about the gender of the person you love, well, you’re a dumbass, but go ahead and be a dumbass. Guess what–there’s no need to persuade bigots that homosexuality is “OK,” or that gays should be allowed to marry. Young people overwhelmingly feel a big “so what” about homosexuality. This is one area of the “culture wars” where the right is slowly but inexorably losing. Cultural attitudes about homosexuality are shifting, and there’s no trend I feel more comfortable and confident about. Within 20 years, gays will be getting married as a matter of course, and adopting, and being open about their sexual preference, and the sky will not fall, and marriage will retain its “sanctity” (such as it is), and our values will remain intact, and young people will think it odd that anyone ever cared enough to argue about it in the first place. It’s inevitable as the tides and the turning of the earth. No matter how much wingers squawk about it or try to make it an election issue or try to pass idiot constitutional amendments, it’s gonna happen. And I’m going to savor every little victory along the way.

the tipping point?

As anyone who has been paying attention knows, the Bush administration is heavily leveraged. I mean Enron-style leveraged: they’ve gotten by so far purely on promises and public relations. They have no accomplishments to point to: the economy is in the tank, the deficit is huge, homeland security is under-funded, our international credibility is in the toilet, Afghanistan is reverting to tribal rule, and Iraq is a mess. Their support hangs entirely on _trust_: trust that things are going to get better, and that they are telling us the truth. As Enron found out, when you’re heavily leveraged, one small tremor can bring the whole enterprise tumbling down.

For the Bush administration, that tremor might finally be here.

For non-political-geek readers, here’s the background: Joseph Wilson is a foreign service worker who was sent to Africa to investigate claims that Niger was selling Saddam Hussein uranium. He came back and filed a report concluding that there was nothing to it, no evidence that any such sale took place. This took place well _before_ Bush’s State of the Union speech, in which he claimed that “British intelligence has learned” that Hussein did make such purchases. In other words: our intelligence told us there was nothing to it, so Bush’s people feinted towards the Brits, knowing that the right impression would be created.

Much to the chagrin of the Bushies, Wilson wrote an op-ed in the New York Times, drawing attention to his report. He helped lead an extraordinarily myopic, lazy national press to the “16 words” mini-scandal. In the course of fighting off that mini-scandal, the Bushies did what they do best: they lied and attacked their critics. They claimed that Wilson’s report never reached senior staff (a lie they eventually backed off, with no repercussions). But that wasn’t enough–the administration also launched a coordinated attack on Wilson, and that’s where our current story begins.

On July 14, Robert Novack, a respected conservative journalist, published a column in the Chicago Sun-Times in which he revealed that a “senior administration official” had told him that Valerie Plame, Wilson’s wife, is (or was) an undercover CIA operative.

Yes, you read that right: in order to exact political revenge on a critic of their (self-admittedly false) rhetoric, they revealed the identity of an undercover intelligence agent. This is not only morally repugnant and tactically dunderheaded, but it is also in violation of Federal Law, namely the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982.

There was much outrage in some circles, but since the Bushies drew in the wagons and refused to comment on the story, many folks thought it was going to die from lack of light. However, weeks later Wilson publically named Karl Rove as the leaker, saying the following:

At the end of the day, it’s of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs. And trust me, when I use that name, I measure my words.

Still, the study was studiously ignored for many more weeks. Until a few days ago, that is, when the Washington Post published a page one story about it. Here’s a quote:

Yesterday, a senior administration official said that before Novak’s column ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson’s wife. Wilson had just revealed that the CIA had sent him to Niger last year to look into the uranium claim and that he had found no evidence to back up the charge. Wilson’s account touched off a political fracas over Bush’s use of intelligence as he made the case for attacking Iraq.

“Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge,” the senior official said of the alleged leak.

Now, the CIA, after an initial investigation, has handed the matter over to the Dept. of Justice and recommended a full investigation. That’s a big deal–there are two senior administration officials who broke the law, and at least one official willing to leak their names. It’s almost certain that everyone from Bush on down knows who did it, and that it was OKed at the highest levels. Right now the Bushies sound off-guard and confused; they’re simply saying that the DoJ investigation is “routine” and refusing any further comment. There could be subpoenas.

This is a breaking story with many movable parts. It could go in any number of directions. But it certainly is beginning to look like the kind of scandal that the Bushies can’t brush off.

It’s also worth remembering that the act itself — revealing the identity of an undercover intelligence agent for petty political purposes — is of such venality and amorality as to turn the stomach. Imagine what else they would do. Imagine what else they have done.

For more on the story, check this round-up from Mark Kleiman, and this post on his blog. Also be sure to check in regularly on Talking Points Memo, which is breaking every update as it happens. Finally, the normally level-headed and judicious Calpundit seems to have reached some kind of breaking point. Read this post and all the ones surrounding it. And of course stick with the Washington Post, who still owns the story.