Monday, May 28, 2007

How The Right-Wing Slime Machine Is Gearing Up To Attack Michael Moore's "Sicko"

By MARC McDONALD

One might expect that any rational, clear-thinking adult would wait to actually see a movie before they decide to attack it.

However, there are three things that are certain in life: death, taxes, and the fact that the wingnuts will do whatever they can to slime Michael Moore and his work.

After all, Moore is the anti-Christ to these people. He's been detested by the right wing ever since he dared to speak out against George W. Bush in Fahrenheit 9/11.

It was all enough to make right-wing writer and Fox News commentator Bernie Goldberg rank Moore as No. 1 in his 2005 tirade, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America.

Never mind the fact that Moore has been vindicated, time and time again.

The current wave of Moore-bashing seems to date back to his "infamous" March 2003 Oscar-night speech. The press reports I read about that event focused solely on the fact that his comments drew boos from some audience members.

Few people, though, seem to remember exactly what Moore said that night, a mere three days after the U.S. launched its war on Iraq.

"We live in a time where we have a man who's sending us to war for fictitious reasons," Moore said, thus throwing a wrench into the carefully choreographed TV event beamed around the world.

In hindsight, of course, this comment has turned out to be amazingly prescient. The Bush team's stated rationale for the war has been shown to be, indeed, fiction.

Since then, Bush's once-sky-high approval ratings have sunk into the toilet. Indeed, a majority of Americans today believe that the Iraq War wasn't worth it. It took a few years, but Americans finally came around to Moore's views about Bush and the war.

Of course, Moore wasn't the first commentator to attack Bush. But he was the first to really draw blood, during a time when the MSM was fawning over Bush.

And the wingnuts have never forgiven Moore.

In attacking Sicko, the right-wingers have wasted no time in smearing Moore and his film. Never mind the fact that the movie won't even be released in the U.S. until June 29.

The popular movie reference site, IMDB.com shows how polarizing a film Sicko, is already, despite the fact that it is a month away from release. As of May 27, already 39 people had voted to give the film a rating of "1" on a scale of 1-to-10. It's unclear as to how these people have managed to see the film, considering that it has only played to a relative handful of people at the Cannes Film Festival in France (where, by all accounts, it was rapturously received by adoring crowds).

How much do you want to bet that those 39 thumbs-down votes were from Rush-listening wingnuts here in the States who haven't seen the film (and have no intention of doing so)?

Fox News propagandist Sean Hannity is helping to lead the charge against Sicko. Recently, he has repeatedly claimed that the U.S. has "the world's best health-care system." It's a mantra that we can expect to hear repeated, ad nauseam, over the next few months.

In the coming weeks, we can expect a predictable chorus attacking Sicko, from both HateWing radio, and the nutcase wingnut blogs.

I expect that the right-wing will roll out the really heavy artillery on the eve of Sicko's release (just as the wingnuts did when Fahrenheit 9/11 was released).

Recall how the right-wing British writer Christopher Hitchens slammed F9/11 in a high-profile Slate review on June 21, 2004 that was titled, "The lies of Michael Moore."

Time hasn't been kind to Hitchens' review, which served up a heavy dose of spurious "evidence," trying to defend Bush's case for war (most of which, of course, has now been completely debunked).

Hitchens also accused Moore of "cowardice," a bizarre charge, considering that Moore was inundated with death threats in the aftermath of F9/11.

Indeed, even many theater owners who showed F9/11 received death threats. Although there's no way to be sure exactly who was making these threats, one can be sure that they weren't liberal Democrats. And if anyone was guilty of "cowardice," it was the mainstream journalists (of which Hitchens is a member) who helped sell Bush's war to the American people.

I expect the right-wing will do whatever it can to tarnish Sicko and slime Moore in the weeks to come.

But it's clear that the wingnuts have their work cut out for them, if they're going to try to convince Americans that Sicko's indictment of the U.S. health-care system is false.

After all, polls have repeatedly indicated that a majority of Americans want the government to step in and do whatever it takes to provide health-care to everyone. Additionally, most Americans have horror stories of their own in dealing with HMOs and the health-care system.

Wingnuts like Hannity can babble on all day about how America supposedly has the best health-care system in the world. But I suspect that most Americans are no longer buying this crap. We as a people know that there's something seriously wrong with our system. And no amount of propaganda and Fox News disinformation will change that fact.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

He's Lost It: Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick Declares His Power "Absolute"

By MANIFESTO JOE

Among infamous serial killers, they're often named Wayne (Something or Other). Among Texas politicians, they seem to be named Tom (DeLay, Craddick).

If anyone comes close to Tom DeLay as an embodiment of the crypto-fascist outfit that the Texas Republican Party has become, that person must now be state House Speaker Tom Craddick.

This from various news sources: Craddick, when confronted Friday night with motions to remove him as speaker, declared that his power to disregard such motions is "absolute." His parliamentarian and her assistant resigned and were replaced after a two-hour recess. Many Republicans were angered and in shock. Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, was quoted: "I knew we had a speaker. I didn't know we had a dictator."

The New York Times reported:

"During the five-hour spectacle, Mr. Craddick outmaneuvered his opponents, lawmakers who tried to overtake the speaker’s podium were physically restrained and the House parliamentarian resigned before the House adjourned shortly before 1:30 a.m. Saturday. ...

"Democrats and Republicans complain that Mr. Craddick, Republican of Midland, has ruled with an iron fist. They say his style often forces them to vote against the interests of their districts."


Craddick is an almost 40-year legislator from Midland -- recall, just incidentally, that this is the flat, treeless, right-wing oilfield paradise where George W. and Laura Bush spent much of their undoubtedly idyllic childhoods.

He now faces an open mutiny within his own right-wing party, and for good reasons. He has faced an insurgency within Republican ranks for a while. No Democrat would ever have trusted him further than the next Republican lobbyist. But he has a well-earned reputation as a despot, and even the Republicans are rebelling against the megalomania that is in full display now.

Craddick's history as a tin-pot Napoleon is a long one. In '03, when the newly Republican-controlled Legislature was busy Gerrymandering the state's congressional districts, some of the Democrats in the Legislature split for Ardmore, Okla., where they could hole up and prevent a quorum. They said they actually had to cross the state lines to do this. The reason: Herr Craddick had ze state troopers out looking for zem, to bring zem in, unter ze orderz. Achtung.

Anyway, the House and Senate eventually managed, with then-U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's invaluable help, to Gerrymander Texas to a congressional Republican majority for the next couple of generations.

DeLay was eventually indicted on criminal charges stemming from alleged campaign finance violations. The trial is pending. And, let us not forget Craddick's role as one of DeLay's state Republican toadies. They were very tight back then.

But a general thing to ponder is the Republican Party's incredible talent for jacking itself, and the country, around, and usually both at once. In Texas, the problems with Craddick began right after the Republicans gained control of the state House for the first time in 130 years.

Democrats can be quite exasperating at times. But one thing I've noticed about Republicans, when they are taken seriously and voted into office: When given power, it takes them about one-tenth of the time to shit their britches.

I sincerely hope the situation can get better, and without so many diapers at public expense.

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Latest Declassified Intelligence Weakens, Not Strengthens, Bush's Case For Iraq War

By MARC McDONALD

George W. Bush has long presided over the most secrecy-obsessed White House in American history. He has spent a good chunk of his time in office classifying every document in sight (and even frustrating historians by re-classifying documents that were in the public domain for decades).

So it came as a surprise when Bush decided to release formerly classified documents that purport to show that Osama bin Laden ordered a top lieutenant in early 2005 to form a terrorist unit to hit targets outside Iraq.

Clearly, Bush is making another desperate bid to try to rally a weary nation that is sick and tired of his disastrous Iraq adventure.

The only problem is that these newly declassified documents weaken, not strengthen Bush's case for war.

The declassified documents show that Iraq has been transformed into a terrorist staging ground since the 2003 invasion by the U.S. That's the same argument that critics of Bush's war have been making since Day One.

Bush may be trying to rally the nation, but in this case, he's only going to rally the dwindling wingnuts who comprise the 28 percent of the nation that still supports him. After all, these are the folks who have been convinced all along that, before the 2003 invasion, Iraq was a terrorist state with ties to 9/11.

These Kool-Aid-drinking folks are the same ones who believe Saddam did have WMDs after all, and whisked them to Syria, just before the invasion. They live off in their own little hermitically sealed world, fed a steady diet of Rush, Drudge and Fox.

But if Bush is trying to convince the rest of us that his disastrous decision to invade Iraq is somehow bolstered by this newly released intelligence, he's even more deluded that we thought previously.

Before the invasion, Bush said that his goal was to transform Iraq into a shining beacon of democracy in the Middle East. Instead, all Bush's war has done is create another Afghanistan-like terrorist staging base from which extremists will plot further 9/11 attacks.

I don't know if the latest intelligence documents released by Bush are valid or not. Ever since its colossal blunder over Iraq's non-existent WMDs, Americans have increasingly doubted the efficiency of our nation's intelligence capabilities.

But if these intelligence documents are true, all they do is demonstrate that the Iraq War has been an even bigger disaster than we previously thought.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Michael Moore "Watchdog" Site Owner Reveals Wingnut Hypocrisy

By MARC McDONALD

Here's a simple question for Jim Kenefick, who runs the self-appointed Michael Moore "watchdog" Web site, MooreWatch.com.

Why, exactly, did you keep the $12,000 check that Michael Moore sent you to pay your bills?

By trying to defend your decision to keep the money, you showed the world that you are a hypocrite who has no principles.

You've spent years now sliming Moore's work with your pathetic little wingnut site. In one unhinged, hysterical attack after another, you've called Moore a liar, a scam artist, and worse.

Then one day, you bitched and moaned that you couldn't pay your bills. And Moore was kind enough to send you a check.

Much of the blogosphere has been abuzz lately about your lack of class and how ungrateful and insulting you've been to Moore during this episode. But to me, this episode only showed what a despicable hypocrite you are.

If I was struggling and some right-wing guy who I detested offered me some cash to get by, I would starve to death before I'd accept one FUCKING CENT of his money. There is no way on earth that I would accept money from any supporter of the party of a psychopath like George W. Bush, who has done so much to harm this once-great nation.

But I guess that's the difference between us liberals and the wingnuts. To us, principles and integrity are far more important than mere grubby money. By contrast, the GOP and its supporters worship at the altar of money every day (and seem genuinely baffled that the rest of us don't do so as well).

Look, Kenefick: if you wish to attack Moore, that's your right. (It would be nice, though, if you had some valid points for a change, instead of just making up bullshit about Moore, day after day).

As far as being a target of Kenefick's rage, Moore is at least in good company.

After all, on Oct. 10, 2004, in a typical rambling blog post, Kenefick accused John Kerry of "traitorous behavior."

Let's review a couple of facts. Kerry volunteered to serve his country in combat during the Vietnam War. He was wounded in action and was awarded the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, and three Purple Hearts by the U.S. Navy.

And now, Kenefick says Kerry is guilty of "traitorous behavior."

This, even as Kenefick keeps his tongue firmly lodged in the ass of George W. Bush, a coward and a deserter who never saw a day of combat and who got his rich, powerful daddy to pull strings to get him out of serving in Vietnam.

For Kenefick to keep Moore's money to pay his bills is reprehensible, no matter how he tries to spin this. He's a hypocrite who has absolutely no principles.

Hmmm, I guess he fits right in with today's Republican party. Most Republicans I know are greedy jerks who're obsessed with money. A lot of them would probably sell kiddie porn if there was a quick buck in it and they could get away with it.

One thing I'd like to point out is that I think that having a watchdog site for Moore is actually not a bad idea in concept. (Just as I think Fox "News," CNN, and the rest of the corporate MSM ought to have watchdog sites that keep tabs on their content).

What I find despicable, though, is that sites like MooreWatch.com attack Moore for supposedly telling "lies" and then turn around and praise the likes of George W. Bush, the biggest pathological liar who ever occupied the White House. And, unlike Moore, (who only makes movies for a living) Bush has done unfathomable damage to America and the world---not to mention the 600,000+ Iraqis slaughtered for his lies.

Wingnuts like Kenefick have been sucking Bush's ass since Day One. They've been desperately trying to convince the rest of us that Bush's shit is instead actually fine gourmet chocolate. Their despicable little scam actually worked for a short while in the confusion and chaos of post 9/11 America. Today, however, all sane, rational Americans now know it's all shit---which leaves Bush's little cult-like fan base looking more pathetic every day.

I'd suspect that, there are wingnuts out there now considering stepping forward, offering to pay Kenefick's bills, if he'll send Moore back his money. At this point, though, it'd make no difference, even if Kenefick returned the money.

The damage is already done. We've all now seen what an ungrateful, classless jerk Kenefick is. And we've all seen how he was quite content to put money ahead of principle.

Hey, Kenefick: it's up to you whether you keep Moore's money or not. Just don't expect anyone to take you seriously ever again.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

It's Scary When Ron Paul Comes Across As The Sanest GOP Candidate

By MANIFESTO JOE

Yes, the late Molly Ivins dubbed him "Congressman Clueless." Yes, he's a radical libertarian who would have the U.S. go back to that unregulated capitalist utopia of 1906, when a third of Americans lived in unmitigated poverty and Upton Sinclair's The Jungle was published.

But he's actually making the most sense of all 10 hapless hopefuls for the Republican presidential nomination. Of course, he hasn't got a chance to win one delegate.

He's Texas' own Ron Paul, longtime congressman and one-time Libertarian Party candidate for president (1988).

Predictably, he's not being depicted well by the Mainstream Media. But, let's let the congressman's words stand on their own, with minimal spin. This is from one of the recent GOP debates, regarding 9/11 and the Mideast situation:


PAUL: Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there; we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We've been in the Middle East -- I think Reagan was right.

We don't understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics. So right now we're building an embassy in Iraq that's bigger than the Vatican. We're building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting. We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us. (Applause.)

[...]

PAUL: I'm suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it, and they are delighted that we're over there because Osama bin Laden has said, "I am glad you're over on our sand because we can target you so much easier." They have already now since that time -- [bell rings] -- have killed 3,400 of our men, and I don't think it was necessary.

[...]

PAUL: I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages and that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem.

They don't come here to attack us because we're rich and we're free. They come and they attack us because we're over there. I mean, what would we think if we were -- if other foreign countries were doing that to us?


Congressman Paul, despite himself, was pretty articulate, and raised points that have been unheard of in Republican Party discourse for decades -- for example, the long-range stupidity of the 1953 CIA coup in Iran.

Predictably, the MSM are dog-piling on him. Joe Klein of Time writes of a "singular moment of weirdness." But Media Matters for America points out that Paul's points were supported by the official 9/11 report.

Paul for president? Nope. But I'm happy he's in the race and telling at least some of it like it is.

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bye, Wolfman: The Neo-Con House Of Cards Keeps Crashing

By MANIFESTO JOE

So, Paul Wolfowitz has finally faced the music and will resign as World Bank president. It was absurd for the likes of him to serve as its chief in the first place, regardless of the scandal that led to his demise.

This was the man who was No. 2 at the Pentagon when the most senseless war in modern times -- I would dare say even more senseless than Vietnam -- was planned. How in creation did anyone think that this was the man to put in charge of a philanthropic development bank, to help the poor?

Forget about the scandal -- this is just typical of the arrogance of people in high positions. Seldom do any of them, Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal or any points in between, think much about ethical issues.

Wolfowitz was clearly and immediately a ridiculous choice for the post, and the rest of the world practically laughed at it from Day One.

I don't care that Wolfie had a girlfriend, and I'm not concerned that he got her lots of good pay and perks. It's naive to think that such things don't go on, in both the public and private sectors, all the time.

The point always was that appointing the likes of him to this post was like putting Leona Helmsley in charge of some hotel workers union. It was absurd on first principles.

But now, let's see whom Il Doofus will suggest for his successor!

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The September Progress Report: The Fix Is Already In

By MARC McDONALD

Does anyone really believe that we're going to get an honest assessment of the Iraq War in the progress report that Gen. David H. Petraeus will deliver to the nation in September?

Let's face it, the fix is already in.

There is no way on earth that Petraeus is going to declare that the military's surge has failed, no matter what the circumstances on the ground will be in September.

And there's no way the White House will allow Petraeus to give anything other than a rosy, upbeat assessment of the war.

The fact is, both the White House and the military have not once shied away from blatantly lying to the American people throughout this war. From the shameful Jessica Lynch episode to the disgusting manner in which the truth about Pat Tillman's death was handled, the military has been lying through its teeth since Day One. And as for the White House---well, its lies got us into this disastrous war in the first place.

At this point, the Iraq War is really only about saving George W. Bush's legacy. And it's clear that Bush will do whatever it takes to salvage his legacy---including pressuring the military to give an upbeat assessment on the war.

Not that Petraeus will need to be heavily pressured to do so. After all, Petraeus's report in September will be a chance for him to go before the American people and talk about how successful his own strategy has been. Does anyone really expect his report to be doom and gloom?

The only thing that's needed in order for the White House and the Pentagon to mislead the American people on the progress in the Iraq War in September is the cooperation of the media.

Will the media play along?

Does a bear shit in the woods? After all, the MSM played a key role in selling this war to the American people in the first place. There are plenty of gullible "journalists" like Judith Miller ready to peddle White House and Pentagon spin and lies.

The U.S. media has long been happy to swallow the Pentagon's propaganda in this war. But it's never been enough for the PR-conscious military, which has always lashed out at any journalist who dared write stories that strayed in any way from Pentagon press releases.

In September, Petraeus gets his chance to declare his own Iraq strategy a success and make everyone in the Pentagon and the White House happy (as well as burnish his own legacy). Does anyone believe he's going to want to rock the boat? The military has been lying to us for years---does anyone expect that we'll get the truth for a change in September?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Good Riddance: Blair Helped Lead Anglo-American Alliance Into Disgrace

By MANIFESTO JOE

I'm convinced that history will remember Tony Blair as Bush's enabler: the ally who lent tragic "legitimacy" to rogue actions that at least temporarily destroyed both U.S. and British credibility on the world stage. After 10 years, this is his only legacy, and it has a very bitter look.

Blair has announced that he will step down as prime minister soon, leaving the Labour Party to see what can be salvaged of its damaged reputation at home. I doubt that Britons really want to go through many more rounds of Thatcherism or John Major, so someone will probably be able to resurrect Labour for a new generation.

But the harm Blair has done has been staggering on many levels. He has announced his imminent departure just as two British officials have been convicted of leaking a classified memo about a meeting between "Poodle" Blair and Il Doofus himself, in violation of something called the Official Secrets Act. (I suppose I shouldn't sound condescending here. The U.S. appears to be moving far beyond the likes of this.)

This news from The Canadian Press:

David Keogh, a cipher expert who was convicted on two counts, had admitted passing on the secret memo about April 2004 talks between the two leaders in which Bush purportedly referred to bombing Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera.

Keogh was accused of passing the memo to co-defendant, Leo O'Connor, 44, who in turn handed it to his boss, Tony Clarke, then a legislator who voted against Britain's decision to join the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Keogh, 50, told London's Central Criminal Court he felt strongly about the memo, which he had to relay to diplomats overseas using secure methods, and hoped it would come to wider attention.

"The main person in my mind was John Kerry, who at the time was American candidate for the U.S. presidential election in 2004," Keogh had testified.

He admitted holding "unfavourable" views on Bush, but said he did not think publishing the document would hurt Britain's security or international relations.

The Daily Mirror newspaper reported that the memo showed Blair arguing against Bush's suggestion of bombing Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Doha, Qatar. The Daily Mirror said its sources disagreed on whether Bush's suggestion was serious.


Yeah, so Il Doofus was just joking. I had honestly hoped that he was kidding when he started talking about invading a foreign country with no solid evidence for such an action. The problem with his jokes is that they are "practical" ones, with enormous consequences.

And, there are more problems plaguing The Poodle Dude. This from The Associated Press:

Blair's last months in office also have been overshadowed by a police investigation into claims that his party and the opposition traded political honors for cash. Senior Blair aide Ruth Turner, Blair's chief fundraiser Lord Levy and two others have been arrested during the police inquiry into claims that seats in the House of Lords and other honors were awarded in exchange for party donations. Prosecutors are considering whether anyone should be charged.

Blair was questioned twice by police as a witness, but is not considered a suspect.


Blair had a unique opportunity to have stood against a manifestly unbalanced leader of the Western world and resisted an action that has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people; one that has seriously set back U.S.-British relations with the rest of the world for at least a generation. He chose to be led on a leash.

There are those who defend Blair based on domestic policies. He is said to have done much to help Britain's poor. Sadly, whatever he did in this regard will always be overshadowed by his decision to blindly follow the most foolish and reckless leader the U.S. has ever had. It will be his albatross for life.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.

Friday, May 11, 2007

GOP Lawmakers Confronting Bush Over Iraq War--But For The Wrong Reason

By MARC McDONALD

The stunning development in which 11 GOP lawmakers went to the White House to confront George W. Bush over the Iraq War ought to be welcome news---except for one detail. The fact is, the GOP lawmakers are worried about the Iraq fiasco for the wrong reason.

It's refreshing that some moderate Republicans are starting to act like they put the interests of the nation above partisan politics. It's also nice to see that, for once at least, some GOP lawmakers are willing to question Bush's fiasco of a war.

But you have to wonder: why are these GOP lawmakers getting cold feet now? Is it because the war is a disaster on every level? Is it because the war was based on lies? Or that over 600,000 Iraqis have senselessly died in this fiasco?

Uh, no.

Actually, the GOP lawmakers are questioning the war's direction purely for reasons of self-interest.

Namely, they're simply worried about the political impact that the war is having on their congressional districts.

In other words, they're simply trying to save their own hides from a drubbing by the voters in the 2008 elections. So much for the idea that the GOP lawmakers have finally developed a backbone---or a brain, for that matter.

In any case, despite all the posturing, there is no way that we're going to see any sort of real change in direction on the Iraq War on Bush's watch, short of impeachment.

The fact is, the Iraq War at this point is really only about one thing (well, besides the oil): George W. Bush's legacy.

In Bush's deluded brain, he keeps hoping that somehow Iraq will turn around and that he'll be vindicated in the end, and prove all the naysayers wrong.

Bush's Kool-Aid-drinking followers are hoping for the same thing---they've invested a great deal of their reputations in this fiasco of a war and they're hoping that somehow, it'll all turn out OK, and they'll be vindicated.

So while Bush is solely concerned about trying to salvage his legacy (and GOP lawmakers fret over their re-election prospects) our troops--and the people of Iraq--continue to die for no reason.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Newsweek: Tornado Rouses the Ghost of Katrina

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Another year, another crisis made worse by the fact that the Iraq War is making it difficult for America to respond to natural disasters here at home, as this Newsweek story points out. And if America can't adequately respond to natural disasters, then how can we possibly be prepared to respond to the next Al-Qaeda attack?

By Richard Wolffe and Holly Bailey
Newsweek

The grim images have become sadly familiar. Flattened homes, destroyed buildings—and a president picking his way through the rubble to show his concern for the disaster victims. Today it was Greensburg, Kans., where a deadly tornado left at least 11 dead as it leveled most of the town last Friday.

Arriving in Greensburg under dark, overcast skies, President Bush got his first look at the tornado damage during a helicopter tour aboard Marine One. Afterward, he took to the city by foot, viewing up close obliterated houses and businesses, including a John Deere dealership cluttered by smashed-up tractors and combines. He was joined on his tour by Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and other state and local officials. "I am struck by the character of the people here," Bush told reporters on the scene. "They are willing to do what it takes to rebuild. America is blessed to have such people." He vowed to "get whatever help is appropriate here--as quickly as possible."

It was a brief nod to the political storm that has overtaken the catastrophe in Greensburg. Since Friday it has seemed a little like déjà vu in Washington: The Bush White House sparring with a Democratic governor over the emergency response to a devastating natural disaster.

But this wasn’t Hurricane Katrina. On Tuesday, nearly two years after the storm that thrashed the Gulf Coast and savaged Bush’s approval ratings, the White House got caught up in a game of finger-pointing over the handling of the Greensburg tornado.

It all started when Sebelius, a Democrat, told reporters that tornado recovery efforts would likely be slowed because much of the state’s National Guard equipment remains in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I don’t think there is any question that if you are missing trucks, Humvees and helicopters that the response is going to be slower," Sebelius told reporters Monday. "The real victims here will be the residents of Greensburg because the recovery will be at a slower pace."

Story continues here.

Monday, May 07, 2007

In Debate, Hannity Peddled Discredited Story That Sudan Offered Bin Laden To Clinton

By MARC McDONALD

The debate between Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson and Fox News propagandist Sean Hannity was a sad commentary on the state of political discourse in America today.

During the event, Anderson politely and convincingly detailed one logical, iron-clad argument after another to demonstrate why George W. Bush should be impeached for lying the nation into war.

But someone forgot to send a memo to Hannity that this event was supposed to be a political debate of ideas. Hannity spent the entire time acting exactly the same way he does in the broadcast booth every day. He never responded to a single point that Anderson made and instead just spewed out a nauseating series of right-wing lies and talking points.

Incredibly, Hannity once again trotted out the long-discredited right-wing lie that President Clinton supposedly once turned down an offer from the Sudanese government to hand over Osama bin Laden. It's the same charge Hannity made in his 2002 book, Let Freedom Ring. It's a story that's been echoing around the right-wing noise chamber ever since.

The problem is, the story has long since been debunked. It now exists only in the same creepy parallel universe as other right-wing fantasies such as "Clinton murdered Vince Foster."

As Al Franken pointed out in his Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them book, the Sudan tale is completely bogus. The story was originally peddled by a Pakistani-American named Mansoor Ijaz, an investment banker with a big stake in Sudanese oil.

Incidentally, as Franken points out, Ijaz was later hired as a "foreign affairs analyst" for the Fox News Channel.

But it doesn't matter how many times this story is debunked as a fraud. The Great Right-Wing Noise Machine is hermetically sealed from the truth. We can expect this bogus tale to be regurgitated over and over in the future.

What's interesting is that while this bullshit story continues to be repeated years after it was debunked, few Americans today are aware that Bush actually DID turn down an offer by Afghanistan to hand over bin Laden. And what's more, Bush rejected this offer after the 9/11 attacks.

As Britain's Guardian newspaper points out, in October 2001, Bush "rejected as 'non-negotiable' an offer by the Taliban to discuss turning over Osama bin Laden if the United States ended the bombing in Afghanistan."

This incredible story was ignored at the time by the U.S. media, (which was dusting off the pompons and getting ready to play cheerleader for Bush's invasion of Afghanistan). And unlike the dogshit peddled by Hannity, this story has the advantage of actually being true.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

GOP Dusting Off Lee Atwater Playbook To Go After Obama In 2008

By MARC McDONALD

If you thought the Republicans reached a new low in dirty campaign tricks in the 2004 election, you ain't seen nothing yet.

You can take it to the bank that if Barack Obama gets the Democratic nomination, the GOP will slime him in a manner that makes the Swiftboating of John Kerry seem like a Sunday walk in the park.

And in sliming Obama, the GOP can be counted upon to make maximum use of the biggest wedge issue in the Republicans' arsenal of dirty tricks. It's a wedge issue that Republicans have shamefully used in election after election, ever since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Of course, I'm talking about race: the Mother of All Wedge Issues for the GOP.

For Republicans, it's the gift that keeps on giving, especially when used as a tool to rally the Angry White Males that make up a sizable chunk of the GOP's base.

And if you want to use race issues to rally the troops, then the standard GOP playbook to consult is that of the late Republican political consultant and strategist Lee Atwater.

For younger readers who may not recall him, Atwater was the notorious mastermind of the infamous "Willie Horton" attack ad in the 1988 campaign that helped George H. W. Bush overcome Michael Dukakis's early 17-point lead in the polls.

It's a playbook that the GOP is certain to dust off and use in full force as they gear up to attack Obama in the 2008 campaign. In short, it's going to get increasingly ugly over the next few months.

These days, most Americans believe that we're become an enlightened, color-blind society. But we're about to get a rude shock over how deep divisive racial issues still simmer below the surface of U.S. society.

We've already seen a preview of how the GOP and its allies have shameless used race to rally the troops in recent years.

Just ask the African-American Senate candidate Harold Ford, Jr.

Ford, as you may recall, was targeted in 2006 by the infamous "Bimbo" attack ad that portrayed a skimpily dressed white woman sexily purring to Ford, inviting him to "Call me."

The NAACP attacked the ad as "a powerful innuendo that plays to pre-existing prejudices about African-American men and white women."

It's clear that the Republicans and their allies will summon up the spirit of Atwater and race-baiting politics as they prepare to slime Obama in the months ahead. We're already seeing early evidence of this (such as Rush Limbaugh playing the racist "Barack The Magic Negro" on his program).

And it's just the beginning. The GOP can be counted upon to exploit this issue as much as they shamelessly exploited the tragedy of 9/11 during the 2004 campaign.