Saturday, May 31, 2008

WSJ Bizarrely Claims Surge's "Success" Means Troops Must Stay


In its lead editorial Friday, The Wall Street Journal took a swipe at Barack Obama for calling for a withdrawal of American troops from the fiasco in Iraq. That much was predictable from this right-wing rag. But what's bizarre was the Journal's reason for opposing the withdrawal of our troops: the "success" of the surge.


Since it was bought by Rupert Murdoch, the Journal has increasingly begun to sound like an unhinged right-wing blog---fanatical in its support of George W. Bush and its foaming-at-the-mouth hatred of Democrats. And like the lunatic fringe blogs and Little Green Footballs, the Journal is increasingly disconnected from reality.

On Friday, the Journal predictably took aim at Scott McClellan, along with the rest of the Great GOP Noise Machine. In the middle of an editorial bashing McClellan, the Journal paused to take a shot at Obama:

"Mr. Obama has staked out a position for immediate troop withdrawal that looks increasingly untenable amid the success of the "surge" and improving security in Baghdad and Basra."

Let me see if I understand this correctly: the surge is a "success" and, as a result, this means our troops can't be brought home? Then, exactly, when can Americans look forward to our troops coming home and the end of this bloody fiasco of a war?

The Journal follows the same sort of infantile "heads I win, tails you lose" logic that the NeoCons use so often these days. If horrible violence continues in Iraq, the Right-Wing demands that our troops stay there. But if violence declines, this also means our troops must stay in Iraq.

In any case, it's highly debatable whether the surge has worked at all. And as Middle East experts like Nir Rosen have repeatedly reminded us, the recent decline in violence has nothing to do with the increase in troops announced by Bush in January.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

McClellan Reports Bush Said, "I Honestly Don't Remember Whether I Tried (Cocaine) Or Not"

Scott McClellan has raised eyebrows with his new book, which says George W. Bush misled the nation into an unnecessary war in Iraq. Note that this isn't a left-wing blogger making this claim---it's none other than the former White House press secretary.

Among the revelations in McClellan's book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception, due out Monday, is a conversation that he reports on the topic of cocaine use, in 1999 when it briefly became a campaign issue, much to Bush's annoyance.

McClellan writes:

"'The media won't let go of these ridiculous cocaine rumors,' I heard Bush say. 'You know, the truth is I honestly don't remember whether I tried it or not. We had some pretty wild parties back in the day, and I just don't remember.'" reports McClellan writes that he was mystified by Bush's comments.

"I remember thinking to myself, How can that be?" McClellan wrote. "How can someone simply not remember whether or not they used an illegal substance like cocaine? It didn't make a lot of sense."

Read more here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

While Bush Drags U.S. Back To Dark Ages, Other Nations Forge Ahead


The U.S. used to be the world leader in science and technology. A lot of Americans still think it is.

But the fact is, the U.S. is no longer the leader in much of anything (except in exporting death and destruction around the world).

Over the past disastrous seven years, George W. Bush and the NeoCons have dragged the U.S. backward into a new Dark Ages. It's an era in which superstition and ignorance have replaced science and reason.

Meanwhile, other nations are forging ahead. Japan, for example, has become the world leader in a wide array of crucial advanced technologies, including cutting-edge electronics, telecommunications, supercomputers, aerospace, nuclear power, alternative energies, microengineering, exotic new materials, advanced chemicals, and more.

This video, showing Honda's amazing ASIMO robot, displays Japan's prowess in technology these days. Anyone visiting East Asia or Europe knows that the U.S. is a laggard in many areas of science and technology that it used to dominate. It doesn't take long for any American overseas to come to this realization: whether you're riding a high-speed German train, or whether you're using a state-of-the-art Japanese mobile phone.

Under Bush, the U.S. has clearly gone backwards. Our already mediocre schools have gone even further downhill. The U.S. is a distant also-ran in manufacturing. We don't make much of anything these days. Indeed, our Ponzi-scheme economy seems to be incapable to doing much, (outside of enriching a tiny super-wealthy elite). These days, the once-mighty Great American Middle Class is dead---and so is the American Dream.

What's worse is that, in Bush's America, fear and superstition has replaced science and reason. The White House embraces extremist religious fanatics while it muzzles scientists who speak out about global warming. And GOP house organs like Fox News peddle fear, superstition and ignorance as "news."

Thanks to GOP lies and White House spin, Americans remains as misinformed and ignorant as ever. (Astonishingly, over one-third of Americans still believe Saddam was behind 9/11).

And as you'd expect in a nation that is increasingly backwards, ignorant, and in decline, a growing number of our population these days is behind bars. America has the world's biggest prison population.

Incredibly, the NeoCon idiots continue to boast and brag that the U.S. is "Number One." A lot of Americans believe them---but then, our media has done a poor job keeping the American people informed about the real state of the world these days.

Smug, ignorant, self-satisfied, and arrogant: these qualities all describe America in the early 21st Century. Few Americans seem to grasp the fact that our era of dominance is over. The only thing that sustains the illusion of "prosperity" in our economy is the hundreds of billions of dollars flowing in from the central banks of China and Japan.

Stumble It!

Friday, May 23, 2008

New York Times Continues To Peddle Myth That Bush Won Florida In 2000


In reviewing the upcoming HBO film, Recount, (which takes a look at the 2000 election fiasco), The New York Times continues to peddle the fairy tale that George W. Bush won the state of Florida in 2000.

In reviewing Recount, the Times makes this claim:

"In 2001 painstaking postmortems of the Florida count, one by The New York Times and another by a consortium of newspapers, concluded that Mr. Bush would have come out slightly ahead, even if all the votes counted throughout the state had been retallied."

But it's important to note exactly what the 2001 consortium report said. As the Times' own November 2001 article on the report stated, in Florida, "...a statewide recount---could have produced enough votes to tilt the election his (Gore's) way, no matter what standard was chosen to judge voter intent."

As Thom Hartmann pointed out in a 2004 article, the Times downplayed this shocking revelation (that Gore actually won the 2000 election) in its 2001 article on the story. Hartmann notes that the Times buried this fact in the 15th paragraph of the story.

In its review of Recount, the Times' does go on to include some confusing language that points out that Gore "probably" could have had the edge in the 2000 election. But the main impact of the article is that Bush won Florida and that this was supposedly confirmed by "painstaking postmortems of the Florida count."

It appears that the nation's self-appointed "newspaper of record" seems to be determined to continue muddy the waters on the historical record on this issue.

"Recount" will be shown on HBO at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ted Kennedy's Hospitalization Prompts Laughter In Right-Wing Blogosphere


"At least he got a stroke in, which is more than the girl he drowned could manage. He should be rotting in jail, not making law. Disgusting."
----Geoff, a commenter at

For normal, sane Americans, the news that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was hospitalized on Saturday after suffering a seizure was a cause for prayers and concern.

But if you browsed many of the right-wing blogs on Saturday, you'd find that they were full of jokes, insults and sarcastic remarks about Kennedy's hospitalization. (This, despite the fact that many of the big right-wing blogs had warnings against posting offensive comments about Kennedy).

Despite such warnings, the comments on right-wing blogs were full of vile posts that featured sick humor.

For example, an anonymous poster at the right-wing blog Gateway Pundit wrote, "One Liberal down! Looks like he (TED) may have to answer for his drunk driving accident in the 60's. Maybe the SUBJECTS of MA will get there (sic) SECOND Ammendment (sic) rights BACK."

The sentiments were similar, over at There, "guest blogger" Kathy Shaidle (of the blog "Five Feet of Fury") expressed annoyance over the media's "eulogies" for Kennedy. In a post under the headline, "Oh pu-leeeeeeze," she wrote, "In the midst of this embarrassing, wrongheaded preemptive media eulogizing of Edward Kennedy, at least spare a thought for the woman he killed."

Meanwhile, Geoff, a commenter on wrote, "At least he got a stroke in, which is more than the girl he drowned could manage. He should be rotting in jail, not making law. Disgusting."

Another commenter named Lord Locksley chimed in with the remark, "They don't call him 'Nazi Joe's last big mistake' for nothing."

The hatefest continued over at the right-wing Sister Toldjah blog. There, commenter Severian wrote a hate-filled post that seemed to take issue with another poster's remark that he didn't "wish a fellow human being any ill."

Severian responded:
"Just a philosophical question here, at what point is it justifiable to wish a fellow human being ill? What you say is a nice platitude, but it also reeks of more than a touch of holier than though attitude. Would it have been OK to wish Hitler ill? Yes, no? How about Ted Bundy? Saddam Hussein? Osama Bin Laden? How many reprehensible traits and acts does one have to commit before it is OK to wish them ill? Ted Kennedy, while said to be a charmer and nice guy in person, has been personally responsible for creating some of the most toxic political environments on Capitol Hill, lynching Bork among others, and is responsible for much of the ill will and problems we see coming out of the liberal Dem side of the aisle. While perhaps not rising to the level of actively wishing him ill or trying to harm him, I’ll be honest enough to admit that when his day comes, as Mark Twain said, his will be an obituary I’ll read with approval."

Actually, none of the above hate-mongering should be surprising in the least, as anyone who has ever listened to the filth spewed out daily by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, and the rest of the Right-Wing Noise Machine.

Nor should we be surprised by the glee the right-wing expresses when Democrats have misfortunes. We've seen this happen again and again.

Recall the hostage crisis episode in November, when a distraught man wearing what appeared to be a bomb walked into the campaign office of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. Then, as now, the right-wing blogosphere was full of laughter and sick jokes about the incident.

I have to admit, I never really understood the right-wing sense of humor.

Like when Ronald Reagan joked in 1964 about the 17 million people who then went to bed hungry every night in America, saying that "they were all on a diet."

Or when Rush Limbaugh called 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton a "dog."

Or when George W. Bush yucked it up over the issue of the non-existent WMDs in Iraq during a "comedy" skit in the Oval Office.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Rush Wannabe Kevin James Exposed As A Moron By Chris Matthews

I never have particularly been a fan of MSNBC's Chris Matthews. But on May 15, he did a brilliant job of exposing right-wing radio hate-spewer/Rush wannabe Kevin James as a moron who is totally ignorant of history.

Bravo. Now, I just wish the White House press corp (aside from Helen Thomas) would have the guts to challenge the daily bullsh*t peddled by White House Press Secretary Dana Perino.

(Perino, by the way, is as clueless about history as James. Recall how in December 2007, she admitted on NPR she had no idea what the Cuban Missile Crisis was).

Thursday, May 15, 2008

U.S. Aid To China Quake Victims Stingy Compared With Other Nations


Scores of nations around the world have generously pitched in to offer aid to Sichuan province in China, which suffered a horrific earthquake on May 12 that has claimed at least 20,000 lives.

India offered $5 million in aid. Japan offered $4.8 million. Norway has pledged $3.92 million for disaster relief. And Taiwan has promised $66 million in relief aid.

Meanwhile, George W. Bush has announced that the U.S. government is contributing a mere $500,000 in earthquake relief.

To put this into perspective, the U.S. spends around $500,000 every two minutes in the Iraq War.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Today's Corporate Media Multi-Millionaires: Overpaid And Out-Of-Touch

Over at Whiskey Fire, Molly Ivors does a brilliant job of taking New York Times' columnist Maureen Dowd to task for her "sheer coastal snobbery."

Of course, Dowd isn't alone these days, among the pampered corporate media mouthpieces. I think it's safe to say that all of the multi-millionaire Manhattan media types are truly out of touch these days.

Recall how ABC's Charlie Gibson recently claimed that families making $200,000 a year are "middle-class."

Also, remember Stephen Colbert's brilliant, right-on-target performance at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner? Incredibly, The New York Times didn't even MENTION Colbert's performance in its coverage of the dinner.

Indeed, it wasn't until the YouTube video of Colbert's performance became an Internet sensation that the MSM bothered to notice.

I get the feeling that the pampered French royalty were just as out of touch with the common people, just before the French Revolution kicked off.

From Whiskey Fire:

Of all Maureen's poses, the ones where she attempts to capture The Spirit of the Heartland© are perhaps the most annoying. Face it, Maureen: you're a Feng Shui-living Manhattanite with 100 pairs of shoes and the best dye job your inexplicably large paycheck can buy, which is to say: still a dye job. You have no secret window into the souls of West Virginians to determine why they vote as they do, and should not pretend to. Your interest in Appalachia is anthropological at best, and shoehorning it into the predetermined narrative you've constructed about the Democratic primary is unfair, belittling, and snide.

More here.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

If You Liked Fallujah, You'll Love The Upcoming Bloodbath In Sadr City

As Chris Floyd writes, George W. Bush and David Petraeus are now gearing up to make a new Fallujah in Sadr City, home to 2 million Shiites in Baghdad.

Like Fallujah, it should be quite a bloodbath. Not that the American people will ever know. No, we'll continue to live our carefree lives, mindlessly listening to American Idol and eagerly following the latest exploits of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

God forbid that our corporate mainstream media should ever bring us the reality of the Iraq War. Just as in the case of Fallujah, the upcoming horrific Sadr City bloodbath will be carefully censored and sanitized.

As Floyd notes, the horrors of Fallujah were rarely reported by the MSM.

Americans "were spared shots of engineers cutting off water and electricity to the city – a flagrant war crime under the Geneva Conventions, as CounterPunch notes, but standard practice throughout the occupation. Nor did pictures of attack helicopters gunning down civilians trying to escape across the Euphrates River – including a family of five – make the TV news, despite the eyewitness account of an AP journalist. Nor were tender American sensibilities subjected to the sight of phosphorous shells bathing enemy fighters – and nearby civilians – with unquenchable chemical fire, literally melting their skin, as the Washington Post reports. Nor did they see the fetus being blown out of the body of Artica Salim when her home was bombed during the "softening-up attacks" that raged relentlessly – and unnoticed – in the closing days of George W. Bush's presidential campaign, the Scotland Sunday Herald reports."

In case you never saw it, the video Fallujah, The Hidden Massacre, (which documents the war crimes in the 2004 assault) can be viewed online here.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Blackwater Unlikely To Face Charges In Iraq Shooting


AP reports that Blackwater Worldwide, the profiteering, mercenary outfit, is not expected to face criminal charges in the September shooting deaths of 17 civilians in Iraq.

So it looks like it'll soon be back to business as usual for Blackwater in Iraq. And make no mistake, business has been very good for Blackwater in recent years.

As the The Virginian-Pilot has noted, since 2000, Blackwater has raked in $505 million in publicly identifiable federal contracts. About two-thirds of that amount was in no-bid contracts.

Indeed, times are good for Blackwater these days. As reported on April 4, Blackwater's multimillion-dollar contract to protect diplomats in Baghdad was renewed, according to the State Department.

From the Associated Press:

Blackwater unlikely to face charges in Iraq shooting

Blackwater Worldwide, the security contractor blamed by an angry Iraqi government for the shooting deaths of 17 civilians, is not expected to face criminal charges-—all but ensuring the company will keep its multimillion-dollar contract to protect U.S. diplomats.

Instead, the seven-month-old Justice Department investigation is focused on as few as three or four Blackwater guards who could be indicted in the Sept. 16 shootings, according to interviews with a half-dozen people close to the investigation.

The final decision on any charges will not be made until late summer at the earliest, a law enforcement official said. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation.

The State Department publicly raised the question of Blackwater's corporate liability last month when it extended the company's contract by one year. The contract could still be canceled if criminal charges are brought, but the department said it was unlikely to penalize the corporation if only its employees were charged.

More here.

Monday, May 05, 2008

More Americans Shun "Best Health-Care System In The World" To Have Surgeries Performed Overseas

America has the best health-care system in the world. (Or so we've been told, over and over, by our corporate media and many of our political leaders).

Hmmmm, that I guess this would explain why more and more Americans who need complex, major surgeries are going overseas to have them performed.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

More who need major surgery are leaving U.S.

Robert Lupo of Santa Rosa had never been on an airplane until last month, when he flew to India to get his hip replaced.

The 45-year-old self-employed contractor had dropped his Kaiser coverage before an uninsured driver hit him last summer while he was riding his motorcycle. A $50,000 settlement covered those medical bills and living expenses while he was unable to work, but Lupo later learned he needed a hip replacement - a $30,000 price he couldn't afford.

With pain as his primary motivator, Lupo started researching his options online. He eventually found his way to WorldMed Assist, a 2-year-old Concord company that is part of a growing industry that makes arrangements for Americans to get medical care abroad.

Lupo's hip surgery and hospital stay cost $8,880 at Wockhardt Hospital in Bangalore. Even with the $1,300 airfare, the procedure totaled about a third of what it would have cost Lupo at a local hospital.

"My hip feels great," said Lupo, who was recovering at home while making magnets out of photographs from India to send back to the nurses and hospital staff in Bangalore. "But I really don't want to go to another Third World country again, to tell you the truth, unless I had to. This was a means to an end. But the pain was so bad I would have swum the English Channel if that's what it took."

No official statistics are kept on how many Americans travel overseas for medical care, but one estimate places the number at 150,000 in 2006.

Other trends are more clear-cut. Many Americans are uninsured - nearly 47 million at last count - and others have health insurance that does not adequately cover procedures they desperately want or need.

A medical tourism industry has grown to facilitate global health travel. A trade association to represent these companies formed last year. Also last year, a major insurer started a separate company to help members seek international care.

Crossing international borders for medical care is not new. For decades, Americans have sought certain types of care in other countries, specifically elective or cosmetic procedures, along with treatments that are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

But now, industry experts say, Americans are going overseas for increasingly complex surgeries. In addition, more patients seem willing to accept that quality of care in some foreign hospitals may be the same or higher as that found on U.S. soil, at a fraction of the cost.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Bill O'Reilly Continues To Lie About His "Humble" Roots


Fox News host Bill O'Reilly has long maintained that he came from humble, working-class roots.

In his interview Wednesday with Hillary Clinton, O'Reilly once again displayed his "I'm just a regular working stiff" persona and reminded viewers that he grew up in Levittown, a working-class suburb of New York City.

Indeed, O'Reilly's bio on the Fox News Web site continues to claim that O'Reilly came from "from humble beginnings" and that he "lived in a modest house with his father, mother and sister in the Westbury section of Levittown."

"You don't come from any lower than I came from on an economic scale," O'Reilly once claimed.

Indeed, in his interview with Clinton, O'Reilly regularly trotted out the phrase "the folks," as though he knows what's on the minds of ordinary working-class Americans. It's a gimmick often used by Rush Limbaugh and George W. Bush, as well. Which is ironic, because all three men are immensely wealthy. For example, O'Reilly makes an eye-popping $9 million a year.

O'Reilly has previously pointed out that his father, who retired in 1978, never made more than $35,000 a year. It's a misleading and dishonest claim though that this made the O'Reilly family's circumstances "humble." As the media watch group FAIR has pointed out, O'Reilly's father's income is actually equivalent to over $90,000 today in inflation-adjusted dollars.

And as Media Matters has noted, the median income for a U.S. household today is $48,451. Which means O'Reilly's father earned almost double the nation's household median income. Hardly "working-class."

Of course, O'Reilly is hardly alone among millionaire media celebrities in being clueless about the lives of real ordinary working Americans these days. After all, during a Jan. 5 Democratic debate ABC's Charlie Gibson claimed that families making $200,000 a year are "middle-class."