Monday, January 31, 2005

Gonzales Confirmation on C-Span Tomorrow Morning - A "No" vote is imperetive

The Gonzales confirmation hearings will be televised live on C-Span 2 at 10:45 AM Eastern tomorrow morning. You can listen to the proceedings online at C-Spans website. Tomorrow will be a huge day for the democratic party. This country has endured a very tough four year reign under the Bush Administration, and it is time for this country to begin fighting back against the injustices of this administration. The American public cannot afford to have a democratic party willing to kowtow to whims and desires of the Bush Administration.

Alberto Gonzales has been added to the complaint involving Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, looking to charge the two with War Crimes in Germany. Gonzales was added to the list of those charged with War Crimes, based on new evidence that administration officials were protected in the original investigation of abuse at Abu Ghraib. Rumsfeld was scheduled to appear at an international security conference in Munich next month, but had cancelled the trip, on fears that he may be put on trial if he sets foot Germany. I have since read at least one report that conflicted with this story, stating that Rumsfeld had alternate plans, but I'm am guessing that it is just spin.

The confirmation for Gonzales will not go smoothly. The confirmation for Condoleezza Rice went 57-13, but the 13 votes against was the highest number of contests against a secretary of state nominee since 1825. The Gonzales confirmation will be much closer. In the vote deciding whether the confirmation should even reach the house floor, the vote went on a straight party line: 10 votes from the republicans vs. 8 against by the democrats. This is a man who:
  • Forever stained the reputation of the United States, and put the soldiers in the front lines in danger, by openly condoning and supporting torture
  • Allowed the soldiers involved in the Abu Ghraib scandal to take the blame for his decisions of the administration
  • Acted like a weasel when asked about said torture memos in the initial senate confirmation hearings
  • Openly lied to the senate, under oath, while testifying about the fact that he had lobbied to keep Bush out of jury duty in a drunk driving case in 1996, because they didn't want the story of Bush's drunk driving conviction to get out into the public
Quite simply, promoting this man to attorney general would be a major mistake for the United States, sending the message that the country does not consider the torture offence to be a event significant of punishment. The United State's reputation in the world is already severely tarnished -- last week, the United Nations submitted an open plea to the world to help save the United States faltering economy, because the weakening US economy, budget deficit, and trade deficit are putting the global economy at risk - the US has become a charity case.

The democrats do not have enough votes to block the confirmation of Gonzales by themselves, and there are some democratic senators will likely still vote for Gonzales. There is hope that the conscious of enough republican senators will be swayed to begin the turn the tide of destruction wrought on this country by the Bush administration.

Some helpful links:

Send a letter to congress protesting the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales:

Here is a summary of recent news and articles regarding the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales, courtesy of Daily Kos.


Sunday, January 30, 2005

Gannongate - Follow This Story

I first mentioned this breaking story yesterday. Well, it still hasn't officially "broken", but it has produced a flurry of research-related activity on the Daily Kos, and some attempts to cover up the trail. The current summary of the story is found here: Plame Leak/Fake News, Summary/Process: Part V. A summary on what has been found on Jeff Gannon is also reported in the dkosopedia.

This is a pretty ground breaking method of research, and I have to admit that I am pretty excited at the development. We can no longer rely on the mainstream media to make any effort to cover the difficult story. Instead, we have possibly thousands of individual Kossacks (members of Daily Kos) volunteering their time and working together to put together the background research on this story.

So, what is the major background on this story? Jeff Gannon, presumed to be a pseudoname, based on an article by Atrios, was somehow given Whitehouse Press Credentials, despite having no valid press credentials. Gannon has been known to provide very easy softball questions to the Bush Administration during press conferences, like this one during President Bush's January 26th Whitehouse News Conference:

Thank you. Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the U.S. economy. [Senate Minority Leader] Harry Reid [D-NV] was talking about soup lines. And [Senator] Hillary Clinton [D-NY] was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet in the same breath they say that Social Security is rock solid and there's no crisis there. How are you going to work -- you've said you are going to reach out to these people -- how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?

It is now being assumed that the Whitehouse purposely set up Jeff Gannon, along with a fake news agency, Talon News, to provide these planted softball questions during Bush's press conferences. Jeff is not a legitimate journalist, and should never have been granted Whitehouse Press Credentials - generally only provided to the cream of the crop among all journalists. Jeff's only journalism training was from a 2-day course at the Leadership Institute which cost a whopping $50.

One of the key issues in the matter is that it Gannon self-implicated himself as having access to a internal government memo that named Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a covert CIA agent. If you recall, Robert Novak was singled out for having revealed the identity of Valerie Plame, an act thought to be in retaliation to Wilson for contradicting the Bush Administration's use of false information in providing for the War in Iraq.

Since the story first broke on Daily Kos on Friday, it has turned into a large tangled web of leads, ideas, and assumptions. It is apparent that somebody is trying to cover their tracks -- taking down content from websites published by Jeff Ganon, and changing the content of WHOIS records, which record the contact information for the registrant of said websites. There is also some speculation that the pen name Jeff Gannon, make have come from Gannon International, a company with apparent ties to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth organization.

So, where does this all leave us? Look for this story to begin developing legs this upcoming week. After the Kossacks begin to feel confident that they have covered most of the loose ends to the story, they will present the ideas to someone in the mainstream media. Early suggestions include David Brock, from, who wrote about Gannon late last week, and actually have a section entitled Gannongate on the front page of their website; Joe Conason, Eric Alterman, the New York Times, or Keith Olbermann. After the recent revelations involving taxpayer funded propaganda, with Karen Ryan, Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher,
and Mike McManus, the Bush Administration will not be happy to have this story break.

...and, neither should the public of the United States. How sick does the story have to get before the American Public actually begins to feel outraged. Let's look at the big picture here:

-To start with, Feb 16, 2003, millions of people around the world gathered in protest of the Bush Administration's plans to go to war in Iraq. The Bush Administration knew they were in tough - They decided to plant a fake news reporter into the Whitehouse Press, so that they could have easy planted questions, which would help them control the flow of the press conference proceedings. Taxpayer funded propaganda ensued. The Bush Regime began to lied repeatedly about the motivations and evidence to go to war. They lied specifically about the aluminum tubes and supposed uranium yellowcake transactions in Niger. Joseph Wilson attempted to reveal to the American public that the Bush Administration was lying, in a New York Time Op-Ed entitled, What I Didn't find in Africa.

The Bush Administration needed a quick way to marginalize the Wilson story before it grew out of control. They neoconservative think tanks quickly put together a plan to plant a story that Wilson's wife, Plame, helped set up Wilson in the roll of the Niger investigation, doing their best to cast Wilson as a partisan attempting to ruin the Bush Administration's credibility. This is the key: In revealing the identity of Valerie Plame, the administration put the lives of many covert operatives at risk, and hampered their ability to conduct their own war on terror. By using a hand-selected and placed shill, the administration also undermined the trust of the American People, and undermined the ideals of democracy -- this runs counter to everything the Bush Administration claims to stand for. This is an insane breach of trust to the American people - I'm talking Worse than Watergate.


Saturday, January 29, 2005

Possibly New Breaking Story

Check out this breaking story on Daily Kos: Plame Leaked by Fake News Source? This is a very interesting and exciting read -- This is true democracy in action -- the progressive response to the Republican Noise Machine.

This started with Propaganda-Gate -- the Armstrong Williams story, and the No Pundit Left Behind Project. If this story breaks, it could be huge -- the Bush Administration using a Fake News Organization to leak the cover of a secret agent in order to punish Joseph Wilson's refusal to keep quite about the lies spread by the Bush Administration. There is no way the mainstream media would let the Bush Administration get away with this level of arrogance and disrespect for the American Public.

The thread is a basic act of journalism in progress - with each post in the thread building on what others have so far dug up. The picture is far from complete, but many interesting details have been discovered. This summary, provided by BaltimoreTime, provides a good background into some of the information dug up on the story so far:

With an introduction that summarizes everything we know so far, and documents the source.

Here's what I would take from this thread (there's surely more that I'm missing; add to this list in reply):

"Jeff Gannon," employed by Talon News, Inc., joins the White House Press Corps and begins asking suspiciously pro-administration questions.

"Jeff Gannon" is a pseudonym (from atrios's unnamed sources).

Talon News is a small, web-based, Republican propaganda outfit (,, others). Talon News is closely associated with gopusa, through the CEO of both companies, Bobby Eberle.

Bobby Eberle is a conservative activist from the Texas Republican Party.

"Jeff Gannon," according to his Talon News bio got an education degree from some public college/university in Pennsylvania. His journalism "credentials" come from a two-day seminar at the Leadership Institute Broadcast School of Journalism (LIBSJ).

The LIBSJ is a Republican-run nonprofit dedicated to placing conservative kids in the policy-making process. It is run by a Who's Who of Republican fund-and muckrakers. The President is Morton C. Blackwell, Reagan flack and friend of Karl Rove. Mr. Blackwell was responsible for the purple heart band-aids at the Republican National Convention 2004.

"Jeff Gannon" seems to implicate himself in the Valerie Plame coverup here.


Friday, January 28, 2005

Vote No on Alberto Gonzales

Just in case I haven't made it clear in my recent comments about the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales, I implore you all to contact your local representatives and urge them to join in the fight against the nomination of Alberto Gonzales. The nomination of this man sends the message to the rest of the world that the United States condones torture and violence. The world's opinion of the United States is low enough as it is. This man is a weasel, and the Bush Administration has operated without any checks and balances for far too long. Here is a list of blogs publically campaigning against the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales. Vote No on Alberto Gonazales.


The Right's Continuous Campaign to Discredit Dissension

Did you ever notice how obvious this is? In recent weeks, the neoconservative movement has been stumbling with the revelation of propaganda and payola scandals. Instead of admitting the mistake, the right goes on the offensive. How many times have you heard the name "George Soros" brought up in the news in the past few weeks. Instead of admitting their mistakes, the right attempts to downplay the seriousness of the charges by implying "hey, we're not the only ones that do it".

I hear continual cries of "liberal bias" and "propaganda" from the neoconservative press. Why is that? It is the right that is engaged in bias and propaganda, openly lying and spreading misinformation. By continually decrying bias and propaganda, they create a smokescreen for their own malevolent behavior. Painting the donations of George Soros as a vast left-wing conspiracy is an attempt to downplay any potential complaint of malpractice from left and moderate sources.

This dishonest behavior spreads into all fields of the political spectrum. The right contends that the liberals and progressives of this country are all in favor of a big government, yet it is the right that wishes to impose their set of moral standards into official legislature.

The right casts the left as "tax and spend" and fiscally irresponsible liberals. Yet the track record of the past twenty-five years show that it is the neoconservatives that are fiscally irresponsible. Interest spending on the accumulated national debt is now costing this country over $300 Billion per year. At the rate the deficit is growing under the Bush Administration, this country is now in jeopardy of falling into a fiscal crisis. In fact, the United Nations recently implored the entire world to join together to help save the US Economy. We are now a charity case thanks to the neoconservative movement.

Rush Limbaugh has been campaigning to decry the democratic party as racist for not freely voting yes in the confirmation hearings of Condoleeza Rice and Alberto Gonzales. The message here is that the republican party is offering up a black and/or Hispanic appointee -- If your party is supposed to be concerned with civil rights, and the upwards mobility of minorities, you better make sure you confirm the nominations from the Republican Party. This practice is known as "race-baiting", and does a disservice to the black and Hispanic communities. Race was simply not an issue in these confirmation hearings, and to play the race card at this stage is shameful. Does Limbaugh really take his audience for such simpletons, or is he really that simple-minded himself?

Finally, I'd like to end with the subject of continually portraying the liberal/progressive movement as "far out of the mainstream". What is the "mainstream" supposed to be anyways, and what is with the right's continual insistence in defining it? This is simply another attempt to persuade the American public into thinking that neoconservative thinking is the only logical political philosophy. Look around you, people. As a bumper sticker I noticed the other day proclaims, "If You're not outraged, your not paying attention". The Bush Administration is pulling the rug out from under the American people, and they are either to lazy or occupied to care.


Payola-Gate Plot Thickens; Bush advises Against Continued Use of State-sponsored Propaganda

On Wednesday, Bush publicly denounced payola. Some quotes from CNN:

Bush said it was an improper use of government funds, and told a news conference: "I expect my Cabinet secretaries to make sure that this practice doesn't go forward. There needs to be independence."

"But all our Cabinet secretaries must realize that we will not be paying, you know, commentators to advance our agenda. Our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet," Bush said.

You Think?? As Al Franken put it, "The president also announced that the cabinet secretaries are not to rob any more liquor stores". The fact that annoys me is that the press covers this statement like any other plain old news story. Why doesn't anybody point out the outright silliness of such a statement? Is this to be considered a victory for the Bush administration? Where is the public outrage and oh-so deserved public lambasting of the administration? Where are the cries for impeachment?


Meanwhile, yet another columnist has been implicated in the Payola scandal. In a story covered by and the Center for American Progress, it is being reported that Michael McManus, the conservative author of the syndicated column "Ethics and Religion" received $10,000 to promote the same marriage initiative as Maggie Gallagher. Remember when Armstrong Williams stated that he was only the tip of the iceberg? If this story continues to grow, and more payola scandals continue to surface, the mainstream media cannot simply continue to ignore or gloss over this issue.


The other day, Bill O'Reilly invited Maggie Gallagher to come on his show to defend her position. Gallagher went on about how the this is a new standard of ethics that just simply didn't exist before. This is common sense, people. If you are paid to publicly promote a government administration's policies, and you then go on to write about said policies, you better well disclose said financial incentives. For one, this is a matter of journalistic integrity. Secondly, there are actually laws ruling against this behavior:

(From Daily Kos) "when anyone pays someone to include program matter in a broadcast, the fact of payment must be disclosed in advance...Failure to disclose such payments is commonly referred to as ``payola'' and is punishable by a fine of not more than $11,000 or imprisonment for not more than one year or both...the person making such payments, and the recipient, are subject to fine, imprisonment or both."



Thursday, January 27, 2005

Exploring the Republican Noise Machine: Day One, Continued - Media Research Center (MRC)

My experience with the Washington Times political blog RSS feed was perhaps a sign of things to come. Today, I received an email entitled MRC Web News, which included the latest news analysis from the Media Research Center. This email has a fairly similar feel the's daily email summaries, for those of you who are familiar with them.

You might be asking yourself if there is any real difference between these two organizations and their strategy of sending email alerts. Well, to start off I should state that I believe was started as a response to the Republican Noise Machine. The right has been using conservative think tanks, such as the Media Research Center, to promote the neoconservative agenda for some time. We are not operating on level playing field. is the first step in attempting to level the playing field.

There is a bigger difference. The SCLM (So-called liberal media), also known as the MSM (Mainstream Media), has attempted to provide unbiased, honest coverage of the news for decades. In a movement starting with Goldwater and the Nixon Administration, the republicans began a massive campaign to takeover the media, and destroy the honest profession of journalism.

In today's hostile climate towards non-neoconservative opinion, it is almost impossible for a fair and accurate portrayal of the news to be presented to the average American. There is a concerted effort to discredit and diminish any journalistic opinion that is dissenting of the Bush Administration or any other neoconservative value. This is the only valid explanation for the following:

  • The Clinton Administration faced a continuing barrage of false accusations by the media, ranging from the Whitewater scandal, to false accusations of murder. The Monica Lewinsky scandal thrived in the mainstream media for years.
  • Contrast this with the Bush Administration lied about the motivations and intelligence used to incite a war. This was a decision that affected the lives of most every person in the entire world.
  • The Bush Administration has been a bungling portrayal of incompetence. They screwed the nation's economy to the point where, today, the United Nations publicly stated that the world must do everything they can to restore the economy of the United States. It has come to the point where the so-called social security crisis will look like a drop in the ocean compared to the fiscal health of this one powerful nation. With record budget and trading deficits, the Euro could easily become the new world standard currency, and the prestige and relevance of the United States could quickly fall.
  • Consider the above statement, and compare the coverage of the media towards George W. Bush and John Kerry. Enough said.
  • Dan Rather accidentally covered a fairly credible story about the president's national guard service, with a significant amount of circumstantial evidence, accidentally using what turned out to be a forged document. It was a single mistake in an otherwise very respectable 20+ year career. The media covers the story extensively for months on end.
  • Compare the media coverage of RatherGate (Notice the -gate ending -- Bush's incompetence didn't even warrant a WMD-Gate in the MSM) to that of the continuing propaganda scandals involving the Bush Administration. First it was Karen Ryan with the Medicare Bill and No Child Left Behind. Next, it was Armstrong Williams with No Child Left Behind. Now, it is Maggie Gallagher.
What level of corruption is needed in order for the mainstream media to cover a story to the extant that it covered the Monica Lewinsky scandal. In comparison to the Monica-Gate, the scandals involving the Bush Administration are offences that orders of magnitude more detrimental to the service of the United States. Using taxpayer money to fund propaganda? Give a break. How about nominating an attorney general who legally advocated torture and lied under oath to congress? How about lying and using false evidence to justify an illegitimate war based on false pretenses? How about illegitimately winning the 2000 election based on the ruling of a partisan supreme court decision? How about disenfranchising thousands of black voters in Ohio, and in other states, forcing the citizens of your country to wait in line for 6-10 hours to cast a vote that had a good chance of not being counted, thanks to arbitrary rules implemented by James Blackwell, a partisan secretary of state, who was in direct conflict of interest as the head of the Bush Re-election committee? How about that, media? Where is the coverage? Where is the hard questions?

As the fourth estate, with provisions guaranteed in the constitution, it is the media's role in society to act as a check and balance to the ongoings of the Whitehouse and the United States government. In that role, they have failed miserably. It isn't the direct fault of network news organizations. The major traditional networks - ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and NPR - all served admirably for many years.

It was a concerted effort by the right - underwritten by a driven neoconservative movement - to rewrite the landscape of acceptable political thought and ideology in the United States. The right continuously nods the American public further to the right.

Journalists with any integrity and decency left are fewer are farther apart. When a journalist or politician does attempt to stand up to the Bush Administration, they are constantly derided, discredited, and eventually destroyed by a concerted effort by the neoconservative movement. This effort begins with organizations like the right wing think tank, the Media Research Center.

Today, I will show you a few examples:

3. Brown Provides Sympathetic Forum for Boxer, Cues Up Her Attacks
CNN's Aaron Brown on Tuesday night, hours before the confirmation vote on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, gave Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer a sympathetic forum to spout off against Rice. On NewsNight, Brown cued her up: "Was it simply a case of bad intelligence or did they cook the books? Did they lie? Which is it?" And: "Do you feel like they can just come before the country and say anything they want and people will forget because, frankly, it's water over the bridge now anyway?" Brown also lamented the lack of support for Boxer from her fellow Democrats, wondering "why so few of the leaders of the party have joined you in either tone or substance?"

  • This is a two-pronged attack. First off, the right is pressing heavily on the effort to discredit the voice of Senator Barbara Boxer. Barbara Boxer is asking the hard questions. I have never been more proud.
  • In addition, they are attacking Aaron Brown. They are implying that by providing a platform for Boxer, Brown is somehow less of a journalist. This is an absurd message.
2. Wash Post and CBS Dub Liberals as "Centrist" & "Not...Left Wing"
Democratic Senators Tom Harkin, Carl Levin and Mark Dayton are "centrists"? Writing a mid-day story Wednesday for the Washington Post Web site, about the Senate's confirmation of Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State, reporter Charles Babington asserted: "Some of the Democrats who opposed Rice were centrists from states in which President Bush won or ran strongly in November, including Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)." After National Review Online noted the ridiculous label, the Post dropped it. But then it returned in Babington's piece in the Thursday newspaper where he referred to Senator Russ Feingold as one of the Senate's "more centrist or independent members." Maybe Babington took his lead from CBS's Harry Smith who on Wednesday's Early Show insisted that Dayton is "not known as a rabble rouser or a left-wing infiltrator."

  • This is an effort to further reinforce the idea that the neoconservative movement represents mainstream politics, and everything else is "outside the mainstream". Again, completely absurd. The entire spectrum of politics within the United States would be considered to the right of the larger political spectrum. Referring to these men as centrists is definitely out of line. In any case, trying to place the entire spectrum of ideologies and political agendas onto a one-dimensional line is a rather trite, meaningless exercise, but, still, this does illuminate the agenda of the Media Research Center.


Exploring the Republican Noise Machine: Day One - The Washington Times

Yesterday, I wrote a entry on how I was embarking on a thorough investigation to understand the internal workings of the Republican Noise Machine, which is a name coined by David Brock. I have occasionally watched Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity in an effort to understand the views and opinions that led to compelling 50.8% of the country to vote for the re-election of George W. Bush. But I want to dig deeper.

The true source of the neoconservative movement isn't the external face of the mass media -- it is the internal workings of the Republican Noise Machine - the conservative think tanks and neocons responsible for bankrolling these operations. In future postings, I plan to study many of the larger players in this entire process - People like Paul M. Weyrich, Richard Mellon Scaife, Rupert Murdoch, Andrew Sullivan, Irving and William Kristol, Lawrence Kudlow, Ann Coulter, Robert Novak, Armstrong Williams, Roger Ailes - I'd really like to begin a thorough investigation into the histories, motivations, associations, and into the foundations and beginnings of this widescale neoconservative hostile takeover of the landscape of accepted political thought and ideology in the United States.

I think I just stumbled onto a great resource to start my quest: has a list of regressive organizations, including Media Monitoring and outlets, columnists, commentators, funding sources, think tanks, pundits, and more. I was thinking I would need to start something like this as my own project, but it looks like they have done a lot of the groundwork for me.

Anyways, I started on my journey yesterday by subscribing to several neoconservative rss feeds and email alerts. It is day one, and for starters, I have to say that I am thoroughly unimpressed with the quality of the thought and work that has went into the writings that I have so far received.

I guess I'll start my dissection of the right wing media today with this thoroughly asinine rss feed on politics, provided courtesy of the Washington Times. I'd never actually read the Washington Times before, but I knew they were a rag based on the quality of the articles I had been emailed from them over the years. Here are a couple examples of high quality entries from this political blog:

Confirmation Tests on Hill
states that Harry Reid has lost control of the democratic wing of the senate. That a strong leader would've found a way to ensure a vote before inauguration day. They warn that the democratic party should vote for Gonzales' confirmation because a vote against him would further alienate the Hispanic population from the democratic party. Oh really? Is that why a retired Hispanic general and Hispanic law professors are rallying with human rights watch organizations to protest the nomination of Alberto Gonzales? At least they didn't go as far as Rush Limbaugh, who implied that the democratic party was racist for impeding the nomination of a man who made a legal argument for torture, and a women who had a rather unspectacular stint as the national security advisor, aiding in the effort to convince the American public to initiate a war based on false pretenses.

Glasnost for the Bush press corps? made the claim that Bush has been unusually available to the press since being re-elected, alluding to a new era of openness from the president. Yeah, right.

Fiscal Indignation somehow comes to the egregious conclusion that the $413 Billion deficit wrought by the Bush administration's blundering policies is due to discretionary and entitlement spending. How much of moron can you possibly be? This is directly from a Whitehouse reporter? The article concludes by stating: "The question now is whether congressional spenders in this new 109th Congress will remember what Ronald Reagan said about biting off more than we can chew." WHAT??? The Reagan administration was the single most fiscally irresponsible administration in American history. In eight years, the Reagan Administration took a relatively modest debt of one trillion dollars, accumulated over the 200 year history of the United States, and increased it by 300%. What kind of crackpipe are these people smoking? Who reads this stuff?

The Bush Administration has cut social programs all over the place, and completely blown the budget surplus and economic growth developed by the Clinton Administration and it's policies. Maybe you should take a good look at the $ 1.3 Trillion Dollar Bush tax cut given the richest 20%. Maybe you should focus on the estimated $200 Billion dollars spent on the Iraqi war.

President Bush and Religion starts by comparing Bush's deep religious convictions to the convictions of the founding fathers of this country. From there, the argument quickly wanders to an irrelevant football analogy. The conclusion of this entry is that those that do not have the same depth of understanding and religiosity of President Bush and founding fathers simply cannot understand our country as well as those that do. The comparison: "However, you never played in the NFL, thus it is impossible to have the equal understanding of the game as former quarterback Terry Bradshaw. That plain fact doesn't make you less of a football fan than Bradshaw; it just recognizes reality."


Glutton for Punishment

Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, but, in an attempt to better understand the mind of the neoconservative movement, I have decided to bury myself knee-deep in the Republican Noise Machine. Today, I subscribed to all of the RSS feeds offered by the Washington Times, the New York Post, and Fox News. It was a little difficult to find RSS feeds offered by the New York Post and Fox News, but I did find some on via google.

From there, I decided to hit the right wing think tanks to see if I could find any more rss feeds or email alert services. I did not find any feeds or email alert services in a quick search of the heritage foundations website, although I did find a Policy Weblog. On the Cato Institute site, I was able to subscribe to the Cato Daily Dispatch, and "Social Security This Week" (That last one sounds like fun) Next, I visited the Media Research Center and subscribed to MRC CyberAlert and MRC Web News.

Next, I hit the American Enterprise Institute. To start, they require a lot of invasive personal information to allow you to create a new account. There seemed to be no validation done on this data, so I was able to get to the subscription area. This is where things start to get interesting. You can subscribe to all sorts of topics. Clicking on scholarships and Fellows brings up a list of almost 75 different individuals to follow. I went with Irving Kristol, Norm Ornstein, Newt Gingrich, and Richard Perle. I also subscribed to AEI's political corner, a series on the United Nations called "United No More?", Economic Outlook, Environmental Policy Outlook, Tax and Fiscal Policy, Culture and Society, and Social and Individual Policy.

I considered moving on to look at the Brookings Institute, Accuracy in Media, Project for the New American Century, and so on, but figured I was probably in over my head as it was. In hindsight, I probably should have used a throwaway email account, but I suppose it is too late for that now. I will keep you informed on my experience in delving into the Republican Noise Machine. If anything, I figure I will get a jumpstart into picking up the daily talking points for the neoconservatives, and further fuel my passion and motivation to point out the dishonesty of this entire operation.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The House of Cards that Rove Built starting to slowly fall under it's own weight. Too bad it started a few months to late:
  • The president's approval rating continues to plummet
  • The war effort in Iraq is becoming increasingly unpopular
  • The upcoming Iraqi election has little hope of producing a positive result
  • They are attempting to install a new attorney general who puts the American troops at risk by legally arguing for the use of torture, and risks being disbarred for lying to the senate to cover for George W. Bush. Every day that passes, the effort to stop the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales gains momentum
  • The neoconservative plan for privatizing social security is rapidly losing momentum, and appears to be headed for a nose dive
  • The Democratic party, generally known for wishing to avoid direct confrontation, has developed a backbone, led by the brazen resolve of Senator Barbara Boxer.
and now this -->

In an email update received from David Brock at earlier today:

I am writing to bring to your attention a report in the January 26 edition of The Washington Post that conservative columnist Maggie Gallagher was paid $21,500 by the U.S. government to promote a Bush administration proposal intended to promote marriage.


Remember the turmoil over RatherGate? The guy makes one mistake, and we're still hearing about it on the front page of news FOUR MONTHS LATER.

Compare this to the Armstrong Williams story. The Bush Administration is caught red-handed using taxpayer money to support official government-sponsored, taxpayer-funded, state propaganda. Where is the outrage?

You know that this is the fourth time that this administration has been caught paying partisan hacks posing as journalists to pass off the Bush political doctrine as independent news.

It started with Karen Ryan - , with Video News Releases passed off as legitimate news broadcasts, promoting the Bush Medicare Bill, The No Child Left Behind Act, and Drug Control Policy.

Next up was the Armstrong Williams fiasco. This man was paid $240,000 of taxpayer money to publicly support to No Child Left Behind Act. After getting caught, Armstrong Williams stated on record that his case was only the tip of the iceberg.

In another email update from Weekly Standard editor William Kristol lauded President George W. Bush's inauguration speech as "powerful," "impressive," and "historic," both in an article for the January 31 print edition of The Weekly Standard and as a FOX News political contributor during FOX's live coverage of Inauguration Day. Washington Post columnist and FOX News contributor Charles Krauthammer, also during FOX News' live Inauguration Day coverage, called Bush's speech "revolutionary" and compared it to former President John F. Kennedy's 1961 inaugural address. But Kristol and Krauthammer were consultants for Bush's speech -- a fact that neither disclosed.

And now, we find out that Maggie Gallagher is being paid by the Bush Administration to promote the Bush Agenda. This is a quote taken from Gallagher's website,

"Polygamy is not worse than gay marriage, it is better," she wrote. "At least polygamy, for all its ugly defects, is an attempt to secure stable mother-father families for children."


Remember, as Armstrong Williams stated, "This is only the tip of the iceberg". If that is true, this could be the beginning of the end for the Bush administration. The neocons are already on the ropes. If not for lying for the motivations to go to war; if not for ignoring Geneva conventions and condoning torture; if not for disenfranchising black voters in the national election; if not for all the other cheating and lying wrought on the American public for political gain -- the Bush Administration must be held accountable for this.

If this is only the tip of the iceberg -- the truth will come out. It may take a while, but there are people working on this. Leading the effort on this cause in the blogosphere is the No Pundit Left Behind Project, started by a few members of the website, Daily Kos. This is a group of volunteers doing their part to attempt to restore integrity and respect, if that is possible, to the mainstream media of America. For your part, there are a few things you can do. Contact your local representative - send off an email - let them know that you are upset about this issue - that you will not stand idle and allow the neoconservatives to control the airwaves and political discourse of this country through unethical means. This is an overt effort to produce state propaganda, and is one step removed from a true Orwellian society.


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Beast 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2004

The Beast 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2004

This a fairly strange mix of loathsome right wing pundits, such as Ann Coulter, Bob Novak, Armstrong Williams, political characters, and mostly irrelevant, yet annoying, pop stars. I'm glad to see that Michael Savage, Stephen Moore, Tony Blankley, Kenneth Blackwell, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and George W. Bush made the list. Bush is all the way down at number #6. Could be higher, but there isn't too much to choose from. Putting Kerry at #5 for losing the election is a little harsh, with the slanted playing field and all, but Bush really is a unpopular president. According the to job approval ratings, "Not Bush" would've beat Bush, so, it goes to reason that Kerry would've lost against "Not Bush". Then again, "Not Bush", being the antithesis of Bush would've meant finding a guy that represents all that is good, which is a pretty hard sell. This isn't making any sense, is it?


Political Daily Briefing (PDB)

The Daily Show had a great piece on the upcoming Iraqi Election last night. Is the Bush Administration serious about this? As Rob Corddry says in the piece, voters will be choosing from a list of over 8,000 candidates from over 270 political parties. 'My favorite is the "Preliminary Iraq Polling" segment...absolutely classic comedy.

Corddry "As you can see, things are beginning to heat up. Currently, the Iraqi Unity Party seems to be sitting pretty with a strong eight tenths of one percent support. But, John, anything can happen in a week, but this was interesting. The Islamic party now losing ground to the unbelievably Islamic part..."

The visual chart that went along with this segment is priceless - a pie chart, divided into hundreds of tiny fragments, with labels that are too small to read.

Those running in the election are too frightened to publicly reveal their names, because of the likelihood that they will get shot. Voters have been intimidated into not showing up, since the risk being shot by snipers who have threatened to surround the polling stations.

There exists a possibility that more people will actually cast their vote outside of Iraq than inside, thanks to about 75 polling stations situated in 14 countries, including stations in five major cities within the United States.


A big cheer goes out to the democratic party, for finally developing a spine in the Condoleeza Rice affirmation hearing. Condi "Don't impune my integrity" Rice, was drilled by an organized and efficient team of democrats, who publicly revealed the many holes in the fabricated story that is the Bush Administration's justification for the Iraqi war. There is little doubt that Condi will be affirmed, which is a shame, but I am very happy to see that democrats are starting to press the administration, and provide a public voice that needs to be heard.

Thank you very much, Senators Levin, Dayton, Kennedy, Bayh, Boxer and Byrd, Durbin and Reed. The new leader of the democratic party has emerged - Sen. Barbara Boxer. Take a minute to visit the new President Boxer blog. You can tell that the Boxer movement is growing, because O'Reilly now includes Boxer's name every time he rhymes off a list of public representatives he wishes to discredit.

Look out, Alberto're next. The republicans better think twice about trying to vote in this weasel. A vote for Gonzales is a public vote on record stating that you condone torture. The people of the United States, the people of Iraq, and the people of the world deserve better than this.


The 2004 Presidential Election 5-Step Grieving Process

I've gone through my progression of steps dealing with presidential election result. Let's see, what are they again: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

Denial - President Bush may have won, but they couldn't pull it off without resorting to every dirty cheat in the book. For a while, I was in the denial stage -- hoping that the massive army of blogging fact checkers would unearth some evidence of massive, systemic fraud. Of course, when you privatize the vote, and allow companies run by partisan CEOs to handle the election results, you can never be sure. I haven't even begun to discuss the massive levels of voter disenfranchisement - improper allocation of voting resources, with long lines in predominately black neighborhoods, compared to start contrast found in white voting distracts. As you can see, I haven't really gotten past the denial stage, and I probably never will.

Anger - I have a whole lot of anger left in me, and it isn't going away any time soon. There is nothing like the wrath of righteous indignation to motivate oneself to continue onward in the fight for justice, peace, tolerance, and equalilty in this world.

Bargaining - I watched Fahrenheit 9/11 again the other day. The scene involving the attempted contest of the 2000 Presidential Election by the congressional black caucus was too much for me to bear, as I wallowed in the misery, almost brought to tears. If only we had contested the election in 2000. Why, Al Gore, did you instruct every democratic senator to ignore their duty to defend the rights of this citizens of this great nation. The pain and suffering that we could have avoided. The years of progress that have been destroyed by this foul administration.

Depression - Reflecting on what might have been quickly led me to a short, but heart felt depression. Quickly realizing that sulking in my own misery can do no good, I was emboldened to move on to the final stage of the grieving process.

Acceptance - I finally accepted, that despite the fact that the 2000 and 2004 US presidential elections combined could be considered the greatest farce in modern political history, we are stuck with this administration for another four years. I can now say that I have never felt more motivated in my life to become a political activist - a champion for the rights of the little person. The question I asked myself is "How did this happen? -- How did the Bush Administration, saddled with a first term of incompetence, gross, nearly criminal negligence, disregard for the most basic levels of decency -- How did they win? Despite everything that is going on, a very slim majority of Americans were somehow convinced that everything was alright.

As Michael Moore put it in the beginning of Fahrenheit 9/11, when discussing the 2000 election, "Was it all just a dream??" Well folks, this is deja vu all over again. We have four more years to point our fingers at everything the Bush Administration is doing wrong. Four more years to convince the population of this once great nation of how things could be better. Four more years to bring the progressive voice into the mainstream of American consciousness. Four more years....It isn't a futile effort. Keep up the fight, stay motivated, and press back the Bush Administration's attacks on our nation's civil rights and what is left of our progressive policies. Eventually the nightmare will end...I mean, it has to stop sometime....Doesn't it?


A Liberal Dose of Reality

It's time for a rant. I've had it with this "so called liberal media". They are the real cause for the debacle that was the 2004 Presidential Election. In what was supposed to be a referendum on the four year performance of Bush Administration, we ended up spending more time hearing about and discussing "Flip Flops", how Kerry "voted to raise taxes 350 times", how Kerry was illegitimately awarded 3 purple hearts, 1 silver star, and 1 bronze star, how he did the Vietnam veterans a disservice by becoming a vocal protester of the war in which he honorably served, and how Kerry represented the liberal elite - "a liberal lawyer from Massachusetts", "A Tax and Spend Liberal".

The liberals tried to fight this election fairly - by pointing at the miserable four-year track record of the Bush Administration. The results should have been enough to speak for themselves. With absolutely nothing to run on, other than a massively underfunded mandate, ironically named the "No Child Left Behind Act", the Bush re-election campaign went on the offensive - and spent their entire resources attacking the character of John Kerry - and they got away with it? Are you kidding me??? uh, oh, um-hmm....I guess not.

It's not the public that it to blame for this. Well, I guess they are partially -- At least the homophobic, red-stater crowd that decided that it was more important to vote for the cause of bigotry, intolerance, judgment, and ultimately, hate towards their fellow man, than it was to vote against an administration that lied about the reasons they were going to war.

...And the blame does not lie solely with the media. Part of the blame has to go to Fox News and the Right Wing Talk Radio Network. The Bill O'Reillys, Sean Hannitys, Rush Limbaughs, Ann Coulters, and Michael Savages of the world had a massive influence on the election's outcome -- you cannot dismiss this. Al Franken likes to call these guys the low-hanging fruit -- the easy targets. I sometimes like to turn on O'Reilly or Hannity for a while just to mock their intellectual dishonesty - it acts a motivational tool when I witness first-hand the propaganda spewing machine that is Fox News.

...The root cause goes deeper than what the public generally recognizes as the mass media. The root cause is the neoconservative think tanks and political organizations, such as the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, that collectively make up the Republican Noise Machine. These are the people that we should be focusing our anger on....and, yet, the average American has probably never heard of most of these organizations. When the names of these organizations are mentioned in a newscast, they sound like legitimate organizations -- The Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Accuracy in Media, The Media Research Center. The average American will most likely hear the name, subconsciously file it away in their memory, and forget about it as a trivial detail a few seconds later.

It shocked me earlier today, while watching an episode of 24, when the Heritage Foundation was casually name-dropped a few seconds after the senator was rescued from a terrorist operation. You can see where they are going with this -- Six episodes into the season, right after the first major climax -- the senator is rescued - a feeling of elation among the viewers -- and they casually drop the name of the Heritage Foundation. It had nothing to do with the plot, but there it is - trying to ingrain and legitimize this name among the American public. I wonder if Rupert Murdoch or Roger Ailes had any direct input into this little change. Not to mention that they overtly displayed about 10 seconds of Fox News coverage in the middle of the episode -- this isn't even the first time they tried pulling that stunt off.

It may seem like I am nitpicking about the content of the tv show 24. That may be true, but it isn't the point. There is a constant and concerted effort by the right to legitimize the voice of the neoconservative. David Brock laid out all the groundwork for this very clearly in his excellent book on the subject, The Republican Noise Machine. Also recommended are Eric Alterman's What Liberal Media, Al Franken's Lies and Lying Liars Who Tell Them, Out-Foxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, and Big Lies by Joe Conason.

If we want to level the playing field of American Politics -- if we really want to win back the hearts and focus of the American public -- we need to recognize the true nature of our enemy. Politics and democracy isn't supposed to be about winning and losing -- it is supposed to be about forming policies for our nation's future that ultimately present a plan for a better and future for our nation and our planet. Sadly, that just isn't the case -- The neoconservative movement has destroyed every last bastion of hope that we will ever return to a day of fair politics and intellectual discourse in the mainstream media. The neoconservative think tanks, backed heavily by donations from men, such as Richard Mellon Scaife, racist Peter Coors, Rupert Murdoch, are, quite plainly, destroying the democratic process, and, if I may say so, ruining America.

The truth is that we can win this battle -- With or without the help of the mainstream media. The neoconservative movement really only benefits about 5% of the population. The progressive movement represents the needs and desires of the other 95% of the population. If we can simply demonstrate to the world that the progressive movement represents a worthier and healthier alternative to the neoconservative movement in almost every manner imaginable.

The republicans like to cast the democrats as a party of "tax-and-spend liberals" and "big government". Why doesn't the media hammer rhetoric back down the throats of the republican party. When Reagan came into office in 1980, our government had inherited a reasonably manageable one trillion dollars in accumulative debt in the history of our government. By the time Clinton came into power twelve years later, the accumulated deficit had skyrocketed to over four billion dollars, with an annual deficit that was hemorrhaging money out of the US economy. In eight years of fiscal sanity, the Clinton Administration was able to bring this all under control, and was scheduled to bring us into an era of budget surpluses. When Bush came into office, our fiscal plan had us scheduled to produce a 5.8 trillion dollar surplus over the next eight years. If Al Gore was instead elected, we would've been that close to paying off the national debt.

Instead -- Bush gave a massive tax cut to the wealthiest 20 percent of the nation, the economy tanked, and we are now facing the largest budget deficits in this nation's history. And yet, the media let the Bush Administration get away with running on a plan to reduce the national deficit in half -- I mean, this is completely absurd. I mean the guy spilt the milk, and the media stood around applauding him for offering to clean half of it back up.

On the issue of big government, consider this: This is an administration that thinks it is important to impose their set of morality onto the public at large -- This isn't an issue we should take lightly. The Bush Administration is quickly cutting individual civil liberties, and reducing restrictions on corporate behavior -- and the 50.8% of America that voted for Bush is gleefully letting him get away with it. Why? I ask you again, what were you thinking, America?

Back to ranting -- This neoconservative dream of complete industry deregulation and unfettered capitalism is absolutely the worst thing that could ever happen for the average American citizen. You think the American public would recognize this by now. The American Dream has fallen by the wayside, as the gap between the wealthy of this nation and those that struggle from paycheck to paycheck continues to grow.

Ask yourself this: "What, as Americans, have we gained from the feminist movement? As a progressive, I can honestly say that we have gained plenty. But, I'd like you to specifically focus on the issue of workplace productivity, and the reciprocal benefit provided to American citizens. In the fifties and sixties, a single wage earner was able to work a forty hour work week, and provide for his whole family. Now, there are more dual-earner families than ever. Are the American people better off for it? We are producing and consuming products at a greater rate than ever. Does this make it worth it. Instead of investing 40 hours a week into American economic production, there are many families working 80 or more hours a week - and, are we better off for it? The answer is no -- it has become almost expected that both parents in the family trudge off to work each day, grinding away in the name of productivity.

Did you know that in Europe, workers are routinely encouraged to take 4, 6, even 8 weeks of vacation per year. But, wait, aren't all Europeans lazy? I mean, that's what Fox News tells us, isn't it. Why do you think they do that? What do you think would really happen if all of the citizens in this country demanded more respect in the work place? Why do we put up with working 50 out of every 52 weeks each year for the majority of our lives, in constant risk of being layed off, or fired, the victim of a corporate decision to move production offshore, or to an outsourcing firm that can produce the product slightly cheaper.

The Fox News pundits will tell you that it ain't all roses in Europe and in Canada -- England, France, and Germany all have higher unemployment rates than the United States. There is, however, a difference. In more progressive countries, there is a strong initiative to maintain a social safety net. In the United States, if tragedy strikes, you are on your own - Ask yourself, what would happen if you suddenly developed cancer, got in a horrible car accident, fell off a ladder, lost your job to outsourcing, got laid off. Bad things happen to people. In any respectable country, there is a basic level of support that is guaranteed to keep you afloat while you recover. Not in Bushland - Thanks to the new Bush initiative for an "Ownership Society", it will soon become more "every man for himself" than it already is. I haven't even begun to mention the issues involved here - regressive tax cuts which increase the burden on the poor, and the plans to basically eliminate social security, which is the only real safety net currently provided in the United States.

Just take a look around you -- the American dollar is declining every day against the Euro. Under the Bush Administration, the Euro has climbed from 45 cents on the dollar, to double the rate, at 90 cents on the dollar, in only four years. The once mighty American dollar is at risk of losing its role as the world standard of currency. With the all-time low reputation of the United States, thanks to Bush, do you think the world will think twice about jumping ship to the Euro.

I've had it with the Neoconservative Christian Coalition. I myself am a Christian, but, I will never in a thousand years associate myself with the neoconservative movement. I simply do not understand this relationship. Just the other day, James Dobson accused a cartoon video featuring Spongebob Squarepants, designed to promote tolerance and understanding, as promoting the "homosexual agenda". We have a real problem in America - by not accepting responsibility for this, James Dobson is, in effect, condoning violence, bigotry, and hatred towards LGBT youth and teens. The video was created in an effort to promote tolerance, understanding, and diversity. James Dobson claimed that "tolerance and diversity" were codewords for the homosexual agenda.

I've had it with unfettered capitalism, and the deregulation of the marketplace. I mean, in theory, I am supportive of capitalism, and the free market. But, there has to be limits and regulation. There is no clearer example than Wal*Mart. know what....I'm getting pretty tired here. Stay tuned to groupThink for the next installment of "A Liberal Dose of Reality, Part Two", where I continue my rant against all that is wrong with America today, and all that we can do to fix it.


Monday, January 24, 2005

How much lower can he go?

...and, How did he win this election??? A new poll from Rasmussen Reports shows Bush's Post-Inaugeration Job Approval Rating at 44%. A Mandate? I don't think so...especially when you went appear in public in your own country without spending an estimated seventeen million dollars on security, and wearing a kevlar vest, for a single event. Maybe President Bush should start some self-examination, and ask himself why he has become so unpopular.


Sunday, January 23, 2005

More evidence of Conservative Media Bias

After beginning my discussion of conservative media bias a couple days ago, I find myself continually discovering additional material on the subject. Take a look at's comparison of the republican and conservative guests vs. liberal and democratic guests on each of the major news networks.

Republicans/Conservatives outnumbered Liberals/Democrats by 17 to 6 on FOX, 10 to 1 on CNN , and 13 to 2 on MSNBC.

As Eric Alterman puts it, "What Liberal Media?"


I Stumbled across the Official George W. Bush "Days Left in Office" Countdown, and just had to pass it along. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We have four years to wait -- let's make the best use of it that we can. I'm tempted to buy that keychain.


Rumsfeld Sued; Chalabi Arrest Rumors; Republican Dictionary; Not in Our Name Pledge of Resistance

In what could prove to become a public relations fiasco for the Bush Administration, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld has been accused of war crimes in Germany. There has to be at least some substance to this story - Rumsfeld has withdrawn from the Munich Security Conference, which was to be held in Munich, Germany, this February. Immediately after the complaint was filed, Rumsfeld withdrew because of the possibility of being arrested if he were to step foot in Germany. I have not seen or heard much coverage of this story in the mainstream media, but this could prove to be a costly blow to the already ailing public opinion of the Bush Administration.

On Day 1 of the new presidential term, the Bush administration has an approval rating of 49%, the majority of Americans now believe the increasingly unpopular war in was a mistake, and the secretary of defense is being charged with committing war crimes. Do these guys honestly think they have a mandate. President Bush had to wear a kevlar vest, and spend over twelve million dollars on security for one day in order to make a public appearance -- We have a president that is so frightened of the threat imposed by his own people that they ordered all workers at the event that they were not allowed to look at the president, and that they would be individually escorted by security to the restroom facilities.

Here are some sources on the Rumsfeld War Crimes Story: Rumsfeld Scraps Munich Visit over War Probe (, Rumsfeld Avoids Munich Trip Fearing War Crimes (The Left Coaster), Rumsfeld Cancels Trip to Germany (Daily Kos), Rumsfeld Cancels Visit After War Crimes Accusations (Al-Jazeera). See also Center for constitutional Rights.


Ahmed Chalabi, one of the key articles of intelligence used by the Bush Administration in their argument for the war, has been involved in rumors swirling this weekend stating that he will be arrested at some point in the imminent future. Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC) was responsible for feeding the CIA hundreds of pages of false intelligence in the lead up to the war. The Pentagon was paying the INC approximately $335 per month for this false intelligence. One of Chalabi's top officials, a defector codenamed "Curveball" was one of the chief sources of intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq.

In addition, Chalabi was later found to be leaking US intelligence secrets to Iraq, including the fact that the United States had cracked a Iranian Code, which was a major source of intelligence for the United States.

For a refresher course on the history of Chalabi's involvement with the United States, I recommend John Dizard's article, How Ahmed Chalabi conned the Neocons, from

The past couple days, I have been blogging about the subject of media bias, talking points, and the effect that right wing think tanks and constant accusations of "liberal media bias" have had on our media, and the unfair playing field that this has created in the American political environment. Today, I happened to stumble across a Daily Kos blog entry, entitled Republican Dictionary, which does a great job of highlighting some of the talking points and jingoisms produced by the Republican Noise Machine. The original source of this project is actually The Nation, which started in the Editor's Cut, and continued into the GOP Dictionary Project.


If you have an extra minute, I recommend taking a look at the Not In Our Name Pledge of Resistance.


Saturday, January 22, 2005

Conservative Propaganda - Addressing the Issue

In two recent blog entries, Right-Wing Labels and the Republican Noise Machine, and The First Step - Recognizing that We Have a Problem, I began to address the issue of conservative bias and propaganda. This is a topic I will continue to address, because I personally feel that we cannot win the important battles - energy policy, preserving social security, economic justice, progressive tax reforms - without first recognizing that we are not playing on a level playing field. The first step in waging this battle against the regression of civil rights, liberties and the injustice of the policies of this administration is to recognize the enemy that we are fighting against.

The neocons are winning this battle with cute 30 second bites, jingostic catch phrases, and a continual onslaught of republican talking points. So, how do they manage to continue to maintain the upper hand in the fight for the support of the American people?

The vision of America that the neoconservative movement has brought is nothing more than smoke and mirrors - it is a wobbly house of cards - full of seemingly obvious contradictions that the American public somehow manages to miss. From the vantage point of a liberal perspective, the neoconservative worldview is so appalling and fundamentally flawed that I find myself continually fighting the urge to scream out loud at the absurdity of it all. And yet...they somehow managed to apply enough duct tape and glue during election to keep the entire house of cards from tumbling to the ground.

The Bush Administration won this re-election on two fronts -- moral values and fear. For the life of me, I cannot understand how the churches of this nation have aligned themselves with the neoconservative movement. They claim to stand for the "culture of life". They view abortion as an abomination before God. Regardless of your personal view on abortion, how can you ignore the reckless disregard and lack of compassion exhibited the so-called compassionate conservative movement. The Bush Administration calls for an Ownership Society -- one in which is it every man/woman for himself/herself. The Bush Administration is fighting to make permanent their regressive tax cuts - which resulted in huge tax cuts for the rich, while shifting a greater proportion of the tax burden onto the poor and working class. The right fights against demands for higher paying jobs, better health care coverage, and a social safety net for the poor, hungry, and homeless. They argue that these people are lazy, selfish, and undeserved of help. And, yet they have the audacity to continue the fight against the poor and needy by fighting to take away our nation's social safety net - Social Security.

The other major front that the Bush Administration won the election on was on the basis of "national security" or the "fight against terror". A more suitable name for this would be fear. The argument is completely asinine. They claim to be fighting the war on terror in Iraq. As Bush stated in the debates, "This is the wrong war at the wrong time". By diverting our troops and attention away from Afghanistan, we lost our chance at capturing Osama Bin Laden, i.e. the man actually responsible for 9/11. The evidence used to justify the war in Iraq was proven to be completely false and without merit. And yet, the house of cards stood. WHY??? As the Daily Mirror put it, HOW CAN 59 MILLION PEOPLE BE SO STUPID? (Actually, it's now more like 62 Million, but who's counting??)

The deciding factor behind all of this is the Republican Noise Machine. Those stupid sound bites, catch phrases, and talking points that you hear each day, designed to invalidate or diminish the credibility of any anti-neoconservative stance - those are the final, polished product of the Republican Noise Machine. It begins with the corporate funded right wing think tanks - The Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), The Media Research Center (MRC). This is a relentless, never-ending attack by the right - designed as an effort to continually prop up the goals of the Bush Administration, and the neoconservative agenda.

So how can we fight this thing - the Republican Noise Machine? This is a massive undertaking, promoted by men like billionaires Richard Mellon Scaife and Rupert Murdoch, designed to continually push the the neoconservative agenda, and keep the rich white man in power.

As a populist movement, the progressive/liberal/democratic movement is always going to represent the underdog. Common sense will tell you that those with money, resources, and power will most likely favor a system that will ensure that things stay as they are - the status-quo. As such, it appears that the right will always have greater financial backing to support their cause. There are literally hundreds of conservative think tanks and organizations financially backed by neoconservatives, designed to do nothing more than ensure that they remain in power.

The good news is that we have an opportunity - the Internet. The Internet is the great equalizer of our time - a true democratic tool. As a populist movement, common sense should dictate that we should almost automatically win the election and the majority of the seats in the house and senate. The trick is finding our voice. Over the next four years, Internet usage will continue to grow, and the voice of the blogger will become more prominent. This needs to be a grass-roots movement. The right is in the midst of a highly organized movement. With the advent of the Internet, the blogosphere, we have the opportunity to also become a highly organized movement. Just look at what Howard Dean accomplished - I recommend taking a look at the Revolution Will Not be Televised, a book by Joe Trippi, Dean's campaign advisor.

This will not be an easy fight - I mean, we do have common sense, practicality, and the best future for the American people on our side. Is that enough? You would think that four more years under this lousy administration will be enough to forever convince the American population of consequences of neoconservative movement. I hope so.

My biggest fear is that the right will recognize the potential of the Internet. They will not stand idly by and let the Internet become a tool of democratic organization. It is too risky. Already, we have seen a concerted effort to typecast the internet blogger as a conspiracy theorist - to invalidate and destroy the credibility of the blogger as a news source. We have made a difference - many stories were first broken by bloggers, and eventually found some coverage in the mainstream media.

I assume they will begin to fight the war against the voice of the blogger on multiple fronts. I believe we will begin to see attempts to regulate the internet -- With the unregulated form that the internet is now in, that does seem unlikely -- how can you create order of our chaos? I, for one, wouldn't put it past them.


Thursday, January 20, 2005

Jib-Jab; Rathergate vs. WMDGate; O'Reilly at his best

There's a new Jib-Jab out. Jib-Jab bust out onto the scene in the month's leading up to the election with a hilarious parody of presidential election, to the tune of "This Land". A few months later, they came back with a somewhat less funny, but still great "It's Good to Be in D.C." The new release is entitled "The Second Term". You can check out all there at

Since I've been covering the absurdity of the claims of liberal media bias, this illuminating quantatative comparison of both the severity and the media coverage of RatherGate vs. WMDGate, by the blog, is relevant. My personal favorite would have to be "Cost to American Taxpayer: RatherGate $0.00, WMDGate: ~$150,000,000 (as of 1/12/2005)

and, finally, I'll leave you with the transcript of a recent segment on the Bill O'Reilly show:

O'Reilly: I tell you what...I've been in combat. I've seen it....I've been close to it. and, If my unit is in danger, and I got a captured guy, and the guy knows where the enemy is, and I'm looking him in the eye...the guy better tell me. That's all I'm going to tell you. Yeah..he better tell me. If it's life or death...he's going first.

Shortly thereafter:

Roger, Portland Organ, What say you, Roger?

Caller: First things first, Bill. You just said you've been in combat, but you've never been in the military have you?

O'Reilly: No, I have not.

Caller: Then, why do you say you've been in combat?

O'Reilly: Why did I say that, Roger? Because I was in the middle of a couple of firefights in South and Central America.

Caller: But you were....a media guy.

O'Reilly: yeah...a media guy with a pen, and not a gun, and people were shooting at me, Roger,
Caller: Because people might think you were actually in the military.

O'Reilly: We don't want to mislead anybody, but I made it quite clear...

Caller: That shows how fair and balanced you are.

O'Reilly: (Getting Angry) Hey, you know what Roger? You can take that little "Fair and Balanced" snip remark and shove it!'re not getting on this air. and, You mister macho man would've never come close to doing what I've down..down where I've been.
(You can listen to the altercation, along with a parody by Al Frankn, at the Al Franken Show archive here)


The First Step - Recognizing That We Have a Problem

In a recent press conference, President Bush showed us his cards by outlining his gameplan: "The first step in this process is for members of Congress to realize we have a problem". Despite openly mocking bush for this approach, I am now going to follow suit. In yesterday's blog entry, entitled Right-Wing Labels and the Republican Noise Machine, I began a discussion on how the neoconservative movement is making significant use of corporate funded think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation, The Cato Institute, The American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Media Research Center (MRC), Accuracy in Media (AIM). You may not realize it, but a major portion of the news stories covered and talking points discussed in today's media originates from these powerful right wing think tanks. Many of the pundits on Fox News and the right-wing radio talk show network take their talking points directly from these sources, without even fact checking the stories.

Do yourself a favor, and click on some of the links I have listed above. Take a look at what they are saying. The Heritage Foundation's front page has editorials discussing how the republican's should handle social security and tax reform, questioning whether Paul Volcker has a conflict of interest in the Oil-For-Food investigation. The Media Research Center has a long list of articles discussing the Rather-Gate scandal, including three straight articles discussing "liberal bias". The Cato Institute goes even further, forming an entire organization devoted to social security reform, The Cato Institute Project on Social Security Choice. Here is a link to the Cato Institute's Policy on how we should proceed with federal income tax reform. Here is a Cato Institute Page dedicated to the neocon's dream of an Ownership Society. These are the people responsible for setting the daily news agenda. There is powerful money behind this organized attempt to subvert the democratic process through outright propaganda, inaccurate information, deceptive talking points, and misleading studies.

I don't claim to be an expert on this subject. but I am asking you at really question whether you believe the pundits when the continue to push the agenda of a liberal media bias. As I mentioned in my previous blog, and I will continue to mention -- Just look at the way the media handles stories. Any time a new story breaks that may be damaging to the neoconservative movement, it either fails to gain any legs, or if it does, it is immediately pounced upon in a seemingly co-ordinated attack effort by the right wing press. Soon, the mainstream media is repeating the lies and talking points of the Republican Noise Machine. Meanwhile, any new stories which may damage the democratic/progressive/liberal movement is immediately spread and repeated throughout the right wing and mainstream press. Compare the lasting impact of Rathergate in the mainstream media -- still carrying on strong four months later, to the relatively small impact of the Armstrong Williams/Karen Ryan propaganda affairs. The propaganda affair should be the leading story in every major media outlet - yet most people I try to discuss the issue with have never even heard the story.

As I mentioned in the paragraph above, I am not an expert on media bias, but it is a subject that interests me. I am currently making my way through David Brock's excellent book on the subject, the Republican Noise Machine. This book is a very dense examination on the subject of the right wing echo chamber, and provides a great historical context into how it all developed. After finishing this book, I plan on re-reading the book immediately, and learning as much as I can about the major players in this propaganda game.
If you are just getting started in learning about the right wing media, I recommend a more light-hearted introduction into the topic, like Al Franken's best seller, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. This book focuses on the mis-representation of several right wing pundits, including Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity.

In order to truly understand this issue, you first need to recognize the fact that, yes, Fox News is just one giant disinformation factory. Once you get to that stage, you should be able to quickly recognize the same disdain for the truth represented in the Washington Times, and the New York Post. Then, you need to start thinking about why these media outlets have become so indoctrinated with right wing ideology.

It is only after you recognize the role that these corporate funded right wing think tanks play that you begin to understand the seriousness of this problem. There is a massive amount of money invested into these organizations. These are organizations designed to give an air of legitimacy to the otherwise baseless neoconservative movement.

As Bush stated in this press conference, the first step in the process of fighting the Republican Noise Machine is recognizing that we have a problem. To help you recognize this problem, I give you the following sources: is a not-for-profit progressive research center, dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. I recommend subscribing to Media Matter's Email Notifications for timely notification of the misinformation spread by the neocons.

The Al Franken Show, hosted on the Air America Radio Network, spends a great deal of time and energy devoted to debunking the right wing's lies. Al Franken, formerly of Saturday Night Live fame, works alongside co-host Katherine Lanpher, and provides an entertaining daily 3-hour talk radio show, discussing the liberal agenda. If you don't have a local Air America station, you can listen to the show online from 1-4 PM weekdays.

The Center for American Progress is another great site to check out.

A couple weeks ago, I started a three-part series, entitled Wake Up America. The first segment, Worse than incompetent, was a very easy write -- I could've easily written 30,000 words on the incompetency of the Bush Administration. The second segment, The Second Term, discussed Social Security, Bush's plans for Tax Reform, and their plans to drill for oil in ANWR.

I have been putting off writing my final piece on the subject, Addressing the Real Issues Facing our Nation, mostly because of the difficulty I have had framing the issue. There are so many real issues facing our nation - not like the false crisis of social security - but how do we proceed when this country decides to freely elect the most incompetent administration in history. We cannot move towards real progress in this country until we win back this nation. Recognizing the dangers and obstacles presented by the Republican Noise Machine is the first step towards this goal.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Right-Wing Labels and the Republican Noise Machine

Unamerican; Unpatriotic, Left-of-center; Liberal; Outside of Mainstream America; traitors; liberally biased elite; Michael Moore Fans; Conspiracy Theorists; Flip-Flopper; Liberal senator from Massachusetts; Tax-and-Spend Liberals; supporters of Big Government. Liberals who hate America; Communist; propaganda; brainwashing; elitists.

These are just a few of the labels that the right wing echo chamber has been using to ruin the credibility of any person or organization that opposes the neocon worldview. I have come to the conclusion that the primary reason that the necons were able to walk away with a victory in the last two elections is because they have taken control of the mass media, through a concerted effort of republican-funded conservative think tanks, the Fox News Network, a myriad of right wing talk radio shows, the Washington Times and the New York Post. This "right wing echo chamber"

Take a look at the results of this survey, conducted by When asked the question, "Which of the Major Networks do you think does the best job of covering news?" An overwhelming majority, over 90%, of Republicans stated that their choice was Fox News. No other network on list received more than 2-3% of the vote from Republicans. Meanwhile, democratic responses were spread throughout the list of choices, with 35% responding PBS, 31% responding CNN, 9% NBC, 8% Fox News, 7% CBS, and 5% ABC (BTW, What democrat in their right mind would select Fox News as the best source of news coverage?)

A republican may argue that this is evidence of pervasive liberal media bias...That this demonstrates that Fox News is a lone, shining beacon of truth in a vast wasteland of liberal partisan hackery. I would argue that this is simply not the case. In reality, I would make the argument that the rest of networks have striped over the years to present a fair and unbiased outlook. When contrasted against the blatant disregard for fairness and accuracy in reporting that is the Fox News Network, of course the rest of the networks will present a viewpoint that appears to the left of Fox News. It is my contention that the liberal voice has been completely drowned in today's media.

One simply needs to observe the way the media has covered the major breaking stories over the past few years to realize how deeply rooted and pervasive the Republican Echo Chamber has become in today's media. Consider the following:

Contrast the media's overall town of coverage to former democratic president Bill Clinton, democratic presidential candidates Al Gore and John Kerry to that of Republican President George W. Bush. The media spent years hounding President Clinton, with a massive campaign to paint Clinton in an unfavorable light, with allegations of real estate fraud and sexual misconduct. The media painted Al Gore as a pathological liar, continuously repeating the false allegation that Gore claimed that he invented the internet. The media painted John Kerry as a flip-flopper, a man who tells everybody what they want to hear, a man that was illegimately awarded a silver star, a bronze star, and three purple hearts for his service in Vietnam. Meanwhile, the Bush Administration, which waged an illigimate war, based on false pretenses is given a pass time after time.

And yet, the republicans continue to whine about a liberal media bias. How dare they?! I am so furious over the general lack of regard given to the Armstrong Williams Affair. Imagine if the Clinton Administration was caught paying the media to promote a democratic agenda, using taxpayer money. Imagine if the Clinton Administration was caught lying about the causes to go to war. Imagine if the Clinton Administration had been caught passing around memos advocating the use of torture. This image is even more remarkable when you consider that International Red Cross Reports estimate that 70-95% of those imprisoned during the time period were mistakenly imprisoned, inappropriately rounded up during campaigns to clear the streets of Iraq.

Back to my original point. Over the past few years, The Republican Noise Machine has adopted a strategy of systematically attacking any dissenting opinion. It seems like every time a dissenting voice is heard in this nation, the right wing is quick to apply a label, thereby damaging the credibility of the source, and limiting the damage that can be done.

They sure did a number on Michael Moore. Before they had even seen Fahrenheit 9/11, the Whitehouse Press Core put out a statement stating, "This movie is a pack of lies". This message propagated throughout the media, the blogosphere, and the general public. The right wing noise machine has successfully painted Michael Moore as a conspiracy theorist. If I attempt to talk to any of my right wing friends about this movie, I am immediately laughed at. Almost every day, I here some rightwing pundit mention Moore's name when they are attempting to discredit another liberal voice.

The simple fact of the matter is that Fahrenheit 9/11 paints a very incriminating picture of the Bush Administration, and presents a strong, cohesive argument. The right wing noise machine couldn't allow themselves to stand by and let this movie damage the credibility of the Bush Administration. The movie did make a major impact on the US Box Office, shattering records for a documentary, and standing a very respectable #218 all time on the U.S. Box Office list, grossing over a hundred and nineteen million dollars. The people of the United States simply wanted to see this movie.

Fahrenheit 9/11 burst into the US on the tails of winning the Palme d'Or, for the best picture at the Cannes Film Festival. Last week, Fahrenheit 9/11 won the best picture at the People's Choice Awards. You think the right wing media would just accept the fact that Fahrenheit 9/11 was a popular film in the U.S. Not on your life. The night the People's Choice Awards was held, there was Bill O'Reilly, sitting in with a self-proclaimed expert, stating that the People's Choice Awards were rigged. O'Reilly and this expert were claiming that people on the internet were ballot-stuffing the award for best picture. They claimed that people with dial-up connections would vote, disconnect, and then re-connect to the internet to obtain a new IP Address, so they could vote again. Are you serious? Do you really think people with dial-up connections would have the patience to do this over-and-over again, and you do really think this action would have any significant affect on the final results. They just had to find some way to discredit this award. As long as the people who regularly watch Bill O'Reilly - in other words, the Republican Base - were aware of the fact that People's Choice Award for Best Picture may not have been legitimate, the damage was done.

I am convinced that this is the key to winning back America. The republicans have invested a tremendous amount of energy into building a massive "Republican Noise Machine", consisting of corporate-backed right-wing think tanks, who continuously feed the mass media with right-wing talking points, biased information, flawed studies, and stories to discredit any liberal story that could damage the republican party.

I mean...just look at the facts. Fox News is the most blatant partisan, biased news source of all time. Right wing radio talk show hosts like Limbaugh and Savage spew lies and hatred on a daily basis. Right wing rags, like the Washington Times and New York Post, help to spread the intellectual dishonesty of the right wing. And yet, there is a continuous attempt to spread allegations of Liberal Media Bias. This is a pre-emptive strike against any liberal source that would make the claim of right-wing bias.

The key to understanding the right-wing media bias prevalent in today's society is to examine the role of corporate-funded right wing think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute. I will examine the role of thes think tanks in greater detail in the upcoming weeks, along with the laxity of the media in blindly repeating the misinformation and talking points propogated by these news sources. For now, I recommend reading David Brock's excellent book the topic, The Republican Noise Machine.


Monday, January 17, 2005

Refusing to Step in Line

I was recently informed that now that the election is over, we should step in line and support the Bush Administration, as one nation. I was informed that there was certain lines that we should not cross, under respect for the office of the President of the United States. What lines are those? If you we all consent to the idea falling into line, as a single nation, not questioning the president, we will soon find ourselves in a totalitarian state. As it stands, we are dangerously close to becoming an Orwellian state.

Under the USAPATRIOT Act, and the new intelligence reform act, we have given up many civil liberties. The government can now spy on us without question, investigating our income tax returns, the books we check out at the library, and our monitor our Internet surfing habits.

We have now entered a new era, where the mass media seems to condone official state-sponsored propaganda, a facet of society we have not witnesses since Nazi Germany. On three separate occasions, the Bush Administration has been caught red-handed using taxpayer money to support propaganda, disguised as journalism. Just last week, it was that Armstrong Williams was paid $240,000 to promote the No Child Left Behind act by the Bush Administration. How did the media respond? By covering Rather-Gate as their leading story, an event that occurred over four months ago. Rather-Gate was a single misjudgement in Dan Rather's prolific and otherwise respected 22 year journalistic career. In contrast, we find right wing pundits, such as O'Reilly, Hannity, Savage, Limbaugh, and Coulter, who are caught lying almost every day. The Williams scandal was not an isolated event -- Previously, the Bush Administration had been caught releasing "news events", presented by fake journalist Karen Ryan, promoting the Medicare Reform Bill and the No Child Left Behind Act.

The truth is that we have reached a new stage in the political climate of the United States - one with a corporate funded right-wing echo chamber. An era ushered in by corporate-backed media, like the Rupert Murdoch owned Fox News Network and New York Post, the Sun Myung Moon owned Washington Times, Wall Street Journal, and many, many right-wing talk radio shows.

Bush, arguably the worst president in the history of the United States, get a pass time after time in the mass media. Meanwhile, John Kerry, a War Hero, and a man responsible for saving millions of lives by helping bring a premature end to the Vietnam War, is branded as "a flip flopper", "unfit for command", "a traitor", "a man who tells the people what he wants to hear". In 2000, the media also engaged in character assassination, unfairly typecasting Gore as a pathological liar. Clinton, arguably among the best presidents in the history of the United States, had to spend half his presidential career fighting off allegations of sexual misconduct and real estate scandals, due to the mass medias fixation with ruining his career. Dan Rather is forced to retire over one story in which he was duped into using forged documents. The greater story, the fact that the required documents, outlining Bush's service with the Air National Guard Remain missing. Why were they removed? What is he hiding? Despite the fact that a $50,000 reward was offered, not a single person has come forward to vouch for the fact that Bush served in the Air National Guard. The evidence points to the fact that Bush as MIA. Yet, the story about Armstrong Williams remains generally undiscussed in the mass media. If this was the Clinton administration, the media would be all over this story, calling for an impeachment hearing. And yet, we continue to hear complaints of a "liberal media bias".

The fact remains that I have been against every major policy decision made by the Bush administration during their first term. I am vehemently against the major policy decisions that have been hinted at by the Bush administration during their second term: I cannot stand by idly, and allow the Bush Administration to privatize social security. I cannot allow the Bush Administration to proceed with plans to drill for oil in the ANWR (Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve). I cannot allow the Bush Administration to go ahead with further tax reforms, which will further shift the burden of this country further onto the poor.

We have a republican house, a republican senate, and a second-term Bush Administration, unbridled by the concern of having to run for re-election. As an American resident, it is my duty to stand up for the rights of people of this country, which are being trampled all over by this administration. The Bush Administration has exhibited a overwhelming lack of respect for the people of this country, and for the men and women in uniform, serving this country in Iraq. For that reason, I do not respect the man who currently holds the office of president of the United States.