the watch
bush lied, people died. escalate nonviolence.

Evict Bush!

Saturday, June 07, 2003  

Hopeful signs of fallout from missing WMD

The missing WMD are starting to create some real heat for the White House. Everyday, there is a new story about this and now the normally tightly run ship is starting to leak like a sieve. Boy, all I can think is, it is about time!

USA Today reports Bush's war doctrine questioned Skepticism of intelligence on Iraq undercuts pre-emptive strike policy.

A failure by the Bush administration to prove its prewar allegations could undermine the pre-emption doctrine. The next time the president comes to Capitol Hill warning of an emerging threat, one that requires military action to pre-empt and defeat, some lawmakers of both parties say they will be skeptical.

''If you're going to have a doctrine of pre-emption,'' said Jay Rockefeller, the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, ''then you sure as heck better have pluperfect intelligence.''

A Republican senator who spoke on condition of anonymity said that if President Bush went to Congress with another plan to strike an enemy state, ''It would have to be very clear and convincing intelligence for it not to cause a dispute.''

If so, this is really the best news our country has had for a very long time.

posted by Mary at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK |

Friday, June 06, 2003  


Head over to the Whiskey Bar to find out why Sharon's recent pronouncements on the viability of a Palestinian state will likely come to nothing.

Steve Gilliard over at Kos tells us about what we're finding on our WMD Snipe Hunt: a whole lot of pissed off Iraqis who would like us to depart with all possible speed.

Ampersand has a series of posts on the partial birth abortion ban, start at the link & work along the titles for a good exploration of the constitutional issues, the facts, and an analysis of a debate on the topic over at the Corner.

Talk Left brings us the good news that Ed Rosenthal is free after the judge brushed the feds aside in the sentencing portion of his trial.

Dave Pollard has a tremendous amount of good stuff up, but I especially recommend his piece on how to develop a post-consumer economy. It poses some interesting questions, ideas, and suggestions. He also has more up about the growing scarcity of water, and here he talks about a group trying to identify and disperse the ideal 2004 freedom meme.

Reader Julia sends in a link on the Mars Or Bust effort of the European Space Agency.


Also, sorry for the link-and-run posting lately. It's gotten to the point where I now post only when my need to mainline news and information will no longer be sidelined. School has started eating my time in big, gulping helpings, and with finals coming next week, well, yeesh. I'd write about what I'm doing, except that botany field trips & reports from chemistry class might not make the most exciting reading.

If you have any ideas about what you'd like to see more of on these pages, write me and let me know. Some of this, some of that, less of the other, only you can say. What is it that you come here to read? Email me at natasha_l_c(at)hotmail(dot)com and chime in. I'll mull it over when I'm taking a break from the books this coming week, though I can't guarantee prompt responses. Best wishes & thanks for stopping by :)

posted by Natasha at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK |

Why the Missing WMD Matter

It is increasingly obvious that the imminent threat from Iraq due to Weapons of Mass destruction was wildly overblown or, more cynically, a ruse to justify a preemptive war. Many people in the United States of America seem to think that the result of the war, toppling Saddam Hussein and ridding the world of an evil dictator, is now sufficient justification and we shouldn't worry about how we got into the war. I think this is a very dangerous thing to believe. I believe the danger to our country and the world will increase until we have a full and accurate accounting of how we got here. And once we have a full accounting, we can find a way to begin to lessen the danger, which resulted from starting a war without sufficient justification, and to start to work with others to make the world safer.

The danger to our country is: if we are seen as unpredictable, paranoid, and bellicose bullies then other countries will never trust us. There is a serious disconnect between the way the rest of the world views this war and the way Americans see the war. We really need to understand why that is. Condi Rice talked about the lingering anger she and the administration continue to feel towards those countries that did not line up behind the United States in its pursuit of war.

"I think there was disappointment in the United States that a friend like Canada was unable to support the United States in what we considered to be an extremely important issue for our security," Ms. Rice said in an interview before joining George W. Bush at this weekend's G8 summit in Evian, France.

But, the problem is, other countries were not convinced that the United States had any such security concerns arising from Iraq. The administration declared again and again that Iraq under Saddam Hussein constituted an imminent thread against the United States. However, the evidence presented to the world about the threat was flawed and because of that, the US has squandered its reputation in the international arena on its drive to war.

Colin Powell apparently was aware of how important it was to maintain our country's reputation. U.S. News reports that he thought it was crucial to get accurate and verifiable information to present before the United Nations in February:

"Powell was acutely aware of the need to be completely accurate," says the senior official, "and that our national reputation was on the line."

Powell's problem was, although he tried to get the most accurate and most verifiable information for his presentation, it was revealed in less than 24 hours that the main dossier that he touted was a fraud, and had been cobbled together out of years-old reports and on information based on the work of a graduate student that was less than substantive.

Once that was revealed, the vote for authorization from the Security Council was effectively lost. The only thing that could have changed that outcome was solid, reliable and verifiable evidence, which the administration did not have despite its best efforts. No matter what the Intelligence agencies reported, the administration directed them to review their data again whenever a report did not support the reasons for war.

In September 2002, U.S. News has learned, the Defense Intelligence Agency issued a classified assessment of Iraq's chemical weapons. It concluded: "There is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons...."

The fact that Powell was unable to find legitimate evidence to take before the UN in February shows another significant danger for our country. If life and death decisions are made without enough input, but rather based on a preconceived goal which no new information can change, then we will continue to have "failures of intelligence". A major objection to the war from the very beginning was that it was clear that the decision makers were solely focused on proving the existence of a threat and so, shut out any dissenting opinions simply because their only goal was to go to war. They refused to hear any news that did not back up their preset goal.

Today our country is in greater danger than for many years because now many other countries in the world cannot trust what we say and might be less inclined to help when we really do face a legitimate threat.

If it turns out that no WMD are found amid accusations that the Bush administration and Blair governments misused intelligence information, "that will have long-term ramifications with our allies," Korb says.

Referring to a Pew poll released this week indicating that international public support for the United States has significantly slipped -- with majorities in 13 of 20 foreign nations surveyed holding an unfavorable view of the United States, and majorities in seven out of eight Muslim countries expressing the fear that the U.S. might threaten them -- Korb says the affair "feeds into the problem we already had with the rest of the world. People think we're making up the rules as we go along, and that we think that might makes right." This could have far-reaching implications on the future of American foreign policy, including our ability to wage the "war on terror."

The danger to the world arises because if there is no accounting how we got into war, the tactics that were used to take us into war once can be, and most likely will be used again. If military action is the first response to threats rather than the last, the world is much less safe. No wonder so many foreigners say they should be able to vote in our elections, because they know our military might be used anywhere and anytime based not on reality but on fantasy. There is no safety in unpredictable and arbitrary violence. Something is clearly wrong when 90% of the world thinks we stepped over the line.

If we were honest, we would look at how we would feel if another country, perhaps China, had this amount of power and decided to use it whenever it felt threatened. We either create a world where the rule of law ties us together, or we live in a world where war happens at the whim of small groups of people who hold unaccountable power. Of all the things this war did, tearing up the international framework of laws was the worst. And until we get back to shoring up that framework, no one anywhere can really be safe again.

The final point is that right now, although Saddam is gone from Iraq, because of the way this war was conducted, the Iraqis are not getting all the help they need to create a society that can manage on its own. The lack of clean water, the crime and lawlessness, the disease cropping up are all a result of an administration that is so driven by its ideology that it refuses to let the UN help.

If we had executed this war under the aegis of the UN or within a broad coalition, then we could have found sufficient peacekeepers from all over the world to help provide a space of safety for the Iraqi people while fixing the destroyed infrastructure. (As it is, Americans now have over one hundred thousand troops stationed in Iraq for the forseeable future.) Opening up the country to the expertise of the world for repairing the damage would have gone a long way in helping set things right. Today, the almighty drive for a dollar where the Bush administration picks the winners for the reconstruction contracts, keeps the real needs of the Iraqis from being addressed. No matter how you felt about the war, we absolutely owe them a chance to get back on their feet, and to do this we need to open the country to the help that can come through the UN. It is not the time to be considering how to make a buck.

Edited 8:50 am.

posted by Mary at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK |

Thursday, June 05, 2003  

The Irrepressible Molly Ivins

In the Bill O'Reilly, Al Frankin and Molly Ivin episode on CSpan, Molly talked about being embedded with the Texas Democrats in Ardmore, OK.

What a gal!

Audio clip of the show here (via Riba Rambles).

posted by Mary at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK |

Checking in on that other Axis of Evil nation, Iran:

Time magazine wonders if Iran is really an enemy?

The country has publicly requested that the US apologize for helping Bin Laden in the past in response to allegations that they have links with the terrorist mastermind and former CIA asset.

The Asia Times discusses the geopolitics of pipelines in Iran's neighborhood, the disputes over the division of righs to the Caspian sea, and their relations with other countries.

The G-8 summit unanimously approved Washington's proposal for a harder line with Tehran, though Bush says there are no plans for a military attack, and the Pentagon denies that they plan to use the Mujahideen e-Khalq in an attempted overthrow.

A writer for the Christian Science Monitor argues that the US should leave Iran alone following its dismal historical record there and elsewhere.

Russia will continue supplying nuclear fuel for Iran's nuclear power plants regardless of whether or not they sign on to an inspections regime favored by the US and Britain.

More on the dress code crackdown.

Amnesty International reports that the human rights situation has deteriorated over the course of the last year, a period during which the country faced increased US pressure and more militant rhetoric.

Several links courtesy of Payvand.

posted by Natasha at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK |

Polly Toynbee tells us why toddler care is an important political issue. Which is good, because merely being an incredibly inconvenient part of a working mother's life never seems to bring the stamp of importance to anything:

...This study will follow them through life: it hopes to repeat US research showing how the effect of a two-year "head start" programme for poor toddlers lasted for ever. By the time they were 30, every $1 spent on their nursery years saved the state $7 later: more of them went to college, owned their homes, were never unemployed, drew benefits nor committed crimes....

posted by Natasha at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK |

The Guardian has the story on the late term abortion ban that passed in the US House of Representatives. Read it and weep.

posted by Natasha at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK |

Where Are They Now?

Hey, it's about time to check in with our buddies in the Coalition of the Bought Bribed Billing Willing, and see what those right on, stand up, death to tyrants, pro-liberation folks are up to today. If I missed a couple, believe me, I don't want to hear about it. Really.

Afghanistan: Pesky fight with Taliban still going, though the press and White House seem to have almost forgotten this fact.

Albania: Recently admitted to possessing chemical weapons

Australia: Prime Minister John Howard is facing scrutiny for spending the equivalent of a full year's pay for the average Australian on a four day hotel stay in Rome, as well as running up a wine bill in excess of $120,000 during his four year tenure. Which is a shame, because he must be under a great deal of stress now that opposition leaders in parliament are calling for a full investigation into whether or not evidence was doctored to get the public to support war in Iraq. But policy wise he's trying to out-Bush Bush, with the country's deficit at a record high, and his stated intent to not sign the Kyoto Protocol.

Azerbaijan: While doing great in the oil and gas department, and although Washington double-dog swears that the country will not be used to launch an invasion of Iran, they haven't quite got the hang of the whole free press and fair elections thing. Also, they would like to continue holding their political prisoners until after the next elections.

Britain: Tony Blair faces a formal inquiry on allegations that intelligence reports were doctored to play up the Iraqi threat. And this just in: Hussein's daughters likely to seek asylum and resettlement in Leeds.

Bulgaria: The cash-strapped country is eagerly looking forward to it's shiny, new US military bases, and was happy to have our business during GWII.

Colombia: Guerilla fighting causes 2,000 peasants to flee their homes, taking temporary refuge in the abandoned homes of other Colombian citizens who had previously fled a neighboring area. The country's 39 year long civil war has displaced 300,000 refugees into nearby countries. A recent bombing took the lives of four people. The country is destroying ever greater swathes of the Amazon rainforest, in what appears to be an effort to push the drug trade outside their borders, for the latest round of Drug War Whack-A-Mole.

Czech Republic: The country has been fined $354 million for a bad business deal in that country where a US multimillionaire got taken to the cleaners.

Denmark: The country is deeply skeptical of the EU, but is forging closer ties with Iran.

El Salvador: Seems to be little news available at the moment, though it appears that US gang culture has started taking hold due to returning immigrants. Though I'm sure that the citizens of El Salvador will be delighted to see that the Bush administration has resurrected terrorist enabler Elliot Abrams.

Eritrea: They are concerned about the possibility of an Ethiopian invasion, and brooking no dissent internally.

Estonia: This country of 1.4 million has the most advanced internet infrastructure of any of the former Soviet bloc nations.

Ethiopia: Aside from being the home to warlords contemplating an invasion of Eritrea, the country is still a byword for starvation, and the US and Norway recently temporarily closed their embassies after terrorist threats.

Georgia: The UN has plans to get involved in the quarrel between Georgia and breakaway province Abkhazia. Also, their president is planning a visit to Iran, to reassure them that their country won't be used as a launchpad for invasion.

Hungary: The country has finally been strongarmed into sending peacekeeping troops to Iraq.

Italy: Prime Minister Berlusconi is getting ready to pass a law that would grant senior members of his party, including himself, immunity from charges of tampering with the judicial system for personal gain. Which we can understand, because the incident in question happened about a decade ago, and that practically makes it a youthful indiscretion.

Japan: Prime Minister Koizumi under fire (along with the president of S. Korea) for supporting the war now that it appears there was no imminent threat.

Latvia: The US Senate has recently approved Latvia's inclusion in NATO, along with Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

Lithuania: Recently sent a team of orthopedic surgery specialists to Um-Qasr, along with various and sundry aid from other 'New Europe' nations. Speaking of which, does the Bush administration know something about European population migration, or perhaps geology, that we mere mortals aren't privy to?

Macedonia: They will be sending three medical teams and a small military team to Iraq. Meanwhile, the Ukraine will be suspending arms supplies to the country in hopes that an internal struggle can be resolved through negotiation.

Netherlands: Radio Netherlands recently interviewed Noam Chomsky, the country (in a move near and dear to our hearts) recently convicted 6 email scammers, is being encouraged to sign a defense production agreement with the US and select members of NATO, and their new government is being asked to send troops to help Britain administer southern Iraq.

Nicaragua: Al-Jazeera wonders if the same kind of Latin American democracy that the US promoted in Nicaragua will be visited on the Middle East. Nicaragua is currently involved in a territorial dispute with Colombia regarding some islands which look promising for oil exploration, and their president (whose party was once affiliated with the Somoza dictatorship) is now turning to the opposition Sandinista party (which was once responsible for a bloody civil war) for support after having attempted to actually do something about government corruption.

Philippines: Protestors release a statement about a recent hunger strike in opposition to government policies that released GM corn into the country's agricultural system, the government has signed an ICC immunity deal with the US, President Arroyo has called for EU style economic integration in Asia as well as a nuke free Korean peninsula, while at home she seeks to change the constitution in a bid to be prime minister when her term expires, the government is warily eyeing a rebel ceasefire in Mindinao, and supplies are running out in evacuation centers in that province, where armed conflict has displaced over 300,000 villagers.

Poland: A Watergate level scandal has erupted in the country during a public investigation into the attempt of a government official to extract a bribe from a media magnate in exchange for legislation favorable to his company. We have that over here, too. It's called campaign financing. Welcome to the Free World, Poland. NATO has approved their sending a small stabilization force to Iraq.

Romania: Just can't wait to get their hands on the military bases that will likely be moved out of Germany. They will be sending 700 soldiers to Iraq (article has info on the state of several other rather slim to evaporating offers of help).

Slovakia: They will be sending a 85 soldier army engineering unit to aid in the reconstruction of Iraq. They are said to be poorly prepared for their coming EU membership, and are considered part of the problem in the growing human trafficking rings operating in Europe that take advantage of the chaos in former Soviet bloc nations.

South Korea: US troops will be pulling back from the DMZ, with a majority moving to new positions south of Seoul. Though an additional $11 billion will be allocated for US defense build up in the country. Meanwhile President Roh faces allegations of scandal, which has taken root in an atmosphere of hostility (see Japan entry, above) fomented by public unhappiness over his decision to support the US invasion of Iraq.

Spain: 1,500 Spanish peacekeeping troops will aid in the reconstruction phase of the Iraqi occupation, with Honduras and Nicaragua saying that peacekeepers from their countries would serve with the Spanish if the US pays for it. Spain's foreign minister stands with Britain on the question of Iraqi WMDs, as the Aznar government barely held on to power after losing significant electoral ground to the country's socialist party over the highly unpopular decision to back war in Iraq.

Turkey: The EU approves a readiness report which was a mixed review of Turkey's efforts to apply with EU succession requirements, though if an aggressive path were taken, talks could begin next December. The country has recently endorsed a policy of warmer relations with Kurds, and has attempted to remove concern about Turkish intervention in northern Iraq. They have plans to broaden cooperation with Iran and the Balkan states of Romania and Bulgaria.

Uzbekistan: The good faith of the US State Department notwithstanding, another prisoner was recently tortured to death in the dictatorship of Uzbekistan, where Amnesty Internation has described the human rights situation as dire. The situation has become far worse with the advent of US backing and US basing rights, while their homegrown murderous dictator looks forward to the possibility of hosting a NATO base.

posted by Natasha at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK |

Wednesday, June 04, 2003  

Who are the Lucky Duckies?

Slate's Chatterbox has a very good column about the Earned Income Tax Credit which under Clinton was a large factor in raising all boats for the working poor. One of the reasons I've heard about why the Republicans are not too concerned about lowering taxes for the middle and lower classes is that if these tax payers don't feel overtaxed, then they are much less inclined to support tax cuts for the well-off. Certainly, this might be one way to understand why lots of Americans think that the estate tax is unfair.

Timothy Noah notes:

If, on the other hand, your dislike of welfare dependency was merely a cover for disliking poor people, conservatism's triumph in selling the EITC to liberals created the need for a new paradigm. Thus was born the "tax the poor" movement, which calls for raising taxes on the poor and middle class so that they don't blossom into a powerful voting bloc indifferent to the cost of big government.

Noah provides a link to the latest Wall Street Journal editorial to proclaim how lucky the working poor are because many of them are already paying too little of their share. And the Journal is outraged that anyone thinks they should be included in the recent tax cut.

But don't low-income workers have to cough up the payroll tax? They certainly do, but don't forget that the federal Earned Income Tax Credit was designed to offset payroll taxes and is also "refundable." In 2000, the EITC totaled $31.8 billion for 19.2 million Americans, for an average credit of $1,658. Some 86% of that went to workers who had little or no income tax liability.

We raised some hackles last year when we noted this growing trend that more and more Americans paid little or no tax. "Lucky duckies," we called this non-taxpaying class at the time. Notwithstanding liberal spinners, after this tax bill they're even luckier.

Would that the WSJ spent just a little time being concerned about the enormous tax rebates some others have gotten off the American tax payers:

So effective was the strategy that Enron paid zero federal income taxes from 1996 to 1999, despite reporting $2.3 billion in net income during the period, the report says.

And according to CTJ, Enron received some $381 Million in rebates over a 5 year period.

So exactly who are the lucky duckies? Click here to see.

posted by Mary at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK |

Tuesday, June 03, 2003  

Maybe even Bush can't lie all the time. His words as reported in the Guardian at the Middle East peace summit when speaking to Ariel Sharon:

...During a private meeting recounted yesterday by the Washington Post, Mr Sharon told the president he was a "man of peace and security", to which Mr Bush replied: "I know you are a man of security ... I want you to work harder on the peace part." Then, according to the newspaper, Mr Bush added: "I said you were a man of peace. I want you to know I took immense crap for that." ...

The hamster wheel took a header on that one. We are very amused.

posted by Natasha at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK |

Regime Change In Britain?

Tony Blair suicidally proclaims himself 100% behind the evidence for going to war.

...Firstly the idea that we doctored intelligence reports in order to invent some notion about a 45 minute capability of delivering weapons of mass destruction, the idea that we doctored such intelligence is completely and totally false. Every single piece of intelligence that we presented was cleared very properly by the Joint Intelligence Committee. Secondly, the idea, as apparently Clare Short is saying, that I made some secret agreement with George Bush back last September that we would invade Iraq in any event at a particular time, is also completely and totally untrue....

A formal inquiry is being launched to investigate the circumstances of the road to invasion. The panel is supported by members of the Labour party, as well as members of the opposition Tory party who have begun to feel duped after crossing party lines to support the PM.

Much is being made of exaggerated claims by Downing Street, such as Iraq's ability to order WMDs deployed within 45 minutes of an order from Hussein. All included in the report on which Colin Powell based his UN presentation, which was plagiarized from an outdated academic document, and publicly available columns from Jane's. It was falsely attributed to intelligence sources when originally published.

The Guardian rounds up a sample platter of UK opinion. And CNN reminds us of a particularly damning statement, followed by the short list of what has the British up in arms:

...Blair's tenacious battle for public opinion rested squarely on the imminent danger posed by Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. "I have never put our justification for action as regime change," he told the House of Commons. "We have to act within the terms set out in [U.N.] Resolution 1441," which focused on WMD. "That is our legal base." ...

An intelligence official told the BBC that a dubious claim in the WMD dossier Blair released last September — that some of Saddam's troops were trained to deploy chemical weapons within 45 minutes — was penned in at the last minute by Downing Street aides. Another charge in the dossier, that Iraq was procuring tons of uranium from Africa, was quickly shown to be bogus. ...

And he was trying so hard not to be the Neville Chamberlain of the modern era...

posted by Natasha at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK |

FCC Postmortem

We here at the watch are pretty appalled by the FCC decision to relax the already loose media ownership restrictions. But perhaps even more appalling is this Washington Post TechNews attempt to report on the issue after the fact. I'm left unable to fully snark at their utter failure to present the issue as more than a partisan tennis match. It's too depressing to go over it that thoroughly.

posted by Natasha at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK |

Been Caught Bloggin'... Once, When I Was Five...

Tristero claims that the fundamentalist Christian obsession with homosexuality is a sin all by itself. Also, an important semantic distinction.

Emma at the Oregon Blog has a great post on why environmentalists and loggers should work together instead of sniping at each other. (Links bloggered, scroll to Thursday, May 29, 2003)

Alas, A Blog doesn't want us to forget the real WMD issues, or to miss hearing about an internet censorship law in Pennsylvania.

I Protest on the hot water Tony Blair has gotten himself into, Weapons of Mass Retraction indeed.

Talk Left on how reducing the murder rate is as easy as putting up some affordable housing. Really. Great quote from the article: "Violence is a property of social structure, not people." Also, how Iowa is boosting revenues by taxing illegal drugs.

Daily Kos: Steve Gilliard on how the world is letting us pay for Iraq (surprise), that Powell and Straw knew the case for war was bogus, that supposed foreign policy guru Condoleeza Rice doesn't understand Europe, and that our troops are getting restless.

Billmon gives us another great timeline of administration statements, this time on Iraqi democracy. Also, the radicalization of Iraq's Sunnis, the destabilization of Korea, and the rising popularity of Osama bin Laden.

Today, South Knox Bubba is ashamed to be a liberal.

Making Light finds a great and terrible truth in the preserved skeleton of an argument. Heh.

Free trade enthusiast Brad DeLong says its time once again to bang his head against a wall. Not too hard though, I hope. There seem to be a shortage of heads in America that recognize the cliff we're speeding towards.

See The Forest wonders, Have you no sense of decency, sir?

Martin Wisse offers a European perspective of plans to turn Guantanamo Bay into a death camp.

posted by Natasha at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK |

Monday, June 02, 2003  

Can a Democratic Candidate Get Elected?

The other evening on an open thread at Steve Soto's place, CTDem2 asked:

OK Here's a question.

Two years ago, John Judis and Ruy Teixeira wrote "The Emerging Democratic Majority."

Their premise was that the fastest-growing groups of voters were Dems, and that mainstream America was moving Dem as the post-industrial university-centered urban "Ideopolis" moves to the left.

Much has happened in the world of politics since then.

So my question is this: Was their premise true? If so, is it still true?

Of course this is the central question in politics today. Has pro-Bush "patriotism" fundamentally changed the picture, or is it a dark transient bubble that will go the way of McCarthyism?

Posted by CTDem2 at May 31, 2003 12:44 PM

This is a very good question, and worth considering while we try to figure out what message a Democratic candidate must have in order to win. Here was my answer to CTDem2 (slightly edited to make my argument more coherent).

In my opinion, in the normal course of things, their reading of things would be true. But, I think that 9/11 and since then, the war in Iraq has thrown all of this up in the air. The Bushies use fear and propaganda to get their way and they are definitely realigning the country around their interpretation of things. The attitude changes that they have been able to cement in the American public since 2000 are:

1) it is better to give up our rights during war time and we are at war (and will be for as long as we can imagine).

2) we are good people that have been totally wronged by those other evil people (rather than understanding we are also human and so also subject to both human greatness and human depravity).

3) preemptive (preventative?) war is okay even if we go it alone. We are victims and whatever we do is right.

This administration has done everything they can to foster an attitude that brings out the most negative side of the American public. Today much of the public is fearful and vengeful and self-centered and not particularly interested in the fate of others in the world. (Of course, when people are afraid they are less likely to have the ability to think of others.) The radical right believes that you need to divide people into the winners and losers and if you don't have an external enemy, then you must make one.

They are doing their very best to have the American public see the world in black vs white and that they are the only ones that can "protect" the American public from all those who hate Americans "because they are free". Contrast this to Clinton, who was very inclusive and who tried to foster a belief that people that "played by the rules" ought to be respected and helped when they were down in their luck. According to this WH, people who are poor are responsible for their situation and there is nothing society should do to help because this might make those people too dependent. (The horrendous tax cut that "missed" 1/6th of American children is an example of this callousness.)

The Republicans really do believe they are winning the hearts and minds of the American public, but really what they are doing is far from that. They constantly have to lie about their policies since most Americans are not so Hobbesian in their approach to life. (Just go ask someone whether the government should butt out of helping people in their old age!) If their policies were really popular, they wouldn't have to spend so much time "focus group" testing them on how to sell them.

The thing that they have been very successful at is undermining liberal arguments. They have spent 20 years tearing down public schools. Now the public believes there is something wrong with public schools, rather than something wrong with some public schools. And as a result, they are that much closer to shutting down public schools totally.

They plan to do the same with the environment. They will pick and pick and pick at regulations until everyone agrees that regulations are bad and the people who support them are evil. And they will then dismantle all regulations.

I know that I believe that after 9/11 and even more so after the start of the Iraqi war, we have a problem where as long as people are frightened about terrorism and this is the trumping issue, we will not have a chance to make our case. Gaining headway in making our case depends on being able to be focused enough and clear enough about the choices (liberal vs conservative) that will allow people to understand the real choices they are making. (Remember, the Republicans lie about what they want, so people really do believe that the Republicans will do okay by them, and better than the tax and spend Democrats.)

I think that the real fight will end up being over fear of the future vs hope for the future. The Republicans need to have people focused on the immediate future (we must be afraid because "they" are waiting to destroy us). The Democrats need to have people believing that there is a future and they need to vote their hopes for a better one. I think that the real battle will be on those grounds.

Right now, I think that fear trumps hope, but it is possible to change if we try. And God, I hope we win, because I don't think I want to live in the world that the radical right would bring about.

CTDem2 believes that the economy will have a much stronger play than I give credit, and perhaps he is right.

Mary- thanks for your thoughts. I will have to digest them for a while. I think you've made some good points. My inclination is that the missing piece of the equation is not only hope vs. fear - but also truly Dem vs. Republican. Much of the popularity of Republicans comes from their greater exposure - via a friendly media, and massive corporate-sponsored ad campaigns. Democrats just need to be heard. I hope that will come with the joining of three factors: 1. Dem politicians are getting louder; 2. Dem base is ready to be aggressive with their voice, their time, and even their personal money; 3. Americans angry about the economy will have their ears open.

One more list of threes. I think there are three important issues for Dems in 2004. 1. The ECONOMY 2. Postive EXPOSURE 3. Homeland SECURITY (moreso than "foreign policy"). Each of these three is critical.

Yes, I think this makes sense, but I do not put it past the Bush cabal to manufacture another October crisis like the run up to Election 2002 where the Democrats were damned if they supported the war and damned if they opposed the war resolution. Too many people voted their fears.

BTW: here is a followup article by Ruy Teixeira in this month's Washington Monthly that explains why he thinks the Republicans are still on the wrong end of the demographic shift.

I'd love to hear what you think about this topic.

posted by Mary at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK |

Sunday, June 01, 2003  

FCC Vote Comes Down to the Wire

Tomorrow is when the FCC meets to vote on the media consolidation rule changes. Although Michael Powell is going to go ahead with his vote, Congress can still step in. As Molly Ivins says in her column today:

Call your congressperson; even at captive agencies, when the pols who write the budgets speak, the agencies listen. And the pols listen when the people get stirred up enough.

And asks that we make sure to let the FCC know we are watching:

Even if Powell doesn't reschedule the rule change vote, getting thousands of calls into his office will send a strong message that the public is watching him. Powell doesn't appreciate this kind of pressure: in a recent interview, he said that "I think we're one of the most heavily lobbied federal institutions in the government, probably second only to the United States Congress. I don't, by the way, think that's a particularly good thing." We need to remind him that public involvement in decision making is what democracy is all about.

Call FCC Chair Michael Powell now at: (202) 418-1000

The thing that gets me riled is way the rule change is being done. There was only one public hearing while the broadcasting lobbyists had unlimited access to the members of the FCC. The actual wording of the proposed rule changes won't be made public until after the vote. This is flatly wrong. This issue is a good one to take a stand on and ask that a Democratic process be used before taking a vote. Let your govenment know you are watching.

posted by Mary at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK |