Category Archives: State of the Union

G.W. Bush–The Foolish Rewrite

Bush-Library-3The rehabilitation of G.W. Bush this past week requires participation of very, very gullible people with bad memories. Worst-best ratings, and polls aside, G.W. Bush took the United States to war on fraudulent grounds.

To this hour, too many Americans accept the incessantly repeated phrase about Iraq — “he was acting on the best available intelligence at the time.”

That is not true, mightily disproved, for instance, in my book, The Italian Letter, which I wrote with my colleague Knut Royce. We show, quoting officials by name, that Bush’s 16 words uttered in his 2003 State of the Union message were a lie:  “The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa .” I later summarized the case in the Washington Post.

Bush and his former aides have been on the hustings once more during the period leading up to inauguration of the George W. Bush Presidential Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. They had the same talking points, praising Bush because he “made decisions…presidential decisions.”  The tautology must be a joke. Of course he made decisions,  indeed, presidential decisions, because he was president.

But the decisions were wrong. Hundreds of thousands of lives lost or changed, one trillion dollars gone, those were the results of presidential decisions. The stupidity of it all and the presidential civility of the week were well-covered  by Chris Hayes on MSNBC.

Harsh but apt words for “the decider,” including an assessment in the MSNBC story from Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff for then-secretary of state Colin Powell. The retired colonel is one of the sources for The Italian Letter. Wilkerson, along the way, casts as much blame on the American people, for succumbing to apathy. He finds that nothing has changed.

We may be doomed, thinking of George Santayana, not only failing to learn from history, but disinterested and badly informed as others produce a fake rewrite.

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Filed under 1, Bush, Journalism, Obama, Politics, Republicans, State of the Union

Roger Ailes: The Formidable Wizard Behind the Curtain at Fox News

A profile of Roger Ailes from The Guardian:

“Roger Ailes and the rise of Fox News
Even Rupert Murdoch is afraid of Roger Ailes, the paranoid boss of Fox News. But ‘the Chairman’ is using his power to make Americans more rightwing, more ignorant and ever more terrified.”
click here for more….

“According to recent polls, Fox News viewers are the most misinformed of all news consumers. They are 12 percentage points more likely to believe the stimulus package caused job losses, 17 points more likely to believe Muslims want to establish Sharia law in America, 30 points more likely to say that scientists dispute global warming, and 31 points more likely to doubt President Obama’s citizenship. At the height of the healthcare debate, more than two-thirds of Fox News viewers were convinced Obamacare would lead to a “government takeover”, provide healthcare to illegal immigrants, pay for abortions and let the government decide when to pull the plug on grandma. In fact, a study by the University of Maryland revealed that ignorance of Fox viewers actually increases the longer they watch the network. That’s because Ailes isn’t interested in providing people with information, or even a balanced range of perspectives. Like his political mentor, Richard Nixon, Ailes traffics in the emotions of victimisation.”

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Filed under 1, Elections, Journalism, Obama, Politics, State of the Union

American Democracy: Will you be able to vote?

If you enjoyed the presidential election of 2000, you’ll have a great time with what’s coming in 2012. Governors and state legislatures around the nation — color them red states — are taking mighty efforts to further gerrymander the people’s right to vote.

"No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent."

Led by Florida and Texas, Republican-dominated state legislatures are seeking to demand picture IDs and positive proof of citizenship before people can vote. The decision will certainly curtail the voting ability of the poor and undereducated. All will be forced to pass a litmus test before they can vote.

This amounts to little more than a poll tax, papered over with blather about non-existent dangers of fraud– a further attempt to stop voting by the underclasses. It is nothing new in Florida, which decided the 2000 election, and where unseen hands wrongly expunged thousands from the electoral rolls as possible convicted felons. Leaving hanging chads aside, reports in the Sunshine State showed the tendency to find more faulty voting machines and systematic intimidation at minority polling places than elsewhere.

The Brennan Center for Justice
reports that 21 million American citizens do not have picture IDs, although there is no constitutional reason why that should stop them from voting.

“Spreading fear of a nonexistent flood of voter fraud,” writes The New York Times, Republican legislators “are demanding that citizens be required to show a government-issued identification before they are allowed to vote. Republicans have been pushing these changes for years, but now more than two-thirds of the states have adopted or are considering such laws. The Advancement Project, an advocacy group of civil rights lawyers, correctly describes the push as ‘the largest legislative effort to scale back voting rights in a century.’ “

Are you paying attention? In the United States –where a coalition of working class African-Americans and Hispanics tipped the scales to elect Barack Obama in 2008 — state legislatures are about to restrict voting rights. Who do you think this organized Republican campaign is intended to benefit?

First came a landmark, highly partisan and criticized 5-4 Supreme Court decision in 2010 that allows unregulated corporate financing of elections, the work of a conservative bloc that also decided the outcome of the 2000 election. With this latest decision, the wealthiest can spend as much money as they want to sway the minds of the collective electorate. We will see a personality-driven, lie-besmirched campaign for the presidency and Congress in which untold billions — six or seven billion it is estimated — will be spent in the battle for victory.

If you’re not fired up about the problem, try some quotations over history about democracy: one of my favorites is from John Adams [to get even more passionate about our democracy, watch or watch again the HBO TV miniseries about John Adams. Next go see the current film, The Conspirator, a well-wrought film about the rule of law.]

Here’s what Adams said:
“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

Get fired up and prove that John Adams was wrong. Fight laws that will restrict voting rights.

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Filed under Elections, Obama, Politics, Politics, State of the Union

Reality versus Imagination: Europe and America

The shallow, misleading Republican response to the State of the Union message only works for people who don’t understand economics at all, or want to twist reality.

Congressman Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin,
is far from reality. He would slash programs — Medicare, for example; and set Social
Security to the winds of free enterprise. The GOP program is this: keep cutting taxes and programs–nothing more. It’s all a sham — helping big business create new markets that shouldn’t exist. It is a basic appeal to the ignorant. The harangue of creeping American socialism under a socialist president is nonsense.

Paul Krugman says it well–economic collapse in Europe was inspired by mortgage-hungry bankers, taking a cue from their American brethren. It was not a result of liberal spending and social programs. Krugman’s call to reality is worth reading: “American conservatives have long had their own private Europe of the imagination — a place of economic stagnation and terrible health care, a collapsing society groaning under the weight of Big Government. The fact that Europe isn’t actually like that — did you know that adults in their prime working years are more likely to be employed in Europe than they are in the United States? — hasn’t deterred them. So we shouldn’t be surprised by similar tall tales about European debt problems.”

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