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Sunday 'Hung by the Chimney' Toons
'He's seen what you've been Tweeting!...He knows that you're a fake!...' Don't miss PDiddie's latest holiday toon collection!...
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The DoD's Great Budget 'Fraud':
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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

A CONTINUING Public Service to America
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2004 3:27pm PT  

A good catch this morning by the ever-vigilant Josh Marshall vis a vis the Rush/Cheney interview referenced in my previous entry on the stunning Richard Clarke revelations.

Tag-teaming for their attempted one-two knockout blow to Clarke, Cheney, once again, as is his proclivity, happily mis-states the facts in order to paint his preferred Rosey Scenario. Completely misleading the DittoHeads about Clarke's actual responsibilities in the Bush Administration.

Easy enough to do for the benefit of Rush's Will-Believe-Anything audience. But, of course, worth continuing to let you know about, since we believe an informed and de-spun American Electorate is a far less dangerous one.




Bush can run, but can't seem to hide
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2004 1:28pm PT  

Wow...Stunning and explosive info from former Bush Terrorism Czar, Richard Clarke on last night's 60 Minutes. But the real "Must See TV" will be this week when he testifies publically before the 9/11 Commission. Here's the star-studded schedule. Not to be missed!

Of course, as with the previous Bushmen-Who-Left-the-Reservation like Paul O'Niell and David Kay before him, the Right Wing Attack Dogs are wasting no time trying to get out in front of the story to call their own man a complete whacko.

When Rush gets Dick Cheney for a live interview, and Condi Rice Op-Eds in the Washington Post you know the Whitehouse understands they're in trouble and they'd better get out in front quickly. They're trying.

Clarke, a Reagan appointee who worked for Bush 41 and then as Clinton's Terrorism Czar and then stayed on in the post for Bush 43, is no whacko. In other words, whatever they will try to do now to crush him, this man is no Dick Morris, and that is clearly scaring the hell out of them.

His words and credentials speak volumes, which is what makes him so dangerous, and why he must be discredited immediately! Most alarmingly, we may finally begin to see why the Administration has been - shall we say - less than eager to give their whole side of the story to the 9/11 Commission.

It's tough to isolate the most damning revelations from Clarke's appearance last night:

  • The fact that Clarke's request three days after Inauguration for an "URGENT" meeting about the "impending al Qaeda attack" was ignored until just one week before 9/11.
  • The fact that Wolfowitz couldn't understand why Clarke was so concerned about "that little guy", Bin Laden when they needed to be concerned with "Iraqi Terrorism against the United States" - of which there had been none in eight years since Clinton bombed the Iraq Intelligence building in retaliation for the failed assassination attempt on Bush 41.
  • The analogy that Clarke gives wherein he said it would be as if, after Pearl Harbor, FDR decided to invade and occupy Mexico instead of declaring war on Japan. 
  • His view that the Administration simply came in and picked up where they left off eight years ago with the Cold War, and they were obsessed only with things like Star Wars and Saddam Hussein.
  • There's so much incredible stuff to chose from, but here's a few key items for you. I'd suggest you check out the whole interview if you missed it last night...

    "We had a terrorist organization that was going after us! Al Qaeda. That should have been the first item on the agenda. And it was pushed back and back and back for months.

    "There's a lot of blame to go around, and I probably deserve some blame, too. But on January 24th, 2001, I wrote a memo to Condoleezza Rice asking for, urgently --- underlined urgently --- a Cabinet-level meeting to deal with the impending al Qaeda attack. And that urgent memo-- wasn't acted on.

    "I blame the entire Bush leadership for continuing to work on Cold War issues when they back in power in 2001. It was as though they were preserved in amber from when they left office eight years earlier. They came back. They wanted to work on the same issues right away: Iraq, Star Wars. Not new issues, the new threats that had developed over the preceding eight years."

    Clarke finally got his meeting about al Qaeda in April, three months after his urgent request. But it wasn't with the president or cabinet. It was with the second-in-command in each relevant department.

    For the Pentagon, it was Paul Wolfowitz.

    Clarke relates, "I began saying, 'We have to deal with bin Laden; we have to deal with al Qaeda.' Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, said, 'No, no, no. We don't have to deal with al Qaeda. Why are we talking about that little guy? We have to talk about Iraqi terrorism against the United States.'

    "And I said, 'Paul, there hasn't been any Iraqi terrorism against the United States in eight years!' And I turned to the deputy director of the CIA and said, 'Isn't that right?' And he said, 'Yeah, that's right. There is no Iraqi terrorism against the United States."

    Clarke went on to add, "There's absolutely no evidence that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda, ever."

    And this...

    "The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, 'I want you to find whether Iraq did this.' Now he never said, 'Make it up.' But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.

    "I said, 'Mr. President. We've done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There's no connection.'

    "He came back at me and said, "Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there's a connection.' And in a very intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with that answer. We wrote a report."

    Clarke continued, "It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and found FBI and said, 'Will you sign this report?' They all cleared the report. And we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer. ... Do it again.'

    "I have no idea, to this day, if the President saw it, because after we did it again, it came to the same conclusion. And frankly, I don't think the people around the president show him memos like that. I don't think he sees memos that he doesn't-- wouldn't like the answer."

    It's still a long way to November 2nd, but if the story continues unfolding this way on Bush's number one issue, the "War on Terror", he may find himself in big big trouble on Election Day.

    (If you're scratching your head, trying to figure out why Bush is keeping CIA Head, George Tenet on board, I think you can wonder no longer!)

    But don't underestimate the ability of, John F. Kerry --- or John F. Notbush, as I prefer to think of him --- to rise to the typical Democrat talent of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.




    By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2004 10:00am PT  

    And here I thought it possible that the Bush Administration would figure out that decieving, misleading and keeping secrets from the American People was actually counter-productive to their chances of staying in office.

    What was I thinking?!

    A stunning report today from AP uncovers a recent memo from a National Park Services Deputy Director that not only outlines planned cutbacks to our National Treasures, but the directive to keep them a secret from the public, the media and even congress!

    From the memo:

    "If you think that some of your specific plans will cause a public or political controversy, Marie and I need to know which ones are likely to end up in the media or result in a congressional inquiry."

    It then goes on to say:

    "...if you feel you must inform the public ... [do not] directly indicate that 'this is a cut' in comparison to last year's operation...We all agreed to use the terminology of 'service level adjustment' due to fiscal constraints as a means of describing what actions we are taking."

    "If you must inform the public"?? Good lord. Anyone up for an 'executive branch adjustment' this November?




    By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2004 2:56pm PT  

    Rummy Busted on Live TV!...Youch...Great piece of tape posted today by MoveOn.org. Check it out. Somehow, I guess the Administration hasn't yet heeded the warnings of my "Lessons from Madrid" article yet. Oh, well.




    The Real Lessons...not the Spin
    By Brad Friedman on 3/16/2004 1:48pm PT  

    After pondering and reading and pondering some more...It seems there is a real lesson to learn from the horror of Madrid. The knee-jerk one, of course, is that Terrorism works. At least that's the one that al-Qaeda will take away, and the one that ought to terrify everyone. But that's a lesson al-Qaeda already knows, in no small part, from the capitulation to Bin Laden demands that has already quietly occured when Bush pulled our troops out of Saudi Arabia. Just as Osama requested on 9/12.

    The real lesson is one for the Bush Administration. Though it may contain a bit more nuance than the true DittoHead believers are capable of understanding as I mentioned yesterday. They certainly won't have this nuance explained to them by Lord and Savior Rush.

    The lesson that the Bush Administration may or may not begin to understand is that the Conservatives in Spain were ousted by the people not for their stand on Iraq or their complicity with the Bush Administration, but because - in the face of the bombings and the impending elections - they lied to the electorate and expected the people to be dumb enough to fall for it.

    The Spanish people are well aware of the type of attacks to expect from ETA (the Basque Terrorists that they have been dealing with for years), and they were smart enough to immediately recognize that the Train Bombings were most definitely not the work of ETA, but the work of al-Qaeda.

    None the less, the Conservative Aznar government insisted on trying to sell the idea to the people that it was the work of ETA - a long-time opponent of the Aznar government.

    The people knew better. The people didn't appreciate being lied to for political purposes. And so the people removed the Aznar government.

    It is that lesson which ought to be sending a chill through the Karl Rove Bunch right about now. But they've proven themselves willing to put their head in the sand before, so only time will tell if they will finally get it, or if they will continue on their current trajectory towards defeat this November by trying - as Aznar did - to obfuscate what the People are able to see quite clearly.

    See the fascinating broken English letter to Tom Tomorrow from a Spanish voter for one inside account of what happened there last week.

    On the homefront then, Bush needs to put the lesson learned into action immediately if he wants a chance of hanging onto Power this November (and we all know they want nothing more desperately than that).

    They best heed the warnings coming from inside their very own base and come clean about their various and numerous failures in their mismanaged "War on Terror".

    As the excellent David Corn pointed out, the "Washington Post quoted a Senior CIA official last week as stating that thanks to the war in Iraq, the CIA 'is stretched beyond their limits.'"

    He goes on to point to more failures and misdirections currently being obfuscated by this Administration:

    It's not just the usual anti-war types who have argued that Bush undermined the war on terror with his war in Iraq. In December, the Strategic Studies Institute of the Army War College published a report that harshly called the war on Iraq �an unnecessary preventive war of choice against a deterred Iraq that has created a new front in the Middle East for Islamic terrorism and diverted attention and resources away from securing the American homeland against further assault by an undeterrable al Qaeda. The war against Iraq was not integral to the [global war on terrorism], but rather a detour from it.�

    A few weeks ago, James Webb, secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, made the same point more brutally: �Bush arguably has committed the greatest strategic blunder in modern memory. To put it bluntly, he attacked the wrong target. While he boasts of removing Saddam Hussein from power, he did far more than that. He decapitated the government of a country that was not directly threatening the United States and, in so doing, bogged down a huge percentage of our military in a region that never has known peace. Our military is being forced to trade away its maneuverability in the wider war against terrorism while being placed on the defensive in a single country that never will fully accept its presence.� Webb added, �The reckless course that Bush and his advisers have set will affect the economic and military energy of our nation for decades. It is only the tactical competence of our military that, to this point, has protected him from the harsh judgment that he deserves.�

    We know that Bush doesn't much listen to the common folk (or bother reading their Newspapers), but if they wish to stop the hemorrhaging of their own base, not to mention the all-import "middle", they may want to start coming clean on the only issue on which the American people are still barely willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. They need to begin telling the truth about their failures in the "War on Terror" and stop under-estimating the ability of the Electorate to smell a rat and turn insulted enough to hold them accountable for it at the next Election.

    Otherwise, they risk missing the real lesson to be learned from Spain last week. I have no idea whether this bunch will "get it" or not. It would certainly be much better for the country if they did.




    A Public Service to America
    By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2004 6:05pm PT  

    It seems to me that the most dangerous internal threat to our country, may just be the coup d'�tat by the Right to counter what they see as Liberal Media Bias by taking over said media and spinning it so far beyond reason to the Right, with such daily lockstep consistency, that it's become very difficult for the average American to even realize they are being spun anymore.

    Thus, the Brad Blog - as a public service to America - is pleased to offer the occasional correction to the record.

    True, we don't have a 3-hour-a-day radio show (yet), but we gotta start somewhere. So here we go:

    Dear DittoHeads: Today Riush is telling you that "Liberals were in a panic" after the terrorist attack in Madrid last week because it demonstrated that Bush was proven right about this being a dangerous world. The "Liberals were terrified", Rush told you, until, of course, they began dancing with the joy three days later after the surprise victory of the Socialist Party in the elections which ousted the Conservative Administration that was complicit with Bush and his elective War on Iraq.

    The result of those elections, Rush instructs you, was that "the terrorist have won" (true) and thus Liberals in this country are beside themselves with happiness over those results (a complete and total fabrication made up to suit Rush's agenda).

    Now despite Rush's misinformation to the contrary - he doesn't actually know any Liberals or what they actually think about anything, or if he does, he won't waste his time by reporting it, but rather will simply makes up an absurd position for them that best fits his need to fill 3-hours-a-day with Pro-Republican propaganda.

    Yo, Rushies, you are being played by your Master! Don't be a DittoChump!

    It was the Bush Administration that was, and continues to be in a panic over these attacks. At least they should be (you see, I don't actually know anybody in the Bush Administration, so I'd merely be speculating on what they feel. See how I've actually told you about that? - That's what intellectual honest folks do. Get it?) But, if I were them, I would certainly be concerned. Both over the attacks, and the chill that must be running through their bones upon seeing the reactionary results of the election that followed.

    It was the Bush Administration who didn't want to admit to you over the weekend (see Colin Powell's contortions on Sunday's Meet the Press for example) what was so obvious from the beginning: That these attacks were clearly the work of al-Qaeda. The same al-Qaeda that you have previously been told are "on the run" and "decimated" and "crippled". They are - clearly - no such thing. They have been radicalized and enthused by the West having fallen into the sand trap they've laid for us. We fell for it. Lost the focus on the War on Terrorism by our distraction in Iraq. An invasion which is the very Public Service Announcement that The Terrorists were looking for to display to their potential recruits that America is a threat to Islam.

    That can't be admitted, of course, because it wouldn't do for the Bushies to be seen again as misleaders. Especially on the issue of Terrorism. Not for now, anyway. Not until they do their inevitable pre-Election switcheroo and go into The-World-is-More-Dangerous-than-Ever-and-only-Republicans-Can-Save-You! Mode. Coming soon to a Presidential Campaign near you!

    It may take a while, but we will do our best to de-Spin you, DittoHeads! It's our patriotic American duty at least to try.

    For the record, anybody who could speculate that the attacks in Madrid weren't the work of al-Qaeda, should note that the attack in Madrid came on March 11, 2004 - the precise 2� year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and exactly 911 days since that day! Coincidence? We report, you decide. But try not to be a sucker in the meantime. Really, it's just not good for the country - or the world.




    Joining the Video Fray
    By Brad Friedman on 3/12/2004 1:51pm PT  

    Click to view the "Bush Priceless" ad!...Looks like my fear of a dull 8 months until election may be for naught! Both camps are coming out swinging...And if they're swinging like this, this early, I do believe we're in for quite a ride!

    Never one to miss the bandwagon, I present you with the Brad Blog's very own video campaign commercial! Created by the erstwhile Mr. Jaime Robledo and myself.

    Enjoy and feel free to link back to us all you like!

    For the record, as I'm still a bit dubious about the Democrats as a party - as stated previously in this blog - the turn of phrase we used at the end of this ad still makes me a touch uncomfortable. But eternally, and cautiously, optimistic, I just couldn't help myself. Let's hope for the best!...Enjoy!

    Click here to watch the "Bush Priceless" Video...




    By Brad Friedman on 3/10/2004 12:01pm PT  

    "I believe privacy is a fundamental right, and that every American should have absolute control over his or her personal information." - George W. Bush, October 2000

    Okay. That's nice...But, as Arch Conservative Bill Saffire points out in today's NY Times, last month, John Ashcroft's Justice Department said - as they were subpoenaing the medical records of about 500 women who had had abortions - that medical patients can "no longer possess a reasonable expectation that their histories will remain completely confidential."

    Okay. That's not so nice. Not a surprise - from the Ashcroft clan - but not so nice.

    Now, I don't have anything in particular that I feel I need to hide, so I've never been one of those folks to get their panties overly bunched about perceived threats of invasions of privacy by the government. But even I can spot hypocrisy a mile away, and I hate it. Even more than foolish government policy.

    The hypocrisy I'm talking about here is not Dubya saying one thing before getting elected, and then doing another. We're all well used to that old trick by now (aren't we? See his statements against "Nation Building", standing up to OPEC to keep spiggots open and gas prices down, not using 9/11 for political purposes etc. etc. etc.) - but it's once again, the Right Wing Echo Chamber of "conservative" talk radio and "news" that's really irritating.

    How often do we have to listen to Rush and friends and read Drudge and listen to Fox about how poor poor Oxycontin Junkie Rush Limbaugh is being abused by Prosecutors who are seeking his medical records in a criminal investigation?

    Oh, the Right is beside themselves with outrage about the treatment of poor Rush. But - to paraphrase our good friend - not hypocritical at all - William "Lucky 7's" Bennet - where's the outrage when it comes to the 500 anonymous women who are not even suspected of breaking any law at all having their medical records seized?

    Has anybody heard Hannity going on about that one?

    And today then, we learn that Dubya has had some 270 overnight guests in the Whitehouse and at least that many at Camp David. The bulk of them - you guessed it - Fundraisers.

    Now, once again, I don't give much of a damn about it. But I do suspect you won't hear a lot about it in the Media. After all, how many years later were they still on about Clinton's fundraising pals despoiling the Lincoln Bedroom with their very presence?

    Apparently it was Dubya himself that said, again, during the 2000 Election Campaign: "I believe they've moved that sign, `The buck stops here,' from the Oval Office desk to `The buck stops here' on the Lincoln Bedroom. And that's not good for the country."

    I'm sure Fair & Balanced will be all over it first thing in the morning.

    In happier news though, am I the only one who had a flashback while watching Mary Matalin on last Sunday's Meet the Press, trying desperately to describe how good Bush has been for our country and how bad this Liberal Democrat will be if he's elected?

    It was like 1992 all over again, and we all know how well it turned out the last time Mary Matalin was forced to desperately defend her Bush.




    By Brad Friedman on 3/4/2004 9:42pm PT  

    Fox News Channel's General Manager Roger Ailes announced at a press conference today that, as of this Friday, the all-news cable outlet's primetime news debate program, "Hannity & Colmes", would be officially retitled "Hannity & Christ".

    The name change comes after eight full weeks of leading each evening's show with a discussion of the important and breaking news concerning the fact that there is a movie called "The Passion of the Christ" currently playing in movie houses, virtually, across the nation!

    "It took a while for us to get our footing there." Ailes said. "For several years we were dallying about with topics of lesser news value at the top of the show, like Americans being killed in foreign lands, or various discussion about the economy, or who might be the next leader of the Free World. Finally though - thanks in no small part to the persistent vision and nose for news of the great Sean Hannity - we've officially gotten our priorities straight."

    "Fox News Channel is the most trusted name in news," Hannity told reporters. "If we are to continue to own that title, we must continue to help the average American Family cut through the daily clutter of news and information to understand what is really important to them in their every day life."

    When asked for comment on the program's retooling today, Hannity's far Left Socialist Liberal Bleeding-heart Pitbull Adversary, Alan Colmes, came out from under the table where Mr. Hannity was seated, pulled up his pants and informed reporters that "whatever Sean thinks, sounds great to me."

    The name change goes into effect officially tomorrow evening, "which will make it a good Friday, indeed!" announced Hannity.

    In other completely wholly totally unrelated news, George W. Bush's job approval ratings continue to fall, 2 more servicemen were killed in Iraq, an International Court has ordered a retrial for the only 9/11 figure ever to stand trial due to the U.S. having withheld evidence, anarchy continues in Haiti and the Bush/Cheney Re-election campaign trampled on 3000 dead people in their latest media buy.




    By Brad Friedman on 3/3/2004 1:23pm PT  

    Good news! As a followup to my recent article on the Done Deal that is Gay Marriage, and in light of the many impassioned comments that article has engendered, I've learned a couple of things.

    I've come to realize, of late, that I've been too hasty in overlooking the self-proclaimed accomplishments of our "President". As you know, he and his minions have been highlighting his undeniable successes in the "War on Terror".

    The facts, they suggest, speak for themselves: There's not been a single terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11. Not one!

    Putting aside the Anthrax Attacks for the moment - as they do - I believe it's only fair of me to acknowledge what a success Dubya has been on this count! There's not been a single attack! His strategy is clearly working!

    In light of that success, and logic, I've also now come to realize another thing. Gay Marriage in America is an equally undeniable success! In fact, Gay Marriage may have single-handedly brought the Sanctity back to the Institution of Marriage in this country!

    The facts speak for themselves: There has not been one single Gay Married Couple in this country, since Gay Marriage began, to file for a Divorce! Not one! Ever!

    Gay Marriage has a 100% success rate! Clearly, by Dubya's own logic, this accomplishment is undebatable! It does, however, disturbingly highlight the Crisis we're now facing in regards to Heterosexual Marriage in America, which has a Divorce Rate of more than 50%.

    I'm seriously concerned that Heterosexuals are making a mockery of the Sacred Institution of Marriage, and in light of this crisis, I and am calling for an immediate Constitutional Amendment banning Heterosexual Marriage in America. This step is a necessary one if we are to preserve the Sanctity of Marriage in this country. I'm sorry to say, it's the only thing we can do, at this time, in light of the disturbing statistics that are now ravaging many of the great cities in our land.

    Please join me in this effort. May God bless you, and may God bless America.




    By Brad Friedman on 3/2/2004 10:09am PT  

    Yes, the BRAD BLOG is endorsing Howard Dean for today's "Super Tuesday" Primary Election.

    Why vote for a man who has unofficially left the race? Let's take a look...

    At this time, it seems that John Kerry, the Media-Endorsed, Party-Approved candidate is likely to win California (where I live) and just about every other state hosting a primary today. With these wins, he will become the Candidate Apparent for the Dems in 2004.

    If you or anyone you know, is actually personally excited by or interested in John Kerry - beyond the fact that you believe he is currently the quickest route to disposing of The Shrub please COMMENT below and tell me why. I'd love to know. And, while we're at it, I'd love to meet anyone - anyone - who actually likes John Kerry. That meeting ought to be a load of fun.

    But I digress...

    So John Kerry will likely win everywhere today, and will become the nominee soon enough. And yet, some Former Deaniacs are considering voting for John Edwards today. For some reason. I suppose, since it's not a vote for John Kerry.

    But if you're going to vote for "a loser" anyway, why not vote for someone who may end up with enough Delegates (Super and otherwise) to affect the way the Party is run at the Convention and/or beyond?

    A vote for Dean may mean a change for the better in the Democratic Party. Whereas a vote for Edwards is nothing more than a vote for the guy who's going to come in second place, and probably end up as Kerry's Veep anyway.

    If you ever had any interest in what Dean had to say, if you ever felt he was given a raw deal by the Party and/or the Media, if you are able to recognize how enormously he has already effected the entire Party Platform, now is your only chance to say or do anything about it. As little as it may be.

    If you're really concerned about removing Bush from office, and if you're not, you should have your priorities examined, you can always vote for Kerry on November 2nd. But for today, if you want to say anything with your vote, stand up and say something for your party by voting for Howard Dean.

    Here endeth the endorsement.




    What, no more nipple stories?
    By Brad Friedman on 2/27/2004 10:30pm PT  

    Apparently the nipple is old non-news. So too is gay people getting married, I guess.

    So it falls to Jesus Christ to rise from the grave yet again! This time to feed the voracious news beast! And, Christ, could I not care less!

    This is NOT a news story! No matter how much the Right Wing Media try to make it so.

    Here's the deal: There is no controversy. The "Liberal Media" has not tried to keep the movie from being seen. Hollywood is not shaking in it's boots about "what the success of this movie might mean!" The Gospel Truth is nobody gives a crap!

    There are a few Jewish Scholars who may have concerns about the film's Anti-Semetic undertones. (Disclaimer: I haven't seen it, so I don't know if such concerns are justified or not. Haven't seen any Mel Gibson movie, now that I think about it, since the awesome and glorious Galipoli (1981). Go see that, by the way!) But anyone with a real concern is smart enough to know that if they just shut up, this movie will soon enough just go away.

    Only Fox and "Friends" see this as a story, and of course even they know better.

    It seems to me that they actually think they are really pissing off the "Liberal Left" by making a story out of this molehill, panting about it's big opening numbers, and creating a false idol out of the poor beseiged millionaire, Gibson.

    Guess what? We - on the "Liberal Left" - couldn't give a flyin' crap. It's a movie. For Christians. For the love of Christ, can we please get back to nipple stories again? Thank you.




    Defeating Fascism, Monotheism, and Insularism.
    By Brad Friedman on 2/25/2004 3:17pm PT  

    So what's really wrong with America? Take a step into the insular world that is the Conservative Echo Chamber of Talk Radio, Cable News and the Internet and the answer is easy to find?but only if you're actually looking for it.

    It is to the shame of America, that most of the millions of folks who listen to Rush and Sean and all the rest of the Talk Radio cabal and who tune in religiously (pun intended) to the FOX News Channel, are NOT looking for what is really wrong with America. They are looking for validation that what they wish to believe is the only right thing for America.

    They are looking to affirm their prejudices and cling to their long held intolerance by surrounding themselves in a world of others like them. A world which shuts out all opposing view points, but one which most insidiously of all, creates the fiction that they are actually ?fair and balanced?.

    The lengths to which they will go to convince themselves that they have examined all reasonable points of view and have come to the only correct one is astounding. And yet, unless you are actually interested in taking a real look at the many sides of the various issues of societal debate today, you will quickly find the affirmation you are seeking to feel that you are right and everyone else is not only wrong, but ?crazy?, ?whacko? and dead set on the ?destruction of America and all it stands for?.

    This is what passes for ?debate? in the Media today.

    For example, ?the Left is against keeping our country safe from terrorism? (presumably then, they are actually hoping that Americans will be slaughtered by the thousands), ?they want to destroy the institution of marriage? (presumably then the left is made of entirely Homosexuals who despise Heterosexuality?), and are otherwise ?against the Rule of Law? (presumably then, they want to create an Anarchist state in America.)

    For anyone without the desperate need to validate their own hatred and/or shore up their own insupportably weak political positions by finding someone or something to demonize (Saddam, the French, the Gay Community, Trial Lawyers), the statements above are obviously absurd.

    But to the desperate Right Wing, clinging to the fading fate of Institutional Bias and Racism, it's not only important to demonize from the get-go, it's important to take the fight to the Left by creating their own set of false assumptions and arguments which are then easily defeated by common sense.

    In other words, the argument is framed that ?the Media is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Liberal Left?. This argument immediately discounts the FACT that more folks listen and watch Rush, Sean, Drudge, Fox and the rest of the clan combined each day than the sum total of those who glance at the ?Liberal? media combined in a full week. (An argument that cannot be debated even if you are foolish enough to buy the straw man assumption in the first place that the rest of the media are ?Liberal? and that the Right Wing Media is just fair and balanced ?opposition view?).

    But absurd assumptions are beside the point when you're looking for people to agree with you and join your cause.

    Absurd assumptions are where the Conservative Echo chamber starts the day, after receiving Marching Orders about what matters on the Drudge Report, and then they play the rest of it out by arguing one side of a debate that doesn't even exist.

    This morning Sean Hannity is at the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, CA, on his ?Hannitization of America? tour plugging his latest manifesto ?Deliver Us from Evil : Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism?. He's playing to a pack of live foaming-at-the-mouth Right Wingers who break into a frenzied standing ovation after Sean's every sentence. It doesn't matter what he says, they're in favor it!

    ?Andy Rooney has employed hate speech because he described Pat Robertson as a ?whacko' after Robertson reported that God spoke to him to inform him that Bush would be re-elected in a ?blowout'?. {STANDING OVATION}.

    ?The Liberal Left wants to destroy the ?Institution of Marriage' in this country!? {STANDING OVATION}

    ?Democrats don't believe that Business should be able to profit from their hard work in this country!? {STANDING OVATION}

    You know the story. It goes on and on. Take a look at Chaplin's classic The Great Dictator (1940) to see how easy it is to rally a crowd seeking a leader who will tell them what they want to believe. Simply create a false premise, argue the one side of it that represents any form of reason, and then add someone like the hapless Alan Colmes to the mix for a few minutes to give the impression that the issue has been debated fairly. Never mind the fact that the real debate has never been put on the table in the first place.

    And if all else fails, despite all attempts to the contrary, should the real debate actually show it's face ? as in the issue of the Constitutionality of Gay Marriage ? we can always try and change said Constitution to reflect what we wish to be true. No matter how much it may violate the heretofore Death Worthy Cause of defending that same Constitution.

    That's their game, and ? as far as they know ? they are winning. If the debate can be framed as Good versus Evil, who could possibly defend Evil? Who would want to? So as far as they are concerned, they are winning simply because there is nobody in their room, on their air, or on their bookshelves to tell them otherwise.

    So the question remains: Are they winning?

    They certainly have a lock on the Free Mass Media, dominating Talk Radio, Cable News and the Internet. They will forgo and/or twist their own values without blinking an eye at a moments notice if it keeps one of their own ?in power? (never mind the stuff they used to care about, like Fiscal Responsibility, States Rights, Right to Privacy and Conservative Interpretations of the Constitution that were once held so dear). They will buy enough books to re-affirm what they already believe in order to get the Super Stars of their Fallacious Strawman Debates (Hannity, O'Reilly, Coulter, Ingraham etc.) to the top of the Best Seller Lists.

    Winning a non-debate is easy. Who is there to defend the other side of the non-issue? They are counting on this. Appearance is everything.

    So will they succeed in foisting their insular little world on the rest of the majority of Americans who actually do believe in Peace, Tolerance, Freedom, Property, Liberty and the Love of Constitution?

    I don't know. I suppose we'll find out on November 2nd. They pulled it off once briefly (in 2000) and I suppose the question is whether America will fall for the same trick again.

    If the Media is the Message, then the Message, no matter how falsely created and debated, wins the day. The Media is everything and the Right Wing owns it. No matter what you may hear when you tune into FOX NEWS or Rush.

    If the people are smarter than to fall for that old trick ? and I have no real reason to believe that they are, even though they were smart enough to fend off the absurd attempted coup during the Clinton Era ? perhaps America can get back on course to become Ronald Reagan's ?Shining city on the hill? again. Though that won't happen if Sean Hannity and his insular, rabid, and determined band of Choir Preachers have anything to say about it.




    'Bout time.
    By Brad Friedman on 2/20/2004 12:52pm PT  

    "The fact of the matter is, we live in a free society, and freedom means freedom for everybody...And I think that means that people should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into. It's really no one else's business in terms of trying to regulate or prohibit behavior in that regard...The next step, then...is the question you ask of whether or not there ought to be some kind of official sanction, if you will, of the relationship. That matter is regulated by the states. I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions, and that's appropriate. I don't think there should necessarily be a federal policy." - Dick Cheney on 'Gay Marriage' during the 2000 Vice-Presidential Debate

    That was then. This is 2004. And now Vice President Cheney whistles a different tune. He now supports a ban on gay marriage.

    Well, you could knock me over with a feather! A Republican as cynical hypocrite?! What were the odds?! Usually such occurences are happily overlooked by the Marching Band of Right Wing Footsoldiers in flyover country. But in this case, it makes the new GOP line against Kerry ("He's on both sides of every issue" - which he is, by the way!) a particularly hard sell. Even the Ditto Heads ought to be able to notice the transparency of that particular game as it relates to Election '04's number one social issue.

    That said, by the time November rolls around, I don't believe it'll all make much of a difference either way what anybody has to say about it. The wall seems to be finally coming down, and the GOP and DNC are as powerless to stop it as East German Chancellor Erich Honecker was to stop the Berlin Wall from toppling in '89.

    All eyes now on Chicago where Mayor Richard Daley has said that he'd have "no problem" with city commissioners offering marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

    And so it goes. Another barrier falls. The greatest singular moment in History for the Gay Community since Stonewall. And it's about frickin' time.

    UPDATE 2:21pm: And here goes New Mexico!

    Irony Drippin' Quote of the Day:
    "I have ultimate confidence in the American People's ability to separate B.S. from the truth." - Rush Limbaugh during the first broacast hour, 2/20/04




    By Brad Friedman on 2/18/2004 3:24pm PT  

    Long live the Dean!

    And so it goes. Once again, I'm left without a candidate. As I was when they offed McCain in '00. And Jerry Brown before him in '92.

    In all three cases, it was the Media, working at the behest of the two entrenched parties, who were the final undoing for each of them. The Republicrats like to play their own game, and don't much appreciate it when boys with new rules come to town. One way or another, such insurgents crying the King has no Clothes will be removed - thank you - by the Powers That Be. The Media is happy to make the assist. The overnight's call for a good story now. Never mind the better one that is lost over the next four years. That's the arrangement. And that - for now - is how it's going to stay.

    No matter that McCain was RIGHT about the corruption of money in politics. No matter that Brown was RIGHT about the dirty dealings which would come back to haunt Clinton. Being RIGHT doesn't much matter in this process. Being a team player counts for everything. The "team" is not the RNC or the DNC. The "team" is the Washington Establishment, which incorporates all of the above, plus their Corporate Benefactors, plus The Media. And so, I suppose we'll just have to wait for next time to take another crack at changing that particular Status Quo.

    So what are we now left with? Precious little.

    Obviously, Dubya is off the table for anyone with an ounce of either intelligence or self-respect. So it's down to Kerry & Edwards on the Dem side. Both of whom - you'll forgive me - have failed to move me to do much more than change the channel to see if there's a Real World marathon on MTV whenever FOX or CNN forces me to sit through their dubious and predictable dribble.

    As far as dribble goes, however, Edwards currently has the edge. He actually seems to have a point of view. About something (though I'm not altogether sure what that something is yet). And Kerry has nothing.

    {{link http://www.bradfriedman....og/archives/00000009.htm As I said previously}}, at this point, it won't be won by a Democrat. It'll be lost by George W. Bush. And he's hard at work, getting the job done! We can all still hope for "Mission Accomplished" this November - the day that our Long National Nightmare might finally be over.




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