Lyons: "Attack on Scrooge McDuck"

Here’s Gene Lyons’ column for the week!

Attack on Scrooge McDuck

Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2004

According to the seers and soothsayers of the right, a terrible new

threat confronts America and its inspired leader George W. Bush. Like

Shakespeare’s Calpurnia, they warn their mighty Caesar of lionesses

whelping in the streets, strange omens and portents in the night sky,

and they do fear them. The Wall Street Journal editorial page has waxed

apoplectic; James K. Glassman of the American Enterprise Institute

forsees “a great threat not just to the re-election of George Bush, but

to our truly open society.” Even the Washington Post has expressed

alarm. And what’s the cause of all this hubbub? Simple: the Democrats

have found a Scrooge McDuck of their own. International financier George

Soros, among the richest men in the world, plans to devote a small

fraction of his estimated $7 billion to defeating President Bush. The

Hungarian-born tycoon, who emigrated from England to the U.S. in 1956,

has pledged a reported $18 million to three liberal organizations: $5

million to internet advocacy group MoveOn. org, $3 million to former

Clinton aide John Podesta’s Center for American Progress, and another

$10 million toward a Democratic voter registration drive.

Sounds ominous, right? By taking advantage of an obscure constitutional

loophole permitting even billionaires to oppose Bush, Soros bids to

overturn the natural order. As if that weren’t enough, he’s taken to

writing books and articles and granting interviews explaining why he

believes that Bush’s re-election would have terrible consequences for

America and the world.

Writers in the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Washington Times have expressed

consternation that a foreign-born citizen would be so cheeky. A website

called has described the Jewish financier as a “descendant of

Shylock.” The Postasks Democrats to compare the consequences of

“conservative financier Richard Mellon Scaife opening his bank account

on behalf of Mr. Bush.”

It’s worth wondering what’s in Washington Post water coolers these days.

The reclusive Mr. Scaife, who unlike Soros inherited his pile, has

bankrolled right-wing causes for decades. Had editors read their own

newspaper’s fine reporting back in 1999, they might realize that without

Scaife’s largesse, we might not have such ornaments to democracy as the

Federalist Society, the American Enterprise Institute, or

the American Spectator magazine.

Scaife’s funding of the Spectator’s secretive, $2.6 million “Arkansas

Project” during the Clinton years contributed to the care and feeding of

Whitewater witness David Hale, a convicted felon making absurd

allegations against the president. It also financed articles describing

the president of the United States as a drug smuggler and murderer.

Operatives hired by the Spectator even probed the private lives of

journalists deemed unfriendly to Kenneth Starr. Unlike Clinton’s sexual

antics, Starr placed his office’s investigation of the “Arkansas

Project” under seal. Grand Jury secrets, you see.

The estimable Mr. Soros, in contrast, works in broad daylight. He even

writes his own books. His latest, entitled “The Bubble of American

Supremacy” argues that the Bush administration has responded to the 9/11

terror attacks exactly as Osama bin Laden wanted it to: by implementing

“a radical foreign policy agenda” in which might makes right. An excerpt

appeared in the December 2003 Atlantic Monthly. “The Bush doctrine,”

Soros wrote “… is built on two pillars: the United States will do

everything in its power to maintain its unquestioned military supremacy;

and the United States arrogates the right to pre-emptive action. In

effect, the doctrine establishes two classes of sovereignty: the

sovereignty of the United States, which takes precedence over

international treaties and obligations; and the sovereignty of all other

states, which is subject to the will of the United States. This is

reminiscent of George Orwell’s ‘ Animal Farm’: all animals are equal,

but some animals are more equal than others.”

The Bush doctrine, Soros recently told Josh Marshall, “is unacceptable

cannot possibly be accepted—by the rest of the world.” By invading Iraq

under false pretenses, he thinks, the U.S. rid the world of a despicable

tyrant at the expense of its fundamental credibility. When President

Bush uses farcically Orwellian doublespeak like “weapons of mass

destruction-related program activities” to describe Saddam’s

non-existent military threat, he doesn’t even expect to be believed by

any but the dullest voters. And when Bush boasts, as he did in his State

of the Union speech, that “no one can now doubt the word of America,”

and that he “will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of

our country,” he doesn’t mean that Iraq’s imaginary links to 9/11 have

been proven. He means that any nation he threatens had better back down.

Having lived under Nazi and communist occupation, Soros insists that

people who call Bush a “fascist” are both wrong and counter-productive.

He also insists, however, that an ideology of pure power is profoundly

un-American and doomed to fail. How that makes the man a danger to

democracy, I cannot imagine.

• Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and recipient

of the National Magazine Award.


What I Think Happened

I think that a lot of last minute deciders, who had not been paying particular attention to the race, voted for Kerry based on his resume, assuming that he can win because he is a veteran and Dean isn’t. I suspect that none of them have had to sit through an entire Kerry speech.

Anyone who HAS tried to sit through an entire Kerry speech knows he can’t beat Bush.

Alterman and Springsteen: Problems?

Eric Alterman doesn’t like Deanies:

“Moreover, it’s kind of pathetic that so many people on the left become so tied into hero worship—Nader, Dean, Chomsky, (and dare I say it, Stalin)—that they feel a need to abuse anyone who does not share their wide-eyed admiration.”

Well, yeah, you did dare say that, Eric. You be scary when you be mad.

He explained himself the next day, though:

“Did I smear all or even a majority of Dean supporters? Did I compare Dean to Stalin? You get an “F” in reading comprehension for even asking either question.”

OK, fine, I’m probably not a Stalinist, but since I found the gratuitous Stalin reference highly annoying, I get an F in reading comprehension. I think I’ll take what’s behind the third door, Eric.

Eric needs to find another outlet. He doesn’t let on, but the restraining order Bruce Springsteen slapped on his sorry ass must have really hurt him.

Edit: I WAS JOKING! There was no restraining order!

(Edited for style.)

Sharpton Working For Bush?!

The Left Coaster: Al Sharpton Has Left Our Building.

Go read. Looks like a GOP “dirty trick” designed to erode black support for the Democrats, especially Dean! A high-level GOP campaign operative working with the Sharpton campaign — for free! From the nature of this relationship I suspect that any investigative follow-up of this story will also show some kind of campaign or personal funding coming to Sharpton from the GOP, whether publicly disclosed or not (as in Swiss bank account).

The Runup

I’m watching Bush taking questions on TV. He calls the pre-war period, “the runup to the war.” Is this related to the “marketing campaign” that his Chief of Staff referred to? Runup?

He also says that Saddam was a man with bad intentions, who could have gotten weapons, so the US is safer with him gone.

Is the US safer from stopping the war on those who attacked us on 9/11 to instead go to Iraq? Either we are in a desperate war against the terrorists, or not. If we are, then how can we pause that war to start a different war?

It took a while…

but apparently the majority of Americans now hold the beliefs about IraqWar Part II that I did before the war took place.

Most Americans (51 percent to 43 percent) believe the result of the war with Iraq was not worth the loss of American life and other costs of attacking Iraq. (CBS News/New York Times poll, January 12-15, 2004)

Americans overwhelmingly (70 percent) disagree with the statement that “the threat of terrorism has been significantly reduced by the [Iraq] war.” (Program on International Policy Attitudes poll, November 21-30, 2003)

By a wide margin (61 percent to 24 percent), Americans say that U.S. priorities should be to focus on finding Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda members, rather than focus on dealing with Saddam and Iraq (CBS News/New York Times poll, December 21-22, 2003)

Americans strongly believe (62 percent to 34 percent) that, given the goals versus the costs of the war, the number of US military casualties so far has been unacceptable (ABC News/Washington Post poll, January 15-18, 2004)

Three-fifths of the public (60 percent) say that the Bush administration was either hiding elements of (39 percent) or mostly lying about (21 percent) their knowledge of Iraq’s WMD (CBS News/New York Times poll, January 12-15, 2004)

Most Americans (53 percent) still think either that the Iraq threat could have been contained (39 percent) or that it wasn’t a threat at all (14 percent), compared to 44 percent who believe Iraq’s threat merited immediate military action (CBS News/New York Times poll, December 21-22, 2003)

Twice as many Americans (31 percent to 15 percent) believe the capture of Saddam will increase the threat of terrorism against the US than believe it will decrease that threat (CBS News/New York Times poll, December 21-22, 2003)

More Americans (25 percent to 20 percent) believe the capture of Saddam will increase attacks on US troops in Iraq than believe the capture will decrease these attacks (CBS News/New York Times poll, December 21-22, 2003)

Most Americans (53 percent to 43 percent) say we are not safer and more secure now that Saddam has been captured (Newsweek poll, January 8-9, 2004)

Thanks for playing folks.


Better late than never I guess.

Too bad all those people had to die, huh?

Keep This Going — We Need A Horse Race

I think it would be great if the nomination race goes right up to the convention! The press LOVES a horse race and will cover this as a major story, every day. And every day the media will be reporting what each candidate said about how terrible Bush is for the country!

For example, With Race Near Fever Pitch, Candidates Zero In on Bush:

“Throughout the day, the candidates denounced Mr. Bush’s economic and foreign policy: in one typical remark, Mr. Kerry described the foreign policy as ‘arrogant and inept.’ But mainly, it was a day for the candidates to avoid conflict with one another and set out the themes that have defined this campaign since the beginning. From here in southern New Hampshire to Hanover, in the western part of the state, and from the seacoast to the hills of Keene in the southwest, the candidates called for a sharp expansion of health care coverage and an end to tax cuts that benefit the wealthy. More than anything else, each presented himself as the Democrat who could beat Mr. Bush. “

So here’s to Dean, Kerry, Edwards and Clark – may the best man not emerge until August!

Today’s Google Experiment: "I trust Hamas more than my own government."

Does anyone remember when Republicans were blocking anti-terrorism bills following the Oklahoma City and Atlanta Olympics bombings?:

“However, some law enforcement provisions were dropped at the insistence of House [Republicans] lawmakers fearful that federal law enforcement would become too powerful and intrude on individual liberties [of right-wing terrorists].

[. . .] Complaining that many new tools that would have helped detect and prevent terrorism had been stripped from the bill, Rep. Frank blamed what he called the ‘Hamas wing of the Republican Party.’ Hamas is an Islamic terrorist group.

Rep. Frank was referring to a remark made by Rep. Hyde during last month’s House debate on the bill. At that time, Rep. Hyde, R-Ill., said he had just heard ‘a dear friend of mine, a great Republican, say, ‘I trust Hamas more than I trust my own government.”

[. . .] Congressional leaders initially promised to complete the bill six weeks after the Oklahoma City federal building bombing that killed 168 last April 19.”

In contrast, here’s part of a Clinton radio address on the subject:

“And law enforcement has also asked that explosives used to make a bomb be marked with a taggant — a trace chemical or a microscopic plastic chip scattered throughout the explosives. This way sophisticated machines can find bombs before they explode, and when they do explode police scientists can trace a bomb back to the people who actually sold the explosive materials that led to the bomb.

Now, tagging works. In Switzerland over the past decade it’s helped to identify who made bombs and explosives in over 500 cases. When it was being tested in our country several years ago, it helped police to find a murderer in Maryland.

In the last two weeks since the Olympic bombing, our law enforcement officers have been working around the clock, but they have been denied a scientific tool that might help to solve investigations like this one.

Our anti-terrorism bill would have given us the ability to require tagging gunpowder often used in making pipe bombs. The Republicans in Congress could give law enforcement this anti-terrorism tool, but once again they’re listening to the gun lobby over law enforcement. It may be good politics, but it’s not good for the American people. “

And do you remember when the Republicans refused to investigate the militias following the Oklahoma City bombing, choosing instead of investigate the government’s actions at Waco — justifying and further inflaming the domestic terrorists?