What Did I Tell You?

What did I say earlier about Republicans and accusations?

Here’s what Maryland’s Republican Governor accuses Democrats of:

“Gov. Bob Ehrlich told Maryland delegates at the Republican National Convention Monday that the Democratic Party is ‘racist’ in its appeal to black voters.”

Well, many Americans are black, and they are mostly Democrats. (Gosh, I wonder why?) See, in his statement, the Republican Governor of Maryland ASSUMES that political parties are controlled by white people, who tell black people what to do… Do I need to go on?

Black Eyed Peas

One thing I didn’t mention from the Deomcratic Convention was that the Black Eyed Peas came out and did a tune, Let’s Get It Started, and it was just great. I thought it was better than the one on the radio. Thanks to C-Span you can judge for yourself. Play this stream and in the Play menu “seek to” 43:50.

S.F. Chronicle exemplifies shift of center in American political spectrum

I was astounded to open up today’s Chronicle, and see it declare

“GOP speakers lean a bit left”

on the interior bridge heading today’s lead article, “GOP strives to pitch a bigger tent”. The only response I could come up with was gale force laughter… the kind of pained laughter that is spontaneously evoked by tragic absurdity.

Rudolph Giuliani, John McCain, and Arnold Schwartzenegger “lean a bit left”?!? Not on any planet I’m aquainted with. Eugene Debs, Norman Thomas and Henry Wallace must be turning in their graves!

I can’t think of a better example of this blog’s lead premise, that the “center” of American politics has been dragged right (far to the right) as the result of a meticulously organized media-oriented propaganda campaign bought and paid for by the ultra-right.

Thomas Leavitt

Accusing Others

The Republicans have more than a little problem with their party being WAAAY over on the fringe. So, being Republicans, how are they going to address this? Regular readers of Seeing the Forest know the answer.

From this NY Times story:

“. . . the party seeks to pivot to the center and seize on street demonstrations to portray Democrats as extremist.”

For those new to Seeing the Forest — Here is how you inoculate yourself against an expected accusation for something you’re doing: You accuse your opponent of it first.

Has your candidate been flip-flopping? Accuse Kerry of flip-flopping.

Does your candidate have a problem with his service record? Accuse Kerry of having a problem with his service record.

Has your candidate been making shit up? Accuse Kerry of lying.

Is your candidate a political extremist? Accuse Kerry of being out of the mainstream.

Etc. When you know to look for it, you see it in everything they do. It even becomes a good way to figure out what is going on when the news is confusing you. Just look for what they are accusing others of doing, and it’s a good bet that they’re up to their necks in whatever that is.

UPDATE – Well, well, well. All this time I’ve been talking about looking at what Republicans accuse others of, to learn what they themselves are up to. So get this: They have been accusing Kerry of claiming service medals that he did not earn. So, with our new “Republicans accusation” rule in mind, think about the implications of their accusation. Then take a look at this, and this and this. There are photos of Bush wearing medalsribbons he never recieved.

Al the Communist Troll speaks

For about a week I’ve been stalking Al the Troll, whose natural habitat is the Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias comments. (Link). I’ve been trying to get an an explanation for this anti-capitalist, demagogic smear of George Soros, the Democratic moneybags:

“Soros earned his money

Yeah – he earned it by bankrupting proverty-stricken countries.

Soros takes from the extreme poor and gives to himself. Sounds like every limosine liberal I’ve ever heard of.

Posted by:
Al on August 23, 2004 at 8:48 PM PERMALINK

(On Kevin Drum’s site.)

Al has finally responded (here and here):

“Hey, Zizka.My apologies for not getting back to you on this topic earlier — real life has largely decreased the amount of time I have for reading and commenting — especially my ability to engage in extended blog comments conversations — for the past couple of weeks. I’ve been able to put in a couple of comments here and there, but nothing real extended.

So, as to your question: I’m certainly not anti-international finance. Hell, that’s part of my real-life job. But I expect that most people in the industry engage in transactions for economic, rather than political, reasons. And with Soros, I don’t think that’s the case. You just need to look at his shorting of the US dollar to know that.

So, did Soros attack the Thai Bhat and Malaysian ringgit for political reasons? I suspect that the answer is yes. Can I prove that? Of course not; I just think it is how he operates. And I think it is unarguable that the Asian crisis put a lot of people in poverty.

So, bottom line, did Soros put a lot of people in poverty for purposes of his political positions, all the while enriching himself? Yeah, I think so.

Al Email Homepage 08.30.04 – 4:59 am #

To which I responded:

Jesus, Al, that’s loony. He became a billionaire for non-economic reasons? He made himself rich for non-economic reasons? If he made money on the transaction, it was economic.

“I suspect that the answer is yes. Can I prove that? Of course not; I just think it is how he operates.” Al, that’s how YOU operate. You’re making it up. You admit you have no evidence on the specific case, but deduce it from Soros’ general operating principle, but you have no evidence of that either. You’re making a serious accusation on the basis of a hunch.

The collapse of the Thai bhat was widely agreed to be the result of real weaknesses in the Thai economy and serious problems such as cronyism and graft in its economic structure. Soros may have precipitated this, but it couldn’t have happened if the weaknesses weren’t there — Soros would have gambled and lost in that case. Sooner or later something like that would have happened, but to you, the answer is “Soros did it”.

In any case, Soros made his fortune on the poor third-world British. The later episode was secondary.

You were just cherry-picking some reason — any reason — to dump on Soros because you disagree with him politically. You have to do this in order to neutralize the creepy Republican billionaires and near-billionaires: Scaife, the Koches, and Moon. Accusing Democrats of what they themselves do is a primary Republican tactic — “inoculation”.

Soros really played a major role in bringing down Communism and and is an estimable guy in his own right. When compared to Moon and Scaife, especially, he’s night-and-day superior. Nobody playing at a high level is pristine and Soros is not perfect, but his adversaries are a motley lot, including anti-semitic demagogues, retread-Communist dictators, LaRouchies, Republicans, and Al.

zizka Email Homepage 08.30.04 – 7:07 am #

I think we can continue to call him Al the Communist.

Not Your Mother’s Convention 2

CBS News said this morning that the demonstration yesterday was the biggest ever at any American political convention. I assume that includes 1968. Eventually I’ll get around to explaining the title for this blog, but this will be more or less straight reporting.

What I’m interested in is the mood, the general tone, the feelings and passions behind what’s happening. So I’ll start with Saturday. It was one of those hazy, hot, humid NYC August days when it’s like breathing under water, early enough so that there were still plenty of people from the woman’s march in City Hall Park, late enough to start thinking about Ring Out down by the WTC site. I was on my way to the deli. Next to me on the street was a guy on a bike staring hard at the sky. I looked up, too. Looming out of the haze, really low, was the NYPD blimp, a gaudy Fuji blimp they’ve rented for the convention and fitted out with the latest Si Fi technology. It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. What was it doing HERE? There was nothing going on in the West Village. It was sinister and creepy. I’d have been less creeped out if it had been a UFO. When I compared notes with him, the guy on the bike said he felt the same way. He pulled his camera out of his pocket and photographed it. I didn’t take mine out of my purse and photograph it. It’s an image that will stay with me forever, but the thought of photographing THEM while it was photographing US photographing THEM was just too Si Fi, too surreal, for me to play the game.

Sunday morning I had to go to the drugstore. I wasn’t planning to go straight to the demonstration from there, but it took so long to fill my prescription that I went over to 7th Ave. afterwards without going home for my camera. The Village was in its usual late August where’s the party mood, people coming out of the churches I passed, groups of potential demonstrators heading towards Seventh Ave. with everyone in a good mood. The humidity had dropped a little, and there was a breeze. There was the constant drone of many helicopters, and the silent presence of that Fuji blimp. Not too bad a day, at least near the river. I didn’t have to go far up 7th Ave. to reach the demonstrators because the crowd was so huge. Since I broke my leg and have a pin in it, I can’t walk as far as the march was going, and I knew from past experience that when you’re in a march all you see is the group you’re with as the crowd pushes you along. I wanted to observe this, so I went home to watch it on C-SPAN. I’m glad I did. There’s no way to observe all of a demonstration of this size, except by helicopter or from a blimp. MSNBC was occasionally giving reports from Union Square, where the march was to end. NY1 was doing an unexpectedly terrible job of reporting, spending more time interviewing two officials about security than on the march itself. The other channels were essentially ignoring it.

The demonstrators started passing Madison Square Garden at noon, and this continued until 4:30 PM. I don’t know whether everyone got up there, or whether the police decided that was enough and cut it off. This was one truly massive river of people, every possible age, race, and ethnic group, at first rather heavily white, largely baby boomers and older. The oldest woman interviewed was 77 and had managed to get there from New Jersey, but at least one person there was 90. The crowd rather quickly became more mixed, with occasional drums, trumpets, and even bands playing mostly music from Latin America. It was as things were getting a bit hedonistic that the Dragon Float was set on fire; the police handled this, I thought, pretty professionally. They had to get the crowd to move away; this was dangerous. It was also damned annoying since all it accomplished was to disrupt the march. You’ll hear a lot on the news about the angry demonstration. Of course there was anger, but the mood went far, far beyond anger. One sign said, “They Stole Our Anguish.” Meaning the city’s anguish and pain since 9/11. The vast majority of the signs were variations on “Bush Lies.” Yeah, they’ve caught on to this. The mood was more anti-Bush than anti-war. Although there were plenty of anti-war signs and banners, Bush is being blamed for a lot more going wrong than the war. Unfortunately, the mood was vastly more one of desperation about getting rid of Bush no matter how than pro-Kerry. There were very few pro-Kerry signs.

Warning for today: There were a lot of arrests, no reliable figures yet, maybe around 200, maybe as many as 400. Many of these had nothing to do with the demonstration itself. A lot of them were people on bicycles. Police Commissioner Kelly has a thing about bicycles. He said on TV that activists often come in on bicycles. That may be true, but this is a city where people routinely ride bikes! Be very careful riding your bike around town for the next few days. Also, if you’re doing the tourist thing and want to take photos of landmarks, no matter who you are, Democrat or Republican, don’t do that. If there are any police around and you want to take pictures, ask them first if it’s OK. If you don’t, you might be in for a big shock. Nobody wants to be arrested for being a terrorist spy.

I hate Kelly, for reasons that date back to his previous appointment as police commissioner. He’s a total cynic who controls crime by moving it around the city, and I might write about this later because he’s doing this to us again. I do not hate those noble souls who serve in the New York police department who are doing their duty in spite of the fact they haven’t had a contract for two years now. Someone — unfortunately I forget who so I can’t give credit — researched the instructions Kelly has given to the police department about what to watch out for during the convention. Much of the information about what demonstrators are likely to do is an outright lie; much of it exaggeration. Anything anyone ever did anywhere in the world is included, regardless of whether anyone in this country ever did it. How are the police supposed to sort this out under the pressure of dealing with crowd control? So be careful if you’re in the city this week, no matter why you’re here.

Tracing a Smear Artist

Some of you know that I’ve been writing for some time about hearing planted stories — anonymous callers to talk shows, letters-to-editors, forwarded e-mail letters, etc. – saying Kerry cuts in front of lines and says “Do you know who I am?” I’ve been saying this obviously is part of a coordinated smear campaign. Well, I think the following adds some weight to what I have been suspecting.

Take a look at John Kerry: Uppity Rich Guy with a Superiority Complex:

“In Boston, where the junior senator from Massachussets [sic] lives when he’s not skipping Senate votes, John Kerry stories are commonplace. Most of these stories involve Kerry pulling rank on a “little guy,” cutting to the front of the line, expecting special treatment, or demanding something for free. When confronted about his behavior, Kerry defiantly asks, “Do you know who I am?” Evidently, Kerry believes that once the “little people” understand how important he is, they will simply back down and shut up.”

Read the whole thing. It’s just wonderful propaganda — the stuff that comes out of the Right’s think tanks and gets repeated through their editorial writers, talk-show hosts, cable TV pundits, etc. You’ve seen every line from this piece used in one form or another lately. (There must be a template provided by the Right’s think tanks, sent to their writers, all of it tested in focus groups…)

It says the writer, George C. Landrith, is “is an adjunct professor at the George Mason School of Law”. Check out the funding and the other funding.

To show you how this kind of stuff is spread far and wide, here’s a Landrith piece, circulated by Heritage Foundation’s TownHall (see Heritage funding here), reprinted at the Western Missouri Shooters Alliance,

“As dubious as Kerry’s claims of foreign endorsements may be, there is at least one foreign leader who hopes for a Kerry-Edwards win in November. However, even the two Johns are smart enough not to brag about having this foreign leader’s support. Of whom am I speaking? Osama bin Laden.”

If you want to hear some more of this sort of slime at your organization’s upcoming event, you can hire a right-wing subsidized speaker. Here’s Landrith’s info at the Young America’s Foundation’s (check their funding here) “Conservative Speakers Program,” where it also says he is “President, Frontiers of Freedom.” (“A TownHall.com member organization,” they boast.) While at their webite you can take their poll, “If Osama Bin Laden were a U.S. citizen, who do you think he would support in the upcoming presidential election?” And here is THEIR funding. Here’s more info on them. Frontiers is described as “a conservative group that maintains that human activities are not responsible for global warming” in the (reprinted) NY Times article “Exxon Backs Groups That Question Global Warming.”

Here’s Landrith info at ExxonSecrets.org.

Here is his bio, at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. And here is their funding.

OK, it’s late and I’m tired so I’m going to stop and make my point. Did you notice anything in common in those funding sources I pointed to for the organizations above? I just wanted to show how the Right’s smear machine, funded by a small core group of funders, employs people like this, (so many), setting them up in think tanks or other jobs, paying them (very well) to crank this stuff out, citing their stuff at their OTHER think tanks and organizations to give them an aura of credibility, and then spreading this awful, smelly stuff around through every channel through which people receive information, poisoning the national debate, always pushing, pushing, pushing the public further and further to the right. There are billions of dollars at work behind this stuff.

Here’s an interesting thing about this — most if not all of those think tanks and other organizations I pointed to are tax deductible charitable organizations – which is another way of saying government subsidized – that are forbidden from engaging in partisan activities, all of them are engaged full time in working to get Bush a second term, all of them are funded by the same crowd, and none of this spending counts toward the election-spending totals you read about in the papers. And the Bush administration is now pumping more millions into this network through various schemes including the “faith-based funding” initiative, or direct contracts or other subsidies. This is The Apparat. This is the Right’s network of advocacy think tanks and communications organizations at work, and this is what they do.


Just for fun, from a Moonie thing, a story with another form of the same smear,

“The talk about Hillary Rodham Clinton [. . .] There was that business about her primping while the troops stood waiting in the chow line for a half-hour and then cutting in front of them to scoop up her Thanksgiving dinner. Then she smeared and attacked their commander in chief and told them no one at home supported the war.”

All those damn rich liberal elitists, cutting in front of regular people like us… That line must have focus-group tested as well as “only served four months in Vietnam.”

The Moonies object to big money in politics: "They Just Lie, Chapter 25"

According to Mark Twain, there used to be a Christian sect called the Lying Baptists. They weren’t as much fun as it seems — they were just less absolute than the other Baptists, and were willing to lie to save the lives of innocent children (for example.)

But we now seem to have a batch of Christians (and Moonies) who are completely brazen and shameless, and who are willing to lie all the time. Look at this interview with the godly Dennis Hastert from the Moonie Washington Times (complete text):

Washington, DC, Aug. 29 (UPI) — House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., had harsh words Sunday for Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros, a major financial backer of anti-Bush 527 groups. “You know, I don’t know where George Soros gets his money,” Hastert said on Fox News Sunday. “I don’t know where — if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from.” A number of Soros-backed groups, operating as part of the Open Society network, have been advocates for the legalization of what, in the United States, are illegal narcotics. “The fact is we don’t know where (Soros’) money comes from,” Hastert said. “Before, transparency — and what we’re talking about in transparency in election reform is you know where the money comes from. You get a $25 check or a $2,500 check or $25,000 check, put it up on the Internet. You know where it comes from, and there it is,” Hasert [sic] said.

Link: Washington Times

What’s wrong with this garbled mess?

First of all, Hastert is following the standard RNC script interpreting the Swift Boat Veterans controversy — which is in actuality a slanderous and dishonest character assassination perpetrated by allies of President Bush — as just a problem with soft money and specifically the new 527’s (which the Democrats have used more effectively than the Republicans so far). He’s not the only one doing this.

Next, Hastert is slandering Soros, suggesting that he’s been involved in the drug trade: “You know, I don’t know where George Soros gets his money,” Hastert said on Fox News Sunday. “I don’t know where — if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from”. (He will be able to back down by saying that he admitted that he didn’t know where Soros’ money came from — and perhaps even claim that he meant the same legal drug manufacturers who have given so heavily to Bush).

Of course, we do know where Soros’ money comes from, and it is indeed from “overseas”: his money comes from international currency trading — a legitimate business which Soros has revolutionized, and which all good free-traders should support (though possibly there should be reforms, as Soros himself has suggested.)

But international currency trading is one of the Jewy-Jew types of businesses, and we can be sure that Hastert’s audience understands this. Republicans still have a strong nativist streak, and their present philo-Semitism is limited to a calculated attempt to lure the seven-headed dragon out of the sea in order to bring on Armageddon, the end of the world, and the Rapture. (The Israelis are just dragon-bait, in case they don’t know that yet).

In this short interview, Hastert also confuses the meaning of disclosure. Disclosure doesn’t have anything to do with the question of where Soros’ money came from. It has to do with whether Soros’ political donations are disclosed.

And finally, perhaps the biggest sinister foreign moneybags in American politics is the Rev. Moon — the publisher of the Washington Times where this interview appeared! Moon has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to conservative and Republican causes over recent decades. He is a convicted felon who has literally declared himself to be the Second Coming of Christ (Moon’s unsuccessful “little brother”). And while nobody knows exactly where Moon’s money comes from (he’s much more mysterious than Soros), the best bet is that it comes from brainwashed cult members and bamboozled Japanese widows. Moon has kinky ideas about marriage and seems to think that homosexuals should be exterminated, and his various foreign entanglements include the sale of missile-armed submarines to North Korea.

But Soros is the sinister one — not Moon! In short, not only do they Republicans not care at all about big money in politics, they don’t care at all about mentally deranged foreign-born billionaire cult leaders taking over the American political process.

Soros is actually an estimable guy who played a significant role in the fall of Communism, but you won’t find out about that from the Republicans.

They just lie. All the time.

My earlier piece on Soros and his enemies

Salon, 2004: Moon declares himself the Messiah, and is crowned in the halls of Congress / Salon, 2003 / Gorenfeld Moon page / Rotten Moon page / ZMag Moon page / Perkel Moon page / Moon and Bush the First / Moon’s daughter-in law testifies

BONUS: The Koch brothers.

The secretive Koch brothers of Wichita, Kansas have given hundreds of millions to conservative and libertarian causes. Their special interest are low taxes and deregulation, and they have a special hatred for environmental laws. Their oil company is the second largest privately-held company in the U.S., and since it is privately held it can be managed in virtual secrecy. Their father, who founded the family business, was also a founding member of the John Birch Society (which claimed that President Eisenhower was a Communist), but the brothers have found it possible to work more within the system.

2004 Koch story / Koch family feud (1998) / Consortium News Koch story (1999) / Media Transparency (beneficiaries of Koch money) / Wikipedia Koch story / Public Integrity Koch story

Israel, Iran, Spies and No One Upset

Just a few quick words, before we head out to the Palo Alto Art Fair. (Bloggers with lives, on summer Sundays.)

A month ago a story hit the press just before the Democratic convention, and became The Story, and no one talked about anything else. It turned out the story was a hoax, a smear, calculated to hurt the Democrats and useful to further the Republican story that Clinton was responsible for 9/11 (even though, or more to the point BECAUSE 9/11 happened On Bush’s Watch.) I’m talking about the Sandy Berger story.

Like a carefully prepared scientific study, we now have a second case that we can compare. A major story has broken (see John’s post below) that has much more “meat” to it, and that is much more serious. Spies for another country penetrating our government at the highest levels, and steering American policy into war with countries that are not America’s enemies. Serious stuff. So how does the press coverage compare? And how outraged are America’s self-proclaimed “patriots” now that the shoe is on the other foot?