Thursday, September 30, 2004

Upper-class twit of the year

"Yes, Georgie has actually managed to run himself over! WHAT A GREAT TWIT!"

I still haven't watched the debate, but I've been given the gist. Apparently, even some right-wing bloggers are conceding defeat.

You know the great thing about being a pessimist? All your surprises are happy ones.

It HAS happened here

As I write, the debates are just about to start. As soon as I'm done here, I'm going to spend the next couple of hours reading a good book on a non-political subject. The rules do not allow Kerry to score better than a draw, which will be transformed into a massive loss by the post-debate spinners. He could, of course, make a mistake and fail miserably. Either way, the process is too painful to watch.

A number of people have compared present times to the worst days of McCarthyism. If only matters were so pleasant: What faces us now is far worse, as this fine piece in Salon and this column on AlterNet make clear.

Remember the old analogy of the frog? How it would hop out of a boiling pot, but stay inside the pot if the water, initially lukewarm, were slowly heated? Fascism, we were told, would come to America in just that fashion. And so it has.

Political discourse has become increasingly vile since Reagan's first run. Now we have Democrats being called fags, "French," terrorists, and Bible-banners. Not even the fiercest partisan would have contemplated using such terminology when I was young. No-one in a cowed media has the guts to ask for a return to decency -- and even if someone did make such a call, legions of Jesus-addled ninnies would categorize the complaint as liberal whining.

Speaking of the French, our current crisis has sent me re-reading books on the internal battles of Third Republic, not least because Murdoch is an infinitely better-financed version of Edouard Drumont who has targeted liberals instead of Jews. Rightists call the French "surrender monkeys." In fact, many French soldiers fought valiantly as the Nazis rolled into their country. They were betrayed by conservative generals and politicians whose politics can be called "Republican" in the modern American sense, though certainly not in the "Third Republic" sense. In short, the conservatives sympathized with Hitler. They viewed France's capitulation not as a surrender but as a liberation from the modern world, from the leash that kept in check the beast within.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Brokaw's "Bible ban" BS: All hope is gone

Tom Brokaw spewed the following on September 24:

The Republican National Committee now has acknowledged sending mass mailings to two states that say liberals want to ban the Bible. Republican Party officials say the mailings in Arkansas and West Virginia are aimed at mobilizing Christian voters for President Bush. Some Christian commentators say liberal support for same-sex marriage could lead to laws that punish sermons denouncing homosexuality as sinful.
Here we have definitive proof that our media can be called "liberal" only by those whose politics list to the right of George Lincoln Rockwell's.

Needless to say, no liberal wants to ban the Bible. I defy anyone to cite a specific piece of evidence backing such a silly assertion. In fact, I'd like to see some evidence that any liberal anywhere has called for the banning of any book of any sort (excluding, perhaps, a work of child porn).

This "Bible ban" accusation is a lie -- a stupid, obvious lie -- concocted by Republicans who have an elastic interpretation of the "bearing false witness" prohibition.

But instead of denouncing the lie as a lie, Brokaw goes on to repeat outrageous horsecrap about censorship of sermons.

I never thought political debate in this country would sink to such a ghastly level. Hell, I once spent an afternoon poring over old (1960s vintage) issues of American Opinion, the John Birch periodical -- and even they maintained a more sophisticated tone than the one predominating now. Has America truly devolved to this degree? If this is the sort of thuggish non-argument that appeals to our fellow citizens, if voters really are motivated by deliberate falsehoods designed to appeal to the Ids of zealots, then democracy has failed.

Why the polling disparity?

Many have wondered how the polls could be so disparate. After the Republican convention, Gallup and a few other polls had Bush up by 13 points, while others saw a much, much tighter race. I would like to offer a modest suggestion as to why.

Rigged polling.

And why rig the polls? Because Republican schemers wanted to have the option of rigging the vote.

You cannot have an electronically "enhanced" vote without first preparing the ground with skewed polls -- otherwise, election after election will feature results at a variance from expert forecasts, and even the dullest of our dullards will eventually become suspicious. The GOP thus needs to precede a fixed vote with rightward-skewing results from at least one major organization.

Obviously, manipulating all polling organizations is impossible -- and unnecessary. After the election shows a big Bush win, the pollsters who had forecast a massive GOP lead will seem more careful and scientific, while internet rumor campaigns will try to convince us that those who reported a tighter race allowed a liberal bias to skew their readings.

The other major reason for rigging poll results, of course, is the belief that voters like a winner.

A friend privately castigated me for adding to Bush's aura of invulnerability by forecasting a Kerry defeat. If this site reached a larger audience I may have watched my words more carefully, but a limited readership allows one to speak one's mind without any anxiety over tactics. Besides, I never pretended to be a positive thinker. To me, the glass is not only half-empty, someone probably poisoned the water.

The actual voting will begin quite soon -- absentee ballots will fall into mailboxes within days. It's too late, baby: Kerry has lost. The struggle now is to keep the loss from being too humiliating. He is making a pathetic effort to shore up his base, having lost many college-educated women.

His only hope of winning rests with the possibility of a major Bush screw-up -- although the Rovian spinsters are so talented, I wonder if even a Gerry Ford moment (anyone else recall how he "freed" communist Poland?) would cause much voter defection.

Even if the Swift Boat lies and other fabrications had not defeated Kerry, Diebold would have carried the day for Bush. Hence the need, as noted earlier, for ground preparation.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Bush (unintentionally?) LIES!

The Democrats are borrowing a play from Rove's book: They are now attacking W's perceived strengths.

A misinformed citizenry views Bush as a straight-shooter. The Kerry forces therefore must frame the President as someone who cannot tell the difference between what is true and what he wants to be true.

For months, I have screamed that the campaign slogan should be "BUSH LIES!" Toward the beginning of campaign season, a number of books used the Bush-is-a-liar motif. Repetition of that message helped send Bush's popularity groundwards. Kerry ignored this theme for far too long, and W recovered much lost ground.

Bush's odd attitude toward the truth has come back into focus, but the Kerry forces -- typically -- favor a more nuanced variant of the "liar, liar" attack. William Saletan best sums the matter up in this piece of advice to the Democratic candidate:

The other day, in an ad lib, you called him a liar. Don't do that again. In a contest of sincerity, more people trust him than trust you. What they don't trust is the correspondence between Bush's sincere beliefs and reality. The descriptions you used in this speech -- "mistakes," "misjudgment," and "miscalculation" -- are exactly right. And your theme for unifying that critique -- that he's "living in a fantasy world of spin" -- is almost perfect. I don't like the word "spin," which implies that Bush knows better than what he's saying. He doesn't know better, even when he should, and that's the problem. "Fantasy world" is shorter and better.
Being an ornery type myself, I still prefer "BUSH LIES!" -- which is shorter still. In my view, it's also more accurate. But perhaps Saletan has a point. Perhaps Kerry will have an easier time promoting the message that Bush doesn't know the difference between reality and the script in his head.

Given Bush's bizarre "victory is nigh" comments on Iraq, I think Kerry could even slip a zinger of this sort into the upcoming debate:

"I applaud my opponent for his decision to give up alcohol and cocaine. However, his recent comments on Iraq stray so far from reality, some people have made cruel and unfair jokes about the possible influence of hallucinogens."

All right, I know Kerry will never say it. But if he did, I betcha W would not take the opportunity to deny ever using coke.

Florida is no longer a democracy

No less august a personage than Jimmy Carter makes the point, although his language is rather more temperate than mine: "...some basic international requirements for a fair election are missing in Florida."

Dig it: Venezuela can manage a fair election. Jeb Bush's Florida cannot.

Alas, Carter's solution is so mushy it reminds us of why he lost in 1980: "With reforms unlikely at this late stage of the election, perhaps the only recourse will be to focus maximum public scrutiny on the suspicious process in Florida."

There's another recourse, and I've suggested it before. If a questionable "vote" in Florida costs Kerry the election, then we must demand a revote -- a fair revote with international observers, and without a blind reliance on machines. If we don't get such a revote, all Democracts -- and all lovers of small-d democracy -- should stop paying taxes.

No taxation without representation. The winner of a rigged vote does not represent you.


Two fine pieces sum up our present situation:

Thom Hartmann not only sums up the argument for Rovian manipulation in Rathergate, he also provides an important bit of history when he details the first Kerry-v-Bush dust-up. That battle occurred when Kerry uncovered the dirt on the crooked bank BCCI, which had Bush family connections.

Xymphora, whoever the hell he is, delivers an impassioned summary of the situation in Iraq. An excerpt:
And still, the Americans are losing, and losing badly. They are not just losing the battle of hearts and minds, as that part of the war was lost a long time ago. They are also not suffering under the PR problems that you would think would be caused by ever increasing numbers of American casualties, as those statistics are either hidden from the American public or apparently are of no concern to it. They are actually losing in the good old fashioned way that would have been understood by the Ancient Greeks. Each time they have a battle, the Americans suffer more debilitating casualties than the resistance. The Americans are losing for the simple reason that they are running out of troops. This explains the more and more ridiculous stories we see of attempts to deal with the lack of American troops. It also explains the reliance on aerial bombardment of civilians.

Gore Vidal and Ralph Nader

The headline was startling, to say the least:

by Gore Vidal

The article, I was relieved to learn, was not new. It was published in a 1972 issue of Esquire (alas, I neglected to scribble down the precise date on my photocopy), which my ladyfriend stumbled across in the library. The article seems pretty humorous today. Lecture audiences, we read, invariably cooed with delight whenever Vidal brought up the prospect of a Nader run. Of course, the type of people who would show up to hear Vidal speak (in either 1972 or 2004) might not represent the average voter.

Here's the most interesting paragraph:

Not long ago, an executive of the New Party discussed the presidential matter with Nader. Nader said he did not want to be a candidate. For one thing, he would lose all usefulness as a consumerist. For another, he would probably split the "liberal" vote and so reelect Nixon.
At that time, Nader was either a wiser man than he is today or (as I tend to suspect) freer from compromise. And Vidal was more foolish.

I'm presuming that Vidal has finally outgrown his foolishness of yore. Perhaps he hasn't. Perhaps there's no fool like an old fool. That adjective, should he see these words, may make him wince, but I don't care.

I'm still rankled by his continued support of Nader in 2000, and by the inane things he spouted about his relative Al Gore. That election disproved once and for all the proposition that only a dime's worth of difference separates the two major parties. Vidalian cynicism helped bring us to our present mess: Massive deficits, war and rumor of war, the increased threat of terrorism, alienation of our allies, a miserable economy, closure of hospital emergency rooms, the growth of the "working homeless," a press so stridently conservative it must repulse even the shade of Edouard Drumont, and a populace of Jesus-junkies happy to see our schools peddle Creationism.

Vidal once believed in Nader's honesty. If he still does, he's an idiot. Any affluent person who skoffs at the IRS opens himself up to blackmail and manipulation -- and Nader, according to at least one former close associate, is a man who does not like to pay his taxes. Once I learned that basic fact, I stopped wondering why he remains in the race.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Mini-nukes: Let's be irresponsible

Today's irresponsible web site is the mysterious TRBNews, allegedly run by one Walter Storch, about whom I know nothing. He seems to delight in coming up with "scoops" which few people take seriously. (Elsewhere today, for example, he details the Pentagon's upcoming draconian draft plans, as relayed by an unnamed source.) Even so, my continuing interest in porta-nukes directed my attention to this story, apparently written by Mr. Storch.

The article is a cut-and-paste job involving material from different eras, beginning with Iran-contra, to which present-tense reference is made. Ah, the names...! Merex, Secord, that stuff takes me back. Like many another compiler of intel detritus, Storch does not assemble his material into a comprehensible whole -- it's one of those data dumps where the facts fall on the floor in a messy pile.

As the text progresses, the author introduces us to James P. Atwood -- some of you may recall this bigwig in the weapons trade -- and James Critchfield, the recently-deceased legendary CIA man who helped recruit Gehlen and, later, placed Saddam Hussein into power. The lovely topic of Russian-made suitcase nukes then takes center stage. Some deny that such weapons exist; many others insist that they do.

What follows is material previously unknown to me. File it under "For what it's worth":

In 1992, James Atwood, the former Interarmco people and an Israeli Russian named Yurenko (actually Schemiel Gofshstein) formed a consortium in conjunction with James Critchfield, retired senior CIA specialist on oil matters in the Mideast to obtain a number of these obsolete but still viable weapons. Both Critchfield and the Interarmco people had, at the behest of the CIA, supplied weapons to the rebels in Afghanistan during their protracted struggle with the Soviet Union...

...Utilizing Atwood's STASI and ex-KGB contacts, they were able to obtain from bribed Russian military personnel, twenty of the atomic warheads. With Critchfield's Mideast and Afghanistan connections, these warheads were sold to a Pakistani group for an estimated US $20 million in early 1993. Yurenko brokered the transfer of money via two banks in Pakistan to a Swiss bank.(Specific account information is known) Some of the money, $US 50,000 was deposited into a so-called "white account" (i.e., one that the SBA could release information on to any outside probers) and the balance into three so-called "black accounts" (i.e., accounts that were truly secret.)
An interesting picture, no? Not sure how much of this is believable. We need some details.

And -- oh yes -- motive. Presuming there is a motive beyond the $20 million.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Goss the boss

W's choice as DCI, Porter Goss, has an interesting history, according to Daniel Hopsicker.

I'm amused -- but no more than amused -- to learn that Goss was a member of "Book & Snake," the second most influential secret society on the Yale campus. Conspiracy buffs of a certain stripe will no doubt salivate upon learning this news.

However, I'm quite intrigued to learn that Goss may well have appeared on the cover of Hopsicker's book "Barry and the Boys." The photograph, taken in 1963, depicts members of the CIA's "Operation 40" hit squad partying it up in Mexico City. Near Goss are such luminaries as the notorious drug smuggler Barry Seal, Felix Rodriguez (fingered by Kerry for his role in the contra effort), "Blond Ghost" Ted Shackley, Edwin Wilson (later convicted for helping Libya), Watergate's unbeloved Frank Sturgis, and William Seymour.

You probably haven't heard of Seymour, but he's one of the more interesting spooks of that period. Quite a few JFK researchers became convinced that Seymour pulled the trigger, or one of the triggers, in Dealey Plaza. (Seymour insisted that he was in Miami at the time of the assassination.) Other feel that there is evidence that Seymour posed as "Leon" Oswald at various dates and times before the hit.

Seymour, Sturgis, Rodriguez, Seal, Goss...that's one hell of a party!

It has been known for a while that the CIA recruited Goss out of Yale circa 1960. He seems to have immediately joined a very select group within the parapolitical elite. In short, he was heavily "spooked up" -- and then some -- from the very beginning. Wonder what he did as a youth to attract the attention of such a crowd? Jeez, it wasn't just the "Book and Snake" thing, was it?

Now read this

For an important perspective on Burkett and the document fiasco, read this piece by James Moore, whose keen vision spots Rovian fingerprints.

I will repeat my previous advice: View with extreme caution the Murdochian squib on veteran filthy trickster (and Al Sharpton manipulator) Roger Stone. Stone is too much the wild man for a brilliant, calculated maneuver of this sort.

The telling incident: Stone refused to deny involvement. If he were involved, he would of course offer a quick denial.


Shame on CBS, shout the Republicans. A major news organization should know the importance of getting the facts straight.

Oddly enough, though, our "accuracy-addicted" Republican friends spew unfactual bilge with impunity. For example: A couple of days ago, Fearless Leader Himself said that John Kerry had confessed that "he would prefer the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein to the situation in Iraq today."

Of course, Kerry said no such thing. He said "The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: We have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure."

Only Democrats and non-rightist news outlets need worry about accuracy. Folks on the right can feel free to churn out fiction with a speed redolent of Stephen King.

Kitty, the Bush family and Hitler

Interesting, isn't it, how the CBS debacle knocked all mention of Kitty Kelley's book off the radar screen?

I've been slowly skimming parts of the volume, and although her style sometimes annoys me -- she goes into her mind-reading act far too readily -- the book is more responsibly-written than advance word had led me to believe. Contrary to rumor, she does NOT mention the Paul Bonacci imbroglio. If this site had a soundtrack, you'd be hearing a relieved sigh.

She moderates her discussion of Prescott Bush's much-ballyhooed links to the Nazis. Those links certainly did exist, but she points out an alleged date discrepancy in the work of John Loftus, who has implied that Prescott ran afoul of the Trading With the Enemy Act. Prescott, says Kelley, ended his association with the Union Bank in 1940, thereby avoiding legal troubles. She also believes that Prescott's motivations were purely financial, not ideological.

Today's Guardian, however, provides a few facts that should put the Kelley version into rewrite:

His [Prescott's] business dealings, which continued until his company's assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of pre-election controversy.

Those of you wishing to look further into these issues should click here, where you can find all sorts of nice documentation. John Buchanan, proprietor of that site, deserves our thanks.

For my part, I'm too busy dealing with present woes to suss out every detail of the skullduggery surrounding the Bush dynasty and the Hitlerites. I would note, though, that Loftus (whose books may be familiar to some readers) arouses mixed feelings in me. He too often relies on unnamed sources within the intelligence community. Worse, his feelings toward Israel run toward gushing adulation. ("It's the only democracy in the Middle East!" Yes, John -- but only for those who belong to the "right" race.) I've heard at least one recorded interview where he spoke quite highly of W.

Hm...I seem to have drifted from my initial subject, haven't I? Well, I'll speak further of Kelley later. Initial signs, though, look good.

(Note: This post was slightly re-written after I discovered the afore-cited Guardian article.)

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Should we get Stone?

Perhaps we should offer here a few words about Roger Stone, alleged by some as the Republican dirty trickster who set-up Burkett as a patsy. The rumors were first published, some five days ago, in the New York Post.

Stone is worth looking into, of course -- he has a long history as a GOP dirty trickster particularly unburdened by ethics. And he and Rather have a history that goes back to Watergate. Even so, right now I have doubts that he is involved.

Why? Because when Rupert Murdoch's propaganda-sheet Post tells the world "Hey, Democrats -- look over here!" -- you can be pretty sure that the truth is in another direction.

Even so, I feel persuaded that someone played Burkett. A psychological profile of Burkett (and folks with intel backgrounds have long been big on developing these profiles -- hence the break-in to the office of Ellsberg's shrink) would have allowed the planners to guess with reasonable accuracy how he would have reacted to manipulation.

A final word about the Post. At the time of their infamous "Axis of Weasles" cover (the one that showed weasle heads pasted over the German and French U.N. delegates), I told associates that the paper had been reduced to the level of Naxi propaganda. This comment may have been unfair to Nazi propagandists. Can anyone recall if any issue of Volkischer Beobachter resorted to such a tactic?

Right eye blind

General rule: When a series of events leaves you muttering "This could not have worked out better for Bush if Rove planned it that way" -- Rove planned it that way.

Case in point: "Rathergate." The propagandists are screaming that Burkett can be linked to Max Cleland and Kerry campaign bigwig Joe Lockhart. What do these mysterious "links" amount to? Not much.

Burkett is "linked" to Lockhart and Cleland only in the same sense that I can be "linked" to Farrah Fawcett, whom I once accidentally bumped into (though not slowly enough) a good many years ago. (Yes, I've used that comparison before. I may use it again. Sue me.) Burkett sent the documents to Cleland, who did not respond and as far as we know did not even see them. Cleland blew him off.

Anyone can send anything to anyone whose address is publicly known. Cleland is no more responsible for the things he receives in the mail than you are for the virii and spam that pop up in your email account.

Burkett did somehow bull his way into one (1) (as in "uno," "ein" "une," etc.) conversation with Lockhart, who says he did not know who Burkett was. He also says that Burkett just chewed his ear for a short while about Kerry's overly-soft campaign, which is pretty much what a lot of people wanted to scream into Lockhart's ear at that point. So far, I've seen not the slightest shred of evidence that the conversation amounted to anything else.

Republican hirelings love to use such tangential "connections" to create a scratch-n-sniff conspiracy where no conspiracy exists. We've seen these slime-ball tactics before. Remember the Whitewater pseudo-scandal?

For a good demonstration of how this brouhaha illustrates the principle of "left eye open, right eye blind," take a look at this comparison between the treatments accorded Fox and CBS. An excerpt:

With Outfoxed we have STRONG EVIDENCE of actual bias for Bush(The Moody memos), yet that never became a story to discuss everywhere for hour upon hour. Why?

Is it because it is a given that FoxNews is biased, so the Moody memos aren't important because they prove something everyone already knows? Is the standard lower for Fox? Maybe, but this is bullshit...

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Who provided the docs: Burkett's latest

Are we facing story numero three from Bill Burkett regarding the origin of the controversial docs?

Story number 1, which he originally told to CBS, held that the documents game from a man named George Conn. Re-interviewed, Burkett then changed this tale, claiming that he lied to protect his real source. This led to...

Story number 2: The documents came a woman named Lucy Ramirez, who handed them to him at a livestock show in Houston.

And now we have (courtesy of Burkett's lawyer) story number 3, which may or may not be congruent with the second story. (Or perhaps the second story was a tad garbled by the reporters involved.) Judge for yourself. These excerpts come from

Burkett got a call "out of the blue" from someone who had seen him MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" in February discussing his longstanding allegation that Bush aides ordered the destruction of the then-governor's National Guard records in Austin. There are some old National Guard records that Burkett needs to see, he was told.

The caller suggested a meeting in Houston. Van Os said Burkett, not awash in money, was not interested in making the trip. But, Burkett told the caller, maybe they could get together in March when Burkett would be at the Houston rodeo in his capacity as a trustee of the Texas Simmental Association, a group that promotes a cattle breed.

And so it came to be, according to Van Os, that a man unknown to Burkett walked up to the Simmental Association booth at the Astrodome and said, "Are you Bill Burkett?"

"The man gave Bill a sealed manila envelope," Van Os said, adding that it remained unopened until Burkett was in his car in the parking lot.

"He looked at the documents and said to himself, 'Oh my God,'" Van Os said. "It scared him. The documents scared him."

For years, Burkett, who blames Bush for denying him medical care after he contracted a serious infection while serving in Panama, has been a high-volume Bush critic.

Despite that history, Burkett planned to do nothing with the documents, according to his lawyer. The papers were stashed in a cold storage locker and Burkett did a minimal amount of checking on the person who provided them, but nothing by way of trying to determine the documents' authenticity.

Van Os said Burkett determined that the man who provided them was using the name of somebody who once held a National Guard position that would make him privy to the documents. But Burkett had no way of knowing if the man was who he said he was.

"No evidence has been represented to Bill suggesting that the person that called him was using a false name. He doesn't have proof one way or another," Van Os said.

By August, reporters somehow knew about the documents and started calling Burkett, who, according to Van Os, had no intention of getting involved. Burkett told some reporters he had no documents.

But he decided to to cooperate with CBS.
First question: How does "Lucy Ramirez" -- whoever the hell she turns out to be -- fit into this tale? Or is it possible that a newsperson mis-heard Burkett's reference to a "Lou Ramirez"? (Such things happen!)

At any rate, this latest tale -- if it is true -- adds clues to our congealing thesis that the documents were a Rovian "Reichstag" trick. Consider:

1. The choice of Burkett as a patsy (if patsy he was) works perfectly to remove a stone in Bush's shoe, to use old-fashioned mobster terminology.

2. Just who were these journalists who called up Burkett at a time when no-one knew that he had documents in storage? How would they have known of their existence?

Burkett should provide names -- not just the names of said journalists, but of anyone with whom he might have discussed any of these matters before the contact with CBS.

Proofs of a conspiracy?

Posts below hint at a "Reichstag fire" explanation of the CBS documents. Xymphora and others have come up with some very intriguing data buttressing just such a conclusion. I've been double-checking the info, and have added a few of my own data-nuggets.

Here's the rundown:

1. The first detailed attacks on the documents -- including all sorts of details concerning fonts and superscripts -- came a mere three hours after the 60 Minutes segment was broadcast. At that time, who could have had access to the documents themselves? They had not yet been posted, and they flashed on screen for mere seconds.

This strangely prescient attacker was a Freeper nicknamed "Buckhead," who turns out to be a far-right GOP activist lawyer named Harry MacDougald, of Atlanta. MacDougald has an interesting history.

Seems he has also been stumping for the use of Diebold electronic voting machines, which he feels are absolutely trustworthy. In MacDougald-vision, Ken Starr was conspired against, as opposed to running a conspiracy. Elsewhere, he refers to the previous president as "Comrade Clinton," oh-so-cleverly speaks of the French as "cheese-eating surrender monkeys," tries to peddle the canard that Sudan offered Osama to Clinton, and...well, why go on? You know the type.

Nota bene: MacDougald refused to tell the Los Angeles Times how he knew so much about the documents so quickly. Odd, isn't it? Guys like Harry usually scramble for attention. Another blogger, after quoting a MacDougald rant in an Atlanta paper, made this observation:

Look, the point is that this guy is not usually shy. He's practically a local media whore. So why would he previously seek attention in "Lawyer's quest for good government bittersweet" and write letters to the editor, be in the AJC Political Insider earlier this year filing a complaint about electronic voting machines and now all of a sudden on what will be the biggest story of his life he wishes to remain anonymous and not comment on it.

2. CBS gave the documents to the White House before the broadcast, and asked for comments. If the WH had questioned the documents' authenticity, the story (or at least that part of the story) would not have aired. True, document authentication is not the job of the Bush forces. Still, you would think that any White House would raise a note of caution if faced with phonies. To the contrary -- the WH press office was happy to pass out the questioned pages to all interested newsmen, thereby insuring that the press corps devoted their attentions to a tale which ultimately favored Bush.

3. Burkett, the conduit for the documents, claims that he was handed these pages by a woman in Houston named Lucy Ramirez. Since Burkett has told more than one story, one scarcely knows what to make of this claim. There are two women named Lucy Ramirez listed in the Houston phone book; if either one has political connections, they run beneath the notice of the web. (One of these Lucys is a musician in a group called Anal Drill. I think we can count her out -- although she sounds kind of cool!)

4. As noted in an earlier post, Bush strategist Karl Rove once won a gubernatorial election by placing a listening device in his candidate's office and falsely claiming that the opposition was responsible.

A theory slowly coalesces. But we need more proof. We need some evidence (something beyond Burkett's word) as to the origins of the documents. And we need to know how MacDougald appears to have received advance word of their contents.

The war against our parents and grandparents

Not long ago, I thumbed through an astonishing book titled America's Right Turn by Richard A. Viguerie & David Franke, with an intro by noted GOP supporter and anti-Catholic bigot, Tim LaHaye. Unlike most of the propaganda volumes churned out by the right's paper mills, this book does not try to force-fit the conservative movement into what I call the "false underdog" position. The book is, in fact, triumphalist -- a crow of victory.

I was particularly stunned by the passage which labels 1955 as the most liberal time in American history. Was 1955 truly more liberal than 1935, the height of the New Deal? More liberal than 1945, when we were still allied with the USSR? More liberal than the proto-hippie heyday of 1965? More liberal than 1975, the post-Watergate era?

Just what, precisely, was so blamed "liberal" about the era of Ike, HUAC, and Leave It to Beaver?

Today, we learn more about the Right's true feelings about the 1950s. Several blogs have carried this quote from the dreaded Grover Norquist, who lambasted the "Greatest Generation" in the Spanish language periodical El Mundo:

Yes, because in addition their demographic base is shrinking. Each year, 2 million people who fought in the Second World War and lived through the Great Depression die. This generation has been an exception in American history, because it has defended anti-American policies. They voted for the creation of the welfare state and obligatory military service. They are the base of the Democratic Party. And they are dying. And, at the same time, all the time more Americans have stocks. That makes them defend the interests of business, because it is their own interest. Because of that, it's impossible to bring to the fore policies of social hate, of class warfare.
The people who fought Hitler were anti-American. Think about that one. Think about the kind of guy who could say such a thing.

But Norquist does reveal something of the truth, something which helps explain why Viguerie made such a seemingly inexplicable statement.

In the 1950s, the "Greatest Generation" may have been socially conservative. But people of that time still wanted Social Security, strong unions and a progressive tax rate. The richest Americans paid nearly 90 percent of their income in taxes, unless they invested or hid it.

Which leads to an obvious question:

What was so blamed wrong with American life in 1955?

The country was prosperous and mighty. Our products were the envy of the world. Our living standards kept going up and up. (Nowadays, they are heading groundward.) The average guy holding down a "Fred Flintstone"-type job could afford a nice house, and his wife didn't have to work. Most jobs didn't require more than 40 hours a week. We were the world's biggest creditor nation. We didn't face multi-trillion dollar deficits. The very concept of the "working homeless" was unthinkable.

Were things really better before the New Deal? Were things better in the age of Jacob Riis and the muckrakers? In the era of twelve-hour work days, child labor, and no Social Security?

Hell no!

Have things gotten better since the Reagan revolution? Does the average wage earner have a higher standard of living? Can you buy a home if you have an average-paying job ($25,000 a year, at this writing)? Is our economy sounder? Should we feel more secure because we rely on Asians and Europeans to buy our Treasury Bills? Should we feel happy about one-third of our taxes going to pay interest on the national debt?

Hell no!

Mr. Norquist, Mr. Viguerie -- think twice before you make an enemy of the Greatest Generation. They knew how to run a country. You know only how to run it into the ground.

And don't expect me to quake in fear at the spectre of 1955. I say: "Let's go back to the future!"

Speaking of forgeries...

Hoax documents are on the minds of a lot of people right now. Take a look at this site, which presents a detailed -- and reasonable -- argument that document tampering has played a role in the Bush AWOL story for quite some time now. Even documents released by the White House have been questioned.

The latest on the CBS documents

What infuriated me was today's sight of "journalists" from the Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal delivering lectures on press ethics to various cable news anchors.

The Moonie Times prints lie after lie with impunity. Am I the only on who can recall how they tried to keep alive the "Kerry and the intern" story well after it was discredited? The Wall Street Journal printed rank, unverified rumors about Bill Clinton -- outrageous nonsense about murders and drug-dealing. The WSJ even put out a paperback book filled with this garbage.

Just today, we learn that the Republican Party has put out flyers claiming that Democrats want to ban the Bible!

If you're on the right, you are allowed to lie and lie and LIE. But when CBS believes a source too readily -- even though the thrust of their story remains unquestioned -- their mistake is treated like the horror to end all horrors.

The partisans will now crow like Peter Pan in victory, but a dispassionate look at the documents will reveal that the matter is far more mysterious than they -- or anyone else -- presumes.

First, the usual caveats, which I've now stated about a zillion times: 1. I would have strongly advised any newsman not to use any documents unless the provenance was clear, or unless the public received painstaking warnings. 2. I have never said that the documents are authentic but I do question the most commonly-heard theory as to how they were created.

The character shapes, when enlarged, simply do not match either Times New Roman or Palatino, the two suggested Word fonts. More important is the controversial superscript. Word places it in a very different place than is seen on the questioned documents. No-one has yet produced a similar "111th" using Word. Also, the uneven horizontal "lay" of the characters is consistent with typewritten origin, not with the use of a Word Processor.

So I feel that a period proportional-space typewriter was used. Does this mean the pages are necessarily authentic? No.

This Washington Post article raises many good points about formatting issues having nothing to do with fonts. I question the WP on a couple of matters -- what they call "kerning" looks to me like a possible accidental artifact of the copying process. However, I am persuaded that the WP is correct concerning such matters as the use of service number instead of a social security number, incorrect abbreviations, and the fact that August 18, 1972 was a Saturday.

That last error is particularly striking, since it is so easy to double-check dates nowadays; Microsoft includes a spiffy calendar program in every version of Windows. I find it hard to believe that a forger would get so many difficult details correct (Bush's street address, for one thing) yet mess up on an easily-checkable point like that.

Which leaves us with one of the more interesting conundrums in the history of hoaxed documents. (For what it may be worth, I researched a small volume on that very subject, a project to which I may yet return.)

These documents were typed, I feel, on a proportional-font machine of the period. They reflect information that Killian's secretary confirms as true. Tellingly, they do not contain much material not already on the public record -- thus, even if they had gone unquestioned, the damage to Bush would not have been noticeable. Yet they contain incorrect abbreviation and other errors that argue against authenticity.

Many believe Burkett to be the forger. Perhaps -- but one wonders whether Burkett would make errors involving non-standard abbreviations.

How to put all the pieces of this puzzle together? Only one scenario comes to mind.

I am coming to the provisional conclusion that these are not sloppy forgeries, as many like to think, but very clever ones. That is to say: Forgeries meant to arouse public attention. Forgeries meant to function as a cause celebre.

And ultimately, forgeries meant to be uncovered as such.

Friday, September 17, 2004

It's Reichstag fire season

It has become a cliché: “This has Karl Rove’s fingerprints all over it!” Word has it that some in the Kerry camp are muttering that very phrase as they mull over the CBS document debacle.

(Before continuing: Yes, I stand by my assertion that those pages were not created with Microsoft Word. I’ve yet to hear a counterargument from anyone who has compared enlargements of the characters, particularly the superscripts.)

Does Rove have a history of pulling “Reichstag” operations – by which I mean staged attacks on oneself in order to discredit opponents? The answer is yes.

In 1988, Rove was the consigliere for the Republican candidate for Governor in Texas, a man named William Clements. The race was dead even on the day of the first debate – the same day when Rove “discovered” a bugging device in Clements’ office. “Only those dastardly Dems would pull such a trick!” screamed the usual rightist screamers, on cue.

Those who looked more closely into the matter noted an oddity: The listening device used up its battery every few hours. Thus, Rove must have “found” the thing just after a battery was placed into it.

The name of Karl Rove does not appear in the soon-to-be-infamous story of Phil Parlock, but the Rovian spirit perfumes this cautionary tale, which you can read in full here.

Parlock, it seems, is just an ordinary guy in South Carolina who happens to support Bush. While he was out with his family at a pro-Bush rally, a guy in a union t-shirt ripped the “Bush” sign out of the hands of Parlock’s little girl, making her cry. So ran the report in the Charleston Daily Mail.

Trouble is, Parlock told a very, very similar story of physical assault by dastardly Dems in 1996.

And in 2000.

All three stories were reported by the same paper, which did not notice that Parlock is one suspiciously unlucky guy.

The website cited above presents damning photographic evidence proving that the “union” dude who harassed Parlock’s little girl was actually the girl’s older brother.

The site goes on to mention that, two weeks ago, dastardly Dems fired a bullet into Republican Party headquarters in South Carolina. And how do we know? Because Phil Parlock told the local reporter for WCHS news in Charleston.

Ah, yes. Amateur theatrics. I used to have a weakness for that sort of thing myself. You should have heard my Antony. In ninth grade, I killed.

Theatrics aside, we now have plenty of solid evidence that Bush dodged his National Guard duty because he was doing coke. For the latest evidence, check out this story.

How to distract attention from this embarrassing history? Nothing works like a little fire – as in Reichstag fire. Between now an election day – and beyond – it will be “fire” season.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

A new tactic

Right and left exist in parallel media universes. How can Kerry make his case to Republicans when they receive their news only from partisan sources? How to break through the wall?

My suggestion: Pay 'em.

Or at least, dangle the promise of big bucks.

Previously, I've suggested that Kerry make "BUSH LIES" the theme of his campaign. To some degree, he is now doing just that (though not at my humble suggestion, obviously). But the folks he needs to reach cannot or will not hear the message.

I say the Kerry forces should scratch together a web site devoted to a compilation of Bush's more outrageous lies and flip-flops. And then Kerry should offer a reward -- $10,000 seems a good number -- to the first person who can prove that any of the information on the site is incorrect.

Here's the message: "You think Bush is a man of honor? You think he does NOT lie? Well, then -- come to WWW.DUBYAISALIAR.COM. We've listed over thirty important whoppers that he has told. And if you can prove us wrong -- if you can offer proof that we've attacked him incorrectly on any of those thirty points -- we'll pay you ten grand."

The fine print would reveal that a panel of impartial judges (assuming such a thing can be cobbled together in these raucous times) would determine whether any contestant really had proven that any of the thirty accusations was incorrect.

Right-wingers would scramble to the site. They would pore over ever phoneme, looking for even the tiniest error.

And that's how you get the message out to people who normally would not see it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The origin of Al Qaida: Greeley, Colorado

Many Americans have come under the impression that Osama Bin Laden's peculiar brand of fanaticism derives from the puritanical Wahabbi faith prevalent in Saudi Arabia. Not true. At least, not exactly.

Bin Laden's viewpoint derives from an Egyptian sect leader named Sayyid Qutb. Qutb was once a secular man of letters. Then he went to study in America in 1949 -- at a university in Greeley, Colorado, of all places.

A quiet town. A conservative town. A religious town.

But to Qutb, the place was a hotbed of sin like unto Las Vegas.

He attended a church social, and stood aghast at the typical shameless American hussy who knew that "seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs -- and she shows all this and does not hide it." Or so he wrote later, in a book titled The America I Have Seen.

The fear that such wanton displays of seductiveness might spread beyond the borders of the United States caused him to scurry back to his homeland and initiate an extremely puritanical form of Islam. The threat posed by those round breasts and full buttocks somehow led him to conclude that the West was mounting "an effort to exterminate this religion" -- that is, Islam.

The Egyptians (then run by a quasi-socialist government we did not like) executed Qutb in 1965, but his teachings became even more powerful after his death. Qutbism helped to shape the Muslim Brotherhood, an underground group which made a bloody attempt to take over Mecca in 1979. This plot may -- or may not -- have had help from Osama's brother Mahrous. The Bin Laden family was rebuilding the mosque, and the conspirators managed to gain access to the holy place using Bin Laden trucks bearing special permits.

The plan failed, and the Saudi dynasty remained in place. But the country has never been quite the same. The royal family has given leeway to even the most extreme voices within their religious right. In Saudi Arabia, Democracy is forbidden, atheism is forbidden, socialism is forbidden, communism is forbidden -- Qutbism is the only "ism" granted freedom to criticize the status quo. For the rebellious -- and nearly all young men are rebellious -- it's the only game in town.

Thus originated the philosophy that gave rise to Al Qaida.

It all started when a shy foreigner at a church social in Greeley, Colorado saw some attractive American lasses and got a hard-on.

No kidding

When John Kerry appeared on Jon Stewart's show on Comedy Central, the candidate was asked if he really was a flip-flopper. Kerry tried to give a straight answer. Some wags suggested that he should have attempted humor -- as in "No, I'm not. Yes, I am."

Ah...but are Democrats even allowed to attempt humor these days?

The other day, the Los Angeles Times carried a small story about John Kerry's appearance at a restaurant which has no menu, because the cook decides what patrons will eat each day. Kerry told reporters that this policy was meant for guys like him, who cannot make up their own minds.

The remark was obviously a joke, and was reported as such by other sources. But the LAT told the story straight, giving the impression that Kerry did not have his tongue in cheek when he made the remark.

I would expect that sort of thing from Limbaugh, but from the allegedly-liberal LAT...?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Two, two, TWO failures in one!

W once said:

"I've been to war. I've raised twins. If I had a choice, I'd rather go to war."

He never went to war. He has always let social inferiors do the fighting.

After following the exploits of his trashy progeny, I must admit that his record as a parent depresses me almost as much as does his record as commander in chief.

Monday, September 13, 2004


It's official: The Republican forces are using misdirection to boggle the easily-boggled minds of the American people on the subject of Bush's military service.

Today, Matt Drudge links to a pdf file of a document which -- he claims -- proves that Bush served 120 days in the Air Force, contrary to those lying Democratic vipers who contend that he was never in the Air Force.

The document, of course, proves no such thing. Drudge has deceived on so many levels, I am not sure where to begin...

It proves that he joined the Air National Guard, a fact no-one has ever contested. Democrats have complained about official Bush biographies which claim, falsely, that he served in the Air Force proper.

The document dates from 1967; most of the questions have been raised about later times. It does not, in and of itself, prove that Bush completed the 120 day training period, although I am sure that he did.

In the same document, Bush promises to serve SIX YEARS in the Guard. We know that he did not.

Drudge links to a document which proves the opposite of what he intends to prove. It proves that George Bush -- with an impunity that would not apply to us lesser mortals -- made a promise to the military that he did not keep!

More on the CBS documents

In the post below, I link to an illustration which compares the questioned documents with text created with Microsoft Word's Times New Roman font. The letter forms are different, and these differences cannot be attributed to image degradation. Moreover, the type "hops" up and down in the CBS documents; this is consistent with typewritten origin.

Were typewriters then capable of producing such documents? Yes. For proof, go here:

In this demonstration, we see that Microsoft Word automatically creates text very similar to the text seen in a typewritten document proven to have been created 40 years ago.

Now, I'm sure that differences would show up in an enlargement, but when reproduced at small size -- which is how the right-wing bloggers display such comparisons -- the resultant documents do look almost identical.

Were such IBM machines rare? Yes, but SOMEONE must have been purchasing them, or IBM wouldn't have made 'em.

Now -- and here is where we close the case -- go here for a close-up view of the controversial superscript:

(You'll have to scroll down -- sorry!) You'll see that MS Word produces superscripts completely different from those seen on the questioned documents. The difference cannot be attributed to image degradation. Check out the illustration and you'll see what I mean.

Let me repeat my standard caveats: I am not saying the docs are necessarily genuine; I am merely questioning the most common theory as to how they were produced. (Has anyone offered another theory?) And I would have strongly advised CBS against using any documents of unknown provenance.

Still, all evidence now points to the conclusion that these documents were produced on a rare IBM machine of the proper era. We must now ask the question: If the documents are fake, what sort of faker would use such a rare IBM machine? Very few working models still exist.

Oh, and for what it is worth: As I write, I am in the Cal State Northridge Library, where I happened upon a 1968 book titled "Beastly Folklore," by one Joseph Calrk. It was obviously produced on a typewriter (double spaced, underlining instead of italics, unjustified text) -- not an uncommon circumstance back then for books with a press run too small to justify the expense of hiring a typsetter.

BUT: The font is proportional! And it looks like a variant of Times Roman, albeit with less variety in line thickness.

So a typewriter was capable of proportional fonts in 1968.

-- Joseph Cannon CANNONFIRE

Sunday, September 12, 2004

To illustrate the point...

I presume that some who read the post below did not go to the trouble of conducting the suggested experiment. So I put together a handy-dandy illustration to prove the point. You can see it by clicking here.

Before folks write predictable letters to me: Yes, I know that the CBS docs have "been through the wringer" -- they were photocopied and perhaps Faxed. I maintain that no matter what you do to an original produced using the Microsoft Word Times New Roman font, no matter how thoroughly you degrade such a piece of source material, you still won't end up with characters such as those seen on the CBS documents.

And yes, I know that I misspelled the word "especially" in the comparison at the other end of the above link. Have a heart, people...! I'm under tremendous deadline pressure today, and I just don't have the time to upload a corrected version.

Oh, and one final point: It seems likely to me that any forger careful enough to get the basic format, terminology, places, dates and names correct wouldn't have been so sloppy as to slap together a hoax using Microsoft Word. No, such a forger would have gone out and purchased an old typewriter -- at least, that's what I would have done.

Of course, the above argument presumes that a forger did not want his work exposed as such.

Maybe those documents ARE real...!

As some of you may know, I have from the first presumed that the CBS documents were fakes. I still would have strongly advised CBS not to use any documentation of unknown provenance, even if I felt that the documents were genuine.

Even so, I've been looking more carefully into the narrower question of whether the typeface of the document matches the Time New Roman font available via Microsoft Word. I'm a graphic designer by trade, and I know a few things about various fonts.

Obviously, I cannot say that the docs are authentic. And I wish the scans made available via CBS were of much higher quality. Even so, I do feel comfortable in saying that -- however these documents were produced -- they were NOT made with the Times New Roman font commonly available in Microsoft Word.

Try this experiment. First go here.

Then, use Acrobat's zoom function to make the characters quite large when you call up the May 4, 1972 CBS document. Then type in the same characters in Word. Again, zoom into the characters. Place the two windows side-by-side.

In all instances, the lower-case "h" has a COMPLETELY different shape -- the vertical stroke is much taller in Word. The lower-case "u" is very different, as is the numeral "3." Note the differences in the upper serifs of the lower-case "x."

To my eyes, the line thickness has much greater variety in a Microsoft Word document -- in fact, there is almost NO variety in the typeface of the CBS documents. Anyone who has dealt with heavily-photocopied old documents knows that the copying process tends to make thin parts of characters disappear. When the document is darkened to make the thin strokes visible, the thick strokes tend to become quite "overweight." Here, the line quality is surprisingly even. This tells me that original typeface did not have much, or any, variety of line thickness.

Note, for example, how comparitively thin the slanted line is in the numeral "4" in a Word Times New Roman document. Now look at the "4" in the CBS document. Every part of the "4" is the same thickness.

The letters really do bob up and down as opposed to laying flat horizontally, a factor which argues for typewritten origin. Look, for example, at the "a"s in "administrative" in paragraph 2 of the May 4, 1972 letter. There are ways to replicate this effect by computer, of course...but as I've noted, anyone using Photoshop to make the thing look authentically typewritten would have used a non-proportional font.

Does this mean the documents are authentic? Not necessarily. I have here simply addressed the question of whether they were produced using Microsoft Word. I feel that any objective person who has conducted the same examination I have outlined here will agree that the origin of these documents must be found somewhere else.

From the bottom

After coming up with some sexual dirt on various congressfolk, Larry Flynt was called a bottom feeder. "Yeah, I'm a bottom feeder," he answered. "And look what I found down there.

In that light, let us take another look at the upcoming Kitty Kelley book.

We've already announced our fear that this work might drag the world into the morass of the Paul Bonacci story, an unverifiable mess which can do no-one any good. Fortunately, most folks right now are looking at the coke-at-Camp-David tale, which comes to us via Sharon Bush, ex-wife of the unlovely Neil.

But did she ever truly say such a thing to Kitty?

Sharon has denied that she ever did. However, two first-hand sources -- including her own lawyer, Lou Colasuonno -- say that the conversation did indeed take place.

This sort of thing has happened to me -- and probably to most writers -- albeit on a much more modest level. Sources sometimes regret having saying what they have said, and thus try to pretend that they were misquoted. Sort of like Hagrid in the first "Harry Potter" movie: "I shouldn't have said that..."

Okay, so let us presume that the interview did take place. Why would Sharon backtrack?

Take a look at this old article (and never mind the obnoxious site warehousing it at the moment), which details Sharon's messy divorce from Neil. Ever the gentleman, Neil offered her the royal sum of $1,000 a month. She wanted more. And she threatened to write a tell-all book about our ruling family. Hence, lunch with Kitty.

How much do you want to bet that Sharon no longer has to worry about living on a grand a month?

Of course, this turn of events brings us to a knottier question: If she was holding the family up for dough at the time she spoke to Kitty, how do we know Sharon wasn't hyperbolizing? "Sweeten the deal, Neil, or I'll tell the world that W did coke at Camp David..."

Personally, I'd be careful about trying to strongarm anyone connected with a family known for its CIA ties...

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Update on the "forgeries"

I've gone back and forth several times today. Are the CBS documents forgeries or not? The best technical argument in favor of their authenticity can be found at the Daily Kos; I was particularly struck by the observation that letters "jump" up and down -- slightly -- as opposed to laying straight. This characteristic is consonant with a typewritten origin, not with the use of a computer. And some characters (particularly the numeral 4) do not match.

Besides, surely someone creating a fake of this sort (presuming he did not want the fake to be recognized as such) would either

1. Fetch an old typewriter from a thrift store, or

2. Use a courier font in Word.

A really clever lad would use Photoshop to make the letters lay unevenly. (I know I would have done that! But I take pride in craft.) But anyone clever enough to take that step would also have been clever enough to use a monospace font.

Still, I'm leaning toward the "fake" theory. Something about the wording just doesn't feel right to me, and -- as I noted on usenet -- I always tend to look askance at any questioned document of unknown provenance.

Slate relays a report that the documents were passed tot he Kerry campaign by an unknown military figure. This concurs with my original theory that the pro-Bush forces have pulled off a brilliant distraction maneuver.

At this time, everyone should be discussing the incontrovertible evidence that Bush (contrary to his assertions) jumped ahead of everyone else in line to secure his National Guard position. They should also be discussing the raucous tales to come to us via Kitty Kelley.

Instead, we are talking about proportional fonts. And the net-world increasingly accepts as a given their dark suspicions that the eeeee-vil CBS News would take any risk in order to fob off an obvious forgery.

Cui bono? Who benefits?

Bush benefits.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Hoax documents on CBS: A historical note

My heart sank when "60 Minutes" reported that they had "authenticated" the documents they had received on W's inglorious war record. The need to authenticate indicates that the provenance is questionable, and questionable provenance is a pretty good indicator in and of itself that the documents are fake.

If the segment had not included discussion of those documents, then all attention would have remained on the first-hand testimony that Bush had received preferential treatment. The documents thus served the purposes of misdirection -- in other words, the hoax ultimately benefits Bush.

If we want to figure out who the hoaxer is, "Cui Bono?" remains our first, best question.

To shed further light on that question, I would like to remind readers of an odd bit of history. In 1974, as some of you will recall, Jack Anderson reported that behind-the-scenes player Gordon Novel had been approached by Charles Colson to come up with a bizarre method to erase incriminating Nixon tapes from a remote location. Many people have heard of Novel's claim, and many (probably correctly) have dismissed it.

Few recall that, later in the same interview, Novel made a more interesting suggestion to Anderson as to how Nixon might have been rescued from Watergate.

The plan was simple: Novel said that he would have hired a Nixon impersonator to make a phone call to Hunt. The pseudo-Nixon would have said something grossly incriminating. A tape of the phone call would have been released to the press. Media accomplices (both witting ones and dupes) would then have ensured that the entire Watergate controversy revolved around the authenticity of that one piece of tape.

Once the impersonation was revealed as a hoax, Nixon's enemies would have looked horrible. Every legitimate point they raised thereafter would have been de-fanged.

Novel's idea was not put into action, of course. But I would not discount the notion that some modern behind-the-scenes manipulator considers that sort of tactic "a neat idea."

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Careful with that Kitty!

Orwell once said that the future is summed up by the image of a boot smashing into a human face -- forever. In American politics, that image should be a television tuned into Jerry Springer -- forever. Such is the new lowbrow reality of the vote-getter's art.

Many Democrats still don't get this. One who refuses to understand the new paradigm is Kerry's campaign manager, Mary Beth Cahill, who -- silly girl! -- seems to be under the impression that a campaign is a debate over issues. One who DOES get it is Kitty Kelley, author of the hot new book on the Bush family -- a book which, I am told, contains many lovely tales about cocaine use, gay sex, pedophilia, murder and more.

I cannot judge a book I have not yet read, of course. But from the advance word, I foresee a huge problem. Democrats should not cry "Viva Kitty!" just yet.

That aforementioned advance word holds that Kitty resurrects the Paul Bonacci story, which figured in the "Franklin case," a scandal arising out of Lincoln, Nebraska more than a decade ago. I cannot recount all the details of that scandal here; a little googling should pick out a few relevant web pages. The tale, now largely forgotten, was once very much beloved of conspiracy buffs on both the right and left.

Bonacci (now 31) was part of an underground phenomenon of people who claimed that, during their childhood, they were kidnapped and raped by the rich and powerful. In his case, the rich and the powerful included George Bush the elder. In 1999, Bonacci won a large judgment against one of his alleged abusers, a local Republican named Larry King (no relation to the guy on TV).

The problem: Outside that one courtroom in 1999, very few people credit Bonacci's veracity. Many observers feel that he cannot distinguish between what he has read, what he has been told, and what he recalls directly. While still young, he fell under the care of a religious zealot (with whom I once briefly spoke) who was much given to wild conspiratorial tales.

This country does NOT want to revisit the SRA debacle. Democrats, who tend to be moderate on the subject of religion, will find the subject particularly distasteful. Even if Bonacci has always told the absolute truth (and I doubt that he has), I would counsel any politically-minded person to steer clear of this whole controversy, which has attracted any number of wackos and con artists.

Among those consters were a pair of sharpies named Mark Phillips and Cathy O'Brien, who have peddled unbelievable tales of Satanic Ritual Abuse and mind control for quite a few years now -- always promising, but never delivering, hard and fast proof. Photocopies of Cathy's written testimony were swirling around the Lincoln case during its heyday, and Bonacci duly "remembered" details of his own experience that were congruent with Cathy's riffs. Among those "memories": The dreaded MONARCH project, an alleged mind control program.

Alas, Mark Phillips later privately admitted (to two individuals known to me) that he concocted the term MONARCH. In other words, Bonacci "remembered" instances in which his abusers used a term that we now know is fictional.

Despite such problems, Kelley's dirt-digging efforts may yet prove of some use to the anti-Bush forces. Even though most of the world long ago learned to ignore SRA allegations, those bizarre old allegations still circulate among the fundamentalists who form the backbone of the modern Republican party. And the Bush family has often popped up within the more outlandish of those yarns. Re-opening that can of worms may peel away some of W's sillier supporters among the Jesus Christers.

For all that, I hope that the advance word is untrue, and that Kelley's book avoids the Bonnacci imbroglio. That case is radioactive. Any connection with it will undermine the credibility of whatever better-sourced claims her book may contain.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Why Kerry lost

Modern elections are usually decided by Labor day; whoever has the momentum then, wins. This is especially true now that Florida has outlawed recounts, which means that we can no longer consider that already-corrupt state "democratic" with a small d.

So Kerry lost. How?

For week after week, Kerry ran mushy, feel-good ads which portrayed him as a fine fellow. Meanwhile, Bush never talked about himself in his ads -- he spent the time defining his opponent. The definitions were largely smears. Doesn't matter. The mud stuck.

How would I have handled things if I were Mary Beth Cahill, Kerry's chief campaigner? Simple. The Kerry slogan should have been: "BUSH LIES!" That phrase should have been plastered in day-glo letters on billboards and telephone polls everywhere.

To those who consider such a tactic overkill, let me ask one question: What's the precedent? Just when, exactly, did we have an election in which a Democrat for national office went negative early and things turned out disastrously?

Each election, every Democratic campaign manager seems to say to himself: "Boy, we can't have a repeat of that debacle when we went negative and everything went to shit." I'd like to know just when that alleged debacle occurred.

Why are the Dems so afraid to try something that seems to work like a charm every time for their Republican opponents?

Bottom line: Kerry lost because he did not go on the attack against a president with a lousy record.

For example: Take the vote on supplemental aid to the troops in Iraq. Kerry tried to explain things lamely ("I voted for it before I voted against it"). Alas, the public is -- and always will be -- far too dimwitted to understand that there were two bills which paid for the aid in two different ways.

Kerry should have responded with an ad underlining that Bush threatened to veto the same legislation..."money our boys desperately need!" And why was Bush going to veto? "Because he doesn't care about our troops. He cares more about making sure rich people don't pay their fair share."

CUT TO: Footage of Moms and Dads holding bake sales to make sure their kids in Iraq have flack jackets.

Can we not agree that an ad like the one I have just described would have been a lot more effective for Kerry than the crapola he was running?

Or take the Swift Boat smear. Here's how to combat an attack like that -- with an ad I call "EMPTY BOX":

* * *

FADE IN: EXTREME CLOSE UP of the EMPTY BOX on Bush's service apllication -- the one he should have filled in if he wanted to go to Vietnam. PULL BACK to reveal the rest of the form.

NARRATOR (Kerry himself?): "An empty box. An EMPTY BOX. When he could have volunteered to serve his country in Vietnam, George Bush left the box empty. Why? Because he's a PHYSICAL COWARD."

SLOW DISSOLVE to Bush's face looking bewildered, perhaps because he can't quite follow that goat story.

NARRATOR: "Keep that in mind when Republicans lie about John Kerry's war record. They want to distract you from the fact that Bush has no idea how to heal the economy he wrecked. No idea how to get us out of Iraq. All he has is the same old thing..."

ZOOM IN to Bush's forehead. DISSOLVE TO: An EMPTY BOX. Sound of wind rustling through the marshes.

* * *

Yeah. Something like that would have ended the smears pronto.

Kerry said "Bring it on." They brought it. He sat there and smiled.

Even the phrase "Bring it on" displays the error of playing defense. Kerry is the one who shoud have brought it on.

I wish Mary Beth Cahill were a man so I could properly "explain" my dissatisfaction to her -- on a sidewalk outside any bar she chooses.