Fang-Face's blog

Any disaffected Liberians wanna come here?

Man, I just can't make this stuff up.

Americans Flock to Canada's Immigration Web Site
By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The number of U.S. citizens visiting Canada's main immigration Web site has shot up six-fold as Americans flirt with the idea of abandoning their homeland after President Bush's election win this week.

"When we looked at the first day after the election, Nov. 3, our Web site hit a new high, almost double the previous record high," immigration ministry spokeswoman Maria Iadinardi said on Friday.

On an average day some 20,000 people in the United States log onto the Web site, www.cic.gc.ca -- a figure which rocketed to 115,016 on Wednesday. The number of U.S. visits settled down to 65,803 on Thursday, still well above the norm.

Bush's victory sparked speculation that disconsolate Democrats and others might decide to start a new life in Canada, a land that tilts more to the left than the United States.

Would-be immigrants to Canada can apply to become permanent resident, a process that often takes a year. The other main way to move north on a long-term basis is to find a job, which requires a work permit.

But please spare the sob stories.

Asked whether an applicant would be looked upon more sympathetically if they claimed to be a sad Democrat seeking to escape four more years of Bush, Iadinardi replied: "There would be no weight given to statements of feelings."

Canada is one of the few major nations with an large-scale immigration policy. Ottawa is seeking to attract between 220,000 and 240,000 newcomers next year.

"Let's face it, we have a population of a little over 32 million and we definitely need permanent residents to come to Canada," said Iadinardi. "If we could meet (the 2005) target and go above it, the more the merrier."

But right now it is too early to say whether the increased interest will result in more applications.

"There is no unusual activity occurring at our visa missions (in the United States). Having someone who intends to come to Canada is not the same as someone actually putting in an application," said Iadinardi.

"We'll only find out whether there has been an increase in applications in six months."

The waiting time to become a citizen is shorter for people married to Canadians, which prompted the birth of a satirical Web site called www.marryanamerican.ca.

The idea of increased immigration by unhappy Americans is triggering some amusement in Canada. Commentator Thane Burnett of the Ottawa Sun newspaper wrote a tongue-in-cheek guide to would-be new citizens on Friday.

"As Canadians, you'll have to learn to embrace and use all the products and culture of Americans, while bad-mouthing their way of life," he said.

Actually, that last one isn't entirely true. You'll have to leave your shotguns and and Saturday Night specials at the border, or register them, and you'll have to get used to socialized medicine. And real beer. And real news reporting. That last one will be quite the shocker. Those of you who do come here will be horrified to find out how bad things really are down there.

That 100,000 Estimate

Scott Ritter was a senior UN weapons inspector in Iraq between 1991 and 1998, and he says that estimate of 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians is credible. Therefore, proclamations by Bush supporters that it is not are almost certainly desperate attempts to refute something that offends their prejudices, rather than being well-considered opinions. Especially, Bush and his supporters have one important question to answer in their denial of the estimate: given that the American military meatgrinder has loudly proclaimed that it does not do body counts, how could it possibly know that the estimate is inaccurate as it claims?

The War on Iraq Has Made Moral Cowards of Us All
By Scott Ritter
The Guardian U.K.

Now this is weird

According to Even Republicans Fear Bush, by John Nichols, this election is not only split along party lines but has even split the Republican Party. How ineffably bad can a president get before the voters wake up and de-elect or impeach the dumb sum-bitch?

My stance on Civil Liberties

Just for those who can't or won't think for themselves, here is my stance on civil liberties.

1) All civil liberties are coequal (for you Americans, check your ninth amendment).

2) To support point number 1, it is necessary that there be limits on civil liberties, and those limits must be reasonable time, place, or manner restrictions. (My reasons for supporting limits are actually quite complex and deal with high level abstractions that are incomprehensible to those who do not understand how all rights are coequal to begin with.)

3) Idiot lawmakers almost invariably get it wrong in trying to impose limits.

My stance on the second amendment is:

4) Considering that ninety-eight percent of Americans don't properly understand the first amendment, why should any more of them understand any of the others any better?

More breaking ranks

I said in the story about Carl Worden that its anti-civil liberty stance did not speak well for the Republican Party. Well, Republicans Gather to Bash Bush,
by Gary Gerhardt, of Rocky Mountain News
, seems to support that statement. More of the party faithful are giving up on Bush.

Anybody got any reports of Democrats crossing the floor? This is probably the most divisive thing to happen to the U.S. since the Civil War.

Flip-flopper's whoppers

Trust That Bush Won't Bring Back the Draft? Bad Idea by Tom Maertens

[...]

Are Bush's campaign promises credible?

In the 2000 campaign George W. Bush said that he would support allowing Americans to buy prescription drugs from Canada, he would not raid the Social Security Trust Fund, and he would veto temporary storage of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. He broke all three promises.

In the same campaign Bush said that he would not only balance the budget but pay down a record amount on the national debt. He also claimed he opposed government intervention regarding same-sex marriage. He said the nation would have a $5.6 trillion surplus and that he would have a humble foreign policy. Does anybody remember those whoppers?

This does not speak well for the Republican National Guard

The Last Straw - Carl Worden Makes His Vote Official

[...]

The absolute last straw for me took place at the Bush rally, held in Central Point, Oregon on October 14th. President Bush stayed in Jacksonville, Oregon overnight after the rally, and protesters and police clashed on the streets. I sent out a photo of a Jackson County Sheriff's Deputy, all Nazi'd up in black leather riot control gear and grinning evilly as he shoved a woman holding her 5 year-old daughter. It wasn't the finest hour for local law enforcement, but even that wasn't the last
straw for me. No, the last straw for me happened just before the Bush rally itself.

Three local teachers got tickets to the Bush rally, passed all the security checkpoints and scrutiny and got in. They never created or caused a disturbance, and they were perfectly peaceful members of the audience waiting to hear Bush speak. But before they got to hear Bush, they were expelled from the rally by Bush rally staff who objected to the words printed on the T-shirts they were wearing.

No, the words on the T-shirts the ladies were wearing did not disparage Bush, nor did they suggest support for Kerry or any other candidate. The words did not condemn or support the war in Iraq, nor did they slam any Administration policy. No, the T-shirts the three women wore showed an American flag, and under it the words, "Protect Our Civil Liberties". That was all -- I kid you not.

That was it. That was the last straw for me. That was the defining moment I'll never forget. That was my epiphany.

Bryan Platt, Chairman of the Jackson County Republican Central Committee, said he stood 100 percent behind the person who made the decision to exclude the women, removing any doubt that one or two individuals exceeded their authority and blew it. No, it was solid, Republican neo-conservative fascist policy on open display, and the Brown Shirts weren't about to apologize for it. No way.

I am now a man without a political party. I will never again register as a Republican unless the party returns to what it was before the fascists took it over.

[...]

What I do know is that any party that would find the words, "Protect Our Civil Liberties" offensive or even threatening, is a party I won't belong to anymore.

That was the last straw. --Carl F. Worden

Copyright Sierra Times and reprinted here without permission.

Interesting differences

There's an interesting article a Alternet.org entitled Comparing Bush and Kerry on Civil Rights. (Just Kerry has a military record and Bush does not, Kerry has a federal government service record previous to the 2000 non-election and Bush does not.)

Now that the presidential debates are over and campaign surrogates have tried to interpret or misinterpret what we saw for ourselves, there is no better time to ignore the rhetoric and check out the candidates' records.

Because John Kerry and his Democratic vice presidential running mate, John Edwards, served in the Senate, their votes can be reviewed. And the same can be said for Vice President Dick Cheney, who served in the House. Like many groups, each year the NAACP issues a Civil Rights Report Card, grading members of Congress on issues important to African-Americans. Every year they were in office, both Kerry and Edwards received As. When Cheney served in Congress from 1977 to 1988, he received an F every session.

Of course, President Bush has never served in the House or Senate, making it more difficult to assign him a grade. But the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has examined Bush's White House years and last week issued a draft staff report titled, "Redefining Rights in America: The Civil Rights Record of the George W. Bush Administration, 2001-2004." The report is available online at www.usccr.gov/pubs/bush/bush04.pdf.

The 166-page study by the independent, bi-partisan agency concludes, "President Bush has neither exhibited leadership on pressing civil rights issues, nor taken actions that matched his words."

More Rethuglican election fraud

I see that Republicans are once again engaged in wholesale election fraud; this time in the state of Nevada. This is something like the third or fourth report on (R)republican election fraud efforts this week. Somebody explain to me how it is that the Rethuglicans are supposed to be standing up for liberty and the rights and freedoms of We The People when they pull this kind of bullshit.

Bush administration as cult

The following is from an e-mail I received; unfortunately, there was no attribution to the original source. It is reproduced here without permsission of the author.

Arthur Deikman is a clinical professor of psychiatry at UCSF and author of the well-regarded book The Observing Self: Mysticism and Psychotherapy. In Wrong Way Home, Deikman takes a careful, scholarly look at cult thinking and behavior and finds that it pervades many institutions in modern society. Cult behavior is found in the military, in government advisory boards, in corporations, in political campaigns, and in the professions of law and medicine, as well as in religious denominations
of all shapes and sizes. Unlike many popular authors (often Christian apologists) who use the term "cult" to describe a carefully delineated subset of new religious movements, Deikman uses the term as an adjective describing distinct types of behavior or thinking found in many groups and institutions. He emphasizes that any group can develop cult behavior.

Following Deikman, four factors characterize cult thinking and behavior within groups: (1) compliance with the group; (2) dependence on a leader; (3) devaluing outsiders; and (4) avoiding dissent. Case studies show that almost any normal person can, as a member of a group, develop increasingly cultish thinking and behavior with almost no awareness of the change. Deikman traces susceptibility to cult behavior to two kinds of wishes, the desire for a meaningful life and the need for a feeling
of security and belonging. Playing on the second wish, the yearning for security and protection, allows group leaders to bind members to the group and direct their thinking and activity toward group goals of almost any description. Even highly ethical individuals may find themselves suppressing personal qualms or concerns in the face of clear and seemingly urgent group directives, even those of dubious moral quality. How does this happen?

Compliance With the Group. Behaving as do those around us is natural behavior and often enhances our chances of survival and prosperity (p. 52). We first encounter the need to comply as children in a family, and our "complaince training" carries over to other groups we become part of later in life: "Most social groups share characteristics of family groups with members who occupy dominant (parent) and subordinate (child) roles" (p. 50). Groups disfavor nonconformity: "A major way a group
exerts power it through threat of censure and expulsion, classifying the deviant as bad" (p. 59).

Deikman observes that compliance with a group increases with one's psychological and economic dependence on it. He notes how large corporations foster such dependence by frequently transfering managers. Other social and cultural ties become weak and fleeting; the corporation becomes the primary source of self-esteem and social interaction for many managers. Even family needs are generally subordinated to those of the corporation and the manager's career within it. "Commitment to the
corporation is also measured by a manager's willingness to take work home at night and on weekends and to be absent from his family on frequent business trips" (p. 63).

Dependence on a Leader. All groups have leaders. Cult behavior thrives in groups with authoritarian, hierarchical leadership structures. "Authoritarians emphasize obedience, loyalty, and the suppression of criticism. . . . Authoritarian leaders, especially, draw power from the dependency fantasy, from the individual's wish for an idealized parent" (p. 71). In a sense, we hold all our leaders up to the idealized memory of our first authority figure, Dad. "The structure of cults is
basically authoritarian; obedience and hierarchical power tend to take precedence over truth and conscience when they conflict, which they often do" (p. 73).

Politics and religion provide good examples of dependence on a leader. "As in any authoritarian system, the basic perspective of most religious groups is one of superior/inferior relationships; as obedience is the prime virtue in all authoritarian systems, so obedience to God's commandments is a prime virtue in theistic religions. This is espoused most rigidly by fundamentalists, those who believe in the literal, inerrant truth of the Bible, the Koran, or some other religious text. Rev.
Jerry Falwell puts the matter most unequivocally: 'We must be obedient to the Word of God. Obedient. Whatsoever He sayeth unto you, do it! That's all there is to it! Find out what God is saying to you and obey Him. Obey the Lord. Obedience!'" (p. 85-86).

Deikman also discusses the political career of the popular Ronald Reagan, who frequently mischaracterized world events and got facts wrong. No matter -- people loved him. He was confident and optimistic. By contrast, Jimmy Carter, in many ways a capable president, did not project confidence and security and was therefore not embraced by the country at large. People want leaders to act like the confident father figures they are supposed to be. This suggests that the leader-follower
dynamic draws strength from the urge to dependence of followers as much as from any leader's individual will to power.

Devaluing the Outsider. "The security of a cult is bound up with the idea of being special, better than those outside the group. Indeed, outsiders are likely to be seen as threatening since they do not share the cult's belief in the leader and in the special entitlement of its members. This threat is met by devaluing the non- believers" (p. 101). This behavior is surprisingly common in society at large. Tellingly, the use of demeaning, profane labels is almost a prerequisite to social
violence directed at outsiders or those on the margins of society (p. 102). Conversely, recognizing the "other" as fully human almost invariably has the opposite effect of making violence or aggression emotionally more difficult.

"Devaluation relies heavily on projection . . . . Projection occurs when we attribute to others those aspects of ourselves that we wish to deny. By identifying the bad impulse or trait as being outside ourselves, we can feel more secure" (p. 103).Deikman notes the prevalence of self-righteousness in cults, often masked by "false humility and public confessions of unworthiness" (p. 105). Religions are especially prone to employ devaluation, despite good intentions to the contrary.
"Fundamentalist religions, in particular, tend to devalue the outsider to preserve the certainty of their scriptures and the leader's connection with God" (p. 108).

Deikman uses psychiatry itself as an illustration, showing how the radically different therapeutic orientation toward outpatients and inpatients is rooted in the treating therapist's unwillingness to identify with psychotic inpatients as much as by any underlying medical conditions. The automatic use of anti-psychotic drugs, with the dosage increased if disturbing behavior persists, is inconsistent with evidence showing a significant degree of successful non-drug treatment of some inpatient
subjects. Deikman also discusses how mainstream media news coverage betrays the same unconscious use of devaluation: American military strength is portrayed as purely defensive, whereas the military armaments of potential adversaries show aggressive intentions.

Avoiding Dissent. "Although we all need dissent as a corrective, cults tend to punish it, to inhibit and stifle disagreement and criticism, to restrict access to information that would challenge group beliefs" (p. 123).Detailed apologetic or justificatory arguments are replaced by dogma, then "dogma itself may be simplified into slogans, . . . futher hampering critical thought" (ibid.). Furthermore, hierarchical institutions can develop a sort of autonomous process whereby subordinates
suppress deviant points of view before they ever reach upper management or senior leaders (p. 144). Think of it as the one-big-happy-family institutional model, maintained by burying any evidence or examples to the contrary.

Especially in America, dissent and the right to voice contrary opinions are valued, at least in principle. It is thus ironic that avoidance of dissent is practiced in American society at large more than is generally recognized, certainly within the government and corporations but even by the lauded free press. "Media bias in favor of the status quo is often not obvious because of the appearance of debate in the various mass media presentations, especially network television. However,
debate turns out to be within the rather narrow limits acceptable to authority" (p. 132). For example, left-wing, "radical" speakers almost always represent safely foreign countries or movements.

Religion tolerates dissent no more willingly than government or business. "All too frequently, administrators of religions consider themselves to be God's representatives and define any choice of doctrine or interpretation but theirs as false or evil. To the extent that religious leaders claim divine authority, dissent is discouraged and suppressed among their followers" (p. 141). The Inquisition comes to mind, of course, as does the frequency with which new denominations or sects form
around religious dissenters after they are expelled from established denominations.

Exit From the Cult. No doubt the reader takes the phrase "exit from the cult" to mean exiting specific groups deemed to be cults -- that is certainly what I was expecting to encounter in the last chapter carrying that title. While life may be too short to spend any more of it in a cult than is absolutely necessary, that isn't the argument Deikman makes. He isn't talking about getting out of specific groups. He is referring to reforming society to eliminate (as far as is possible) cult
thinking and behavior, starting with the reader and, by extension, you. He's thinking of social reform, not temporal salvation. He is talking about exiting the Cult Universal, not the cult next door. He offers a short checklist to faciliate self-examination and to help exorcise the invisible cult that lurks in each of us (p. 154):

Do I speak of opponents or outsiders as if they were all the same, with reference to only negative traits and unflattering motives?

Do I lack interest and information concerning the actual statements and actions of opponents or outsiders?

Do I fail to consider the possible validity of an adversary's point of view?

Do I fail to critically examine my own position?

Do I disapprove or reject a member of my own group who departs from the group position, regarding the dissident as an annoyance or a problem?

Do I feel self-righteous?

An examination of Rethuglican revisionism

Orwell Goes to War Des Moines Register Editorial

Friday 08 October 2004

We live in Orwellian times, where obvious falsehoods are asserted brazenly as the truth.

The day after the final report of the Iraq Survey Group confirmed that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and no active programs to produce them, Vice President Dick Cheney blithely asserted that the report justified the invasion of Iraq.

No, Mr. Vice President, the report shattered the last forlorn hope that the war was necessary. It established that Iraq posed no threat to the United States before the 2003 invasion or any time in the foreseeable future. President Bush, on the very day the report was issued, said, "There was a risk, a real risk, that Saddam Hussein would pass weapons or materials or information to terrorist networks."

No, Mr. President, you don't seem to get it. Saddam had no weapons or materials to give. The chemical and biological weapons were destroyed years ago, and Iraq's capacity to develop nuclear weapons was actually deteriorating at the time of the invasion. Not to mention that Saddam had no meaningful ties with terrorists. On Thursday, Bush dropped the reference to weapons but continued to insist Saddam had knowledge of weapons that could have been given to terrorists. That's knowledge anyone can get off the Internet.

When the United States was gearing up to invade, United Nations arms inspectors were in Iraq. If they had been allowed a few more months to complete their work, they would have discovered what the post-invasion inspectors now report - that Iraq had no stockpiles or active programs involving weapons of mass destruction. But President Bush insisted the invasion couldn't wait. He described a "grave and immediate threat" from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. During the futile search for weapons after the invasion, the words changed in an Orwellian rewriting of the justification. "Immediate threat" was downgraded to just a "threat" and then to a "gathering threat." Now it's clear there was no threat, gathering or otherwise.

It was all based on a bare-faced lie

Editor's Note | More than two years ago, I wrote a book with former U.N Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter. The book was short, and to the point: Evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was being wildly exaggerated by George W. Bush and members of his administration. No threat was evidenced. The matter could be handled by weapons inspectors, who had already eviscerated Saddam's stockpile.

This was truth, September 11 or no September 11.

Now: 1,064 American soldiers are dead in Iraq. More than 17,000 American soldiers have been 'medically evacuated' from Iraq, suffering everything from menstruation to missing limbs and faces, if you know how to read between the carefully parsed DoD lines.

More than 20,000 Iraqi civilians - people like you and me, people like you and me, people like you and me, people like you and me, people like you and me - have been killed. Tens of thousands more have been maimed, orphaned, or otherwise struck to the heart.

How many of these will become 'terrorists'?

One of these days, telling the truth will be worth something. - wrp

U.S. 'Almost All Wrong' on Weapons By Dana Priest and Walter Pincus The Washington Post

Dissension in the ranks: letters home from Iraq

Michael Moore has an article posted to CommonDreams.org containing a few e-mails he's gotten from troops on the ground in the Iraq Killing Field. Hear it like it is from the people who are there instead of from your chickenhawks in office. . . .

Just how bad is Bush?

An Open Letter to Those Considering Voting for Ralph Nader

The November 2 election must end the reign of President George W. Bush whose policies have dismantled what we--and Ralph Nader--have worked for years to achieve. At stake is the survival of progressive values that we and Ralph Nader hold so dear and the hope for a safer, stronger and better world.

Four more years of President Bush would result in the further undermining of international security: a new generation of nuclear weapons, a resumption of nuclear bomb testing, expansion of National Missile Defense, advancement of the doctrine of pre-emptive war, and the unilateral use of military force independent of the United Nations.

Bush supporters understand power and want to keep it. They have collected ballot signatures for Nader; they have sent him tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions. They are using Ralph Nader to divide the progressive vote.

We cannot let them win.

We share Ralph Nader's concern for the condition of America's workers, consumers and citizens. We stand with Nader in demanding that the cause of security and peace be at the top of the national agenda.

But we will not vote for him this election. We will not give George W. Bush four more years to destroy the causes for which we have worked.

Your vote is your voice in this election. Make both of them heard loud and clear. Tell your friends and associates that the only practical way to safeguard the nation and the world is to vote for John Kerry for President of the United States.

Sincerely,

  • 1. Edie Allen, President, Colombe Foundation Mass;*
  • 2. Dorothy Anderson, MD, Physicians for Social Responsibility;*
  • 3. Tom Andrews, ex- member of Congress (D-ME), Executive Director, Win Without War;*
  • 4. Ed Arnold, Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility/Atlanta;
  • 5. Diane Aronson, former executive director, Women's Action for Nuclear Disarmament;*
  • 6. Former Congressman Les AuCoin, Oregon;
  • 7. Catherine Barrett, State Representative, Ohio;
  • 8.
    Robert L. Borosage, Campaign for America's Future;*
  • 9. Anne H. Cahn, American University;
  • 10. Mary R Cathcart, State Senator, Maine;
  • 11. Rev. Dagmar Braun Celeste;
  • 12. Susan Clark actor/activist;
  • 13. David Cohen, Co-Chair, Advocacy Institute;*
  • 14. David Cortright, President, Fourth Freedom Forum;*
  • 15. Susan Cundiff, Chapter President, Lane County WAND;
  • 16. Mary Byrd Davis, Director, Yggdrasil Institute, a project of Earth Island Institute;*
  • 17. Elizabeth Dunn,
    Souhegan Wood Products, Inc.;*
  • 18. Daniel Ellsberg, Author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers;
  • 19. Meg Gage, Proteus Fund;*
  • 20. Peter W. Galbraith, Former US Ambassador, Senior Diplomatic Fellow, Center For Arms Control and Non-Proliferation;
  • 21. Sanford Gottlieb, 20/20 Vision;*
  • 22. Raymond F. Graap, M.D.;
  • 23. Roy D. Hankins MD, Physicians for Social Responsibility;*
  • 24. Bettieanne Hart, Georgia;
  • 25. Dudley Herschbach, Department of
    Chemistry & Chemical Biology, Harvard University;*
  • 26. Barbara Hildt, President, Youth Empowerment Services Inc., Massachusetts;
  • 27. Amy Isaacs, national director, Americans for Democratic Action;
  • 28. John Isaacs, President, Council for a Livable World;*
  • 29. Karen Jacob, Chapter President of WAND of Northern Indiana and President of the Board of Promoting Enduring Peace;*
  • 30. Peggy Maze Johnson, Citizen Alert of Nevada;*
  • 31. Carla Brooks Johnston, President, New Centuries
    Policies;
  • 32. Fern Katz, Treasurer, Michigan WAND;*
  • 33. Alan Kay, entrepreneur and social innovator;
  • 34. Jean Kilbourne;
  • 35. Bob Kinsey, Green Party for Congress, CO-4;*
  • 36. Barbara Laing, executive director, Colorado Physicians for Social Responsibility;*
  • 37. Catherine Lincoln, California; 38. Priscilla McMillan, Harvard University;*
  • 39. Robert K. Musil, Ph.D, M.P.H., Executive Director and CEO, Physicians for Social Responsibility;*
  • 40. John O. Pastore.
    M.D.,President-elect, Physicians for Social Responsibility;*
  • 41. Christopher Paine, Senior Analyst, Natural Resources Defense Council;*
  • 42. Mike Pertschuk, Co-Chair, Advocacy Institute;*
  • 43. Gene Pokorny, Council for a Livable World;
  • 44. Margo Okazawa Rey, Mills College, Women's Leadership Institute;
  • 45. Dorothy Rupert, former State Senator, Colorado;
  • 46. Claudine Schneider, former Member of Congress;
  • 47. Susan Shaer, executive director, Women's Action for New
    Directions;*
  • 48. Sayre Sheldon, President Emerita Women's Action for New Directions;
  • 49. John Shepherd, MD, President of Colorado Physicians for Social Responsibility;
  • 50. Norman Solomon, Author and syndicated columnist;
  • 51. Ivo Spalatin, Treasurer, Council for a Livable World;
  • 52. Jeremy J. Stone, President, Catalytic Diplomacy;
  • 53. Benn Tannenbaum, Ph.D., Federation of American Scientists;
  • 54. Carlotta Tyler, Massachusetts;
  • 55. Suleyken Walker, Boston;
  • 56.
    Peter Wilk, M.D.;
  • 57. Edith B. Wilkie, President, Peace Through Law Education Fund;* < li>58. Esther B. Wolf, Magnolia Neighborhood Peace Project;*
  • 59. Herbert York, Member, Pugwash Movement

*Affiliation for identification purposes only.

Beware the depredations of the corporate press

FAIR-L Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting Media analysis, critiques and activism

http://www.fair.org/press-releases/debate-fact-checking.html

MEDIA ADVISORY: Post-Debate Fact-Checking Is Media's Main Job

September 29, 2004

Who "wins" the presidential debate on Thursday may well depend on how well media do their job on Friday.

In past debates, post-debate commentary has frequently focused on the candidates' style, body language and other cosmetic issues. The L.A. Times (9/29/04) suggested that these seemingly unimportant details can swing a campaign: "Who could have predicted that in 1992 the camera would catch an apparently unengaged President George H.W. Bush checking his watch during a debate with Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton? (Bush lost the election.) That in 2000, Gore would be remembered for inappropriately
grimacing and sighing during his first debate with Bush? (Gore lost.)"

Of course, if one were told that the media would play tape of these moments over and over again, than it would be relatively easy to predict that these would be the moments that voters remember. Something that isn't widely remembered is the fact that initial post-debate polls showed Gore winning that debate in the minds of voters (Daily Howler, 9/28/04); it was only after media commentary focused obsessively on Gore's reaction shots that the perception was created that his performance was a
disaster.

The fact is, voters don't need to be told whether they are put off by a candidate's style or mannerisms; they are fully capable of analyzing their own reaction without pundit intervention. What the public cannot easily do is determine whether factual claims made during a debate are accurate or not-- and in this far more critical role, media commentators have often fallen down on the job.

In one of the most dramatic moments of the 1992 vice presidential debate, Vice President Dan Quayle (10/13/92) charged that Al Gore's book, Earth in the Balance, proposed that "the taxpayers of America spend $100 billion a year on environmental projects in foreign countries"; when Gore maintained that he hadn't written that, Quayle cited a page number where the proposal could be found.

One of the few media outlets to look up what the book actually said was the New York Times, which reported the next day (10/14/92) that while the book did say $100 billion a year was needed for global environmental projects, "Mr. Gore notes in the book that such levels of spending would be impossible given the country’s economic distress and calls on the other industrialized countries to contribute." But the Times neutralized its attempt at fact-checking by prefacing it with the statement,
"There are elements of truth in the statements of both men," and labeling the passage "Truth on Both Sides."

George W. Bush made a series of false or deceptive claims in his debates with Al Gore in 2000: He asserted, for example, that in his tax plan, "by far the majority of the help goes to the people at the bottom end of the economic ladder" (10/11/00), when Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation (5/3/00) had found that the bottom half of the economic spectrum would receive only 10 percent of Bush's income tax cut.

At another point (10/11/00), Bush declared that "we spend $4.7 billion a year on the uninsured in the state of Texas." But the state of Texas itself spent less than $1 billion a year on those without medical insurance; only by adding together all federal, local and private spending can you come up with Bush's figure (Window on State Government, 5/10/00). Few outlets bothered to examine what "we" meant in Bush's statement.

One of the most dramatic moments during the Bush/Gore debates was when the two candidates heatedly clashed over what Bush's Medicare plan offered. It was this dispute that produced Gore's infamous sighs, which received far more attention than the question of who was actually telling the truth in the argument. Bob Somerby of the Daily Howler (9/28/04) summed up the New York Times' coverage:

"In the next day's fact-checks, Robin Toner reviewed the heated drug debate, summarizing what the hopefuls had said. (Toner: 'Mr. Bush accused Mr. Gore of using "Medi-scare tactics," while Mr. Gore accused Mr. Bush of advancing a plan that offered little or no help to most Medicare beneficiaries.') But incredibly, she never said who had been right in the factual battle the two hopefuls waged, and we have never found any place where the Times told readers that Bush had been wrong on the basic
facts of this matter."

This kind of coverage evades journalism's most important responsibility-- to separate truth from falsehood. If the November election is decided on the basis of trivia, post-debate coverage that fails to do its job will bear much of the blame.

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Election fraud by Fox

Speaking of a need for fact-checking,
here's a story about wholesale electioneering fraud by Fox News. They reported that out of states students are not allowed to vote in Arizona, and hinted they could be prosecuted for doing so.

The broadcasts in question aired on Aug. 31 and Sept. 8. In the Aug. 31 broadcast, Fox reporter Natalie Tejeda began her report with, "Several hundred students have registered to vote here over the past few days, but the Pima County registrar of voters believes many may have unintentionally committed a felony."

However, if anyone has committed a felony, it is Ms. Tajeda and Fox; for erroneous and misleading reporting that flies in the face of reality. Fox apparently failed to correctly report the procedures for student voters on campus, perpetuating the lie thereby. And it would have been so easy to correct this misapprehension with as few as one fact checkers.

So: news services which try to get at the truth and screw up are savaged and vilified in fits of hysteria; news services which are clearly fraudulent are feted.

God help Amurca.

And while we're at it, let's not forget that Bush's march to military misadventurism was based on other forged documents; the debunking of which the Bush regime committed a felony to punish.

Republicans do not have the moral high ground in the Dan Rather Affair.

Islamist regimes will love this one

How in the name of unholy Hell can any American sleep at night with George Bush not only ensuring it contintues to be a big, fat target for terrorists, but actually making it more attractive a target? There's an article from Reuters, and reprinted at Truthout.org, about the U.S. kissing Israel's militaristic ass with high powered weapons which Israel specifically stated will be proof against Iranian nuclear facilities. Does anybody have a sane and rational explanation for how this might not be taken the wrong way by the terrorism-minded?

You're president isn't just a moron . . . he's total fucking asshole.

Ashcroft Continues to Seek New Powers

Attorney General Ashcroft and his allies in Congress are taking advantage of the 9/11 Commission report to push an expansion of the powers of the Department of Justice and erode key checks and balances that prevent government abuse. Many of their earlier proposals met with defeat, but now they are pushing new legislation that would dramatically expand on the PATRIOT Act and even further restrict our freedom.

This proposed legislation would increase the government’s power to secretly obtain personal records without judicial review. Also, by expanding "administrative subpoena" powers, it would erode already diminished judicial oversight in terrorism cases and would allow access to confidential records without individual suspicion of wrongdoing.

The 9/11 Commission's final report clearly indicated that government agents failed to properly use the powers already available. By granting new powers and removing key checks and balances, we are increasing the risk of government abuse and the threat of unnecessary searches.

This proposed legislation might be voted on as early as next week. Your Members of Congress need to hear from you now.

Take Action! Urge your Members of Congress to oppose this dangerous expansion of government powers.

Click here for more information and to take action:

http://www.aclu.org/NationalSecurity/NationalSecurity.cfm?ID=16491&c=24

Deeper into the Quagmire

Remember Gallipoli -- Remember 'Nam

Despair in Iraq over the Forgotten Victims of U.S. Invasion By Patrick Cockburn Independent U.K.

Sneering Bushites will simply dismiss this work because it is posted at TruthOut.org, but this piece hints at a disturbing practice. American forces are inflating body counts again. Although the piece is primarily a look at the disinformation practices of pretending that civilians don't count.

The US army does not count the number of Iraqis killed since the invasion in March 2003. The most conservative figure for the number dead is 10,000 as calculated by private groups. It is rising every day. The US military claimed that on Tuesday alone it killed "100 militants" in air strikes on Fallujah on top of a further 33 people killed in fighting in Sadr City in Baghdad.

Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defense Secretary, proudly claimed on Tuesday that US forces had, last month, killed between 1,500 and 2,500 Iraqi insurgents.

One hundred militants? That is a rather high number for a small battle, and ground attacks against Fallujah would be more akin to guerilla warfare than to a frontal assault across a battlefield. Even thirty-three dead sounds suspiciously high for such conditions. And how, I'd like to know, did the occupying forces verify that number from air strikes? If they did count bodies, how did they differentiate between the bona fide resistance fighters who were killed and any bodies of civilians?

Somebody explain me to how this is not Viet Nam all over again.

Meanwhile, there are still no living American casualties that anybody is speaking about.

Bush/Cheney Cowardice

What a pack of fucking gutless, spineless, ballless, mewling shitheads. Your presidency is so totally, fucking contemptible.

Cheney said:

It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States.

Edwards replied:

This statement by the vice president of the United States was intended to divide us. It was calculated to divide us on an issue of safety and security for the American people. It's wrong and it's un-American.

Gore replied:

The claim by Bush and Cheney that the American people must give them four more years in office or else be 'hit hard' by another terrorist attack is a sleazy and despicable effort to blackmail voters with fear.

They are going back to the ugliest page in the Republican playbook: fear. They're not even really trying to convince you to vote for George Bush. Their only hope, they've decided, is to try and make you too afraid to vote for John Kerry. It's the lowest sort of politics imaginable. It is not worthy of a presidential candidate.

Bush made no comment. But then, this kind of fear-mongering is as much to his advantage as the blatant lies of the Swift Boat Veterans for [un]Truth, and it's perfectly in keeping with Bush's character. Well, . . . actually: lack of character.

Let's get one thing perfectly clear: Al Qaida is going to hit the U.S. again. They will do it no matter who the president is. Having Bush will not create any incentive for bin Laden to refrain from striking, having Kerry will not create any special incentive for bin Laden to strike. It will, however, be to bin Laden's advantage to strike against a Bush administration. Bush can be counted on to react in a way that will be profitable to bin Laden and international terrorism. Quod Erat Demonstratum.

The Faces of One Thousand Dead

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