Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Rumsfeld Calls Iraq Opponents "Appeasers"

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld suggested in a speech to veterans that those who oppose the administrations policies in the Iraq war and the war on terrorism haven't learned the lesson of WWII: you cannot appease a vicious enemy.

Once again conflating the war against Al Qaeda and the war in Iraq, the Bush administration is trying to rescue its disasterous Iraq policy by smearing its opponents as weaklings in the war on terrorism. Really? Consider this, Mr. Rumsfeld. Had we not invaded Iraq, might we have used the 140,000 troops there and the billions of dollars being squandered for a more effective war on terrorism? There was no--let's repeat that--no terrorist threat directed at the U.S. coming out of Iraq before we invaded. No one wants to appease terrorists, Mr. Rumsfeld. Nor, however, will your smears scare us into appeasing you.

For the beginning of a news report on Rumsfeld's talk, see below.

Rumsfeld Says War Critics Haven't Learned Lessons of History . August 30, 2006, New York Times


Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday that critics of the war in Iraq and the campaign against terror groups ''seem not to have learned history's lessons,'' and he alluded to those in the 1930's who advocated appeasing Nazi Germany.

In a speech to thousands of veterans at the American Legion's annual convention here, Mr. Rumsfeld sharpened his rebuttal of critics of the Bush administration's Iraq strategy, some of whom have called for phased withdrawal of United States forces or partitioning of the country.

Comparing terrorist groups to a ''new type of fascism,'' Mr. Rumsfeld said, ''With the growing lethality and the increasing availability of weapons, can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?''
It was the second unusually combative speech by Mr. Rumsfeld to a veterans group in two days and appeared to be part of a concerted administration effort to address criticism of the war's conduct.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Oldest Trick in the Demonizing Book

“There’s some good people in our country who believe we should cut and run. They’re not bad people when they say that, they’re decent people."-- George Bush, August 17, 2006

In saying this President George Bush tries to put a compasionate face on the kind of political mudslinging favored by his Veep Dick Cheney. But this is the oldest trick in the book. Why? You don't have to be Karl Rove to know that Bush's comment is the same as saying "Cowards are Good People Too." Huh? And, who are these cowards? Well the crowd that thinks the war in Iraq should have never become part of the war against Al Qaeda.

Taking all of this personally, Phil Singer, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, responded by saying, “Misstating the Democrats’ position on Iraq doesn’t change the fact that the White House’s Iraq policy has been a tragic failure.”

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Al Qaeda Candidate and Liberal CNN

CNN's anchor, Chuck Roberts: ‘Might Some Argue That Lamont…Is The al Qaeda Candidate?’

In discussing the impact of the airline terror plot stopped by British authorities, CNN Headline News, anchor Chuck Roberts asked Hotline senior editor John Mercurio: “How does this factor into the Lieberman/Lamont contest? And might some argue, as some have, that Lamont is the al Qaeda candidate?”

Roberts here is at least guilty of letting people such as Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman set the terms of debate. This is exactly what much of the media allowed, when President Bush framed the war in Iraq as part of the war on terrorism. This kind of rhetoric is not only malicious, it is dangerous. It makes it impossible to have serious discussion and debate about what to do about some of the most serious problems we face.

Joe and Dick: It was the Al Qaedaocrats that Beat Lieberman

There he goes again. Following in the wake of Joe Lieberman's defeat in the recent Connecticut primary, Vice President Dick Cheney claimed Ned Lamont's victory would help "Al Qaeda types" in the war on terrorism.

But wait a minute. Lamont is opposed to the way we are fighting the war in Iraq, not a vigorous war against terrorists. No matter. If you oppose any--you are with us or against us-- Cheney policy, you are at best a dupe of the terrorists.

For his part Joe Lieberman agreed: leaving Iraq as people like Lamont want to do: “will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England.” “It will strengthen them and they will strike again.”

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

"I am a Liberal" -- Clooney's One-Man-Stand

By saying loudly and clearly what many politicians are afraid to say, George Clooney has struck a blow against demonization in politics.

In the 1960s major politicians would proudly proclaim themselves to be liberals. Since at least the 1980s "liberalism" has become a dirty word, thanks in part to the efforts of President Ronald Reagan who accused Jimmy Carter of being a "liberal." Before becoming president, Carter had never been regarded as anything other than a moderate-to slightly conservative Democrat. Even as president, Carter was challenged by Ted Kennedy and the liberal wing of the Democratic Party for the 1980 Democratic nomination.

So charged has the "liberal" label become and so on the defensive have liberals and their policies become, anyone not considered conservative enough has become became fair game for this charge. This pejorative use of what used to be a respectable political label continues to this day.

Clooney deserves praise for standing up for what he believes and for standing up for those less brave or well positioned to stand up for themselves.

A note of caution: as liberals try to redress the balance, they should be careful. Strong tough disagreement is one thing. Seeing conservatives--or those merely not liberal enough--as the root of all evil is quite another. As liberals stand up for themselves in the fight against demonization, they need to avoid the temptation of self-righteousness that will only deepen the polarization that already exists.

Does Clooney give in to this temptation? He's on the edge. All things considered, however, Clooney has said something that needs to be said. And he's right on target in deconstructing why many Democrats in Congress went along with the Iraq war, and using this as a prime example of the harm demonization can do to democratic politics. We congratulate him.

Published on Monday, March 13, 2006 by the Huffington Post
I Am a Liberal. There, I Said It!
by George Clooney

I am a liberal. And I make no apologies for it. Hell, I'm proud of it.

Too many people run away from the label. They whisper it like you'd whisper "I'm a Nazi." Like it's a dirty word. But turn away from saying "I'm a liberal" and it's like you're turning away from saying that blacks should be allowed to sit in the front of the bus, that women should be able to vote and get paid the same as a man, that McCarthy was wrong, that Vietnam was a mistake. And that Saddam Hussein had no ties to al-Qaeda and had nothing to do with 9/11.

This is an incredibly polarized time (wonder how that happened?). But I find that, more and more, people are trying to find things we can agree on. And, for me, one of the things we absolutely need to agree on is the idea that we're all allowed to question authority. We have to agree that it's not unpatriotic to hold our leaders accountable and to speak out. That's one of the things that drew me to making a film about Murrow. When you hear Murrow say, "We mustn't confuse dissent with disloyalty" and "We can't defend freedom at home by deserting it at home," it's like he's commenting on today's headlines.

The fear of being criticized can be paralyzing. Just look at the way so many Democrats caved in the run up to the war. In 2003, a lot of us were saying, where is the link between Saddam and bin Laden? What does Iraq have to do with 9/11? We knew it was bullshit. Which is why it drives me crazy to hear all these Democrats saying, "We were misled." It makes me want to shout, "[Expletive deleted] you, you weren't misled. You were afraid of being called unpatriotic."
Bottom line: it's not merely our right to question our government, it's our duty. Whatever the consequences. We can't demand freedom of speech then turn around and say, "but please don't say bad things about us." You gotta be a grown-up and take your hits.

I am a liberal. Fire away.

© 2006 The Huffington Post

Friday, February 24, 2006

Ted Koppel Catches Bush Using a Three Letter Word

The three letter word "O-I-L" has been missing from virtually all discussions of the war in Iraq. Yet would the war have happened anywhere outside of the oil-rich Middle East?

Does demonizing those who mention the three letter word help or hurt us as a nation trying to figure out what next to do?

Below Ted Koppel takes President Bush to task for demonizing as dishonest those who mention OIL. Then he gives the President a much needed history lesson about U.S. foreign policy and oil since the end of WWII.

Anti-Demonizer of the Month

*Thank you Ted Koppel!*

**You get the Anti-Demonizer of the Month Award for February 2006**

New York Times
February 24, 2006

Will Fight for Oil


The American people ... know the difference between honest critics who question the way the war is being prosecuted and partisan critics who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil, or because of Israel, or because we misled the American people.
— President Bush, Jan. 10 Washington

Let us, as lawyers say, stipulate that the Bush administration was genuinely concerned that weapons of mass destruction, which they firmly believed to be in Saddam Hussein's arsenal, might be shared with the same Qaeda leadership that planned the horrific events of 9/11. That would have been a reasonable motive for invading Iraq; but surely now, three years later, when the existence of those weapons is no longer an issue, it would be insufficient reason for the United States to remain there.

Let us further acknowledge that continuing to put American lives at risk in Iraq purely for the protection of Israel would arouse, in some quarters, anti-Semitic murmurs, if not growls.
But the Bush administration's touchiness about charges that we acted — and are still acting — in Iraq "because of oil"? Now that's curious. Keeping oil flowing out of the Persian Gulf and through the Strait of Hormuz has been bedrock American foreign policy for more than a half-century.
Fifty-three years ago, British and American intelligence officers conspired to help bring about the overthrow of Iran's prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh. Mossadegh's shortcomings, in the eyes of Whitehall and the State Department, were an unseemly affinity for the Tudeh Party (the Iranian Communists) and his plans to nationalize the Iranian oil industry. The prospect of the British oil industry being forced to give way to Soviet influence over the Iranian oil spigot called for drastic action. Following a military coup, Mossadegh was arrested, imprisoned for three years and then held under house arrest until his death in 1967. Power was then effectively concentrated in the hands of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.

The shah's unswerving commitment to the free flow and marketing of Iranian oil would, by the end of the 1960's, become a central pillar of the so-called Nixon Doctrine, in which American allies were tapped to be regional surrogates to maintain peace and security. The sales of sophisticated American weapons to Iran served the twin purposes of sopping up billions of what came to be known as "petro-dollars," while equipping (in particular) the shah's air force.
That reliance on Iran to maintain stability in the Persian Gulf enjoyed bipartisan support. On New Year's Eve in 1977, President Jimmy Carter, visiting the shah in Tehran, toasted his great leadership, which he said had made Iran "an island of stability in one of the more troubled areas in the world." By January 1980, after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had driven the shah from the Peacock Throne, President Carter made absolutely clear in his final State of the Union address that one aspect of our foreign policy remained unchanged:
"An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."

The Reagan administration announced its intention to continue defending the free flow of Middle East oil, by whatever means necessary. In March 1981, Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger clearly signaled that the United States was seeking a new base of operations in the Persian Gulf:
"We need some facilities and additional men and materiel there or nearby, to act as a deterrent to any Soviet hopes of seizing the oil fields or interdicting the line."

Subsequently, the United States began establishing military bases in Saudi Arabia and, to much criticism, selling Awacs aircraft to the Saudi government. In 1990, when Saddam Hussein appeared likely to follow his invasion of Kuwait by crossing into Saudi Arabia, the defense secretary at the time, Dick Cheney, laid out Washington's concerns:

"We're there because the fact of the matter is that part of the world controls the world supply of oil, and whoever controls the supply of oil, especially if it were a man like Saddam Hussein, with a large army and sophisticated weapons, would have a stranglehold on the American economy and on — indeed on the world economy."

What Mr. Cheney said was correct then and remains correct now. The world's oil producers pump approximately 80 million barrels a day. The world's oil consumers, joined today by an increasingly oil-hungry India and China, purchase 80 million barrels a day. Were production from the Persian Gulf to be disrupted because of civil war in Iraq, the freezing of Iranian sales or political instability in Saudi Arabia, the global supply would be diminished. The impact on the American economy and, indeed, on the world economy would be as devastating today as in 1990.

If those considerations did not enter into the Bush administration's calculations when the president ordered the invasion of Iraq in 2003, it would have been the first time in more than 50 years that the uninterrupted flow of Persian Gulf oil was not a central element of American foreign policy.

That is not to say that the United States invaded Iraq to take over its oil supply. But the construction of American military bases inside Iraq, bases that can be maintained long after the bulk of our military forces are ultimately withdrawn, will serve to replace the bases that the United States has lost in Saudi Arabia. There may be other national security reasons that the United States cannot now precipitously withdraw its forces from Iraq, including the danger that the country would become a regional terrorist base; but none is greater than forestalling the ensuing power vacuum and regional instability, and the impact this would have on oil production.

H. L. Mencken is said to have noted that "when someone says it's not about the money — it's about the money." Arguing in support of his fellow Arkansan during Bill Clinton's impeachment trial, former Senator Dale Bumpers offered a variation on that theme: "When someone says it's not about the sex — it's about the sex."

Perhaps the day will come when the United States is no longer addicted to imported oil; but that day is still many years off. For now, the reason for America's rapt attention to the security of the Persian Gulf is what it has always been. It's about the oil.
Ted Koppel, who retired as anchor and managing editor of the ABC program "Nightline" in November, is a contributing columnist for The Times and managing editor of the Discovery Channel.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Michael Moore Accuses Cheney of Boozing

But the Articles He Cites Don't Support the Charge.

A Quail's Tale By Michael Moore?
Cheney takes no questions, gets ovation from hand-picked, hometown audience after drinking beer, shooting friend in face.

On his website Michael Moore leaves the impression that Dick Cheney was drinking it up before accidentally shooting his friend on a recent hunting trip. The stories linked to the Moore headlines don't corroborate Moore's sensationalism. In any case, is Moore's real beef with Cheney the Veep's personal character, or his political agenda?

He Shoulda Had a V8 or two; Cheney admits to boozing prior to shooting friend in the face
Scott McClellan Refuses to Deny Dick Cheney's Boozing Sheriff's Deputies Failed to Administer Alcohol Test Alcohol Was the First Thing On Whittington's Mind Finger on the Trigger of America

Sunday, January 01, 2006

O'Reilly's New Year's Resolution: Everyone Should Stop the Smearing--Except Him

I'm not sure Bill O'Reilly's New Year's Resolution constitutes demonization exactly. Still, it shows the kind of sanctimonious mindset that succumbs to demonizing temptations: an inability to see that you do exactly the thing you most hate in those you disagree with.

First, some selections from his resolutions, and then a little commentary.

Bill's New Year's Resolution:

Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thank you for watching us tonight. I'll be taking a few days off to celebrate Christmas. So this evening's "Talking Points Memo" will be "The Factor's" resolutions for the New Year. . . .

We resolve to hold prominent people accountable when they smear others. That simply has to stop. But karma is kicking in. For example, left wing zealot George Clooney ran around smearing me to try to bring attention to his movies this season. It didn't work. Fewer than four million Americans went to see his first film. And the second one is shaping up to be a big box office bomb. Now Clooney's a talented guy. He's making a huge mistake using smear tactics.

And speaking of disasters, our competitor at MSNBC is a notorious smear merchant. So far this month, December, "The Factor's" third rerun at 4:00 in the morning has beaten the MSNBC's original 8:00 program more than 50 percent of the time. Unbelievable.

"Talking Points" resolves to keep the pressure on the Bush administration to secure the borders because we believe this is a life/death situation.

We resolve to continue watching the ACLU, the nation's most dangerous organization.

Finally, we resolve in our 10th year to continue bringing you an honest broadcast that is not afraid of anyone.


Bill--look at your own show and at Fox News--and then consider this as your New Year's Resolution: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

And Bill: since you resolve that your show will continue fearlessly not to be "afraid of anyone" why don't you be not afraid of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld crowd for a change, on some issue other than politically safe immigration bashing, and give the liberal-left powerhouse that is in charge of no branch of government or business a Christmas break?

For all of O'Reilly's resolutions click here.