May 31, 2003

Read and get familiar with the Draft Impeachment Resolution

Francis Boyle: Draft Impeachment Resolution Against George W. Bush
Here is another writer with his eye on the prize.
Keep it simple
Lies about WMD's
Harken Energy
9-11 Coverup

Dave Lindorff: Clinton, Bush, Lies and Impeachment

These are the impeachable offenses
Thanks to SouthKnoxBubba and the rest of the Rocky Top Brigade for inclusion in the RTB ranks. As soon as I can figure out how you put that list of recommended BLOGS at the side I will be listing the RTB on my BLOG. Any hints would be appreciated.


On SEPTEMBER 10, 2001 (That’s right – the day before 9-11) I was preparing to leave my (then) home in San Pedro (South Bay of LA) California for LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) to pick up a business partner who was taking the last Southwest Airlines Flight of the evening from San Jose to LA. My telephone rang as I was headed for the door.
Bill (my friend and partner) said he was calling from inside the airplane on the tarmac at San Jose Airport. He said that the airplane was being approached and surrounded by a large number of security and police vehicles. He said that I should wait before leaving for LAX because it looked like he would be delayed. He sounded worried.

Two hours passed before I heard from him again. This was his story:
“The airplane was towed to a remote area of San Jose Airport and the passengers were debarked to busses.” He said, “ We were taken to a large hanger and each passenger was asked for identification.” Several of the male passengers were escorted from the room and the remainder of the passengers were bussed back to the main terminal. The baggage was returned and those passengers were told to return to the airport on 9-11 for a morning flight. Bill then said that he would call in the morning when he knew his new ETA.

At 7 am on the morning of the September 11, 2001 Bill called to tell me to turn on the television. We spoke as we watched the South Tower struck by the second flight. It was clear that he would not be flying to Los Angeles that morning and indeed the court hearing we were scheduled to attend was cancelled.

For weeks and months we searched the media certain that someone would reveal what was known in San Jose on the night of September 10 2001. Finally I gave up looking and started e-mailing investigative reporters. I have not even received a reply to my requests for information or investigation.

It seemed clear to us as experienced (Delta Million Mile Club) frequent fliers that the extreme nature of the events of that night in San Jose meant that someone knew something about a threat to US airliners 12 hours before the hijacking began in Boston.

Finally today I received an e-mail reply from AL FELZENBERG who answered my e-mail to Ms. Gorelick of the 9-11 Commission:


I have passed your communication along to our investigators and I thank you
very much for sending it along. I know it will be helpful to them.

Al Felzenberg

I do find it interesting with all of the investigative pieces on the Internet that TRUTHOUT or From the Wilderness or MOVE ON or some paper like the San Jose Mercury or The San Francisco Chronicle would not want to follow up on this information.

Maybe there is no connection BUT how would we know??

Comment in the RTB Forum

May 30, 2003

WMD lies and distortions


Get out your dictionary before you read this but arcane language and all this writer is clear as crystal

Ben Tripp: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Agenda

We need to get together and agree to refuse to be distracted.



May 29, 2003

Cheney Led Halliburton To Feast at Federal Trough

This is a very evil man.
You can see it in the twisted smile.

Halliburton through it's subsidiaries has been found guilty of bilking us (taxpayers) out of millions but still they received a 7 Billion dollar (potential) contract from this administration to control the flow of oil in IRAQ. Read the history by clicking on the link above the picture.
More stories of Pigs at the Trough.
Halliburton provided the quartermaster services for the US Military after Cheney as Defense Secretary wrote the specs for privatization and bid. Halliburton through Kellogg, Brown, Root controls the drilling, pumping, storage and transportation of oil worldwide. They do it using taxpayer dollars through the Import Export Bank.

Grim future for the Resident and the country.

1) Unemployment will reach 9% in 12 months but war in IRAN will be the center of national attention
2) Bush Cheney will prevail in 04 with the Democrats still winning the popular vote. Florida like chicanery will purge the voter rolls in states like Pennsylvannia and Florida offsetting huge deficits for the Republicans in NY and California.
3) An independent investigation will be started on Halliburton, Harken, 9-11, and WMD within 12 months but like Watergate it will be too late to stop the sham election to a second term.
4) By 2006 both Bush and Cheney will resign or face impeachment for their many crimes. Dennis Hastert will be President. Cheney will be found guilty of Treason and financial felonies but will die of heart failure before all of the facts are made public. W will be the first President to go to prison.
5) World Opinion of the United States will reach a new low. All things American will be boycotted worldwide deepening our depression.
6) The wealthiest 2% of Americans will escape to Island or European getaways with their tax shifted gains stashed in Luxemborg or the Caymans.
7) Neo-cons and millionaire stupid white men pundits will become the targets of depression rage. Rupert Murdock, Limbaugh, O'reilly, Hannity, Scarbrough, Matthews, North, Liddy, Robertson, and Falwell will be unable to appear in public. Delay and Drudge will mysteriously dissappear and Ann Coulter will morph into a fat liberal but will descend into madness and be institutionalized.

It will be a world of chaos for our beloved country but a necessary wake up call for the true lovers of liberty in America.
It is the only way to overcome the financial and media power of the neo-cons and their minions.
I have been a little lazy lately.
Too much good stuff to read and copy online to compose much of my own observations.
No need to add to the din when something can be passed on.

Funny how Robert Byrd can become the only visible backbone of the Democratic Party besides Bob Grahm.
Gov. Dean is beginning to look good if a Draft Gore movement can't get on track.

By the Fall we will be neck deep in IRAN and the Republicans will be convincing the gullible that it is just a TYPO.
I am considering doubling up on my Zoloft and Prozac
It is all too depressing.

Comments on the RTB Forum

May 26, 2003

'The Truth Will Emerge' by Senator Robert C. Byrd Senate Floor Remarks - May 21, 2003

"Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again,--
The eternal years of God are hers;
But Error, wounded, writhes in pain,
And dies among his worshippers."

Truth has a way of asserting itself despite all attempts to obscure it. Distortion only serves to derail it for a time. No matter to what lengths we humans may go to obfuscate facts or delude our fellows, truth has a way of squeezing out through the cracks, eventually. But the danger is that at some point it may no longer matter. The danger is that damage is done before the truth is widely realized. The reality is that, sometimes, it is easier to ignore uncomfortable facts and go along with whatever distortion is currently in vogue. We see a lot of this today in politics. I see a lot of it--more than I would ever have believed--right on this Senate floor. Regarding the situation in Iraq, it appears to this senator that the American people may have been lured into accepting the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation, in violation of longstanding International law, under false premises. There is ample evidence that the horrific events of September 11 have been carefully manipulated to switch public focus from Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, who masterminded the September 11 attacks, to Saddam Hussein, who did not. The run-up to our invasion of Iraq featured the President and members of his Cabinet invoking every frightening image they could conjure, from mushroom clouds, to buried caches of germ warfare, to drones poised to deliver germ-laden death in our major cities. We were treated to a heavy dose of overstatement concerning Saddam Hussein's direct threat to our freedoms. The tactic was guaranteed to provoke a sure reaction from a nation still suffering from a combination of post-traumatic stress and justifiable anger after the attacks of 911. It was the exploitation of fear. It was a placebo for the anger.
Since the war's end, every subsequent revelation that has seemed to refute the previous dire claims of the Bush Administration has been brushed aside. Instead of addressing the contradictory evidence, the White House deftly changes the subject. No weapons of mass destruction have yet turned up, but we are told that they will in time. Perhaps they yet will. But our costly and destructive bunker-busting attack on Iraq seems to have proven, in the main, precisely the opposite of what we were told was the urgent reason to go in. It seems also to have, for the present, verified the assertions of Hans Blix and the inspection team he led, which President Bush and company so derided. As Blix always said, a lot of time will be needed to find such weapons, if they do indeed exist. Meanwhile, bin Laden is still on the loose and Saddam Hussein has come up missing. The Administration assured the US public and the world, over and over again, that an attack was necessary to protect our people and the world from terrorism. It assiduously worked to alarm the public and blur the faces of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden until they virtually became one.
What has become painfully clear in the aftermath of war is that Iraq was no immediate threat to the United States. Ravaged by years of sanctions, Iraq did not even lift an airplane against us. Iraq's threatening, death-dealing fleet of unmanned drones about which we heard so much morphed into one prototype made of plywood and string. Their missiles proved to be outdated and of limited range. Their army was quickly overwhelmed by our technology and our well-trained troops. Presently our loyal military personnel continue their mission of diligently searching for WMDs. They have so far turned up only fertilizer, vacuum cleaners, conventional weapons and the occasional buried swimming pool. They are misused on such a mission, and they continue to be at grave risk. But the Bush team's extensive hype of WMDs in Iraq as justification for a pre-emptive invasion has become more than embarrassing. It has raised serious questions about prevarication and the reckless use of power. Were our troops needlessly put at risk? Were countless Iraqi civilians killed and maimed when war was not really necessary? Was the American public deliberately misled? Was the world?
What makes me cringe even more is the continued claim that we are "liberators." The facts don't seem to support the label we have so euphemistically attached to ourselves. True, we have unseated a brutal, despicable despot, but "liberation" implies the follow-up of freedom, self-determination and a better life for the common people. In fact, if the situation in Iraq is the result of liberation, we may have set the cause of freedom back 200 years. Despite our high-blown claims of a better life for the Iraqi people, water is scarce and often foul, electricity is a sometime thing, food is in short supply, hospitals are stacked with the wounded and maimed, historic treasures of the region and of the Iraqi people have been looted, and nuclear material may have been disseminated to heaven knows where, while US troops, on orders, looked on and guarded the oil supply. Meanwhile, lucrative contracts to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure and refurbish its oil industry are awarded to Administration cronies, without benefit of competitive bidding, and the United States steadfastly resists offers of UN assistance to participate. Is there any wonder that the real motives of the US government are the subject of worldwide speculation and mistrust?
And in what may be the most damaging development, the United States appears to be pushing off Iraq's clamor for self-government. Jay Garner has been summarily replaced, and it is becoming all too clear that the smiling face of the United States as liberator is quickly assuming the scowl of an occupier. The image of the boot on the throat has replaced the beckoning hand of freedom. Chaos and rioting only exacerbate that image, as US soldiers try to sustain order in a land ravaged by poverty and disease. "Regime change" in Iraq has so far meant anarchy, curbed only by an occupying military force and a US administrative presence that is evasive about if and when it intends to depart. Democracy and freedom cannot be force-fed at the point of an occupier's gun. To think otherwise is folly.
One has to stop and ponder. How could we have been so impossibly naïve? How could we expect to easily plant a clone of US culture, values and government in a country so riven with religious, territorial and tribal rivalries, so suspicious of US motives and so at odds with the galloping materialism that drives the Western-style economies? As so many warned this Administration before it launched its misguided war on Iraq, there is evidence that our crackdown thereis likely to convince 1,000 new bin Ladens to plan other horrors of the type we have seen in the past several days. Instead of damaging the terrorists, we have given them new fuel for their fury. We did not complete our mission in Afghanistan because we were so eager to attack Iraq. Now it appears that Al Qaeda is back with a vengeance. We have returned to orange alert in the United States, and we may well have destabilized the Mideast region, a region we have never fully understood.
We have alienated friends around the globe with our dissembling and our haughty insistence on punishing former friends who may not see things quite our way. The path of diplomacy and reason have gone out the window, to be replaced by force, unilateralism and punishment for transgressions. I read most recently with amazement our harsh castigation of Turkey, our longtime friend and strategic ally. It is astonishing that our government is berating the new Turkish government for conducting its affairs in accordance with its own Constitution and its democratic institutions. Indeed, we may have sparked a new international arms race as countries move ahead to develop WMDs as a last-ditch attempt to ward off a possible pre-emptive strike from a newly belligerent United States, which claims the right to hit where it wants.
In fact, there is little to constrain this President. Congress, in what will go down in history as its most unfortunate act, handed away its power to declare war for the foreseeable future and empowered this President to wage war at will. As if that were not bad enough, members of Congress are reluctant to ask questions that are begging to be asked. How long will we occupy Iraq? We have already heard disputes on the number of troops that will be needed to retain order. What is the truth? How costly will the occupation and rebuilding be? No one has given a straight answer. How will we afford this long-term, massive commitment, fight terrorism at home, address a serious crisis in domestic healthcare, afford behemoth military spending and give away billions in tax cuts amid a deficit that has climbed to more than $340 billion for this year alone? If the President's tax cut passes it will be $400 billion. We cower in the shadows while false statements proliferate. We accept soft answers and shaky explanations because to demand the truth is hard, or unpopular, or may be politically costly.
But I contend that through it all, the people know. The American people unfortunately are used to political shading, spin and the usual chicanery they hear from public officials. They patiently tolerate it up to a point. But there is a line. It may seem to be drawn in invisible ink for a time, but eventually it will appear in dark colors, tinged with anger. When it comes to shedding American blood--when it comes to wreaking havoc on civilians, on innocent men, women and children, callous dissembling is not acceptable. Nothing is worth that kind of lie--not oil, not revenge, not re-election, not somebody's grand pipe dream of a democratic domino theory. And mark my words, the calculated intimidation that we see so often of late by the "powers that be" will only keep the loyal opposition quiet for just so long. Because eventually, like it always does, the truth will emerge. And when it does, this house of cards, built of deceit, will fall.
Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia was first elected to the Senate in 1958.

May 23, 2003

Bush answers on 9/11 overdue May 23, 2003
After the Bay of Pigs disaster when the CIA tried to invade Cuba, President John F. Kennedy took personal responsibility and ordered an independent investigation. In fact, the invasion had been planned during the Eisenhower administration, and JFK could easily have blamed the mess on his predecessor.
After the Pearl Harbor attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established an investigative commission chaired by Supreme Court Justice Owen D. Roberts, a Republican who had been the prosecutor for the notorious Teapot Dome scandal.
Patently, President Bush is not going to assume responsibility for the World Trade Center catastrophe. His political allies blame former President Bill Clinton (as they are blaming him three years later for the current recession). Moreover, Bush continues to stonewall attempts to set up an independent investigation of what went wrong, and continues to sit on the 900-page report prepared by a bipartisan congressional committee. The White House excuse for this cover-up is that discussion about what went wrong in the months before the destruction of the World Trade Center would interfere with the ''war on terrorism.'' There are several things wrong with this argument. First, if there is not something to hide, why not release the report? Second, FDR and JFK had real wars to fight--the former against imperial Japan, the latter a cold war against world communism. Third, the ''war on terrorism'' is a metaphor (just like the ''war on drugs,'' the ''war on AIDS,'' the ''war on hunger,'' the ''war on poverty'') for a struggle against international criminals. It is a useful political label for a president who wants to be re-elected as a wartime leader and to land on an aircraft carrier dressed in flight gear (even though he was in effect AWOL for at least a year during the Vietnam War). The metaphor conceals what is different in the struggle against Islamic fundamentalism when compared to the war against imperial Japan. Admitting the mistakes the administration made in July and August 2001 will not give aid and comfort to anyone, and certainly not to al-Qaida.
Instead, the president continues to respond to terror with his cowboy rhetoric: We will get Osama bin Laden. We will get the Mullah Omar. We will get the terrorists who blew the hole in the USS Cole. We will get the anthrax killer. We will get Saddam Hussein and his sons. Most recently, we will get the killers who attacked the compounds in Saudi Arabia.The latter will be quite a trick since the killers were suicide bombers, and Bush will have to bring them back from the dead to haul them into court.
No one seems to notice that we have not found bin Laden or the mullah. The Cole terrorists escaped from a jail in Yemen--undoubtedly with the help of some elements in the Yemeni government (although Attorney General John Ashcroft, with the usual display of sanctimony, has indicted them). We have not found--or perhaps not arrested--the anthrax killer. Saddam is hiding somewhere, probably in a bunker in Baghdad with his sons. Thirty of his top aides are still on the loose.
The people Bush proposed to smoke out and ''get'' are still free. Moreover, some of the CIA officials who ''dropped the ball'' in the summer of 2001 have been promoted. Yet the media who were so eager to pry into the private life of President Clinton seem disinclined to uncover the real story of what happened during that summer and whether the same people who dropped the ball then are still dropping it.
Nor have they paid any attention to the president's claim out there on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln that al-Qaida was on the run. After the explosions in Saudi Arabia and Morocco and the threats in Kenya, it would appear that they are not on the run at all. It would also appear that if one continues to believe Bush's rhetoric, one is accepting as true statements that might be less than true. Finally, it is high time that someone in this country remembers FDR and JFK and wants to know what is really happening. What's the president trying to hide?
The Mists of Falsehoods
I love this administration's ability to remain cloaked in a mist of falsehoods. If you listen to them, everything is going swimmingly.

Retired Gen. Jay Garner and several of his staff are relieved of their posts in Iraq but, of course, have done a splendid job. There is still chaos, looting and a lack of clean water and power, but reconstruction is proceeding with great progress. America is doing a worse job than Saddam Hussein in feeding the Iraqi people, but everyone is so happy to see the tyrant gone — though where he has gone, we don't know. Perhaps he's with Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. Not to worry, paradise is on the way.

As for al-Qaida, it has been decimated, crippled, rendered ineffective — except, of course, for those members who simultaneously blew up three foreign compounds and a business in Saudi Arabia.

Everything in Afghanistan is peachy-creamy — except, of course, that it looks remarkably as unstable and undeveloped as it did a year ago. The president has also committed himself to his "road map to peace," but never mind that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon refuses to accept it and again embarrasses Secretary of State Colin Powell by clamping down on Palestinians before the secretary has even shaken off the dust of Palestine from his shoes.

And, of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the American economy, except the absence of another round of tax cuts. The ability of this administration to live in a dream world, divorced from reality, is quite remarkable. Why, the falling value of the dollar is good for American exports. And the answer to the biggest string of record trade deficits in history is to have more free-trade agreements, never mind that they are the cause of the trade deficits in the first place.

Sometimes I think our whole country is on dope.

May 15, 2003

Rep. Debbie Riddle (R-Houston) demanded earnestly, "Where did this idea come from that everybody deserves free education? Free medical care? Free whatever? It comes from Moscow. From Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell." What planet do these people come from? Carl Parker of Port Arthur used to say, "If you took all the fools out of the Legislature, it would not be a representative body anymore." When one confronts such people with facts -- such as that free education was established in the United States long before there was ever a Communist revolution in Russia These folks are not stupid, they're like members of some weird cult. You can't dent their worldview with reality. It's like trying to talk to the people who followed David Koresh.
They are, at long last, the perfect unpoliticians -- they don't compromise, they don't deal, they don't look for the middle way, they don't give a damn about accommodating anybody else. Because they believe they're right. And they won't go out for a beer after work. They think it's them against evil. And everybody who ain't them is evil. These are Shiite Republicans.

May 14, 2003

American “conservatives,” as they call themselves, on Wall Street and at the head of so many of our corporations, have stolen a major fraction of our private savings, have ruined investors and employees by means of fraud and outright piracy.
Shock and awe.
And now, having installed themselves as our federal government, or taken control of it from outside, they have squandered our public treasury and then some. They have created a public debt of such appalling magnitude that our descendants, for whom we had such high hopes, will come into this world as poor as church mice.
Shock and awe.
What are the conservatives doing with all the money and power that used to belong to all of us? They are telling us to be absolutely terrified, and to run around in circles like chickens with their heads cut off. But they will save us. They are making us take off our shoes at airports. Can anybody here think of a more hilarious practical joke than that one?
Smile, America. You’re on Candid Camera.
And they have turned loose a myriad of our high-tech weapons, each one costing more than a hundred high schools, on a Third World country, in order to shock and awe human beings like us, like Adam and Eve, between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
The other day I asked former Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton what he thought of our great victory over Iraq, and he said, “Mohammed Ali versus Mr. Rogers.”
What are conservatives? They are people who will move heaven and earth, if they have to, who will ruin a company or a country or a planet, to prove to us and to themselves that they are superior to everybody else, except for their pals. They take good care of their pals, keep them out of jail—and so on. Conservatives are crazy as bedbugs. They are bullies.
Shock and awe. Class war? You bet.
They have proved their superiority to admirers of Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain and Jesus of Nazareth, with an able assist from television, making inconsequential our protests against their war.
What has happened to us? We have suffered a technological calamity. Television is now our form of government.
On what grounds did we protest their war? I could name many, but I need name only one, which is common sense.

May 10, 2003

America Responds To Rush Limbaugh’s Hearing Loss (Oct 15 2001)
WASHINGTON, DC -- America’s free-thinking deaf and hearing people, along with everyone having a sense of the ironic, could not suppress their snickers and knowing smiles Monday at reports that Republican right-wing radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh had joined the ranks of the hearing impaired.
Limbaugh initially made the announcement himself on his Monday show, stating that he has lost 100 percent of his hearing in one ear and 80 percent in the other. Saying that he wanted his listeners to get the story straight from him rather than from the "liberal media," he explained that the hearing loss began during May and has since steadily worsened.
Such rapid auditory deterioration is relatively rare, according to Dr. Femme Enazzi of Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Enazzi reports that Limbaugh's deafness seems to have stemmed in part from an inner-ear infection and in part from an obstruction.
"We believe Mr. Limbaugh's deafness is, at least in part, a manifestation of a significant inner-ear problem we diagnosed some time ago," Enazzi said, noting that Limbaugh had first presented with the classic inner-ear symptom of losing his balance. "During a series of routine medical examinations, we observed Mr. Limbaugh leaning further and further to the right," she said. "His right-leaning and lack of balance were our first clues that something was amiss.
"Enazzi also noted that "during more than one examination," upon gazing into Limbaugh’s ear canal toward his cerebrum, she observed "several round obstructions resembling gravel," leading her to speculate that Limbaugh’s hearing loss may have also resulted from structural impingements to the auditory nerve from the rocks in his head.
Enazzi noted that, while she was the diagnosing physician, the conservative loudly insisted on being allowed to "hear the truth" from one of Enazzi’s male colleagues.
In making the announcement, Limbaugh, who is heard on nearly 600 stations by 20 million listeners, assured his audience that he would continue to update them on his condition. "I am not altogether sure that my hearing loss is not the result of a covert feminazi plot," he said.
Meanwhile, in a touching expression of solidarity with the man they affectionately call "El Rushbo," listeners to Limbaugh’s Excellence in Broadcasting show could be seen at Limbaugh’s Web site, via the "ditto-cam," learning how to signal their characteristic, "Ditto!" in sign language.
There was also an outpouring of sympathy and support from Limbaugh's conservative friends.
Pal Newt Gingrich shook his head with sadness, saying only, "I told Rush this would happen if he kept baiting angry feminists and letting them box his ears." An anguished but hopeful George Bush Senior said, "Read my lips, as Rush now must... Limbaugh will lip-read and sign his way into the hearts of all Americans."

Visit this site and read the debates that prove Rush wrong.
This is a concise detailed examination of some of the more grievous lies and distortions.
Lyin' Bully
Instead of picking on someone his own size, Rush consistently targets dead people, little girls, and the homeless--none of whom can fight back.
by Molly Ivins

One of the things that concerns a lot of Americans lately is the increase in plain old nastiness in our political discussion. It comes from a number of sources, but Rush Limbaugh is a major carrier.
I should explain that I am not without bias in this matter. I have been attacked by Rush Limbaugh on the air, an experience somewhat akin to being gummed by a newt. It doesn't actually hurt, but it leaves you with slimy stuff on your ankle.
I have a correspondent named Irwin Wingo in Weatherford, Texas. Irwin and some of the leading men of the town are in the habit of meeting about 10 every morning at the Chat'n'Chew Cafe to drink coffee and discuss the state of the world. One of their number is a dittohead, a Limbaugh listener. He came in one day, plopped himself down, and said, "I think Rush is right: Racism in this country is dead. I don't know what the niggers will find to gripe about now."
I wouldn't say that dittoheads, as a group, lack the ability to reason. It's just that whenever I run across one, he seems to be at a low ebb in reasoning skills. Poor ol' Bill Sarpalius, one of our dimmer Panhandle congressmen, was once trying to explain to a town hall meeting of his constituents that Limbaugh was wrong when he convinced his listeners that Bill Clinton's tax package contained a tax increase on the middle class. (It increased taxes only on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.) A dittohead in the crowd rose to protest: "We don't send you to Washington to make responsible decisions. We send you there to represent us."
The kind of humor Limbaugh uses troubles me deeply, because I have spent much of my professional life making fun of politicians. I believe it is a great American tradition and should be encouraged. We should all laugh more at our elected officials--it's good for us and good for them. So what right do I have to object because Limbaugh makes fun of different pols than I do?
I object because he consistently targets dead people, little girls, and the homeless--none of whom are in a particularly good position to answer back. Satire is a weapon, and it can be quite cruel. It has historically been the weapon of powerless people aimed at the powerful. When you use satire against powerless people, as Limbaugh does, it is not only cruel, it's profoundly vulgar. It is like kicking a cripple.
On his TV show, early in the Clinton administration, Limbaugh put up a picture of Socks, the White House cat, and asked, "Did you know there's a White House dog?" Then he put up a picture of Chelsea Clinton, who was 13 years old at the time and as far as I know had never done any harm to anyone.
When viewers objected, he claimed, in typical Limbaugh fashion, that the gag was an accident and that without his permission some technician had put up the picture of Chelsea--which I found as disgusting as his original attempt at humor.
On another occasion, Limbaugh put up a picture of Labor Secretary Robert Reich that showed him from the forehead up, as though that were all the camera could get. Reich is indeed a very short man as a result of a bone disease he had as a child. Somehow the effect of bone disease in children has never struck me as an appropriate topic for humor.
The reason I take Rush Limbaugh seriously is not because he's offensive or right-wing, but because he is one of the few people addressing a large group of disaffected people in this country. And despite his frequent denials, Limbaugh does indeed have a somewhat cultlike effect on his dittoheads. They can listen to him for three and a half hours a day, five days a week, on radio and television. I can assure you that David Koresh did not harangue the Branch Davidians so long nor so often. But that is precisely what most cult leaders do--talk to their followers hour after hour after hour.
A large segment of Limbaugh's audience consists of white males, 18 to 34 years old, without college education. Basically, a guy I know and grew up with named Bubba.
Bubba listens to Limbaugh because Limbaugh gives him someone to blame for the fact that Bubba is getting screwed. He's working harder, getting paid less in constant dollars and falling further and further behind. Not only is Bubba never gonna be able to buy a house, he can barely afford a trailer. Hell, he can barely afford the payments on the pickup.
And because Bubba understands he's being shafted, even if he doesn't know why or how or by whom, he listens to Limbaugh. Limbaugh offers him scapegoats. It's the "feminazis." It's the minorities. It's the limousine liberals. It's all these people with all these wacky social programs to help some silly, self-proclaimed bunch of victims. Bubba feels like a victim himself--and he is--but he never got any sympathy from liberals.
Psychologists often tell us there is a great deal of displaced anger in our emotional lives--your dad wallops you, but he's too big to hit back, so you go clobber your little brother. Displaced anger is also common in our political life. We see it in this generation of young white men without much education and very little future. This economy no longer has a place for them. The corporations have moved their jobs to Singapore. Unfortunately, it is Limbaugh and the Republicans who are addressing the resentments of these folks, and aiming their anger in the wrong direction.
In my state, I have not seen so much hatred in politics since the heyday of the John Birch Society in the early 1960s. Used to be you couldn't talk politics with a conservative without his getting all red in the face, arteries standing out in his neck, wattles aquiver with indignation--just like a pissed-off turkey gobbler. And now we're seeing the same kind of anger again.
Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, the organization that provided the absurd Limbaughisms that you see to the right, has a sweet, gentle faith that truth will triumph in the end, and thinks it is sufficient to point out that Limbaugh is wrong. I say it's important to point out that he's not just wrong but that he's ridiculous, one of the silliest people in America. Sure, it takes your breath away when he spreads some false and vicious rumor, such as the story that Vincent Foster's body was actually discovered in an apartment owned by Hillary Clinton. Or when he destroys an important lobby-control bill by falsely claiming that it would make the average citizen subject to lobbying laws. Yes, that's sick and perverse.
But it's important to show people that there is much more wrong with Limbaugh's thinking than just his facts. Limbaugh specializes in ad hominem arguments, which are themselves ridiculously easy to expose. Ted Kennedy says, "America needs health care reform." Limbaugh replies, "Ted Kennedy is fat."
Rush Limbaugh's pathetic abuse of logic, his absurd pomposity, his relentless self-promotion, his ridiculous ego--now those, friends, are appropriate targets for satire.

Read Why Rush Limbaugh is Wrong

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The Way Things Really Are: Debunking Rush Limbaugh on the Environment
By: Leonie Haimson Michael Oppenheimer David Wilcove

Rush Limbaugh's best-selling books The Way Things Ought to Be and See, I Told You So are full of statements on the environment that are misleading, distorted, and factually incorrect. Indeed, Limbaugh's claims often fly in the face of carefully considered scientific evidence, and put him in opposition to the views of the most eminent scientific experts, as reflected in the conclusions of such esteemed bodies as the National Academy of Sciences and the World Meteorological Organization. Though Limbaugh likes to frame the debate as a contest between him and the "environmental wackos", it is really Limbaugh's word against the overwhelming tide of scientific knowledge. Unfortunately, his fallacies have created a great deal of confusion and have perpetuated the misunderstanding of a number of critical issues. It is important that Limbaugh's disinformation campaign be confronted directly and that the resulting misconceptions be cleared up.
Here we present several examples of erroneous statements from Limbaugh's books, followed by the actual scientific facts. In each instance, we have included sources in the scientific and professional literature, unlike Limbaugh, who offers little or no evidence to back up his claims.

Chlorofluorocarbons and Ozone Depletion:
Limbaugh proposes that environmental "alarmists and prophets of doom" have exaggerated the problem of ozone depletion, suggesting that it has been limited to "occasional reduced levels of ozone over Antarctica."
Substantially reduced levels of ozone have been measured over most of the globe, including North America, Europe, and elsewhere. In fact, scientists have observed a thinning of the ozone layer at all latitudes outside the tropics. By 1991, the depletion over North America averaged nearly 5 percent. 2/ Since 1991, ozone depletion has further intensified. 3/

"Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines spewed forth more than a thousand times the amount of ozone-depleting chemicals in one eruption than all the fluorocarbons manufactured by wicked, diabolical, and insensitive corporations in history. . . . Conclusion: mankind can't possibly equal the output of even one eruption from Pinatubo, much less billion years' worth, so how can we destroy ozone?" 4/

Limbaugh's numbers are completely off-base. Volcanoes emit two sorts of ozone-depleting compounds. One is hydrochloric acid, but the amount of this chemical in the stratosphere, measured before and after Pinatubo's eruption in 1991, was found to be largely unchanged. 5/
The other ozone-depleting chemical emitted by Pinatubo, sulfur dioxide, is converted in the stratosphere into tiny particles which, acting in combination with man-made chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's), temporarily increased the rate of ozone depletion by several percentage points during 1992 and 1993. 6/ Nevertheless, nearly all the particles resulting from the Mt. Pinatubo eruption have already washed out of the atmosphere, unlike CFC's, which remain in the stratosphere for as long as a century. 7/
Cumulatively speaking, Pinatubo's destructive effect on the ozone layer has been about fifty times less than that of CFC's, rather than a thousand times greater, as Limbaugh claims. Thus, his estimate is off by a factor of fifty thousand.

What "environmental wackos . . . really want to do is attack our way of life" in the effort to limit CFC's. "Their primary enemy: capitalism." 8/

Limbaugh ignores the fact that the conservative Reagan administration signed onto the Montreal Protocol, the international agreement to restrict CFC's, and that crucial support for the measure came from some of the largest manufacturers of these chemicals, who, like Ronald Reagan, are hardly enemies of capitalism. Although many of these corporations initially resisted action when the ozone problem was discovered, Dupont, Allied Signal, and other domestic producers of CFC's have long favored strong restrictions concerning their production and use. Indeed, Dupont proposed a global ban of CFC's before European or United States governments did. 9/

"In just one day in January [1992], NASA measured the amount of chlorine and another gas in the atmosphere of the Northern Hemisphere and found an unusually high level compared to normal. . . . There were headlines for days about an ozone hole in the atmosphere above North America. Senator Al Gore . . . predicted that President Bush would soon come around on all this because of the 'ozone hole over Kennebunkport,' despite the fact there was no such thing. . . . Within a few weeks, it was learned that most of the unusual measurements could be attributed to Mount Pinatubo's eruption, a fact the agenda-oriented scientific community attempted to ignore." 10/

Limbaugh's last statement is absolutely false. The measurements to which he refers, of extremely high levels of chlorine monoxide, were made by NASA only six months after Pinatubo's eruption and in a particular region of the Arctic stratosphere that was at the time unaffected by the volcanic emissions. Furthermore, large amounts of these chemicals were measured throughout the month of January, not just on one day, as Limbaugh asserts. 11/ As for the rest, the condition of the ozone layer in January of 1992 was a great deal more complex than Limbaugh's account would suggest. Indeed, many scientists were disturbed by the high chlorine monoxide levels. For a very large depletion to occur, however, the Arctic stratosphere would have had to remain cold for several more weeks, as it often does that time of year. Instead, a sudden warming occurred the following month, so the damage to the ozone layer never became as severe as originally feared. If it had, the depletion might well have reached 20 to 30 percent in the lower stratosphere, rather than the 10 to 15 percent that was recorded. Indeed, such large depletions could occur over parts of Northern Europe and Canada during any winter, and may do so in the future. 12/ In his most recent book, See, I Told You So, Limbaugh returns to the subject of ozone depletion. This time, he discusses the implications of a possible prehistoric supernova that may have damaged the atmosphere:

"Scientists say a supernova 340,000 years ago disrupted 10 percent to 20 percent of the ozone layer, causing sunburn in prehistoric man. Wait a minute - I thought only man could destroy the ozone. . . . And if prehistoric man merely got a sunburn, how is it that we are going to destroy the ozone layer with our air conditioners and underarm deodorants and cause everybody to get cancer? Obviously we're not...and we can't ...and it's a hoax." 13/

The report of a prehistoric supernova exploding close enough to the Earth to have possibly affected its ozone layer, thousands of years ago, though of doubtful relevance to Limbaugh's argument, was published in the British journal Nature and followed up by the New York Times in 1993. As quoted in the Times, Dr. Neil Gehrels, one of the authors of the report, clearly did not mean to minimize the possibility that the ozone loss that may have resulted would have damaged whatever forms of life were roaming the planet. Indeed, he was reported as saying that the effects of such an ozone depletion may well "have impaired the health of human beings and other creatures..." 14/

"Even The Washington Post - that haven of liberal mythology - published a front-page story on April 15, 1993, that dismissed most of the fears about the so-called ozone hole... had this to say: 'In fact, researchers say the problem appears to be heading toward solution before they can find any solid evidence that serious harm was or is being done.'" 15/

Limbaugh neglects to mention that the problem of ozone depletion appears to be heading towards solution only as a result of international agreements to restrict the production and use of CFC's. Thanks to these agreements, the ozone layer should return to near-normal levels around the year 2045. Before 1998, however, stratospheric ozone is expected to become thinner every year, and the amount of ultraviolet radiation reaching the Earth to increase, assuming other influences remain constant. 16/ Although the consequences of increased ultraviolet exposure for plants and marine life are just beginning to be explored, the damage to humans from long-term exposure is well known. In many parts of the globe, ozone depletion is likely to cause a rise in rates of skin cancer, particularly non-melanoma cancers, which, due to lifestyle factors, are already at record levels. 17/

"A few days later, the authoritative journal Science published a story headlined 'Ozone Takes Nose Dive After the Eruption of Mt. Pinatubo.' It pointed out that the ozone layer should show significant signs of recovery by 1994. But have you heard Algore (sic) or any other ozone alarmist step up and admit that he or she perpetuated (sic) a fraud on the American people?" 18/

Indeed, the ozone layer did not thin as much in 1994 as it did in 1993, due to the washing out of emissions from Mount Pinatubo (see above). Nevertheless, as Science magazine pointed out in a recent issue, this improvement is only temporary, since levels of "atmospheric chlorine will continue to increase until controls on CFC emissions take hold late in this decade. Pinatubo or no, things will get worse." 19/
Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect Global warming is another topic about which Limbaugh attempts to mislead his readers, despite the international scientific consensus on many aspects of this issue. This consensus is reflected in the findings of the top researchers in the field, as published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, and the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the international scientific panel assessing climate change, which consists of a network of 2,500 experts worldwide. The IPCC has issued two reports clearly stating and then reaffirming that the Earth's climate will warm due to the buildup of man-made greenhouse gases. 20/ In 1992, the National Academy of Sciences published its own report, concluding that "greenhouse warming poses a potential threat sufficient to merit prompt responses." 21/
Instead of taking on the international scientific community directly, however, Limbaugh chooses to attack Vice-President Al Gore, and his book Earth in the Balance.

"Algore's (sic) book is full of calculated disinformation. For instance, he claims that 98 percent of scientists believe global warming is taking place. However a Gallup poll of scientists involved in global climate research shows that 53 percent do not believe that global warming has occurred, 30 percent say they don't know, and only 17 percent are devotees of this dubious theory." 22/

These numbers, apparently lifted from a George Will syndicated column of September 3, 1992, 23/ are supposed to reflect the findings of a Gallup poll taken in late 1991 to ascertain the opinions of research scientists concerning global warming. Even though polling is of doubtful relevance for determining the scientific truth of any proposition, it should be pointed out that nowhere in the actual poll results are there figures that resemble those cited by Will or Limbaugh.
Instead, the Gallup poll found that a substantial majority of the scientists polled, 66 percent, believed that human-induced global warming was already occurring. Only 10 percent disagreed, and the remainder were undecided.
Moreover, the 98 percent figure appears in the context of Al Gore's book to refer to the percentage of scientists who believe that human-induced global warming is a legitimate threat, not, as Limbaugh frames it, to the number of those who argue that it is already in effect. In fact, the Gallup poll seems to bear out Gore's estimate as well, finding that only 2 percent of the scientists polled believed that there was no chance that substantial, human-caused warming will occur over the next fifty to one hundred years. 24/

"Algore told the Washington Times on May 19, 1993: 'That increased accumulations of greenhouse gases, particularly CO2, cause global warming, there is no longer any serious debate. There are a few naysayers far outside the consensus who try to dispute that. They are not really taken seriously by the mainstream scientific community.' Yet we saw in the last chapter that there is nothing resembling a consensus on this issue among scientists who have some expertise in this area. In fact, a majority clearly does not believe global warming has occurred." 25/

See the preceding item. Furthermore, even the most publicized and vehement of scientific naysayers, such as Pat Michaels of the University of Virginia, agree that increased accumulation of carbon dioxide will eventually cause global warming. What they disagree about is how much warming will occur over what period of time. 26/

"...back at the time of the first Earth Day, the big concern wasn't global warming, it was global cooling. . . . the view of most environmentalists for years after." 27/

Although the Earth has warmed by about one degree Fahrenheit over the past hundred years, this warming has not occurred uniformly. In particular, during the period from 1940 to 1970, the Northern Hemisphere stopped warming and may have even cooled slightly. 28/ This hiatus in the long-term trend contributed to concerns that the Earth was about to cool significantly, possibly due to the increased amount of soot and other particulates in the atmosphere. However, warming resumed again in the 1970's and the nine warmest years on record have all occurred since 1980. 29/ Recent calculations indicate that the greenhouse effect will outrun the effects of particulate cooling in the future, although the accumulation of particulates in the atmosphere may slow the overall rate of warming. 30/

"A fact you never hear the environmentalist wacko crowd acknowledge is that 96 percent of the so-called 'greenhouse' gases are not created by man, but by nature." 31/

This is an obvious straw man set up by Limbaugh. It is true that the greenhouse effect is, by and large, a natural phenomenon, produced by gases in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide and water vapor that have warmed the Earth for eons, making its climate moderate enough to support life as we know it. Without these gases, Earth would be forty to sixty degrees colder, essentially a frigid desert. 32/
However, in nature these gases usually remain in balance, leading to a stable climate, while the greenhouse gases added by humans over the last two hundred years have accumulated to the point that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, for example, is now more than 25 percent above what it had been for the previous 10,000 years. (Scientists have direct evidence of this data, from measurements of air bubbles trapped in polar ice cores.) 33/ The scientific consensus is that the accumulation of carbon dioxide and other gases due to human activity will alter the climate substantially, warming the globe by three to eight degrees Fahrenheit over the next century. 34/

Forests and the Spotted Owl
One of the most contentious of current political debates concerns the old-growth forests in the Northwest. Limbaugh addresses this issue in See, I Told You So by citing mostly irrelevant statistics on tree growth in the United States as a whole:

"Would it surprise you to learn, for instance, that America's forests are much healthier today in the 1990s than they were at the turn of the century? In fact, you could say that in the last seventy years America's forests have been reborn. There are 730 million acres of forest land in our country today, and the growth on those acres is denser than at any time. . . . New England has more forested acres than it did in the mid-1800s. Vermont is twice as forested as it was then. Almost half of the densely populated northeastern United States is covered by forest. Why? How could this be? If we are ravaging our land, as the environmentalists suggest, why are there more trees around --more forests?" 35/

Here, it seems, Limbaugh cannot see the forests for all those trees. It is true that due to the abandonment of farming, there has been a regeneration of forests in the northeastern United States over the past century, although not with all the species they originally contained. Instead, environmentalists' primary concern during the last decade has been the rampant destruction of old-growth forests, particularly in the Northwest, where ancient trees were being cut down at an unprecedented rate, leaving only about 11 to 14 percent of the original forests still standing. 36/

"What the environmentalists are saying, in effect, is that some trees are better than others. Trees that have been planted by man are not as worthy or valuable as those that grow in 'virgin' forests. What is a virgin forest anyway? Most trees live for only a couple of hundred years and then die. No tree lives forever." 37/
Virgin forests are forests untouched by humans. In the Northwest, they are mostly old-growth forests, featuring towering stands of trees, 200 to over 1,000 years old. 38/ These trees are known to harbor a number of endangered or threatened species, among them (but not limited to) the Northern spotted owl. Which brings us to Limbaugh's next point:

"It reminds me of the researchers who recently ventured into the forests of California. Do you know what they found? No, not Algore. They found spotted owls. It seems the place is teeming with spotted owls - even though they're supposed to be an endangered species." 39/
Fewer than two thousand pairs of the Northern spotted owl are thought to survive in California forests -- a number that could hardly be described as "teeming". 40/ Even more importantly, at a meeting of experts called by the U.S. government in December 1993 at Fort Collins, Colorado, virtually every biologist who presented data concluded that the total numbers of the owl are still in decline. Moreover, the population loss rate appears to be accelerating. 41/
On the whole, Limbaugh dealt with this issue more honestly in his first book, The Way Things Ought to Be, when he asserted, "If the owl can't adapt to the superiority of humans, screw it. . . ." 42/
Although he attacks his opponents in the scientific community for being driven by ideology, it is Rush Limbaugh who clearly allows his political biases to distort the truth about a whole range of important scientific issues.
All in all, the words he uses to describe Al Gore's book could more appropriately be applied to his own. Limbaugh's most recent work, just like the previous one, is "nothing more than a hysterical, pseudo-scientific tract designed to cut off calm, reasoned discussion of environmental issues and simply push the nation toward irrational, irreversible, misguided (not to mention expensive) public policies." If the words of Rush Limbaugh on scientific subjects prove anything, it should be "to discredit from any serious participation in our nation's debate over the environment." 43/

For a nice long snack follow this link
to Rush Limbaugh Eats Everything

"Hello, I'm Rush L., and I'm an overeater."

Al Franken, late of "Saturday Night Live," joined the ranks of bestselling authors last week when his unexpectedly popular and predictably hilarious work of political satire, "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations," hit number four on the New York Times Bestseller List. Franken's book lampoons the full range of conservative punditry and politics, taking the piss out of everyone from Pat Buchanan to George Will. But it is Limbaugh, media ringmaster of the Republican Revolution, who gets the biggest noogies. Franken, who spent the bulk of last summer at the unenviable task of listening to Limbaugh's show "three hours a day, five days a week," probes the facts behind the expansive radio personality's outrageous accusations, sometimes marshalling statistical research and sometimes relying on data of a more anecdotal nature. Responding to Limbaugh's roundhouse charge that feminists ("feminazis") believe that all heterosexual sex is rape, Franken offers the following: "I know a lot of women, almost all of whom consider themselves feminist, and I know only one who actually holds this belief. And we've been married nearly 20 years."

Limbaugh himself has yet to acknowledge Franken's book, but the comedian has won grudging laughs from other conservative quarters. The most memorable reaction from the Right sprang from Franken's own fevered brain. In a preface to his book, Franken imagines a stinging review from Jeane Kirkpatrick in the New York Times: "My goodness. If this is the kind of mindless tripe that passes for political satire these days, I fear for this nation!" Continuing the satire, in a "letter" to the Times Book Review editor, Franken questions the ethics of assigning a book review to a "former lover":

"As anyone who was familiar with the Manhattan '80s club scene knows, Ms. Kirkpatrick and I endured a somewhat stormy and all too public affair during her tenure as our country's U.N. Ambassador."

"I don't know what this horrible, horrible man is talking about," an outraged Kirkpatrick responds in the letters column. "During the time I served as ambassador to the United Nations, I was far too busy defending the people of America including (unfortunately) Mr. Franken, against the dark forces of Soviet Communism to cheat on my husband, let alone 'go clubbing' as Mr. Franken suggests."

We sat down for breakfast last week with Franken at Sara's Kitchen, a cozy eatery on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The comedian sized up the Republicans' eccentric presidential field, discussed Democratic entreaties he has received to become the liberals' Rush Limbaugh, and at one point morphed into Stuart Smalley, the enthusiastic 12-Step character he developed for "Saturday Night Live," who urged Limbaugh to get into a recovery program for overeaters.
The GOP attack machine
All who are not Bushies are evil

SHORTLY AFTER 2 p.m. last Friday, right-wing radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh was orating his way through a few news briefs. After dispensing with the first Democratic presidential debate, which was to be held two days hence, Limbaugh turned to a story that had nothing to do with politics — or so one would have thought.

He began by reading a wire story about Aron Ralston, the 27-year-old mountain climber who cut off his arm with a pocket knife after he’d been trapped by a boulder for several days while hiking in Utah. Bleeding profusely, Ralston rappelled down the side of a cliff and walked to safety.

"Can you imagine the pain, having the presence of mind to do all this? It is amazing," said Limbaugh, briefly sounding like a normal human being. And then he started riffing, coming to a conclusion that was almost as "amazing" as Ralston’s tale of survival.

"You know, this is one of these stories, this is one of these acts of human courage, that people are going to strive to associate themselves with," Limbaugh intoned. "Such as Democratic presidential candidates. This is the kind of story — you know, you might have this guy in the audience and claim he’s one of your supporters or whatever. We might even hear from John F. Kerry, for example, that his Jewish grandfather was a mountain climber, and this story has reminded him that his Jewish grandfather was a mountain climber, and therefore he knows the rigors of this engagement, this enterprise, and can relate to what this Colorado climber went through. I mean, they’ll stop at nothing to build bridges of relatability to these acts of courage. They can’t cite many of their own." Heavy, theatrical throat-clearing. Commercial break.

In a sense, it was the perfect storm of demented reasoning: 1) attack the Democrats for cowardice and exploitative behavior, even though said behavior exists only in Limbaugh’s own fevered imagination; 2) aim the brunt of the attack at Kerry, the one Democrat who is a decorated war hero; 3) stick in a snide reference to Kerry’s late discovery of his ethnic and religious background. Nor did Rush neglect the opportunity to say "Jewish" twice, even though he had to repeat himself nearly word for word in order to do so.

But if the bizarro nature of Limbaugh’s attack was sui generis, the sheer viciousness — the implication that Democrats, liberals, and anyone else who gets in the way of the conservative juggernaut is cowardly, unscrupulous, and unpatriotic — has become a staple of the modern Republican Party.

Indeed, the Republican Attack Machine is now such an entrenched part of the political landscape that it no longer seems remarkable — until you stop and think about the corrosive effect it has on our political discourse. And few have benefited from its toxic rhetoric as much as George W. Bush.

May 5, 2003

A Clockwork Orange Democracy

A Clockwork Orange Democracy
by P.M. Carpenter
Anyone with a lick of common sense and a penchant for prophecy could easily call the 2004 presidential election without further ado: a Democrat, almost any Democrat, will mop up the floor with George W.
Forget Iraq. Today's ill-reasoned hoopla over that wagged dog will be long forgotten tomorrow. And let us even grant that America's greatest foreign policy blunder -- otherwise known as Operation Iraqi Freedom -- doesn't blow up in our face till at least 2005. The economy, our commonsensical prophet would reason, is always the key to electoral success and in that arena W. couldn't be doing more to ensure victory for the opposition. A massive loss of jobs, unprecedented federal deficits and 50 crumbling state governments are but 3 of the president's accomplishments so far. What's more, he has ample time before the close of electioneering to make matters even worse. This he is doing by pushing yet more fiscally traumatic tax cuts.
Yes, by 2004 we'll all be hurting like nothing we recall; excepting, of course, the top 1 percent of income earners. Those lucky few will sit out the sociopolitical revolution -- "Perhaps the Bahamas, my dear?" -- that is sure to come, just as it landed with crushing weight on Herbert Hoover in 1932. More recently the mini- and one-term presidential administrations of Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George Bush I suffered as well from dismal economies and politically hapless responses. One reminisces their respective Whip Inflation Now (WIN), the frozen-deer look in the "Are you better off ...?" spotlight and the courageous but self-annihilating act of raising taxes when needed.
All the indicators are there not only for W.'s loss, but huge Republican losses and Democratic gains in both houses -- no matter how typically your average Democrat tries to screw things up. Above all, though, Bush II is toast, our prophet would comfortably forecast with excellent historical reasoning.

But he or she would be wrong, or at the very least standing on precariously shaky ground. For these once-sound indicators of defeat neglect what has become now-s.o.p. politics for the Republican Party at large and George W. Bush in particular: the grotesque exploitation of public deception, better known as sheer demagoguery.
Whenever a fact can be distorted or reality obscured for political gain, Bush, led by his handlers, is light-years ahead of any known Democrat in skillful deployment. From grossly distorting his actual education policy to mountainous fiscal lies and to duping the public on a war’s necessity, W. wields Herculean demagogic powers. He deceives not just willingly, it seems, but eagerly. Barely a White House policy is left untainted.
You want a better education for your children? Fine. Bush publicly touts reform while silently undercutting its called-for budget. You want lower taxes? Just name a price and Bush will meet it -- more bogusly than Boss Tweed, more shamelessly than Huey Long. Don't like massive deficit spending which leads to higher interest and mortgage rates? No problem. His latest economic "growth" package -- still more tax cuts for you-know-who -- will soon offset those dangers. Honest. Forget what his own metaconservative advisors say otherwise: that their fiscal intent is to wreck social programs by driving headlong into a wall of catastrophic national debt. And, of course, as both a debate-stopper and political cover for violating international law, the administration's cynical manipulation of patriotism will go down in demagogic history as an epic achievement.
As one might expect, Bush's preternatural use of deceptive rhetoric didn't simply materialize one day in 2000 or 2003. Rather, it built on the New Right's groundbreaking demagoguery of the 1970s and 1980s, whose artificial populism mirrored its Platonic ideals of Joe McCarthy's smugness and Barry Goldwater's 1964 holy conception of "morality" politics. Quite ingeniously, the New Right movement ditched any sober discussion of complicated social problems and opted instead for the rhetorical glitz of message simplicity (our cultural values were headed to hell in a handbasket) and constant scapegoating (only elitist liberals were at the helm).
The ploys worked well enough for Republican Machiavellis to occupy themselves ever since with refinements. Based on political expediency, the party subjected its message contents to overnight reconstruction -- for example the evil, then goodness, of deficits -- and over time conservatism inverted to radicalism. Hence today's ever-pliable Boss Bush, consiglieri Cheney and Rove and assorted underbosses such as Rummy and Perle. Lumped together these anti-conservative creationists have delivered unto us a doomed Pax Americana with accompanying domestic ransacking -- all courtesy the latest in demagogic fashion.
So what is to be done in the way of opposition? The brutish answer is to match demagoguery for demagoguery. The noble answer is to remain above it and pray for a saner day. The winning answer is probably somewhere betwixt -- yet therein lies the deeper problematic of closing the demagoguery gap through an escalating rhetorical arms race, a foul but real prospect. The outs may decide that two can play at any-means-to-an-end, and that'll be all she wrote for any hope of a thoughtful democracy. Perhaps then, the enlightened answer will entail expatriate status to avoid the whole scene.

For now, though, sit back and marvel at W.'s extraordinary aptitude for demeaning honest politics and thus beating the odds. We may never see the likes of such demagogic mastery again.