Monday, August 30, 2004

How do you parody "Unfit for Command?" It's a book filled with outrageous lies and rhetoric, but I have a go at it on The Washington Monthly's website. (Go back to the Monthly's homepage, and see the comments in the magazine's weblog, Political Animal: a surprising number of readers don't get the joke.) "THE UNEXPURGATED "UNFIT FOR COMMAND"(parody)(

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Schlesinger report: another Abu Ghraib whitewash?NEWS.com.au %7C Rights group slams abuse report %28August 25%2C 2004%29

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

All aboard the Smear Boat. Why aren't Kerry's defenders or most of the mainstream media forcefully challenging the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth lies about him? Instead, they're focusing on the right-wing Republican money-men behind the group who have also been linked to Bush. The other theme is the cultural and political divisions between Vietnam veterans opposed to Kerry's anti-Vietnam War stance after he returned -- and those who supported his protests. But most commentators seem to be dancing around the specific allegations leveled against him and thus, Dukakis-style, allowing them to remain in play during this nasty political season.

Josh Marshall points up the impact of the ads so far: " I just saw a preview of a study that finds the Swift Boat ads quite effective among independents in raising doubts about John Kerry's war record. And that suggests that Karl Rove will want to send more money toward the group running the ad."

Here's one blogger's efforts to challenge the claims point-by-point: eRiposte Media: Liars and Haters Inc. Fortunately, the Kerry campaign's "rapid response" team has shot back with its own rebuttals to the so-called Swift Boat Veterans; if you scroll down, you'll see the Kerry campaign's dispute with the ad itself. But even this response is a bit weak because it seeks to discredit the quoted vets primarily by noting that they weren't on the same swift boat as Kerry, as if Navy men on other boats during the same battles couldn't know what happened to Kerry. Still, there's no reason to believe that these right-wingers are telling the truth, and historians, journalists and the U.S. military have all confirmed the details of Kerry's service and medals. But more needs to be done by reporters and Kerry's supporters to clearly reveal the truth of these issues. (The other strategy -- ignore it and it will go away -- didn't work in the Dukakis, McGovern and Mondale campaigns. Clinton, in contrast, always hit back hard and right away.) Unfortunately under the current ground-rules of "objective" journalism, as in a recent Nightline episode, each side is shown giving its point of view unchallenged, granting unearned credibility to the Swift Boat Veterans' specious claims.

Meanwhile, Bush and his campaign haven't disavowed the ad. As the Center for American Progress sums up:

Bush Tolerates Smear Campaign
A group of veterans have launched a media blitz featuring a host of wholly unsubstantiated and largely discredited charges against Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) which call into question his record of honorable military service in Vietnam. In particular, the group – called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT) – is airing an ad featuring 13 men who never served with Kerry calling him a liar and alleging that he did not deserve the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and two of his three Purple Hearts. The allegations contradict all of Kerry's crewmates who are still living, medical records and an independent investigation by historian Douglas Brinkley. Sen. John McCain – who was similarly smeared by false charges during his 2000 campaign that he fathered an out-of-wedlock black child – called the group's advertisement "dishonest and dishonorable." But asked specifically whether Bush would join McCain in condemning the ad, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan demurred.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Springsteen tells all about his new pro-Kerry musical tour. He's never taken an active role on behalf of a candidate, but under Bush, things have gotten so bad that he felt he had no choice. In an interview with the Backstreets fanzine, he says:

"Basically, this is probably the most important election of my lifetime. I think that the government has drifted too far from American values. After 9/11, I was like everybody else -- I supported going into Afghanistan, and I felt tremendous unity in the country that I don’t think I’ve ever felt exactly like that before. It was a moment of great sadness, but also tremendous possibility. And I think that was dashed when we jumped headlong into the Iraq war, which I never understood, and I talked about that on the road. I never understood how or why we really ended up there. We offered up the lives of the best of our young people under circumstances that have been discredited. I had to live through that when I was young myself, and for any of us that lived through the Vietnam War, it was just very devastating.

"Along with that, the deficits, the squeezing of services like the after-school services for the kids who need it the most, the big windfall tax cuts, the division of wealth that has threatened our connection to one another over the past 20 years that is increasing…. these are things that as the election time neared -- I couldn’t really keep true to the ideas that I’d written about for 30 years without weighing in on this one."
Backstreets.com: Springsteen News

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

We report, you fend for yourself. The FOX News Channel decided that its viewers didn't need to see for themselves too much of what Democrats had to say. A new report by David Brock's Media Matters group shows that FOX broadcast nearly two hours less of the speeches than did MSNBC. FOX decided, for instance, to give only a 45-second snippet of Al Gore before cutting away to have its pundits attack him. To borrow a catchprase cited in the movie, Outfoxed, "some people say" that FOX's producers and broadcasters are right-wing blowhards who distort journalism to further their nefarious conservative, pro-Republican agenda. You decide for yourself: FOX aired significantly less of Dem convention ... [Media Matters for America]

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