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June 2007 Archives

June 1, 2007

Nigerian Smokes and NASA Dopes

The indispensable Center for Media and Democracy featured a post on Wednesday on tobacco's marketing in the global south. It seems that at least one African nation, Nigeria, has had enough and is fighting back.

Nigeria's two largest states are following the lead of U.S. states, in suing British American Tobacco (BAT) of Nigeria, its U.K. parent company and Philip Morris International for the health care costs of treating sick smokers, The Times of London reported this week.

Continue reading "Nigerian Smokes and NASA Dopes" »

David Sirota: ExxonMobil Channels Rumsfeld

David Sirota was at the ExxonMobil shareholder meeting this week down in Dallas and heard ExxonMobil CEO doing the darndest impression of Donald Rumsfeld.

Check out David's post and the great YouTube clip he put together.

June 6, 2007

The Fear Of The Smear.

One of the tragedies of the power of the Right Wing Machine is that it clearly alters how we as a people and our elected officials as a group act.

The most powerful example of this is the 2002 Iraq War Vote. Far too many were concerned about the perception of their votes versus the vote itself.

Here is a tragic review of the vote. It is called "The Iraq War Vote Was 6-94."

This has been bothering me for quite some time. I've been increasingly focused on it lately, maybe it was sparked by attention on Senator Clinton and her not reading the report or on John Edwards via Shrum's book's discussion of how he made his decision, but a simple fact has really come to indicate where we are as country, and how off course we've gone.

In October 2002, prior to the October 12, 2002 Iraq war vote, under lock and key, prepared for our Senators and Representatives by our country's top intelligence analysts, lay a 92 page report about Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, and everything we knew about Saddam.

It sat waiting for our elected officials to sign in without staff and read it, 92 pages. No staffers allowed, elected officials only. A five page declassified document was readily available to all but the 92 page document, you had to show up, sign in and read it.

Only six Senators did.

Only six Senators thought that sending our country's bravest off to war to die was worth a few minutes of their time. How long a report would you have read before deciding to send our nation's finest to war?

Now, already by now, minions of Senators are scurrying off emails;

Senator So and So was briefed by his staff. The Senator weighed this vote deeply.

Political pundits and DC journalists are smirking at my simplicity of view on this. "This dumb blogger doesn't get how things are done around here."


And more Bullshit.

First of all, no one could be briefed on it because staffers couldn't see the report, that's the problem.

Second, I don't care how DC operates. You want to stand up and vote on war, you sit your ass down in that chair and read the intelligence briefing.

There are no excuses.

Here's what I have found out.

Senator Biden read it. Senator Dorgan, no. Senator Nelson (Nebraska) no. Senator Graham, Florida? Yes.

Senator Edwards did not.

Senator Clinton did not.

Senator Kerry did not and had the added hypocrisy of accusing the Bush Administration of not reading it in 2004 during the campaign when he hadn't read it. He got nailed on that.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid? No.

Senator Jay Rockefeller, yes. Senator Pat Roberts, yes.

Now is a good time to mention that there were a lot of people who thought going to war in Iraq was far from a slam dunk, like Al Gore and Howard Dean for instance. To me, and this is just my personal opinion, to claim now that you want to end the war and to base your political calculations based upon being anti-war is nothing short of hypocritical opportunism.

Back to the research into the six Senators who actually did their jobs; there are two left in addition to Biden, Roberts, Rockefeller and Graham.

Then I found this courtesy of my friends at MYDD.

"The two Senators who pushed hardest to have the US intelligence community compile an NIE, Senator Bob Graham and Senator Dick Durbin, both voted against authorizing military force against Iraq - largely because the full classified 96-page NIE contained many more caveats and dissents than any of the summaries."

This makes my stomach turn. Furthermore, from an UPDATE on the above MYDD post:

Sen. Bob Graham's floor statement urging his fellow Senators to read the full classifed NIE. Here is Sen. Graham's statement:

"Friends, I encourage you to read the classified intelligence reports which are much sharper than what is available in declassified form," Sen. Graham reports stating on the floor of the Senate in October 2002.

"We are going to be increasing the threat level against the people of the United States." He warned: "Blood is going to be on your hands."

Indeed, here's the update as of today. We're pushing 3,500 American dead.

So who was the sixth? I kept digging. But I haven't had any luck and obviously there are plenty of Senators who are willing to have the idea linger that one of then actually read it. I did find the final vote tally here, 77 to 23. I can forgive those who took the time to read it and voted yes.

I will not forgive any Senator who couldn't be bothered to read the report.

And there's a special place in hell for any Senator who couldn't be bothered to read it, even after being encouraged on the Senate floor by someone who actually had, and then voted yes. What Bob Graham said has become reality, we have made our world a more dangerous place for ourselves and our children. Blood is on their hands just as much as it is on President Bush's.

The mainstream media will forgive them for not reading the report but I won't. And neither should you.

Senators Biden, Graham, Roberts, Rockefeller, Durbin and one other did their duty. No one else did.

note: I would very much like to find out who the sixth Senator was, if you know, or if you are the Senator who did, please email me. I know a beautiful mother whose son went to Iraq and never came home. I want to know for her.

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June 7, 2007

Begala : The Media's Double-Standard

Paul Begala has a great piece up at Huffington Post about the media's double standards when it comes to minor mistakes made by politicians. This is driven, undoubtedly, by the conservative noise machine that mocks liberal politicians for the most marginal of errors, while defending or ignoring glaring errors from the right.

The most recent example that Begala notes is when Mitt Romney said that if "Saddam Hussein had open[ed] up his country to IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspectors and they'd come in and they'd found that there were no weapons of mass destruction."

Hussein, of course, did open up Iraq to inspectors who found no weapons of mass destruction. Or has the press already forgotten Hans Blix?

But, as Begala and Media Matters noticed, there was a virtual media silence on Romney's glaring error.

Contrast, says Begala, to Gore's minor error in the 2000 debate when he misstated the title of a FEMA employee.

In a 2000 debate, Al Gore said that during wildfires in Texas he'd met with the director of FEMA. In fact, Vice President Gore had met with the deputy director of FEMA. Although I had been at the meeting as well, I didn't remember it either. But the press, spoon-fed by the Republican smear machine, used the misstatement to damn Gore as a "serial exaggerator."

This is how the right operates - hone in on a minor error by liberals and mischaracterize it to cast doubt on the individual's integrity. The press uses these to reinforce negative narratives about liberals - Gore as a "serial exaggerator," for example. The press seems willing to use anything the right hands them to back up these phony descriptions.

But when conservatives tout the most egregious falsehoods that result in the deaths of thousands, silence.

It's not surprising that the right operates this way. What else should we expect from a political movement that believes that if you ignore something, it will go away?

But we should expect more from the news media. As Begala so well puts it,

But with all respect to Jon Stewart, that's not what hurts America. What hurts America is when powerful media elites excoriate a Democrat for an insignificant error, but turn a blind eye to a campaign of lies about war.

And how.

Arianna Smokes Out Another False Alarm.

It's becoming shockingly clear that whenever there is a Democratic Debate, there is going to be a "terror arrest." First time around, it was in Saudi Arabia, this time it's at JFK. Here's her take on a Faux News Alert.

June 12, 2007

Smoking Politics Takes On Bozell's Media Research Center

Smoking PoliticsJoin Dave Johnson and James Boyce tomorrow at noon Eastern for Smoking Politics on Blog Talk Radio. Dave and James will be talking about the Media Research Center, the far-right media watchdog founded by right-wing smear merchant Brent Bozell.

Media Reserach Center has been a constant contributor to the pervasive climate of intimidation that James wrote about last week. Both MRC and Bozell have been responsible for a number of smear campaigns going back to the Clarence Thomas nomination. Brent Bozell on C-SPAN

Tune in to Smoking Politics on Blog Talk Radio to hear more about the MRC and Brent Bozell and their role in the rise of the right-wing smear campaign.

And, as always, you're invited to call in to the show and talk with Dave and James about smears, fears, and the politics of attack-and-distract. The call-in number is (718) 508-9604.

Blog Talk Radio

June 17, 2007

Far-Right Lashes Out At . . . C-SPAN?

Lest you think the far-right smear machine is reserved for cynical campaign strategy, take note of the recent attacks on C-SPAN, the cable public service channel known best for airing live coverage of government proceedings.

C-SPAN aired portions of Talkers Magazine's "New Media Seminar" at which far-right talk radio shock-jock Michael Savage was presented a Freedom of Speech Award. Brian Lamb on C-SPAN

Savage's acceptance speech was not aired by C-SPAN, apparently because the talk show host didn't actually appear to give a speech, but instead sent a DVD recording of his speech that was shown to the attendees.

Some of Savage's listeners and fans felt that C-SPAN's decision not to air the presentation of a pre-recorded speech shown to an audience on a DVD was the equivalent of blacklisting, the airing of much of the two day event notwithstanding.

On Friday morning's Washington Journal, host Brian Lamb read through a series of emails he received at Savage's request. His listeners accuse Brian Lamb and C-SPAN in general of being a "dickhead, "nazi," "stalinist," "bed-wetting commies, "liberal ass loser communist," and, of course, "probably a homosexual."

Even a casual C-SPAN viewer is aware that the station regularly broadcasts events from right-wing organizations such as the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Repeating claims of a mythical liberal media bias is one thing, but this is a case of the far-right viciously attacking a public service station for not supporting the conservative agenda enough.

Think Progress has the video

June 19, 2007

Brent Bozell's Phantom Army

Let every soldier hew him down a bough
And bear't before him: thereby shall we shadow
The numbers of our host and make discovery
Err in report of us.

Macbeth: Act V, Scene IV

During Emperor Justinian I's war against the Goths, the Roman general Martinus conceived a strategy to burn as many campfires as possible so as to deceive the enemy about the size of his army. The plan worked, and the Goths fled. In the United States, Nixon invented the fictional "silent majority" of American conservatives to intimidate the progressives of his day, but Brent Bozell has probably done more than anyone to keep the campfires lit.

Continue reading "Brent Bozell's Phantom Army" »

June 20, 2007

Right Circulating A LIE About Hillary and Take Back America

Here is a lie we should try to nip in the bud.

Hillary Clinton spoke at the Take Back America conference this morning. The Corner on National Review Online is circulating the following lie about the event:

When she declared, "The American military has done its job," boos began to be heard around the room. As the boos increased, Sen. Clinton raised her voice. "The American military has succeeded," she said, to more boos. "It is the Iraqi government that has failed to make the tough decisions." Still more boos. [emphasis added]
I was there. I heard what happened. NO ONE in the crowd booed her for saying "The American military has succeeded." That is simply a lie by a professional propagandist.

Here is a lie we should try to nip in the bud.

Hillary Clinton spoke at the Take Back America conference this morning. The Corner on National Review Online is circulating the following lie about the event:

When she declared, "The American military has done its job," boos began to be heard around the room. As the boos increased, Sen. Clinton raised her voice. "The American military has succeeded," she said, to more boos. "It is the Iraqi government that has failed to make the tough decisions." Still more boos. [emphasis added]
I was there. I heard what happened. NO ONE in the crowd booed her for saying "The American military has succeeded." That is simply a lie by a professional propagandist.

Bill Scher has more, with video to prove it.

Taylor Marsh has more at Huffington Post.

June 26, 2007

Dr. Allan Brandt Helps Us Put The Smoking In Politics.

Over at Smoking Politics, we tell and re-tell and constantly point out that the right wing strategy of lie big, ignore the facts and shoot the messenger wasn't created out of thin air, it was started with great success by the tobacco companies almost a century ago.

The clearest current example of the attempts to muddy the water on whether cigarettes actually cause cancer, oh wait, that was the last example, now they're muddying the waters with Global Warming.

Continue reading "Dr. Allan Brandt Helps Us Put The Smoking In Politics." »

About June 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Smoking Politics in June 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2007 is the previous archive.

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