Notes From The Overground

Progressive-minded weblog devoted heavily to politics and media with some music and popular culture sprinkled throughout working on the assumption that anything that comes out of Washington or the mass media is bogus propaganda unless proven otherwise.

Created by Tom

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Friday, March 07, 2003

You're Tax Dollars, Working For You. Or... How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Weapons of Mass Distraction

The Associate Press reports that unemployment rose to "5.8 percent in February and companies across the economy slashed 308,000 jobs — the steepest one-month slide since hiring hit a slump in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks."

Also from the AP: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), reported that Bush's tax cuts and the rest of his budget will produce "a string of federal deficits over the coming decade totaling $1.82 trillion."

Thus, Saddam is a "threat" to us and his "neighborhood." We must "disarm" him.

...President Nero fiddles with burning Baghdad while America's engulfed in flames.


Helen Thomas Snubbed

The senior member of the White House Press Corps, Helen Thomas, was snubbed in last night's conference.

Syndicated columnist Helen Thomas, who has covered every president since John F. Kennedy, was relegated to the third row in last night's East Room event and — if the memory of press corps veterans is accurate — received her first presidential snub.
One reporter who has covered the past six presidents said: "I don't remember a press conference in which [Mrs. Thomas] didn't get a question."
For many years, it was a tradition for Mrs. Thomas to ask the first question at White House news conferences and end them by saying, on behalf of the press corps, "Thank you, Mr. President." However, in recent years, her influence has waned — although she was still afforded one of the first questions and continues to enjoy a front-row seat at regular White House briefings.
For four decades the White House correspondent for United Press International, Mrs. Thomas, 82, has in recent months harangued Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer, asking how President Bush can slaughter innocent Iraqis in a quest for oil.
Now syndicated by Hearst Newspapers, Mrs. Thomas has also denounced Mr. Bush outside the confines of the White House briefing room. "This is the worst president ever," Mrs. Thomas told the Daily Breeze of Torrance, Calif., in January. "He is the worst president in all of American history."

Gee, I wonder why they silenced her?

Manufacturing Consent

From watching Bush last night it was apparent that the members of the press who were called on were pre-determined. Bush betrayed that fact early when he called on a one reporter (John King) not by pointing and acknowledging his name, but by looking down at his notes. Shrub even acknoweledge the inauthentic air of the evening by quipping through his trademark smirk, "This is a scripted...(laughter)" As the night progressed Bush gave up the charade of a true question and answer period and just read names off a roll call. If all of the elements of the press' ability to question the president are going to be so constrained and controlled why not give up the illusion of a "conference" and just call the affair an "address"? The Bushies want to provide the idea that they're engaged in a dialogue with the press when in fact they are using them as springboards for their propaganda. And the press plays along as if this is the way things should work. This has become common practice in political news conferences and it is so ingrained that rather than being questioned it is cynically woven into political reportage. Thus rather than acting as a democratic check on the powers-that-be the "journalists" simply relay the information straight from the horses' mouths (or in this case, the elephant's mouth).

Last nights "conference" was nothing short of manufactured and controlled. Only a few "journalists" were able to break through with some tough questions that dealt with opposition to the war and other matters that made George squirm at his podium. Yet overall the president was prepared to recite the party line as an answer to all questions, and the press ate it up as per usual. (This just in: I'm on the same wavelength as Buzzflash -- here's their similar take on last night's debacle.


National Rightview on Impeachment

The National Review has an article entitled, Impeaching Bush: Congressional Dems ready to avenge.

Ever since President Bush's controversial victory in the 2000 election, die-hard Democrats have dreamed of revenge for the Clinton impeachment.

Now, as the country braces for war, some liberal Democrats in Congress are preparing to introduce articles of impeachment against Bush and perhaps members of his Cabinet, according to lawmakers and congressional aides.

Over the past few weeks, some of the most liberal members of the House have discussed the possibility of impeaching Bush. Talks have intensified this week, lawmakers say, largely because war with Iraq appears imminent.

Just in the first three paragraphs one can see how author David Enrich spits out the words "die-hard Democrat" and "liberal" like yesterday's bile. This comes as no surprise from the conservative National Review, but it is a fun illustration of the selective perception of the political Right.

Forget the implications and the questions of why Bush should be impeached (or not) and just look at this statement by Stephen Hess, a senior fellow at the "nonpartisan" Brookings Institution:

"This is more than frivolous. It's just political pap," Hess said. "Impeachment is not the appropriate vehicle for political argumentation, and that's what this is."

Gee Mr. Hess, where were you during Lewinsky-gate?

Ironic. How quickly we forget when inconvenience is dropped down the memory hole. Political pap, like when the Republicans led the Clinton impeachment charge for little more than some indiscretions and lying about a blow job?

While Clinton was by no means a great president, the grievances against Bush are far more grave and infinitely more offensive to democracy.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Slip Of the Tongue

George W. Bush's March 6, 2003 primetime softball news conference on the impending Iraq war can be summed up in the following Freudian statement: "We will disarm him [Hussein], and other nations will join him — join us in in disarming him" So don't you worry about an attack on Iraq fueling anti-American sentiment around the globe.

Other major points of the "conference":

  1. We should fear nucular weapons.

  2. The "president" appeared to be either heavily sedated, back on the "hard stuff" or he was just having a slow cognitive day.

  3. Dubya paid homage to the spirit of the late Fred Rogers by stating repeatedly that Saddam is a threat to his "neighborhood."

  4. You could tell by the gleam in Dubya's eye that the bombs will be dropping in a matter of days, no matter how many times he said "I don't like war."

For the rest of the "official" details of the non-event of redundantly distracting propaganda see: President Readies U.S. for Prospect of Imminent War.


Bill, You Ignorant Slut

Bill Clinton and Bob Dole are reviving the "Point-Counterpoint" segment on "60 Minutes."

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

You Will Lose, Mr. "President"

Secretary of State Colin Powell and other advisors warned Dubya that he likely faces a humiliating defeat at the UN security council next week (as reported by Capital Hill Blue).

Senior aides to President George W. Bush say he faces a humiliating defeat before the United Nations Security Council next week.

And signs emerged today that the U.S. may withdraw the resolution from security council consideration.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, fresh from his latest round of meetings with representatives of countries on the Security Council, delivered the bad news to Bush on Monday.

"You will lose, Mr. President," Powell told Bush. "You will lose badly and the United States will be humiliated on the world stage."

Powell told Bush he has only four of the nine votes needed for approval of a second resolution. As a result, some White House advisors are now urging the President to back off his tough stance on war with Iraq and give UN weapons inspectors more time.

"We have no other choice," admits one Bush advisor. "We don't have the votes. We don't have the support."

The article goes on to suggest that the administration has an opportunity to save face and take cover behind the favorable publicity surrounding the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

Shlock and Awe

...or they might just ignore the UN entirely and dive into the maelstrom face first with their heavy bombing plan, the ridiculous hawkishly condescending Freudian-titled "shock and awe." (Incidentally, I remember the "shock and awe" I felt on 9/11/01 when I watched the towers crumble on TV. Think of the innocents in Baghdad who will feel "shock and awe" as their lives are ripped from underneath, above and around them.) War is all but inevitable now as Powell pledges to act without the UN as France and Russia swear to veto the new security council resolution. Thus the will of the planet's only governing body is rendered "irrelevant" by a vile, stubborn bully who knows no rules that cannot be broken or superceded. If the UN is "irrelevant" as Dubya and his cronies allege, it is because the most powerful nation in the world has made a mockery of the union's function in the name of a heartless right-wing agenda that cares not for truth, justice or human life.


The New "Hollywood Ten"

The Screen Actors Guild spoke out in response to the right-wing backlash against Hollywood celebrities who have publicly opposed the impending war against Iraq. History could very well repeat itself as a new McCarthyism is in the air. Ironically enough the Screen Actors Guild under the leadership of the union's president, Ronald Reagan, happily abetted the witch-hunters in ruining the careers of numerous artists. Reagan shed his image as a liberal and made one of the key moves toward his rise as a political puppet for the Right when he testified as a "friendly witness" before HUAC and helped incriminate nineteen "radical" figures. While history remembers the ten Hollywood players who were singled out by the House Un-American committee, hundreds of other figures in the arts industry were blacklisted.

While most of the punditocracy condescendingly condemns celebrities who speak out for causes (an irony in itself as most pundits themselves are little more than celebrity windbags), this situation should give pause for those who believe in the freedom of speech and other civil liberties. With the flames of the new "Red-scare" fanned by the current administration, America is teetering frighteningly close to the brink of a rightest clampdown that harkens back to the early 1950s. The light in this sea of dark ignorance (a light that didn't exist during McCarthy's era) is the massive protest movement.


He's a Little Bit Gomez, and A Little Bit Morticia Adams

Do we need more reminders in the mass media that Michael Jackson is completely and totally out of his botox-injected mind?!


Pimp Doggy

Well, it's official. Prostitution is going to the dogs.

Monday, March 03, 2003

Pop 'em and Cover: File Under "Ready"

Here it is, the commercial analogue to the political fearmongering of the Bush administration: a new product to put alongside the duct tape and 10-ply plastic sheeting in your home-safety kit. No-Rad, potassium iodide pills are to be used in the event of a nuclear disaster. Body Gold, LLC (the company that holds the copyright) stands to make a significant amount of money by preying on the fears of a populace whose judgment is impaired by over-exposure to sensationalized scare-tactics and the incessant beating of war-drums.

The tacky 1950s duck and cover throwback web-site features scrolling headlines that read, "warning: CIA Director anticipates use of nuclear dirty bomb," "bin Laden has acquired nuclear suitcase bomb" and "new government website suggests potassium iodide in the event of a nuclear blast." The good folks at No-Rad even provide a section on their website that outlines all the potential nuclear dangers in your area.

A 10-day supply is only $11.99 and as the web site says, "Stock up now while supplies last. If you wait until you need it, you won't be able to get it." Incidentally, shipping is free.


Fisk Points to Ambiguity Surrounding Arrest

British Middle-East correspondent Robert Fisk questions the authenticity, validity and significance of the capture of Khaled Shaikh Mohammed.


Leaked Document Suggests US Spying on UN Security Council

The United Kingdom's Observer reports that the U.S. is conducting a "dirty tricks" campaign against the U.N. security council that includes spying on delegates.

Another story falls through the cracks and into the memory hole of the American media.


They Caught a Bad Guy

Officials finally have their hands on the alleged mastermind of 9/11. Sources claim that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed had been planning further attacks against the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. It is said that his capture significantly damages al-Quaeda's ability to carry out future "spectacular" attacks.

Whether this is a significant development or just a much needed public success for the Bush administration in punishing those responsible for that massive atrocity remains to be seen. Regardless, Mohammed has been considered the mastermind of 9/11 since shortly after the attacks. The White House stated that he will be treated "humanely." I wonder if "humanely" is a government/CIA euphemism for "with a blow torch and pliers."


Talking Turkey

The NY Times reports that the U.S. government is pressuring Turkey to reconsider their refusal to allow U.S. troops to use their country as a base of operations against Iraq. The U.S. nearly destroyed NATO over them, now they've proven to be an even bigger thorn in the Bushies' collective side.

Click here to cast your vote now in the national referendum to stop the war in Iraq.