Just Above Sunset
December 4, 2005 - Tying Up Loose Ends

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One: Is it real or is it...?

As mentioned elsewhere, last Wednesday the Los Angeles Times reported the US military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by US information officers. The whole item is here - these stories "are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists."

The military funnels the stories through a Washington-based defense contractor - and those employees or subcontractors sometimes pose as freelance reporters or advertising executives. The Times quoted a senior Pentagon official - "Here we are trying to create the principles of democracy in Iraq. Every speech we give in that country is about democracy. And we're breaking all the first principles of democracy when we're doing it."

Think Armstrong Williams. Or this week, Arnold Shwarzenegger – see Judge Rebukes Schwarzenegger Administration for Use of Fake 'Video News Releases' on Nurse, Worker Issues and Gov.'s Fake News Videos Ruled Illegal. Well, California news stations need material, and real reporting is expensive.

And note here that CNN busted FEMA and their "Recovery Channel" in New Orleans.


More fake news stories. Your government faking you out, with your money.

On the issue of us spending millions planting fake news stories in the Iraqi press, the left was saying we shouldn't be subverting a newly-born free press with propaganda disguised as news, that we bribe people to print as if it's real reporting, while on the right one hears the idea that of course we should just that - we need to get our message out and this is war. It all depends on your point of view.

The White House said it was "concerned" and the senate, led by Warner of Virginia, a major Republican, held quick hearings. And late Friday, the Pentagon, said, after the news cycle was closed for the week, "Yeah, we did that." The idea was that we wanted the truth out there. We hired this Lincoln Group to help out.

The truth?


See this


In July, one storyboard written by military personnel titled "Children Murdered at the Hands of Terrorists" was recast by Lincoln Group as an opinion column written by an Iraqi citizen. It was published July 19 in Baghdad's Al Sabah newspaper, documents show.

"Have we all given up?" the op-ed piece reads. "What kind of man am I if I tolerate the massacre of our children? What kind of human am I if I condone the slaughter of innocents? What kind of Muslim am I if I stand in silence as immoral cowards kill our children in the name of God and the prophet Muhammad?"

Documents show that Al Sabah was paid more than $1,500 to publish the piece.


Jayson Blair got fired from the New York Times, and brought down his editor with him, for less.

Lawrence DiRita, special assistant to Rumsfeld, acknowledged that our troops or Lincoln Group employees might have acted improperly. "I'm willing to believe that there were some transgressions along the way, and that's what we're trying to figure out."

Two: Christmas, the Silly Season

As mentioned elsewhere, this decade's answer to the fifty's Joseph McCarthy, Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, published the first draft of his blacklist - but it was just media operations he considers "guttersnipes" and "smear merchants" - the New York Daily News, the St. Petersburg Times and MSNBC - purveyors of "defamation and false information supplied by far left Web sites." No individuals yet.

And note here O'Reilly warns America about the vast conspiracy to get rid of Christmas:

"There's a very secret plan. And it's a plan that nobody's going to tell you, 'Well, we want to diminish Christian philosophy in the U.S.A. because we want X, Y, and Z.' They'll never ever say that. But I'm kind of surprised they went after Christmas because it's such an emotional issue."

It's the ACLU and the secular Jews like George Soros, of course. Damn those Jews! They hate Christmas.

Best response here


Personally I have no problem with government sponsorship of Christmas displays, as long as the authorities comply with equivalent requests from any other religionist.

We have to devise a proper display for agnostic/atheist position. Maybe a statue of George Carlin.

Instead of the Ten Commandments, something like the following: "The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness." - Vladimir Nabokov


Not bad.

Three: Buchanan Loses

There was a lot of criticism of the president this week, and here Richard Reeves asks the question, "Is George Bush the worst president ever?"

Oh my. Reeves says this all started with Kennedy, who was considered a historian because of his book "Profiles in Courage" (even if her didn't really write it). Kennedy used to receive requests to rate the presidents. Yeah, yeah - you start with Lincoln then Washington, or reverse it, and move down. When Kennedy actually became president he stopped answering these requests.

So who was the worst? Buchanan –


Poor James Buchanan, the 15th president, is generally considered the worst president in history. Ironically, the Pennsylvania Democrat, elected in 1856, was one of the most qualified of the 43 men who have served in the highest office. A lawyer, a self-made man, Buchanan served with some distinction in the House, served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and secretary of state under President James K. Polk. He had a great deal to do with the United States becoming a continental nation - "Manifest Destiny," war with Mexico, and all that. He was also ambassador to Great Britain and was offered a seat on the Supreme Court three separate times.

But he was a confused, indecisive president, who may have made the Civil War inevitable by trying to appease or negotiate with the South. His most recent biographer, Jean Clark, writing for the prestigious American Presidents Series, concluded this year that his actions probably constituted treason. It also did not help that his administration was as corrupt as any in history, and he was widely believed to be homosexual.

Whatever his sexual preferences, his real failures were in refusing to move after South Carolina announced secession from the Union and attacked Fort Sumter, and in supporting both the legality of the pro-slavery constitution of Kansas and the Supreme Court ruling in the Dred Scott class declaring that escaped slaves were not people but property.


Yep, he left a lot for Lincoln to clean up.

But then Reeve says he's talked with "three significant historians" in the past few months "who would not say it in public," but who think this Bush guy is giving Buchanan a run for his money.

Data? From the History News Network at George Mason University - four hundred and fifteen, about a third of those contacted, answered, so the sample is "informal" as the statisticians say - 338 said they believed Bush was failing and 77 said he was succeeding. Fifty said they thought he was the worst president ever.

Here's the problem as Reeve summarizes it -

  • He has taken the country into an unwinnable war and alienated friend and foe alike in the process;
  • He is bankrupting the country with a combination of aggressive military spending and reduced taxation of the rich;
  • He has deliberately and dangerously attacked separation of church and state;
  • He has repeatedly "misled," the American people on affairs domestic and foreign;
  • He has proved to be incompetent in affairs domestic (New Orleans) and foreign (Iraq and the battle against al-Qaida);
  • He has sacrificed American employment (including the toleration of pension and benefit elimination) to increase overall productivity;
  • He is ignorantly hostile to science and technological progress;
    He has tolerated or ignored one of the republic's oldest problems, corporate cheating in supplying the military in wartime.

Other than that, he's doing fine.


In these pages on October 30th here, in the section "The Italian Connection," you'd find a discussion and many links to the idea that maybe the source document showing Saddam Hussein's guys were trying to buy yellowcake uranium in Niger wasn't just a crude forgery, but part of some sort of conspiracy by the Italians, or somebody, maybe some of Cheney's guys, to make this war more "sellable" to the world public, or at least to the frightened American public.

No, no. Couldn't be.

A week ago the FBI was starting to back off their blanket exoneration of the Italian government for any role in this. But Saturday's Los Angeles Times reports that the FBI has decided to 'reopen' the inquiry into the forged documents.  That's here.

Probably nothing - but you never know.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
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