Saturday, October 16, 2004

Real Time with Bill Maher talks about Mary Cheney

Very interesting interchange on Bill Maher last night about the whole Mary Cheney issue. I know some of you might think that this issue should just go away. I don't. Here's why. First from Bill:
But my question about that whole flap, this this the Republicans are very angry. Dick Cheney said, "I'm an angry father." If it's not shameful to be gay, why are their panties in a bunch about this? I mean, they talk about her like she's some retarded monster they have chained in the attic, you know.Jim Rogan was up to bat for the Republicans and he argued that because John Kerry brought it up at the debate, the Republicans saw it as a "concerted effort" to bring Mary Cheney into the campaign and it wasn't "appropriate."Jesse Jackson's reply was that "gay relationships and marriage have been used as such a dividing line on who is righteous and who's a sinner."To which, my hero, Bill Maher replied:
And it is an issue. They made it an issue. It's an issue in this election. Don't talk about my daughter who we are trying to discriminate against in a constitutional amendment.And stepping up for the "Hollywood liberals" Alanis Morissette just crystallized the entire argument about Mary Cheney down to this:
It's an issue of character too. It's begging the question to people, what kind of a father, what kind of an administration would have someone in their family that is gay and have these opposing views of that person's rights and that person's future and that person's opportunity.There you go folks. That's it, that's the kind of people Bush and Cheney are. You know how we laugh and joke sometimes that someone would run over their own mother if they had to if they want something bad enough? Well, it's coming true right in the middle of this election. But it's not funny. Bush and Cheney want to win this election badly enough that they are willing to sell out the Vice President's daughter. Please tell me, what more does it take? Dick Cheney is willing to sell his daughter's civil rights INTO SLAVERY to get elected. What more does it take, what more does anyone need to know?

Bush uses weekly radio address to gay-bait Kerry, plead for re-election

Saturday, October 16, 2004 Bush uses weekly radio address to gay-bait Kerry, plead for re-election by John in DC - 10/16/2004 11:36:14 AM
A few problems here.1. What is the president doing using his weekly radio address for campaign-related activities? Where is that address recorded, using who's money? I always thought this was a presidential function and not a campaign function?2. And more importantly, suddenly, for the first time in months, Bush is suddenly discussing gay issues? This man has avoided them like the plague since the constitutional amendment went down in flames this summer. This means that the Bush campaign has decided to use that last-ditch issue, gay-baiting, to attack Kerry. Put in the context of Marygate, it's clear that the brouhaha over Mary Cheney was part of that same strategy. Bush decided it was time to play the gay card, and he is.

Outrage That Rings False

Washington Post
Outrage That Rings False
By Hilary RosenSaturday, October 16, 2004; Page A23
Nicolle Devenish, communications director for the Bush-Cheney campaign, said Thursday that John Kerry will pay a heavy political price for what he did. Lynne Cheney, the vice president's wife, said, "This is a bad man."
The crime? John Kerry in the final presidential debate suggested that we are all God's children and used Mary Cheney as an example of a healthy gay person loved by her family.
The response from the Cheneys and the Bush campaign has been blatantly political. In fact, it is they who are using Mary Cheney -- using her now to score points against Kerry and John Edwards over an issue on which they themselves are guilty of the wrongs that Kerry and Edwards are fighting against. Even after almost 30 years in Washington, I am surprised by the overwhelming hypocrisy and meanness of the Bush reelection campaign.
Let's review the facts. Before the election season, this administration opposed every initiative to offer equality for gay men and lesbians. Indeed, it has gone out of its way to be punitive, with such actions as the Office of Personnel Management's announcement that the federal government has no intention of honoring the Clinton administration's order to add sexual orientation to anti-discrimination rules in the federal government.
After the debate, the vice president said of John Kerry: "This is a man who will say anything and do anything to get elected." Many people thought the same thing about Dick Cheney and President Bush on Feb. 24. That was the day the president announced to the country that heterosexual marriages are in trouble because gay people might someday have such a right in a few states. The crisis was so dire that he implored Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to permanently take away any rights gay men and lesbians might have to equal access to government benefits of marriage.
The Republican leaderships in both houses of Congress brought this amendment to the floor. Anyone watching the debate would cringe at the dehumanizing and painful things said by Republican sponsors of the proposal about gay people.
All of the Cheneys have sat back as senators and members of Congress who stood up for their position against the constitutional amendment were attacked in campaigns across the country. In Texas, North Dakota, South Carolina, Oklahoma, North Carolina and elsewhere, Republican candidates are using the gay issue against Democrats who have done nothing more than vote to protect the notion of fairness and equality in our Constitution.
Where is the outrage of Dick and Lynne Cheney over this?
In August, at a town meeting, the vice president was asked to speak from the heart about gay marriage. He did. He said he was against the constitutional amendment. And he expressed love for his daughter. The country was impressed.
I think the record is pretty clear that fair-minded political leaders didn't talk publicly about Mary Cheney until her father did. All of a sudden it was clear to John Kerry and John Edwards that if the Bush campaign tried to attack them on the gay marriage issue, they should just respond by saying they had the same position on this issue as Dick Cheney. That is certainly the advice I gave them. How dare the president criticize Kerry, as he did again the other night, for taking the same position as Dick Cheney? And we know that anti-gay messages are being promoted in many districts around the country to get out the evangelical vote for President Bush on Election Day. The silent but admirable Mary Cheney has remained a loyal daughter and foot soldier in this homophobic campaign.
I feel sorry for her -- sorry that she seems to now be a pawn in this race. But the perpetrator is not Kerry. This issue is in the campaign because Bush sought political advantage by using it all year. This week's outrage rings so false it makes my ears hurt.
The writer is former chairman and chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America and a volunteer for gay rights causes.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company

Video from John Stewart Appearance on CNN

Beside the Bush campaign angle to Jim Tobin's resignation today, there's the connection to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Beside the Bush campaign angle to Jim Tobin's resignation today, there's the connection to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
At the time the election-tampering incident happened, Tobin was Northeast political director for the Committee. What now seems clear from the offers of proof of the two men who've pled guilty in the case is that the scheme was not a local affair but arranged through the NRSC or at a minimum through its regional political director, Tobin. This is, again, what the first man to plead guilty in the case, Allen Raymond, told prosecutor Todd Hinnen during his plea negotiations.
Which raises the question, is Tobin the only person at the NRSC who was aware of the scheme? And was this the only such scheme Tobin was involved in during his tenure at the NRSC, given that he had responsibility for several other hotly contested senate races that year?
During the 2002 election cycle, the Executive Director of the NRSC was Mitch Bainwol; the Political Director was Chris LaCivita. Bainwol is now Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). LaCivita now works for push-poll king Tom Synhorst's DCI Group and is also a senior advisor to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
Asking them might be a good place to start.

And what has the response been from the president?

October 15, 2004 -- 06:33 PM EDT // link // print)
Here's an issue that deserves a lot of attention, but has received precious little.
National security and military readiness experts generally concede that it will be extremely difficult for the United States to indefinitely maintain 130-odd thousand troops in Iraq and still maintain even threshold levels of capacity to deter and/or respond to threats in other areas.
By some measures the system is already stretched to near the breaking point.
At the same time the president's oft-stated policy is that we will stay in Iraq as long as it takes to complete the mission of democratizing and pacifying the country.
With that reality and that policy, somethings got to give.
It doesn't mean a draft is a necessity. But it does move it into the realm of serious policy possibilities the country has to face. This is particularly so when our military relies on regular recruitment of reservists who until now generally assumed that deployments in warzones were a serious possiblity as opposed to a near certainty, as they have been for the last few years. This is also the case since the administration has said very little about how it will confront this challenge.
In any case, it's a very legitimate issue. And anyone who thinks seriously about military policy issues has to see that it is one of fairly few policy options to address a looming crisis facing the US military.
Now, the youth voter participation group Rock The Vote has been pushing this issue recently, calling for an election-year debate on the topic in ways you can see if you do a quick google search with their name in it.
And what has the response been from the president?
This week RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie sent the group a 'cease and desist' letter threatening legal action against the group and raising the possibility of seeking the revocation of the group's status as a tax-exempt 501c3 organization if the group did not cease discussing the draft issue.
Claims that a draft is possible, Gillespie argued, are so ridiculous on their face that the the group could only be acting from 'malicious intent and a reckless disregard for the truth.' (Those, of course, are catchphrases laying the groundwork for legal action.)
Gillespie's rationale for arguing that there is no basis for discussing the possibility of a draft is the say-so of the president. Gillespie quotes him saying, "We don't need the draft. Look, the all-volunteer force is working ..."
That, to Gillespie, is -- quite literally -- the end of the debate.
This move, if you think about it, is extraordinary. In a political campaign there are very few forms of political speech -- judged by content -- that should ever be subject to legal proceedings. But to threaten legal action to squelch discussion of a subject that is obviously a very newsworthy and relevant issue -- and one the country could face in the next four years -- is simply astonishing.
And yet, no editorial condemnations. Hardly a mention of it. These are now, apparently, the rules of the road -- expected and calling for no particular commenton.
That's even more astonishing.

Charles Taylor of Salon writes about Jon Stewart's Crossfire Appearance

Jon Stewart: Crossfire "hurting America"
"I think you're a lot more fun on your show," said Tucker Carlson to "Crossfire" guest Jon Stewart this afternoon. "And I think you're as much of a dick on your show as on any other," Stewart shot back. It wasn't the faux avuncularity we've come to expect from Stewart on "The Daily Show" but there, of course, he's playing a role. Here he was himself -- and he wasn't buying any of it.
From the moment Stewart sat down he made no secret of how repugnant he found the show. In fact, he said to Carlson and co-host Paul Begala that he had been so hard on the show he felt it was his duty to come on and say to their faces what he has said to friends and in interviews. What he said was that their show was "hurting America," and he was being only slightly hyperbolic. Stewart told them that when America needed journalists to be journalists they had instead chosen to present theater.
Carlson, trying to affect an air of dry amusement that a comedian would presume to lecture him, important pundit that he is, but looking as if his bow-tie were about to start spinning, could barely contain his outrage. In an absolutely mind-boggling moment, Carlson tried to counter Stewart's criticism by pointing out that during John Kerry's recent appearance on "The Daily Show," Stewart asked the candidate softball questions. "If you want to measure yourself against a comedy show," Stewart said, "be my guest."
Paul Begala tried to put a more conciliatory face on things by pointing out that theirs was a "debate" show. Stewart was having none of it. "I would love to see a real debate show," he said. And went on to tell them that instead of holding politicians' feet to the fire by asking tough question, "you're part of their strategy. You're partisan -- what's the word? -- uh, hacks."
It's almost a cliche by now to talk about "The Daily Show" being more trusted than real newscasts, but Stewart showed why. He pointed out to Carlson that he had asked Kerry if he really were in Cambodia but "I don't care," and when Carlson asked him what he thought about the "Bill O'Reilly vibrator flap," Stewart said, "I don't." It was as concise a demonstration of the triviality of the media as you could hope for.
"I thought you were going to be funny," Carlson said toward the end of the interview. Stewart responded, "No, I'm not going to be your monkey." And that was what was so bracing.
Stewart's "Crossfire" appearance is going to generate talk about how prickly he was, how he wasn't "nice" like he is on "The Daily Show." But prickliness is just what was needed. If you've built your reputation as a satirist pointing out how the media falls down on the job, you're not going to make yourself a part of their charade.
I've heard people talk about "The Daily Show" as an oasis of sanity, a public service. I couldn't agree more. Stewart's appearance on "Crossfire" was another public service. He went on and acted as if the show's purpose really was to confront tough issues, instead of being the political equivalent of pro wrestling. Given a chance to say absolutely what he thought, Stewart took it. He accomplished what almost never happens on television anymore: He made the dots come alive.
-- Charles Taylor

John Stewart Beats the Crap Out (in a nice intellectually honest way) of the CNN Crossfire "Hacks"

Return to Transcripts main page
Jon Stewart's America
Aired October 15, 2004 - 16:30 ET
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ANNOUNCER: CROSSFIRE. On the left, James Carville and Paul Begala; on the right, Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson. In the CROSSFIRE: (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART") JON STEWART, HOST: To their credit, once they found out Cat Stevens, who is of Islam, was on the plane, they immediately called out the Air Force and had the plane followed by a (INAUDIBLE) (LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP) ANNOUNCER: Are world events really a laughing matter? They are if you're Jon Stewart. "The Daily Show" host comes out from behind the desk of comedy's favorite news show for our full half-hour today on CROSSFIRE. (END VIDEOTAPE) ANNOUNCER: Live from the George Washington University, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson. (APPLAUSE) TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Welcome to CROSSFIRE. Less than three weeks before the election, we're going to take a break from campaign politics, sort of. Joining us will be Jon Stewart, host of "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central and co-author of a new best-seller entitled "America (The Book)."PAUL BEGALA, CO-HOST: We will spend the next half-hour with the most trusted man in fake news. And he has got pictures of all nine Supreme Court justices naked. (LAUGHTER) BEGALA: Worth staying tuned for. First, though, we will begin, as we always do, with the best little political briefing in television, the CROSSFIRE "Political Alert." When he wants to look moderate, Dick Cheney invokes his lesbian daughter, Mary, on the campaign trail. When Republican Senate candidate Alan Keyes viciously attacked their daughter, Dick and Lynne Cheney said nothing. When John Edwards praised their evident love for their daughter, Vice President Cheney said this.(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me simply thank the senator for the kind words he said about my family and our daughter. I appreciate that very much. (END VIDEO CLIP) BEGALA: But now, suddenly, after four debate losses and 18 days until the election, the Cheneys are shocked, shocked, that John Kerry mentioned their daughter in a debate. There is an important lesson here. If you're gay and you want your rights protected by the Republicans, it helps to have a daddy who wants to distract the country from the millions he made from Halliburton, the billions he ran up in debt, and the war he lied us into. (CROSSTALK) (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) CARLSON: I have to say, it takes -- it takes -- I admire your stones for defending the indefensible. Even you know that it's wrong, at the very least it's unseemly, to bring up this guy's daughter in two separate debates. And the fact they didn't get into an argument with lunatic Alan Keyes when he attacked their daughter proves nothing, other than they have good manners. (LAUGHTER) CARLSON: And the fact -- I'm serious.BEGALA: No, they have very good manners, Dick Cheney, sure. Really?CARLSON: What is he supposed to say when John Edwards says, hey, how's your lesbian daughter? (CROSSTALK) BEGALA: He said thank you very much.(BELL RINGING) BEGALA: Cheney has raised the issue in the context of campaign appearances.CARLSON: He has never a single time volunteered anything about his daughter's sexuality. (CROSSTALK) CARLSON: And you know that that is true.BEGALA: August 24, 2004. (CROSSTALK) CARLSON: In response to a question. He never a single time... (CROSSTALK) BEGALA: He brought her up on the campaign trail. CARLSON: Yes, I'm sure he did.(CROSSTALK) BEGALA: That's just the one that I -- yes, he did. Check it out on Google.CARLSON: Yes, my lesbian daughter. (CROSSTALK) BEGALA: August 24, 2001.(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: All right. Well, there are legitimate, even powerful arguments, to be made against the Bush administration's foreign policy. But those arguments are complicated, hard to explain, and, in the end, not all that sensational. It's a lot easier just to make things up. And so John Kerry has decided to do just that. In an interview with "The Des Moines Register" yesterday, Kerry warned that there is -- quote -- "a great potential that Americans will be drafted into the armed forces if Bush is reelected president." This is a total crock, as Kerry himself knows well. Virtually no one favors returning to the draft. Bush is against it. Congress is against it. The Pentagon is completely against it. It is not happening now or anywhere in the near future. Again, John Kerry knows this very well, and yet he pretends otherwise in order to scare college students into voting for him. And they probably will vote for him, but it's still pretty dishonorable.BEGALA: Well, first off, what is Bush's plan for helping out the Guard and Reserve? CARLSON: That's a separate... (CROSSTALK) BEGALA: Kerry has a proposal to add 40,000 troops to the Army...CARLSON: You're making a separate argument.BEGALA: ... Bush stretched past the limit. What is Bush going to do? What's he going to do?CARLSON: Well, you're making a separate argument. You're attacking Bush's policy towards the National Guard and Reserves, which I think is completely fair and deserves to be attacked, frankly. But there are no plans to reinstate draft because the Pentagon says that an all-volunteer Army is more effective. It's not going to happen, as you know. BEGALA: Help me out, though. The guy who says we're not going to have a draft is the same guy who said there were weapons of mass destruction and there was a huge threat from Saddam Hussein.(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) CARLSON: You know what? (CROSSTALK) BEGALA: Bush has no credibility, Tucker.CARLSON: It's not simply the decision of one man, OK?(BELL RINGING) CARLSON: It's a decision that, in the end, Congress will make. And there is no possibility it will make that decision, as you know.(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: Be see.BEGALA: We'll see.Terrorists exploded two bombs in the heart of heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad yesterday. Another bombing killed another American soldier in eastern Baghdad. Meanwhile, on the home front, the price of oil is hovering around $55 a barrel. The Bush administration has hit the debt limit of $7.4 trillion. They are using accounting tricks to keep the United States of America from going into default like a degenerate gambler with a bookie named Knuckles. We are critically short of the flu vaccine. Health and Human Services says not to expect any vaccine from Canada, despite what President Bush said in the debate. And yet our president thinks he deserves reelection. In fact, he told reporters -- and I'm quoting here -- "I feel great about where we are."Well, Newt Gingrich has a different take. "If you don't have some anxiety," the former speaker said, "you're not in touch with reality." Well, Newt, I couldn't have said it better myself. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) CARLSON: Well, of course, everyone has some anxiety, but that's not the point Bush is making, as you know.I found it actually really interesting. There was a poll released today. I'm not exactly sure what it proves, but it does say something interesting; 69 percent of members of the armed services right now support Bush, as compared to less than 30 for Kerry, and that overall they were far more hopeful about the direction the country is moving than the average person. These are people, as you know, who are risking their lives in Iraq. It's not a defense of the Iraq policy, but it does say...(BELL RINGING) CARLSON: It says something interesting about perspectives. (CROSSTALK) BEGALA: It says that people in military are overwhelmingly Republican. (CROSSTALK) CARLSON: Which is an interesting question. Why? Why is that?BEGALA: Because the military has always attracted a disproportionate number of Republicans. CARLSON: I wonder why, though.(CROSSTALK) BEGALA: Well, first off, because they tend to poll the officer corps a lot more than the enlisted corps. Look at Michael Moore's new book, "Letters From the Front: Will They Ever Trust Us Again?" Those are enlisted people who have a very different view than the elite officer corps do.CARLSON: I'll get right on Michael Moore's new book. (LAUGHTER) CARLSON: Yes, definitely. I'll take it out of my local library.BEGALA: You should.CARLSON: Well, Winona LaDuke, remember that name? Even to students of presidential politics, it might not immediately ring a bell, so here is a refresher. LaDuke is the two-time Green Party candidate for vice president. Four years ago, she ran with Ralph Nader on the party's stridently pro-hemp ticket. A longtime Indian rights activist, LaDuke rarely joined Nader on the campaign trail, owing in part to legal difficulties she had with her common law husband. He was head of the police at the time.On one of the few occasions LaDuke did speak to the national press, she offered at least one policy proposal. If elected, LaDuke promised to remove pictures of white people from the White House and replace them with portraits of famous minorities. Down with George Washington. Up with Grover Washington.This year, LaDuke is working on a wind power project and will not be running for office again. But in statement released this week, she declared that she's no longer supporting Ralph Nader. She's supporting John Kerry. Keep that in mind Election Day. John Kerry, if he's good enough for Winona LaDuke, he's good enough for you. (LAUGHTER) (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) BEGALA: Come on. I mean, that's... (CROSSTALK) CARLSON: Someone has got to keep track of the celebrity endorsements here, OK?(CROSSTALK) BEGALA: That would be like me saying David Duke endorses George W. Bush. (CROSSTALK) CARLSON: You're missing it. You're missing it. You're missing it, Paul.BEGALA: The Duke family is all over the... (CROSSTALK) CARLSON: Day after day, you make the argument, look, Barbra Streisand is voting for John Kerry. You should, too. And I'm just saying, there are other people who are voting for John Kerry. It's not just Barbra Streisand. It's also Winona LaDuke. BEGALA: You know, David Lesar, the CEO of Halliburton, I believe is for George W. Bush. CARLSON: I hope so.BEGALA: So, you can go to Halliburton or you can go with David and Winona LaDuke, whoever they are.CARLSON: Winona LaDuke.BEGALA: I suspect they're not related, actually.(BELL RINGING) CARLSON: Well, he's been called the most trusted name in fake news.Next, we're joined by Jon Stewart for his one-of-a-kind take on politics, the press and America. We'll be right back. (APPLAUSE) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART") STEWART: Meanwhile, the president's challenger was also in New York, also facing some difficult questions. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How to you stay in shape? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you eat something? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a routine? Do you... (CROSSTALK) STEWART: It's like Nerf CROSSFIRE.(END VIDEO CLIP) (APPLAUSE) BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE.As both of our loyal viewers, of course, know, our show is about all left vs. white, black vs. white, paper vs. plastic, Red Sox against the Yankees. That's why every day, we have two guests with their own unique perspective on the news. But today, CROSSFIRE is very difficult. We have just one guest.He's either the funniest smart guy on TV or the smartest funnyman. We'll find out which in a minute. But he's certainly an Emmy Award winner, the host of Comedy Central's "Daily Show" and the co-author of the new mega best-seller "America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction," at your bookstores everywhere. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the CROSSFIRE Jon Stewart.STEWART: Thank you. CARLSON: Thank you for joining us. STEWART: Thank you very much. That was very kind of you to say. Can I say something very quickly? Why do we have to fight? (LAUGHTER) STEWART: The two of you? Can't we just -- say something nice about John Kerry right now. (CROSSTALK) CARLSON: I like John. I care about John Kerry. STEWART: And something about President Bush.BEGALA: He'll be unemployed soon?(LAUGHTER) BEGALA: I failed the test. I'm sorry. CARLSON: See, I made the effort anyway. BEGALA: No, actually, I knew Bush in Texas a little bit. And the truth is, he's actually a great guy. He's not a very good president. But he's actually a very good person. I don't think you should have to hate to oppose somebody, but it makes it easier. (LAUGHTER) STEWART: Why do you argue, the two of you? (LAUGHTER) STEWART: I hate to see it. CARLSON: We enjoy it. STEWART: Let me ask you a question. CARLSON: Well, let me ask you a question first. STEWART: All right. (LAUGHTER) CARLSON: Is John Kerry -- is John Kerry really the best? I mean, John Kerry has... (CROSSTALK) STEWART: Is he the best? I thought Lincoln was good. (LAUGHTER) CARLSON: Is he the best the Democrats can do? STEWART: Is he the best the Democrats can do?CARLSON: Yes, this year of the whole field.STEWART: I had always thought, in a democracy -- and, again, I don't know -- I've only lived in this country -- that there's a process. They call them primaries. CARLSON: Right. STEWART: And they don't always go with the best, but they go with whoever won. So is he the best? According to the process. CARLSON: Right. But of the nine guys running, who do you think was best. Do you think he was the best, the most impressive? STEWART: The most impressive? CARLSON: Yes. STEWART: I thought Al Sharpton was very impressive. (LAUGHTER) STEWART: I enjoyed his way of speaking. I think, oftentimes, the person that knows they can't win is allowed to speak the most freely, because, otherwise, shows with titles, such as CROSSFIRE.BEGALA: CROSSFIRE.STEWART: Or "HARDBALL" or "I'm Going to Kick Your Ass" or...(LAUGHTER) STEWART: Will jump on it. In many ways, it's funny. And I made a special effort to come on the show today, because I have privately, amongst my friends and also in occasional newspapers and television shows, mentioned this show as being bad. (LAUGHTER) BEGALA: We have noticed. STEWART: And I wanted to -- I felt that that wasn't fair and I should come here and tell you that I don't -- it's not so much that it's bad, as it's hurting America. (LAUGHTER) CARLSON: But in its defense...(CROSSTALK) STEWART: So I wanted to come here today and say... (CROSSTALK) STEWART: Here's just what I wanted to tell you guys. CARLSON: Yes. STEWART: Stop. (LAUGHTER) STEWART: Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America. BEGALA: OK. Now (CROSSTALK) STEWART: And come work for us, because we, as the people...CARLSON: How do you pay? STEWART: The people -- not well. (LAUGHTER) BEGALA: Better than CNN, I'm sure. STEWART: But you can sleep at night. (LAUGHTER) STEWART: See, the thing is, we need your help. Right now, you're helping the politicians and the corporations. And we're left out there to mow our lawns. BEGALA: By beating up on them? You just said we're too rough on them when they make mistakes. STEWART: No, no, no, you're not too rough on them. You're part of their strategies. You are partisan, what do you call it, hacks. (LAUGHTER) CARLSON: Wait, Jon, let me tell you something valuable that I think we do that I'd like to see you... (CROSSTALK) STEWART: Something valuable? CARLSON: Yes. (CROSSTALK) STEWART: I would like to hear it. CARLSON: And I'll tell you.When politicians come on...STEWART: Yes. CARLSON: It's nice to get them to try and answer the question. And in order to do that, we try and ask them pointed questions. I want to contrast our questions with some questions you asked John Kerry recently.(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: ... up on the screen.STEWART: If you want to compare your show to a comedy show, you're more than welcome to. (LAUGHTER) CARLSON: No, no, no, here's the point. (CROSSTALK) STEWART: If that's your goal. CARLSON: It's not.STEWART: I wouldn't aim for us. I'd aim for "Seinfeld." That's a very good show.CARLSON: Kerry won't come on this show. He will come on your show. STEWART: Right. CARLSON: Let me suggest why he wants to come on your show.STEWART: Well, we have civilized discourse. (LAUGHTER) CARLSON: Well, here's an example of the civilized discourse.Here are three of the questions you asked John Kerry.STEWART: Yes. CARLSON: You have a chance to interview the Democratic nominee. You asked him questions such as -- quote -- "How are you holding up? Is it hard not to take the attacks personally?"STEWART: Yes. CARLSON: "Have you ever flip-flopped?" et cetera, et cetera.STEWART: Yes. CARLSON: Didn't you feel like -- you got the chance to interview the guy. Why not ask him a real question, instead of just suck up to him? STEWART: Yes. "How are you holding up?" is a real suck-up. And I actually giving him a hot stone massage as we were doing it. (LAUGHTER) CARLSON: It sounded that way. It did.STEWART: You know, it's interesting to hear you talk about my responsibility. CARLSON: I felt the sparks between you.STEWART: I didn't realize that -- and maybe this explains quite a bit.CARLSON: No, the opportunity to... (CROSSTALK) STEWART: ... is that the news organizations look to Comedy Central for their cues on integrity. (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) STEWART: So what I would suggest is, when you talk about you're holding politicians' feet to fire, I think that's disingenuous. I think you're...CARLSON: "How are you holding up?" I mean, come on.(CROSSTALK) STEWART: No, no, no. But my role isn't, I don't think...CARLSON: But you can ask him a real question, don't you think, instead of saying...(CROSSTALK) STEWART: I don't think I have to. By the way, I also asked him, "Were you in Cambodia?" But I didn't really care.(LAUGHTER) STEWART: Because I don't care, because I think it's stupid. CARLSON: I can tell. (CROSSTALK) STEWART: But my point is this. If your idea of confronting me is that I don't ask hard-hitting enough news questions, we're in bad shape, fellows. (LAUGHTER) CARLSON: We're here to love you, not confront you. (CROSSTALK) CARLSON: We're here to be nice.STEWART: No, no, no, but what I'm saying is this. I'm not. I'm here to confront you, because we need help from the media and they're hurting us. And it's -- the idea is...(APPLAUSE) (CROSSTALK) BEGALA: Let me get this straight. If the indictment is -- if the indictment is -- and I have seen you say this -- that...STEWART: Yes. BEGALA: And that CROSSFIRE reduces everything, as I said in the intro, to left, right, black, white.STEWART: Yes. BEGALA: Well, it's because, see, we're a debate show. STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great. BEGALA: It's like saying The Weather Channel reduces everything to a storm front.STEWART: I would love to see a debate show. BEGALA: We're 30 minutes in a 24-hour day where we have each side on, as best we can get them, and have them fight it out. STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great. To do a debate would be great. But that's like saying pro wrestling is a show about athletic competition. (LAUGHTER) CARLSON: Jon, Jon, Jon, I'm sorry. I think you're a good comedian. I think your lectures are boring. STEWART: Yes. CARLSON: Let me ask you a question on the news.STEWART: Now, this is theater. It's obvious. How old are you? (CROSSTALK) CARLSON: Thirty-five. STEWART: And you wear a bow tie. (LAUGHTER) (APPLAUSE) CARLSON: Yes, I do. I do. STEWART: So this is...CARLSON: I know. I know. I know. You're a... (CROSSTALK) STEWART: So this is theater.CARLSON: Now, let me just...(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: Now, come on.STEWART: Now, listen, I'm not suggesting that you're not a smart guy, because those are not easy to tie.CARLSON: They're difficult.(LAUGHTER) STEWART: But the thing is that this -- you're doing theater, when you should be doing debate, which would be great. BEGALA: We do, do... (CROSSTALK) STEWART: It's not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it. CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackery? STEWART: Absolutely.CARLSON: You've got to be kidding me. He comes on and you... (CROSSTALK) STEWART: You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls. (LAUGHTER) STEWART: What is wrong with you?(APPLAUSE) CARLSON: Well, I'm just saying, there's no reason for you -- when you have this marvelous opportunity not to be the guy's butt boy, to go ahead and be his butt boy. Come on. It's embarrassing.STEWART: I was absolutely his butt boy. I was so far -- you would not believe what he ate two weeks ago. (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) STEWART: You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably. CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think. STEWART: You need to go to one. The thing that I want to say is, when you have people on for just knee-jerk, reactionary talk...CARLSON: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny. STEWART: No. No. I'm not going to be your monkey. (LAUGHTER) BEGALA: Go ahead. Go ahead.STEWART: I watch your show every day. And it kills me. CARLSON: I can tell you love it. STEWART: It's so -- oh, it's so painful to watch.(LAUGHTER) STEWART: You know, because we need what you do. This is such a great opportunity you have here to actually get politicians off of their marketing and strategy.CARLSON: Is this really Jon Stewart? What is this, anyway?STEWART: Yes, it's someone who watches your show and cannot take it anymore.(LAUGHTER) STEWART: I just can't. CARLSON: What's it like to have dinner with you? It must be excruciating. Do you like lecture people like this or do you come over to their house and sit and lecture them; they're not doing the right thing, that they're missing their opportunities, evading their responsibilities? STEWART: If I think they are.(LAUGHTER) CARLSON: I wouldn't want to eat with you, man. That's horrible.STEWART: I know. And you won't. But the thing I want to get to...BEGALA: We did promise naked pictures of the Supreme Court justices.CARLSON: Yes, we did. Let's get to those. (CROSSTALK) BEGALA: They're in this book, which is a very funny book.STEWART: Why can't we just talk -- please, I beg of you guys, please.CARLSON: I think you watch too much CROSSFIRE. We're going to take a quick break.STEWART: No, no, no, please.CARLSON: No, no, hold on. We've got commercials. (CROSSTALK) STEWART: Please. Please stop. CARLSON: Next, Jon Stewart in the "Rapid Fire."STEWART: Please stop.CARLSON: Hopefully, he'll be here, we hope, we think. (APPLAUSE) CARLSON: And then, did U.S. soldiers refuse an order in Iraq. Wolf Blitzer has the latest on this investigation right after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Coming up at the top of the hour, the Pentagon investigator a report that U.S. soldiers refused to go on a dangerous mission in Iraq. We'll have details. In medical news, the FDA prescribes a strongly worded label on antidepressant drugs. And why some experts think the flu vaccine shortage is a grim warning about U.S. vulnerability to bioterrorism. All those stories, much more, only minutes away on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS." Now back to CROSSFIRE. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) CARLSON: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We're talking to Jon Stewart, who was just lecturing us on our moral inferiority. Jon, you're bumming us out. Tell us, what do you think about the Bill O'Reilly vibrator story?STEWART: I'm sorry. I don't. CARLSON: Oh, OK.STEWART: What do you think?BEGALA: Let me change the subject.STEWART: Where's your moral outrage on this?CARLSON: I don't have any.STEWART: I know.BEGALA: Which candidate do you suppose would provide you better material?STEWART: I'm sorry?BEGALA: Which candidate do you suppose would provide you better material if he won? STEWART: Mr. T. I think he'd be the funniest. I don't...(LAUGHTER) BEGALA: Don't you have a stake in it that way, as not just a citizen, but as a professional comic? (CROSSTALK) STEWART: Right, which I hold to be much more important than as a citizen.BEGALA: Well, there you go.(LAUGHTER) BEGALA: But who would you provide you better material, do you suppose?STEWART: I don't really know. That's kind of not how we look at it. We look at, the absurdity of the system provides us the most material. And that is best served by sort of the theater of it all, you know, which, by the way, thank you both, because it's been helpful. (LAUGHTER) CARLSON: But, if Kerry gets elected, is it going to -- you have said you're voting for him. You obviously support him. It's clear. Will it be harder for you to mock his administration if he becomes president? STEWART: No. Why would it be harder? CARLSON: Because you support... (CROSSTALK) STEWART: The only way it would be harder is if his administration is less absurd than this one. So, in that case, if it's less absurd, then, yes, I think it would be harder. But, I mean, it would be hard to top this group, quite frankly. (LAUGHTER) (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) STEWART: In terms of absurdity and their world matching up to the one that -- you know, it was interesting. President Bush was saying, John Kerry's rhetoric doesn't match his record. But I've heard President Bush describe his record. His record doesn't match his record. (LAUGHTER) STEWART: So I don't worry about it in that respect. But let me ask you guys, again, a question, because we talked a little bit about, you're actually doing honest debate and all that. But, after the debates, where do you guys head to right afterwards? CARLSON: The men's room. STEWART: Right after that? BEGALA: Home. STEWART: Spin alley. BEGALA: Home.STEWART: No, spin alley.BEGALA: What are you talking about? You mean at these debates?STEWART: Yes. You go to spin alley, the place called spin alley. Now, don't you think that, for people watching at home, that's kind of a drag, that you're literally walking to a place called deception lane?(LAUGHTER) STEWART: Like, it's spin alley. It's -- don't you see, that's the issue I'm trying to talk to you guys...BEGALA: No, I actually believe -- I have a lot of friends who work for President Bush. I went to college with some of them.CARLSON: Neither of us was ever in the spin room, actually.(BELL RINGING) BEGALA: No, I did -- I went to do the Larry King show. They actually believe what they're saying. They want to persuade you. That's what they're trying to do by spinning. But I don't doubt for a minute these people who work for President Bush, who I disagree with on everything, they believe that stuff, Jon. This is not a lie or a deception at all. They believe in him, just like I believe in my guy. (CROSSTALK) STEWART: I think they believe President Bush would do a better job. And I believe the Kerry guys believe President Kerry would do a better job. But what I believe is, they're not making honest arguments. So what they're doing is, in their mind, the ends justify the means. (CROSSTALK) BEGALA: I don't think so at all.(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: I do think you're more fun on your show. Just my opinion.(CROSSTALK) CARLSON: OK, up next, Jon Stewart goes one on one with his fans... (CROSSTALK) STEWART: You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show. (LAUGHTER) CARLSON: Now, you're getting into it. I like that. STEWART: Yes. CARLSON: OK. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) BEGALA: Welcome back to CROSSFIRE. We are joined by Comedy Central's Jon Stewart, host of "The Daily Show" and author of No. 1 bestseller, "America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction."CARLSON: And a ton of fun, I like that too.BEGALA: Some questions from our audience. Yes sir, what's your name, what's your name?QUESTION: Hi, my name's David. I'm from Boston.STEWART: Hi, David. QUESTION: My question is, what do you think the hump on G.W.'s back during the debate was?STEWART: Say it again?QUESTION: What do you think the hump on George's back during the debate was?STEWART: The hump on his back?BEGALA: Oh, you're familiar? This is (INAUDIBLE) conspiracy theory. Can I take this one?STEWART: Yes, please. BEGALA: It was nothing, his suit was puckering. A lot of people believe he had one of these in his ear. If he was being fed lines by Karl Rove, he would not have been so inarticulate, guys. It's a myth.(LAUGHTER)BEGALA: It's not true. There's this huge myth out on the left.(CROSSTALK)BEGALA: Yes, ma'am.QUESTION: Renee (ph) from Texas. Why do you think it's hard or difficult or impossible for politicians to answer a straight, simple question?STEWART: I don't think it's hard. I just think that nobody holds their feet to the fire to do it. So they don't have to. They get to come on shows that don't...BEGALA: They're too easy on them.CARLSON: Yes. Ask them how you hold...STEWART: Not easy on them...(CROSSTALK)BEGALA: ... saying we were too hard on people and too (INAUDIBLE).(CROSSTALK)STEWART: I think you're - yes.CARLSON: All right. Jon Stewart, come back soon. BEGALA: Jon Stewart, good of you to join us. Thank you very much. The book is "America: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction."From the left I am Paul Begala, that's it for CROSSFIRE.CARLSON: And from the right I'm Tucker Carlson, have a great weekend. See you Monday.TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT
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The making of the terror myth

The making of the terror myth
Since September 11 Britain has been warned of the 'inevitability' of catastrophic terrorist attack. But has the danger been exaggerated? A major new TV documentary claims that the perceived threat is a politically driven fantasy - and al-Qaida a dark illusion. Andy Beckett reportsAndy BeckettFriday October 15, 2004
The GuardianSince the attacks on the United States in September 2001, there have been more than a thousand references in British national newspapers, working out at almost one every single day, to the phrase "dirty bomb". There have been articles about how such a device can use ordinary explosives to spread lethal radiation; about how London would be evacuated in the event of such a detonation; about the Home Secretary David Blunkett's statement on terrorism in November 2002 that specifically raised the possibility of a dirty bomb being planted in Britain; and about the arrests of several groups of people, the latest only last month, for allegedly plotting exactly that.
Starting next Wednesday, BBC2 is to broadcast a three-part documentary series that will add further to what could be called the dirty bomb genre. But, as its title suggests, The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear takes a different view of the weapon's potential.
"I don't think it would kill anybody," says Dr Theodore Rockwell, an authority on radiation, in an interview for the series. "You'll have trouble finding a serious report that would claim otherwise." The American department of energy, Rockwell continues, has simulated a dirty bomb explosion, "and they calculated that the most exposed individual would get a fairly high dose [of radiation], not life-threatening." And even this minor threat is open to question. The test assumed that no one fled the explosion for one year.
During the three years in which the "war on terror" has been waged, high-profile challenges to its assumptions have been rare. The sheer number of incidents and warnings connected or attributed to the war has left little room, it seems, for heretical thoughts. In this context, the central theme of The Power of Nightmares is riskily counter-intuitive and provocative. Much of the currently perceived threat from international terrorism, the series argues, "is a fantasy that has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It is a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services, and the international media." The series' explanation for this is even bolder: "In an age when all the grand ideas have lost credibility, fear of a phantom enemy is all the politicians have left to maintain their power."
Adam Curtis, who wrote and produced the series, acknowledges the difficulty of saying such things now. "If a bomb goes off, the fear I have is that everyone will say, 'You're completely wrong,' even if the incident doesn't touch my argument. This shows the way we have all become trapped, the way even I have become trapped by a fear that is completely irrational."
So controversial is the tone of his series, that trailers for it were not broadcast last weekend because of the killing of Kenneth Bigley. At the BBC, Curtis freely admits, there are "anxieties". But there is also enthusiasm for the programmes, in part thanks to his reputation. Over the past dozen years, via similarly ambitious documentary series such as Pandora's Box, The Mayfair Set and The Century of the Self, Curtis has established himself as perhaps the most acclaimed maker of serious television programmes in Britain. His trademarks are long research, the revelatory use of archive footage, telling interviews, and smooth, insistent voiceovers concerned with the unnoticed deeper currents of recent history, narrated by Curtis himself in tones that combine traditional BBC authority with something more modern and sceptical: "I want to try to make people look at things they think they know about in a new way."
The Power of Nightmares seeks to overturn much of what is widely believed about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. The latter, it argues, is not an organised international network. It does not have members or a leader. It does not have "sleeper cells". It does not have an overall strategy. In fact, it barely exists at all, except as an idea about cleansing a corrupt world through religious violence.
Curtis' evidence for these assertions is not easily dismissed. He tells the story of Islamism, or the desire to establish Islam as an unbreakable political framework, as half a century of mostly failed, short-lived revolutions and spectacular but politically ineffective terrorism. Curtis points out that al-Qaida did not even have a name until early 2001, when the American government decided to prosecute Bin Laden in his absence and had to use anti-Mafia laws that required the existence of a named criminal organisation.
Curtis also cites the Home Office's own statistics for arrests and convictions of suspected terrorists since September 11 2001. Of the 664 people detained up to the end of last month, only 17 have been found guilty. Of these, the majority were Irish Republicans, Sikh militants or members of other groups with no connection to Islamist terrorism. Nobody has been convicted who is a proven member of al-Qaida.
In fact, Curtis is not alone in wondering about all this. Quietly but increasingly, other observers of the war on terror have been having similar doubts. "The grand concept of the war has not succeeded," says Jonathan Eyal, director of the British military thinktank the Royal United Services Institute. "In purely military terms, it has been an inconclusive war ... a rather haphazard operation. Al-Qaida managed the most spectacular attack, but clearly it is also being sustained by the way that we rather cavalierly stick the name al-Qaida on Iraq, Indonesia, the Philippines. There is a long tradition that if you divert all your resources to a threat, then you exaggerate it."
Bill Durodie, director of the international centre for security analysis at King's College London, says: "The reality [of the al-Qaida threat to the west] has been essentially a one-off. There has been one incident in the developed world since 9/11 [the Madrid bombings]. There's no real evidence that all these groups are connected." Crispin Black, a senior government intelligence analyst until 2002, is more cautious but admits the terrorist threat presented by politicians and the media is "out of date and too one-dimensional. We think there is a bit of a gulf between the terrorists' ambition and their ability to pull it off."
Terrorism, by definition, depends on an element of bluff. Yet ever since terrorists in the modern sense of the term (the word terrorism was actually coined to describe the strategy of a government, the authoritarian French revolutionary regime of the 1790s) began to assassinate politicians and then members of the public during the 19th century, states have habitually overreacted. Adam Roberts, professor of international relations at Oxford, says that governments often believe struggles with terrorists "to be of absolute cosmic significance", and that therefore "anything goes" when it comes to winning. The historian Linda Colley adds: "States and their rulers expect to monopolise violence, and that is why they react so virulently to terrorism."
Britain may also be particularly sensitive to foreign infiltrators, fifth columnists and related menaces. In spite, or perhaps because of, the absence of an actual invasion for many centuries, British history is marked by frequent panics about the arrival of Spanish raiding parties, French revolutionary agitators, anarchists, bolsheviks and Irish terrorists. "These kind of panics rarely happen without some sort of cause," says Colley. "But politicians make the most of them."
They are not the only ones who find opportunities. "Almost no one questions this myth about al-Qaida because so many people have got an interest in keeping it alive," says Curtis. He cites the suspiciously circular relationship between the security services and much of the media since September 2001: the way in which official briefings about terrorism, often unverified or unverifiable by journalists, have become dramatic press stories which - in a jittery media-driven democracy - have prompted further briefings and further stories. Few of these ominous announcements are retracted if they turn out to be baseless: "There is no fact-checking about al-Qaida."
In one sense, of course, Curtis himself is part of the al-Qaida industry. The Power of Nightmares began as an investigation of something else, the rise of modern American conservatism. Curtis was interested in Leo Strauss, a political philosopher at the university of Chicago in the 50s who rejected the liberalism of postwar America as amoral and who thought that the country could be rescued by a revived belief in America's unique role to battle evil in the world. Strauss's certainty and his emphasis on the use of grand myths as a higher form of political propaganda created a group of influential disciples such as Paul Wolfowitz, now the US deputy defence secretary. They came to prominence by talking up the Russian threat during the cold war and have applied a similar strategy in the war on terror.
As Curtis traced the rise of the "Straussians", he came to a conclusion that would form the basis for The Power of Nightmares. Straussian conservatism had a previously unsuspected amount in common with Islamism: from origins in the 50s, to a formative belief that liberalism was the enemy, to an actual period of Islamist-Straussian collaboration against the Soviet Union during the war in Afghanistan in the 80s (both movements have proved adept at finding new foes to keep them going). Although the Islamists and the Straussians have fallen out since then, as the attacks on America in 2001 graphically demonstrated, they are in another way, Curtis concludes, collaborating still: in sustaining the "fantasy" of the war on terror.
Some may find all this difficult to swallow. But Curtis insists,"There is no way that I'm trying to be controversial just for the sake of it." Neither is he trying to be an anti-conservative polemicist like Michael Moore: "[Moore's] purpose is avowedly political. My hope is that you won't be able to tell what my politics are." For all the dizzying ideas and visual jolts and black jokes in his programmes, Curtis describes his intentions in sober, civic-minded terms. "If you go back into history and plod through it, the myth falls away. You see that these aren't terrifying new monsters. It's drawing the poison of the fear."
But whatever the reception of the series, this fear could be around for a while. It took the British government decades to dismantle the draconian laws it passed against French revolutionary infiltrators; the cold war was sustained for almost half a century without Russia invading the west, or even conclusive evidence that it ever intended to. "The archives have been opened," says the cold war historian David Caute, "but they don't bring evidence to bear on this." And the danger from Islamist terrorists, whatever its scale, is concrete. A sceptical observer of the war on terror in the British security services says: "All they need is a big bomb every 18 months to keep this going."
The war on terror already has a hold on western political culture. "After a 300-year debate between freedom of the individual and protection of society, the protection of society seems to be the only priority," says Eyal. Black agrees: "We are probably moving to a point in the UK where national security becomes the electoral question."
Some critics of this situation see our striking susceptibility during the 90s to other anxieties - the millennium bug, MMR, genetically modified food - as a sort of dress rehearsal for the war on terror. The press became accustomed to publishing scare stories and not retracting them; politicians became accustomed to responding to supposed threats rather than questioning them; the public became accustomed to the idea that some sort of apocalypse might be just around the corner. "Insecurity is the key driving concept of our times," says Durodie. "Politicians have packaged themselves as risk managers. There is also a demand from below for protection." The real reason for this insecurity, he argues, is the decay of the 20th century's political belief systems and social structures: people have been left "disconnected" and "fearful".
Yet the notion that "security politics" is the perfect instrument for every ambitious politician from Blunkett to Wolfowitz also has its weaknesses. The fears of the public, in Britain at least, are actually quite erratic: when the opinion pollsters Mori asked people what they felt was the most important political issue, the figure for "defence and foreign affairs" leapt from 2% to 60% after the attacks of September 2001, yet by January 2002 had fallen back almost to its earlier level. And then there are the twin risks that the terrors politicians warn of will either not materialise or will materialise all too brutally, and in both cases the politicians will be blamed. "This is a very rickety platform from which to build up a political career," says Eyal. He sees the war on terror as a hurried improvisation rather than some grand Straussian strategy: "In democracies, in order to galvanize the public for war, you have to make the enemy bigger, uglier and more menacing."
Afterwards, I look at a website for a well-connected American foreign policy lobbying group called the Committee on the Present Danger. The committee features in The Power of Nightmares as a vehicle for alarmist Straussian propaganda during the cold war. After the Soviet collapse, as the website puts it, "The mission of the committee was considered complete." But then the website goes on: "Today radical Islamists threaten the safety of the American people. Like the cold war, securing our freedom is a long-term struggle. The road to victory begins ... "
· The Power of Nightmares starts on BBC2 at 9pm on Wednesday October 20.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

UnAnswered Questions for Stanley Sporkin

Stanley Sporkin

UnAnswered Questions for Stanley Sporkin
#1 Why is $59 billion missing from your Agency, namely HUD, and who has it? (Mel Martinez senate campaign issues)
Stanley Sporkin has been retained by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) to assist in its duties overseeing Fannie Mae -- one of the largest issuers of mortgage backed securities and related derivatives in the world.
Why should we care? All Americans are impacted by the health and well being of Fannie Mae's operation - as homeowner, as investor and as taxpayers.
The entire US mortgage market is currently dependent on several private corporations that enjoy special governmental credit support (called Government Sponsored Enterprises or GSEs). Because of their size, the value of our homes may decrease if a GSE becomes troubled.
Many pension funds, mutual funds and money market funds include Fannie Mae securities. Hence, the retirement savings of many Americans and global citizens, as well as the resources of global financial institutions, are now vested in Fannie Mae's well being.
If government resources are called upon to forestall or support Fannie Mae in a bankruptcy or reorganization, our tax dollars and taxpayer-backed government credit could be diverted to fund Fannie Mae's liabilities and to subsidize the US mortgage markets.
If one GSE is troubled, it could impact the viability and health of the others, including Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Bank System, as well as Ginnie Mae, a governmental corporation at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The following questions, organized around Judge Sporkin's historical areas of responsibility, are intended to illuminate the background and experience that Judge Sporkin brings to the task of assisting the Bush Administration in the oversight and regulation of Fannie Mae.
This information should be useful to investors in US mortgage securities who are assessing credit ratings and pricings of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHFB, Ginnie Mae and other related mortgage and homebuilding stocks, bonds and derivatives or the investment, mutual funds, pension funds and money market funds that hold them.
These questions have been sent to Judge Sporkin. We will post any response we receive.
Regulating Fannie Mae
Question #1: Are you under investigation by the Department of Justice? Question #2: What are your potential conflicts of interest? Question #3: Does the math of the mortgage bubble work? Question #4: Why are Fannie Mae and HUD still using the same auditor? Question #5: Is partisan politics involved in the regulation of Fannie Mae? Question #6: Is Fannie Mae vulnerable to class action lawsuits?
As US Federal District Judge - District of Columbia
Question #1: Why did you lead the persecution of Hamilton Securities? Question #2: What role have you played in black budget market manipulation and $59 billion missing from HUD? Question #3: Why did you resign from the bench?
As General Counsel for the CIA
Question #1: Did you draft the DOJ-CIA Iran-Contra Memorandum of Understanding? Question #2: Why did you suppress Community Wizard? Question #3: What was your role with the Mena, Arkansas Iran Contra operation and local HUD agency? Question #4: Is "Slimey Affirm" a code name you used in an off shore account? Question #5: Do you shut down honest businesses to protect government crime and narcotics trafficking?
As Director of the SEC Enforcement Division
Question #1: Are US enforcement efforts designed to prevent or promote money laundering? Question #2: Is National Security Law used to fraudulently over-issue mortgage securities to fund the "black budget"?
Additional Background Information
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Entire platoon defies orders in Iraq - reportedly ordered to go on "suicide mission"

Friday, October 15, 2004 Entire platoon defies orders in Iraq - reportedly ordered to go on "suicide mission" by John in DC - 10/15/2004 01:17:34 PM Wow. An entire platoon refused to go on what it calls a "suicide mission" in Iraq. The problem? They say they were ordered to conduct the mission without the necessary equipment they needed to do the mission safely. George Bush, sending our kids off to be killed without the supplies they need to stay safe. Sadly, this story rings true (body armor on eBay, anyone?) Lovely.
McClenny told her mother her unit tried to deliver fuel to another base in Iraq Wednesday, but was sent back because the fuel had been contaminated with water. The platoon returned to its base, where it was told to take the fuel to another base, McClenny told her mother.The platoon is normally escorted by armed Humvees and helicopters, but did not have that support Wednesday, McClenny told her mother.The convoy trucks the platoon was driving had experienced problems in the past and were not being properly maintained, Hill said her daughter told her.The situation mirrors other tales of troops being sent on missions without proper equipment.Aviation regiments have complained of being forced to fly dangerous missions over Iraq with outdated night-vision goggles and old missile-avoidance systems. Stories of troops' families purchasing body armor because the military didn't provide them with adequate equipment have been included in recent presidential debates.Patricia McCook said her husband, a staff sergeant, understands well the severity of disobeying orders. But he did not feel comfortable taking his soldiers on another trip."He told me that three of the vehicles they were to use were deadlines ... not safe to go in a hotbed like that," Patricia McCook said.Hill said the trucks her daughter's unit was driving could not top 40 mph."They knew there was a 99 percent chance they were going to get ambushed or fired at," Hill said her daughter told her. "They would have had no way to fight back."Kathy Harris of Vicksburg is the mother of Aaron Gordon, 20, who is among those being detained. Her primary concern is that she has been told the soldiers have not been provided access to a judge advocate general.Stevens said if the soldiers are being confined, law requires them to have a hearing before a magistrate within seven days.