The Republican Ministry of Truth

The dishonest attack ads and propaganda from Fox News are only two aspects of the Republican’s propaganda machine. Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams gave away the truth about how his party works when he described the Republican war room to The Denver Post: “Just consider this the Ministry of Truth,” quipped Dick Wadhams, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.

The Ministry of Truth was a the propaganda arm of the totalitarian government in George Orwell’s classic, 1984:

“The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy; they are deliberate exercises in doublethink.”

Steve Benen points out an analogous case when a conservative was unintentionally honest about their ideology. He cites a previous post from Andrew Sullivan which describes how Sean Hannity borrowed the Stalinist term Enemy of the State to attack those he disagrees with.

It is obviously an exaggeration to compare Republicans to the totalitarians of 1984 and the USSR under Stalin but the manner in which they use similar propaganda tools to deceive the voters and attack those who disagree with them is a valid concern as well as a threat to the democratic process.

Jon Stewart Criticizes Cable News

Jon Stewart has taken on the bias of cable news, which he described as a “brutish, slow-witted beast”  and criticized Fox News as “an appendage of the Republican Party.”

Wearing a gray T-shirt, khaki pants and a healthy stubble, the “Daily Show” host told reporters at a University of Denver breakfast that Fox’s “fair and balanced” slogan is an insult “to people with brains” and that only “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace “saves that network from slapping on a bumper sticker. . . . Barack Obama could cure cancer and they’d figure out a way to frame it as an economic disaster.”

“I’m stunned to see Karl Rove on a news network as an analyst,” he said of the Bush White House aide turned Fox commentator. Stewart, who voted for John Kerry in 2004, said he didn’t see CNN’s James Carville, the former Bill Clinton aide, in the same category because “I don’t think he’s being passed off as a sage.”

Obama Responds To Swift Boat Attack While McCain Violates Previous Vow To Condemn Such Attacks

Here in Michigan, as well as in other battle ground states, an ad is being shown frequently from a right wing independent group, the American Issues Project, which attempts to Swift Boat Barack Obama by distorting the facts about his association with Bill Ayers. One of the local television stations carrying the ad also reported on the controversy surrounding it and clarifies some of the distorted claims made in the ad:

Ayers hosted a fundraiser for Obama early in his political career and made a donation, but that didn’t necessarily launch his career.

The ad doesn’t mention that Obama criticized the U.S. Capitol bombing as “detestable” earlier this year, and that Obama’s interaction with Ayers came during his tenure as a college professor, not as part of the Weather Underground.

The two served on an anti-poverty board Obama said also included Republicans

Remarkably, while many local television stations are running the ad, Fox News declined the ad. Any ad attacking Democrats which is dishonest enough to be rejected by Fox must really be bad.

The Obama campaign has prepared a response ad which so far has only aired in Ohio. The ad can be viewed here. The transcript reads:

With all our problems, why is John McCain talking about the sixties, trying to link Barack Obama to radical Bill Ayers?

McCain knows Obama denounced Ayers’ crimes, committed when Obama was just eight years old.

Let’s talk about standing up for America today.

John McCain wants to spend $10 Billion a month in Iraq, tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas, selling out American workers.

John McCain, just more of the same.

Obama decided against accepting matching funds in order to be able to have the funds to prepare such response ads in contrast to John Kerry who faced the attacks from the Swift Boat Liars during a time when there were limited funds available for response due to restrictions placed upon him by accepting matching funds. When Obama first gave this reason some criticized him by arguing that there were not any active independent groups as were present in 2004. This attack demonstrates why Obama needed to make the decision he did.

The leadership of the American Issues Project includes a former paid consultant of John McCain.  While the ad did not come directly from the McCain campaign,  Greg Sargent notes that McCain has issued a statement supporting the arguments made. In a follow up post Sargent notes how McCain promised not to tolerate such tactics when interviewed by Chris Matthews during MSNBC’s s “College Tour” in mid-April:

McCain was asked by Matthews whether he would “sit down with the Democratic nominee” and “agree there will be no outside attacks.” Matthews further asked McCain directly whether he would “agree up front” to “condemn any attack like a swift boating” as the nominee.

“Would you do that?” Matthews asked.

“I would love to do that,” McCain replied, to loud applause.

It gets better. McCain went on to suggest that calling on such groups to stop the attacks basically works.

McCain recalled that during the GOP primary he’d taken an outside group to task and demanded a halt in their activities.

“They stopped,” McCain said. “They stopped.”

“So it works?” Matthews asked.

“I think so,” McCain replied. “I think so.”

Matthews pressed further, asking directly whether there will be “no shots at the other person’s character” about “elitism” or similar topics.

“Yes,” McCain replied.

In that case we shouldn’t be surprised that McCain failed to keep his word regarding condemning Swift Boating considered that he has already been engaged in shots at Obama’s character such as with the celebrity ads.

It Is Still All About The Clintons

Bill Clinton, with his atrocious conduct both during his wife’s campaign (which was also notable for rather atorcious behavior by the candidate) and after (when at least his wife has shown the realization that she has zero future in the party if she doesn’t at least make a show of party unity), appears determined to destroy his legacy. He is not being helped any by Clintonistas who are writing their views today. I already commented on Mark Penn’s article at The Politico. Far worse is an article by Howard Wolfson at The New Republic.

Wolfson’s article is on improving relations with the Clintons, and winds up talking more about Bill than Hillary. A more sensible topic would have been about what Obama should do in order to obtain the support of Clinton voters who are considering voting for McCain over Obama. The opinions of those voters do matter. Bill Clinton’s hurt feelings do not. Obama won, no matter how much some Clinton supporters continue to deny this, and his top priority is to suppoort his own agenda to win the general election, not to use the convention to attempt to restore Bill’s hurt feelings.

Some other reactions:

Ta-Nehisi Coates: “…the idea that people should cater to the amazing smallness of this dude strains good sense. His anger is clearly more important to him than the fate of his country. This is what must have driven Andrew and Hitch insane. Bill Clinton carries this sense of having been perpetually wronged–the game is only fair when he wins. I think what must burn him up the most is (assuming that it’s true that the Obama people pushed the race-baiting angle) that Obama actually Sista Souljahed Clinton, that he took a few minor mis-statements used them to paint Bill as, well, exactly what he was.”

M.J. Rosenberg: “…the Clintons merely lost a nomination fight. Big deal. There are winners and there are losers and until now no nominee has had to suck up to the other side. As we say on Passover, ‘why is this nominee different than any other nominee?'”

David Sirota: As disgusting and disingenuous as this is, it is pretty predictable. The Clintons are doing everything they can to make this convention all about them – and to absolve themselves from the substantive criticism of both Clintonism and Bill Clinton’s behavior on the campaign…No, Bill Clinton was not “painted as a racist” – he was a racist during the campaign…That Clinton’s top surrogates are now saying Obama’s major task is to appease Bill Clinton – rather than, say, win the election – shows just how egomaniacal the Clintons really are.”

Clintonism Does Not Live

One of the best things about the match up this year is that (assuming John McCain doesn’t totally shock the world by picking Jeb Bush as his running mate) there will not be a Bush or Clinton on the ballot for the first time since 1976. We came very close to this not happening with Hillary Clinton looking like a strong front runner for the nomination before the race began. Hillary Clinton appeared to start out with all the advantages, but it turned out her campaign was not as unbeatable as many first believed. One of many reasons for this was relying upon the advice of Mark Penn.

Penn shows once again that he is out of touch in an article at The Politico entitled Clintonism Lives. Penn claims that Clintonism “remains the most cohesive and successful Democratic governing philosophy the country has had since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s election 1932 and the advent of the New Deal.” One problem with Clintonism is that it it hardly qualifies as a cohesive governing philosophy. Clintonism under Bill Clinton was more a tactical strategy than a governing philosophy based upon compromising principle whenever necessary for political advantage. One example of this could be seen in 2004 when Bill Clinton advised John Kerry to support anti-gay marriage amendments in the states where they were on the ballot because he might have picked up more votes. Most Democrats would agree with Kerry in rejecting this advice.

Under Hillary Clinton, Clintonism became even more a philosophy of big-government Nanny Statism accompanied by disturbing ties to the religious right and a propensity to use neoconservative scare tactics about terrorism for political gain. Hillary Clinton managed to merge the worst characteristics of present Republicans and past Democrats. As a consequence, despite going into the race with every advantage, Clinton was upset by a newcomer to national politics who capitalized on a desire for change from the recent leadership of both parties.

Penn does give some examples where Bill Clinton’s views do survive. Bill certainly was right in some areas, and his ideas were far preferable to those of George Bush. By framing Clintonism as the opposite of the views of George Bush, Penn was bound to make Clinton look good by comparison. This does not mean that the country wanted a return to the full Clinton package. Besides, a politician who based his policies largely upon the polls was bound to have some popular ideas. Being right at times, however, is far different from having a comprehensive governing philosophy. Maybe the belief that the country saw Clintonism as a desirable goal is one of the reasons Hillary Clinton’s campaign was overly optimistic about their chances for success and failed to recognize how formidable an opponent such as Obama could be.

George Orwell, Blogger

There have been a number of changes in the blog roll lately. Many are due to bloggers moving from one blog to another. There is one especially notable new blogger added–George Orwell. His diary is being posted in blog form with each entry appearing on line exactly seventy years after first written. New hyperlinks are being added to many of the entries.

SciFi Friday Rebooted Characters: Doctor Who, The Prisoner, Superman, and Disney Princesses

We have a long way to go until there are more new episodes of Doctor Who beyond an occasional special, but fans are hoping for more. In the past there have been some Doctor Who movies and, although none were particularly memorable, fans have been hoping for another movie since the series returned. Steven Moffat responded to questions on a possible movie by saying, “A movie is one 90 minutes a year. So yes, so long as it never gets in the way of the show. If it gets in the way of the show, that’s appalling. It’s been in the cinema, with Peter Cushing. It would be good to see it in the cinema so long as it’s great and fantastic.”

Moffat has also responded to questions about an older character playing The Doctor after David Tennant leaves but he suggested that the rigors of the role would be too great for an older actor. An older Doctor might also not appeal as much to the younger audiences the show is technically aimed at.

There have been rumors that one of the specials next year might include the return of Donna Noble. Digital Spy reports that Catherine Tate is eager to reprise the role. While the ending of Journey’s End would present complications, Tate notes that “in science fiction, anything is possible.”

Journey’s End also ended with a second version of The Doctor with Rose on an alternative Earth. While the series will continue to show what happens to the original Doctor, we are left to wonder what will happen between Rose and the other Doctor. Via I09 it turns out that the other Doctor has been posting a journal of his new life.

AMC appears well on its way to bringing back another classic British SciFi show, The Prisoner in a six hour miniseries. The remake will reprise many of the issues of the original series while also being influenced by the post-9/11 climate. AMC has a blog which chronicles the development of the miniseries.

Besides seeing reboots of Doctor Who, The Prisoner, and Star Trek, such reboots have become very common with comic characters, including with movie versions. With the success of rebooting Batman in the last two movies, Warner is planning to attempt the same with Superman according to this report in The Wall Street Journal:

Like the recent Batman sequel — which has become the highest-grossing film of the year thus far — Mr. Robinov wants his next pack of superhero movies to be bathed in the same brooding tone as “The Dark Knight.” Creatively, he sees exploring the evil side to characters as the key to unlocking some of Warner Bros.’ DC properties. “We’re going to try to go dark to the extent that the characters allow it,” he says. That goes for the company’s Superman franchise as well.

The studio is set to announce its plans for future DC movies in the next month. For now, though, it is focused on releasing four comic-book films in the next three years, including a third Batman film, a new film reintroducing Superman, and two movies focusing on other DC Comics characters. Movies featuring Green Lantern, Flash, Green Arrow, and Wonder Woman are all in active development.

Another project is being complicated by legal issues:

One of the studio’s other big releases planned for 2009, “Watchmen,” is the subject of a high-profile copyright lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox.

Based on the premise that superheroes are real people grappling with their own problems, “Watchmen” is an apocalyptic vision of their world. Fox says it is seeking an injunction to enforce its copyright interest in the film. Last week, a federal judge ruled that it may have rights to the property. News Corp. is the parent of Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co.

I doubt Disney will really go for rebooting their princesses in the manner presented at IO9:

Forget Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, I want to go for a spin in the Sin City Disney world. Artist Curt Rapala substituted Frank Miller’s Sin City vixens with our favorite Disney princesses. You’ve got Belle and Becky, Ariel as Nancy, Snow White as leader of the Old Town hookers Gail.

The pictures above are just two of several examples of Disney princesses as Sin City characters. There have been rumors of a fifth theme park for Walt Disney World for years. Maybe such a Sin City wouldn’t be a bad idea as a contrast to the Magic Kingdom.

McCains’ Rapidly Changing Message On Those Critical of Obama

John McCain came out with two negative ads after Obama chose Joe Biden as his running mate, but the Republicans don’t seem to realize that they are making contradictory points. The first ad brought up the inevitable clip of Biden criticizing Obama during the primary campaign. I’m sure that soon we will be seeing plenty of clips of Mitt Romney attacking John McCain, especially if Romney becomes his running mate.

The second ad goes to a richer source of attacks on Obama by quoting Hillary Clinton. The message in this ad is a claim that Obama did not put Clinton on the ticket because he could not tolerate someone who had previously criticized him. This is immediately disproven by the first ad which shows that Obama’s pick was also someone who had criticized him. Obviously Obama is beyond such pettiness.

When Steve Benen moved from The Carpetbagger Report to The Political Animal on Friday I hope he remembered to pack his definitive list of McCain Flip Flops. McCain sure flip-flopped in one day on his message of whether Obama would choose a running mate who had criticized him.

This ad is also directed towards attempting to get Clinton supporters to vote for McCain. I imagine a few Clinton die hards will vote for the guy who promises to try to bring back shirt hanger abortions, but in the end I doubt the majority will. Obama is in a great position if he has a slight lead in the polls despite lacking the backing of a chunk of pro-choice Democrats. There’s a lot of room for upward movement there, which won’t be changed by an ad from John McCain.

Update: Hillary Clinton’s response (via Marc Ambinder):

“Hillary Clinton’s support of Barack Obama is clear. She has said repeatedly that Barack Obama and she share a commitment to changing the direction of the country, getting us out of Iraq, and expanding access to health care. John McCain doesn’t. It’s interesting how those remarks didn’t make it into his ad.”

Mark Halperin Continues To Spread Republican Talking Points

When Mark Halperin was political director of ABC News he would put out The Note every day which all too often wound up repeating Republican talking points. Today Halperin was back at ABC as a member of the panel on This Week and he still was repeating Republican talking points. Halperin declared that the flap over John McCain not knowing how many houses he owns would turn out to be a key moment in the campaign–and that it would help McCain.

Halperin’s logic is that by Obama hitting McCain on the house issue it opened the door for McCain to suddenly go negative himself and hit Obama with Rezko. There are some problems with Halparin’s logic. Even the average voter realizes that it was McCain who first went negative in this campaign, as a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll demonstrated. It was inevitable that the Republicans would bring up Rezko, but hopefully the harm will be limited as their accusations against Obama related to Rezko are untrue, as recently demonstrated by

Update: Think Progress and Talking Points Memo are also commenting on Halperin’s statements.

It Looks Like Obama-Biden

The speculation that it is Biden has been accelerating tonight, initially reports of who got the calls they would not be it, followed by reports that the Secret Service was dispatched to Biden’s home. Now CNN, The New York Times, and AP are saying the choice of Biden has been confirmed. Marc Ambinder is also going with this.

One of two things is certain. Either Joe Biden will be the vice presidential candidate, or the big story will be about the news services which jumped the gun, similar to the first reports in 2004 that Dick Gephardt was John Kerry’s running mate. Reportedly we will know for sure around 9 a.m. when the text messages are sent out, but it sure looks like Biden.

With Obama not choosing Clinton, I guess this means that John McCain will have to pick Jeb Bush. It is unimaginable that we could have a presidential election without a Clinton or Bush somewhere on the ticket. The downside for McCain, should he pick a former governor such as Bush or Romney, is that there won’t be anyone on the Republican ticket with any knowledge of foreign affairs.