Sunday, June 25, 2006

Pot shot

It was inevitable that the New York Times would run a feature on Robert Kennedy Jr. shorty after Kennedy created a stir with his Rolling Stone article about the 2004 election. Kennedy's article was, by and large, ignored by the mainstream press, included the New York Times itself, though it generated the usual partisan online heat. And while the Times chose to ignore both Kennedy's evidence and the issue of election fraud itself, the peculiar attraction the Grey Lady has for the Kennedy clan would demand some look at the man who chose to attack an issue on which he is admittedly not expert.

It was also inevitable that, while presenting a small and not entirely unflattering biography of Kennedy, the New York Times would veer into a veiled criticism of RFK Jr. for what must obviously be delusional fantasy: the Ohio election stolen by the Republicans. In fact, an air of smug conceit permeates the Times article regarding Kennedy's plunge into the 2004 election data and testimony of Ohio state voters. The Times appears at once blithely unconcerned about how the "paper of record" itself failed to record any of the vast array of reported problems seen in Ohio in that presidential election and further eludes any admission of such poor form while simultaneously admonishing Kennedy as delusional for thinking that anything untoward took place during the 2004 election. Of course, the Times itself does not do this -- they're far too proper -- so they leave the accustational deed up to Farhad Manjoo's whitewash job from Salon. What the Times scrupulously ignores with this small effort is any mention of the harsh and severe criticisms levied against Manjoo for his apparent cluelessness regarding the facts on the Ohio ground. The Times never mentions the fact that Kennedy spent several weeks in Ohio interviewing various local election official and numerous voters throughout the state. Manjoo? Well, he did exactly ... nothing.

It is a remarkable effort on the part of the New York Times, at once indulging their love for the Kennedy clan while also inveighing against Kennedy's less than propitious accusations regarding America's electoral system and the Republican party's large efforts of voter disenfranchisement. With the effort, the Times continues the party line that everything is as it should be and that Robert Kennedy Jr. should stick to environmental law because when he ventures outside his realm of expertise, he appears to become delusional.

While fully able to admit that the Bush administration might have pushed the country into an illegal war, with globe-trotting rendition programs and innocent civilians snatched off streets, with a network of secret prisons around the globe, with vast programs of spying and surveilling American communications and international banking transactions, the New York Times, and much of the rest of the mainstream media, is still convinced -- at least publicly -- that the Bush administration couldn't possibly rig an election.


Blogger Kel said...

It's as if touching on the illegality of the election is the last taboo.

Anyone who goes there is immediately, as you say, the wearer of a tin foil hat.

If Kennedy is wrong, they should prove why is wrong by takng his argument apart point by point. The cry of "conspiracy theorist" is simply a way of ending conversation.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Musclemouth said...

No doubt. It's sick, sick, sick. Tne "consiracy theorist" claim has effectively killed a lot of truth. As you both have probably figured out by now, I'm an avowed 9/11 skeptic. I hear all kinds of "kill phrases", as I call them: conspiracy theorist, paranoid, and so on.

12:20 PM  
Blogger theBhc said...

What is interesting about the Kennedy issue is not that he asserts the GOP did steal the election; he does not. He raises enough evidence to point to the fact that serious problems exist and should be investigated and then mitigated. Even that suggestion is heresy. Because, as Mark Crisin Miller has said, America is too invested in its own myth -- that nothing could shake the foundations of American democracy. Bullshit, of course, but this is what far too many Americans would rather believe than face even the potential of widespread electoral abuse. The evidence has now been thoroughly documented. When will we choose to look at it?

12:22 PM  
Blogger theBhc said...


I have to say when I first heard the 9/11 skeptics story I was dismissive; impossible, I said along with everyone else. Who could conceive such madness? That was before I learned about Operation Northwood. Suddenly, I realised that, well, actually the US government -- pieces of it -- can and have conceived of such plots. And now, five years later, I'm not so sure.

Because since 9/11, we have seen the Bush administration conduct an unbelievable agenda: unprovoked invasion, secret prison networks, public admissions of torture and abuse, domestic spying programs, indefinite detentions, revocation of habeas corpus, assaults on domestic programs for the poor and elderly, bankrupting the country in favour of friends in high places, relentless attacks on environmental regulation, under-funding of actual anti-terrorist programs and first responders, on and on and on. After being repsonsible for the deaths of over 2500 US service men and women, why would anyone think these bastards could not conceive of the WTC attacks? It is hardly any longer beyond the realm of consideration.

My only problem is with whole idea is, considering how they have bungled Iraq so magnificently, among all the other things that have actually been screwed up, how could they have pulled off this egregious swindle? But, of course, it may come down to the same mentality that prevents many from seeing the evidence of election fraud.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Musclemouth said...


Cool! Minds rarely change about America. Yes, we have all been trained to believe wholeheartedly in the "unshakable foundations" of America. We all said the Pledge of Allegiance every day since before we even knew what the words meant. Hell, I myself was a Boy Scout - a really, really obedient one, in fact. I loved learning and following rules and saluting flags. I took it as implicit truth that I was supposed to be a role model, to set an example, and constantly try to keep my fellow sheep in line. I later excelled in my multi-award winning high school marching band. I thrived on taking orders. It was later, when I had a falling out with a large performance troop in London (for a show I was in) that I started to explore my own creative faculties as a spoken word artist. At first, I couldn't believe how difficult it was to think for myself. I tried to have original thoughts, and found nothing. Since then, I have been trying to reach that unbreakable core of independence within myself, that wellspring of honesty, that I had lacked for so long, simply because I had been a willing sheep. I still consider myself a sheep, but there has been progress. So now I always cheer when I meet someone who says, "I used to think this, but now I'm not so sure."

Your list of offenses by the Bush administration is impressive. It's a very good laundry list. When you stack them all up together, they do have the effect of opening one's mind to the 9/11 possibility. Most 9/11 skeptics take the same approach as RFK Jr did with election corruption, i.e., "Let's just open an investigation and have an honest look at the situation!" To me, that's not an extreme enough attitude, but it will do, for the time being.

As for Bush's Iraq quagmire, it was not a mistake. It is, in fact, an all-out success. As investigative journalist par excellence Greg Palast reveals in his new book, Armed Madhouse, Iraq was NOT about trying to shore up oil reserves in Iraq. It was, in fact, a successful effort to DISRUPT the flow of oil. That way, the Saudi oil artificially increases in value by the law of supply and demand, thus lining the pockets of oil companies and the other organizations aligned with them. The goal in Iraq was to create CHAOS. That's all. Very simple. That's why I call my blog Great Power is a Blunt Object. It is the ability to create chaos wherever it wants. It doesn't take a large intellect.

But 9/11 was a procedure carried out with military precision - hardly an Iraq comparison. In that, you raise an excellent point. All I can say to that is Bush was not in charge of it. Cheney was. Darth Vader himself. Among a handful of others. It doesn't take many conspirators to start a chain reaction of events that culminate in a desired outcome. Two concepts: the chain of command, and compartmentation of duties, allows the conspiracy to stay small, while manipulating large numbers of obedient subordinates.

There is the question of motive: the Bush Crime Family had it. There is opportunnity: the Bush Crime Family had it. There is means: they had it.

And finally, as you pointed out, there is ability, or aptitude. This seems to be the one sticking point for you. To that, all I have to say is that Bush's stupidity is real, but he's not the man in charge. That much is pretty well agreed upon throughout the political spectrum. Bush is just the brand name. He's the red herring. Why would a smart despot place himself directly in the spotlight? He wouldn't. That's why you usually should start with the second-in-command posts for evidence of guilt.

No. This administration is not stupid. I believe that to be a myth, though I could be wrong. They have succeeded, as you listed, in pulling off all of those other crimes. What's one more to them? It's a piece of cake, that's what it is.

I have done a lot of 9/11 research. Some sources are helpful, while others are merely obfuscatory. If you need any recommendations for good sources, I can help you streamline your search, if you like. I'll try to be objective in my recommendations. Let me know.

As for RFK Jr's crusade - it's not as incendiary as the 9/11 issue, but it's just as likely to end up buried in whitewashes and never end up in the history books. Ever. That's because people are too afraid to ask questions. They identify too strongly with America. The individual soul has been merged with the amoebazoid monolith. So, to question America is tantamount to questioning one's own individual existence. Really scary. If only everybody had the courage and inner strength of the existentialist philosophers, they could take a look in the mirror. But they won't. All we can do as brave researchers is share info with each other, comfort each other, and solidify our positions.

I used to be a canvasser. That's where you knock on doors and raise money for whatever political cause. It was hard, humbling work. The most valuable lesson I learned in that occupation was that there were three types of "doors" (or prospects):

"A Doors" are people who agree with you right away and don't need to be sold on the idea. They just need to be sold on believing that something can be done about issue X, and to therefore give money.

"B Doors" are on the fence with the idea. They are not sure whether they agree. The canvasser's job with B Doors is to knock them off the fence into the canvasser's territory. The issue of giving money is then a more simple matter.

"C Doors" are people who are on the other side of the fence. They will never, ever be convinced of your position. They have made up their minds. Do not waste your time with them, the canvassers say. They will just suck your energy. Say thanks and move on to try and find the A Doors and B Doors.

Most Americans are C Doors with regard to election fraud, 9/11, and many other issues. So, so stubborn. War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Musclemouth said...

My girl Rook just reminded me that 9/11 was not carried out with perfect military precision. This is a good point. The fact that there is such a preponderance of information available - that's proof enough that they made mistakes. So, yes, the administration is not made of perfect geniuses, but they are still pretty damn smart. Their propaganda campign was undeniably successful. They will get away with it. Anything They Say Can BUT WILL NOT Be Used Against Them.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Musclemouth said...

Damn, maybe I oughtta eat my words. This here link
suggests Bush is not incompetent.

3:46 PM  
Blogger theBhc said...

I have read Palast's argument that Iraq was, in fact, meant to produce exactly the result it has. I have doubts about this, though.

Firstly, the PNAC agenda, which sought to produce "benovolent global hegemony" by establishing a police station in the Middle East, has been an utter failure as many neo-cons now admit (Fukuyama). The chaos in Iraq now appears at odds with this goal, though the presence of permanent military bases there still appears to be on the agenda, so maybe that wasn't such a failure.

Secondly, Naomi Klein documented well how Wolfowitz et al. sought to establish Iraq as a petri dish of unregulated free market experimentation. This proved an utter failure as well, security being non-existent as the insurgency gained in strength. Basically, any kind of normative business simply cannot not be conducted there.

Of course, considering how much advice White House and Pentagon ignored regarding the potential problems that were likely, maybe Palast is right and that they simply wanted to use Iraq reconstruction as an easy, off-shore way to funnel billions into the coffers of administration-friendly contractors and create a boon for the oil industry, both through sky-rocketing prices and other contract work. There are simply so many angles on the Iraq story, it is difficult to narrow it down to any one purpose, I think.

4:01 PM  
Blogger theBhc said...

Well, the argument whether Bush is "incompetent" or not is really one of semantics. By incompetent, most people mean it regarding normative governance ability; that the administration is actually capable of performing its usual functions. It this sense, the Bush White House clearly is incompetent.

The argument that Bush is not incompetent hinges on the idea that the Bush/Cheney administration are doing exactly what they want and doing it well. In this regard, certainly they are extremely competent. But that is just not what most people would call good governance.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Musclemouth said...

Interesting. I would like to read the Naomi Klein piece. Where can I find it?

Before reading it, my first knee-jerk would be to say that PNAC doesn't always reveal their true aims. Clearly, part of "winning the war on terror" involves lots of lying. I do, however, echo the importance of PNAC in world affairs. They are the dissemination and unification organ of the dominant group of power elites. Perhaps some of what they say is honest, and other of what they say is intended to mislead. That's just a cynical guess though. I tend to assume the worst and most indidious and most labyrinthine. I tend to say that, at the end of the day, the intellect will cease to be of use on account of a lack of evidential fuel, and that intuition and instinct and Aristotelian logic (in the form of "A is always B, and B is often C, and C is most likely D") must step in. It comes to to probabilities.

But I would still choose evidence over the Colbertian "gut".

I see what you're saying about semantics. In that case, I would choose a more to-the-point adjective when it comes to describing the Bush administration, so that there can be no mistake as to meaning. For example, just to throw one out there, instead of saying "incompetent" one should say "irresponsible." And so on. Not that either of us is necessarily guilty of not being clear...but the general public does tend to use cognitive dissonance quite often to confuse matters.

It's tough to nail things down. Guess all we can do is keep taking sincere whacks at the system. One day the wall will fall. By man or by nature, the wall will fall.

4:51 PM  
Blogger Musclemouth said...

By the way, if you want to meet me at at 5pm eastern time, i'll be there. Once you're at the site, just insert "" in front of the URL. A chat window will open. (You can use gabbly for any website. It's new. Kinda cool.) We'll be talking about the website, hopefully critiquing it, and learning things.

That's five minutes from now, so I gotta run.


5:00 PM  
Blogger Musclemouth said...

Woops, typed the URL wrong. It's

5:01 PM  
Blogger theBhc said...


Sorry, I should have linked it in the comment.

Here it is

Baghdad Year Zero
by Naomi Klein

An excellent piece.

5:04 PM  

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