An intellectual freedom blog with an emphasis on libraries and technology

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Democracy has "New Meaning"

One that I have not known before

I listened to NPR (National Public Radio) this morning as I woke up. The news of the Iraqi election generated quite a bit of excitement. But as I listened to all the usual platitudes about "democracy" and "voter turn-out" I heard one statement, made in passing, that made me sit straight up and take notice. A reporter in Falluja stated that men were voting for women (wives and family members?). This is not allowed by the voting laws, said the reporter, but they're doing it anyway.

My head reels with the implications of this. Not only does the disenfranchisement of women go against any concept of "freedom" or "democracy" but what about any secular or other unfamiliar laws that, however vital for a democracy to exist as such, people do not bother to follow? What if someone somewhere objects to this irregularity? Will that invalidate all the votes from this city? What if it doesn't, what does that say about the trustworthiness of the election? What will the Bush Administration or the Democrats do (if anything)? Will anyone else notice or will this be one little bit of information that someone leaks out in passing in a news report at 6 a.m. and no one else but me a and handful of other people will ever hear or tell about it? Is this what the Bush Administration calls "democracy?" Will I ever be able to type the word "democracy" without quotes around it ever again this century?

Source: The Lexis-Nexis database has a transcript of the news report. Here's a citation:

Copyright 2005 National Public Radio (R)
All Rights Reserved
National Public Radio (NPR)
SHOW: Morning Edition 10:00 AM EST NPR
December 15, 2005 Thursday
LENGTH: 1011 words

HEADLINE: Iraqis head to polls for parliamentary elections



Saturday, November 19, 2005


Bob Woodward's fall

All the President's Men was one of the major books and movies of my childhood. I am old enough to have experienced Watergate as it happened. The recent revelations about Mark Felt as Deep throat revealed even more importance to Woodward and Bernstein's heroic work. But heros fall.

In an editorial in Joe Conason, Woodward's Disgrace (subcription required), outlines the particulars of Woodward's role in the Valerie Plame case. Both his withholding of information from his editors, as well as his misleading comments, have entered the public record. And the Washington Post's readers have also caught out the once great Woodward in his lies. The established timeline does not support Woodward's explanations of his role in the outing of a covert CIA operative. You can read the transcript of the live chat that Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. held with readers on Friday Nov. 18 (2005): Transcript of live chat with Downie regarding Woodward (has links to earlier stories by and about Woodward's role in the Plame case).

I feel no need for further words here. You can read the public record, Woodwards own admissions and Downie's failed defense of the once great reporter for youself.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Bill O'Reilly Offers to Publicize Liberal Blogs

I hope to make the list!

Right-wing pundit Bill O'Reilly has recently promised to add a list of liberal blogs who quote him verbatim on his own web site. I hope 2+2=4 makes this most exclusive list. All I have to do is quote Mr. O'Reilly's comments verbatim as follows:

After the November 8th California Election O'Reilly made the following statement on his show concerning San Francisco's ballot initiative to ban military recruiters from public high schools:

"Hey, you know, if you want to ban military recruiting, fine, but I'm not going to give you another nickel of federal money. You know, if I'm the president of the United States, I walk right into Union Square, I set up my little presidential podium, and I say, "Listen, citizens of San Francisco, if you vote against military recruiting, you're not going to get another nickel in federal funds. Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead."

And if Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead."

Mr. O'Reilly kindly made his promise to publicize bloggers such as myself with the following comment concerning those who post his words above:

"Some far left internet smear sites have launched a campaign to get me fired over my point of view. I believe they do this on a daily basis. This time the theme is O’Reilly is encouraging terrorist attacks. Unbelievably stupid. Not unusual with these guttersnipes.

I’m glad the smear sites made a big deal out of it. Now we can all know who was with the anti-military internet crowd. We’ll post the names of all who support the smear merchants on So check with us."

My understanding remains a bit unclear about how quoting Mr. O'Reilly verbatim when he invited Al Queda to blow up Coit Tower constitutes a smear. Maybe "You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead," means something else outside of San Francisco? Mr. O'Reilly is, of course, welcome to his point of view and has (and should have) the freedom to express it. I am simply wondering how quoting his own words smears him. In addition, I wonder why he assumes that anyone who quotes him voted for the ballot initiative in question.

I am also a bit puzzled by the use of the word "guttersnipes." This was an insulting term from the early 20th century for poor street children. According to my mother's account of an ugly divorce between my grandparents, my grandfather once called my grandmother a "Hoboken guttersnipe." This was a very serious insult and sadly one with a grain of truth when said to a person who started life as a poor German immigrant. But I wonder how quoting Mr. O'Reilly verbatim makes me resemble, in any way, a poor child running around on the street making trouble? Maybe words have different meanings when Bill O'Reilly says them, which would explain a lot.

The first quote you can read and also view a movie of O'Reilly actually saying the words (quite thrilling) at Media Matters

The second quote comes with video as well from Crooks and Liars

No one has seen any list of liberal blogs on O'Reilly's web site yet, but I remain hopeful that I will make the list. I am going to e-mail him with a link to this blog now. Wish me luck.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Economic censorship : control the pictures

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, censoring images proves more efficient?

The U.S. has become a very visually oriented society. Many do not take anything seriously unless they see it on television. Others do not grasp the significance of an event unless they see pictures.

One of its first acts when FEMA did take control over the situation in New Orleans last September was the barring of reporters from covering the recovery of bodies. Not only refusing to allow reporters to accompany search and recovery teams, but preventing them from entering New Orleans at all, even in their own boats.

Aside from a brief report on the TV news and the AP news feed, I have not seen nor heard any noise on this act of censorship at all. In the bad old days of the former Soviet Union the ideologues in the Kremlin never allowed the coverage of bad news or disasters: crime, plane crashes, damage from storms, nothing, zero, "nichevo." I find astonishing the speed with which the most righteously indignant opponents of the Soviet regime have adopted one of its most pernicious practices. The disaster of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans is a historical event, as important as major battles, assasinations and major crimes. A U.S. administration attempts to sanitize reality and interfere with the recording of history. We teach our school children that this kind of censorship helped put the "Evil" in "Evil Empire." Think about it.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Decisions, Decisions

What part of "the intelligence is being fixed" do you Not understand?

The mainstream media has finally, after receiving a deluge of outraged correspondence, covered the story behind the The Downing Street Memo. After reading the document in question and then the administration's explanations one can only wonder if the Bush administration's spokespersons assume that no one has read the memo. Or maybe they are indulging in wishful thinking.

The explanation, as given in the Washington Post, conflates the planning for the possibility of a war with the decision to go to war. Of course they had to plan for a possible war, that doesn't mean they decided. "Given what has been reported about war planning in Washington, the revelations about the Downing Street meeting did not seem like a bolt from the blue," said the ombudsman for the New York Times. Or, that newspaper reports from that time indicated war planning underway means that the Downing Street Memo only confirms information already known.

George W. Bush, in his own words:

(links to web site of press releases)

“Of course, I haven’t made up my mind we’re going to war with Iraq.” [10/1/02]

“Hopefully, we can do this peacefully – don’t get me wrong. And if the world were to collectively come together to do so, and to put pressure on Saddam Hussein and convince him to disarm, there’s a chance he may decide to do that. And war is not my first choice, don’t – it’s my last choice.” [11/7/02]

“This is our attempt to work with the world community to create peace. And the best way for peace is for Mr. Saddam Hussein to disarm. It’s up to him to make his decision.” [12/4/02]

“You said we’re headed to war in Iraq – I don’t know why you say that. I hope we’re not headed to war in Iraq. I’m the person who gets to decide, not you. I hope this can be done peacefully.” [12/31/02]

“First of all, you know, I’m hopeful we won’t have to go war, and let’s leave it at that.” [1/2/03]

“But Saddam Hussein is – he’s treated the demands of the world as a joke up to now, and it was his choice to make. He’s the person who gets to decide war and peace.” [2/7/03]

“I’ve not made up our mind about military action. Hopefully, this can be done peacefully.” [3/6/03]

“I want to remind you that it’s his choice to make as to whether or not we go to war. It’s Saddam’s choice. He’s the person that can make the choice of war and peace.” [3/6/03]

“We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq. But if Saddam Hussein does not disarm peacefully, he will be disarmed by force.” [3/8/03]

“Should Saddam Hussein choose confrontation, the American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war, and every measure will be taken to win it.” [3/17/03]

(Thanks go to Think Progress for the quotes and links).

Decisions, not just plans [from the Downing Street Memo, July 23, 2002]

"Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."

"It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran." [emphasis added, see below].

When not Whether
Mention of the phrase "No decisions had been taken" have appeared in the recent stories about the memo, as an attempt to refute the fact that the document clearly states that Bush had already made the decision to go to war. In the context of the document, the "decisions" in question related directly to the timing of a military attack, a question of when not whether. The complete sentence: "No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections."

Further reading:
Mark Danner in the New York Review of Books, (June 9) wrote an excellent article about this scandal. The main points:

"1. By mid-July 2002, eight months before the war began, President Bush had decided to invade and occupy Iraq.

"2. Bush had decided to 'justify' the war 'by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.'

"3. Already, 'the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.'

"4. Many at the top of the [U.S.] administration did not want to seek approval from the United Nations (going 'the U.N. route').

"5. Few in Washington seemed much interested in the aftermath of the war. "

Monday, June 13, 2005

The New York Times vs. Reality

Sometimes chronological order matters

On June 12, New York Times writers David E. Sanger, Steven R. Weisman with help from Don Van Natta Jr. and Alan Cowell launch a bizarre assault on the reality that the rest of us occupy. In the story "Prewar British Memo Says War Decision Wasn't Made" they purposely confuse the reader with a deliberate misrepresentation.

Background: The Downing Street Memo

On July 23, 2002 a British government official wrote the minutes of a meeting with high level Bush administration officials that had taken place that day. This memo, leaked May 2, 2005, contains stunning revelations that Bush intentionally lied to the U.S. public.

"Military action was now seen as inevitable," said the notes, summarizing a report by Richard Dearlove, then head of MI6, British intelligence, who had just returned from consultations in Washington along with other senior British officials. Dearlove went on, "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD [weapons of mass destruction]. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." [From The Washington Post]

More recently, on June 10, 2005, a second memo surfaced, but this one was written on July 21, 2002, two days before the "Downing Street Memo." This one contains slightly different information.

The Lie

Keep in mind that we now have two leaked memos. The New York Times conflates them and confuses them with each other.

The New York Times article cleverly confuses the reader by means of mentioning only one of two leaked documents and deliberately misleads the reader into believing that the 2nd document of the two leaked is the "Downing Street Memo." Read the article for yourself: SECTION: Section A; Column 1; Foreign Desk; THE STRUGGLE FOR IRAQ: ROAD TO INVASION; Pg. 11 ; HEADLINE: Prewar British Memo Says War Decision Wasn't Made. See if you think it mentions one memo or two.

Even if the reader already knows that we now have two documents rather than one, The NYT article still does more to confuse than to inform. The the order in which the memos were written matters.

Salon's War Room blog entry on the troubles of the NYT regarding the Downing Street Memo explains this best:

The problem here is that the briefing containing the phrase "no political decision" was written July 21, 2002, and the memo containing minutes from a senior meeting of British officials was written July 23, in which it was reported that Washington appeared bent on war. That is, the July 21 briefing paper was distributed to participants in preparation for the meeting two days later with Bush's closest intelligence advisors, where the updated details of war planning were then discussed -- and from which one conclusion reached by the Brits was: "Military action was now seen as inevitable."

The assertions that President Bush planned to invade Iraq no matter what have come up before, both National Security Advisor Richard Clark and Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil have made very public. The Downing Street Memo relates more specifically to a deliberate campaign to mislead the public. Why does the New York Times article fail to mention both leaked documents? Why does the New York Times article confuse the two memos with each other? Does this look like damage control for the Bush Administration?

Friday, June 03, 2005

Nixon, in his own words

Or, you asked for it!

Recently some right-wing pundits and blogs have attempted to re-write history, stating that the fall of Nixon led to Pol Pot's takeover of Cambodia and that Nixon was actually a good President, bringing peace to the world until his enemies brought him down. One blog, Little Green Football posted an editorial by Ben Stein in which he asks "Does anyone remember what he did that was bad?" I read with dismay and astonishment the "comments" section appended to this blog entry. Post after post that showed no indication of even the most rudimentary knowledge of U.S. history. A few more scholarly ones mentioned the invasion and bombing of Cambodia as well as Nixon's rampant anti-semitism. A person responding to this stated that he had no idea that Nixon hated jews. Another expressed confusion, unable to reconcile Nixon's support of Israel with his bigotted rantings.

This is a wonderful opportunity to let Nixon speak for himself. From authenticated sources:

"They're untrustworthy ... Look at the Justice Department. It's full of Jews."

"please get me the names of the Jews. You know, the big Jewish contributors to the Democrats. Could we please investigate some of the (expletives)? that's all."

"What about the rich Jews?...Go after'em like a son of a bitch."

"You're so goddamned concerned about the civilians, and I don't give a damn. I don't care."

Regarding the shooting of Wallace: "Just say he [the shooter] was a supporter of [George] McGovern and [Ted] Kennedy. Just put that out ... Say you have it on unmistakable evidence."

"Many Jews in the Communist conspiracy. . . . Chambers and Hiss were the only non-Jews. . . . Many thought that Hiss was. He could have been a half. . . . Every other one was a Jew - and it raised hell for us."

Addressing Kissenger : "Henry, let's leave the niggers to Bill and we'll take care of the rest of the world"

"John, we have the power but are we using it to investigate contributors to Hubert Humphrey, contributor to Muskie, the Jews, you know, that are stealing every--what the hell are we doing?"

A few facts
Everyone has heard of Watergate but surprisingly few (who read right-wing blogs, anyway) know more than something vauge about a burglary. The burglars planted bugs in the telephones of the Democrat's national headquarters, in order to spy on Nixon's political enemies. There were actually two burglaries. One to plant the bugs, and then after the Democrats discovered and disabled them, another to fix or re-plant them. During the second one the Nixon operatives were caught. The fact that these burglars answered directly to Nixon's aides remains a matter of public record along with the jail sentences that his aides served as a result. Likewise Nixon's participation in the cover-up of these crimes one can hear on his taped conversations. I remember listening to them at the time during televised hearings by the Congressional committee investigating the Watergate break-in.

The tapes had some gaps, erased or unintelligible portions, one lasting 18 minutes. The tapes and transcriptions released to the public did not show Nixon ordering the Watergate break-in itself, but did clearly show his participation in the cover-up (obstructing justice is a felony). Recently released tapes (1996) do clearly show Nixon ordering a break-in of the Brookings Institution.

More of Nixon's own words:

"break into the place, rifle the files, and bring them out....I want a break-in. I want the Brookings safe cleaned out. And have it cleaned out in a way that makes somebody else look bad.''

"You go in to inspect...and clean it out....I want Brookings, just break in, break in, and take it out. You understand."

The Enemies List
Nixon had his aides write an "enemies list" of his political opponents and critics in the press. The list, related memos and other supporting documents entered the public record during the Watergate hearings. Nixon and his staff used the power of the federal government to harass his politcal enemies, not people who committed any crimes. John Dean, from the introduction to the "Enemies list" memo: "This memorandum addresses the matter of how we can maximize the fact of our incumbency in dealing with persons known to be active in their opposition to our Administration, Stated a bit more bluntly--how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies." This included IRS audits, grant availability, federal contracts, litigation prosecution.

Nixon did not limit his illegal misuse of the government's power to individuals. The National Archives released more of Nixon's tapes in the mid 1990s. These revealed that he and his aides planned to use anti-trust litigation, or simply the threat of such against the major broadcast networks as a "Sword of Damocles," as the Washington Post Reported in 1997.

Even more of Nixon in his own words:

"If the threat of screwing them is going to help us more with their programming than doing it, then keep the threat,"

"But keeping this case in a pending status gives us one hell of a club on an economic issue that means a great deal to those three networks ... something of a sword of Damocles."

"Our gain is more important than the economic gain. We don't give a goddam about the economic gain. Our game here is solely political. ... As far as screwing them is concerned, I'm very glad to do it."

The Memory Hole
I am especially astounded that the right-wing red state people posting the comments mentioned above could forget about the existence of the Soviet Union so quickly. I suppose a person born around the time the Berlin Wall fell is old enough to type but not old enough to know much. Here's a quick history lesson in case you cut class the day they covered the Middle East: Until the 1980s U.S. politicians (and mainstream media) viewed the Arab-Israeli conflict as a component part of the Cold War. The Arab states were Soviet clients. Israel was and remains a U.S. client. Read some books and newspapers printed during the time. The simplicity looks somewhat quaint by today's standards.

And many people forgot all about Nixon's "Slush fund." I first learned the meaning of this phrase while following the Watergate scandal as it unfolded. Nixon funded his illegal activities by selling political favors to corporations, rich individuals and industry lobbies. He raised about $60 million this way. Some examples include Howard Hughs, a telecom company called ITT (gave $400,000 to end an anti-trust suit) and The dairy industry ($2 million to maintain milk price supports). The list goes on and on. All of this is a matter of public record.

An Editorializing Civics Lesson
Those who truly love democracy and liberty recoil in horror at the Nixon Administration's activities, and the memory of them. The use of the agencies of government to attack one's enemies, personal or political, destroys the democratic process. The buying and selling of government favors or immunity from prosecution destroys the justice system. The right to vote and elections have no real power if the government actively prevents people from participating, organizing or writing. The Former Soviet Union held elections all the time. No one took them seriously (except maybe communist party members running for office unopposed). You need more than two names on a ballot to have a democracy. If the opposition has no means to organize, communicate and raise funds without government interference you have something called a despotic regime, not a democracy. Period. This explains why Nixon posed a threat to democracy and why Mark Felt, whatever his motives, saved the United States from turning into a dictatorship, with sham elections, ruined lives and God knows how many years of Patricia Nixon's icy face on magazine covers (shudder).

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A new Tasmanian Devil?

Or, where paving paradise would be the good news

Remember the Tasmanian Devil from the Buggs Bunny cartoons? Remember how he spun around faster than the eye could see and left a path of destruction behind him? Now we have a corporate version. See Bob Harris' lengthy piece If a Tree Falls in a Forest ... to learn about the destruction of Tasmania. The Corporation, Gunns, is the largest logger of Tasmanian old growth forests. It has initiated a multi-million dollar SLAPP suit (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation) to punish protesters, including doctors who give health advisories on the poisons that the workers use to kill off the wildlife. This is the first instance of a SLAPP suit in Australia. An examination of the search results on Lexis Nexis Academic Universe reveals that mostly foreign commercial news sources have covered this story.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Follow the Money

Do the same standards apply to everyone?

Imagine a liberal and/or democratic U.S. Presidential candidate who states during his campaign that she/he will never involve the United States in nation building. Shortly after taking office this liberal President invades a small country and sets up a transitional government to rule until democratic elections. Now imagine this Liberal Democrat fills this provisional government with appointees who have no expertise relating to the country they run, but are all his loyal supporters and political cronies. What do you think would happen if they so badly mis-managed the provisional government that no one could account for over $9 billion? How would the media and Republican politicians react? To quote Bob Harris "The howling and hissing would frighten wildlife."

This is what happened in Iraq, and the Coalition Provisional Authority under Paul Bremmer can not account for the money. The stories that have appeared have not ignited the firestorm in the media one would expect of a scandal of this magnitude. I found the $9 billion figure in The Boston Channel's $9B Goes missing in Iraq. But not all the missing money remains a mystery. The Washington Post reported a federal lawsuit charges that a contractor run by Republicans (one of whom ran for Congress recently) defrauded the Coalition Provisional Authority. Custer-Battles received "$15M to provide security for civilian flights at Baghdad International Airport even though no planes flew during the contract term." One would expect that members of the CPA would know whether the principle airport for the country was operational.

Do the same standards apply to everyone?

One last fact of interest. The Boston Channel story mentions in passing that at an Iraqi ministry the CPA paid for 8,026 guards, but only 602 guards could be confirmed. This happened prior to the U.S. Presidential election. In a briefing that took place Sept. 14, 2004 Marc Grossman, an undersecretary of State, announced the re-allocation of reconstruction funds to security. A transcript of the briefing (Available through commercial databases or the Federal New Service) quotes him stating: "Well, for example, that money gives you 45,000 new Iraqi police officers. It gives you 16,000 new border control officers. It gives you 20 additional Iraqi National Guard brigades. So the numbers there are both substantially increased..." But we discover only after the election that the money did not necessarily buy real guards. More Iraqi Security forces on paper than in reality made the administration look more successful on paper than in reality.

DATE: September 14, 2004 Tuesday
LENGTH: 5261 words

Monday, February 21, 2005

Is Death too good for us?

why do you think they call it the "Rapture"?

Imagine an incredibly violent and gory video game in which the object of this game is to bring about a catastrophic series of disasters and then watch from a safe distance as your victims meet bloody and hideously painful deaths. For example, in this game you perform actions which create giant frogs that eat people, trigger biological warfare attacks that cover people in painful boils as they die, or set off huge inescapable fires. You watch, at length, in full digital color on your wide screen TV or game arcade as the hapless victims burn to death, screaming in agony. Imagine the reaction from the religious right/family values people to such a violent and sadistic video game. Think about it.

I have found a story unreported in the mainstream media that most troubles me. It concerns a bizarre supernatural revenge fantasy that, were it packaged as a video game, would likely raise an outcry from the same people who wish with all their hearts to bring it about in reality.

Bill Moyers has retired from journalism. In his farewell speech, he describes the Rapture Index, a measure of how close we are to armageddon--the apocalypse, Doomsday--what many right-wing christians call "The Rapture." You see, they are not satisfied with living according to the holy word of their faith and then ascending to heaven after a long, healthy, righteous life. No, in their minds and hearts they remain convinced that they deserve more than heaven: they want to watch the rest of us fry.

For the heathen among us, let me try to summarize this succinctly: The Christian Bible includes a chapter called "The Revelation of John" (a.k.a.: "The Book of Revelations"). Many moderate christians and religious scholars from schools with names that don't make you laugh see this book as a product of its times, written long after Jeshua ben David (in Greek: Jesus Christ) died, and containing mostly a denunciation of empire and paganism. The writer(s) hide the message from Roman censors by means of arcane prophecy. The main prophecy states that the true believers will, when the time comes, go to heaven and sit at God's right hand (I'm guessing at God's left hand you find heaven's cheap seats?) and watch as the non-righteous burn, chew their tongues in agony, drown in rivers of blood, get bonked on the head by huge hailstones, etc, etc. I think to capture the true spirit of this prophecy for a 21st century audience someone should translate it into Gangsta rap. Fans of this form of expression understand the meaning of the word "hyperbole," even if unable to pronounce it.

As Moyers points out in his speech, nearly one third of the electorate believes the bible is literally true. He mentions Glenn Scherer's article: The Road to Environmental Apocalypse. "A 2002 TIME/CNN poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe that the prophecies found in the book of Revelations are going to come true." Not only that, but environmental destruction looks an awful lot like signs of the eagerly awaited apocalypse. The politicians this population supports work against environmental protection and we're not talking about a few on the fringe.

From "Road to Environmental Apocalypse":
These politicians include some of the most powerful figures in the U.S. government, as well as key environmental decision makers: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Republican Conference Chair Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), Senate Republican Policy Chair Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), [former] U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair James Inhofe (R-Okla.) warrant a lengthy section of Grist's article, which I urge you to read.

The actions and words of high ranking government officials indicate that those who believe the above to be literally true have a strong influence over official policy. Republicans rule the world now. And this apocalyptic variety make up a large voting block. No one has attempted to keep this a secret. But none of this appears on the evening news or 60 Minutes or other such news programs.

But vengeance for what?! What have the rest of us done that makes these people want to watch giant frogs eat our faces off?

Look to Bill O'Reilly for inspiration. On a cartoonist's blog (Tom Tomorrow, who does This Modern World) you can read the transcript of O'Reilly's bizarre rant on his show last December 21st.

[Speaking to minister and motivational author Joel Osteen]: I want you to counsel me, pastor...I'm sitting here, I'm fighting this ferocious battle against people at this juncture who want to change America, all right? They want to change it to de-emphasize religion, they want a country like Sweden where less than ten percent of the population goes to church.

Who said this is what anyone wants?! Who has ever tried to stop anyone from attending church? Is this O'Reilly's interpretation of the separation of church and state--an effort to squash religion? But he continues.

Now I believe the Founding Fathers wanted religion in the public marketplace as a behavior deterrent because they knew they couldn't control the population, and they felt that a faith-based population would be more likely to behave. Very practical.

Please! Any readers out there who can find Any primary source in which a signer of the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence or even a member of the post-revolutionary government in the 18th century stated that religion should function as a "behavior deterrent" (what is that, by the way?) or expressed a fear of an "out of control" population please tell me the source. I realize this is Mr. O'Reilly's opinion (which he has every right to hold and to declare to the world) but where does he get this? You can find many more examples of such accusations and many more examples of pundits making up facts out of air, but I do not have enough room on this blog to list them all.

Think about this. The people who want to watch everyone who is not one of them die believe the worst, most baseless, unsubstantiated ranting idiocy about the rest of us. And their political leaders rule.