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What Else Is In Scott's Head?

The blog site for writer Scott C. Smith. Some observations on the world we live in and life in general. And maybe some politics.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Human Cost of War

Tonight's Sixty Minutes II dealt with a subject most news media outlets avoid: the soldiers injured in the war in Iraq. There are thousands of them, young men and women that have had their lives changed because George W. Bush was so desperate to go to war in Iraq that he'd cook up any reason at all to take us there. At first the reason was Saddam Hussein's dreaded weapons of mass destruction. In speech after speech, Bush administration officials warned us, and the world, of the horrible arsenal of weapons at Hussein's disposal, ready to use against us and our allies, or to be sold to terrorist groups. Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared before the United Nations security council in Feb. 2003, armed with charts and graphs, to warn the world of Saddam's destructive capabilities. Months before the Congress was told of this danger to the world, and Bush was given congressional approval to fight his war.

And what a surprise, after being in Iraq for months, we could not find a single weapon. Where had they gone? No one seemed to know. The Bush administration remained confident that the dreaded weapons would be uncovered.

As the months progressed no weapons were found. After a while, the Bush administration simply stopped talking about the hunt for WMDs, and instead spoke of a war against terrorism. That was the war we were fighting in Iraq; it was no longer a hunt for deadly weapons.

The human cost of this war was largely ignored by the so-called liberal media. No one was reporting on the increasing number of injured soldiers, and now that number is in the thousands. Young men, mostly, their bodies battered, shattered and left paralyzed, many more left limbless, all left to recover invisibly at military hospitals.

Conservatives seem to operate by the mantra "out of sight, out of mind." They know that public support for Bush's war is dependent on Americans not seeing the flag-draped coffins of the dead or the bandaged bodies of the injured. Michael Moore's new film Fahrenheit 9/11 shares with America images of the young men who will now have to learn how to deal with bodies that have had limbs blasted off in battle. It's a long and difficult journey for this new group of veterans, out of sight, and out of mind, of the consciousness of the American people. The deaths and injuries will continue, despite our turning over sovereignty back to Iraq. And our president will continue to ignore these brave men and women. Oh, sure, he'll occasionally mention them in a campaign stump-speech. But beyond that, Bush and his arrogant administration will insist they know what's best for America, and for Iraq. The human cost of his war is something George W. Bush isn't particularly interested in, at least publicly, and certainly not in a way that might cost him the election.



Monday, June 28, 2004

Expect delays at What's In Scott's Head

I'm in the process of switching hosting companies for my domain, so there will be some downtime in the two days or so it'll take for the technical stuff to be completed. In the meantime, check out my latest column at The Smirking Chimp.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Dick Cheney: Hypocrite

Dick Cheney, Feb. 15, 2001, Remarks to the Conservative political Action Committee:

As the president and I present our agenda, we realize there will be a good many debates in the months and years ahead. We do not mind debating our opponents. We both did that
last fall and it worked out pretty well. He and I are going to make our case just as vigorously as we can. But we also take seriously the responsibility to be honest and to be civil.

In my office, I have a picture of John Adams, the first vice president. Adams liked to say, "The facts are stubborn things." Whatever the issue, we are going to deal with facts and show a decent regard for other points of view. This is not about questioning people's motives or their good faith. The days of the so-called war room and the permanent campaign are over.


"(Go) Fuck Yourself."
-- Dick Cheney, to Senator Patrick Leahy, June 22, 2004.

Dick Cheney to Neil Cavuto, Fox News, June 25, 2004:

"CAVUTO: Did you curse at him (Leahy)?

CHENEY: Probably.

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO: Do you have any regrets?

CHENEY: No. I said it, and I felt that...

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO: So let me understand, he comes up, he sees you, Mr. Vice — he's all nice, shakes your hand. And then what do you do, let into him?

CHENEY: Explain my unhappiness with the way he conducted himself. What — part of the problem here is, that instead of having a substantive debate over important policy issues, he had challenged my integrity. And I didn't like that. But, most of all, I didn't like the fact that after he had done so then he wanted to act like, you know, everything's peaches and cream.

And I informed him of my view of his conduct in no uncertain terms. And as I say, I felt better afterwards."

Thanks for keeping up that civility, Dick!


The Top 10 Conservative Idiots list is up!

Time once again for another Top 10 Conservative Idiots list from DU. Enjoy!

What's In Scott's Head down indefinitely

I'm having major problems at my main web site, What's In Scott's Head. It seems the company that hosts my domain had a major malfunction of some kind -- not only is my domain down, but every other domain hosted by this company is down, including their own site. So, I do not know when What's In Scott's Head will be back up. Needless to say, I am in the process of switching hosting to a new company. Once that is done I'll be back to my regular posting schedule. Thanks for your patience. My e-mail is still working, so you can reach me at my regular address, if you want to drop me a line or send hate mail.

A Slow Weekend

Sorry for the lack of updates. There just hasn't been much going on. In news that is sure to drive right-wingers to bouts of Dick Cheney-like cursing, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 is bringing in the audiences and raking in the dough. The web site Box Office Mojois reporting preliminary numbers for Fahrenheit. The estimates for this weekend will be nearly $22 million!

Stay tuned for more...

Saturday, June 26, 2004

New Michael Moore column

You can read my next column now! It's another piece on Michael Moore, although this time the focus is on Fahrenheit 9/11, my reaction, and the misconceptions put out by right-wingers.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Flawed but powerful, Fahrenheit 9/11 brings home the reality of war

Michael Moore's controversial new film -- controversial before anyone had actually seen it -- has finally opened. The movie is a powerful, but ultimately flawed, look at the world since Sept. 11, 2001.

In the weeks prior to its release, a group called Move America Forward has been leading a boycott of the film, encouraging its supporters to e-mail move theater executives to not show the film. I'm not going to address Move America Forward's ludicrous claims about the film. They are not worth discussing.

The film itself could have used some editing, as there are a number of superfluous segments. Moore spends considerable time trying to tie the Bin Laden family to the Bush family, and while it may be true, it's ultimately pointless. The same goes to a few segments that are, again, superfluous filler: Moore doing "on the street" interviews with members of Congress to convince them to get their children to enlist into the military, and segments on Haliburton and other companies set to make money off of the war in Iraq. Again, it's probably true, but pointless. Moore also ignores the many documented human rights violations committed by Saddam Hussein and his government, and it's unfortunate that Moore did not discuss that part of Iraq's history.

The film is at its most powerful when it tells the human story of warfare, when it focuses on the young men and women who are in Iraq, fighting against insurgents who do not want us there.

Moore gives the war in Iraq a face, represented by a woman from Flint, Michigan named Lila Lipscomb. Mrs. Lipscomb is first introduced in the film putting up her American flag and speaking proudly of her family's long history of military service.

We learn from Mrs. Lipscomb that her son, Army Sgt. Michael Pedersen, is serving in Iraq, just as his sister had done before him during the first Gulf war.

Unlike his sister, Sgt. Pedersen did not make it home. He was killed on April 2, 2003, in Iraq. And we, the audience, grieve with Lila Lipscomb, and her loss is our loss, too. It's surely the most gut-wrenching experience I've experienced in a movie. Lila Lipscomb is filled with grief and rage, and we share in her grief and rage, angry that her son ultimately died for nothing. It's heartbreaking to even now think about it. In one segment, Mrs. Lipscomb is in Washington, D.C. for a conference and decides to try and get to the White House, which of course is blocked off. Lipscomb does speak with a woman, almost surely a Republican, who dismisses her loss: lots of people have lost loved ones in Iraq. The woman might as well have been parotting an Ann Coulter line.

We see soldiers in battle, and we see the consequences of war: dead civilians, dead Americans, and something our media has not shown us much of: injured American soldiers, many limbless, recovering at Army hospitals.

Does Michael Moore hate America? No, he does not hate America. Does he hate the policies of the Bush administration, the decisions the administration has made that has resulted in so much loss of life? Yes. Does he hate the soldiers serving in Iraq? No, he does not. Moore simply shows the good and the bad of fighting a difficult war. One of the anti-Moore groups had made the claim that Moore wanted more troops killed in Iraq, which simply is not true.

As for Move America Forward: well, it would appear their boycott has not yielded any fruit, if the huge crowds at the movie theater I went to were any indication. The film is surely going to break records this weekend.

Despite its flaws, the movie should be seen, if nothing more than to know that fighting a war is not like playing a video game. It's ugly, violent, and bloody. And for people like Lila Lipscomb, it's heartbreaking.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Friday things heat up: Fahrenheit 9-11

I am ready for the movie! I have my ticket and will bust my way through any group of protesters to get into the theater. Yes, I'll be joining up with the "Hate America First" crowd to celebrate our hatred of George W. Bush and his corrupt, arrogant administration, and we're going to hold Mr. Bush, and Mr. Rumsfeld, and everyone else in his cabinet accountable for nearly 900 dead American soldiers, several thousand injured soldiers, and countless dead Iraqi civilians. We're going to hold Mr. Bush accountable for pissing off our allies, and we're going to hold him accountable for putting the United States into the toilet. Enough of this blame Bill Clinton bullshit. Clinton is history. Clinton was 2000. It's 2004. Time for right-wingers to pull their heads out of Ann Coulter's ass and wake up. Where's Osama? Where's the WMDs? How come we've allowed warlords to take over parts of Afghanistan, restoring Taliban-style rule? Why do Muslim extremists hate us? Our Fearless Leader says it's because of our freedoms. What kind of stupid-ass reason is that? Canada is a free country, and no one is going after their citizens.

And right-wingers, patriotism is NOT blindly agreeing with everything the government says or does. Patriotism can take on many forms. I can love my country and hate the way it's being governed. Patriotism is NOT flying a flag from the back of your SUV. And finally, right-wingers, pick up a law dictionary and learn what treason means. It does not mean what you think it means.

Fahrenheit 9-11 will debut despite fascist right-wingers

Despite the efforts of the pro-fascism group Move America Forward to silence Michael Moore, his new film, Fahrenheit 9-11, will debut tomorrow. And I'll be there, ready to fight my way through the lines of picketers -- if there are any with the balls to show up, that is. Movies on TV Highway, Hillsboro, for the 5:10 p.m. showing. Come on, fascists! Head to the theater and try to stop us from seeing this film.

Citizens United is another fascist right-wing group that has desperately tried to stop the showing of Moore's film by claiming the commercials are in violation of federal election laws. Can right-wingers possibly be any more pathetic? Yes, they can. The real question is, what are they so afraid of? Liberals, unlike conservatives, actually have the intellectual capacity to sift through material and determine what is fact and what is fiction. We like to think, and don't need stupid right-wing fascist groups telling us what we can and cannot see.

Stay tuned for my exclusive review of...Fahrenheit 9-11! Plus, I may be in the Friday or Saturday Oregonian.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

A New Partnership: Free World Syndicate

I'll be writing an original column (in addition to my other original column which appears at Democratic Underground, The Smirking Chimp and CounterBias) for a web site called Free World Syndicate. Their goal:

"Free World Syndicate is a network for sharing political commentary and for writers and cartoonists to gain exposure to progressive publishers and to the general public."

Right now my goal is to have a new column every other week for the syndicate, and the columns will be a bit different than what you might read at DU or Counter Bias.

I have a column up now. Give it a read and let me know what you think.

The site features political commentary, as well as editorial cartoons. Thanks to D.P. at Free World for giving me another forum for my work.

Fahrenheit 9-11 heats up

I had my interview today with Oregonian reporter Kristi Turnquist. She had seen my column about Michael Moore and wanted to get my opinion on the controversy. It was quite the honor to be a sort of unofficial spokesman for liberal supporters of Michael Moore. They may even send someone from the paper to join me on Friday when I go see the movie. It should be a great time, especially if there are protesters. There's nothing like a good protest to get me to a movie theater. Back in the late 1980s, when The Last Temptation of Christ came out, the one and only reason I went to the movie was the protests. I had to see what all of the fuss was about. There were a few protesters, who didn't say anything as I entered the theater. I suspect things will be a bit more crazy on Friday when Fahrenheit 9-11 opens. The fascists from Move America Forward will likely be out in force, trying to shove their beliefs down everyone's throats. No thanks. What the hell is the problem with these people? I wonder at what point they decided they were the moral voice for America, and would decide which movies Americans would attend. Screw that. I found an interesting quote by Sal Russo, Move America Forward's chief strategist. He said, "Once the hard-core leftist political activists have seen the film this weekend its appeal will die down because the Blame America First constituency frankly is not that large..."

If it's not that large...why does this group want to stop the movie from being shown? I don't get it.

So much for democracy, and for people deciding for themselves the merits of a film or book.

Move America Forward, if you're reading this, how about a good ole' fashioned book burning? That's a great American tradition. You know, in case the Moore boycott doesn't work out. You could start with all of those evil Harry Potter books that are the tools of Satan in getting the children of the world to practice the Dark Arts.



Monday, June 21, 2004

The Bill Clinton Book: Conservatives get even crazier

Bill Clinton's memoir, My Life, will be hitting bookstores at midnight. Already the book is #1 at Amazon.com and #1 at Barnes and Noble.com. Clearly the public is eager to eat up Clinton's book, despite its nearly 1000 pages. Right-wingers are ready with barbs and personal attacks against Clinton. The ugly truth about the nut-job right is that they are jealous of Bill Clinton. End of story. Pundits like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter have preached the same anti-Clinton message for years and, aside from the brain-dead right, no one is paying attention to the message.

Think about it for a moment: A book that's nearly 1000 pages long and retails for $35.00 is the #1 book at two of largest booksellers in the United States.

How are the pundits doing? Let's start with Tucker Carlson, who complained over and over again on today's Crossfire about the length of Clinton's book and how boring it would be (I suspect Carlson has not read the book). Tucker wrote a book not long ago called Politicians, Partisans and Parasites: My Adventure In Cable News. Right now the book is at #85,040 on Amazon's sales charts.

Sean Hannity's Deliver Us From Evil is faring better, at #251. His other book, Let Freedom Ring, is at #6,621.

Next up is Ann "I hate Arabs" Coulter. Treason is at #1,418. Slander is at #3,885.

Bill "I'm Not Conservative" O'Reilly's book, Who's Looking Out For You, is at #856.

Let's move on to a few liberal writers. Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them is at #39 (Al's book came out about the same time as O'Reilly's book).

Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot is at #1,161. Which is pretty incredible, when you consider the fact that the book was first released in 1996.

Michael Moore's Stupid White Men is at #1,168. Dude, Where's My Country is at #106.

What does all of this tell us? An opinion I've long held: conservatives do not like to read books. That would involve thinking. And right-wingers do not have time for thinking. That's why they love Rush and Sean so much. Limbaugh and Hannity can do the thinking for them.

Which brings up another question, how come conservatives do not like to think? I've thought hard about that one, and the only thing I can come up with is: they're fucking stupid. How else to explain the popularity of George W. Bush? Let's face it, Bush is not the smartest man in the world. Word is when he writes his memoirs, it'll be in comic-book format. Bush defenders will call it "a graphic novel."

It must be nice to live in a world where no thinking is required. Imagine what life would be like to rely on the deep-thinking of people like Hannity and Limbaugh. Comforting, isn't it? Actually, it's more terrifying than comforting.

Next up: I attack Ann Coulter.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

The Top 10 Conservative Idiots

Top 10 Conservative Idiots, and other musings

Once again my friends at Democratic Underground present the Top 10 Conservative Idiots. Always a great way to start the week, mainly because it's a chance to make fun of right-wingers, who frankly take themselves a little too seriously. I call it arrogance, but hey, that's just me.

A quick note, I'll be joining the gang at Counter Bias in contributing to their new blog, the Doucheblog. Since I post the heavy political commentary here, I thought I'd try a more light-hearted approach at the Doucheblog. Because, let's face it, the blog has the word Douche in its title.

Actually, Rob over at Counter Bias has done a great job with his site. He presents news and commentary with a very liberal slant, and has a good crew of writers contributing to the site. Check the site out.

Meanwhile, I'll have more anti-American Bush-bashing tomorrow. So get that hate mail ready!

Column Archive Now Available

You can find an archive of some of my latest columns over at What's In Scott's Head. My goal is to make the columns available to liberal/progressive web sites, news portals, and blogs. I do have one requirement, that you drop me a line and make a request to use the column. You'll find my e-mail address at the column archive.

Terrorists Love Michael Moore

Right-wingers, in their desperate attempts to discredit Michael Moore, have latched onto a story about how a terrorist group wants to distribute Moore's film in the Middle East. It's a cheap bit of sensationalism, trying to associate Moore with a terrorist group, and it's a cheap shot.

Move America Forward is also claiming that the movie is getting an "icy" reception and is down to 417 theaters showing the film. This, Move America Forward believes, shows how the film is going to go down in flames.

Remember Bowling For Columbine? It was initially released in just eight theaters. In its opening week -- in just those eight theaters -- the film grossed $209,148. The average per theater (and remember, there was just eight) was a staggering $26,144.

The box office numbers speak for themselves:

Sixth week, in 248 theaters, the film grossed nearly $8.8 million dollars, earning nearly $5,094 per theater.

In 30 weeks, the film never played in more than 248 theaters, yet managed to earn a total of $21.2 million dollars.

So, even if Fahrenheit 9-11 opens in just 400 theaters, it's bound to gross a ton of money, if Bowling For Columbine is any indicator.

It's also likely that the efforts of Move America Forward will send people to the movie, to see what all of the fuss is about.

So, if you go based on MAF's propaganda, I'll bet they'd love to hear from you. Here's their e-mail address.












Saturday, June 19, 2004

What's In Scott's Head Back Up

My main web portal, What's In Scott's Head, is back up...for now. Hopefully my hosting company has everything under control. So, make sure to bookmark this site, and the other site, as I will maintain this blog as a mirror to the other.

Moving America Backwards: Censoring Michael Moore

This is my latest column. It ran yesterday at The Smirking Chimp web site, and was the most-read item of the day. Today it's running at the Democratic Underground.


If the group Move America Forward has its way, come June 25th, you will not be able to see Michael Moore’s new film, Fahrenheit 9/11.

Why? Well, the main reason seems to be…we do not like what Michael Moore has to say about America. And, being freedom-loving Americans, we want to pressure movie theater chains not to screen the film.

Another question that comes to mind is, what the hell is Move America Forward? I know, I hadn’t heard of them, either, until recently. As I looked over their web site, the first thought that popped into my mind was: right-wing fascist nut cases. But that’s not fair. I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist, so I’m not qualified to make judgments on the mental health of Move America Forward’s board of directors and staff.

Apparently, Move America Forward was created by the public relations firm Russo, Marsh and Rogers a month ago. The group’s web site says they are non-partisan, but a look through the names of the board of directors shows a group lacking anyone who is a Democrat or liberal. Among the members of the board are: Chairman Howard Kaloogian, Republican and former member of the California assembly; Conservative radio talk-show host Melanie Morgan, vice-chairman; and Executive Director Siobhan Guiney, described as “a legislative advocate fighting for the people against liberal corruption.” That sounds non-partisan.

I’m guessing Move America Forward’s definition of non-partisan is something along the lines of all of us here are conservatives.

Melanie Morgan appeared on the June 16 Crossfire to argue her group’s case against Michael Moore’s film. Which, by the way, she has not seen. There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned boycott based on not knowing anything about the source material.

Questioned by Crossfire co-host James Carville on not seeing the film, Morgan explained, “…I haven’t seen the film yet. And the reason I haven't seen it yet is because the majority of America has not seen the movie, and the reason why the majority of America hasn't seen the movie is because it's only been screened for a handful of Hollywood liberals and elite media. But I have been able to discern from the footage and from the information that is available by transcript on the Internet what the true intentions of Michael Moore are.”

In addition to being conservative, Morgan is also, apparently, psychic.

Move America Forward is employing an e-mail campaign to get people to contact the executives at movie chains and urge them not to show the movie. How come conservative groups are so quick to silence voices that speak out against the government? Shouldn’t the free market decide the success or failure of Moore’s film? Frankly, I do not need “non-partisan” conservatives deciding for me whether or not to see the film. Luckily, we liberals can also make use of the e-mail addresses, and let the executives know that we want to see the movie.

And what’s the compelling reason for the movie theaters not to show the movie? Melanie Morgan explained to James Carville: “What we are doing is trying to make sure that there is an alternative voice to Michael Moore. He has received millions of dollars and free publicity over the last free weeks about this movie, on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, you name it, he's been everywhere…But not one single ordinary American has been able to stand up and say, ‘Hey, we don't appreciate that crap that is being aimed at our troops because we support our troops, we love our troops, they're friends, families, brothers and sisters, and we're going to be there for them.’”

A pretty amazing analysis based on nothing, since Morgan has not seen the film, but has read articles in newspapers to really zero in on Michael Moore’s “true” intentions.

Also, does a movie really need an “alternative voice”? Isn’t that voice going to be provided by conservative talk radio, in conservative newspapers, and on conservative web sites, like World Net Daily or Free Republic? Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity combined have millions of listeners. Surely they will offer up that all-important alternative Morgan is complaining about. Also, why wouldn’t “ordinary” Americans be able to say they don’t like a movie they haven’t seen, or will see? You know they’re going to show up at the movie theaters with their signs and their rage at the “Bash America” filmmaker, Michael Moore, getting in the way of movie theater patrons who will use the power of their own brains to decide if Moore’s message is valid.

And Mike, well, I’ll bet he’s having a good chuckle over all of this attention, especially since Move America Forward’s efforts will result in increased ticket sales. There’s nothing like a good, pointless boycott of a film you’ve never seen that will result in more people seeing the movie than if there had been no boycott.

I know I’ll be there, joining up with my fellow “Blame America First” liberals, while Michael Moore laughs all the way to the bank. Well, Move America Forward, there’s always lots of books to boycott at the local public library, if the Michael Moore boycott doesn’t work out.

About the author: Scott C. Smith is a writer from Beaverton, Oregon. His column has appeared weekly at the Democratic Underground and other progressive web sites. In addition to his column, Scott writes for his web site, What’s In Scott’s Head, at www.scottcsmith.net. Scott is a proud member of the Blame America First crowd.



My New Home (for now)

My main web site, What's In Scott's Head, has been down all day. My hosting company is apparently having big issues with their hosting servers. I wanted to have a blog with a comments section, so here it is. I'll be re-publishing stuff from my web site, so this site will be a mirror to the main site.

Kind of a slow news week, too, although there was one pretty big story, the admission by Herr Komandant Rusfeld that the United States had held an Iraqi prisoner for seven months without notifying the Red Cross, in violation of the Geneva Convention. But, as Rumsfeld told reporters, the man was "treated humanely." Phew! What a relief. It's a good thing we treat prisoners humanely when we violate their rights. Otherwise we'd be no different than, say, Iraq was under Saddam Hussein's rule. And then the human rights groups would start issuing reports on our violations of human rights. Good thing we haven't violated human rights. Oh, wait, we have. Darn. The group Human Rights First has issued a report detailing numerous human rights violations committed by George "Saddam in Spirit" Bush and his administration. Another group, Human Rights Watch, has also released a report on human rights violations comitted against prisoners of war in Iraq and elsewhere.

Some example we're setting for the world. Our leaders pick and choose which treaties to follow, such as the Geneva Convention. Need to get around those agreements? Call a prisoner of war an enemy combatant! Very clever. At the rate we're going, we'll be emulating Musolini-era Italy in no time flat.

Bush Press Conference Tools

I had suggested in a previous post that George W. Bush should issue Magic 8-Balls to reporters at press conferences, since Bush always answers each question the same way. But I've had a brainstorm: why not use a super-intelligent chicken? Here's how it would work. At a press conference, the chicken would be brought out. It would be in a cage with two push buttons: YES and NO. A reporter would ask a question, and the chicken would peck out the answer.

REPORTER: Mr. President, do you have an update on the Plame investigation?
CHICKEN: NO.

See? Not only would it provide the same quality answers as a normal Bush event, but there'd be the added bonus of a super-intelligent chicken. And, frankly, given a choice, I'd rather see a super-intelligent chicken than George W. Bush.