November 25, 2003
Got Wingnuts on Your Christmas List? 15 Fabulous Gifts for Freepers
By Maureen Farrell
With Christmas approaching, you’re probably already dreading the annual holiday hunt. Chances are, you’ve got plenty of conservatives on your list, and just as likely, they’re people you admire yet respectfully disagree with. But you may also have a couple hard-nosed ideologues to consider. What do you get the Freeper who thinks he knows everything?
Ignorance is bliss, as they say, but in many cases, intervention is necessary. Granted, your Wingnut may balk and his or her head may spin ‘round and ‘round like that little girl in The Exorcist, but a temporary case of Linda Blairitis is a small price to pay for peace on Earth and good will towards men, isn’t it?
That's why books make perfect presents – provided your favorite Freeper isn’t tragically overwhelmed by assaults to his rigidly fragile belief system (The book, Rating the Presidents, for example, ranks Ronald Reagan lower than Bill Clinton in “character and integrity,” which could send any Wingnut into a catatonic stupor). And so, you may want to find books that gently counter your loved one’s numbskull notions and then nonchalantly bookmark the pages and highlight the paragraphs which most accurately apply, like so:
1) For the "Love It or Leave Its" on Your List:
Lies and the Lying Lies Who Tell Them: A Fair And Balanced Look At The Right, Al Franken, page 24:
"If you listen to a lot of conservatives, they’ll tell you that the difference between them and us is that conservatives love America and liberals hate America. That we 'blame America first'. . .
They don’t get it. We love America just as much as they do. But in a different way. You see, they love America the way a four-year-old loves her mommy. Liberals love America like grown-ups. To a four-year-old, everything Mommy does is wonderful and anyone who criticizes Mommy is bad. Grown-up love means actually understanding what you love, taking the good with the bad and helping the loved one grow."
2) For Those Still Obsessed with Bill Clinton’s Penis:
Dude, Where's My Country?, Michael Moore, pages 20-21:
“This is mind boggling. Here you have two dozen bin Ladens on American soil, Mr. Bush, and you come up with some lame excuse that you were worried abut ‘their safety.’ Might it have been possible that at least one of the twenty-four bin Ladens would have possibly known something? Or maybe one of them could have been ‘convinced’ to help track Osama down?
Nope. None of that. So while thousands were stranded and could not fly, if you could prove you were a close relative of the biggest mass murderer in U.S. history, you got a free trip to gay Paree!
Of course the bin Ladens have been your business associates. Why wouldn’t you do a little favor for some of the old family friends? But, to use the Clinton analogy again, imagine, in the hours after the Oklahoma City bombing, Bill Clinton suddenly started worrying about the ‘safety’ of the McVeigh family up in Buffalo – and then arranged for a free trip out of the country. What would you and the Republicans have said about that? Suddenly, a stain on a blue dress wouldn’t have been the top priority for a witch hunt, would it?”
3) For Wingnuts Who Prattle on about Bush’s Decency:
What Liberal Media?: The Truth About Bias And The News, Eric Alterman, pages 172-173:
“While Bush claims publicly to ‘do everything I can to defend the power of private property and private property rights,’ he and his partners in the Texas Rangers arranged for Texas authorities to expropriate private land investors to build their new baseball stadium. When some owners resisted, or balked at the low process being offered, their land was condemned and expropriated by force of law. This occurred on 270 acres of land, even though only about seventeen acres were needed for the ballpark. The rest was used by Bush and Co. for commercial development and has provided the basis of Bush’s personal fortune.”
4) For Those Who Believe "They Hate Us for Our Freedoms":
All the Shah's Men: An American Coup And The Roots of Terror In The Middle East, Stephen Kinzer, page ix:
“One day I attended a book party for an older Iranian woman who had written her memoirs. . . After she finished speaking, I couldn’t resist the temptation to ask a question. ‘You mentioned Mossadegh,’ I said. ‘What do you remember, or what can you tell us, about the coup against him?’ She immediately became agitated and animated.
‘Why did you Americans do that terrible thing?’ she cried out. ‘We always loved America. To us, America was the great country, the perfect country, the country that helped us while others were exploiting us. But after that moment, no one in Iran ever trusted the United States again. I can tell you for sure that if you had not done that thing, you would never have had that problem of hostages being taken in your embassy in Tehran. All your trouble started in 1953. Why, why did you do it?’”
5) For Dorks Who Misread Bush’s Post-9/11 Popularity:
Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got To Be So Hated, Gore Vidal, page 20:
“Simultaneously, Bush’s approval rating soared, but then, traditionally, in war, the president is totemic like the flag. When Kennedy got his highest rating after the debacle of the Bay of Pigs, he observed, characteristically, ‘It would seem that the worse you fu*k up in this job the more popular you get.’”
6) For Anyone Underestimating the "Con" in Neocon:
Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses Of Propaganda In Bush’s War On Iraq, Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, pages 48-49:
“In testimony before Congress on February 25, 1998, Paul Wolfowitz urged Congress to authorize the [Iraqi Liberation Act] as a way of getting rid of Saddam without using U.S. ground troops. ‘Help the Iraqi people remove him from power,’ Wolfowitz said. He added, ‘However – and I think this is very important -- the estimate that it would take a major invasion with U.S. ground forced seriously overestimates Saddam Hussein.’
At the time, these words were meant to reassure members of Congress. The idea of a U.S.-engineered ‘regime change’ was still considered radical and dangerous, and Wolfowitz wanted to make it clear that he was not asking them to sign on to the even more dangerous idea of drawing America into an outright war. Five years later, however, the inauguration of George W. Bush and the post-9/11 war on terrorism would put Wolfowitz and other neoconservatives back in the driver’s seat of U.S foreign policy. Nine days after the September 11 attacks, PNAC [the Project for a New American Century] sent an open letter to President Bush, calling not only for the destruction of Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network, but also to extend the war to Iraq, and take measures against Iran, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority.”
7) For Poetry-Lovers:
Pieces of Intelligence: The Existential Poetry of Donald H. Rumsfeld, compiled and edited by Hart Seely, page 77:
You saw what happened in Afghanistan:
The people went out in the streets,
And they were joyous
And they had balloons
And they played music
And they welcomed the U.S.
Because everyone knows
The United States doesn’t want to occupy Iraq.
8) For Dunderheads Who Still Think the 2000 Election Was Legit:
The Clinton Wars, Sidney Blumenthal, pages 769 -770
“On June 8, 2001, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, after extensive hearings, approved a report on ‘Election Practices in Florida During the 200 Campaign’. . . The report stated:
‘The Commission’s finding make one thing clear: widespread voter disenfranchisement -- not the dead-heat contest – was the extraordinary feature in the Florida election. . . The disenfranchisement of Florida’s voters fell most harshly on the shoulders of black voters. . .
After carefully and fully examining all the evidence, the Commission found a strong basis for concluding that violations of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) occurred in Florida. . . The state’s highest officials responsible for ensuring efficiency, uniformity, and fairness in the election failed to fulfill their responsibilities and were subsequently unwilling to take responsibility. . .’
No one knows how many black voters were improperly scrubbed from the rolls or how many ballots marked with clear intent were not counted. But certainly there were more than enough of those ballots to have elected Gore if they had been.”
9) For Anyone Who Ever Sent You a "Clinton Body Count" List:
Blinded by the Right: The Conscience Of An Ex-Conservative, David Brock, page 331
“As George Bush took office, I wondered if everything I had seen on the right in the ‘90s was just a prelude for what was about to happen. As Bush’s government was assembled, with Clarence Thomas’ wife Ginni handling the flow of resumes from the Heritage Foundation over to the White House personnel office, many of the key players made up a rogues’ gallery from my past. As I scanned a column in the Washington Post each morning where the new Bush appointees’ names were announced, it was glaringly apparent that this is what the Clinton wars had been all along. The Federalist Society of right-wing lawyers who had been the heart of the anti-Clinton conspiracy turned out to be a virtual Bush government in exile; the new administration’s policies of tax cuts for the wealthy, slashing environmental protections, and rolling back civil rights bore the Society’s stamp, as did many of Bush’s nominees to the federal bench.”
10) For Those Who Consider FOX News "Fair and Balanced":
The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way In The New Century, Paul Krugman, pages 288-289
“Surveys show that a majority of Americans think that some or all of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Iraqi, while many believe that Saddam Hussein was involved in Sept. 11, a claim even the Bush administration has never made. And since many Americans think that the need for a war against Saddam is obvious, they think that Europeans who won't go along are cowards.
Europeans, who don't see the same things on TV, are far more inclined to wonder why Iraq — rather than North Korea, or for that matter Al Qaeda — has become the focus of U.S. policy. That’s why many of them question American motives. . .They don’t see opposition to an Iraq War as cowardice; they see it as courage, a matter of standing up to the bullying Bush administration.
There are two possible explanations for the great trans-Atlantic media divide. One is that European media have a pervasive anti-American bias that leads them to distort the news, even in countries like the U.K. where the leaders of both major parties are pro-Bush and support an attack on Iraq. The other is that some U.S. media outlets — operating in an environment in which anyone who questions the administration's foreign policy is accused of being unpatriotic — have taken it as their assignment to sell the war, not to present a mix of information that might call the justification for war into question.
So which is it? I've reported, you decide.”
11) For Wingnuts Who Think Liberals Are Weenies:
Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts The Truth, Joe Conason, page 66
“[T]he startling fact is that liberal Democratic politicians are at least as likely to have done military service as their Republican opponents and critics. Among the U.S. senators in the 107th Congress, the percentage of veterans was slightly higher among Democrats than among Republicans (if service in the Vietnam-era National Guard is excluded). That sort of statistic wouldn’t matter so much if not for the right’s continuing indulgence in venomous attacks on the patriotism of liberals and Democrats.”
12) For Anyone Who Unconditionally Trusts the Pentagon:
Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, James Bamford, page 82
“According to secret and long-hidden documents obtained for Body of Secrets, The Joint Chiefs of Staff drew up and approved plans for what may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the U.S. government. In the name of anticommunism, they proposed launching a secret bloody war of terrorism against their own country in order to trick the American public into supporting an ill-conceived war they intended to launch against Cuba.
Codenamed Operation Northwoods, the plan, which had the written approval of the Chairman and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refuges fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked.”
13) For Anyone Who Unconditionally Trusts the Bushes:
Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul For Saudi Crude, Robert Baer, pages 48, 51
“Call it poetic coincidence. But right as the Carlyle Group was getting into its annual investor conference at Washington’s Ritz Carlton Hotel on September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon, only two and a half miles to the south. . . At the meeting were the group’s senior counsel, James Baker, secretary of state in the Bush I administration; then Carlyle chairman Frank Carlucci, Ronald Reagan’s last secretary of defense and national security advisor before that; and Shafiq bin Laden, representing the Bin Laden Group -- one of the world’s largest construction companies – but far more famous today as Osama bin Laden’s brother. The gathering was the perfect metaphor for Washington’s strange affair with Saudi Arabia. . .
Carlye’s most famous advisor is George Herbert Walker Bush, the forty-first president of the United States. . . Indeed, even as his son was campaigning for the presidency in 2000, papa Bush flew to a posh desert compound outside Riyadh to discuss Saudi-U.S. business relationships with Crown Prince ‘Abdallah. Carlyle insists that Bush was not carrying the investment firm’s portfolio on the trip, but it could not have escaped the notice of his superwealthy hosts that G.H.W. Bush is a trusted and highly valued Carlyle senior advisor – with a son making a run at the White House.”
14) For Semi-Sentient Female Freepers:
Secrets of the Tomb: Skull And Bones, The Ivy League, And the Hidden Paths of Power, Alexandra Robbins, pages 157-158:
“The plaintiffs claimed that admitting women [into Skull and Bones] would lead to ‘date rape’ in the ‘medium-term future’ and that before women could be admitted to the society, a change in society bylaws was necessary. Bones held a second vote on October 24. More than 425 members came to the tomb and hundreds more voted by proxy; the votes tallied 368 to 320 in favor that women should be elected to the society. The women were initiated on Sunday, October 27. Senators David Boren and John Kerry later disclosed that they voted for the admittance of women. George Bush and George W. Bush have never confessed how they voted, though George W. might have provided a clue when he told PBS producer Lynn Novick, a woman who graduated from Yale in 1983, that ‘Yale went downhill since they admitted women.’”
15) For Blowhards Who Pontificate About JFK and ‘Nam:
Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam And The Pentagon Papers, by Daniel Ellsberg
“But what wasn’t clear to me was how Kennedy could have been so prescient in 1961, or where he would have gotten such a strong personal commitment, as to draw an absolute line against American ground combat in Vietnam. Bobby had not said that his brother had already decided in 1961 to withdraw from Vietnam; he had simply told me that JFK preferred to and intended to do that rather than to send ground troops. . . .I asked, a little impudently, ‘What made him so smart?’. . .
‘Because we were there!’ He slammed the desktop again. His face contorted in anger and pain. ‘We were there, in 1951. We saw what was happening to the French. We saw it. My brother was determined, determined, never to let that happen to us.’”
Maureen Farrell is a writer and media consultant who specializes in helping other writers get television and radio exposure.
© Copyright 2003, Maureen Farrell
otherwise noted, all original