Friday, February 25, 2005

Democracy Now; BuzzFlash, The Daily Howler, CounterPunch, Liberal Oasis . . .

Democracy Now! has important coverage (as usual) on Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, Tasers and Brian Avery. Also note the headlines.
Headlines for February 25, 2005
- Bush Wraps Up European Trip
- Pope Undergoes Emergency Surgery, Cannot Speak
- FDA Advisors That Supported Return of Vioxx Worked for Company
- Another Brazilian Environmentalist Shot Dead
- "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Costs Taxpayers $200 Million
- Rep. Hinchey Says Rove Behind CBS Documents
Justice Dept. Accuses U.S. Citizen Jailed in Saudi Arabia for 20 Months Without Charge of Plotting to Kill Bush
We take a look at the case of Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, the U.S. citizen who spent nearly two years in a Saudi prison where he says he was tortured before being returned to the United States. He now stands accused of plotting to kill the president. We speak with one of his lawyers and a family friend. [includes rush transcript]
Shocking Weapons: Taser Launches Campaign to Market New Model to U.S. Public
Taser International - the maker of Taser electro-shock weapons - announced this month that they will begin a major campaign to market a new model of the weapon to consumers. We speak with the head of Amnesty International, which issued a new report on Taser, as well as a lawyer representing the family of a man killed by police with a Taser gun in January 2005. [includes rush transcript]
U.S. Peace Activist Brian Avery Returns to Israel Two Years After Being Shot in the Face
We go to Israel to speak with U.S. peace activist Brian Avery. In April 2003, he was shot in the face - he says - by Israeli forces. His face was shattered, with his tongue split in two, forcing him to undergo a series of facial reconstruction surgeries. [includes rush transcript]

Over at The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby's dealing with a number of issues today. (And please note, it appears we'll have a Saturday Howler tomorrow.) Here he's evaluating Rachel Maddow's appearence on MSNBC (Maddow is a co-host of Unfiltered -- yes, I'm a big fan of Unfiltered and of Lizz Winstead, Chuck D and Rachel Maddow):

Just yesterday, we mentioned the need for the liberal web to develop controlling Master Narratives for liberals. Why do Dems, libs and centrists need Master Narratives?
[. . .]
The stage was set for a Big Liberal Triumph. Amazingly, Scarborough had assembled a panel which featured two liberals and only one conservative. And how absurd was the conduct at issue? USA Next's attacks on the AARP had been so absurd that even Scarborough rolled his eyes at the pseudo-con group as he introduced the discussion. ("They went so far as to say AARP supports gay marriage and is anti-soldier.") Here was the perfect chance for liberal spokesmen to state the obvious: Conservatives keep making a joke of your discourse. These groups keep trying to treat us like fools. The controlling point for the liberals was obvious: There they go again, dear viewers! But liberals have failed, in the past many years, to establish any Master Narratives. So note what happened when Scarborough began by throwing to Air America's Rachel Maddow:

MADDOW (2/24/05): USA Next has said they want to spend $10 million against AARP. Now, they don't want to spend $10 million promoting the president's plan on Social Security. They literally want to spend $10 million tearing down AARP. I do think it’s kind of funny that they decided to do it by saying that AARP loves gay marriage -- that was a real surprise to me. I think that was an unusual choice. But you know, with $10 million, you can probably make anything stick. I just want to know who funds these guys.

At the very best, that gets a C-minus. Given the chance to state a Large Theme -- conservatives constantly peddle this nonsense -- Maddow fell back on a weak, tired line: I want to know where their money comes from. But readers, who gives a sh*t where their money comes from? Unless you explain what's wrong with what they're saying and doing, it just doesn't matter who gives them their money!
But Maddow made little attempt to say what was wrong with what USA Next said. (Her talking-point seemed to be: "USA Next has $10 million." Why should a voter care?) This had been the Perfect Chance to say that they're trying to treat you like fools, just the way the always do -- but Maddow settled for a weak alternative.

Somerby goes on to offer a stronger possible response and to discuss Paul Krugman's column in this morning's New York Times. (Among other topics.)

For all you Cokie Roberts' fans . . . Oh, that's right, she doesn't have any here. If you find yourself in need of a good laugh, Sunday morning on This Week (ABC) Cokie will appear on the panel. Will she do her usual clutch-the-pearls 'journalism' or will she try to highlight her lighter side by stealing jokes from Maureen Dowd? One never knows what to expect from Cokie. (Donna Brazille will also be on the panel. Along with fashion plate George Will. Watch if you must. If it helps you decide, Ahnuld will be on.)

What's over at NBC's Meet the Press Sunday? They'll have the real Maureen Dowd. Along with Rick Santorum, Joe Biden, neighborhood crank William Safire and global crank Thomas Friedman.

I won't be watching either.

The shows descend to theatrics and posturing and are too damaging to my mood. But an e-mail asked if I had any idea of who was on. If you go the show's web sites, you can sign up for web alerts. [No links provided -- search it if you must -- because we try to link to worthy things.]

If Katrina vanden Heuvel were on either, or Amy Goodman, Dahr Jamail or anyone who would make a strong case and speak from informed view we'd highlight the shows. But the shows are a joke to me and they reduce the people to an aside. (This was not always the case with Meet the Press which was once home -- pre-Tim Russert -- to some actual discussions.)

You can check Liberal Oasis on Monday for a summary of the Sunday chat and chews. You can also be sure that if anything noteworthy occurs, Bob Somerby will highlight it
on The Daily Howler. But I know many members enjoy Maureen Dowd and that many members loathe Cokie Roberts. So that's the heads up. (And we'll provide it anytime someone requests it.)

Speaking of Liberal Oasis, Bill Scher has an entry we need to highlight today:

You’d think folks would learn.
Recall that back in November 2002, the US persuaded the UN to vote to send inspectors back into Iraq.
And the pundits were in consensus: Powell wins! The neocons are defeated! Bush embraces multilateralism!
But it is clear, in retrospect, that the UN was used by Bush so he could pretend every diplomatic channel was exhausted before going in (and appease a skittish Tony Blair).
Similarly, how many times have we heard that Bush has shifted course in North Korea, and is serious about negotiating an agreement?
Now, the media are falling for it again, as a “senior administration official” told reporters trailing Bush in Europe that there is a “shift” in “attitude” (as opposed to actual policy) regarding how to handle Iran.

Don't miss NOW's item in Phill Kline:

"The National Organization for Women condemns the latest action by anti-abortion zealots bent on invading the privacy of women and girls," said NOW President Kim Gandy. "This is outrageous harassment of women and their doctors for base political motives."The Kansas Attorney General, Phill Kline, is seeking medical records of women -- including their name, medical history, sexual history, birth control practices and psychological profiles -- from two state abortion clinics as part of an alleged criminal investigation he claims is about sexual abuse of minors.
[. . .]
Kline has a pattern of trying to force medical providers to report information about the past sexual history of women. In 2003, his office tried to obtain information about girls younger than 16 who engaged in sexual activity."There's obviously no allegation of wrongdoing or criminal behavior by these women -- if there were, they'd have the right to know the charges, the right to challenge release of their information, the right to confront their accusers, the right to due process and the right to an attorney," said Gandy. "But these women don't even have basic rights in Kansas. Phill Kline should be impeached for gross misuse of his office and abuse of public trust."

[And in answer to Sylvia's question today, "Phill" is the spelling. Sylvia wondered if I'd mispelled the name in this morning's entry. Never hesitate to ask that. If "I" had two letters, I'm sure I could find a way to mispell it. But "Phill" is the correct spelling.]

Who's the BuzzFlash Hypocrite of the week?"A Day Early: George W. Bush Makes His First Appearance of THIS Year as the BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Year. A Must Read and Listen."

Over at CounterPunch, Sharon Smith has (my opinion) an important commentary entitled"The Anti-War Movement After Kerry: Learning All the Wrong Lessons." Here's the opening:

It is unfortunately a little-known fact that thousands of high school and college students across the country organized walkouts against the war on January 20, marching as organized contingents to counter-inaugural demonstrations in Boulder, Colo.; Los Angeles; Chicago; San Francisco; Austin, Texas; and other cities.
At Seattle Central Community College (SCCC), students took a few minutes on their way out of the building to confront military recruiters--forcing them to flee under the protection of campus security officers. One of the recruiters, claiming student protesters flung newspapers and water bottles in his direction, told the Seattle Post Intelligencer, "They were all going by, making offhand comments and saying 'no war.' We just waved at them. Five minutes later, there was just a mob of 500 people surrounding the table."
There is a student rebellion in the making, coalescing around opposition to the war and its military recruiters--with students by the hundreds defying threats of disciplinary action.
Despite their potential to transform the political landscape, however, the significance of these militant student actions has so far escaped the leaders of the nation's established antiwar organizations.
Indeed, after fostering the illusion that supporting pro-war, neoliberal John Kerry represented the only "realistic" strategy for those who oppose the war, these antiwar leaders now seem to have learned all the wrong lessons from Kerry's defeat in November.
Rather than seizing the opportunity in the months before the election to strengthen the antiwar movement as a clear alternative for the millions opposed to Bush, virtually the entire movement came to a standstill to support the Democratic Party's chosen candidate--leaving those against the war with no organized expression to the left of Kerry's "hunt down and kill the terrorists" mantra. Even as the torture scandal at Abu Ghraib surfaced, and the U.S. invaded Falluja and Najaf, finally flattening Falluja in November, the U.S. antiwar movement maintained its silence.