Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Democracy Now: Rabbi Michael Lerner, Naomi Klein, Erik Gustafson; Ari Berman; Matthew Rothschild; Bob Somerby on the silent acceptance of Ann Coulter

Democracy Now! (Marica: "always worth watching but explosive today!"):

Headlines for April 20, 2005
- Catholic Church Elects Joseph Ratzinger to Be New Pope
- Ratzinger: A Conservative, Hard-line Catholic Theologian
- Senate Panel Postpones Vote on John Bolton
- Aristide Says He Is Still President of Haiti
- US Called on To Let UN Monitors See Gitmo Detainees
- Ex-Argentine Naval Officer Sentenced to 640 Years in Prison
- ExxonMobil Spends Millions Funding Global Warming Skeptics

Pope Benedict XVI: Anti-War, Anti-Gay, Anti-Choice, Anti-Reform
Conservative German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is chosen Pope. We get reaction from the editor of a journal of theology that Ratzinger founded, a woman theologian who helped launch an open conclave and wants more involvement of women in the church, Rabbi Michael Lerner, and a reporter with the world opinion roundup. [includes rush transcript]

Naomi Klein On The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
"If the reconstruction industry is stunningly inept at rebuilding, that may be because rebuilding is not its primary purpose," writes Naomi Klein in the cover story of this week's Nation. "If anything, the stories of corruption and incompetence serve to mask this deeper scandal: the rise of a predatory form of disaster capitalism that uses the desperation and fear created by catastrophe to engage in radical social and economic engineering." [includes rush transcript]

Should U.S. Troops Withdraw Now From Iraq? A Debate Between Naomi Klein & Erik Gustafson
Within what could generally be called the anti-war movement, there is a debate on whether or not to continue the demand for the US to pull its troops out of Iraq or to press for change in the role the military is playing within the country. We speak with Nation reporter Naomi Klein and Erik Gustafson of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center. [includes rush transcript]

Anne e-mails to note Ari Berman's The Daily Outrage today. Berman sets up the scene:

For two hours, truth once again became a virtue in Washington, DC. The second-annual Ron Ridenhour Awards--sponsored by the Fertel Foundation and The Nation Institute and named after the whistle-blower who exposed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam--honored New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh, author Adrian Nicole LeBlanc and housewife-turned-activist Kristin Breitweiser for their achievements in "truth-telling."

Berman then turns the column over to Kristin Breitweiser's remarks:

"I am honored to accept the Ridenhour Truth Award and I accept it on behalf of all men, women and children who have sought Truth in their lives, including the four women---Mindy Kleinberg, Lorie Van Auken, Patty Casazza, and Monica Gabrielle--who fought along with me to seek the truth about 9/11. I am humbled by the ceremony of this award, and I accept it also in honor of my late husband, Ron Breitweiser.
In the past three years I have spent a lot of time talking about being a 9/11 widow and a victim's advocate for intelligence community reforms. I appeared frequently in the print and televised media discussing my transformation from a stay-at-home mom whose specialty it was to design children's gardens to a victim's rights advocate whose specialty has become national security. My transformation was urgent, drastic and not chosen by me. But, I no longer want to talk about my transformation. Instead, I want to talk about my country's post-9/11 transformation. A transformation unlike mine in that it was systematically and deliberately chosen.
Where are we today? Are the democratic principles that Osama Bin Laden tried to destroy on 9/11 still safely intact? Do nations around the world still respect and admire Americans? Are we still 'all Americans' like we were in the immediate wake of September 11th when almost every country in the world declared their solidarity with us? Or have we squandered that worldwide good will, faith and common purpose to fight terrorism? Have we learned any lessons since 9/11? And, most importantly, have our country's choices made us any safer than we were pre-9/11?
Isn't it true that instead of fixing airline security, port security, mass transportation, local response, and securing loose nukes and biological components, we spent billions on starting a war with Iraq---a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11? And, instead of capturing Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, we captured Saddam Hussein in Iraq with no weapons of mass destruction? Isn't it true that because of our invasion of Iraq terrorist recruitment for Al Qaeda has soared, making us even less safe than we were before the Iraq war? Remember that we were supposed to go to war in Iraq to eliminate a real threat. Isn't it true that now because of our foreign policy in Iraq, we have only created a real threat to the world's security and ours? Isn't it true that instead of successfully prosecuting Al Qaeda terrorists and bringing them to justice, all we hear about is torturing 'enemy combatants' and detaining them indefinitely--a concept far removed from the American ideal of justice? Isn't it true that instead of opening up government to restore trust and faith, we created the Patriot Act? And, isn't it true that instead of pursuing alternative energy resources to decrease our dependency on foreign oil, we invaded oil-rich countries and passed no alternative energy legislation in the meantime?

That's an excerpt. For more, please read Berman's column.

Lyle e-mails in to note Matthew Rothschild's latest McCarthyism Watch:

April 7 was opening night for a new exhibit at the Glass Curtain Gallery of Columbia College Chicago.
Two Secret Service agents paid a visit just before the doors opened to the public.
They were not art aficionados.
They were there to inspect the exhibit, which is called "Axis of Evil: The Secret History of Sin."
The exhibit consists of depictions of political postage stamps about such topics as racism, violence, torture, the Catholic Church, George Bush, John Ashcroft, and the Iraq War. Forty-seven artists, including some from Canada, England, France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Switzerland, Serbia, and Uruguay, contributed to the traveling exhibit.
The agents "took photos of some of the works and asked for the artists' contact information, said CarolAnn Brown, the gallery's director," the AP reported. "Brown said the agents were most interested in Chicago artist Al Brandtner's work titled "Patriot Act," which depicted a sheet of mock 37-cent red, white, and blue stamps showing a revolver pointed at Bush's head."
To see that stamp and other works in the exhibit, go to:
(Brandtner did not return phone calls from the AP or The Progressive for comment.)
The day after the opening, a Secret Service agent called the gallery, again seeking contact information for Brandtner, according to the Daily Southtown. She did not provide it, the paper said.

And Dallas sends in Bob Somerby's post today from The Daily Howler. Somerby starts out by noting Carl Bernstein ("our frankest press bigfoot")'s truth telling and wondering where the other truth tellers are:

At a press convention in Kansas, Bernstein said, quote, "The consequences to a society that is misinformed and disinformed by the grotesque values of this idiot culture are truly perilous. For the first time in our history," he went on, "the weird, the stupid, the coarse, the sensational and the untrue are becoming our cultural norm, even our cultural ideal."
Bernstein has given this speech before, but his timing last week was superb. (For a local report, just click here.) Indeed, he could have been talking about Time's decision to put Ann Coulter on its cover. Yes, when Time takes our craziest pundit and tries to mainstream her through its cover, we're seeing the triumph of "idiot culture," in which "the weird, the stupid, the coarse and untrue are becoming our cultural ideal." Put more simply, we're seeing things falling apart.
What are "the consequences to our society" from the press corps' idiot culture? In the campaign which transformed our national politics, they worked for two years to make Gore seem crazy. Now, they're working to make Coulter seem sane. And yes, this is being driven by reactionary forces who want to roll back the last century's advances. Because this is such an ominous event, we'll discuss it for the rest of the week.
But try to make our young career writers comment on this matter. As of 11 A.M. Eastern today,
no one at Tapped had said a word about Time's kooky love song to Coulter. Nor has Josh Marshall said Word the First. And this is Kevin Drum’s full assessment:
COULTER-MANIA.... Looking for an antidote to Time's mash note to Ann Coulter this week? Try "The Wisdom of Ann Coulter," an oldie but goody from the Washington Monthly archives.

Drum has many thoughts about the new food pyramid. But he offers no thoughts about Time.
But that's the way it tends to be at sites that work inside the circle. To put this silence in perspective, here's something
Jack Shafer recently said at Slate:
SHAFER (4/8/05): I started writing press criticism at Washington City Paper back in 1986, because as editor I couldn't get anybody else to do it. Writers were frightened that if they penned something scathing about the Washington Post or the New York Times they'd screw themselves out of a future job. Today, the sort of dagger and epee work I used to perform on big media gets done by hundreds of bloggers before I can rise and read the morning paper. Thanks to blogs, we've gone from a culture where few criticized the press to one where it's the new national pastime.

Huh! Indeed, "hundreds of bloggers" are savaging Time for its bizarre product-placement of Coulter. But from within the established organs--from press-connected, professional sites which might even have some actual influence--we largely hear the sounds of silence. But then, these same self-dealers had nothing to say when the Times and the Post elected George Bush through their two-year War Against Gore. (Indeed, they avoid this topic even now.) They maintained their Code of Silence then, and they're maintaining their silence now. Result? Bush is in the Oval Office, and Coulter's on the cover of Time. But so what--their brilliant careers are still on track! Yes, it's one of the obvious ways "the weird and the stupid" become our ideal. It's the way things fall apart.

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