Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Bob Somerby (Daily Howler) on Kinsley, John Walsh (CounterPunch) on Franken, Code Pink's Mother's Day Call for Peace

Today's Daily Howler finds Bob Somerby addressing a number of issues. We'll emphasize an excerpt where Somerby's contrasting Kinsley and Will:

Oh, how the mighty have fallen! Michael Kinsley was raving hard about Bush's great honesty in Sunday's Post (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/2/05). "There was a remarkable amount of honesty and near-honesty," the fiery liberal columnist said, discussing last Thursday's presidential press conference. "Above all, Bush was honest and even courageous about Social Security." In fact, one day after Bush's conference, he journeyed out to Falls Church, Virginia--and baldly lied about his proposal. (And yes, the things Bush did and said that day can only be described as a "lie.") Good grief! We've really dumbed dishonesty down when we praise Bush, two days later, for his vast honesty on this subject. And we've really dumbed dishonesty down when our great "liberal spokesmen" do this.
But forget about that trip to Falls Church; despite the praise that Kinsley lavished, Bush wasn't especially honest about Social Security at his press conference, either. He continued to make his favorite misleading statement: "By 2041, Social Security will be bankrupt." He made the silly claim Dana Milbank later cited, about the 1983 reform: "They thought we had it fixed 22 years ago for 75 years, and here we are, 22 years later after the fix, talking about it again." (We're only talking about it because Bush brought it up. According to the CBO, that fix will hold for 47 more years.) Most important, he made another key statement, one that can easily mislead the public: "I propose that future generations receive benefits equal to or greater than the benefits today's seniors get." That claim creates a misleading picture in the mind of average viewers. Today's seniors get 36 percent of their previous income; with Bush, it may drop at low as 20 percent. But alas! Very few people would get that picture from the statement Bush made this evening. No, we wouldn't call Bush vile names for this, or say he was "lying" in this instance. But it's amazing to think that a fiery liberal would praise this outing as "remarkably honest and even courageous." And it's especially amazing when you think about what George Will later said.
Yep, that the way it now works in America's press corps. If you want to hear Bush's deepest motives examined, you can't turn to burned-out "liberals" like Kinsley; you may have to turn to a major conservative! On Sunday morning, Kinsley's column was telling the world how courageous and honest Bush had been. But on This Week, George Will was still functioning as a searching observer. The "liberal," Kinsley, praised Bush up and down. But on ABC, the conservative said this:
STEPHANOPOULOS (5/1/05): One other point on that--the personal accounts, if you take them, also require an extra cut in the guaranteed benefit.
Exactly. So what you're doing is you're making Social Security less and less relevant to a majority of the American people [under the provisions of Bush’s plan]. You're stigmatizing it, if you will, by means-testing. That's what this is. They're now means-testing Social Security so it becomes a poverty program.

From CounterPunch, Trevor e-mails John Walsh's "Al Franken is a Big Fat Phoney:"

At one point last December at the time of his last visit to "the troops," Franken exclaimed that he "did not know what to do" about Iraq. Several weeks ago Franken was in fine fettle over the first anniversary of his Air America program to which considerable time was devoted; but it was also about the time of the second anniversary of the war's beginning. The numerous anti-war demonstrations at that time received not a word of coverage
Franken himself is full of praise for "the troops." He does not say that these troops are being used as cannon fodder in a criminal war ­ simply that they are doing "a great job." There is no systematic tracking of either U.S. or Iraqi casualties. Each week the conservative, John McLaughlin, on his PBS program tracks the Iraqis killed and the Americans killed and wounded in Iraq. No such segment exists on Franken's program - nor on any other Air American Radio program as far as I know. It speaks volumes that the conservative McLaughlin provides a more biting critque of the war than Franken and his cronies can muster.
Adversaries of the war who call for immediate and total withdrawal, like Ralph Nader or Michael Moore, are not to be found on the Franken frequency. Surprisingly, a few days back Franken had as a guest Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia, and a proponent of withdrawal from Iraq. Franken did not seem to know much about him. As Khalidi broached the subject of withdrawal form Iraq, Franken's co-host, Katherine Lanpher, interrupted with the observation that American troops might need to stay in Iraq "to make that part of the world safe for democracy." Ever on his toes, Franken changed the subject, a break ensued, and the subject was dropped. There was no further mention of withdrawal. Even after Ted Kennedy proposed immediate and prompt withdrawal, Democratic stalwart Franken did not take up this call. Like the rest of the Democratic establishment, he lent no support to Kennedy who has now fallen silent on the topic.

From Code Pink, "Mother's Day Call for Peace:"

Mother's Day is not a Hallmark holiday. It is a call to peace by women who lost their sons in the Civil War. Go to the bottom of this page to read the real history and intention in Julia Ward Howe's 1870 proclamation that created Mother's Day.This Mother's Day, let us transform Julia's words into action.
Here are several ideas:
1. Vigil or protest at your local recruiting station on Saturday, May 7th, the day before Mother's Day. We have created a guide for you that includes background information on the counter-recruitment movement and suggestions for actions, chants, banner ideas and educational links. Invite your mom, sister, children and other activists in your community to join. Please contact us with your plans so we can announce your action in our national press release. We hope to have 30 actions happening around the country on May 7th. Click here to see a list of actions happening nationwide!

There are three other ideas listed. Click the link to read more.

Code Pink has a book out entitled Stop the Next War Now. For more information, see Code Pink or BuzzFlash. The book contains contributions from a number of women this community has noted and highlighted. Among the contributors: Medea Benjamin, Amy Goodman, Barbara Lee, Naomi Klein, Eve Ensler and Arianna Huffington.

The e-mail address for this site is

[Note: This post has been corrected with regard to the list of contributors to Stop the Next War Now. In addition, the title has been corrected. I had wrongly called it How to Stop the Next War Now.]