Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Democracy Now: Danfur Genocide, Daniel Ellsberg, Students occupy Univ. of Hawaii; Daily Howler, Matthew Rothschild, Ruth Conniff, Amitabh Pal

Democracy Now! (Marcia: "always worth watching"):

Headlines for May 3, 2005
- Two Dozen More Die In Iraq; 140 Dead Since Friday
- Gen. Myers: U.S. Military Is Overextended
- Military Recruiters Caught Urging Student to Lie
- Annan Urges U.S. & Russia To Reduce Nuclear Arsenal
- NJ Officials Post $1M Reward For Capture of Assata Shakur
- Farrakhan, Jackson Announced Millions More March
- Family of Slain UK Journalist Sues Israel
- Boston to Pay Family $5M For Pepper Spray Pellet Death

Bush Administration Allied With Sudan Despite Role in Darfur Genocide
The Los Angeles Times has revealed that the U.S. has quietly forged a close intelligence partnership with Sudan despite the government's role in the mass killings in Darfur. We speak with Ken Silverstein, the reporter who broke the story, Salih Booker, the director of Africa Action as well as Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ).

Pentagon Papers Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg Blasts U.S. Nuclear Proliferation Policies
It's been 60 years since the dawn of the nuclear age. Thirty years since the end of the Vietnam War. We speak with a man who helped end that war - Vietnam whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg.

Students Occupy Univ. of Hawaii Building to Protest Construction of Military Center
A group of students at the University of Hawaii have been occupying the administration building to protest the construction of a Navy Military Research Center on their campus. We speak with one of the students occupying the building.

Over at The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby is expanding on yesterday's theme regarding Democrats blowing TV time on the Sunday Chat & Chews. Tiffany e-mailed that she wished that had been highlighted yesterday so since Somberby's expanding on it today, we'll excerpt from that section which focuses on Nancy Pelosi's remarks on Social Security:

PELOSI: I'm setting up the--why there is a problem. Secondly, you can't take the money with no intention of paying it back. When President Reagan and Speaker O'Neill went to the table they established a robust trust fund that would keep us, this trust fund solvent and pay full benefits until the middle of the 21st century. Take whichever date you want. This proposal that the president put forth on Friday is an assault on the middle class, a guaranteed stream of income for them will now be reduced. The president says we're helping lower income people more. No, lower income people are, excuse me, are treated the same.
Let's say it straight--Democrats should be appalled, insulted, enraged, dismayed, to suffer this kind of representation. This chaotic conversation went on and on (text below)--but Pelosi was inept, unprepared.
In closing, let's make one important point about the way Dems might approach this.
This whole discussion starts with a forecast--the forecast of the SS trustees, who say that there will be a $3.7 trillion shortfall over 75 years. But Dems are under no obligation to accept this gloomy projection. Indeed, at the start of her session with Stephanopoulos, Pelosi rejected this gloomy forecast; she said she preferred the CBO forecast, under which the problem doesn’t begin until 2052. But as is typical of her work on this subject, Pelosi failed to make an obvious connection. If the CBO forecast is the one we use, the projected shortfall is only $2 trillion. But according to conventional accounts, the Pozen plan which Bush is pimping cuts benefits by $3 trillion during that time-span. In other words, Bush is massively slashing benefits to stem a shortfall which may not even exist. If Pelosi prefers the CBO forecast, Bush is cutting benefits by 50 percent more than is needed to achieve budget balance.
For ourselves, we'd very much like to see Big Dems discuss that CBO forecast. But uh-oh! This party just can't get its stories straight. On Meet the Press, Dodd gave a coherent reply to the basic question--but he insisted, completely falsely, that "every single actuary" agrees with the gloomy SS forecast. And even as he was making this claim, Pelosi was saying precisely the opposite over on ABC. But Pelosi, preferring the CBO forecast, failed to note that the CBO projects a substantially smaller shortfall. This is the gang that can't talk straight--even when straight-talk suits their purpose.

From The Progressive, Brent notes Matthew Rothschild's latest "McCarthyism Watch" which deals with a woman who made signs for her front yard (political signs). From the article:

In the fall, the Secret Service gave her a call.
"They said they wanted to ask me some questions," she recalls. "I said sure. They said someone called them and said I had signs up in my yard that were threatening the President. I said I did have some signs in my yard, but I wasn't threatening the President. The worst I've ever said was that he's an Evildoer. And this Secret Service man specifically asked me about the sign about Mr. Cheney. He said, "That's from revelations." I said, "Yes, I have no desire to destroy anybody. I'm just quoting out of the Bible." His name, she said, was Agent Brian Atkins.
Then on January 11, she had some unexpected visitors.
"I was actually taking a nap, and there was a knock on my door, there was a West Virginia State Trooper and a Secret Service agent," she says, identifying them as Trooper R. J. Boggs and Agent James Lanham. "They asked to come in. And I let them. And they started interviewing me."

Also at The Progressive, Ruth Conniff wonders about the state of the Republican Party:

There's reason to hope that the Republicans are cracking up. Barbara Boxer thinks so. I talked to her a few days ago in Washington--on the day the Republican leadership rejected Harry Reid's compromise to end the Senate filibuster standoff. It was "a perfectly reasonable compromise," said Senator Boxer, the combative hero of the left who is also friends with Senator Reid, the deal-making, pro-life leader of the Senate Democrats. Now, Boxer said, people are beginning to see how extreme the Republicans really are.
Since then there's been a lot of speculation about what is really going on in Senate back rooms. Was the deal Reid offered craftily designed to fail, and thus make the Republicans look stubborn and unreasonable? Or were the Democrats giving away the store--offering to confirm rightwing judges they had previously rejected, and even promising not to filibuster a Bush Supreme Court nominee?

And (still at The Progressive), we'll note Amitabh Pal's latest entry at his blog:

Why isn't Bush being more strongly criticized for inviting Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah to his ranch on Monday?
If ever there was an existing medieval theocracy that fits the definition, it's the Saudi monarchy. It is the most fundamentalist country in the world, period. The monarchy is unaccountable to its people. Women have an almost total absence of basic rights. Immigrant workers are grossly abused. A visit I made to the country in 2002 as part of a group of journalists confirmed some of this firsthand for me.
"Human rights violations are pervasive in Saudi Arabia," says Human Rights Watch in its
2005 annual survey. "Many basic rights are not protected under Saudi law, political parties are not allowed, and freedom of expression remains extremely limited." Recent reforms have not altered the basic nature of the monarchy, as Human Rights Watch points out in several new reports.

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[Note: This entry has been corrected. I had earlier stated that Matthew Rothschild's latest column was from his "This Just In" series. I was wrong. It's from his "McCarthyism Watch" series. ]