Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Democracy Now: Seymour Hersh; Bob Somerby; Savanna Reid, FAIR; Bill Scher

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

Headlines for May 11, 2005
- Suicide Bombings Kill Scores in Iraq
- Iraqi Governor Kidnapped as US Faces Fierce Resistance
- Congress Gives $70 Billion More to Occupy Iraq/Afghanistan
- Congress Passes National ID Legislation
- Courts Martial Begin Against 2 Iraq War Resisters
- Cheney Energy Lawsuit Dismissed
- US Gives Halliburton a 'Bonus' of $72 Million
- Jordan Pardons Ahmed Chalabi- Latin American and Arab Leaders Hold Historic Summit

Seymour Hersh: Iraq "Moving Towards Open Civil War"
We spend the hour with Pulitzer prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. Hersh won the Pulitzer prize for exposing the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. Last year, he broke the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. He is author of the book "Chain of Command: From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib." We hear an address he delivered at an event sponsored by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign entitled "Can Freedom of the Press Survive Media Consolidation?" And he joins us in the studio to talk about the resistance in Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi, the state of the media and much more. [includes rush transcript - partial]

From The Daily Howler, George notes that Bob Somerby is (among other things) addressing Matt Miller's op-ed. We'll note George's comments and my own, but first the excerpt from today's Daily Howler:

THE MILLER’S TALE: It didn't take Matt Miller long. At the Times, he's replacing Maureen Dowd for a month. And in the second paragraph of his very first piece, he boldly speaks on behalf of all Democrats. Miller makes a sweeping statement--a statement that is just flat-out wrong. For the record, Miller is explaining why Dems "should quit carping about Bush's evil 'cuts:'"
MILLER (5/11/05): Start with this poorly understood fact: Under today's system of "wage indexed"' benefits, every new cohort of retirees is guaranteed a higher level of real benefits than the previous generation. Workers retiring in 2025, for example, are scheduled to receive payments 20 percent higher in real terms than today's retirees. Today's teenagers are slated to get a 60 percent increase. When Democrats cry about "cuts," they mean trims from these higher levels. But that isn't what all Democrats mean when they "cry" about those "evil" cuts. Perfect, isn't it? Two grafs into his inaugural piece, Miller speaks on behalf of all Dems. And what he says is just plain flat-out wrong.
Why do Dems mean when they talk about Bush’s "cuts" in Social Security? Different Dems mean different things; given the party's endemic intellectual failures, many Dems may not know what they mean when they discuss these cuts. But what do some Democrats mean when they talk about these cuts? Here's what we mean here at THE HOWLER: Under current Social Security law, average earners get 36 percent of their prior income replaced when they get their SS check. Under Bush's proposal, they may get as little as 20 percent. It may even go below that.

wanted to be on the record as "finding Matt Miller useless as an op-ed writer." I think there's another issue -- the one woman on the op-ed pages is on vacation. Call it affirmative action, call it whatever, but the slot doesn't need to be turned over a male. That at this late date, the Times still has only one female columnist on the op-ed pages is sad. That neoliberal Matt Miller's brought in is worse. My opinion.

As for Miller himself, I'll steer you to two NPR commentaries by Miller:

Morning Edition, February 24, 2003 · Although commentator Matt Miller disagrees with much of what President Bush is doing on the domestic front, he generally agrees with the need to oppose Saddam Hussein with military force. Miller says that waging war against Saddam would be less risky than trying to contain him. This is the latest installment of Morning Edition's series of commentaries on a possible war with Iraq.

Morning Edition, December 23, 2002 · Commentator Matt Miller says Democrats need to find a new political approach that's different from both George W. Bush's "Compassionate Conservatism" and Bill Clinton's "Third Way." He uses the health care issue to illustrate his point and suggests the "Fourth Way" as a name.

Moving on . . . (walk on,

From Guerrilla News Network, Shawn e-mails to note Savanna Reid's "The Good News Roundup:"

Kabul's Karate Girls
Fitness clubs with women-only hours and school sports for girls are starting to open doors to a cloistered Afghani women and teens still struggling to establish a safe space for themselves in the public sphere. Karate student Nargas Rahimi, a former refugee who grew up in Iran, told The Christian Science Monitor, "I saw that Afghan women didn’t have the faintest idea about exercise. So I came here to act as an example for Afghan girls and to help them take part in Afghan society." Along with more basic advances like driving schools for women, shelters, and schools for midwives, activities like karate clubs for girls are about testing social limits on personal independence, public activity, and individual confidence-building, as well as improving women’s health and safety. [Thank you sublunari for this one]
Hope for Armenian Migrant Workers

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Armenia has seen a quarter of its population emigrate as economic refugees. Armenian workers are often badly abused by employers aware of their illegal status, but their government is working to change that with a new labor migration bill. IWPR reports, "The new legislation will seek to address two sides of the problem: enabling agreements to be drawn up with employers abroad to secure the best possible opportunities for migrant workers; and secondly to ensure that Armenians working in other countries are covered by labour rights and safety rules."
Respect and the 2005 ElectionsStealing a "safe" Labour seat, the anti-war and anti-discrimination
Respect coalition won a seat in East London and placed second in two other races, an exciting start for a young, radical party. Partridge brings us their report: "Respect intends to be the stiff new broom that will sweep away those New Labour councils that feel they are above answering to their electors." The victorious Mr. Galloway said simply, "This is for Iraq."

That's an excerpt (selected by Shawn). Click the link to read it in full and, as I understood it on The Majority Report Friday, "The Good News Roundup" will be a regular feature at Guerrilla News Network.

Martha notes FAIR's "Smoking Gun Memo? Iraq Bombshell Goes Mostly Unreported in US Media:"

A leaked document that appeared in a British newspaper offered clear new evidence that U.S. intelligence was shaped to support the drive for war. Though the information rocked British Prime Minister Tony Blair's re-election campaign when it was revealed, it has received little attention in the U.S. press.
The document, first revealed by the London Times (5/1/05), was the minutes of a July 23, 2002 meeting in Blair's office with the prime minister's close advisors. The meeting was held to discuss Bush administration policy on Iraq, and the likelihood that Britain would support a U.S. invasion of Iraq. "It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided," the minutes state.
The minutes also recount a visit to Washington by Richard Dearlove, the head of the British intelligence service MI6: "There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
That last sentence is striking, to say the least, suggesting that the policy of invading Iraq was determining what the Bush administration was presenting as "facts" derived from intelligence. But it has provoked little media follow-up in the United States. The most widely circulated story in the mainstream press came from the Knight Ridder wire service (5/6/05), which quoted an anonymous U.S. official saying the memo was ''an absolutely accurate description of what transpired" during Dearlove's meetings in Washington.

Billie e-mails the latest from Bill Scher at Liberal Oasis:

Here's another John Bolton controversy that hasn't received much attention.
There's been an arms embargo on Haiti since 1991, when the democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was overthrown.
The embargo was kept after the Clinton Administration helped Aristide regain power, over Aristide's objections. And it remained in place after the Bush Administration
removed Aristide in a coup last year.
But that hasn't stopped the State Department from sending arms to the newly installed government anyway.
And Bolton, as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, presumably had a major role in the arms shipments.
Here's how the story unfolded.

To read how the story unfolded click here.

Lastly, I wrote the below this morning in the midst of a lengthy post:

Randi Rhodes was mentioned in the article and she has said herself on her show that she's of two minds (or still considering) on what is the proper path re: Iraq (pull out immediately or stay awhile longer). (That's a summary of Rhodes remarks and if I've done her a disservice, none was intentional. We've spotlighted Rhodes. We will continue to spotlight her.)

Rhodes' position, as I understand it, is that we shouldn't have gone there. That's not in question. Her position of what to do now, as I understand it, is of two minds a) bring the troops home now, b) an immediate withdrawal, after the destruction to Iraq, might cause more turmoil. Cindy e-mailed to ask what's the difference between Rhodes' second thought and ___ who shall remain unnamed?

The difference is Rhodes is forthcoming with her listeners about both possibilities. The differenence is that Rhodes is speaking truth to power and not going warm & fuzzy or playing Bob Hope. As someone who served in the military, it may be that Rhodes doesn't feel the need to pose Bob Hope or it might just be (I'd argue this) she has too much character to jump on the Good Ship Ignore Reality. Nor does she feel the need to "position" herself in a manner that makes her seem "loveable" to the right or AEI lurkers. Or to work up theaterical tears (to reference the most recent gina & krista round-robin).

That's my summary of Rhodes' position. That's based on my listening and on the input from members via e-mail. Listen to her show to bypass a summary and go straight the source. If she speaks to you, great. If she doesn't, find something else that does.

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