Friday, May 27, 2005

Democracy Now: Texans for Public Justice, Sister Carol Giblert; Bob Somerby, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Douglas Ireland

Headlines for May 27, 2005
- Iraq Resistance Downs US Helicopter
- Bomb Explodes In Pakistan, Killing 20
- Pentagon Acknowledges Koran 'Mishandling'
- Marine Cleared In Killing Of Unarmed Iraqis
- Democrats Block Bolton Vote
- Jesse Jackson And DNC To Pay Fines
- US Embassy Staff Ordered Out Of Haiti
- Egyptian Opposition Blasts Referendum

Texas Judge Fines DeLay's PAC Treasurer Nearly $200,000
A Texas judge ruled that Tom Delay's Texas political committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, violated Texas campaign law when it failed to disclose more than half a million dollars in corporate campaign contributions during the 2002 state legislative elections. We speak with the executive director of Texans for Public Justice. [includes rush transcript]

Pipeline to Promise or Pipeline to Peril? New U.S.-Backed Oil Route Starts Moving Crude Oil From Azerbaijan to the West
A U.S.-backed oil pipeline linking the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean opened on Wednesday, and began moving crude oil from Azerbaijan to the West. The route of the pipeline is reportedly designed to only go through nations with strong U.S. support like Azerbaijan and Georgia, which have both been criticized for human rights abuses. We also examine why many believe the pipeline could be could be an environmental disaster for the region. [includes rush transcript]

Report: U.S. Routinely Sends Arms to Undemocratic Nations
A new report from the World Policy Institute has found that the U.S. is routinely funneling military aid and arms to undemocratic nations. In 2003 more than half of the top 25 recipients of U.S. arms transfers in the developing world were defined as undemocratic by the State Department. [includes rush transcript]

"Martha Stewart is Totally Against the War in Iraq," Says Activist Nun Imprisoned With Her
Antiwar activist Sister Carol Gilbert returned home from prison this week after serving a 33-month sentence for a Plowshares disarmament action. During her time behind bars, she became friends with a high-profile prisoner at Alderson Federal Prison--Martha Stewart. In an interview on Democracy Now!, Gilbert says, "Martha [Stewart] is totally against the war in Iraq, there is no question about it...we need to understand that Martha is still under house arrest right now, and so, she still is very limited by what she is allowed to do and not do by this government.." [includes rush transcript]

An e-mailer who didn't want their name disclosed e-mailed to say we wouldn't be linking to The Daily Howler today because it's on Newsweek "and you've made yourself obvious this morning."

Did I make myself obvious this morning?

I'm not sure that I did (I'd have to be much more long-winded on the topic, and do something other than an aside to make myself obvious, trust me). But we highlight Somerby Monday through Friday (and anytime someone e-mails a heads up to a Saturday entry). The reason for that is he is a great critic. That doesn't mean I have to agree with him 100% of the time or that when I disagree we don't highlight. (Pauline Kael was a great critic with strong analysis -- and she was a very nice person -- but I didn't have to agree with her take on a film to enjoy her writing.) I see Somerby's points re: Newsweek. I also see Katrina vanden Heuvel's points. (And, if you want obvious, I'm more inclined to argue what KvH argued.) I (along with some members who e-mailed yesterday) am still upset that I missed Somerby's radio appearence.
He was going to be addressing the Newsweek issue (and if the pattern from past appearences held, answering questions from callers and exploring the issue). I understand the point he's making and agree it's important to make. I would have enjoyed hearing it.

We'll quote from him on Newsweek today:

As we have incomparably noted, Kevin Drum does endless, superlative work. But what in the world is going on with his endless defenses of Newsweek? No, Thursday's report in the Washington Post didn’t support what Newsweek reported--that an upcoming U.S. army report would confirm the Koran-in-the-toilet-bowl allegation. But Kevin glory-days over the fact that Newsweek isn't as bad as the White House. And he makes a silly, un-Drum-like, sweeping assessment of "the state of American media criticism:"
DRUM (5/26/05): The American media certainly has its share of problems these days, but the state of American media criticism is little short of buffoonish. How is it possible that our press critics have spent two weeks clucking nervously over the fact that Newsweek's source made a mistake about which report he saw the Koran allegations in, thus providing the White House with exactly the cover they needed to avoid responsibility for the fact that it's their disastrous policies that are responsible for what's happening in Afghanistan? Who needs Paris Hilton to distract attention from reality when America's media critics will do it for free?

As scholarship, this is pathetic. Is he auditioning for Dan Okrent's post?
In the first place, who exactly does Drum have in mind when he says "our press critics have spent two weeks clucking nervously" about Newsweek, "thus providing the White House with exactly the cover they needed to avoid responsibility" for their own gross misconduct? Who exactly has done this? For ourselves, we just spent an hour on public radio discussing these events, and we found it amazingly easy to state two things at the same time--that Newsweek bungled (then dissembled about) its report, and that the White House used this minor incident to try to distract attention away from its own massively larger misconduct. Surely some conservative pundits have tried to do what Drum describes. But why does he claim that "our press critics" in general have "buffoonishly" acted this way? Who does he have in mind?

Would we have quoted that without the e-mailer writing in? No. Because I think the section on Janice Rogers Brown is pretty important so we would have emphasized that. But we always quote the Howler and short of him marrying Midge Decter and doing the Norman transformation (which I don't see happening), as long as this community site is around, we always will. (That would hold even if I were to pass it on to Ava.) I know it's the weekend already for most people and that it's a long one so people may have plans but please consider taking the time to click on today's Howler because, besides the Newsweek quote, he's also addressing Janice Rogers Brown, Nancy Pelosi (which I thought, as I read along, would be the pull quote for here until I got to the last section), and Margaret Carlson (with a link to a past Howler -- if you go there click on that link to read the earlier entry). (There's also a discussion of John Warner's appearence on Hardball.)

Somerby's critique of Newsweek is a strong critique. It's valid. (And should continue.) But, my opinion, Katrina vanden Heuvel's statements (criticqued last week at The Howler) weren't really about defending Newsweek as an entity. They were about the issue raised. Somerby goes by the facts and is truthful to them. KvH was going by, my opinion, what's not been strongly reported and her concern wasn't Newsweek as much as it was social justice. Last week, I tried to present both sides because some members were angered by the Howler (as I knew some would be). But as for my full opinion, I haven't offered it. I can see both sides on this. Newsweek didn't do a good job (as Somerby's pointed out) but the issue goes beyond Newsweek's reporting (which is what I feel KvH was getting at in her statements).

Within Somerby's framework, he's one-hundred-percent right. Within Katrina vanden Heuvel's, she's one-hundred-percent right. And there were members expressing support for Somerby's critique. But it wasn't a fight between them (as some members saw it -- I don't think it was even a slap-down of KvH and KvH didn't respond to it -- nor was she required to do so -- so it's pretty hard to stretch it into a "fight"). Both had valid points.

We'll always link to The Howler, Somerby does great work. (We linked during his series on Lawrence Summers which I personally disagreed with, strongly disagreed with, but enjoyed reading his take on it.)

And we'll always link to Katrina vanden Heuvel. We don't quote her entries in as great length because her entries are shorter (not a slap down before any e-mails come in, besides her Editor's Cut blog, she's also putting together a magazine every week -- which is not a slap down of Bob Somerby and the incredible work he does at The Howler). And let's note her latest now, "Sweet Victory: Electoral Reform is On the March:"

Electoral reform is on the march. Burlington, Vermont, the state's biggest city, recently adopted instant runoff voting for its 2006 mayoral elections. On May 18th, Portland, Oregon became the first city in the country to approve full public financing of elections. And last week in Canada, a majority of voters opted for proportional voting in an important symbolic victory that could eventually lead to more voices and more choices in future elections.

This week we noted two views on media reform and most members either didn't mind that or took from it what they could and ignored the rest. (A number of members e-mailed to note that they were glad to see something up -- in the two views -- that represented what they felt.)
We don't march in lock-step here. We don't highlight marching orders or try to run with the pack (see Doug Ireland entry below on the dangers of pack running). There is room for disagreements among the left. And, contrary to what cable television or the NewsHour, would have you believe, you don't need a right winger and a "leftists" (centerist) debating a topic to have a full blown debate. *

Ryan e-mails to note Doug Ireland's DIRELAND where he has a post entitled "TWO SLAPS for GEORGE LAKOFF:"

George Lakoff's Don't Think of an Elephant unfortunately is a best-seller among Democratic progressives seeking a way out of their post-election doldrums (the caption for the illustration at left is "Crying Donkey".) Frankly, Lakoff's New Age-y psycholinguistics are an illusory substitute for real politics that leave me cold, and many of the reasons why can be found in two new articles that offer sound critiques of him. Longtime author-activist Frances Moore Lappé has penned "Time for Progressives to Grow Up: Beyond Lakoff’s strict father vs. nurturant parent, a strong community manifesto," which the Guerilla News Network has posted and Utne Reader Web Watch features as this week's lead choice. She argues that, "rather than reacting to [Lakoff's] 'strict father' frame by searching for a better use of a 'nurturing parent' frame, let’s reframe the entire conversation to one that begins with a definition of citizens as responsible grown-ups, not helpless children. In this progressive moral vision we strive to live in strong communities—safer and more viable than ones that rely on a strict father, who on deeper examination may turn out to be only a stubborn loner, a bully bringing on the very threats from which he claims to protect us?"
And, you must not miss the terrific send-up of Lakoff by my L.A. Weekly colleague and companero
Marc Cooper (see photo) in the May issue of The Atlantic, "Thinking of Jackasses: the grand delusions of the Democratic Party."

Want to see the photo? Click the
link and you can also continue reading. Ryan wanted the part on Lappe highlighted (and he's in the midst of working through her books and enjoying them all) but I may have pushed fair use. Obviously, Ireland would want Cooper noted as well (as he shold be) but in case people don't use the links (and a lot of people don't), I included the first sentence of the second paragraph to make sure Cooper got credited as well.

We'll also note this from Ireland:

Yours truly can be heard this coming Sunday on KFPA, the San Francisco-Bay Area Pacifica radio station, where I'll be analyzing Sunday's referendum in France on the proposed new European Constitution. The interview is scheduled for 6:00 PM PST (9:00 PM EST) -- by which time defintive election returns from the referendum should be available -- and can also be heard on the 'net by clicking on the KPFA website.

The e-mail address for this site is

* A long portion has been deleted before posting. That will go up in it's own entry either tonight or tomorrow. It has nothing to do with Bob Somerby or Katrina vanden Heuvel so it was pulled. It does have to do with e-mail policies at this site. Members, such as Rob, will be pleased when it's posted. It doesn't effect members but we will be making a change in an e-mail policy. But twenty-five members have been e-mailing advocating the change that's going to go into effect and if they read the above, they'll no doubt note that it was the perfect time for it to be noted if it were going into effect. It will go into effect but it's detracting from this entry and I want to work on the tone of it some more before putting it up.