Sunday, May 15, 2005

Highlights from CounterPunch, Amnesty, Iddybud, Interesting Times, The Black Commentator, Liberal Oasis, Consortium News

We're going to focus, this entry, on some of the resources and sites that are permalinks (on the left).

From CounterPunch, we'll note Saul Landau's "Wars Kill Empires as Well as People: Lessons from Vietnam:"

In 2005, the United States has become Communist Vietnam's single-largest trading partner. Vietnam's products permeate US stores. But the "Vietnam War trauma" remains central to US politics. Note how the Vietnam service record of presidential candidates became a contentious issue in the 2004 elections. People don't overcome traumas unless they understand them.
Since public education provides citizens with minimal context, we rely on mass media to reach into its collective attic and drag out "Fall of Saigon" stories. However, when the commercial press pushes the anniversary method of history teaching, the public tends to divorce rather than engage with its past connections.
Personal anecdotes overwhelm analysis. Relatives of dead soldiers weep at Washington's Vietnam Wall; others relive battles and deaths of comrades. Few media presentations offer the past as a way to learn for the future.
As the US occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan continue down their bloody paths, we should study the lessons of The Vietnam War. Vietnamese refer to that period between the early 1960s and April 1975 as "The American Phase." They suffered periods of foreign domination by Chinese, Japanese and French occupiers who, unlike the Americans, learned the painful lesson of trying to subdue and occupy that land.
US leaders adamantly refuse to learn that some people, like Koreans, Vietnamese and Iraqis, for examples, do not submit to force and brutality. How to teach that simple lesson? Teachers will have shared the experience of trying to educate students who have not ingested their own history. Instead of inculcating historical context from first grade on, US students learn a kind of patriotic mythology disguised with words like "unbiased" ­ as if along with critiques of US behavior in Vietnam ­ or Iraq -- one had to present the good side of torture, mass murder and the napalming of villages.

From Amnesty International, "Guantánamo Bay - a human rights scandal:"

Hypocrisy, an overarching war mentality and a disregard for basic human rights principles and international legal obligations continue to mark the USA's "war on terror". Serious human rights violations are the inevitable result. The detention camp at the US Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay in Cuba has become a symbol of the US administration’s refusal to put human rights and the rule of law at the heart of its response to the atrocities of 11 September 2001. Hundreds of people of around 35 different nationalities remain held in effect in a legal black hole, many without access to any court, legal counsel or family visits. As evidence of torture and widespread cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment mounts, it is more urgent than ever that the US Government bring the Guantánamo Bay detention camp and any other facilities it is operating outside the USA into full compliance with international law and standards. The only alternative is to close them down.

Clicking on the link above takes you to resources including a full report and video.

Over at Iddybud, the Jude wonders "Does the GOP Value American Freedom and Democracy?"

When the state becomes the church, we no longer live in a free country. The government becomes similar to the one that spurred the American Revolution. Congress has the lowest public approval rating that it has seen in years.
The far right pundits will lead you to believe it is the fault of "Democratic obstructionists", but the reality is that moderate, liberal, and progressive citizens are disgusted with the radical right holding the reins of leadership in Congress - pandering to the Religious Far Right. John McCain denounced the Religious Far Right's influence today on ABC's This Week, yet he aligned himself closely with George W. Bush at last year's Republican Convention with fear-mongering rhetoric and an obvious ommission of any talk about domestic issues.
I don't see Bush denouncing the GOP leadership that is coddling the religious extremists. So, isn't McCain a hypocrite or a pathetic dodger, at best? In his Convention speech, McCain said "We have to love our freedom not just for the material benefits it provides, not just for the autonomy it guarantees us, but for the goodness it makes possible." What goodness comes of enriching the richest and creating a Godzilla-deficit with which our poor children will be enslaved?

As always, Jude's worth reading. And, as Richie noted when he sent this in, "Someone get her a weekly guest spot on Air America already!"

Over at Interesting Times, Chris weighs the issue of when to fight back and when not to:

Partisanship, the kind that everyone hates, is when politicians attack regardless of the impact those attacks may have on their country. It is the back seat driver who keeps banging the cabby over the head with their purse. That kind of blind assault, while it may feel good to those who have no real power, doesn't do anyone any good.
But isn't there an equal danger to sitting quietly back as you see your driver heading the wrong way down a one way street? Partisanship is not always bad, especially when your driver is drunk.
The solution to the quandry of the patriotic opposition is this: fight back is good when not fighting back creates an even more dangerous situation.
Democrats have tried for years to work with Republicans as they have steered the nation into the future. As much as they might have disagreed with their political philosophy, they were patriots and didn't want their differences of opinion do any further damage to their country.

From The Black Commentator, we'll note Paul Street's "Think Piece" ("'Before We Can Claim Our Future, We Have to Control Our Past': On History and Self-Defense"):

Driving around in my car with Chicago's WBBM News Radio (780 AM) recently, I got to hear two guttural syllables from the mouth of Fidel Castro. The full word and the Spanish language he was speaking were unintelligible. "That was Fidel Castro speaking to a throng in Havana, Cuba yesterday," the robotic corporate newscaster reported. "Castro was speaking to commemorate May 1st, which has traditionally been observed as a worker's day in other nations." This entire news item took about 15 seconds, in curious contrast to Fidel's notorious taste for giving 3-hour speeches.
"In other nations." Do WBBM's writers know or even care that May 1's status as "the workers' day" hit its stride in the United States, in connection with the American labor movement's 8-hour struggle in the 1880s, and especially by the way in...CHICAGO. The Anarchist International
Information Service has attempted to rescue that little, forgotten piece of history from what Edward Palmer Thompson used to call "the enormous condescension of posterity." At the site you will also find the following prescient observation: " is not surprising that the state, business leaders, mainstream union officials, and the media would want to hide the true history of May Day. In its attempt to erase the history and significance of May Day, the United States government declared May 1st to be 'Law Day', and gave the workers instead Labor Day, the first Monday of September – a holiday devoid of any historical significance."
History, the real and radical record of the past is dangerous to rulers and masters the world over. It reminds us that contemporary social and political hierarchies are not "permanent," like the earth and wind and solar system. It tells us that existing power relations are in fact socially constructed products of human agency that can be subverted and supplanted over time...sometimes quite quickly (Cuba in the late 1950s, for example).
History shows patterns and origins and the nature of certain phenomenon – the nature of fascism or imperialism or what have you – that can't be properly understood except with observation over time.

At Liberal Oasis, Bill Scher addresses what could be learned from the latest developments in the fight over John Bolton's nomination:

Dems have avoided making ideological arguments against Bolton in hopes that his pattern of abusiveness would be more convincing to the other side.
Then GOP Sen. George Voinovich went ahead and
opposed Bolton on ideological grounds anyway.
And then he made a mockery of his passionate arguments by
refusing to kill the nomination.
(Voinovich weakly argued that it would "arrogant" for him to "impose" his sole "judgment and perspective" on the rest of the Senate, conveniently forgetting the eight other Senators in the room that agreed with him.)
So what should Dems take from this? Two things.
First, that they should feel emboldened to make the deeper, fundamental argument against Bolton.
To get away from inside baseball of whose toes Bolton stepped on, and instead articulate what a Bolton appointment means for our nation’s safety and security.
Voinovich showed
how it’s done:
We will face more difficulties in conducting the war on terrorism, promoting peace and stability worldwide and building democracies without the help from our friends to share the responsibilities, leadership and costs.
To achieve these objectives, public diplomacy must once again be of high importance.
If we cannot win over the hearts and minds of the world community and work together as a team, our goals will be more difficult to achieve...
... But what message are we sending ... when in the same breath we have sought to appoint an ambassador ... who himself has been accused of being arrogant, of not listening to his friends, of acting unilaterally, of bullying those who do not have the ability to properly defend themselves?
These are the very characteristics that we're trying to dispel in the world community.
Second, that it's going to be a waste of time to try hustling up GOP votes on this one.
It’s patently obvious that half the GOPers on the Foreign Relations Cmte would vote against Bolton if it was a secret ballot, but they are too weak and wimpy to think for themselves and resist the intense White House pressure.

From Consortium News, we'll note Robert Parry's "Solving the Media Puzzle:"

For instance, there's no realistic way today to stiffen the spine of PBS, at least as long as. George W. Bush has the power to appoint right-wing apparatchiks to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The CPB was created to serve as a buffer between PBS and the politicians, but now it is acting as the Right's enforcement mechanism, scrutinizing each program for violations of a conservative-defined "balance."
At least for the short term, the most effective progressive strategy toward PBS would be to mount a campaign to convince PBS viewers to divert their donations to independent broadcasting operations, such as LINK TV or Free Speech TV, or to give to Internet outlets that are distributing or producing honest journalism.
That would not only help build independent media, but it would show PBS and CPB that there is a price to pay for the Right's "politicization" of public broadcasting. Then, at some future point, if and when CPB gets back to its original role, PBS would understand that it can't take its loyal viewers for granted.
It also would be a mistake to put much effort in trying to get the Federal Communications Commission to re-regulate the telecommunications industry or to re-apply the Fairness Doctrine. In the current political environment, progressives can expect almost nothing positive from the FCC.
While it makes sense to educate the public about the damage caused by the FCC in recent years, a reversal of its policies won’t occur until there is a clear shift in the political winds -- and that will require a far-stronger independent media.
So the starting point must be to build that independent media.

That is one of many solutions Parry is proposing. For others read the full article.

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