Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Beth's interview; Dahr Jamail, Naomi Klein, Matthew Rothschild, Maya Rockeymoore, Ms.

First off, Beth and I were going over her rough draft line by line. She was noting what needed correcting and I was fixing typos (mine, of course) and links were provided as well. If you find a mistake, blame it on my not catching it when she typed "third word" or whatever.

Note as well that it's in the same spot her rough draft with was last night (the final version of her interview). She says it's less than half of what was discussed and I know she did a great deal of work just choosing what to keep in and what to eliminate. Point, she busted her butt to get it up in rough draft form last night. If you weren't able to read it earlier, please do so now.

Carrying all the entries over to the mirror site took up slightly more than an hour added on to the hour it took for correcting typos with Beth on her post.

(Those aren't her typos, or weren't. She copied and pasted our i.m. discussion. She was fixing my typos.)

We'll note Dahr Jamail's "Who Cares?" at his site Iraq Dispatches. (We noted it this morning but I couldn't access the site and provide a link.) From his article:

Suicide bombers unleashed another day of hell across Iraq today, killing at least 18 and wounding over 67.
Four of them struck Iraqi Security forces, along with US military convoys around Baghdad. Despite the huge US-backed Iraqi security operation throughout the capital city, attacks there continue unabated.
The small city of Rawa near Al-Qa'im was bombed again by the US military Sunday night. The military admitted to the bombing, but claimed that there were no civilian casualties. Today on Al-Jazeera the satellite channel flashed footage of flattened civilian homes, as well as people in the city claiming that seven civilians were killed in the bombings.
In Hawija (near Kirkuk), three suicide car bombers struck Iraqi security checkpoints today, killing several Iraqis. Meanwhile in Tal-Afar (near Mosul), fierce clashes erupted between the Iraqi resistance and American soldiers. These are ongoing as I type this.
It continues to be clear that the plans of the Bush Administration in Iraq either do not include the protection of Iraqis, they don't care, or both.

Naomi Klein has an article up at her site No Logo (it can also be found in the L.A. Times). It's entitled "Torture's Part of the Territory:"

Brace yourself for a flood of gruesome new torture snapshots. Last week, a federal judge ordered the Defense Department to release dozens of additional photographs and videotapes depicting prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib.The photographs will elicit what has become a predictable response: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will claim to be shocked and will assure us that action is already being taken to prevent such abuses from happening again. But imagine, for a moment, if events followed a different script. Imagine if Rumsfeld responded like Col. Mathieu in "Battle of Algiers," Gillo Pontecorvo's famed 1965 film about the National Liberation Front's attempt to liberate Algeria from French colonial rule. In one of the film's key scenes, Mathieu finds himself in a situation familiar to top officials in the Bush administration: He is being grilled by a room filled with journalists about allegations that French paratroopers are torturing Algerian prisoners.
Based on real-life French commander Gen. Jacques Massus, Mathieu neither denies the abuse nor claims that those responsible will be punished. Instead, he flips the tables on the scandalized reporters, most of whom work for newspapers that overwhelmingly support France's continued occupation of Algeria. Torture "isn't the problem," he says calmly. "The problem is the FLN wants to throw us out of Algeria and we want to stay…. It's my turn to ask a question. Should France stay in Algeria? If your answer is still yes, then you must accept all the consequences."

And on that topic, let's again note Matthew Rothschild's "Stripping Rumsfeld and Bush of Impunity" from the forthcoming (July) issue of The Progressive:

When Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee last year, he was asked whether he "ordered or approved the use of sleep deprivation, intimidation by guard dogs, excessive noise, and inducing fear as an interrogation method for a prisoner in Abu Ghraib prison." Sanchez, who was head of the Pentagon’s Combined Joint Task Force-7 in Iraq, swore the answer was no. Under oath, he told the Senators he "never approved any of those measures to be used."
But a document the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) obtained from the Pentagon flat out contradicts Sanchez’s testimony. It’s a memorandum entitled "CJTF-7 Interrogation and Counter-Resistance Policy," dated September 14, 2003. In it, Sanchez approved several methods designed for "significantly increasing the fear level in a detainee." These included "sleep management"; "yelling, loud music, and light control: used to create fear, disorient detainee, and prolong capture shock"; and "presence of military working dogs: exploits Arab fear of dogs."
On March 30, the ACLU wrote a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, urging him "to open an investigation into whether General Ricardo A. Sanchez committed perjury in his sworn testimony."
The problem is, Gonzales may himself have committed perjury in his Congressional testimony this January. According to a March 6 article in The New York Times, Gonzales submitted written testimony that said: "The policy of the United States is not to transfer individuals to countries where we believe they likely will be tortured, whether those individuals are being transferred from inside or outside the United States." He added that he was "not aware of anyone in the executive branch authorizing any transfer of a detainee in violation of that policy."
"That’s a clear, absolute lie," says Michael Ratner, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who is suing Administration officials for their involvement in the torture scandal. "The Administration has a policy of sending people to countries where there is a likelihood that they will be tortured."
The New York Times article backs up Ratner’s claim. It says "a still-classified directive signed by President Bush within days of the September 11 attacks" gave the CIA broad authority to transfer suspected terrorists to foreign countries for interrogations. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International estimate that the United States has transferred between 100 and 150 detainees to countries notorious for torture.
So Gonzales may not be the best person to evaluate the allegation of perjury against Sanchez.

We're going to jump over to The Black Commentator which got an early start (it usually posts on Thursdays). Kendick e-mails to note Maya Rockeymoore's "Health Discrimination: A 21st Century Civil Rights Issue:"

Recent efforts by various groups to shift the U.S. health care system to one that provides health coverage for all should be of vital concern to African Americans, other racial and ethnic minorities, and lower income families. After all, it is in the area of healthcare where we can clearly see evidence of the "separate and unequal" philosophy still at work.
Although only 29 percent of the U.S. population, African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans were a majority (52 percent) of the nation’s 45 million individuals who were uninsured year-round in 2003. In that same year, 20 percent of African Americans, 33 percent of Hispanics, and 19 percent of Asians were without health insurance year round compared to 11 percent of Whites. In 2003, 24 percent of those in households that made less than $25,000 were uninsured compared to 8 percent of those in households making more than $75,000.
Health disparity statistics reinforce that lives are unnecessarily cut short each year largely due to preventable chronic diseases. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the age-adjusted death rate for African Americans was higher than that of whites by 41 percent for stroke, 30 percent for heart disease, 25 percent for cancer, and more than 750 percent for HIV disease in 2002.
It could be tempting to place the blame for these disparities squarely within the realm of personal responsibility, since many of these death-inducing chronic conditions are exacerbated by the common condition of overweight and obesity. Yet, there is ample evidence to suggest that personal behaviors cannot fully explain why the low-income, African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities end up with the short end of the health stick.

The U.S. health insurance system is largely employer-based, meaning that the quality of health insurance one receives or whether health insurance is received at all is primarily dependent upon the type of employer an individual has. According to the Census Bureau, 60 percent of non-elderly Americans were covered by health insurance related to employment in 2003. Yet within this group, a recent article in Health Affairs reported that 70 percent of whites received health insurance through their employer compared to only 49 percent of African Americans and 41 percent of Hispanics.

From Ms., we'll note "Ms. Urgent Report: Hanging By A Thread: What’s At Stake If We Lose The Supreme Court:"

A battle rages in the U.S. over the "nuclear option" to eliminate Senate filibusters for judicial nominees. Make no mistake -- the push for the nuclear option may focus today on federal circuit-court judges, but it paves the way for the Senate to rubber-stamp President Bush’s choices for the U.S. Supreme Court. A replacement for ailing, 80-year-old Chief Justice William Rehnquist could be sought as early as this summer. Justice John Paul Stevens is 85 and two justices are in their 70s, so other retirements might follow. Bush could propose as many as three new Supreme Court justices before his term expires. So what’s at stake for women in this battle over judicial nominees? Plenty. If the makeup of the Supreme Court shifts, women could lose most, if not all, of the constitutional gains we have made since the mid-1960s -- and that includes the right to privacy.

On that, thanks to Shirley for sending that in both because it's worth paying attention to and it gives me an in to address something thirty members have been complaining about. There's some notion by some bloggers that "pro-choice" needs to be dropped, that's it harmful and that they are pushing "right to privacy," unlike, apparently feminists.

I don't know if they got the idea that watching Jennifer Garner slither around in a slip or a mini was putting them front row and center with regard to "feminism" or what. But here we've used "right to privacy" and "privacy right" long before they decided to weigh in last week. That's not to claim trademark. It wasn't coined here. Despite what they think, feminists have labeled it a privacy right all along.

Sarah Weddington fought, all the way to the Supereme Court, it as a privacy right.

Now I'm sorry that their TV-learning didn't teach them better. I'm also sorry that they've either fallen for the myth of the "value voters" or are spreading the lie intentionally. But one of the reasons we dealt with the "red states" myth from the start of this site was because it wasn't accurate. When a Cokie Roberts-type goes on television or radio with results the day after the election, that's not data that's been crunched and vetted. That's conventional wisdom and there's a difference, as anyone who's taken a basic social science statistical course can tell you. (Ideally, they should take a research & methodology course before endorsing false myths.) But you don't need a course or a degree, you just need some common sense.

The pro-choice position is not an unpopular position in this country. When Bill Clinton gave speeches and discussed the potential make up of the Supreme Court in 1992 (I witnessed three in person) it was a crowd pleaser. He didn't run from it. (Nor did Hillary.)

DLC types (and people who want to spread the blame) are perfectly content to tell you that it's a side issue (despite the consistent polling that shows that a majority of Americans support a woman's right to choose). It's not. Now the Kerry campaign largely treated it as such. And note that I said "the Kerry campaign." A lot of losers on that campaign and they were real quick to turn to the New York Times after the election and whine about how that John Kerry ran a bad campaign and didn't have a strong enough message. And the Times, being the Times, was perfectly happy to take out the steno pad and jot down every grievence without ever once, apparently, asking the obvious: Weren't you hired to craft the message?

Uh, yeah, they were. The struggles in the Kerry campaign, whether they made the Times or not, are hardly secrets. When it became obvious he would be most likely be the candidate the power struggles began as new people came on board -- a lot of the same people who gave Al Gore really bad advice.

Now some can live in the land of conventional wisdom and blame women, or racial minorities or GLBT but that's not really reality. And in fact, in 1992, Bill Clinton ran on a very strong message of gay rights. Someone can argue that Perot spoiled that election if they like, but if pro-choice positions, GLBT, et al were unpopular positions, Poppy Bush would have had a cake walk campaign and a second term. That didn't happen.

There are three sites that are noted. One I've never heard of. The other two, members note, have the comments being made in the comment section and not by the the person running the blog.

Regardless of whom makes the statement they're surfing the waters of conventional wisdom and would do better to realize that just because something's repeated over and over doesn't make it true. That's provided that their remarks are being made by mistake. If they're making them intentionally, then they're pushing the Democratic Party to the right (or trying to) on purpose.

We spotlighted Chris (Interesting Times) and his remarks earlier today. He's quite correct (and I believe Bill Scher of Liberal Oasis made a similar point) that Howard Dean's getting on the party's leaders nerves. Bill Richardson (as one e-mailer noted) couldn't even deliver New Mexico in November of 2004. Where he gets off thinking that he's a national voice is beyond me. (Maybe being rude to Amy Goodman on air counts in his mind? Maybe we should use his "catch phrase" from that interview to greet him: "Please get out of my way.")

The notion that these are "side issues" fails to factor in the need to build a coalition with the people who should be on your side. You don't do that by silencing your core. No matter how badly Bully Boy's doing from one moment to the next, you can usually see Karl Rove's handiwork as he attempts to throw out something to each element of the core (even if it's only lip service).

You don't need a degree in poli sci to grasp politics but you do need to read something other than PowerPoint presentations passing themselves off as books -- with their "bullet points" and conventional wisdom.

As for Dean's abilities at fund raising, he's doing okay. He'd be doing better if the party would quit trying to step away from choice. Now in the middle of swivel kick, Jennifer Garner's not going to stop to explain that to you on Alias. But if you speak to some real feminists, you'll understand that little Casey Jr., among other things, have seriously hurt the Democratic Party's ability to fund raise.

It's interesting because women aren't usually in the press screaming "side issue!" on any variety of issues. Yet women vote Democrat in consistently larger numbers than men do. So why is that men are the ones screaming "side issue!" and other nonsense?

Stick to Alias if you like the one female lead surrounded by men with the occassional token female. But if that's what you need to feel safe, you probably need to consider moving on over to the Republican Party because that's not reflective of the demographics for the Democratic Party. Apparently the "gender quake" -- though statistically proveable for several election cycles now -- didn't make it into the conventional wisdom spin machine.

People were shocked, shocked!, that Al Gore elected to stand with Howard Dean and in 2003. Where else would he have stood? With the group that badly advised him? With the running mate who undercut him (and arguably gave the election away on Meet the Press)?

These timid types that members keep e-mailing about want to back off from reproductive rights and are trying to inform everyone that pro-choice can't be used as a term anymore, that feminists failed to grasp it was a privacy right, that pro-choice has been demonized and can't be redeemed.

That might very well be true if people are so uninformed that they think "privacy right" is a term they just invented. Again, go to Sarah Weddington's legal arguments in Roe v. Wade. Go the Court's findings.

As a small group that gets way too much influence, this group is used to being catered to and thinks they can issue pronouncements (marching orders?) and everyone falls in line. Not only are they not "universal" (they're being subjective), but they also fail to realize that the plan they're preaching failed in 1988. It'll fail again.

A line from a Democratic presidential candidate of "I'm here to tell the Republicans to keep their hands off women's bodies!" would be a crowd pleaser (well, for everyone but Hillary -- the right wing would launch a thousand jokes along the lines of "Tell it to your husband!"). But if you want to be "reality based," you'll need to stop spining the conventional wisdom emerging from the pampered pundits of the beltway. Those are the same geniuses that kept insisting John Kerry not respond to the Not So Swift Floaties.

Women were ignored in 2004. You want to lose in 2008, repeat the same pattern only worse.
"But, but, but Jimmy Dobson of Focus on the Fool says that America doesn't want women to have this right or that right. I know it because Cokie Roberts said so. And she said Dean doesn't speak for John Edwards and Dean doesn't speak for Bill Richardson and . . ."

You know, I'm not a blog expert, I don't claim to be. (Nor is this a blog.) But as someone who hears far more about blogs than I ever see, it just strikes as strange that this supposed brave new medium has found a place for people to echo the conventional wisdom spat out by the gas bags of the mainstream media. If that's how it's to be, then you're seeing a rebellion and not a revolution.

Many are hungry for leadership from the Democratic Party. Saying, "Hey, let's toss out the filibuster and all go to brunch" doesn't cut it as leadership. Mistaking bean counters for inspired leaders doesn't pass for leadership.

Now if you've braved all the Sunday Chat & Chews, I understand your confusion. I understand that you've taken that inside the beltway posturing for an honest dialogue and an honest reflection of what those outside the beltway feel. Possibly that's why you bet house on Simon Rosenberg becoming DNC chair. That didn't happen either. Your TV and radio gas bags told you it was a given. Nagourney told you he was a serious contender in the Times. Not since Van Fair pimped Matthew McConaughey as a "star" right before the release of A Time to Kill has so much hype been passed off as fact. (That's not to dimiss MM's talents. That is to say that lovingly framed butt and crotch shots and open shirt scenes in an insipid film do not make a "star." They make a flavor of the month and MM has spent years trying to overcome that hype.)

A Bill Scher or Bob Somerby can watch the Sunday Chat & Chews with a critical eye. But some people watch them and go on to repeat the spin from them. It's spin, it's not reality. Here's a clue for Meet the Press watchers, if Tim's playing good old boy and yucking it up, you're hearing nothing but spin. If Tim's peeved and angry, somebody probably just spoke some truth.

The Bendy Harry Reid may win Miss Congeniality but he's not a leader. His statements about Janice Rogers Brown today had no teeth in them because Reid elected to defang the party.

He may have been sincere in his remarks. He may have truly believed he could give his approximation of an impassioned speech and cold Republican hearts would melt. If so, his grip on reality is far from tight. If he thought this was red meat for the base, he kidded himself into thinking his sop would overcome his lack of a spine.

It's just the sort of waste of time that Tim Russert would be inclined to highlight on Meet the Press. There's no conflict there, just the pretense of it. You can't give away your own rights and then beg on bended knee and expect anyone to respect you.

If this seems harsh, too bad. The "values voters" myth may have overtaken the airwaves but the myth is a false one and while the gas bags do peddle it (because God forbid they get out around real people), there's no reason for the "brave new world" of the internet to waste time on it.

Solidify the base and then your work on fine tuning. That's campaign 101 and it's only our "brave" beltway leaders that repeatedly fail to grasp that. When you listen to some of them whose job it was to "craft" Kerry's message and you hear them slag Kerry, you need to ask yourself what their job in the campaing was? They're more than happy to push around the blame, they just aren't willing to take responsibilty. Even worse, than more than happy to repeat their dinner conversation tidbits from inside the beltway as the reality in America. They're so woefully out of touch that they can, for instance, speak to Rolling Stone magazine and mistake it for the house organ for the AARP apparently as they insult young voters. You have to be really out of it and far removed from reality to do that in the midst of a presidential campaign.

Thanks to Shirley for e-mailing the item from Ms. I honestly couldn't keep my eyes open and thought I'd do a linkfest and call it a post (and a night). Getting my blood boiling (thanks also to all the members who e-mailed about the comments being made elsewhere) actually gave me a second wind.

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