Thursday, June 16, 2005

Democracy Now: Dennis Brutus, Janine Jackson; Bob Somerby, James Wolcott, Salim Muwakkil, Margaret Kimberly

Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says)
Headlines for June 16, 2005

- CPB Chair Tomlinson Personally Ordered Monitoring of Moyer's 'NOW'
- Conyers Convenes Hearings on Downing Street Memo
- Congress May Intervene on Guantanamo
- House Votes to Block Provisions of USA PATRIOT Act
- US Plans to Require Biometric Chips in Passports
- Venezuela Formally Requests Posada Extradition
- Haitian Justice Minister Resigns
- NAACP To Appoint Former Verizon Exec as Chair
- Fox News Signs Wesley Clark
Crackdown on Dissent in Ethiopia

Following last month's elections, Ethiopian security forces are cracking down on protests against alleged fraud. We speak to Human Rights Watch about police violence and a peace agreement that aims to address election-related complaints.
South African Activist Dennis Brutus Calls on Barclays Bank to Pay Reparations for Apartheid Profits

We speak with South African poet and activist Dennis Brutus who recently initiated the launch of a campaign against Barclays Bank, demanding reparations for vast apartheid profits.
As CPB Faces Massive Funding Cuts, A Look Back at the National Media Reform Conference

The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to vote today on drastic cuts to both the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Representative Ralph Regula's proposal would eliminate $100 million in federal funding to CPB and phase out the existance of PBS. For a look at media under fire, we turn to the National Conference on Media Reform. [includes rush transcript - partial]
From Headlines, we'll note this:
Conyers Convenes Hearings on Downing Street Memo
Today on Capitol Hill, Representative John Conyers is convening a public hearing on the Downing Street Minutes and other recently released British documents he says confirm that the Bush administration manipulated intelligence and facts to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Among those testifying are former US ambassador to Iraq Joe Wilson and longtime CIA analyst Ray McGovern. Conyers says that every major news network is sending cameras except FOX News. Immediately following the hearing, there will be a mass rally across the street from the White House and Conyers will deliver a petition signed by more than half a million people calling on President Bush to answer questions on the documents.
As noted this morning:
You can listen to hearing via Pacifica.

From their web page on the hearings:

John Conyers' Hearing on the Downing Street Memo
The John Conyers' Hearing on the 'Downing Street memo' has changed the start and end time. The new time is from 2 PM to 6 PM EST.
For our sister and affiliate stations, use the right channel on the KU. If you are an online listener, you can hear it streaming here at
Our special broadcast will be anchored by Mitch Jesserich from
Free Speech Radio News and Verna Avery Brown, Pacifica Washington Bureau Chief, and will include guest analysts, live hearing coverage, and post event listener calls.
Confirmed guests for our Pacifica special broadcast include:
Congressman John Conyers (Chair of the Hearing),
Ray McGovern (CIA analyst, witness for Hearing),
George Galloway, Member of Parliament/United Kingdom,
Frances Boyle, University of Illinois Law Professor who has drawn up Impeachment papers, and more.
Initially prevented from holding the Hearing on Capitol Hill by the Republicans, Conyers was to hold it at the Democratic National Committee Building in Washington, but now
reports indicate the Hearing may in fact happen on Capital Hill. Stay tuned!
At The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby presents us with a challenge, which topic and which section to emphasize.
Dallas and I were exchanging e-mails on the latest Howler.  The Naomi Wolf section is important (and Wolf is a voice that speaks to some members such as Krista) and, of course, so is the Downing Street Memo.  We decided to go with a sample of each.  We'll start with Downey Street Memo:
But the memo doesn't suggest that "planning" was underway; that simply isn't the point of the memo. Everyone knew that contingency planning was being conducted, as is always the case with the Pentagon. But that isn't what the main memo seems to say. The memo seems to say that Bush had already decided on war by July 2002--a time when he was insisting that war would be his very last option. If that's true, that's important news. Those two reports from 2002 have nothing to do with the parts of the memo that has people so upset.

Does nonsense like this always have to be present when we discuss the Downing Street memos? Let's say it one more time: It's absurd to think that Richard Dearlove was reporting to Blair about what he had seen in "news accounts;" in fact, Dearlove was reporting on a trip to DC in which he met with George Tenet. And it's absurd to say that the memo discusses standard contingency planning for war. It isn't clear what we can conclude from the memos, but Kurtz cites foolish distractions, distractions first offered by Michael Kinsley and by the Washington Post's foppish editors. Must their nonsense always be present whenever these memos are discussed?

Much more on this topic all next week when we reread Woodward’s Plan of Attack.

So remember that and watch for it next week in The Daily Howler.  Now we'll turn to an excerpt (also from today's Howler) where Somerby is discussing Naomi Wolf:

SLIMING WOLF: It's true--Wolf was viciously slimed during Campaign 2000, in one of the nastiest episodes of that disgraceful campaign. They "made up all kinds of nonsense," Wolf said--and that was a gross understatement. But let's make sure we understand the dynamics of that campaign. Most of the ugly sliming of Wolf was coming straight from the press corps itself. The RNC did play a small role. But the mainstream press corps was the main player. It's simply absurd to say different.

We've never told the full story of this episode--a nasty, ugly, vicious six weeks in which the press corp showcased its rank stupidity and its late-90s love for smut. But for a string of detailed reports, start with THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/3/03, and read through to THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/10/03. Remember: Most of the accusers in this grimy episode were inside the mainstream press corps itself. (Two defenders of Wolf: William Safire, William Kristol.) Sorry, but these people are not "the current state of the art of human perfectibility," as Blogger Pangloss tells himself in the garden. In 1999, they were conducting a full-bore War Against Gore, and their ugly campaign against Wolf was just one part of their long battle.

Trevor e-mails to note from "The Early Bird Gets to Squirm" by James Wolcott:

Having a delicate constitution when it comes to twaddle, I avoid the early morning talkshows as much as poss to spare myself celebrity interviews and sob-sister stories unfurled between jolly weather reports and camera pans of grinning yokels outside holding up signs and waving at their idiot friends back home. Today however I was up early to do a phone-in on Morning Sedition about the Michael Jackson case and afterwards found myself staring at Diane Sawyer in all her buttercup glory making one of her caring-sharing faces with her head tipped to the side in a show of empathy. Having not watched her in years (having had my fill of her in primetime), I had forgotten what a gold-plated sellout she is. A true thoroughbred phony, descended from Mount Olympus to mop up the tears of mortals and heal our pain with her oozing compassion. When her voice adopts that tell-me-where-it-hurts tone, it's enough to curdle the very soul.

Cedric e-mails to note Salim Muwakkil's "Black Men: Missing" (from In These Times):

The overwhelming absence of Black men has always been one of the most distressing facts about life in America's public housing developments. In Chicago, for example, black women are the vast majority of lease holders in the Chicago Housing Authority; men are like ghosts in the projects.

Besieged by poverty, disease, violence and mass incarceration, African-American men are conspicuously missing in action. At one time, this gender imbalance afflicted mostly lower-income neighborhoods. But as we limp into the 21st century, that gender gap is rending the fabric of the entire African-American community.

"Where have all the Black men gone?" asked the headline on a story by Jonathan Tilove for The Star Ledger in Newark, N.J. The article examined the New Jersey city of East Orange, where there are 37 percent more adult women than men. Tilove wrote that most of the missing men are dead, and many others are locked up or in the military.

Liang e-mails to note Margaret Kimberly's "Racist Delivers Lynching Apology:"
Senator Allen wants to be president of the United States, a fact that explains his new zeal to right the wrongs of the past. It is a new role for Allen to play. When he served as Governor of Virginia, Allen called the NAACP an “extremist organization,” proclaimed the month of April Confederate History and Heritage Month and kept a confederate flag in his living room. When asked why he flew a confederate flag in his home he replied, "It was never flying. It was nailed to a wall."

Allen, like the current Republican president, is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. His father, also named George Allen, was coach of the Washington Redskins football team. Allen can’t seem to overcome that part of his heritage. He speaks endlessly in football metaphors, so much so that it is unclear what language he speaks.

He does not speak English. I mean that almost literally, in that he does not construct sentences made up of commonplace English words. Rather, he speaks entirely in a patois constructed of football metaphors.

Allen has referred to primaries as "intrasquad scrimmages," his staffers are the "A-team," he calls Senate recesses "halftime" and opponents commit the sin of "pass interference." This simple-minded boosterism appeals to millions of Americans. If he doesn’t realize his presidential ambitions it will not be because of his inarticulate babble.

Whether he becomes president or not, Allen should not be allowed to cynically claim regret for the American terrorism practiced by people he also claims to admire. If there is any doubt about Allen’s true feelings, the existence of a noose hanging from a tree in his office ought to dispel any doubt. The apology for lynching will be delivered by an apologist for

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