Monday, June 06, 2005

Democracy Now: Jeremy Scahill, Becky Lourey, Downing St. Memo; Matthew Rothschild, BuzzFlash, Bill Scher ...

Democracy Now! (Marcia: "always worth watching")
Headlines for June 6, 2005

- May Marks Deadliest Month For U.S Reserves In Iraq
- Hussein to Face 12 Charges of Crimes Against Humanity
- Sen. Biden & New York Times: Shut Down Guantanamo
- Tens of Thousands in Mark Tiananmen Square Anniversary
- Report: Bolton Forced Out Arms Control Official Over Iraq
- Sen. Leahy: Investigate U.S. Training of Uzbek Troops
- San Francisco and Portland Named Most Sustainable Cities
- Protests Against Taser Deaths Held in Ohio & California
The Smoking Bullet in the Smoking Gun: Bush Began Iraq Invasion in 2002

Democracy Now correspondent Jeremy Scahill reports on new documents that show President Bush began the invasion of Iraq more than half a year before Shock and Awe was launched.
[Note: Jeremy Scahill's article on this topic can be found at The Nation.]
After the Downing Street Memo: The Case for Impeachment Builds

The fallout from the revelation of a secret meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his senior national security team appears to be growing. We take a look at the so-called "Downing Street Memo" which reveals how the former director of the British intelligence agency, MI6, told Prime Minister Tony Blair that the U.S. had already made plans to attack Iraq as early as July 2002.
Son of Antiwar State Senator Becky Lourey Killed in Iraq

We speak with Minnesota State Senator Becky Lourey whose son died in Iraq two weeks ago when his helicopter was brought down near Baquba. Lourey was a leading opponent in her state of the invasion of Iraq. In March 2003, she authored an antiwar resolution signed by eighteen other state senators.
Tori e-mails to note Matthew Rothschild's latest McCarthyism Watch, "No Peace Banners on Memorial Day:"
Every Memorial Day in Boulder, Colorado, for the past 25 years a 10K road race has ended up at the University of Colorado's Folsom Stadium. The event also comes with military trimmings. This year, some soldiers wore their colors, there was a 21-gun salute, and Air Force jets flew over in formation.

A private group called Bolder Boulder sponsors the road race, one of the largest in the country. This year, 47,000 runners participated.

Some peace activists wanted to participate in a different way by expressing their views in the stadium.

Last year, they were not permitted to do so.

Doug e-mails BuzzFlash's editorial "The War to Deceive America Into War -- And the War to Cover Up the Deception:"

Before America went to war with Afghanistan, another war was underway -- against its own people: the war to deceive American into attacking Iraq. This is no longer a theory or conjecture; it is a documented fact.

Those in the Mainstream Media, including the New York Times and Washington Post, who choose to ignore this reality, or couch it in qualifying terms (such as "unproven assertions") are no longer trying to debunk a conspiracy, because the deliberate deception that forced America into war with Iraq is not a conspiracy theory.

In fact, the evidence is so abundant and damning, it is those who deny the reality that the Bush Administration intentionally deceived America into a ruinous war based on calculated lies who are part of an untenable conspiracy theory. Yes, the Mainstream Media is right up there with the Raelists (if you recall them, they were a cult the media covered for days because the press believed their unfounded claims that they had cloned a human) when it comes to believability. Their job appears to be to create a conspiracy of credibility around Bush going to war, where none can exist to a person of common sense or integrity.

Shelly notes Bill Scher's discussion (at Liberal Oasis) of the Sunday Chat & Chews today and steers us to this section:

And here's Biden, stabbing his party chair in the back, claiming he knows best how one should speak for the Democrats (video at Crooks and Liars):

STEHPANOPOULOS: Is Howard Dean doing the party any good?

BIDEN: Not with that kind of rhetoric. He doesn't speak for me with that kind of rhetoric, and I don't think he speaks for the majority of Democrats.

This is in response to Dean’s jab that “a lot of [Republicans] have never made an honest living in their lives.”

Both Biden, and another '08 wannabe John Edwards, publicly spat on Dean for the comment.

If either of them had a ounce of team play in their bones, they would have known that Dean expertly handled the flap in a CNN interview this past Friday:

DEAN: Here's a group of Republican leaders who think that they're appealing to working people.

They don't want a minimum wage increase. They're cutting police people off the beat. They're attacking Social Security.

Now comes out that people's private pensions are in trouble under this administration...

...It is as if the Republican leadership never had to work a day in their life.

What possible understanding could they have of what a working person in this country has to go through, if they're against everything that's good for working people?


Like with the Amnesty controversy, when Dean was under fire from the Right, he conceded nothing, grabbed the spotlight and stayed on the offensive.

Other Dems should be following Dean' lead in that situation, echoing his messages so they will be heard and have an opportunity to resonate.

The last thing they should be doing is giving the GOP a win by echoing their attacks on Dean.

And for Biden to get on his high horse about good politics, minutes after folding in the Bolton battle, is nothing short of ludicrous.

Ben e-mails to note David Sirota weighing in on Howard Dean at Sirotablog:

Dean governed Vermont as a moderate, but ran for President as a populist progressive - which tended to confuse me. But when his progressive message caused controversy and when the media pressure was on for him to abandon that message, he essentially stuck to his guns in trying to give voice to the progressive fight.

In doing so, of course,
Democratic "centrists" viciously attacked him during the Presidential campaign (I put "centrists" in quotes because I think the term is a misnomer). And now, former GOP/Christian Coalition operatives like Marshall Wittman - who hilariously call themselves Democratic "centrists" and pretend to speak for Democrats - continue to underhandedly attack Dean even today. These "centrists" think they do themselves a favor with such disloyalty. But what they have actually done is unify a strong contingent of the Democratic base around Dean. For his part, Dean understands that these centrist elites will never be his base of support within the party - nor should a chairman want them to be. So he has a political incentive to stay on the populist progressive message as DNC Chairman. In other words, the grassroots and the progressive wing of the party have become crucial to his political career/survival - and that's who he is going to fight for. Say what you will about his transformation from governor to DNC Chairman, I'm glad he's on progressives' side.

Certainly, that is scary to the insulated Washington, D.C. Democratic establishment. For years, these insiders have been able to handpick chairmen to make sure the party doesn't move back to its grassroots, middle-class roots. That explains their anger at him, and their subsequent attacks.

We linked to a Robert Parry article (via BuzzFlash) this weekend.  Lloyd e-mails to ask if we can highlight a section of "The Real Lessons of Watergate:"

Most importantly, the bitter experience of Watergate taught the conservatives the need to control the flow of information at the national level.

Following President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974, former Treasury Secretary William Simon and other conservative leaders began pulling together the resources for building the right-wing media infrastructure that is now arguably the most intimidating force in U.S. politics. A key goal was to make sure they could protect future Republican presidents from "another Watergate." [For details, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.]

Meanwhile, liberals largely treated the Watergate scandal as manna from heaven and assumed that similar gifts would be delivered by the mainstream news media whenever future Republican governments stepped out of line. The Left saw little need for media investment and instead stressed local grassroots organizing around social issues.

This progressive priority -- summed up in the slogan, "think globally, act locally" -- became almost dogma on the Left, even as conservatives expanded their political base across the country by exploiting their widening advantage in media, from AM talk radio and cable TV news to magazines, newspapers and the Internet.


Some sketchy notes on this morning's panel by former 9-11 commissioners.

* Steve (didn't catch last name) was speaking for Sibel Edmonds who wasn't able to be there.  As he spoke, he was repeatedly interrupted by someone offscreen.  He was asking about the revelations from whistleblowers and the sense that the panel didn't address those revelations.  After Steve finished speaking, the offscreen chatter grew.  To the point that Jamie Gorelick had to say "No, I'm going to respond to that question."  Her response was brief and to the effect that they will be examining whether "additional follow up" on some issues is required.  (She also made a point to say,  "I think you for raising the question.")

Steve's question was prefaced with a statement (or he attempted to preface it with one before he was repeatedly interrupted -- off camera).  The same did not happen to reporters who prefaced their statements.  If the hearings are going to continue to be public, the panel needs to enforce the 'immediately get to your question' policy equally or not at all.  The panel would also do well to answer (or attempt to) those type of questions (as Gorelick did -- in a brief manner) because they are questions on the minds of many.

A staffer for Rep. Chris Shays asked about the Intell Authorization Bill before the Congress this week and what the panel felt of Congressional action thus far?

Jamie Gorelick, stating she was speaking for the panel, noted that the "most glaring failure" was the lack of Congressional reform.  "Without reform of Congress, without the oversight function . . . without that and without a much more streamlined process . . . you're not going to achieve half, if any, of the promise . . ."

Gorelick closed the panel's session by noting seven catagories of concern.

1) Turf battles -- agencies operating at cross purposes

2) More needs to be done with regard to hiring and promoting behavior "we'd like to see."

3) Threat assessment.

4) Turnover.

5) "Leadership in each agency is critical."

6) "Executive branch leadership in resolving information sharing issues."

7) "Alignment of actions and priorities."

Gorelick noted the next panel, John F. Lehman will chair, will deal with the "challenges facing the Director of National Intelligence."  (Representative Jane Harmon will take part in that panel.)

More information can be found at the 9/11 Public Discourse Project.  (And my notes are sketchy.  I'll look for a transcript later today.)
Lastly, at The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby is dissecting Watergate, through the modern lens, among other topics.  (Or rather the press' self-congratulatory tone.*)  He also addresses comments in Bob Herbert's column today (and David Brooks Saturday).  We'll pick up on the latter because when unsure of what to excerpt, if he's discussing Gore, we go with Gore.  Herbert's raising the issue of "the gap between the rich and the rest of us" and notes the Bully Boy's tax cuts.  From Somerby:

On TV, shouters try to deceive and dissemble, using spin-points which are designed to mislead. We've discussed these spin-points in the past (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/27/03). Here’s Sean Hannity, for example, shedding tears for that top one percent:

HANNITY (1/8/03): If Democrats say "tax cuts for the rich," which is the mantra--if they say that all the time, don't we have to define what the terms are? Let me put up on the screen and hopefully you can see it there. If not, I'll read it to you. According to it, the top one percent pays 37 percent of the taxes.
The top one percent pays 37 percent of the taxes! Spinners like Hannity mouth this claim the way middle-income folks breathe.

For the record, this familiar spin-point is (more-or-less) technically accurate. By "taxes," Hannity actually meant "federal income taxes," one of our few progressive taxes. And it's true--the top one percent do pay a large share of this tax. (How this spin works: You're supposed to be blown away by the difference between "1" and "37.") But why do they pay such a large percentage? In large part, it's because they earn a large percentage of the nation's income, a fact these spinners leave out of the mix. The next time you hear this misleading point, remember the facts in that New York Times graphic. According to that graphic, people in the top one percent pay roughly 21 percent of their income in all federal taxes. People earning 50-70 grand pay just a few points less.

Of course, we also hear misleading cant from some of our well-known political leaders. Consider George W. Bush, for example. Way back in December 1999, Candidate Bush told us this when he announced his plan to cut taxes on that top one percent:

BUSH (12/1/99): Let us lay down another basic principle: No one in America should have to work more than 4 months a year to pay the IRS. The federal government, in peacetime, has no business taking more than 33 percent of anyone's paycheck.
This has remained a familiar Bush talking-point. But of course, almost no one pays the feds "more than 33 percent of his pay-check." The Gore campaign explained that way back when, in real time. This was part of a press release when Bush introduced this spin-point:
GORE CAMPAIGN (12/1/99):
FALSE CLAIM #5: George W. Bush Believes That No One Should Pay More Than One-third of Their Income in Taxes...

REALITY: Virtually No Taxpayers Pay Over One-third of Their Income to the Federal Government. Under no circumstances could a married couple making less than $326,000 pay more than one-third of its income in income and payroll taxes combined, even if they took the standard deduction. Based on IRS Statistics of Income data, only 0.2 percent of families pay more than one-third of their income in Federal income taxes.

Just how "flat" are federal taxes? Alas! To the modern press corps, this topic is "wonky." They don't bother with data like these--the kind of data which "make their heads hurt." So the Hannitys keep pimping their misleading claims--and the press keeps staring off into air, leaving voters misled and deceived. No doubt, reporters and editors are off somewhere working their second and third jobs, valiantly trying to fight their way into the middle class.
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*Note: Susan feels that this The Way We Were look back on the part of the press was shameful and e-mails to note The Third Estate Sunday Review's essay on this.  We'll note the essay further tonight.

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