Thursday, July 28, 2005

Democracy Now: Amnesty on Gerad Jean-Juste; Bob Somerby, Tom Hayden, David Sirota, Juan Gonzalez, BuzzFlash, Carly Simon


AFL-CIO Convention Calls for End to Iraq Occupation
Under major pressure form its membership and dissident unions that pulled out of the federation, the AFL-CIO has passed a resolution calling for a "rapid" return of all U.S. troops currently in Iraq. The resolution came at the group's national convention in Chicago. The group US Labor Against the War called the resolution a "major shift in policy." The groups says that the AFL-CIO General Executive Council had tried to push through a watered-down resolution that did not clearly call for a prompt end to the occupation. This attempt was headed-off after one of the leaders of Labor Against the War put forward an amendment calling for an end to the occupation.

  • Gene Bruskin, US Labor Against the War:
    The resolution was an historic one because it ended decades of silence from the labor movement and actual support for the U.S. government on the issue of foreign policy. As Henry Nicholas, president of 1199 AFSCME of Philadelphia said when he rose to the mic to condemn the war, "In my 45 years in the labor movement, this is my proudest moment. We have finally stood up to this war and said, 'Enough is enough.'"

Poll: Americans Want Rove Gone
A new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll has found that a majority of Americans believe that Karl Rove should leave the White House for his role in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. But only half of those surveyed say they are following the story closely, while a quarter said they had never even heard of Karl Rove. Meanwhile, the National Journal reports that Rove and other top aides to President Bush were given $4,000 raises from last year. Rove is now paid $161,000.

The above are from Democracy Now!'s Headlines and they were selected by Eli and LiangDemocracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):
Headlines for July 28, 2005

- CAFTA Passes by 1 Vote in Midnight Session
- Iraqi PM Call US to Withdraw Troop
- Top US Commander: Withdrawal Could Begin in Spring 2006
- Bush Declares an End To Phrase 'War on Terror'
- AFL-CIO Convention Calls for End to Iraq Occupation
- Poll: Americans Want Rove Gone
- Terror Suspect Posada Entered US on Fake Passport
AFL-CIO Convention Results in Major Split

The AFL-CIO labor convention in Chicago this week has seen the largest rupture in the US labor movement for more than fifty years. Democracy Now! co-host and New York Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez talks about the implications. [includes rush transcript]
Subway Shakedowns: Necessary Security or Unconstitutional Violation?

New York City police are now conducting random searches of subway passengers in a program of stepped-up security following the London subway and bus blasts earlier this month. Civil liberties groups say the searches are unconstitutional and ineffective. We host a debate. [includes rush transcript - partial]
Lynching Reenactment in Georgia Dramatizes Call for Indictments in 59-year-old Case

Civil rights activists in Georgia reenacted a 59-year-old lynching this month to push for indictments in the murder of four African Americans, two men and two women, one of whom was seven-months pregnant at the time. No one was ever prosecuted in the case. We speak with the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, which organized the reenactment.
Amnesty International Declares Father Jean-Juste a "Prisoner of Conscience"

Haitian Priest Gerard Jean-Juste has been declared a "prisoner of conscience" by Amnesty International after his recent arrest and incommunicado detention. We speak with Amnesty International about his case and the ongoing violence in Haiti on the 90th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Haiti.
From the first Democracy Now! report today (AFL-CIO), Eli also asked that we excerpt this:

AMY GOODMAN: Juan, before we move to our debate on subway searches, you have covered labor for many years. The end of the convention comes at the same time as the passage of CAFTA by one vote, 217-215. Just one vote would have tied it.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes, a big defeat for organized labor that put a lot of effort into it, and also the AFL unions threatened that any Democrat that backed CAFTA would not get their support. We'll wait and see what happens on that, but also the other big thing about the AFL convention is the war resolution that you just talked about, the anti-war resolution. Historic for the AFL-CIO. It has never come out so clearly. All of the unions now from the left to the right of the AFL-CIO are now on record saying that they want U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq as soon as possible. That's going to mean that all of these unions are going to financially support the peace movement from now on, and I think that's going to be a big boost to the peace movement.

AMY GOODMAN: And Sweeney re-elected.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And, yes, Sweeney re-elected yesterday a day early. He was supposed to be re-elected today, but he was re-elected by acclamation yesterday. I suspect it's because some of the AFL delegates are so disheartened by the split, they were eager to get out of Chicago as fast as possible and move on.

Bob Somerby is covering a wide section of things in today's The Daily Howler.  We're going to skip Chris Matthews and focus on the critique of Wolf Blitzer's show that featured Pat Roberts and Diane Fienstein -- specifically, we'll focus on the Feinstein critique:

Omigod! In fact, he set her up pretty good! Blitzer mentioned the CIA complaint, although he didn't flesh out the logic his question implied. What should Feinstein have said in reply? In an ideal world, the fiery Dem might have said something like this:
WHAT FEINSTEIN MIGHT HAVE SAID: Wolf, it's important for everyone to understand--the CIA asked for a criminal probe of this matter, saying that Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson's wife, was a covert agent. And that "five-year period" to which Pat Roberts just referred is only part of one narrow statute. In fact, there are other laws banning disclosure of classified information under which the leak of Plame's name may well have been a crime. We have to wait for the special prosecutor, but it's important for people to understand--the CIA has said that Plame was covert; the CIA filed a criminal complaint about the leak of her name; and Patrick Fitzgerald may end up finding that a serious crime was committed in this case.
Of course, expecting Feinstein to act this way is like asking the sun to set in the south. Instead, the somnolent solon offered this vague, snore-inducing response:
FEINSTEIN (responding directly to Blitzer, above): Well, it says to me that the CIA values this as extraordinarily important. If they can't protect their agents, they can't survive as an agency. And I've been distressed to even see in the newspapers, I believe this morning, about what some of the undercover placements were, listing them rather generically.
Huh? No one on earth understood that last sentence, and her opening was vague and uninformative. She didn't counter Roberts with the most direct points: The CIA has said that Plame was covert, and that disclosure of her name may have been a crime. But then, this lazy, who-gives-a-fig approach is typical of the Dem message machine. Why are RNC spokesmen free to spread a range of misleading points? (To spread these points to willing vessels like Allen?) Simple! Because players like Feinstein roll over and die--and because players like Blitzer don't challenge.

In this case, the greater fault lies with Feinstein. In fairness, Blitzer set her up pretty good--and, as usual, she failed to deliver. But all across the liberal web, we hear screaming about this statement by Roberts--and nothing at all about Feinstein and Blitzer. Yes, the world would be a better place if Roberts hadn't put his thumb on the scale. But he was able to do so because of the other two players--most specifically, because of Feinstein's weak effort.

As usual, Feinstein rolled over and died. But all across the liberal web, you hear about one player only--Vile Roberts. Why do you hear so much about Roberts and so little about Blitzer and Feinstein? In the case of individual sites, we can't say. But some bloggers work for (or kiss up to) the Dems, and they don't like to challenge the lazy response of utterly hapless players like Feinstein. Meanwhile, some of them want to be guests on cable themselves--so they rarely speak ill of the Blitzers.

So when you visit some fiery sites, you receive a one-track message. You're invited to contribute to "epithet lists" about Vile Roberts--and you're handed tortured, sooth-saying tales about the vile things he plans for the future. But you don't hear a word about his hapless enablers. But readers, can you hear something else at work here? Can't you just hear it? Hey, rubes?

We'll note Tom Hayden's "Iraq Prime Minister Asks US to Withdraw!!!" (The Huffington Post):

Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari says he wants the rapid withdrawal of US troops. after weeks of being in denial about this development, the media - and the peace movement - now to have to deal with it.

A month ago 82 Iraqi parliamentarians called for US withdrawal. There was no media coverage. But the statement of the prime minister, standing next to Donald Rumsfeld, has to be reported.

So is the war over? Hardly. Here is my interpretation.

The US wants to avoid more casualties on the battlefield and political losses in election year 2006.

They want to confuse, divide, lull and deflate American and global anti-war opinion.

They want to take the risk of some American troop withdrawals this winter or spring.

By seeming to begin withdrawal, they are looking for a way to stay.

Trey e-mailed to note the above and wanted to share this: "I'm still learning about The Huffington Post but any site that gives Tom Hayden a platform is a site that will peek my interest.  Glad there are sites that still care about strong voices."
Okay, today is Lewis Black day on -- and here's our crazed rant.

First, we are reposting
this commentary because it is so important.

TreasonGate is all about the Busheviks once again bullying their way through the rule of law.

But, expect PardonGate to Replace TreasonGate if there are indictments. Like his father pardoning Weinberger BEFORE he testified, "Baby Doc" Bush has the same thing in mind. Right now, Rove is smearing people about his original treasonous smears, and Bush isn't putting a leash on the guy, let alone firing him. So, Bush is proven as a de facto co-conspirator in deed. (And Staff Sergeant Karen Hughes has the usual Bushevik audacity to not answer any Senate Committee questions on TreasonGate by claiming Fitzgerald has asked the White House staffers not to talk about it and she follows "President" Bush's wishes, even though Bush is letting Rove orchestrate a massive leak and SECOND smear campaign against the same people -- and even some new ones -- he may be indicted for retaliating against in the first place.)

Remember, BuzzFlash predicted PardonGate first, and the latest domino to line up with that theory is the nomination of Bush loyalist, John Roberts, to become a Supreme Court Judge. Of course, the Busheviks won't release the presidential papers that show what role John Roberts played in the Iran-Contra pardons, because that would strike a little too close to coming events, wouldn't it?

Read the entire following analysis from a BuzzFlash content contributor if you haven't. This is also why Pat "Treason is Okay with Me if It's a Good Loyal Republican Doing It" Roberts wants to muck up Fitzgerald's possible indictments by holding hearings to intimidate him and get witnesses to possibly raise grounds for getting off convictions via double jeopardy pleas. (This is the excuse used by Bush's Zelig hack judge, David Sentelle, to overturn the Iran-Contra convictions of Ollie North and John Poindexter.) It's all a Bushevism Omerta cabal: "You take care of us; We take care of you." Even down to the kinky partisan judges.

Remember, BuzzFlash was there first. So read:

What's important here is that Bush needs to pardon any staff members indicted before they testify, because, as Poppy Bush showed, you have to save your butt by keeping anybody out of the prosecutor's office before they might be thinking of plea bargaining in return for information implicating the President (Bush I and Bush II in separate criminal acts) in a conspiracy to commit a crime and/or obstruct justice. Let us point out yet again that Bush retained a private lawyer to represent him in the case, shortly after the CIA requested the Justice Department to investigate the outing of a CIA operative specializing in tracking weapons of mass destruction, and the resultant harm to our national security.
Rachel e-mails asking if "the whole world is going on vacation!!!"  Rachel notes Rebecca's on vacation (Elaine's filling in for her at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude -- and of course I think Elaine's doing a wonderful job) and now notes that A! at Watching the Watchers has posted this:
Well, heading off to move my family somewhere out West, to one of those "undisclosed locations" people like to talk about.

I'll be gone for about a week, but you can and should check in with the Diaries Section to see all the great stuff the diarists are writing. You can make submissions as usual if you like, but the community will have to vote them up to the front page.

Wanna see your story up? Go tell your buddies to create an account and vote for your story. Tell everybody. We accept all comers, right, left, and center, into our little community.

Rachel also notes that Anne has posted "Taking It Easy" at Peevish . . . I'm Just Saying:

Me, I mean. For a few days, blogging will be light, just because I'm feeling like a slacker. (Also, after having fought off yet another avalanche of comment spam, I'm tired of looking at this blog.)

Before I go (again), a few links....

It's summer.  (By the way, Rachel was joking in her e-mail.)  Smartest thing people can do is grab some downtime if they're able to.  Rest is important (but A!'s actually moving and not vacationing so I doubt that will be restful and it sounds like Anne's just grabbing a little down time).
And let's note what Elaine wrote last night:
Now I'll move on to tell you that I heard from Rebecca today. She phoned a little after noon. She's enjoying herself and and her rest but said to tell everyone she is missing blogging and will be back when she's had enough of her vacation. She says to tell Sherry that she (Sherry) was right, the wrong men wear speedos in real life. She said to tell you that she misses all of you but she needed to get away from all the crap (mainly ex-in-laws shredding an entry she'd worked hard on about her abortion) and needed a rest.

I'll be here until she gets back which, hopefully, will be soon
Ellis e-mails to note David Sirota's post from yesterday:
We now know who the 15 Democrats are that each undermined their party and America's middle class by casting the deciding vote for the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). The bill passed by one vote, meaning each of the 15 Democrats cast the deciding vote. When 27 Republicans vote against their own party leadership as they did on CAFTA, Democrats have only these 15 sellouts within their ranks - and groups like the DLC that pushed CAFTA - to blame for the fact that the Democratic Party has been relegated to permanent minority status.

The 15 Democratic sellouts were:

Melissa Bean (IL)
Jim Cooper (TN)
Henry Cuellar (TX)
Norm Dicks (WA)
Ruben Hinojosa (TX)
William Jefferson (LA)
Jim Matheson (UT)
Greg Meeks (NY)
Dennis Moore (KS)
Jim Moran (VA)
Solomon Ortiz (TX)
Ike Skelton (MO)
Vic Snyder (AR)
John Tanner (TN)
Ed Towns (NY)

Let's be clear - all of these people should never get a red cent from labor unions or the progressive community again, and that goes even for the ones who represent marginal districts. The idea that this was a "tough vote" for a Democrat who represents a swing district doesn't hold water - no one is getting voted out of office over voting against CAFTA, and voting for American workers. Remember, polls show that Americans are sick and tired of Congress passing these corporate-written "free" trade deals that sell out ordinary workers.

Ellis then notes this from Sirota today:
There is nothing so pathetic as someone who undermines a team crying when they get called onto the carpet for disloyalty. But, as expected, that's what's happening with Democrats and CAFTA. I was met this morning with a few emails from Capitol Hill Democrats who don't like that I had the nerve to tell it like it is about last night's tragic vote. The whining and crying is the perfect image of pathetic thumb-sucking weakness that has hurt Democrats throughout the heartland.

Don't worry -
I've been there before with this, and it is more than a little hilarious to criticize me for supposedly being disloyal to Democrats. I long toiled in the day-to-day trenches fighting the Republicans. And, unlike many of the whiners in Washington, I've actually left the Beltway and worked on winning campaigns. Still, it never ceases to amaze me how Washington, D.C. Democrats - unlike Republicans - have no understanding of why accountability will actually help them get back into the majority.

You've heard it before: Democrats don't like to talk about who is loyal to the party and who isn't. They would prefer that everyone
just be quiet about divisions, even if those divisions undermine the party's ability to deliver a serious message. It's the big tent for big tent's sake - even if it means losing into perpetuity.
Susan notes that this morning's New York Times, in The Arts, noted this:
But there are some unexpected debuts in the Top 10 this week.  Carly Simon's latest Moonlight Serenade (Columbia), sold 58,000 copies to reach No. 7 -- her highest chart ranking in 31 years, according to Billboard . . .
That item (from "Arts, Briefly") is credited to Ben Sisario.  Kat's working on two reviews and, yes, one of them is Moonlight Serenade.
We'll quote Carly from Performing Songwriter ("Some Thoughts on Songs & Singing" -- not available online):
When I write my own songs and then sing them, I am least able to be assured of a good outcome.  Naturally I am a harsh critic of my own performances, but I don't make it easy on myself.  I write intervals for my voice that should assure that no other singer would cover my songs.  Not that that is my intention.  A guitarist I used to work with explained it to me like this:  I have a crooked ear.  I do love the surprising melody, the one that takes you through the Japanese garden, the rapids, the road less traveled.  That's how I please myself.  It is sometimes the duty of the artist/musician to surprise the self.
We'll close by noting Juan Gonzalez's "Union divorce ain't pretty:"
Two big unions that broke away this week from the AFL-CIO are moving quickly to launch a new national labor federation by September.

"We're looking at Ohio or another Midwest battleground state for the founding convention," a top source in the breakaway group told me yesterday.

The regular convention of the AFL-CIO was set to draw to a close today after yesterday's reelection of John Sweeney to his fourth term as president.

But the entire convention - even its call for the "rapid" withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq - was eclipsed by the organization's worst split in more than 60 years.

The two breakaway unions, the Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union, represent nearly a quarter of the AFL-CIO's 13 million members.

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