Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Democracy Now: Chris Hedges, Michael Ratner; Cindy Sheehan, Gary Hart,, Bob Somerby, BuzzFlash, Marian Wright Edelman ...

200 Protest Bush in Tiny Idaho Town of 130
In Idaho Bush is staying at Tamarack Resort, known for its world-class ski mountain, its professional golf course and the beautiful Lake Cascade. Meanwhile anti-war protesters met Bush in Idaho. Even though the tiny town of Donnelly only has a population of 130, some 200 protesters took to the streets Monday night. Protests were also held in Boise. There were reports protesters planned to issue a citizen's arrest warrant for the president. Laura McCarthy, whose son is in Iraq, said at a rally "President Bush probably breathed a sigh of relief when he landed in Idaho last night. But no matter where he goes, he's going to find a Cindy Sheehan in every community across the United States. The name is going to be different, but the message is going to be the same."
Doctors: Fetuses Don't Feel Pain Until Final Months of Pregnancy
In medical news, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have issued a report determining that fetuses likely don't feel pain until the final months of pregnancy. Opponents of abortion rights have widely criticized the report. It is being issued at a time that anti-abortion advocates are pushing for fetal pain laws aimed at curtailing abortion.
Studs Terkel Recovering From Open-Heart Surgery
And writer, radio host and oral historian Studs Terkel is recovering at home after undergoing a risky open-heart surgery. Earlier this month, the 93-year-old Terkel underwent a six hour operation to replace a narrowed aortic valve and redo one of five coronary bypasses. Doctors said Terkel is the oldest patient known to have undergone such a procedure. Terkel's surgeon said, "His progress is spectacular. He is recovering physically and mentally as well as someone half his age."
The above are Headlines from Democracy Now! today and were selected by Josh (who notes that Elisabeth Bumiller & the New York Times got the number of protesters wrong), Erika and Gina. Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):
Headlines for August 24, 2005

- Bush: Sheehan Is Advocating a Policy to "Weaken" The Country
- 200 Protest Bush in Tiny Idaho Town of 130
- Rumsfeld Compares Anti-War Activists to Backers of Stalin
- Bush's Approval Rating Plummets to New Low of 36%
- Kofi Annan Travels to Niger to Warn of Food Shortages
- NYC Signs Deal w/ Lockheed Martin to Run Subway Surveillance
- Studs Terkel Recovering From Open-Heart Surgery
The Cannon of Christianity: Pat Robertson Calls for the Assassination of Hugo Chavez

Christian televangelist Pat Robertson set off an international firestorm this week when he called for the assassination of Venezuela's democratically-elected president Hugo Chavez. We speak with journalist and author Chris Hedges and attorney Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Hybrid Cars: How Alternative Technologies Are Shaping the Future of Car Travel

We take a look at sustainable energy solutions as gas prices skyrocket, focusing on the increasingly popular hybrid cars. We speak with the founder of and go to an interview with an activist from the alternative energy movement.
Lisa e-mails to note Cindy Sheehan's "Coming Back to Crawford" (The Huffington Post):
I'm coming back to Crawford for my son. As long as the president, who sent him to die in a senseless war, is in Crawford, that is where I belong. I came here two and a half weeks ago for one reason, to try and see the president and get an answer to a very simple question: What is the noble cause that he says my son died for?
The answer to that question will not bring my son back. But it may stop more meaningless deaths. Because every death is now a meaningless one. And the vast majority of our country knows this. So why do more young men and women have to die? And why do more parents have to lose their children and live the rest of their lives with this unbearable grief?
Antonio e-mails to note Gary Hart's "Who Will Say 'No More?'" (Washington Post):

History will deal with George W. Bush and the neoconservatives who misled a mighty nation into a flawed war that is draining the finest military in the world, diverting Guard and reserve forces that should be on the front line of homeland defense, shredding international alliances that prevailed in two world wars and the Cold War, accumulating staggering deficits, misdirecting revenue from education to rebuilding Iraqi buildings we've blown up, and weakening America's national security.

But what will history say about an opposition party that stands silent while all this goes on? My generation of Democrats jumped on the hot stove of Vietnam and now, with its members in positions of responsibility, it is afraid of jumping on any political stove. In their leaders, the American people look for strength, determination and self-confidence, but they also look for courage, wisdom, judgment and, in times of moral crisis, the willingness to say: "I was wrong."

To stay silent during such a crisis, and particularly to harbor the thought that the administration's misfortune is the Democrats' fortune, is cowardly. In 2008 I want a leader who is willing now to say: "I made a mistake, and for my mistake I am going to Iraq and accompanying the next planeload of flag-draped coffins back to Dover Air Force Base. And I am going to ask forgiveness for my mistake from every parent who will talk to me."

Further, this leader should say: "I am now going to give a series of speeches across the country documenting how the administration did not tell the American people the truth, why this war is making our country more vulnerable and less secure, how we can drive a wedge between Iraqi insurgents and outside jihadists and leave Iraq for the Iraqis to govern, how we can repair the damage done to our military, what we and our allies can do to dry up the jihadists' swamp, and what dramatic steps we must take to become energy-secure and prevent Gulf Wars III, IV and so on."

At The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby continues to point out what John Harris can't find time to tell readers in his book:
Clinton wasn't cool, Harris says. He wasn't cool, like JFK was! Indeed, Harris has already explored this notion at an earlier point in his book. "Clinton by no means lacked humor," he writes on page 35, "but his natural bent was toward cheerful patter and oft-told yarns. Washington humor is different--ironic and knowing, the sort of detached wit that John F. Kennedy used to beguile a generation of journalists." But alas: "Sardonic wit was not Clinton's style. He was dead earnest about the work of his presidency, and sorely resentful of how Washington journalists seemed to reduce his noble purposes into stories about political process and tactics." On page 35 of Harris' book, this leads directly into the anecdote about Ann Devroy's "thinly veiled disdain" for Clinton, disdain exhibited on the Post's front page (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/23/05). Later, on page 146, Harris takes this peculiar theme--Clinton wasn't cool like Kennedy--and makes it the most important reason for Clinton’s odd coverage The press corps was filled with disdain for Clinton because he wasn't cool and detached--and because reporters had become more cynical due to Nam, of course.

In our view, this explanation is so bad that it achieves instant hall-of-fame status. Remember, according to Harris, Clinton was savaged by a string of "scandals" which all turned out to be more more-or-less bunk. Beyond that, Clinton was being tormented by trivial stories about his clothes, his friendships and his haircuts--stories which also turned out to be wrong in important instances. Meanwhile, a gang of crackpots were spreading vile stories fueled by a "lurid strain of hatred"--and the press corps failed to confront or challenge them. And why was all this going on? Because Clinton wasn't cool, like JFK--and because the press had been soured by Vietnam, which happened twenty years before! Alas! As often happens when the press corps pretends to explain its own odd behavior, we receive an utterly strange explanation. The press corps felt disdain for Clinton because of lame jokes that he told!

As we've noted in the past, this is what tends to happen when the press corps sets out to explain its own conduct. And soon, Harris' narrative breaks down altogether, at least in so far as the press is concerned. Readers, what about that Whitewater episode--the matter which gave its name to an era? Uh-oh! When Harris explains it, the press joins The Missing. His colleagues aren't present at all.

That "knowning humor" apparently includes laughing at "Those WMD have to around here somewhere" and other "humorous" remarks.  Possibly it's the same sort of "taste" that finds "humor" in John Roberts' writing? (As Todd S. Purdum and John M. Broder did in "NYT: The fumes from his smelly jock k.o. Todd Purdum yet again.")
Seems to be a point that Marie Cocco's addressing in "Roberts Looks Like Early Archie Bunker" (Newsday) -- which Jonah e-mailed to highlight:
John Roberts' self-portrait has been revealed, and it turns out the Supreme Court nominee bears a keen resemblance to a most familiar American character. He is Archie Bunker with a pedigree.

The buttoned-down federal judge does not share Archie's weary, rumpled look. He does not sit in the overstuffed chair from which the loading dock foreman of television's landmark "All in the Family" show launched diatribes against the social changes he felt threatened his neighborhood, his job and his standing as king of his castle.

The seat of Roberts' revolt against social progress of the 1960s and 1970s wasn't plopped in the middle of a fraying house in a blue-collar neighborhood. It was carefully positioned in the corridors of power.

As a young lawyer in the forefront of the Reagan administration's efforts to stanch social change, Roberts would use his intellect and legal acumen to try to reverse what Archie could only rant against: federal courts that had established too many "rights" for African-Americans, for women, for students who attended segregated schools, for children of illegal immigrants in Texas who sought an education.

Ned e-mails to note this from Susan at Random Thoughts:

When former AG John Ashcroft once quipped the White House was committed to working 24/7, 24 hours a week, seven months a year, he was probably exaggerating just how hard our dictator works.

Bush has now exceeded Ronald Reagan in terms of the number of days he has spent on vacation while being "president."

While people are slaving away working more hours at their job, or jobs as it were, the dictator tries to find the right "balance" between work and relaxation.

We'll note Marian Wright Edelman's "The Budget Cut Crisis: Youths Speak Out!" (Children's Defense Fund):

The budget fight is not over!  As the summer winds down, the next few weeks are critical.  In April, Congress passed a budget resolution that will cut critical services for vulnerable children while giving extravagant tax benefits to the wealthiest Americans.  Over the past four years Congress has bestowed $3.0 trillion in tax cuts that benefit the most affluent among us most.  Now Congress wants to provide another $106 billion in tax cuts that will go overwhelmingly to the wealthy.  At the same time that the rich are getting more huge tax breaks, the federal deficit is at an all time high as is the gap between rich and poor and child poverty and infant mortality have increased.  And the same leaders who want to give more government welfare to billionaires and millionaires are proposing budget cuts and freezes to crucial children and family health care, food stamps, child care, and housing programs. We only have until mid-September to convince Congress that this is the wrong choice for our children and for our nation and I hope you will let them hear from you.

Some of the best experts on how these budget cuts would affect children and youths are youths themselves.  At a New York City Youth Speak Out and Hearing sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund- New York, two New York City Council Members, and twenty co-sponsoring groups, young people from across the city spoke about how the proposed budget cuts could affect them--especially cuts to after-school programs that help many of them gain leadership skills and stay out of trouble.  These programs are so critical to keeping children out of the cradle-to-prison pipeline, and the youths’ oral and written testimonies make clear how much these supports meant to them.  Here are just a few of their statements:

Eighteen-year-old senior Dominice said the after-school program she had been attending for almost eleven years had given her crucial stability: “After-school programs are our homes away from homes…a place where children can better themselves and help find out who they are…This program has helped me through my changes in life.  I was in the 9 th and 10 th grade when I started cutting and going through many family issues, but thanks to the social workers I changed my ways for the best.  I am now a B student and receiving many honors for my leadership skills.”

Liang e-mails to note Shea Howell's "Constitutional responsibilities" (originally in the Michigan Citizen, via The Boggs Center):

The Iraqi National Assembly extended the deadline for its constitution by a week.  This is another failure for the administration.  Predictably President Bush claimed this failure as a victory.  He issued a statement applauding "the heroic efforts of Iraqi negotiators" as they continued to talk.

Only a week ago Bush expressed confidence that the now extended deadline would be met.  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice echoed his delusion.  She called the decision to extend the deadline by seven days a victory for the rule of law and predicted the Iraqis would reach agreement by Monday.

[. . .]

Tensions that existed since the days of the Ottoman Empire will not be resolved because the U.S. wants a propaganda victory.  The constitutional process is a metaphor for the larger problmes facing the Bush administration.  Nothing in Iraq is going the way they predicted.  No amount of force and intimidation will make it do so.


Carl e-mails to note BuzzFlash's editorial "America Used to Pride Itself on Championing Success.  Now the Busheviks Cheer on Failure and Smear Patriots Who Would Make America More Secure:"

Time after time the man failed until friends of his father bailed him out. It happened with his failure to serve in Vietnam, his missing months of non-service in the National Guard, his alleged drug conviction, his failure at oil drilling, his failure at everything he touched. This was a guy who was asked to leave the Carlyle Board -- the incestuous money mill for Bush Dynasty loyalists -- because he didn't have anything to offer.

Then Karl Rove "adopted" him, like Henry Higgins adopted Eliza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady." There was that fateful moment that Rove loves to recount when -- as Poppy Bush's go-fer and driver -- he picked a young George W. Bush up from the Union Station in Washington, D.C., and like a sculptor eyeing a nice slab of marble, thought to himself "There's my meal ticket. This guy is named Bush and in a $2000 suit I can make something of him. He's got the height, the Eddie Haskell look of false earnestness, and the right cocky swagger."

Of course, Rove turned Bush into a political marketing success, creating an image of a Governor and then a President out of an empty suit with a political "brand" name.

But before the pitch man with the golden shiv for character assassination teamed up with the ne'er do well son of a declining WASPish East Coast dynasty that had decided to put on cowboy boots, Bush was always being pulled out of the frying pan and the messes he created by Daddy's friends. The only exception was his money-making stint with the Texas Rangers, where he was essentially "used" for his name in return for a "favored son" financial share in the team. And the value of his stock soared due to he and his partners using eminent domain to steal real estate from surrounding citizens, which then inflated the value of the franchise.

(BuzzFlash also has named this week's Wings of Justice winner.)

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