Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Democracy Now: Cindy Sheehan, Bill Quigley, Reuters; Norman Solomon, A! (Watching the Watchers), Delilah Boyd, Barbara Reynolds, Grace Lee Boggs

"Democracy Now: Cindy Sheehan, Bill Quigley, Reuters; Norman Solomon, A! (Watching the Watchers), Delilah Boyd, Barbara Reynolds, Grace Lee Boggs, Marian Wright Edelman ... "

AMY GOODMAN: What are your plans now, Cindy Sheehan, as you leave Camp Casey?
CINDY SHEEHAN: We're getting on the bus. We're not letting up. But now we're going to shift part of the pressure on the Congress. You know, Congress is, as much if not more, culpable for the bloodshed in Iraq. And we're going to keep the pressure on the President, obviously. You know, we had 1,500 people in San Diego, while he was there the other day, protesting his policies. We will keep the pressure on him, but now we're going to go to Congress -- excuse me, I don't have a voice anymore -- and we're going to ask Congress the same questions we wanted to ask the President, but also we're going to put on top of it, "How many more people are you willing to let die for this mistake before you call an end to it?"
AMY GOODMAN: Forty percent of Mississippi's National Guard, thirty-five percent of Louisiana's is in Iraq. Final comment on that. And we just have a few seconds, Cindy Sheehan.
CINDY SHEEHAN: Well, I think, of course, it's George Bush's policies, and not only are their personnel over there, but their equipment is over there, too, and that's going to be devastating, more than ever for those states.
AMY GOODMAN: Cindy Sheehan, will you be at the major anti-war rally in Washington on September 24th?
CINDY SHEEHAN: Absolutely.

The above is from Democracy Now!'s "The Day Casey Died: Cindy Sheehan, Journalist and Wounded Soldier Remember the Battle of Sadr City." Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says)

Headlines for August 31, 2005
- New Orleans & Gulf Region Remain In State of Catastrophe
- Hundreds Feared Dead Across Region
- Louisiana Governor Orders New Orleans To Be Evacuated
- FEMA: This Is the "Most Significant Natural Disaster to Hit the U.S."
- 6,000 Local National Guard Members In Iraq
- Widespread Looting Reported in New Orleans
- Bush Administration Cut Back Flood Control Spending
- Oil & Gas Production Crippled in Gulf Coast Region
- Tragedy in Baghdad: 650 Die in Mass Stampede

Los Titulares de Hoy: Democracy Now!'s daily news summary translated into Spanish

Report from Inside New Orleans Hospital: "Who is Left Behind?...The Sickest, The Oldest, The Poorest, The Youngest"
As the devastation left in the wake of hurricane Katrina continues to unfold, we go to New Orleans to speak with law professor Bill Quigley of Loyola University. Quigley, who is volunteering at Memorial Hospital, said, "The people who are in New Orleans are - in all honesty - dying and there could be a lot more casualties unless there's a lot of help, real fast." [includes rush transcript]

Journalists Under Fire in Iraq: Reuters Chief Debates Pentagon Over Slain and Detained Media Workers
In the latest assault on media workers in Iraq, U.S. forces shoot dead a Reuters new agency soundman and order a Reuters cameraman to be held without charge for six months in Abu Ghraib. We host a debate with David Schlesinger, Global Managing Editor of the Reuters News Agency and Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, spokesperson for the U.S. military in Iraq and Director of Combined Press Information Center.

The Day Casey Died: Cindy Sheehan, Journalist and Wounded Soldier Remember the Battle of Sadr City
On the last day of Cindy Sheehan's vigil outside President Bush's estate in Crawford, we look back at the day her son, Casey, died. We speak with a U.S. army soldier who was wounded on the same day Casey was killed, an independent journalist who visited the area shortly afterwards and Cindy Sheehan. [includes rush transcript]

Sam e-mails to note Norman Solomon's latest, "The National Guard Belongs in New Orleans and Biloxi. Not Baghdad" (CounterPunch):

But after New Orleans levees collapsed and the scope of the catastrophe became more clear, such reassuring claims lost credibility. The Washington Post reported on Wednesday: "With thousands of their citizen-soldiers away fighting in Iraq, states hit hard by Hurricane Katrina scrambled to muster forces for rescue and security missions yesterday -- calling up Army bands and water-purification teams, among other units, and requesting help from distant states and the active-duty military."
The back-page Post story added: "National Guard officials in the states acknowledged that the scale of the destruction is stretching the limits of available manpower while placing another extraordinary demand on their troops -- most of whom have already served tours in Iraq or Afghanistan or in homeland defense missions since 2001."
Speaking for the Mississippi National Guard, Lt. Andy Thaggard said: "Missing the personnel is the big thing in this particular event. We need our people." According to the Washington Post, the Mississippi National Guard "has a brigade of more than 4,000 troops in central Iraq" while "Louisiana also has about 3,000 Guard troops in Baghdad."
National Guard troops don't belong in Iraq. They should be rescuing and protecting in Louisiana and Mississippi, not patrolling and killing in a country that was invaded on the basis of presidential deception. They should be fighting the effects of flood waters at home -- helping people in the communities they know best -- not battling Iraqi people who want them to go away.

Brad e-mails to note that A! of Watching the Watchers and Delilah of A Scrivener's Lament are both calling attention to Bully Boy's recent speech.

First A!:

President Bush went on to say he was set up for 9/11 by every President since Carter (but not his dad, mind you), and talked about how the US was perceived as weak, and that was why we were attacked on 9/11.
Meanwhile, repeating something doesn't make it true, and there were no ties to 9/11 in Iraq. The constant reference is not only intellectually dishonest, it is retarded to keep doing it when th public simply knows better.
So let's recap the reasons for going to war with Iraq, in all their ever-changing splendor. WMDs were first, which was, as we all know, false. Then it was terrorist ties, which was false. Then, it was the liberation of the Iraqi people out from underneath a tyrant, which is true, but evidently not good enough, because then it changed to nation building, and now protecting the oil supplies of Iraq.

Now for Delilah:

Let me get this straight...
Bin Laden & Zarqawi are going into the oil biz after taking over all of Iraq?
They'll be able to rebuild the infrastructure so that the oil flows again?
And the world will do business with these guys?
And that's why we're in Iraq?
What the hell is George W. smoking?

Tammy e-mails to note Barbara Reynolds' "Pat Robertson: The executioner" (The Chicago Defender):

What has Chavez done to the United States that the United States should murder him?
In the Bushwhack way of thinking, Chavez has committed two crimes worthy of capital punishment. He is not White and he is head of a country that has lots of oil: The Bush crowd

has proven that those two ingredients are a prescription for destruction. Look at Iraq. If Iraq had been European-led and produced bananas, Sadaam Hussein would still be in power.
Venezuela is a deeply Roman Catholic country whose people elected Chavez in a free election and continue to support him in spite of the attempt by Venezuela's rich and the U.S. government to overthrow him. Chavez has the Bush administration breathing fire because Chavez is more interested in building schools and housing for the poor and in helping the Venezuelan people to share more equitably in the nation's oil resources, says Rev. Graylan Scott Hagler, national president of the Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice.
"Chavez is asserting his Indian/African roots and is taken valuable resources out of the hands of the few and helping the needy. When you go to Venezuela gas is 12 cents a gallon where it is almost $3 bucks here. Bush wants to control the world flow of oil," says Hagler. "This is hardly the neighborliness that Jesus Christ calls us to emulate."
Robertson exposed a cynical blend of godless, oppressive politics working under the cover of Christianity. This was operative in Liberia and Zaire.
Rev. Joan Harrell, a scholar at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, has written a paper exposing Robertson as a charlatan through his operations in Liberia and in Zaire. During the last decade while Robertson was calling on his CBN viewers to call on God to help the suffering Liberians, he was literally gold-digging. "Some native Liberians were digging for gold on behalf of Robertson's for- profit Freedom Gold Limited company."
And while Robertson's employees were digging for gold, young innocent boys were forced to become fighting soldiers and women were molested and mutilated, she wrote. In an effort to pull off his for-private operations, Robertson is credited with having a close relationship with ex-Liberian Charles Taylor, a fierce human rights violator.

Liang e-mails to note Grace Lee Boggs' "AMERICAN AND UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITIES IN EDUCATION" (The Michigan Citizen via The Boggs Center):

My last two columns on dropouts have brought more immediate and positive feedback than any of the dozens of articles on education that I have written over the years.
I think it is because they provided a way for people to think about a disaster that we realize is destroying our schools and neighborhoods and even what our country is supposed to be about -- but that has seemed too big for us to get our arms around.
To begin with, I not only cited the catastrophic figures a 50% dropout rate for high school students of color. But I described it as the "social justice issue of our times, the most important long-term issue for the civic health of the republic," quoting Tom Vander Ark, director of education programs for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which has appropriated tens of millions of dollars to its solution.
Equally important, I did not view the situation as hopeless. Instead I included the practical and visionary suggestions of Jessica Gordon Nembhard that these young people "can be drawn back in with innovative curricula that are participatory and activist, and involve them early on in economic development."

We'll stay on the topic of education for a bit more. Folding Star e-mailed about a commercial on the estate tax -- remember FS' beat was the Senate. Here's Folding Star's summary of the commercial:

"You're born. You go to school. You get married. You work hard to raise a family. You retire. And when you die, the IRS can take up to 55% of what you've spent your lifesaving to leave your family. It's called the DeathTax. Senator Ron Wyden can help put an end to the death tax."

Which fits in with Marian Wright Edelman's latest column "The Estate Tax: Helping The Richest Americans While Hurting The Poor Children" (The Children's Defense Fund):

The debate over whether America should repeal its estate tax is heating up again. The estate tax was first enacted early in the last century, partly in response to the enormous fortunes families like the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts had amassed during the Gilded Age. Reformers argued that government support had played a big role in creating the conditions that helped these individuals earn their tremendous wealth, so it was only fair that a portion of that wealth be returned to society.
Many also argued that hereditary transfer of large amounts of wealth and power was inconsistent with American democracy and values. As President Franklin D. Roosevelt put it, "Great accumulations of wealth cannot be justified on the basis of personal and family security ... Such inherited economic power is as inconsistent with the ideals of this generation as inherited political power was inconsistent with the ideals of the generation which established our government." But today at the beginning of the twenty-first century, when the gap between rich and poor is the highest ever, powerful lobbyists and politicians and the Bush White House want to repeal the estate tax.
There is now legislation before Congress to repeal it permanently. The House has passed the bill, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has said that he will call for a vote on it in the Senate as soon as the Senate resumes business after its August recess. This could be as early as September 6th.
The estate tax's opponents falsely try to portray it as a "death tax" that mostly punishes small business owners or family farmers, ordinary American entrepreneurs whose families they allege are often forced to go bankrupt when the tax comes due. But a recent report released by the Congressional Budget Office was reported on in the Washington Post this way: "The image of the grieving heir packing up his hoe as he trudges away from the family farm is just that--a powerful image but not an accurate one."
The real truth is that the estate tax has always been targeted mainly at those who can most easily afford to pay it: the very wealthiest Americans. As the United for a Fair Economy organization explains it, "Only the richest 2 percent of our nation's families currently pay any estate tax at all. These are people with estates larger than $1.5 million for an individual or $3 million for a couple. Nearly half of all estate taxes are paid by the wealthiest 0.1% of the American population--a few thousand families each year.
Repealing the estate tax would result in multi-million dollar tax cuts to the heirs of America's millionaires and billionaires, concentrating wealth and political power in fewer hands." In other words, when you look at the numbers on repealing on the estate tax and Congress's other tax cuts, you'll see they only add up for millionaires.

Staying on education, we'll pick up Tuesday's Daily Howler as well as today's (the comments on The Pooper and the lateness the Howler posted yesterday prevented it from being included yesterday). Here's Bob Somerby from Tuesday:

Low-income fourth graders can't read at all--so we need to toughen our standards! (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/29/05.) After three years, low-income kids are three years behind--so we ought to extend the school year three weeks! But this is the kind of bafflegab our liberal elites have churned out for three decades. Result? In our own experience, low-income fourth- and fifth-graders were often three years behind back when we started teaching fifth grade in Baltimore, back in 1969. And if this latest new study is right, such kids are still three years behind--thirty-six years of high claptrap later! Meanwhile, the authors of this latest new study know to offer standard cant about how low-income kids can achieve just like everyone else, offering bogus, feel-good examples that are an insult to good research methods (details later this week). But so it has gone for thirty-five years as our liberal elites have worked their high magic, wedding prescriptions which are utterly trivial to others which make no earthly sense.
When we read such studies and such mainstream journalism, we often get a feeling we have noted before--a sense that the plainly well-meaning authors have never set foot in an urban school, have never spent as much as ten minutes watching what happens to actual low-income children. But a very different type of study appeared
in Sunday's Washington Post. The front-page profile carried this headline: "Calixto at a Crossroads; A 14-Year-Old Enters High School, Pulled Between Gangs and Dreams." "Calixto" is Calixto Salgado, of suburban Gaithersburg, Maryland, the teen-age son of Salvadoran immigrants. Early on, Darragh Johnson explained how her profile was produced:
JOHNSON (8/28/05): For the past five months, with Calixto's and his parents' permission, The Washington Post has been following him at school and in church, at home and on the soccer fields, on the Ride-On public bus and into the nursing home where he volunteers--all to chronicle the fault lines Calixto must negotiate as he, like thousands of others like him across the Washington region, enters ninth grade. The year of make or break. God bless Darragh Johnson, who actually spent five months with an "at risk" child, hoping to chronicle his actual experiences! And for our money, Johnson succeeded brilliantly at her task, "chronicl[ing] the fault lines Calixto must negotiate as he...enters ninth grade."

Still trying to throw his arms around the world today, here's Somerby from today:

And for kids like this--kids whose reading skills are far below traditional "grade level"--school can be a daily bath of frustration, due to the massive failure of the schools to provide them with instructional programs actually geared to their existing abilities. They're handed books they can't possibly read; as they struggle and fail with these inappropriate texts, a good listener--a listener like Johnson--will often hear them saying, "I can't read--I can't do this!" In that judgment, of course, these children are right--but low-income kid are constantly asked to do things in school which they simply can't do, even as think tanks type reports saying that we should toughen our standards. In this country, we don't make little leaguers bat against Nolan Ryan, and we don't make middle-class eighth-graders tackle an MIT grad school curriculum. But we constantly ask low-income kids to do things in school they can't possibly do, and then we puzzle at their "failure to thrive" and shake our heads as they drop out of school.
Because we've been in low-income schools, we've seen it again and again and again. And because we've been in low-income schools, we found ourselves asking question about Calixto's schooling--important questions which went unasked in Johnson's superlative profile.

Yeah, I dreamed that I saw Dali
With a supermarket trolley
He was trying
to throw his arms around a girl
He took an open top beetle
Through the
eye of a needle
He was tryin' to throw his arms around the world

-- "Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World" written by U2 and available on their album Achtung Baby.

Why? I don't know the song's just stuck in my head today. (Susan will understand.)

Remember, Mike interviews Jess (The Third Estate Sunday Review) at Mikey Likes It! this evening.


It takes a bit of courage for the mayor of the largest city in the state that Bush won by the largest margin to call for an anti-Iraq protest, while the "Master of Disaster President" was in town. But Rocky Anderson rose to the occasion, in a way that puts fence-sitting Democrats in the Senate to shame.

What's that? Opening paragraph to BuzzFlash's Wings of Justice winner this week.

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[Ava here. This entry has a spacing issue but when I went into the Blogger program it didn't show up under edit posts which means the post will disappear shortly. I've copied and pasted it here and am putting the time signature that was on it originally.]