Friday, August 12, 2005

Democracy Now: Cindy Sheehan, Watts, Iraq, FRD's grandson; Laura Flanders hosting The Majority Report on Air America Radio tonight

Bush Won't Meet With Sheehan, But He'll Talk About Her
President Bush emerged from his ranch in Crawford, Texas yesterday and addressed for the first time the rapidly growing antiwar protest outside of his property. What began as a one woman vigil has now grown into the central antiwar action in the US. Before this week, there was very little coverage in the corporate media of antiwar families whose loved ones have been killed in Iraq, but now Cindy Sheehan--whose son Casey was killed in Iraq-- has grabbed international headlines by camping out in Crawford.

  • President Bush, speaking to reporters on Thursday:
    "This is America. She has a right to her position, and I thought long and hard about her position. I've heard her position from others, which is: Get out of Iraq now. And it would be a mistake for the security of this country and the ability to lay the foundations for peace in the long run if we were to do so."

President Bush has thus far refused to meet with Cindy Sheehan at his ranch, instead sending emissaries. Sheehan has vowed to remain in Crawford until Bush agrees to meet her. She has also indicated she may camp out at the White House once Bush returns from yet another vacation. He has taken more than 320 days of vacation since assuming the presidency 5 years ago.

Israeli Soldier Sentenced for Killing British Activist
An Israeli soldier was sentenced by a military tribunal Thursday to eight years in prison for manslaughter in the shooting death of British activist Tom Hurndall, as Hurndall was trying to protect Palestinian children. Taysir Hayb was convicted by a military court in June for the murder of Hurndall, who was shot in the head during an army operation in the Gaza Strip in April 2003. It was the first case in which an Israeli soldier has been found guilty of a crime in the killing a foreign citizen during the past four years. Hurndall's family immediately criticized the sentence as far too light given the crime.

  • Jocelyn Hurndall, mother of Tom Hurndall:
    "The Israeli Defence Force has a long way to go before they have any credibility in the eyes of the world. The world's eyes are on Israel at the moment, people are aware in the world of the ways the Israeli force treat civilians and kill civilians. They have a very long way indeed to go before we feel we can trust their word, before we believe they will carry out a thorough Investigation."

Witnesses said that 22 year-old Tom Hurndall was helping Palestinian children avoid Israeli tanks. He was in a coma for nine months before dying in a London hospital. During his trial, Hayb argued that a confession he gave was forced. Hayb also said he was prosecuted because he is an Arab and because his victim was a foreigner. Hurndall was a member of the International Solidarity Movement, as was Rachel Corrie, an activist from Olympia, Wash., who was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer in March 2003. To this day, no one has been charged in her killing.

The two items above are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by West and Kara. Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):

Headlines for August 12, 2005
- US Intel: New Iran Pres Not Hostage Taker
- Bush Denies Iraq Withdrawal "Rumors"
- Israeli Soldier Sentenced for Killing British Activist
- Tens of Thousands Rally in Tel Aviv
- Top DeLay Ally, Abramoff, Indicted
- Lori Berenson Final Appeal Denied
- Saddam may Be Executed After First Trial
- Audit Shows More Fraud in Iraq
- Texas is Majority People of Color

Women, Oil and the Role of the U.S. in Iraq's New Constitution

The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution called for the creation of an autonomous Shiite Region in Southern Iraq. We speak with activist and author Antonia Juhasz about the draft Constitution that is due to be released on Monday.

Protest on the Range: Cindy Sheehan Calls for Mass Demos at Bush's Crawford Ranch

Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed last year in Iraq, is finally getting major media coverage after months of protesting George Bush’s policies in Iraq. We go live to Crawford, Texas to speak with Cindy Sheehan

FDR's Grandson: At 70-Years-Old, Social Security Will Be "Successful Right Through The 21st Century"

This weekend marks the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Social Security Act by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The program remains the most successful social program of the century. We speak with FDR's grandson.

The Fire This Time: The Watts Rebellion at 40

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Watts Uprising in Los Angeles. Today, many of the same economic inequalities persist for African American residents of South Central. We speak with Gerald Horne, author of "The Fire This Time: The Watts Uprising and the 1960s."

Zach e-mails to note Tom Hayden's "Cindy Sheehan Can't Stop Won't Stop" (The Huffington Post):

Casey Sheehan lives in his mother's being, and that's why Cindy Sheehan can't stop, won't stop. She shows us why and how to fight. She is wrecking the President's vacation and rupturing his control of the media. She is establishing the presence of an anti-war spirit among military families. What is interesting so far is that Bush, unlike Nixon, has not succeeded in generating a Gold Star Mothers for War.

Brita e-mails to note James T. Madore's "No backing down for jailed reporter" (Newsday) on the subject of Judith Miller. Brita pulls this section for quoting:

He also held out little hope that prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald will drop his subpoena. "Nothing has happened that fills me with any optimism," [Floyd] Abrams said.

Fitzgerald has spent the past year and a half investigating whether anyone in the Bush administration leaked the name of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame to journalists. The leak came after Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, challenged White House claims that Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein had sought atomic bomb-making material in Africa. Fitzgerald's spokesman didn't return a telephone call seeking comment.

Many journalists have been subpoenaed in the Plame probe, but only Miller, 57, has gone to jail so far, and she never wrote a story about the matter.

"It's tough, but she is fine. She's hanging in there," Lucy A. Dalglish of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said of Miller, whom she visited last week.

The only thing I'll note on the above story is that whomever did the photo captions needs to do a correction to "Valerie Plame and her husband on a Vanity Fair cover." The photo didn't appear on the cover and it's a little suprising that Newsday wouldn't catch that mistake on their own. (Van Fair's infamous for their celeb covers.)

Martha e-mails to note Eugene Kane's "Publisher's influence is sadly overlooked" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel):

In Johnson's magazines, the accomplishments of black people were detailed in depth, as opposed to the usual reports of dysfunction and mayhem other major magazines and newspapers of the time used to define black people.

He was a major figure in American journalism.

So it was disappointing this week to see many major news organizations apparently felt Johnson's death paled in comparison to that of news anchor Peter Jennings, a respected professional but nowhere in the same league with Johnson in terms of historical significance. I believe if Ted Turner or Rupert Murdoch had died this week, their obituaries would have been on the front pages of most U.S. papers.

John H. Johnson deserved no less recognition.

One reason he didn't make front-page news most places is that the mainstream news media isn't filled with people who grew up with Ebony and Jet in their living rooms.

Just as missing white women dominate the news cycle while missing women of color get ignored, the death of a noteworthy black figure often shows how little most members of the conventional media know about non-white heroes.

Martha thinks this should be noted (I agree) and wants it noted who's talked about this. I can toss out Cedric's "Anybody talking about John H. Johnson? Why not?" and Mike's interview with Jim but I'm sure there are others making the point.

[On Wednesday we noted seven articles on Johnson and concluded with the following:

We've noted Johnson twice this week already. But since it appears that there is a feeding frenzy over a "pretty, blond gone missing" (who knew Jennings was blond?) means Johnson gets overlooked. Now maybe there's not footage of Johnson yucking it up while fully dressed above the waist and just wearing boxers below, but Johnson did accomplish a great deal. So we'll take the time to again note his passing.]

It is an issue. It's one that some aren't even grasping is an issue but it is an issue. There will be something at The Third Estate Sunday Review this Sunday. There are two ideas being tossed around currently and we're all in agreement that at least one will go up even if we're not pleased with the final draft. It is important, the way this has played out in the press and that's all I'll say at this point so I don't blow any input I could offer on The Third Estate Sunday Review pieces in this. (Also, this topic makes me angry and these mid-morning entries are written quickly with not a great deal of time to reflect on them before they go up.) I will say that Kane's point are strong and I agree with them. It's a shame that in the "era of the blogs" this is an issue that's been addressed mainly by print columnists. I'll also say that it seems to me that Kane's column is the strongest thing in print thus far on this topic. (To read it, click here.)

Lloyd e-mails to note Matthew Rothschild's latest McCarthyism Watch ("The Savaging of Cindy Sheehan"):

The shameless savaging of Cindy Sheehan continues.

Bill O'Reilly says she's a tool of "far left elements."

The New York Sun echoes the charge, evidently reading the same rightwing talking points.

In an editorial on August 11, it says Sheehan "has put herself in league with some extreme groups and individuals."

This is old-style McCarthyism, straight on down to the red-baiting.

The editorial quotes Sheehan about some of the groups she's involved with, including Code Pink, Veterans for Peace, and Military Families Speak Out.

It then notes that these groups are on the steering committee of United for Peace and Justice, along with the Communist Party USA. (A person representing that party is one of the forty-one members who was voted onto the steering committee.)

This classic guilt-by-association trope just shows the reflexive response of the right: When your critic has credibility, and you can't find anything else on her, destroy her with the old standby: You're a communist dupe!

We'll note Naomi Klein's "Terror's Greatest Recruitment Tool" (The Nation):

Hussain Osman, one of the men alleged to have participated in London's failed bombings on July 21, recently told Italian investigators that they prepared for the attacks by watching "films on the war in Iraq," La Repubblica reported. "Especially those where women and children were being killed and exterminated by British and American soldiers...of widows, mothers and daughters that cry."

It has become an article of faith that Britain was vulnerable to terror because of its politically correct antiracism. Yet Osman's comments suggest that what propelled at least some of the bombers was rage at what they saw as extreme racism. And what else can we call the belief--so prevalent we barely notice it--that American and European lives are worth more than the lives of Arabs and Muslims, so much more that their deaths in Iraq are not even counted?

It's not the first time that this kind of raw inequality has bred extremism. Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian writer generally viewed as the intellectual architect of radical political Islam, had his ideological epiphany while studying in the United States. The puritanical scholar was shocked by Colorado's licentious women, it's true, but more significant was Qutb's encounter with what he later described as America's "evil and fanatic racial discrimination." By coincidence, Qutb arrived in the United States in 1948, the year of the creation of the State of Israel. He witnessed an America blind to the thousands of Palestinians being made permanent refugees by the Zionist project. For Qutb, it wasn't politics, it was an assault on his identity: Clearly Americans believed that Arab lives were worth far less than those of European Jews. According to Yvonne Haddad, a professor of history at Georgetown University, this experience "left Qutb with a bitterness he was never able to shake."

We'll also note Kate Michelman's "Roberts and Roe" (The Nation):

The debate over Judge John Roberts's nomination to the Supreme Court has alternated between speculation about whether he would vote to overrule Roe v. Wade and reassurances that he might not--or, at any rate, that his position on the case would not decide its fate. But for those concerned about women's lives rather than legal abstractions, the crucial issue is being overlooked: To place the lives and health of millions of women at risk, Roberts need not oppose Roe v. Wade itself; his interpretation of its protections need only be slightly more conservative than that of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's.

To be sure, there is ample evidence that Roberts would follow the model of Chief Justice Rehnquist, for whom he clerked, and vote to overrule Roe outright. Roberts, after all, urged the Court to do precisely that when he served in the George H.W. Bush Administration. But focusing the debate exclusively on the survival of Roe itself allows Roberts to hide in the shadows of speculative questions--even though his patently clear conservatism is considerable cause for concern.

Marcia e-mails to note Pseudo-Adrienne's "Cindy Sheehan and our leaders' poor performance" (Alas, a blog):

Cindy Sheehan. She reminds us what democracy is a lot about. Opposing ideas and open, passionate political discourse between those opposing ideas, especially between elected officials. Do you see any of this now on Capitol Hill? Do you see the Democrats or even moderate Republicans really opposing the neocon-Republicans or Dubya? No. What you see are a bunch of cowardly politicians willing to silently submit and surrender themselves, their ideals, and their voting-base to the Republicans and Dubya, without so much as a gripe. Like a bunch of whipped dogs. Where's the opposition from them? It doesn't exist. So it's up to the citizens to be the real opposition party--to do the job our leaders are supposed to, but forget about them. Citizens such as Cindy Sheehan who obviously knew better than to wait around for a politician on the Hill to listen. She took the dusty streets, in Crawford, Texas, to voice her outrage. To express her opposition. Could she be more of a perfect example of how we need to rely more on ourselves to get our message out there--and not wait on some ready-to-cop-out politician from the Hill to even consider listening to us? Or better yet, elect better leaders who would truly represent us at all times, and not just when it was convenient for them. Democracy does not flourish when one side is silent and submissive. Remember, how are leaders are supposed to act in a democracy? Where do we find better leaders? (via Tennessee Guerilla Women and originally Huffington Post)

Brandon e-mails to note Sharon Smith's "The New Anti-War Majority" (CounterPunch):

With opinion polls consistently showing a majority of Americans against the Iraq occupation, some prominent liberals are stepping forward to take credit for this welcome development. The "antiwar movement is winning by staying silent," was the theme of a recent column by American Prospect editor Harold Meyerson in the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Congratulations are apparently in order to those responsible for the antiwar movement's hiatus throughout John Kerry's election campaign last year. "[H]owever perverse this may sound," Meyerson wrote, "the absence of an antiwar movement is proving to be a huge political problem for the Bush administration."

Today's movement has cleverly avoided the mistakes made during Vietnam, according to Myerson, when a massive, militant movement helped Richard Nixon get re-elected by alienating the "silent majority." Today, he insists, the rising tide of antiwar opinion is a direct result of Democrats' failure to oppose the war.

We'll also note Tariq Ali's "Blair's New Authoritariansim" (also CounterPunch):

In the face of terror attacks Anglo-Saxon politicians mouth the same rhetoric. One sentence in particular--shrouded in layers of untruth--is constantly repeated: 'We shall not permit these attacks to change our way of life.' It is a multi-purpose mantra. The first aim is to convince the public that the terrorists are crazed Muslims who are bombing modernity/democracy/freedom/ 'our values', etc.

This is the first lie. The terror attacks, however misguided and criminal, are a result of the Western military presence in the Arab world. If all the foreign troops and bases were withdrawn, the attacks would cease. This is essentially a post-First Gulf war syndrome.

Israel/Palestine is another issue, but that has been simmering for fifty years and was not the main reason for the bombings in New York, Madrid and London. It has now been added to the repertoire, but the struggle to force Israel back to the 1967 frontiers is one waged by the Palestinians themselves. They have received little support from elsewhere.

The sentence itself is a falsehood, because the attacks have changed 'our way of life'. The Patriot Act in the United States and the measures being proposed by Tony Blair in Britain demonstrate this quite clearly. What is being proposed in Britain is the indefinite suspension of habeas corpus. Worried by the recent judicial activism with senior Judges in Britain expressing a real concern at the growing attack on civil liberties [...]

Back to the topic of Cindy Sheehan, we'll note Norman Solomon's "Repudiating Bush and Dean" (also CounterPunch, Veronica e-mailed to note this):

In 1972, after many years of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg wrote: "In that time, I have seen it first as a problem; then as a stalemate; then as a crime."

That aptly describes three key American perspectives now brought to bear on U.S. involvement in Iraq.

The moral clarity and political impacts of Cindy Sheehan's vigil in Crawford are greatly enhanced by a position that she is taking: U.S. troops should not be in Iraq.

Sheehan's position does not only clash directly with President Bush's policy, which he reiterated on Thursday: "Pulling the troops out would send a terrible signal to the enemy." Her call for complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq also amounts to a firm rejection of the ongoing stance from Howard Dean, the head of the national Democratic Party, who told a Minneapolis audience on April 20: "Now that we're there, we're there and we can't get out."

Loyal supporters of the Bush policy in Iraq may express misgivings, but they have an outlook that views the faraway war as a fixable "problem."

Dean, the Democratic National Committee chair, has opted to stick to a calibrated partisan line of attack that endorses the essence of the war in real time. "The president has created an enormous security problem for the U.S. where none existed before," Dean said in Minneapolis. "But I hope the president is incredibly successful with his policy now that he's there."

(On this topic, see Marshall Windmiller's "A problem with principles: Young Democrats, like their party as a whole, still struggle to show integrity on divisive issues" which Toby e-mailed about and we noted last night.)

Are you checking The Lone Star Iconoclast for updates on Cindy Sheehan's vigil? Here's some of what's posted for Friday:

Various gifts were given to the Peace House and supporters of Cindy, a few being six shuttle buses from radio personality Randi Rhodes, free wireless service for the Peace House, a barbecue grill being brought in by a man from Texarkana, and a few cases of beer (Jim Hightower would be proud).:-)

There have been thousands of other phone calls of support, as well as requests for rides from the airport to Crawford. One woman has paid the way for a Navajo activist to come to Crawford, said Kay Lucas, a member of Friends of Peace and Crawford Peace House supporter.

Johnny Wolf, the owner of the Peace House, returned from a meeting with Crawford's new mayor, David Poston, and Chief Donnie Tidmore about securing Tonkawa Falls Park for a rally there on Saturday. The outcome of the meeting was that the Crawford Community Center and the park area have been tentatively granted to the supporters of Cindy for a rally. The officials are checking the schedule for any conflicts, as of this evening.

(The above was written by Nathan Diebenow.)


There's a lot of excitement at Camp Casey. Law enforcement officers have been swarming the place, getting ready for the Presidential motorcade to pass through the camp on the way to a fund-raiser about a mile up the road, at the Broken Spoke. The pass-through is expected in about an hour and 20 minutes. Campers will be allowed to stand on the infamous triangular piece of ground while the motorcade passes by. Five highway patrol, three Secret Service in bullet-proof vests, two county officers are seen at the moment. A lot of plain-clothes people not seen here earlier are milling around.

Protestors are being instructed on what types of signs they can carry. For instance, if some want to carry crosses left over from yesterday's planting, the metal portions that are inserted into the ground have to be removed; otherwise, they might be considered a weapon.

(The above was written by Deborah Mathews.)

Now I'm pressed for time. Maria's e-mailed to note Jude's "Plamegate Update" (Iddybud) and Martha says, "Please read Danny today." I agree. And if you have money to donate, please do. (Whether you donate or not is your business, not mine.) If you like what you read today, please drop him an e-mail. (As Martha notes "he seems very down.") (Disclosure, I know Schechter.) So read The News Dissector today if you have time and I'm doing an excerpt quickly:

My earlier media experiences convinced me that the only way to have any impact is to be there daily, and in some personable, easy-to-access format. My dissector persona --originally a DJ's invention, not my own -- became my “brand.” And I know, from lots of feedback over lots of years, that it has had some impact. Its not all I want it to be -- given the lack of marketing or a regular electronic outlet -- but it I believe it is something of value and, anyway, it makes me feel that at least I am contributing in some small way. And I do get some wonderful letters and encouraging pats on the back.

But I want and need more. I am not doing it for the money, that’s for sure. Mediachannel is still evolving and unique. We have upgraded our look and software to become more interactive. Our traffic is up. The invitations and media requests I get from around the world are up. I am just back from Frankfurt, Germany. Next month I'm off to Paris and Italy, and then soon to the Persian Gulf. Mediachannel is widely known, read and respected.

And yet, if we don't change and find a way of developing a bigger community of readers and contributors, we'll die. Our costs are low, but they are there. Our fundraising leaves a lot to be desired.

We have tried to remain faithful to a mission that is distinctive from our proliferating "competitors." We are journalists, not just advocates. We are global, not just American. We want to build bridges between our culture and others, between independent media and those in the mainstream who share our concerns and critique. We would like to see more debate than denunciations, more post-partisan exchanges than attempts to imitate the worst features of the put-down artists in the echo chamber on the other side. We know we can be open-minded, without being empty-headed. We can say what we mean and mean what we say but without rhetoric or in a predictable or knee-jerk manner.

I only thought that was the last thing.

Head's up: LAURA FLANDERS is hosting THE MAJORITY REPORT on AIR AMERICA RADIO tonight. (7p.m. to 10 p.m. eastern) You can listen over broadcast radio (if there's an AAR in your area), via XM Satellite Radio or listen online. From The Majority Report:

On Friday's Show:

With Janeane in LA shooting episodes of the West Wing, and Sam taking care of his brand new baby girl, this week's guest host is journalist, activist, and Air America host Laura Flanders.

Joining Laura tonight:

Anthony Lappe, Executive Editor at the Guerilla News Network, GNN.

More Guest Info For Tonight's Show

The e-mail address for this site is

[NOTE: This post corrected by Jess to put in link for Atlas, a blog's entry per C.I.]