Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Democracy Now: Rev. Joseph Lowery, Yanar Mohammed, Juan Cole; Tom Hayden, Jodie Evans, George E. Curry, Arianna Huffington ...

Rep. Lynn Woolsey to Hold Hearings on Iraq Exit Strategy
In Washington, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey of California has announced she will hold hearings on Sept. 15 on how the U.S. can leave Iraq. She said the hearings will be modeled on the one organized by Congressman John Conyers about the Downing Street Memos. Woolsey said, "We'll hear from academics, military personnel and other experts about strategies to achieve military disengagement while still playing a constructive role in the rebuilding of Iraqi society." The hearings will come a week before the major Sept. 24 anti-war rally in Washington.
Joan Baez & Others Rally At Camp Casey in Crawford, TX
Meanwhile in Crawford Texas, military families, veterans and anti-war activists are continuing their vigil at Camp Casey outside President Bush's 1,600-acre estate. Folk singer Joan Baez spoke to reporters on Monday. "I think the question that nobody wanted to deal with is the question that they're posing - why did my kid die in vain," Baez said. "Because the answer is too awful." Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and actress Margot Kidder have also stopped by the Crawford protest site. Kidder - who is best known for playing Lois Lane in Superman - said she became a U.S. citizen last week in order to be able to protest the war in Iraq without facing the possibility of deportation.
Family of Killed Brazilian Man Demands Investigation
The family of Jean Charles de Menezes is in London this week demanding an investigation into his death. Menezes was shot dead by British police in a London subway station last month. At first, British police said they believed Menezes was a suicide bomber. They claimed he had run from police and was wearing a bulky jacket. But since then it has been revealed that he was innocent and that police lied about the circumstances of his death. Menezes' cousin Alessandro Pereira spoke in London on Monday. "The family has called for a full public enquiry into all the circumstances into the death of my cousin including the shoot to kill policy and the lies we have been told by the Metropolitan Police," Pereira said. "Every day we discover more and more lies. We have heard too many. We seek justice."
The above are from Democracy Now!'s Headlines (and we'll end this entry with another one) and were selected by Zach, Lynda and BenDemocracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):
Headlines for August 23, 2005

- 2,000 Protest Bush in Salt Lake City
- Rep. Lynn Woolsey to Hold Hearings on Iraq Exit Strategy
- In Haiti Jailed Priest to Run As Lavalas Presidential Candidate
- Connecticut Sues U.S. Over No Child Left Behind Act
- Pat Robertson Calls For Assassination of Hugo Chavez
- Police Chief Sues Taser Over Injuries Suffered During Training
- Electronic Music Pioneer Robert Moog, 71, Dies
Juan Cole's 10-Point Plan for U.S. Troop Withdrawal From Iraq

More than two years after the US invaded Iraq, there is a debate in this country that is increasingly dominating the public discussion on the occupation: the issue of withdrawing US troops. We speak one of the most respected independent Iraq analysts, Juan Cole, who released a 10-point plan, outlining what he calls a responsible stance toward Iraq. [includes rush transcript - partial]
Draft Constitution May Strip Iraqi Women of Basic Human Rights

Iraq's parliament received a draft of the country's constitution but delayed a vote for three days on the highly contested document to win support from Sunni leaders. The document stipulates Islam is the official religion of Iraq, and is a fundamental source for legislation. We go to Baghdad to speak with Iraqi feminist Yanar Mohammed. [includes rush transcript]
Rev. Joseph Lowery: "The Mothers in Iraq Call Us the Terrorists"

As the antiwar vigil at Camp Casey continues outside President Bush's estate in Crawford, we speak with the Rev. Joseph Lowery, co-founder of Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
We'll immediately move to Tom Hayden's "Exiting Iraq" (In These Times): 

"When you're in the middle of a conflict, you're trying to find pillars of strength to lean on," an American officer in Iraq said recently. With those words he provided a clue to ending the war: Undermine the pillars of Pentagon policy through people power.

Those pillars--among them public cooperation, Iraqi cooperation, congressional compliance, centrist caution, military recruitment and U.S. alliances--are weakening.

Public support for the war is down, as are the president's ratings. Antiwar Democrats are coming back. Military recruiting is hitting a wall. The strategy of "Iraqization" is failing. The coalition of the willing is disintegrating. America's reputation is tattered.

Public sympathy towards Cindy Sheehan suggests a crucial shift in America’s sensibility toward the losses. Usually wars generate a public reluctance to withdraw without "victory" so that the fallen shall not have "died in vain." In this case, Sheehan has led much of the country through a grieving process that demands the truth so that no others will die for hollow or fabricated reasons.

Recognizing its weaknesses, the administration is on a mission of perception management to gain time and resources. Americans are now being promised that Iraq will have a new constitution, democratic elections and, most importantly, that the first troops may be home by the spring of the 2006 election year.

These gestures are the Bush administration’s responses to the quandaries it is confronting on the battlefields of war and domestic public opinion. They are designed to extend the conflict while appearing to begin disengagement. This ploy is nothing new; we should remember that the Vietnam War continued for seven years after President Johnson was pressured to resign and peace talks began.

"They just keep getting stronger," the New York Times recently wrote when describing the Iraqi resistance. The Times went on to confirm that over the past year the insurgents have inflicted some 65 attacks on U.S. and Iraqi troops each day, with increasing sophistication and precision. Baghdad is "effectively enemy territory, with an ability to strike at will, and to shake off the losses inflicted by American troops." American casualties cannot be concealed. During May and June, 71 Americans were killed in 700 attacks; by the year's end it is likely that 2,000 Americans will have been killed, not counting hundreds of American private contractors. According to Pentagon data, 13,000 Americans have been wounded in battle, more than half of them seriously. Tens of thousands will return with serious mental health problems.

Rachel e-mails to note Arianna Huffington's "The New York Times Falls Off the Wagon" (The Huffington Post):

It's hard to believe, but the New York Times is back on Chalabi. Not unlike Courtney Love, the paper of record swears it's going to go straight, stop using, be responsible, really change this time, and then it happens again. For whatever reason, the paper falls off the wagon.

It's an addiction. And addicts embarrass themselves again and again. And you feel stupid for ever having given them the benefit of the doubt.

And they try to hide it. Just look at today's above-the-fold, front-page story on Iraq's constitution. It's headlined "Leaders in Iraq Report Progress on Constitution."

Who are those "leaders"? Once again, Ahmad Chalabi and an American official speaking "on condition of anonymity." And Chalabi is simply identified as "the deputy prime minister."

The deputy prime minister? That's it? That's like doing a piece on the energy bill and citing one of your main sources as "Ken Lay, a prominent Houston businessman."

They could at least have added a sentence from their own newspaper of May 26, 2004: "[Chalabi] became a favorite of hard-liners within the Bush administration and a paid broker of information from Iraqi exiles, until his payments were cut off."

Lily e-mails to note Joshua Frank's "The Democrats and Cindy Sheehan" (CounterPunch): 

Cindy Sheehan is exactly what we needed. Following the 2004 elections the antiwar movement was left in shambles, unable to recover from the malfunctions of the Democratic Party. MoveOn.org had capitulated its antiwar position by supporting John pro-war Kerry. United for Peace and Justice did not organize a single rally against the Iraq occupation. The Green Party forgot it was an election year and endorsed a no-name candidate from Texas. Indeed, the "Anybody but Bush" epidemic had crushed whatever movement there was to begin with.

But now the war opposition is coming back to life. The floodgates are open. Bush's approval rating has dipped into the 30% range. George W. Bush is not a popular president. As I write, the White House PR machine is putting together a series of speeches for Bush to give over the course of the next month - where he'll be calling for more public support for the nonsensical war. Aides to the President say he'll be drawing parallels between Iraq and WWII. Apparently victory takes some time.

Well over 1,800 US troops have died in the conflict thus far. Surely thousands more will perish as the illegal occupation continues. The war's defenders are having a difficult time rationalizing their support.

Natalie e-mails to note Luke (wotisitgood4) and his work in "sibel transcript:"
further to my rampant speculation here and here about the scott horton / sibel edmonds interview, scott now has the transcript up here

ill just grab some bits from it as i read through:
"SH(scott): Thank you very much for that, and we'll see what we can make of it. Can I ask you how you first learned of the American Turkish Council?

SE(sibel): Oh, no, you can't."
that probably means that she learnt of the ATC in the wiretaps.

" I had this press conference last summer and together with 25 national security experts. These sort of people from NSA, CIA, FBI. And we provided the public during this press conference with a list of witnesses that had provided direct information, direct information. Some had to do with finance of al-Qaeda. These are people from NSA, CIA, and FBI to the 9/11 Commission, and the 9/11 Commission omitted all of this information, even though some of this information had been established as fact. One of them had to do with certain informants in April 2001. This informant provided very specific information about the attacks. The other had to do with certain information the FBI had in July and August 2001, where blueprints and building composites of certain skyscrapers were being sent to certain Middle Eastern countries, and many more information was just omitted."
Martha e-mails to note Christine (Ms. Musing) noting Dahlia Lithwich on Roberts in "Jude Roberts and the Knock-Knock Jokes:" 

Dahlia Lithwich provides a good summary of Judge Robert's Women Problem (which we laughed at here), particularly as it relates to "humorless feminists":

I vaguely remember this argument from the '80s: It's that women can't take a joke. So that is the new defense: This wasn't just a joke, it was a lawyer joke! That's evidently the White House position, too: "It's pretty clear from the more than 60,000 pages of documents that have been released that John Roberts has a great sense of humor," Steve Schmidt, a Bush spokesman told the Washington Post. "In this [housewives] memo, he offers a lawyer joke."


I don't quite know what to make of that argument. It brings me back to Bruce Reed's giggling blondes. The problem isn't with his desperate housewives (or hideous lawyers) crack, but with his relentless "Gidget sucks" tone. Roberts honestly seemed to think that humor or disdain were the only appropriate ways to think about gender. It's not that feminists can't take a joke. It's that Roberts can't seem to take feminists seriously.

The record seems to make it quite clear that Roberts -- with his "perceived/purported/alleged" discrimination trope -- simply didn't believe that gender problems were worthy of his serious consideration or scrutiny.

We'll note George E. Curry's "John H. Johnson in perspective" (The Chicago Defender):

One of the things I admired about John H. Johnson was his refusal to sell to the highest bidder and, in the process, claim he was acting as any businessperson would. That can't be said of the sellouts of today. Whether in publishing or broadcasting, we see example after example of Black entrepreneurs asking to be carried on certain cable systems or given certain ads because African-American consumers deserve to be treated with respect. However, once large sums of money are waved in front of them, they sell out the community, usually saying it’s not about Black or White -- it's about green. They neglect to acknowledge that the green they’re amassing is a direct result of their having pimped our Blackness.

We’ve already witnessed the sale of Motown, Johnson hair care products, BET, Essence, BlackVoices.com and Africana.com to Whites. The New York Times plans to start a 'Black' newspaper in Gainesville, Fla. Given the recent population shifts, you can expect this trend to continue.

My issue is not whether we should help swell the ranks of Black millionaires. My real concern is the decrease in the number of legitimate sources of news and information for and by people of color. There are 18,821 magazines in the U.S., according to the Magazine Publishers Association. Yet, we can name the number of substantive national Black magazines on one hand and still have a finger or two left over.

Considering today's Right-wing assault on human rights, we need strong Black publications more than ever. We need to preserve and expand what we have. In the end, it won’t matter if we create profitable Black businesses if all we do is sellout and leave our community devoid of outlets.

John H. Johnson proved that one can be a millionaire and have integrity at the same time.

 And we'll note Marc H. Morial's "John H. Johnson, American" (The Chicago Defender):

These were the years when lawyers Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall were crafting the legal strategies that would ultimately destroy governmentsanctioned racial discrimination; when Jesse Owens and Joe Louis and, later, Jackie Robinson, were compelling whites to see that blacks, too, could be "American" sports heroes; when Marian Anderson offered dramatic proof that artistry knows no color barriers; and when civil rights activists demanded during World War Two that blacks be involved in the fight against fascism on equal terms.

Johnson's publications, Ebony and Jet, reached farther into Black America than black-owned newspapers and with their national coverage, forged and knit together a much broader, better-informed readership.

In this way, these two "Bibles" of Black America both helped stimulate the new
mass-action civil rights movement then taking shape and signaled White America to prepare for the "New Negroes" coming to claim their full American citizenship.

Johnson's entrepreneurial vision and his overcoming the odds to start and build his publications reflected the interior landscape of Black America--its intelligence and shrewdness; its toughness and resourcefulness, and its determination to grasp the full measure of its American citizenship

Taylor e-mails to note CODEPINK's Jodie Evans' "Monday Night at Camp Casey" (The Huffington Post):

Cindy has been away taking care of her mother since late Thursday, but Camp Casey has continued to grow and flourish. We are now in Camp Casey II as we call it. The Vietnam Vet, cousin of the man who shot at us, gave us his piece of land right next to the Bush ranch.

We are literally on his fence. We have grown. Saturday night the place was packed for Steve Earle, his band and an hour of stories from the Gold Star Moms. Sunday night Joan Baez had us on spellbound with her voice...and she offered to stay on. That is if she doesn’t ruin her back sleeping out in the tent.

Tonight Joan talked to us about being an activist, told us stories of being with Martin Luther King, marching, sitting in at draft offices, and being in jail...each story had a song to go with it. Forty-five minutes later she said she would have to do the rest of the story tomorrow night. We yet again had our spirits lifted and our souls fed after a hellish HOT day in the Texas sun. Cindy called to let us know her mom was doing a bit better, she was able to raise her right leg and arm on her own, a good sign and she would be coming home soon.

Fred e-mails to note The Daily Howler today:
Indeed, how fair is Harris willing to be? Early on in The Survivor, he even notes an intriguing fact--the Washington press corps had an odd "disdain" for the new president, even before he arrived in Washington. Right at the start of his book, Harris quotes Post pundit Mary McGrory's column on the Clinton pre-inaugural, in which McGrory criticized a bell ringing-ceremony as "pretentious." "McGrory's sour review reflected the oddly conflicted mood of Washington that January," Harris writes (on page 4)--and he goes on to describe a pre-inaugural Clinton press conference: "The news conference continued in this peevish spirit--both the questions and the answers freighted with a suspicion bordering on contempt" (page 7). Given all we hear about the press corps' "liberal bias," it may seem odd to hear Harris say that corps felt something like contempt for Clinton, even before the new leader took office. But Harris goes on to describe this press conference as "an exercise in mutual incomprehension, setting the tone for the contentious relationship between president and press that was to follow." Indeed: "Far from enjoying the traditional honeymoon, Clinton and the Washington political class were quarreling like a couple who would have split up except for the kids" (page 8). Soon, Harris describes the press corps' attitude during the gays-in-the-military flap, the first real flap of Clinton's early days as president: "[T]he reporters and editors of the Washington press corps were all in their own ways testing the new president, extending him uncommonly little deference," Harris writes on page 14. According to Harris, then, the "liberal" press corps gave this new president less deference than would be the norm. Soon, Harris is describing the "thinly veiled disdain" displayed by his own Post colleague, the late Ann Devroy, in a front-page report about Clinton (page 35). Indeed: "In short order there was a low-grade war under way between the Clinton White House and the veteran reporters who covered it, which became one of the great antagonisms to mark the Clinton years," he writes one page later. Again, it may seem strange to read such claims about a press corps famed for its "liberal bias." But then, we know more now than we once might have done about some reporters’ real attitudes:
HARRIS (pages 36-37): The tension flowed from various sources...An older generation of reporters bridled at the new team’s style: smart and savvy, and projecting a confidence that occasionally blurred into arrogance. Brit Hume, an acerbic and respected reporter then with ABC News, used to work his crossword puzzle while sitting in the front row of the Stephanopoulos’s news briefing, looking up occasionally to drill the young man when he heard a contradiction or some absurd claim. David S. Broder of the Washington Post once said after a heated phone call with Stephanopoulos that he felt like telling him to go to his room.
I'll note that Somerby's still in his shock that Norah O'Donnell's less than the brave faced scrapper of 2000.  Norah O'Donnell's supreme clowning has gone on for many years now
(specifically the "tone" Somerby mentioned on Thursday).  And, when she pulls that nonsense on Today (as she has repeatedly), it needs to be remember that her "tone" registers and it registers with a lot more viewers than will ever see her on MSNBC. 
Brent asked that this item (from Democracy Now!'s Headlines today) be the last thing in this entry:
Pat Robertson Calls For Assassination of Hugo Chavez
This news on Venezuela: Christian televangelist Pat Robertson has called for the assassination of Venezuela's democratically-elected president Hugo Chavez. Robertson made the comment on his tv program The 700 Club. His comments were recorded by the media advocacy group MediaMatters. "I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war," Robertson said. "And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United ... This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen." His comments came on the same day that Hugo Chavez traveled to Cuba to meet with Fidel Castro.
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