Monday, September 19, 2005

Democracy Now: Hugo Chavez & Jess Jackson; NYC Indymedia: "Police forcibly break up Cindy Sheehan rally" (Pete Dolack)

U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Tops 1900
Meanwhile the U.S. death toll since the invasion has now topped 1,900.

President Clinton: Iraq War A "Mistake"
On Sunday former President Clinton described the war in Iraq as a mistake during an interview on NBC's Meet the Press. The show's host Tim Russert asked him if he thought the war had hurt the U.S. image in the world.

Non-Violent Anti-War Activists Face Conspiracy Charges
Here in this country, Four anti-war activists go on trial today in Binghamton New York on federal conspiracy charges for taking part in a non-violent act of civil disobedience protesting the Iraq war. The activists - known as the Saint Patrick's Day Four - face up to six years in prison, a period of probation and $275,000 in fines. It marks the first federal conspiracy trial of antiwar protesters since the Vietnam War. On March 17, 2003, two days before the Iraq invasion, Daniel Burns, Clare Grady, Teresa Grady and Peter De Mott, were arrested inside the Army recruiting station in Lansing New York after they had poured vials of blood on the walls, windows and American flags. They were originally charged in state court with criminal mischief but the judge declared a hung jury after 9 of the 12 jurors voted for acquittal. The federal government then upped the charges to conspiracy to impede an officer of the United States "by force, intimidation and threat" as well as three lesser charges. Law Professor Bill Quigley, who is advising the four protesters, said there is concern that this case will set a precedent for nonviolent protesters across the country to be charged with federal conspiracy. To coincide with the trial, activists in Binghamton are staging A Citizens' Tribunal on Iraq.

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

Headlines for September 19, 2005

- UK Plans Scraps Plan to Reduce Troop Level in Iraq
- Kurdish Parliamentarian Assassinated
- U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Tops 1900
- Non-Violent Anti-War Activists Face Conspiracy Charges
- North Korea Pledges To Give Up Nukes
- Will Environmentalists Be Blamed for Flooding?
- Suburb Ok'd Decision To Block New Orleans Evacuees

Hugo Chavez: "If the Imperialist Government of the White House Dares to Invade Venezuela, the War of 100 Years Will be Unleashed in South America"

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speaks on Democracy Now! in his first interview in the United States. Chavez discusses the war in Iraq, President Bush, the role of the media in the aborted coup against him and Venezuela's request for the extradition of Cuban anti-Castro militant Luis Posada Carriles.

Jesse Jackson: Venezuela "Invests in Its People...U.S. Invests In Tax Cuts for the Wealthy and a War that does not Make Sense in Iraq"

The Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke Saturday night in New York City at an event with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Jackson said, "[The Venezuelan] government's priorities are to invest in its people. They subsidize oil, gas, health care and education and that's civil. We cannot subsidize our oil and education because we are investing in tax cuts for the wealthy and a war that does not make sense in Iraq. We need new values, we need to go another way."

Lloyd e-mails to note Ruth Conniff's "Abortion Wars and the Poor" (Ruth Conniff's Online Column, The Progressive):

The large photograph on page 29 of The New York Times on Sunday is heavy with a sadness that seems to drag you down the page. A young African American woman sits, bent over in a chair, her head bowed so low it almost touches the ground. She is an 18-year-old college student who was carrying twins, the caption explains. Dressed in a hospital gown and slippers, she is waiting to have an abortion at the Little Rock Family Planning Services clinic. Finding yourself pregnant with twins at the age of 18 is bad enough.

But going to the abortion clinic in Little Rock sounds awful. Opponents of abortion will have a lot to grab onto in this article--the tears on the operating table, the depressing feelings that surround the clinic.

But the deep unhappiness dogging these women seems to have less to do with seeking an abortion--all of them are determined to go through with that decision--than with the miserable atmosphere around them. It's not just the angry man outside the clinic who videotapes everyone going in and out and yells at them that they are going to hell. "I'd lose my job," one high school teacher says, explaining why she must remain anonymous. "My family's reputation would be ruined."

Apparently, heaping shame and judgment on these women, while it makes them feel awful, is not such a huge deterrent. Many of the women are Christians--Catholics, Baptists, and conservatives--who share the judgment that what they are doing is a sin. But they also have a clear idea of what having another baby will mean for them, and that reality trumps the moral scolding when they have to decide what to do.

Rick e-mails to note Stephen J. Fortunato, Jr.'s "Bad on the Basics" (In These Times):

Absent a political upheaval causing turbulence equal to that of Hurricane Katrina, John Roberts will be confirmed by the United States Senate as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on September 22. With a few notable exceptions, the Democrats have been as befuddled about this nomination as they have been about war and torture in Iraq, increasing the minimum wage, tax breaks for the rich, a coherent response to the devastation along the Gulf Coast, etc., and are without the will or the numbers to derail President Bush’s quest to turn the nation’s highest court into a neo-conservative enclave.

The Democrats can thank themselves for this sorry situation. It must not be forgotten that William Jefferson Clinton, before he became an ambassador-at-large for the Bush administration and its failures in the Katrina disaster, joined forces with his 1996 Republican presidential opponent, Senator Bob Dole, in calling for the impeachment of a New York federal judge, Harold Baer, for having suppressed evidence of a large amount of contraband drugs seized in a case oozing with racial profiling. (Faced with a political firestorm, Baer would reverse the decision three months later.) In so doing, Clinton not only trespassed into the domain of the judiciary, but he aligned himself with the congenitally intemperate Rep. Tom Delay (R-Texas), who makes it a practice to call for the removal of federal judges when they render decisions he disagrees with. One might have hoped that as a Yale Law School graduate, Clinton would have acquired a better understanding of the role of the judiciary than a former exterminator, but that was not the case.

Democrats across the board have ceded the setting of the parameters of the "activist judiciary" debate to the right. Democrats argue that a particular judge under scrutiny is not an activist rather than trumpet the historically sound position that all judges are activists and that all judges must sometimes issue orders that curtail the actions of government officials and the excesses of majorities. This is the case because every person or group that comes to court, whether a civil plaintiff seeking monetary damages or a government prosecutor hoping for a conviction in a criminal matter, requests a remedy from the judge (or the jury). The claimant may or may not get satisfaction, but the court always acts. Even when the judge denies the outcome the supplicant would like, the judge has acted. Put another way, not to decide is to decide. Had the Democrats and their friends outside Congress successfully blown away the fog of the "activist judiciary" controversy, the vital question exposed would be whether the judge, or judicial candidate, has the constitutional and humanitarian values that comport with the "history and traditions" of a free people, to paraphrase the words of the distinguished conservative jurist, the second Justice John Marshall Harlan.

Janet finds, via FAIR:

Working Life: Why Is a "Progressive" Lobbying for Comcast? (9/19/05) by Jonathan Tasini
Simon Rosenberg of the New Democratic Network is apparently lobbying for Comcast--an anti-union cable company that is a major proponent of media consolidation and an opponent of municipal broadband.

Looking at the list of the board of the New Politics Institute, the think-tank associated with the NDN, I wonder whether they have any inkling about Simon’s advocacy for a company that is trying to destroy the very nature of the Internet and has such a woeful record on unions. Like Joe Trippi, who has been a proselytizer for the future of the Internet as a decentralized political tool--the very network companies like Comcast are trying to control.

We'll note BuzzFlash's latest editorial "Big Daddy:"

How Bush "performs" on television is the criterion by which the media judges him, not how he performs for the people of America. Word and deed have taken two separate paths -- and the media may cover deed for a day or two, but is always diverted back to writing reviews about Bush's dramatic reading of scripts written by Rove and Hughes -- or airing visuals of carefully orchestrated photo-ops.It doesn't take a brain surgeon to put together a pattern of Bush being unable to cope with disaster and protect Americans.

There is a straight line going from Bush's paralysis after 9/11 --
sitting in a classroom for nearly 10 minutes reading "My Pet Goat" before his speechwriters could give him something to say, while Dick Cheney oversaw the response, followed by Bush's bizarre odyssey of flying away from Washington, D.C. -- to his failure to respond to the Tsunami disaster for days, to his failure to respond to the disaster in New Orleans for days. We won't even get into the bloody, bankrupting quagmire he got us into in Iraq by lying us into war.

Any corporate board would know that they have a total incompetent on their hands and send him packing. We didn't just have Michael Brown as head of FEMA. Michael Brown is our President!

....The whole idea that a man who committed treason, Karl Rove, is openly and brazenly directing the "clean-up" of Bush's image after Rove and Bush failed to rescue the citizens of New Orleans or provide any assistance for four days is intolerable and unacceptable by any norms of accountability, reason, or concern about our national security and survival.

Lily e-mails to note Bernice Powell Jackson's "Only the truth will set us free" (The Chicago Defender):

It was right there for all to see, on television, in the newspapers, on the internet. Pictures of old people dying in their wheelchairs, while their children watched on helplessly. Pictures of infants screaming from hunger or dirty diapers, unable to be fed or changed while their mothers watched on helplessly. Day after day, the pictures got worse, while the promised help failed to appear. The most vulnerable -- the sickest, the oldest, the youngest, the poorest -- left to fend for themselves while the bureaucrats promised each morning on the news that help was on the way. This was the United States of America, the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world unable, unwilling to help the least of these before the eyes of the world and the eyes of God.
Representative Elijah Cummings was right -- God could not have been pleased. And neither should millions of Americans be pleased. For exposed before us were the results not only of the ravages of nature, but also the ravages of centuries of racism and classism.

Trevor e-mails to note "Why is George W. Bush Above the Law?" (TV News Lies):

Once again, a massive failure of leaderships has been displayed in Washington. And, once again, George Bush has escaped an independent inquiry into his in irresponsible actions. For the fourth time in less than five years, the President of the United States and his cohorts been placed above the law. That, in itself, is a major American disaster.

When, if ever, could this have happened before? When else could one administration have pulled off four major scandals; four devastating, potentially impeachable screw-ups, and never have to answer for them? When else, in the United States of America, could so many crimes of an elected president and his cadre remain unexplained, unchallenged, and unpunished? When? Probably never. When in history have the media sat silent through criminal scandal at highest levels of government?

We’re not talking mistakes, here. We’re not talking poor judgment or failed policies. We’re not talking politics as usual, with its underhanded array of pork and perks. But we are talking about very serious violations of the public trust, and very possibly the law, perpetrated by the elected leader of this nation and his handlers.

Even more amazingly, we are talking about the shameful reality that not a single one of these offenses has been investigated by a truly independent, non-political, neutral commission, armed with subpoena powers and adequate funding, and answerable ONLY to the people of the United States of America. Not a single one.

In every one of the scandals in question, calls for a nonpartisan, independent commission were thwarted by the very people accused of misdeeds and crimes. Something is really wrong when an American president who is accused of misconduct can determine who will delve into the facts behind his own actions? Something also is really wrong when incriminating evidence can be redacted and withheld from the public by the very people incriminated by that evidence.

Something is even more seriously wrong when cover up after cover up goes unreported and unchallenged by the same corporate media that spent eight years in relentless pursuit of scandals related to Whitewater, Travelgate, Filegate, Paula Jones and that awful threat to national security, Monica Lewinsky.

Of course, the targets of the media, and ultimately a Special Prosecutor, were Bill and Hillary Clinton, not George W. Bush, and accountability was not yet a dirty word. And of course, in that far more innocent time, challenging the president was not considered to be an act of treason. Tragically, today, it is.

Greg finds the "best review of the Chat & Chews" via Arianna Huffington's "Russert Watch: 'I Think There's Something Happening Here'" (The Huffington Post):

Let me close with a moment of vintage Tim -- a perfect example of what Kausfiles called Russert's "borderline-hysterical banality."

It came during the roundtable, in a question to Judy Woodruff: "If, in fact, however, a constitution is adopted and democracy begins to emerge from Iraq, is there an opportunity for good news to come from Iraq...?"

Well, yes, and if a bunch of elves come in the middle of the night and rebuild New Orleans with solid gold, there would be an opportunity for good news to come from New Orleans.

To Judy Woodruff's credit, she prefaced her answer with: "Tim, I think that's an enormous 'if.'" And an enormous waste of network real estate.

Of course, if Tim could actually transcend years of calcified conventional wisdom, if he could actually hold his guests accountable, if he could remember how to ask probing follow-through questions, then, yes, MTP would be a decent show.

But, to quote Judy, that's an enormous if.

In case anyone missed it, The Third Estate Sunday Review has an interview with community member Maria. Maria discusses many topics (including Arianna Huffington, domestic violence, Ahnuld and much more).

Micah e-mails to note Pete Dolack's "Police forcibly break up Cindy Sheehan rally" (NYC Indymedia)

The New York City Police Department forcibly broke up this afternoon's rally for Cindy Sheehan, moving in as Cindy was speaking at about 3 p.m. in Union Square. The rally had been underway for about an hour, and was about to conclude as Cindy spoke following several other speakers, including a few who are traveling with her on her caravan.

As Cindy was speaking, a large platoon of police massed behind from the interior of the park, then formed a circle behind her, the speakers' area and a few dozen people who were deployed in an arc behind her. Overall, about 200 people were in attendance, with the crowd steadily increasing in size as the rally progressed. As the police formed their arc just behind, the men and women immediately behind Cindy linked arms. A captain made a cutting motion at his throat, signalling he wanted no more free speech. He waited about 30 seconds, then the police moved in. They didn't dare arrest Cindy, but they immediately moved in and grabbed zool, the event's organizer and one of the main organizers of Camp Casey-NYC, pulling him away and arresting him. I do not believe anyone else was arrested; at least I didn't see any other arrests. I was nearby, and there was no hesitation on the part of the police in specifically targetting zool.

The police also took the microphone and sound system. The crowd shouted "Shame! Shame!" at the police and asked what they were so afrraid of, but made no response. There was a moderate press presence, even a bit of corporate media there, although the only television crew covering the rally was RTV from Russia.

No warning of any kind was given, and this was a permitted rally. Other than the captain making his cut motion, 30 seconds before forcibly breaking up the rally, there was no warning, verbal or in any other fashion. The police had massed perhaps three or four minutes before moving in. Until then, the rally had gone smoothly, starting just after 2 p.m. as scheduled. Cindy and the rest of the caravan arrived sometime after 2:30; the rest of the rally was comprised of speakers from the caravan. Many groups were in attendence besides Camp Casey-NYC, including Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families for Peace, the Troops Out Now Coalition, the No Police State Coalition and the Green Party, among others.

Billie e-mails to note that Ron's been very busy lately, from "Where The Hell Is Why Are We Back?" (Why Are We Back In Iraq?):

Last night I worked on two pieces for Raw Story so that's all I got for your reading pleasure (or displeasure) right now.

Rice says she 'listens' to al Qaeda like she read Marx; Says Bin Laden just 'single person':

"In a wide-ranging interview with Newsweek that will hit newsstands Monday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice continued to rattle the Administration saber at Syria, downplaying the importance of capturing Osama bin Laden, while drawing a parallel between al Qaeda and Marxist theory, RAW STORY has learned."

Poll: Dems lead 2006 House races:

"A post-Katrina poll published in last Monday's newstand edition of Newsweek (PRNewswire link) contains heartening news for Democrats, RAW STORY has discovered. Just fourteen months before the Congressional elections, Democrats have opened up a 12 point lead over their GOP rivals."

And from CODEPINK:

Join us for the mass mobilization in Washington DC, September 23 - 26
The tide is turning and now more than ever we have to force those behind the gates of the White House to see the writing on the wall. We must get out of Iraq NOW. Join with tens of thousands of other activists who know the time for us is NOW. Be with us in this historic moment as we march on the White House and deliver onemillionreasons to BUSH. Mark your calendars, reserve your tickets, and get your pink gear ready! Read up on CODEPINK's blogs from D.C.!!

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