Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Democracy Now: Toledo, Galloway v. Hitchens; Robert Parry, David Sirota, Alexander Cockburn, Susan (Random Thoughts)

18 Grandmothers Arrested at Iraq War Protest
Here in this country, eighteen grandmothers from the Raging Grannies were arrested Monday after they tried to enlist at a military recruiting center in Times Square. The women, ranging in age from 40 to 90, sat down in front of a recruiting booth, chanting "We insist, we want to enlist." The 18 arrested face charges of disorderly conduct.
Report: No Oversight for Defense Spending in Iraq
In other Iraq news, Knight Ridder is reporting serious concerns are being raised around the oversight of more than $140 billion dollars in defense spending in Iraq. The news agency reports defense department auditors quietly pulled out of Iraq a year ago. Since October 2004, only one of the 107 audits currently listed on the Defense Department inspector general's Web site has covered Iraq.
192,000 Low-Income Recipients to Lose Medicare Benefit
The federal government has announced close to 192,000 low-income Medicare beneficiaries face a sharp increase in medical costs because Congress has not renewed a program that pays their monthly premiums. The program, known as the Q.I. program, paid the $78 dollar monthly fee for low-income beneficiaries up until it expired at the end of September. Adding to the burden, the cost of the basic Medicare premium will rise to $88 a month in January. The Bush administration has proposed a one-year extension to the program. Both houses of Congress have passed bills to reinstate it, but final legislation has been held up due to differences on other issues included in the bill.
The above three items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Brady, Rob and AmandaDemocracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):
Headlines for October 18, 2005

- Iraq Vote Results Questioned After "Unusually High" Returns
- Rights Groups Raise Concerns Over Upcoming Saddam Trial
- Report: Post-Katrina Reconstruction Slow, Ineffective
- 192,000 Low-Income Recipients to Lose Medicare Benefit
- GM to Cut Health Benefits for 750,000
- Miers: "No One Knows My Views on Abortion"
- 18 Grandmothers Arrested at Iraq War Protest
Over 100 Arrested in Toledo, Ohio After Neo-Nazi March Prompts Counter-Protest & Riot

Over one hundred people were arrested this weekend in Toledo, Ohio after a riot broke out in the North section of the city where a Neo-Nazi group planned to march through a predominately African-American neighborhood.
The Grapple in the Big Apple: British MP George Galloway v. Christopher Hitchens

We play an extended portion of this historic debate between two of Britain's most fiery orators recorded last month in New York. The two debate the Iraq invasion, Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration, Palestine and more.
Zach e-mailed (and has waited patiently) to note Robert Parry's "'Al-Qaeda Letter' Belies Bush's Iraq Claims" (Consortium News):

A letter that U.S. intelligence attributes to al-Qaeda's second-in-command undercuts George W. Bush’s latest claims that the terrorist organization has plans for conquests reaching halfway around the world and targeting America’s freedom.

The 6,000-word letter purportedly written by Osama bin-Laden's deputy Ayman Zawahiri on July 9 lists al-Qaeda's goals as far more limited -- driving U.S. forces from Iraq, establishing a state or "emirate" in the country's Sunni enclaves, resisting outside assaults, and only later trying to expand into a religious "caliphate" incorporating surrounding territory.

The proposed "caliphate" could stretch to the Mediterranean Sea and Egypt, said the letter purportedly sent by Zawahiri to al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq, Jordanian-born Abu Musab Zarqawi.

By contrast, Bush said in an Oct. 6 speech that Muslim extremists intended to use Iraq as a base to "establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia," while simultaneously engineering the strategic defeat of the United States.

The alleged al-Qaeda letter states, too, that the "idea" about the caliphate is not "infallible" and was mentioned "only to stress … that the mujahedeen must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq, and then lay down their weapons, and silence the fighting zeal."

Along with its fears that its jihadists might quit if U.S. troops leave Iraq, al-Qaeda -- as reflected in the letter -- looks like a struggling organization under financial and political duress, holding out hope for limited successes in Iraq, rather than dreaming of global domination. Al-Qaeda's leaders are so short of funds that they asked their embattled operatives in Iraq to send $100,000 to relieve a cash squeeze, according to the letter.

The letter in Arabic and an English translation were posted at the Web site of the U.S. director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, on Oct. 11.

Kendrick e-mails to note the New Pittsburgh Courier's "August Wilson, Pittsburgh's playwright 1945-2005" (The Chicago Defender):

By now, almost everyone has heard about the passing of August Wilson, playwright, historian, teacher, poet, father, son, brother and husband.

All theatres, everywhere, ought to dim their house lights for just a minute, to reflect the passing of a genius of the theater.

The genius is cemented in the fact that, Wilson, born and raised in Pittsburgh's Hill District, was never formally trained to write...he just wrote. A high school dropout, Wilson found the bulk of his education in...of all things, books, spending so much time at the Carnegie Library that he became its most famous student...and later, its only graduate.

Those humble beginnings did not stop him from becoming the most accomplished playwright of his generation, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, a Tony Award, and enough recognition from the New York Drama Critics to fill a mantel.


Ellen e-mails to note David Sirota's "Partisan War Syndrome" (In These Times):


But then, even an issue as critical as Iraq can be subverted by the hallucinations that come from Partisan War Syndrome. As just one example, take progressives' constant genuflecting anytime Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-N.Y.) name is mentioned. She is forever portrayed as a champion of the left, with everyone who's anyone in politics assuming that she will have rock-solid support from the Democratic base despite her loud and continuing support for the Iraq War, and rather quiet Senate record on other progressive issues. The assumption speaks volumes about a "base" with an ideology so afflicted by a haze of hallucination that it believes the best politics even in such a polarized environment are those that avoid contrast.

On almost every other issue it is the same. The hallucinations subvert overarching ideology or concrete actions on issue after issue, save a few disparate pieces of token legislation that the party refuses to seriously push, and which the supposedly all-powerful "liberal" base does not demand through the blogs, liberal pundits, or any of its other powerful channels of influence. Unions, environmental organizations and others fight the good substantive fight. But with the base in a state of hallucination, there is no cohesive ideological grassroots movement to push along those substantive efforts.

As New York Times columnist Frank Rich recently wrote, the tragedy in allowing the hallucinations to continue indefinitely goes beyond just election losses. "The Democrats are hoping that if they do nothing, they might inherit the earth as the Bush administration goes down the tubes," he wrote. "Whatever the dubious merits of this Kerryesque course as a political strategy, as a moral strategy it's unpatriotic. The earth may not be worth inheriting if Iraq continues to sabotage America’s ability to take on Iran and North Korea, let alone Al Qaeda." The same could be said for every other issue that progressives are trying to avoid in the face of the 2006 elections.


Ellen wonders what our latter day, online Dylan would make of that?  Oh, Ellie, he's still on his Shot of Love tour, staggering from town to town, making noises about changes but nothing's changed.  Despite the claim that it was time for a change in subject matter and focus.  Today's targets?  Just about everyone.


Which makes the claims about a change dubious.  It's a bit like Dylan saying,  "I'm thinking of touring with the Band." Or getting back together with Joan Baez.  No new Rolling Thunder tour coming but got to keep the people hoping.  Today, he's going after Wilson again.  And explaining to us that 1992 was the year of change at the New York Times by God!  Proving that the professor's grip grows looser and looser.  The war on Social Security, the air kisses to Reagan, that's the 1980s but it's easier, apparently, to once again make it all about Clinton and/or Gore.  And, point of fact, the Times clowned more often than not the entire last century but the professor missed all of that.  He's probably not even aware of their infamous Woodstock coverage which veered down one road, up the other and then circled back. Live by the public record . . .


It's as though, once upon a time, say 1992, he heard,  "It all began in a little town called Hope . . ." and he blanked on everything that came before.  Was hearing that like Dylan hearing Woody Guthrie for the first time?  We just don't know.


The Shot of Love tour goes on (current Dylan meter reading) but ticket sales are down and the limited crowd is shouting out requests.  


So he does a song and dance on Arianna Huffington.  (Is DA Pennebaker getting any of this on film?)  Once upon a time, not that long ago, he clowned and clowned, but didn't tell you so, those were the days, when he penned thinks like, "we like Arianna, a lot more than most," and forgot to shout out "Psyche!" 


For our latter day Dylan, still struggling with the chords, we'll note Alexander Cockburn (the professor just loves Cockburn) and his "Ayatollahs of the Apocalypse" (CounterPunch):


After chiding James ("Focus on the Family") Dobson for hyperbolic language, Robertson closed out the interview a few minutes later by claiming that Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez, whose assassination he had recently recommended, was building a nuclear arsenal and had sent Osama bin Laden a million dollars after 9/11.

The sobering part of all this is that all the same words could have come out the mouth of the President, whose relationship to Jesus and expectations of the End Time are probably more intense than Robertson's, since the latter is a seasoned professional, rather than an inspired amateur.

Reagan used to talk about the End Time equably too, once stressing that it could occur in "our lifetime". Journalists like Blitzer should raise the issue more frequently, both to ayatollahs of the Apocalypse like Robertson and to the President. It would give press conferences a certain gloomy zest.

The only mystery is why, given his Apocalyptic expectations, Robertson fusses about the threat of a Chavez and calls for his murder by the CIA. He surely cannot think that the Venezuelan leader will be spared the Lord's coming wrath, when the saved rise up in the great celestial spiral and the damned are consigned to the pit. Why ask the CIA to do what the Almighty will soon take care of?


Billie e-mails to note Virginia Rodino's "Reflections on the Antiwar Movement" (CounterPunch):


The first time I saw him, I was unimpressed.

Being a total ignoramus of the veteran,s movement, I had never heard of David Cline before. My very impressive political colleague Stan Goff, whom I had just met in person only an hour before at the Veterans For Peace convention in Dallas, TX, insisted on introducing me to the president of Veterans For Peace. While Stan was very enthusiastic about a United for Peace and Justice proposal for nonviolent civil disobedience at the White House after the September 24 demonstrations, David was slightly more cautious when I relayed it to him at this, our first meeting. He said it sounded okay, but he had to bring it up before the Veterans For Peace board.

Looking a bit unkempt in a tie-died t-shirt and some facial scruff, putting a damper on my obvious brilliance at political strategizing and tactical maneuvering, he unimpressed me.

After a full slate of well-organized and strong political sessions at the conference the next day, the evening entertainment offerings included a showing of the documentary "Sir, No Sir" which Stan and I went to watch. The entire documentary was extremely engaging and quite informative. I especially liked learning more about the underground G.I. Resistance press and the intensity of the actions that drafted young people had taken to avoid the killing in Vietnam.

Particularly compelling to me, however, were the clips from interviews with David Cline. As I heard him speak with the political clarity and practical wisdom I discovered he is well-known for, my jaw did a little hanging, and I got a bit of an education as he spoke to me from the screen. I was becoming impressed.

Ray e--mails to note Susan's "The Turd Blossom Special" (Random Thoughts) where's she's discussing a NY Daily News article (what article! use the link):
Cheney's name has come up amid indications Fitzgerald may be edging closer to a blockbuster conspiracy charge - with help from a secret snitch.

"They have got a senior cooperating witness - someone who is giving them all of that," a source who has been questioned in the leak probe told the Daily News yesterday.

I'll believe an indictment of anybody, let alone Bush and Cheney, when I see it.

Judy and the
NYT are accomplices to the same crime as the dictatorship.
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