Thursday, November 03, 2005

Democracy Now: Rosa Parks' life celebrated by Jesse Jackson, Bernice King, Bill Clinton, Aretha Franklin, Joseph Lowery, Jennifer Granholm, Al Sharpton ...

HRW Identifies Poland or Romania as Location of Secret CIA Prison
The Bush administration is refusing to confirm or a deny a Washington Post account that the CIA is using a secret, Soviet-era prison run in Eastern Europe to hold prisoners. The prison is apparently a part of global network of CIA-run prisons in several countries. At the request of US officials. the Post did not reveal the location of the facilities. Human Rights Watch has identified Poland and Romania as likely locations, citing flight records of CIA aircraft transporting detainees from Afghanistan. A spokesperson for the Polish defense ministry denied the allegations to the Financial Times. A Romanian spokesperson declined comment. Agence France Presse is reporting Czech Republic Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan says his country recently turned down a US request to set up a detention center on its territory.

Carter Criticizes Bush Administration on Torture, Iraq War
In light of the Washington Post revelations, Bush administration officials insist they will not tolerate the use of torture at home or in any foreign prisons. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said: "We're doing everything we can to protect America but we obviously do everything we can to do it in a way that's consistent with our legal obligations." Yet there are no indications the Bush administration has dropped a controversial proposal that would exempt CIA agents from a Senate ban on torture. Speaking in New York yesterday, President Jimmy Carter criticized the Bush administration's stance: "The insistence by our government that the CIA or others have the right to torture prisoners in Guantanamo and around the World is just one indication of what this administration has done that's a radical departure from past policies." Carter also lashed out at the Bush administration's justifications for the war on Iraq. Carter said: "I think that the claims that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and the claims that he had massive weapons of mass destruction that would threaten our country were manipulated at least to mislead the American people into going to war."

U.S. Launch Lethal Air Strikes While Attacks Kill Dozens in Iraq
In Iraq, separate incidents claimed the lives of at least 53 Iraqi civilians and six U.S. troops Wednesday. Two U.S. troops were killed near Ramadi when insurgents reportedly shot down their helicopter. The Washington Post reports U.S. aircraft returned and dropped bombs near the crash site, killing at least 20 people. Elsewhere in the country, a suicide bomber exploded a minibus in an outdoor market in the town of Musayyib, killing 20 people and wounding 60 others.

Groups Call on CPB Board to Release Investigator's Report
In this country, a coalition of grassroots organizations is calling on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to release a long-expected inspector general's investigation into wrongdoing by former Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson. Common Cause, the Center for Digital Democracy and Free Press have urged the CPB's board of directors to immediately release the report, which has only been reviewed in private. Tomlinson is accused of committing ethical and procedural breaches and misusing CPB funds.

The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Norah, Brian, Sam and Liang. Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):

Headlines for November 3, 2005

- Funeral Service Held For Rosa Parks in Detroit
- HRW Identifies Possible Locations of Secret CIA Prisons
- Carter Criticizes Bush Administration on Torture, Iraq War
- Republicans Debate Rove's Future at White House
- U.S. Launch Lethal Air Strikes While Attacks Kill Dozens in Iraq
- Ex-Bolivian President Served Legal Summons in Washington
- GOP Proposes Cutting 300,000 Off Food Stamps

Jesse Jackson Delivers Eulogy at Rosa Parks Funeral: "Her Legacy is Secure. Her Work, Unfinished"

Over 4,000 people gathered in Detroit for the funeral of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks on Wednesday. The funeral capped a week of tributes to the woman often referred to as the mother of the civil rights movement. Civil rights leaders, Congressmembers, Senators, pastors and many others spoke at the service. The Rev. Jesse Jackson delivered the eulogy. We play excerpts of the service. [includes rush transcript]

Bill Clinton: Rosa Parks "Made Us See and Agree that Everyone Should Be Free"

Former President Bill Clinton was one of the first speakers at the funeral of Rosa Parks Wednesday in Detroit. Clinton said, "Let us never forget that in that simple act and a lifetime of grace and dignity, she showed us every single day what it means to be free. She made us see and agree that everyone should be free. God Bless you Rosa Parks." [includes rush transcript]

Bernice King Delivers Remarks at Rosa Parks Funeral on Behalf of Her Mother, Coretta Scott King

The Rev. Bernice King, daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King delivered remarks on behalf of her mother - who recently suffered a stroke - at the funeral of Rosa Parks.

Michigan Gov. Granholhm: Rosa Parks is "Our Own Gently Powerful War Hero"

Jennifer Granholm - the first female Governor of Michigan - spoke at the funeral of Rosa Parks Wednesday. She compared Parks to a war hero and ended by saying, "By your actions [Rosa Parks] you have given us your final marching orders, we are enlisted in this war and on behalf of the state of Michigan ma'am, we are reporting for duty."

Joseph Lowery Calls on Condoleezza Rice to Extend Voting Rights Act

The Rev. Joseph Lowery, a long-time civil rights activist and the co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was among the speakers the funeral of Rosa Parks. Lowery was also active in the movement to desegregate public transportation in Alabama in the early 1950's.

Al Sharpton: "Jim Crow Had Sons...He's a Little More Polished But the Results Are the Same"

Speaking at the funeral of Rosa Parks Wednesday, the Reverend Al Sharpton connected the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 60s to the struggles that are taking place today.

Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin Joins Jesse Jackson to Pay Tribute to Rosa Parks

Rev. Jesse Jackson's eulogy ended with him and the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin on stage together paying tribute to Rosa Parks.

Where Have All the Fighters Gone? Juan Gonzalez Analyzes the New York City Mayoral Race

Democracy Now! co-host and Daily News columnist Juan Gonzalez gives an analysis of the New York City mayoral race between Republican Michael Bloomberg and Democrat Fernando Ferrer and talks about the lack of focus on urban America by both corporate and progressive journalists.

Keshawn e-mails to note Margaret Kimberley's "Bush and the Pirates on Trial" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):

The name Lewis "Scooter" Libby was not a household word until very recently. That is how many very powerful people operate, in the shadows, known only to a few. Libby is now very well known. He was chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney until an indictment for perjury and obstruction of justice forced him to resign.

Libby is charged with lying under oath to a grand jury in the case of the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Plame's husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, came under attack from Cheney, Libby and the rest of the Bushmen when he revealed the administration's lies about nuclear capabilities in Iraq, lies that helped make the case for war.

On July 14, 2003, conservative columnist Robert Novak revealed Plame's name, a possible violation of the law. It was difficult for special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to determine if the law had been violated, but it became crystal clear that Libby was fibbing.

Valerie Plame's identity was not the only fact revealed in this melodrama. It became clearer just how cozy the Washington press corps had become with the Bush administration, and that Dick Cheney wields considerable power.

Corey e-mails to note Amitabh Pal's "New Yorker gets it wrong on Scowcroft versus Bush Junior" (Amitabh Pal's Weekly Column, The Progressive):

The Iraq debacle has discredited the neoconservative belief system so badly that even dated ideologies are making a comeback.

Take Jeffrey Goldberg's largely complimentary profile of Brent Scowcroft in the October 31, 2005, issue of The New Yorker.

Scowcroft, President Ford and President Bush senior's national security adviser, is emblematic of the realist foreign policy approach. (His mentor, after all, was none other than Henry Kissinger, who, when the United States abandoned the Kurds in the mid-1970s, infamously commented that "covert action should not be confused with missionary work.") Goldberg flatteringly juxtaposes Scowcroft's realism with the crackpot idealism of the neoconservatives, implying that if President Bush Junior had listened more closely to his father's counselor, then the world would be a better place.

Scowcroft was certainly one of the first members of the foreign policy establishment to come out against an Iraq invasion, penning an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on August 15, 2002.

"The central point is that any campaign against Iraq, whatever the strategy, cost, and risks, is certain to divert us for some indefinite period from our war on terrorism," he wrote. "Worse, there is a virtual consensus in the world against an attack on Iraq at this time. So long as that sentiment persists, it would require the U.S. to pursue a virtual go-it-alone strategy against Iraq, making any military operations correspondingly more difficult and expensive."

But just because he was right about some of the negative consequences of the war doesn't necessarily mean that his hard-bitten worldview is a decent alternative to the aggressive militarism of the neoconservatives. He has, throughout his career, been an apologist for dictatorships and now does business with some of them through the Scowcroft Group, the consulting firm he operates.

He was a military assistant to President Nixon at the end of the Vietnam War.

Lawanda e-mails to note Dennis Kucinich's "Democrats: It's the War" (In These Times):

Ending the war in Iraq is right for a lot of reasons. The war was unjustified, unnecessary and unprovoked. It is counterproductive, strengthening al-Qaeda and weakening the moral authority of the United States. It is deadly: Many Americans, and many, many more Iraqis, have been killed or injured as a result of the fighting. And it is costly: Well over $250 billion in taxpayer funds have already been spent, with no end in sight.

It is also increasingly unpopular. For all these reasons, plus the increased spotlight that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita put on how much the war is draining resources desperately needed at home, Democrats should clearly call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. If Democrats do not make this the centerpiece of their campaign in 2006, they risk repeating recent history, in which they failed to recover seats in the House and Senate.

National Democratic leaders have already tried, and tried again, to ignore the war, and it didn't work politically. During the 2002 election cycle, when Democrats felt they had historical precedent on their side--the president's party always loses seats in the mid-term election--the Democratic leadership in Congress cut a deal with the president to bring the war resolution to a vote, and appeared with him in a Rose Garden ceremony. "Let no light show" between Democrats and President Bush on foreign policy was the leadership's strategy, and it yielded a historic result: For the first time since Franklin Roosevelt, a president increased his majorities in both houses of Congress during a recession.

Then, in 2004, with the president vulnerable on the war, the Democratic Party again sacrificed the opportunity to distinguish itself from Bush. Members avoided the issue of withdrawal from Iraq in the Party platform, omitted it from campaign speeches and deleted it from the national convention.

Why is it an unconscionable political blunder to sweep the war and occupation of Iraq under the rug? Because the war is one of the most potent political scandals of all time, and it has energized grassroots activity all over the country.

Marcia notes Katha Pollitt's "Madam President, Madam President" (The Nation):

I can't help it. I love Commander in Chief. Sure, it's cheesy and underwritten and not as good as The West Wing. More story lines, please! More characters! More witty banter and moral ambiguity and multiple crises all coming to a head at the same time! But in a TV season in which the major network roles for women over 30 are as desperate housewives in size 0 stretch pants, this feminist fantasy about the first woman President gives me a thrill every Tuesday night at 9. Maybe there's more to life than Wisteria Lane, after all. I love Geena Davis as President Mackenzie "Mac" Allen, so unflappable and warm and confident and kind and clever, to say nothing of gorgeous and six feet tall. But then I've loved Geena Davis ever since she wrote a letter to Newsweek, at the height of the "date rape hype" hysteria, pointing out that speaking out against rape wasn't embracing the role of victim but rejecting it. Commander in Chief makes you realize how rarely on TV you get to see a woman in charge who isn't a dragon or a bundle of nerves--or a likable one who isn't incompetent, clumsy, silly or self-­hating. Imagine, the show's been on since September 27, and Mac hasn't--yet--dissolved into a puddle of tears from the stress of running the free world while raising three kids and foiling the plots of sexist Republican Speaker of the House Nathan Templeton, played with delicious malice by Donald Sutherland.

Even more amazing, her husband, Rod Calloway (Kyle Secor), isn't sulking and acting out, even though one of Mac's first official acts when she moved up from being Vice President was to fire him as her Chief of Staff because otherwise people would assume he was running the show. He takes being First Gentleman with a sense of humor, pitches in equally with the kids and still wants to have sex. More miraculous still, so does Mac. Well, I said it was a fantasy. (Update: Looks like trouble is brewing in paradise. Sigh.)

Pundits wonder out loud if Commander in Chief will pave the way for a real-life woman President, like--oh let's just pick a name out of a hat--Hillary Clinton. Far be it from me to suggest that TV dramas don't affect Americans' real-life attitudes--I'd never even heard of cosmopolitans before Sex and the City and now I drink them all the time. The show may persuade some voters that it would be cool to have a woman President--"Madam President" has a nice ring to it. But it's unlikely to reach the gender-­prejudiced. The substantial minority of voters who, according to polls, wouldn't vote for a woman nominated by their own party probably aren't watching the show, and besides, they're most likely Republicans (20 percent, versus 7 percent of Democrats) who would sooner admit the Earth is more than 10,000 years old than vote for Hillary. Mac Allen, moreover, is so androgynously terrific--even her name is unisex--she's less like a real woman politician than like one of Shakespeare's cross-dressing heroines--Rosalind, or Portia. It's hard to think of a woman within a thousand miles of the White House she doesn't make look frumpy and fussy and old and short.

Marcia asks if Ava and I are going to review Commander-in-Chief this weekend (The Third Estate Sunday Review)? No. We're doing a drama but that's not it.

Lynda e-mails to note Richard C. Crepeau's "Good Night and Good Luck" (Pop Politics):

Edward R. Murrow can be credited as the man who invented television journalism, having first perfected radio journalism during World War II. It should then be no big surprise that there is a high volume media buzz over the new film Good Night and Good Luck, George Clooney's homage to Edward R. Murrow.

The focus of the film is the April, 1954, television broadcast on CBS produced by Fred Friendly and Murrow exposing the overblown accusations, bullying methods and attack on individual rights by Senator Joseph McCarthy. At the time of the broadcast McCarthy was already moving precariously close to disaster.

The "See It Now" broadcast by Murrow, Friendly and CBS did not bring Joe McCarthy down under the force of Murrow's critical analysis, but it did give the teetering senator a push on the slippery slope. McCarthy was in trouble. His own Republican party was set to jettison him as a liability when he dared to take on the Army and therefore the Eisenhower administration. It was fine when McCarthy attacked Democrats and pinkos, but it was no longer amusing when he attacked the Secretary of the Army. A large number of newspapers and magazines had already done what Murrow did on "See It Now."

Liz e-mails to note Glen Ford and Peter Gamble's "Immunity Sought for Uncle Tom Behavior" (The Black Commentator):

Uncle Tom. Sellout. Race traitor. Minstrel. Self-hater. Sambo.

African Americans, who have known for centuries that living, breathing, groveling, shuffling characters walk among us who actually match these caricatures, have been put on notice that it is taboo to point out the obvious.

One would think white media and politicians would have enough to do, policing the racist statements of their own group. Yet instead of deploying their censorship squads to suppress explicit and implicit white supremacist speech -- which flows like a daily tsunami from George Bush's Confederate/Republican Party and all its unofficial manifestations -- corporate media and Democrats make common cause to suppress the free speech of Black writers and artists who dare to confront other Black people who have committed political offenses against African Americans.

How dare these bastions of white power and privilege attempt to act as arbiters of African American discourse! Seldom listening to Black people, they are quick to lecture at Blacks, insanely believing that white institutions -- and this includes Blacks who serve those institutions -- have earned even a subatomic particle's worth of moral authority in Black America.

The latest Dem/GOP/corporate assault on Black internal political autonomy targeted The News Blog, operated by Black New Yorker Steve Gilliard. Gilliard altered a photo of Maryland's Black Republican Lt. Governor, Michael S. Steele, a candidate for U.S. senator, to conform more closely to the historical archetype that Steele's reflexive subordinate behavior most resembles. "Simple Sambo wants to move to the big house," read the caption under what Gilliard had made to look like a flyer for Steele's one-man minstrel show.

Gilliard's blog, which he says gets about 15,000 visits per day, routinely lays waste to the high-and-mightily-evil Right. He has posted a photo of Bush cabal-embedded New York Times reporter Judith Miller, captioned: "The Face of Treason." A picture of New Orleans cops beating a retired Black school teacher was altered to depict the policemen wearing Ku Klux Klan robes, explaining: "The nigger made us beat him. It's his fault." Good stuff.

A few weeks before Gilliard put Lt. Gov. Steele in proper visual context, Black Republican Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell -- the vampire of 2004 who sucked the franchise out of that state's African American voters -- got The News Blog treatment.

The country club circuit is also what got Maryland's Michael Steele on Gilliard's dis-list. Steele's running mate (read, boss) Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., held a fund-raiser at a country club that had never in its 127-year history admitted an African American -- a non-problem as far as Steele was concerned. Rather, the senatorial aspirant, who may face former NAACP executive director and Democratic congressman Kweisi Mfume in the 2006 election, spends most of his "white" time badmouthing Blacks -- the primary function of his ilk -- in places like the Elkridge Club. Let the picture fit the crime.

"Generally, it is an accurate depiction of Steele's groveling, lackey behavior," said Gilliard, in an email to the Baltimore Sun. "It is 2005, and such an institution should not exist, nor should a governor with as many black people as the state of Maryland attend a function at such a place."

Ericka e-mails to note Jon Platner's "Who Is Samuel Alito?" (Planned Parenthood):

Concern over Alito's nomination is not limited to issues of reproductive freedom. In several cases related to gender and racial discrimination at the workplace, Alito endorsed standards of evidence that would make it substantially more difficult for victims of employee discrimination to prove their cases or even bring them to trial. Alito has also issued several judicial opinions that fly in the face of the constitutional separation of church and state.

On the day that Alito's nomination was announced, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NE) told Reuters that Alito might be "too radical for the American people." He said he looks forward to meeting Judge Alito and learning why right-wing extremists "are so much more enthusiastic about him than they were about Harriet Miers."

Planned Parenthood already understands why right-wing extremists are so enthusiastic about Alito's nomination. His judicial philosophy is far to the right of Justice O'Connor's. Based on his past ruling in Casey, we believe that Judge Alito would vote with the extremists on the court to further undermine reproductive and privacy rights.

Planned Parenthood did not oppose John Roberts' nomination until we had a chance to hear him explain his views in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. But Samuel Alito is a different case. His judicial record leaves no room for ambiguity on how he would rule in cases that challenge our most basic rights.

Planned Parenthood opposes the nomination of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court. If confirmed, Alito could radically transform the Supreme Court and create a direct threat to the health and safety of American women.

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