Friday, November 18, 2005

Democracy Now: Steve Clemons on Woody, debate on Wal-Mart; Margaret Kimberley, Elizabeth de la Vega, Grace Lee Boggs

Hawkish Democrat Calls For Immediate Troop Withdrawal
In an important development in the growing Congressional debate over the US occupation of Iraq, a hawkish Democrat who voted to authorize the war has introduced a bill calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops. Democratic Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania said: "It is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraq people or the Persian Gulf region." Murtha is an army veteran with close ties to military commanders. He's also the top Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, and has visited Iraq several times since the war began. His proposed bill reads in part: "The deployment of US forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable date." The bill marks the first time a resolution has been submitted to Congress calling for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. In response, White House spokesperson Scott McClellan said: "Congressman Murtha is a respected veteran and politician who has a record of supporting a strong America. So it is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic Party."
Congressional Democrat Leaders Keep Distance to Troop Pullout
Although Murtha joins a growing list of pro-war Democrats that have reversed their positions, Democratic Congressional leaders distanced themselves from Murtha's stance. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said: "Mr. Murtha speaks for himself," while Senate Minority Harry Reid added: "I don't support immediate withdrawal."
Pentagon to Review Feith's Intelligence Activities
Congressional officials announced Thursday the Defense Department will investigate the pre-war activities of one of the Iraq war's key architects. The office of the Pentagon's inspector general says it will comply with a Senate request to review the intelligence activities of former U.S. defense undersecretary Douglas Feith. The investigation will focus on whether Feith gave the White House uncorroborated evidence to support the case for invasion in the lead up to war.
The above three items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Melinda, Charlie and Grace. Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):
Headlines for November 18, 2005

- Hawkish Democrat Calls For Immediate Troop Withdrawal
- Congressional Democrat Leaders Keep Distance to Troop Pullout
- Iraq Bombings Kill at Least 60
- U.S. and Iraq To Probe Detention Facilities
- Socialist PM Wins Sri Lankan Elections
- Report: CIA Runs Joint Intelligence Centers in Several Countries
- Congress Approves Budget, Tax Measures
- Thousands Rally at APEC Summit in South Korea
Woodward Downplayed CIA Leak Case Despite Involvement

Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward was told of Valerie Plame's identity in June of 2003 - before Judith Miller or any other reporter. Woodward never reported this in the pages of the Washington Post and only mentioned it to his editors last month. We speak with Steve Clemons, editor of the popular news blog, The Washington Note. [includes rush transcript]
A Debate: Does Wal-Mart Work or is it a High Cost for Low Price?

Wal-Mart - the world's largest retailer - has been in the headlines recently with the release of a new documentary "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price" that criticizes the company's labor practices. A film defending the company, "Why Wal-Mart Works: And Why That Makes Some People Crazy," has also been released. We host a debate over Wal-Mart with the communications director of Wal-Mart watch and the filmmaker of "Why Wal-Mart Works."
KeShawn e-mails to note Margaret Kimberley's "Ohio Vote Theft, Now and Forever" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator):
On Election Day in Ohio, four ballot provisions that would have brought greater integrity to the elections process went down to defeat at the polls. Not only were all four defeated, but polls predicted that all four would either win, or be decidedly by thin margins.
Reform Ohio Now had initiated the four proposals. The proposals would have changed rules on campaign finance, established a legislative redistricting commission, allowed the option of voting by mail, and put electoral issues in the hands of an independent commission, beyond the reach of Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.
Polling conducted by the Republican newspaper, the Columbus Dispatch, has a history of accurately predicting Ohio election results. Is it possible that the Dispatch pollsters suddenly lost their touch? Anything is possible, but the decisive loss of all four proposals by unexpected margins is highly improbable.
In November 2004 Republicans used a combination of schemes to insure victory in Ohio for George W. Bush. Some of the chicanery was decidedly low tech and simple. Black voting precincts didn’t receive all of the voting machines they needed. More than 60 machines sat in storage while thousands of Ohioans waited on lines for hours to cast their ballots. Inevitably, some could not spend an entire day attempting to vote.
If the Dispatch polls were wrong, they were very wrong indeed. If the outcome is to be believed, every voter who was previously undecided on the ballot proposals had to vote no and many of those expressing support had to have changed their minds. Undecided voters usually remain undecided, skipping candidates and provisions that they find confusing or just not worthy of their attention. We are asked to believe that Ohio voters behaved unlike voters anywhere in the country.
Tracey e-mails to note Elizabeth de la Vega's "Scooter Libby's Doomed Defense" (The Nation):
Shortly after Vice President Cheney's former Chief of Staff, I. Lewis ("Scooter") Libby, was indicted for obstructing justice and making false statements to a government agent and a grand jury, Libby's attorneys suggested that they would use the standard he's-a-busy-man-who-can't-remember-everything defense. But now, with Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward's revelation that a senior Administration official other than Libby told him, in mid-June 2003, that Joseph Wilson's trip to Niger had been arranged by Wilson's CIA operative wife, Valerie Wilson, it appears the Libby team has added another favorite, the SODDI defense--as in, "some other dude did it."
Unfortunately for Libby, that turkey won't fly. Here's why. According to Libby's attorney, Theodore Wells, Woodward's disclosure is a "bombshell" that "undermines the prosecution" because it disproves special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's alleged contention that Libby was the first senior Administration official to reveal to a reporter that Valerie Wilson worked as a CIA analyst. Not true.
For starters, a prosecutor's press conference statements are irrelevant to, and not admissible in, the trial of the case. And Fitzgerald never said Libby was the first official to have disclosed information about Valerie Wilson; he said Libby was the first official known to have disclosed such information. More important, though, it is of no help to Libby that another Administration official, "some other dude," disclosed classified information about Valerie Wilson's employment in order to discredit her husband before Libby himself did so. (By the way, Woodward's impression that the disclosure by his source was "casual" proves nothing about whether the smearing official knew that the information being leaked was classified.)
Liang e-mails to note Grace Lee Boggs' "How Can Young People Honor the Legacy of Rosa Parks?" (The Boggs Center)
I was moved and grateful to be among the
many thousands (mostly 50 and over) who gathered
at Greater Grace Temple on November 2 to thank
Rosa Parks for triggering the civil rights
movement that has changed all our lives and
the trajectory of this country.

But I am also troubled by the way that
Rosa Parks is being turned into an icon whom
politicians identify with in order to advance
their own agenda. That kind of image-making
obscures the reality that she was a movement
activist who for many years did the dangerous
nitty-gritty work necessary to build the NAACP
in the deep South. It isolates her from her
comrades like NAACP director E.D. Nixon and
Jo Ann Robinson, the Women's Political Council
leader who actually issued the bus boycott call.

It also overlooks the hard decisions that
moulded her character.

For example, three years ago when I accepted
the Walter P. Reuther Humanitarian Award on her
behalf, I reminded the gathering of how, over
the objections of her beloved husband Raymond
and at the risk of being labeled a "Communist'
and losing her department store job, she took
two weeks off from work to participate in a
Highlander Institute workshop devising new
activist techniques.

Among those who applaud her today how many
are willing to take comparable risks?
Liang and Keesha's highlights came in earlier this week (both yesterday). Apologies for the delay. This entry isn't dictated (and oh, how I miss the ease of those entries). Due to time constraints, the e-mails piled up each day and when doing this entry on Wednesday and Thursday, I went with the most obvious highlights (based on subject headings of e-mails). (All e-mails were read by nightfall but I'm really not overly fond of linkfests and prefer to do them only when I'm too tired to do anything else.) There's a highlight that we'll do tomorrow which is a strong one but it doesn't fit in with the theme of this entry. Which is? All highlights are by women. We did that five times (once a week) before anyone noticed. (Or e-mailed that they noticed.)
We could be like a certain book reviewer at the New York Times and be blind to the contributions of women (or women other than herself) or we can devote an entry to excerting some of the strong work being done by women online. On Wednesday, I'd already decided this would be the focus for Friday (due to the selections we were highlighting during the week). But apparently many members were already gearing up for it because there were so many highlights that came in this morning. The ones included are a small sample.
Anne is addressing a topic that Larry says he hasn't seen elsewhere, Cheney's secrecy regarding his travel, "Choose" (Peevish...I'm Just Saying):
He's also arguing that where he goes, who he sees, and what he does is none of our business.
P.S. Going to make speeches to right-wing think-tanks is not "official travel." If they want to have Cheney come talk to them, fine. They can pay for it.
You think any "small government" Republicans are going to cry foul! over this unnecessary expense?

Marcia e-mails to note Jaclyn's "Never Forget" (Pop Politics):
Ronnie Paris, Jr., was 3 years old when he died from being slapped on the head over and over by his father, Ronnie Paris, Sr., until the child went into a coma. The father did not want to "raise a sissy," as the child had seemingly not been masculine enough for the father.
Karlien Carstens ran a small tuck stop out of her home. When her brother found her body, she was tied up with cords cut off of electrical appliances, with one cord tied tightly around her neck. She had also been strangled with some force.
Phool Chand Yadav was part of a drama company. He had been out with two men on a walk. Once these men discovered that he was biologically female by removing a false mustache and forcing him to disrobe, he was raped and murdered. After killing him, the killers replaced the false mustache.
They are just a few of the dozens of people who’ve been violently murdered in 2005 alone for a very simple crime: transgressing the gender binary.
I bring this up now because Sunday is the seventh annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is as good an opportunity as any to say: this bullsh*t must stop.
At Ruminations on America, Rita J. King notes the attention finally being given to white phosphorous and wonders when the attention will spread further in "White Phosphorous and other WMD:"
How about the use of depleted uranium? A unit of veterans who served in Iraq are currently suing the government because they believe they were knowingly exposed to DU. Many who served in Iraq believe that the nebulous, debilitating and often lethal Gulf War Syndrome is actually a combination of exposure to detonated chemicals, experimental vaccines and DU.
From NOW, Tori notes:
So much for due process and privacy
The U.S. Army proposes to collect comprehensive data on sexual assault victims and alleged assailants. The intrusive nature of this data collection will dissuade victims from reporting and deny the accused of due process. Activists must voice their concerns before Nov. 25!
And on NOW, Kara e-mails to note Katti Gray's "We Are Everyone" (Ms.) on NOW president Kim Gandy:
A lawyer by training and veteran NOW organizer by preference, Gandy, 51, won reelection in July to a second and final four-year term (NOW bylaws preclude a third) leading the 39-year-old women's-rights group.
She first set out on her feminist path at about age 13, declaring to her homemaker mom and banker dad that she would buck conventions of the Deep South and head to college. A girl verging on womanhood in Bossier City, La., Gandy's hometown, was pretty much expected to simply swap her parents' household for the one she would create with a husband. Gandy followed that script in part, taking as her first husband a schoolmate at Louisiana Tech University. She was just 18. Soon afterward, though, she stumbled upon a Louisiana law granting husbands control of their wives' paychecks, which is all the prodding she needed to join NOW. And seven years into the marriage, Gandy got a divorce. A math degree from Tech in hand, she went on to earn a law degree from Loyola University in New Orleans, work in the New Orleans district attorney's office and then establish a general practice in the bayou city. She also volunteered her services to Louisiana NOW, which, at the time, had no lawyers of its own. Later, noticing Gandy's zeal, former NOW president Molly Yard persuaded her to run for secretary/treasurer on Yard's winning 1987 national slate, and from there Gandy continued moving up the ranks.
NOW has a broad-ranging agenda under Gandy, lining up against privatizing Social Security and for expanded voting rights, paid family leave for men and women, and gay marriage. Out of her first presidential tenure came the two-year-old National NOW Young Feminist Task Force, which has produced a bevy of under-30 women who are state and local chapter officers--as well as 29-year-old African American New Yorker Latifa Lyles who, along with Melody Drnach, a 40-something white woman from Rhode Island, is one of Gandy's two newly elected vice presidents. Also on the summer's slate was Gandy's 50-something Cuban-born second-in-command, Olga Vives. "It's important to say that we are everyone," Gandy says.
And we'll close with Charlie's highlight, Trish Schuh's "Faking the Case Against Syria" (CounterPunch):
Another slam dunk forgery is being used to convict Syria. The United Nations' Detlev Mehlis inquiry into the murder of Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafiq Hairri depends on a central witness, Zuhir Ibn Mohamed Said Saddik, who has faced accusations of being a swindler and embezzler. Der Spiegel exposed Saddik's brags of "becoming a millionaire" from his testimony to the Mehlis Commission. Saddik was referred to the Mehlis Commission by Syrian regime critic Rifaat Assad, the uncle of current Syrian President Bashar Assad. Rifaat has been lobbying the Bush administration to become the president of Syria in the event his nephew Bashar is ousted.

The record of the UN's investigator Mehlis does not inspire faith in his credibility. As Senior Public Prosecutor in the German Attorney General's office, Mehlis investigated the 1986 LaBelle Discotheque bombing in Berlin. Relying on alleged National Security Agency intercepts of coded messages between Tripoli and Libyan suspects in Germany (later revealed by former Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky as false telex signals generated by Mossad itself), Mehlis provided the 'irrefutable proof' of Libya's guilt that then justified Ronald Reagan's bombing of Libya.

In the case of the accusations against Syria, Mehlis's case revolves around a series of questionable phone conversations and intersecting calling card numbers allegedly dialled by the perpetrators. It contains no definitive forensics on the car bomb explosives used. Outside investigators have said it could have been RDX plastique, not TNT as Mehlis suggested in his report. The German Mercedes manufacturers were also perplexed at how Hariri's vehicle, reinforced by the heaviest steel-titanium alloy, was "melted by the force of the explosion," after-effects usually associated with high density DU munitions. The car bomb vehicle (stolen in Japan and never fully traced) was possibly driven by a suicide bomber, whose identity is still unknown. Mehlis's report then states: "Another only slightly less likely possibility is that of a remotely controlled device."

Mehlis conclusions on the case , due on December 15 could justify an attack on Syria, using the Hariri assassination as justification. But from Beirut to Damascus, the "Arab Spring" was a neocon forgery designed to destabilize the Levant and redraw the map of the middle east.
What do you know? Activism, criticsm, politics, "weighty" world issues and much more can be covered by women. (That's sarcasm to underscore a point.) And we didn't even note Delilah of A Scrivener's Lament (because three different entries by Delilah were sent in this morning by three different members and I couldn't choose between them). While the likes of our online, latter day Dylan busy themselves with butt pats to one male after another, women are making contributions in all areas. The contributions are made, it's just the shout outs that aren't forthcoming.
The e-mail address for this site is

Yahoo! FareChase - Search multiple travel sites in one click.