Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Other Items

Tim Eaton somehow misses the point with "Protesters at King March Oppose Air Force Flyover" in this morning's New York Times.

Protesters wore yellow and black armbands and chanted during speeches Monday in disapproval of the inclusion of Air Force jets at the end of this military city's 20th annual march honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
[. . .]
The protesters said Dr. King, who opposed the war in Vietnam and dedicated his life to nonviolence, would not have supported the display of military muscle. Supporters of the flyover by T-1 training jets from 99th Training Squadron from nearby Randolph Air Force Base pointed to the squadron's direct lineage to the Tuskegee Airmen, the country's first group of black military pilots.

The point made by those against the military fly over is reduced to "display of military muscle" while the those in favor (largely the people on the committe planning the march) are noted giving such lame statements as (paraphrase) "I was there at the 'I Have a Dream Speech!' I know MLK best because I was there!"

So here's what (intentionally?) the Times missed:

"But a fighter jet is not a soldier," he said. "Dr. King said that you lay down your arms at the table of brotherhood. A fighter jet is an arm."

That's Tommy Calvert Jr. quoted in Lisa Marie Gómez's "Sparks Fly Over Flyover at MLK March" (San Antonio Express-News via Common Dreams). It's a very basic point but one that Eaton repeatedly misses in his report.

That may be due to the fact that Calvert's point of view is summed up (badly) by Eaton in one paragraph, while "City Councilwoman Sheila McNeil" is given three paragraphs to explain her pro-war position (when she declares her city "Military City, USA" I think it's safe to dub her position "pro-war"), pro-war Mayor Phil Hardberger is given two paragraphs to defend the flyover, Henry Cisneros (who's "officialdom" should be questionable at this point) is given two paragraphs to defend the flyover. Two people not connected with the protest are them noted.
Considering the headline and the angle of the report, is rather surprising that the Times (even the Times) can devote so little coverage to the reason they're even bothering to report from San Antonio today.

Dropping back to the topic of the last entry, Zach notes Sam Parry's "Politics of Preemption (Revisited)" (Consortium News):

Editor's Note: With the authoritarianism of George W. Bush's administration now apparent to people around the world, former Vice President Al Gore delivered an impassioned speech on Jan. 16, 2006, urging Americans to rally in defense of their constitutional freedoms. On the holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr., Gore noted that the legendary civil rights leader himself had been the victim of illegal wiretapping and Gore called for an independent counsel to investigate criminality in Bush's current domestic spying program.
Within hours, the Republican National Committee issued a snide response. "Al Gore's incessant need to insert himself in the headline of the day is almost as glaring as his lack of understanding of the threats facing America," said RNC press secretary Tracey Schmitt.
The RNC reaction reminded us of the ridicule heaped on Gore in 2002 when he cautioned against a "preemptive" invasion of Iraq when al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and other terrorists implicated in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were still on the loose. Those denunciations of Gore were an early sign of what we called the "politics of preemption," the inevitable domestic side effects of Bush's imperial designs. We have republished our original story below:
George W. Bush's doctrine of "preemptive war" -- the elimination of foreign governments he deems a threat to U.S. security interests -- is quickly developing a domestic corollary. Any politician who questions Bush's strategy can expect to be confronted by a rapid-deployment force of pro-Bush operatives who counterattack using weapons of ridicule and distortion.
In a kind of test run, this army swung onto the offensive immediately after former Vice President Al Gore on Sept. 23 delivered a comprehensive critique of Bush's radical departure from decades of American support for international law. Rather than welcome a vigorous debate on the merits and shortcomings of the so-called "Bush Doctrine," conservative commentators treated Gore and others raising questions as dishonest, unpatriotic and even unhinged.

Zach also notes Robert Parry's "Bush & the Limits of Debate" (Consortium News):

America's "unitary executive" George W. Bush says critics of the Iraq War, who suggest that he lied or had ulterior motives, are "irresponsible," "partisan," hurtful to U.S. troops and thus helpful to the enemy -- and should expect to be held accountable.
In a Jan. 10 speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Bush marked out the parameters for an acceptable Iraq War debate, excluding those who "claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil, or because of Israel, or because we misled the American people." On the other hand, Bush said it’s permissible to "question the way the war is being prosecuted."
But that safe zone isn't exactly safe either. People, such as Rep. John Murtha, who favor prompt withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, can expect ugly personal attacks from Bush’s surrogates.
In a smear reminiscent of Campaign 2004 when Republicans mocked Sen. John Kerry’s war wounds, a right-wing news outlet, Cybercast News Service, has publicized accusations that Murtha misrepresented wounds he suffered during combat in Vietnam for which he received two Purple Hearts.
Cybercast, formerly the Conservative News Service, says the criticism of Murtha’s war record is justified "because the congressman has really put himself in the forefront of the antiwar movement," according to Cybercast editor David Thibault. [Washington Post, Jan. 14, 2006]
Cybercast is part of the conservative Media Research Center run by L. Brent Bozell III, the Washington Post reported. Bozell is a longtime right-wing operative in Washington who has been funded by conservative foundations to denounce journalists as "liberal" and pressure them to write stories more to the liking of conservatives.

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