Saturday, March 04, 2006

NYT: Nothing much to see

Back page of the New York Times main section (page A28) contains news. Edmund L. Anderews's "Bush Plan Would Raise Deficit by $1.2 Trillion, Budget Office Says." The Congressional Budget Office released their analysis of the Bully Boy economic "plan."

*$312 billion is the cost of Bully Boy's war on Social Security
*The $312 billion strain would not be made up by Bully Boy's war on Medicaid (stealing $36 billion from the elderly)
*Distortions of an eventual decline in the deficit (in 2011!) (by a whopping 1%) are based on trickery and deceit since Bully Boy's "plan" does not budget the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan beyond 2006.
*$2.1 billion would be stolen from schools in Bully Boy's war on education

This morning's Times? Nothing really to note. The most pedestrian Saturday paper in some time. We'll note another article near the end, but for news you can use, we'll go elsewhere.

On education, Rachel notes Grace Lee Boggs' "False Promises" (Michigan Citizen via The Boggs Center):

The lead article in the February 13 Detroit Free Press is an example of the false promises being made to a public desperately seeking solutions to the current schools/jobs crisis.
Under a banner headline "TOUGHER STANDARDS FORGRADS SUPPORTED," DFP education writer Lori Huggins quotes 13 year old Yusef Bazzy, "It can't hurt. Itcan only help. It'll open up more jobs. It'll make our students more educated."
At a time when even engineers with advanced degrees are being laid off, Ms. Huggins and members of the Michigan Board of Education are creating the illusion that required math and science classes will mean more jobs for high school graduates.
In a period when 50% of inner city students are already opting out of schools because they no longer believe the lie that a high school diploma is a key to a good job, they are recommending policies that will lock out more young people.
To avoid making and/or being taken in by such false promises, I recommend a little book, The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School by the late Neil Postman.

Cindy notes Medea Benjamin's "Who Will Tell Our Stories?" (Common Dreams):

On April 5, 2003, U.S. forces pushed into downtown Baghdad. The next day, they encircled the city and heavy fighting broke out. Bombs leveled entire buildings, tanks thundered down the streets, and the sounds of gunshots reverberated through the air.
There was intense fighting in the neighborhood where Vivian Salim and her family lived. Terrified, she and her husband Izzat grabbed their three children and jumped into the car, trying to escape to a safer place. They were driving down the street when they crossed paths with a U.S. tank. With no warning, the soldiers in the tank began shooting straight at the car. Salim screamed, pleading with them to stop, but the soldiers just kept shooting.
When they finally stopped, they discovered that they had just killed a family of unarmed civilians. Vivian Salim's husband, her 15-year-old son Hussam, her 12-year-old son Waseem, and her daughter Merna, age 6, were all dead.
"I saw the bullets enter my children's heads," she said. "My son was sitting right next to me when the bullet went through his forehead. One minute I was a mother, a wife with a family; the next minute my family was gone."
The soldiers ordered Vivian to leave, and to leave her family's bullet-ridden bodies behind. "After a week of pleading with the Americans, they finally gave the bodies back to us. We took them to the church where we washed them, prayed for them, and then buried them." Vivian Salim now lives with her elderly parents.
The U.S. military never acknowledged their terrible mistake, never apologized to Salim for her loss, and never offered her any financial help. Now, nearly three years later, Salim and six other Iraqi women have been invited by the women's peace group CODEPINK to come to the United States to tell their stories and push for an end to the occupation of their country. The other delegates are doctors, engineers, journalists and humanitarian aid workers. One delegate, Anwar kadhim Jwad, is also a widow whose husband and children were killed by U.S. soldiers at an unmarked roadblock.

Here's the CODEPINK action alert that goes with the above:

Help get U.S. visas for Iraqi women The U.S. government has denied visas to 2 Iraqi women who are part of an 8-person Iraqi delegation scheduled to come to Washington DC for International Women’s Day (click here for delegation schedule). Both women lost their loved ones during this war, and planned to join grieving U.S. mothers like Cindy Sheehan to call for the U.S. troops to leave Iraq. Please call the State Department at 202-647-4000, ask for the office of Condoleezza Rice, and insist that the Iraqi women be allowed in. Click here for details and read our February 15 press release, and related news.

Also recemember this from CODEPINK:

Sign the Women Say No to War Call TODAY! From now until March 8, International Women’s Day, we will be gathering 100,000 signatures to deliver to officials in Washington DC and to U.S. embassies worldwide. Please sign the call today at, pass it on to your friends, and join us either in Washington DC or at local events. Click here for details.

And remember, male or female, you can sign the petition. Cindy also noted Tad Daley, Jodie Evans, and Mimi Kennedy's "A Nuclear Iran Would Be Bad -- A Forcibly Defanged Iran Would Be Worse: What does the peace movement have to say about the Iranian crisis?" (Common Dreams):

Three years ago last month, in more than 600 cities around the world, as many as 14 million people marched in their streets to prevent the United States from launching a unilateral, preemptive, illegal, unprovoked, and unwise invasion of Iraq. The Guinness Book of World Records has identified February 15, 2003 as the largest global antiwar mobilization in history. Now this same peace and progressive community (which the New York Times has called "the other superpower") is slowly beginning to turn its attention from the last war to the next war -- a looming military showdown between the West and Iran. The only problem?
We haven't quite figured out what we want to say.
At least two military options are probably being "war gamed" today somewhere in the bowels of the Pentagon. One is a full scale invasion of Iran, directed at changing its regime. The other is "surgical strikes" -- air operations, cruise missiles, lethal commandos on the ground -- aimed not at overthrowing the Iranian government but at "taking out" its nuclear program. It all sounds very precise, very swashbuckling, very dramatic.
And very much like what the Japanese did at Pearl Harbor.
Why We Oppose Military Action Against Iran
We, of course, reflexively oppose both options. The costs of war always exceed the benefits. The use of force always causes more problems than it solves. And thousands of innocent souls who have nothing to do with the dispute in question always end up paying the steepest price.
But to forestall a unilateral, preemptive, illegal, unprovoked, and unwise assault on Iran, the forces of peace need to say more than "war is unhealthy for children and kittens and other living things."
We need to say that any kind of military attack on Iran will do enormous harm to America.
Although Iran would put up an almost infinitely better fight than Saddam's Iraq, the invincible US military could probably dislodge Iran's theocratic regime if ordered to do so. But what then? Another interminable and bungled occupation? In a country with three times the population, four times the area, and a three thousand year heritage of fierce national pride? After the economists Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz concluded that the Iraq fiasco will eventually cost the US between $1 trillion and $2 trillion?
It would be a long time before America would see any light at the end of that tunnel.
But the "surgical strike" option would be a disaster for American national security as well. If we attack Iran -- as we did Iraq -- without UN Security Council authorization, we would again flout the UN Charter and further enfeeble the international legal system. If there's anything the peace community stands for, it's that long-tem structures of enduring world peace can only be built through the world rule of law. If one country repeatedly disregards the law of nations, all countries will end up with only the law of the jungle.

Staying with Mimi Kennedy for a moment, we'll note this from Progressive Democrats of America:

I've had the honor of spending the last two weekends with Cindy Sheehan. This Administration and its media sycophants are doing everything in their power to make us forget this war, which was brought to us, originally, by W saying, over and over, "I'm a war president! I'm a war president!"
Dwelling with the dead, remembering that "There are lives in the balance" -- as Jackson Browne sang Saturday night for the activists gathered in All Saints Church, Pasadena -- is the most powerful reminder that our work against this war honors Iraqis and Americans alike, supports the troops, and gives hope for our nation's future in a bleak and bloody time. We will look back on this time, I hope, and know we could have done nothing other than what we are doing -- giving all the time and resources we can spend, and more, to stop the killing. It is the first step to a world where we will resolve conflicts with living efforts, not killing ones, and where justice will finally untie some of the knots that violence fruitlessly seeks to cut.
Please visit this link:
I offer this piece to thank you for your work. You join with the dead of this war to, as Martin Luther King put it, bend the arc of history towards justice.

Martha notes Josh White and Julie Tate's "Pentagon Releases Detainees' Names
About 315 From Guantanamo Identified
" (Washington Post):

Defense Department officials yesterday released the names and personal information of about 315 current and former detainees of the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, military prison, publicly disclosing that information for the first time since the facility opened in early 2002.
The names, released under an order from a federal judge, were contained in more than 5,000 pages of documents that detail administrative hearings for the detainees held at the island prison to determine whether they should be classified as enemy combatants.

[. . .]
The Washington Post has independently verified the identities of approximately 450 current and former detainees through international press accounts, interviews with lawyers who represent detainees and papers filed in several U.S. federal courts. The Post's entire catalogue of names and nationalities has been on its Web site since May 2004 and has been regularly updated. That list can be viewed at .
Pentagon officials have long declined to provide any information about individual detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. Most information about specific detainees and their circumstances has come to light through dozens of habeas corpus cases filed in U.S. federal courts. Lawyers representing the detainees have met with their clients at the island base and have subsequently provided declassified notes and descriptions of their conversations to reporters, and military officials have filed sworn statements as part of Justice Department responses in the cases.

The New York Times lets the Associated Press cover the release of detainee names (and the print version is embarrassingly slight: "it was not immediately clear how many names the documents contain"). The Times front pages the sentencing of Randy Cunningham: "eight years and four months in prison for taking $2.4 million in bribes from military contractors in return for smoothing the way for government contracts." But the article, by Randal C. Archibold, is such at boring, lifeless mess you may have to remind yourself, "A member of Congress is getting sent to the pen." (As noted before, there are many ways to bury congressional scandals, Archibold demonstrates one way.) That pretty much reflects the whole paper today. Supposedly, a big story is coming on Sunday. (Although our idea of "a big story" may differ from the Times.)

Lastly, ??? recommends "Gore Vidal on 'Capote,' 'Brokeback Mountain' and why 'Match Point' is the Best Picture of the Year" and, in fact, the entire latest edition of Truthdig.

The e-mail address for this site is