Saturday, April 29, 2006

NYT: Grey Lady, check the slip, your bias may be showing

Dr. Lester M. Crawford, the former commissioner of food and drugs, is under criminal investigation by a federal grand jury over accusations of financial improprieties and false statements to Congress, his lawyer said Friday.
The lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder, would not discuss the accusations further. In a court hearing held by telephone on Thursday, she told a federal magistrate that she would instruct Dr. Crawford to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination if ordered to answer questions this week about his actions as head of the Food and Drug Administration, according to a transcript of the hearing.
Dr. Crawford did not reply to messages seeking comment, and Kathleen Quinn, an F.D.A. spokeswoman, declined to comment.

The above is from Gardiner Harris' "Ex-Head of F.D.A. Faces Criminal Inquiry" in this morning's New York Times. The FDA is, of course, the Food and Drug Adminstration. I make that point because it's not a good news day for Republicans and a news search of "Republican" and "drug" would also probably turn up the news on Rush Limbaugh. In the Times, Jeff Leeds covers it with "In Legal Deal, Limbaugh Surrenders in Drug Case:"

Mr. Limbaugh's lawyer, Roy Black, said his client and prosecutors in Palm Beach County had reached a settlement in which Mr. Limbaugh would be charged with a single count in connection with allegations that he illegally obtained multiple prescriptions for a drug from more than one doctor.
As part of the agreement, which Mr. Black said would be filed with the court on Monday, the charge would be dropped in 18 months if Mr. Limbaugh continued to undergo treatment for drug addiction.
Mr. Limbaugh is also required to refrain from breaking the law during the 18-month period, pay $30,000 to Florida officials to offset the cost of the investigation and pay $30 a month for the cost of supervision, Mr. Black said.

It must be nice to get a prosecutor to agree with your demands. Limbaugh walks and doesn't even admit guilt (his lawyer says his client continues to maintain he's innocent). It must be nice to be able to break the law, refuse to admit you're guilty, force an agreement through, and, if you can keep your nose clean, be able to walk away with no charge on your record.

Will G. Gordon Liddy write a piece for the rag TV Guide smearing Limbaugh and his parents? No, that's only if the celeb isn't a righty. (Liddy smeared Winona Ryder and her family in print.) Well Rush is a "quota queen." Not in the sense that he uses the term. But he's part of the group that always comes out on top (while playing the victim for all it's worth). Less perceived power (and money) and he might be serving hard time. Instead, he gets to walk. But Rush isn't "guilty." It was never his fault. He tried to blame the maid (saying she'd blackmailed him), he tried to blame the authorities (saying he was a victim). He maintained he would be found innocent (which really hasn't happened). I'm not sure what kind of treatment he's taking part in but most treatment programs require "accountability" and there's been no indication that he grasps the concept.

Of course, this won't prevent him from lecturing others about accountability. For people like Limbaugh, accountability starts at home, just not your own home. Your neighbor's home, yes, but your own home never.

Accountability? Let's talk the Times for a bit.

Did Brian Lavery's doctor put his finger tips on bed rest? What other possible explanation could there be for his (and the paper's) silence on a story that others have covered this week? While Lavery's been playing "cute" with travel reporting ("Letter From Dublin: Want a Debate With That Drink," April 26, 2006; "Affordable Europe: Dublin," April 23, 2006) there has been real news out of Ireland, or, at least, other news organizations have seen it as news.

The Financial Times of London:

Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland secretary, welcomed the latest assessment yesterday of IRA moves to end its terrorist campaign. He said it should provide a "helpful contribution to the rebuilding of trust and confidence in Northern Ireland which is necessary for a return to full devolution".

What's he welcoming? New York Times readers might wonder since there hasn't been an article on it. If there hasn't been an article on it, maybe it doesn't matter?

Scotland's The Herald didn't think it was unimportant:

A GLIMMER of hope appeared in the Northern Ireland peace process yesterday after the Independent Monitoring Commission declared the IRA leadership was committed to following a political and peaceful path.
If the report had found the IRA had not reduced its criminal activity and intelligence gathering, the peace process would have been dead in the water.

The peace process would have been dead in the water? If the Independent Monitoring Commission had come to different conclusions? Sounds like news. Even Tony Blair thoughts so as evidenced by what the Toronoto Sun ran:

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he hoped the experts‘ conclusions would promote "sufficient confidence and trust" in Northern Ireland for the province‘s legislature to elect a new power-sharing administration involving Sinn Fein, the IRA-linked party that represents most Catholics in the British territory.

The Independent of London reported the following:

In its most upbeat report ever, the Independent Monitoring Commission, which makes assessments of terrorist groups in Northern Ireland, said it was not aware of any current terrorist, paramilitary or violent activity sanctioned by the IRA leadership. It said: "There has now been a substantial erosion in the IRA's capacity to return to a military campaign without a significant period of build-up, which in any event we do not believe they have any intentions of doing."

Considering the Times' willingness to smear Sinn Fein and to lecture Ireland ("Bullies" was a popular term in one editorial), you might think the report would be of interest to them. Other reports from the Independent Monitoring Commission have been. (See reports that the Times ran on January 19, 2005 by Lizette Alvarez and numerous ones by Brian Lavery himself -- the most recent being February 2, 2006. The most interesting may be this one from 2005 penned by Lavery.) Of course the difference between previous IMC reports and this one is that they aren't as damning. When you've worked yourself into a righteous lather over the "Bullies of Belfast" (as opposed to the ones at West 43rd?) maybe you just choose to ignore what even the Associated Press reports? (Longer version here.) The BBC reported it but possibly Alan Cowell wasn't looking for stories that day?

Just as the paper somehow missed Bill Clinton's trip to Ireland, they somehow didn't hear this news. Readers who place their faith in the Times can be forgiven if they're caught off guard by the news, but can the paper be? The paper that sees a death and immediately knows the culprit, (Lavery's a one man Frank & Joe Hardy) is the same paper that's managed to report on parade violence. At least some parade violence. The reason that Irish and Irish-American members of this community wonder if the paper's hostile to Catholics or just Irish-Catholics has to do with which stories get reported and which ones do not. A parade where Irish Catholics are reported to be assaulted (by other outlets) doesn't make the Times. A little bit later, when anoter parade leads to reports of Protestants being assaulted does make the paper.

It's not balance. And if the "Bullies of 43rd Street" are at all interested in the peace process in Ireland (as opposed to just smearing), they have a strange way of demonstrating that. Bill Clinton's trip to Ireland was, in part, about the peace process. But, despite the fact that any trip abroad by a former president meets the Times' criteria for "news" (official + travel = "exotic"), that trip didn't. And Clinton wasn't hiding from reporters as coverage elsewhere demonstrated. The Times appeared to be hiding the news from their readers.

Why that was is anyone's guess. But in a week when their much cited IMC issues a report that's favorable to the peace process, it's very strange that the Times has no interest in reporting it.
That's sort of action is at the heart of charges of bias. I'm sure the paper would have another excuse for it. They usually do. But this was news . . . just not in the pages of the New York Times.

Now travel's all very well and good and it might even teach Lavery the name of towns he reports on (see his July 31, 2005 piece to grasp the necessity of that). But when he pops up with his latest bit of news, like it or not, the paper of record will have to know that some readers will be reading it closely. They have to, the paper's own actions make that necessary. (And did they ever run a correction of any form when they referred to Sinead O'Connor as "Mr."?)

Martha notes this information on RadioNation with Laura Flanders (airs Saturdays and Sundays, from seven to ten pm Eastern on Air America):

This Weekend, Telling Fact from Fiction

SCOTT GALINDEZ, Managing Editor, on United for Peace and Justice's New York City protest.
JEFF CHESTER, Executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy and Nation contributor on Congress shutting down Public Access TV and privatizing the Internet.
KIM STANLEY ROBINSON, noted Science Fiction author on his (very predictive) work looking at climate change.
MITCHELL ZYKOFSKY, the step-son of John Talignani, a passenger on 9/11's Flight 93, on the controversial film "United 93."
GLEN FORD, co-publisher of, on challenging the conventional wisdom in news and politics.
KYRA GAUNT, author of "The Games Black Girls Play: Learning the Ropes from Double Dutch to Hip Hop," on reclaiming our history through music.Join us. Those guests and more. This weekend on Air America Radio.
It's all on RadioNation with Laura Flanders this weekend on Air America Radio.

That's from an e-mail the program sends out and you can sign up for the heads up (as Martha did) by using the link. Martha's not sure if Flanders' is back or not. (The e-mail didn't say.) But as she points out, Jeff Chester and Glen Ford are voices the community will probably want to hear.

Remember that today's the march if you're in the NYC area (and, wherever you are, remember to make yourself heard). From NOW (because peace is a feminist issue):

Saturday April 29 Proclaimed Peace Zone Day by New York City Council
With support for administration policies at an all time low, massive turnout is expected for the March for Peace, Justice & Democracy on Saturday, April 29 in New York City. The crowd, including representatives from a uniquely diverse coalition of groups, will call for an end to the war in Iraq and a new set of priorities at home.
The lead contingents in the march will include Hurricane Katrina survivors, Iraq war veterans and military families, immigrants' rights and racial justice activists, women's and LGBT rights advocates, labor organizers, environmental activists, students and other youth organizers, disability rights advocates, and others.
National artists and prominent figures marching include: Oscar winning actor Susan Sarandon; Oscar winning film director Jonathan Demme; writer/actor Malachy McCourt; Air America host Randi Rhodes; Michael Berg, whose son was the first U.S. civilian hostage killed in Iraq; Reverend Jesse Jackson; Gold Star mother Cindy Sheehan; Faiza Al-Araji, a peace and women's rights advocate from Iraq; John Wilhelm, president of the union UNITE/HERE; National Organization for Women President Kim Gandy; and Anne Wright, the first State Department diplomat to resign protesting the Iraq War, among others.
According to Leslie Cagan, national coordinator of United For Peace & Justice, the nation's largest peace coalition and one of the march's initiating organizations: "The Bush administration hopes to diffuse pressure at home and in Iraq to end its occupation by bringing a portion of the troops home (maybe), but withdrawing some troops is completely unacceptable. It will not end the dying, the torture, and the misspending of billions of dollars on war. We need to withdraw all the troops, now. At the same time we are vigilantly opposed to any military action against Iran."
Lead organizers of the march are United for Peace and Justice, RainbowPUSH Coalition, National Organization for Women, Friends of the Earth, U.S. Labor Against the War, Climate Crisis Coalition, Peoples' Hurricane Relief Fund, National Youth and Student Peace Coalition, and Veterans For Peace. The number of endorsements has grown to more than 1,500 strong, and the list of invitees includes every member of Congress and other elected officials.
The contingents will gather starting at 10:30 am in the area stretching from 7th Avenue to Park Avenue South and 18th to 22nd Streets. The march will step off at 12 noon, and proceed south on Broadway to Foley Square for the Peace and Justice Grassroots Action Festival, ending at 6:00 pm.

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NARAL advocates the rest cure

I tend to ignore lame leadership and so I missed an idiotic statement until Erika e-mailed an article. The article is Sherry Wolf's "Democrats, Their Apologists and Abortion" (CounterPunch) and there's a great deal in it to note. I want to start with one point:

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, responded to the South Dakota ban stating, "We should work to reduce the need for abortion, not continue to battle about Roe v. Wade."

Nancy Keenan has provided weak leadership to NARAL. Keenan has demonstrated cowardice when courage was needed. But has she ever been as idiotic?

NARAL's acronymn has stood for many things. In the beginning, National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws was the title of the organization. That was in the pre-Roe v. Wade days. Post Roe, it's had two names: National Abortion Rights Action League and The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. These days it wants to be called NARAL Pro-Choice America. Call it whatever you want but when Keenan can publicly state that the organization's goal is "to reduce the need for abotion, not continue to battle about Roe v. Wade,"
something's really wrong.

Jane Hamsher has offered many strong critiques of NARAL, especially in the wake of NARAL's decision to play dead during the Alito confirmation hearings. In January of 2005, after Hillary Clinton (yet again) repositioned herself (misnus only the changing haircut that usually accompained the political shifts in the nineties), NARAL lost its support in this community because statements made by the leadership indicated that it was more important to be a Friend of Hillary than it was to actually stand up for reproductive rights. Members comments were pretty much it for NARAL here. (There was an animated clip the organization did that got a highlight.)

For this community, January 2005 was when members who supported the group stopped. It means nothing to us, it's become a weak organization that will sell out its own interest and the interest of the women (and some men) it purports to represent. When Erika e-mailed the Wolf article for a possible highlight, she had focused on another section. I e-mailed her back to ask if she'd read Keenan's statement? She hadn't even noticed it. That's how little the organization means to this community.

Keenan's name is synomous with incompetence and when we hear or read her, we tune her out the way one does whenever any crazed fool starts muttering. As a political organization, NARAL has made itself useless under the leadership of Keenan. Members who had been most vocal in January 2005 were sent the quote from Wolf's article and asked for comments.

Keesha: It's no longer a case of just ignoring them. When leadership is not just sucking up to power and fighting the cause badly but actively abandoning the cause, it needs to be made clear that they are not an advocate for abortion rights.

Kara made a similar point, as did Gina who wrote, "Mainstream press organs will continue to use NARAL for quotes, probably more now, but it needs to be made clear to alternative media that NARAL is not 'our side.'" Agreed.

Denise offered as an example the prospect that a debate on abortion might take place on Democracy Now! which often features debates between people on opposing sides. "That's my biggest worry," Denise offered. "That I'll turn on Democracy Now! and see some anti-choicer on the show debating Nancy Keenan who will be on the voice of choice. She's not. Hopefully [Amy] Goodman and others already grasp that but if that's not the case and she does appear, people need to weigh in with, 'That's not our voice.'"

NARAL came into being to fight for the repeal of abortion laws. Keenan appears to have caught the 'vangical voters fever and now wants to speak of reducing the need for abortions.

"Hands off my body" and "It's no one's damn business" are previous positions. Today's position appears to be that abortion is a shameful thing. Forget for a moment the damage that message sends and wonder exactly why NARAL exists today if it's an organization that's ashamed of abortion?

It is past time for Keenan to step down. She's an inept leader who has repeatedly failed. The fact that she hasn't offered to resign (or been successfully pressured to do so) can be read as the organization's confidence in her and pleasure with her actions.

Until that comment, my public position was that the organzation had gotten weak, that the leadership was weak, but they were welcome to do whatever they wanted, they'd just do so without the support of this community.

That's no longer the case. When Keenan turns the organization against its historic roots, and isn't forced to issue an apology, there's no reason for the organization to exist. It's not just a case of strategy that could be read as wrong, it's now a case of actively destroying the rights of women. Due to its position near the front of the long fight, it can be seen as still speaking for the pro-choice movement. It doesn't speak for all. As it stands now, it's not merely lost its way, it's lost the reason for existance.

In terms of abortion, we'll note Margaret Kimberley's "Abortion and Black America" (The Black Commentator):

How do politicians get away with depriving citizens of medical care? In part because too many Black people feel comfortable living up to the phony image of bible thumping church goers who forsake sex and oppose abortion. The fact is that black women have abortions at a disproportionate rate and will therefore suffer disproportionately whenever efforts to limit access to birth control and abortion succeed.
Black women suffered disproportionately when abortion was illegal. Before abortion was legalized in New York in 1970, black and Puerto Rican women accounted for 80 percent of deaths from illegal abortions. In Georgia between 1965 and 1967 the Black maternal death rate due to illegal abortion was fourteen times that of white women.

This is where we're headed, where we're returning, if we aren't willing to fight. Abortion won't vanish. When it was "quickening" and lawful, banning it didn't prevent abortions. Abortion is a medical issue. In this country, the government has not practiced enforced abortions. Though some women have had external pressure on them to have an abortion, that pressure hasn't come from the government saying, "You will have an abortion." The government's "say" in the issue should be confined to noting it is a medical procedure. After that, it's a decision that an individual woman should make or not.

When our government has outlawed it, it's never gone away. When an organization or politician goes weak, they're not becoming "moral," they're just going weak.

It's a woman's body, it's a woman's decision. For some who have abortions, it's a very difficult decision. The feminist movement has always tried to acknowledge that fact. But it's also a fact, and often lost in the mainstream, that some women who've had abortions have no doubts regarding their decision. Keenan's statement does not acknowledge those women, doesn't recognize them or support their choices.

The voices who say they made the right decision go unheard. Worse yet, their decisions are dishonored by those like Keenan who want to make abortion something shameful. If she's willing to produce her own medical history and allow every woman to judge every medical care decision she's made over the years, she might be less of hypocrite.

I have no interest in second guessing her decisions (or even knowing of them). But her statements encourage the move away from support of abortion rights. They turn the procedure into something shameful. It's one thing to acknowledge that for some women it is a difficult decision, it's another thing to cloak the very procedure in shame. When supposed leaders are indicating the procedure is something to be regretted or ashamed of, they need to give up their leadership roles or be stripped of them.

Why she feels the need to shame other women is anyone's guess? There are thoughts that she's part of a group that's grown dizzy on what they see as their insider access. (What access? As the confirmations of Alito and Roberts revealed, NARAL has no power in DC.) That may or may not be the case, but they certainly aren't representing grassroots (that would be the people who fund them and pay their salaries).

What they are doing is creating an environement where abortion is seen as shameful and there are two classes of "bad" abortions. The first class can be boiled down to "libertine, you got what you deserved." The second class gets a bit more sympathy. This would be women who are raped (by strangers, loved ones, or victims of incest). "It's a bad choice, this logic goes, but these women are victims twice over!" goes that argument.

Actually, those women might be victims three times over. If they regret having an abortion, and they may not, they're also victimized by this process that makes it necessary for them to "share," to put their reasons on trial in the court of public opinion and hope for mercy. Keenan's crowd, intentionally or not, encourages that.

When abortion is "bad" and the only "respectable" route for the bad choice is rape victim, you're asking rape victims to make that issue public. When you bandy these arguments around publicly, you add fuel to the anti-choice debate and their efforts to ban abortions. This road leads to a new form of judicial intervention, not "parental consent" -- judicial consent. If the only "good" reason for a "bad" medical procedure is rape (a position many anti-choice voices hold) then you're asking for proof.

Pre Roe v. Wade, it wasn't a total ban. Some women had legal abortions while abortion was banned. They did that via a medical finding that the pregnancy would endanger their own health. These women tended to come from more fortunate financial circumstances. Now maybe the Keenans see it as "progress" that if abortion is outlawed a second time, there will be exceptions for the life of the woman as well as rape? That's not progess.

It's also not reality. Not every rape victim comes forward. Feminists know that. Feminists know that tremendous strides have been made (which are always under assault but it seems more so these days) in society's understanding of rape. We've moved beyond the universal (maisntream) assumption that a woman "had it coming." We've also moved beyond the assumption that it's a form of sex. Some members, younger ones, may find that shocking, but there was a time when it wasn't seen as a violent act. The clock appears to be turning backwards on society's understanding of rape again.

We're told, by some, that the shield laws don't matter because the stigma of being a rape victim are gone. But we see, with our own eyes, that women who come forward STILL find their personal lives on trial. In some cases, a judge may disallow it in court, but the press doesn't disallow it. In North Carolina currently, rumors and innuendo fly about a woman who has stated she was raped. That's reality. Women are aware of it and aware of the smears in store when they come forward.

Anne Marie-Cusac has a wonderful book review in the current issue of The Progressive ("Moral Panic," pages 41-44, not available online). In reviewing, Philip Jenkins' Decade of Nightmares, she notes his coverage of the "shift toward conservative religious movements" that he states happened worldwide. That shift didn't take place in a vacuum. It was aided and abbetted then as it is now. The dangers come not just from the right but from those supposed leaders whose beliefs can fit on the finger they wet and stick in the wind to determine which way the wind is moving, those whose political beliefs lack a core understanding (or foundation) and are discarded as easily as last fall's line.

Attacks on the New Deal, or in fact on the nature of public services and public commons, don't succeed or fail on the assertions of the right. It takes a village, as the current foe to reproductive rights Hillary Clinton might say.

Make no mistake that she's backed off support for abortion rights. We noted it here in January of 2005. When NARAL came to her defense, they lost any cred with this community. If the organization still had any power, they lost it then. When they could have fought, they chose to accommodate. When politicians go craven, it's not surprising. When others rush to give them cover, it's shocking.

But that's what has happened. The backlash against the advances made in the post-JFK era (commonly called "the sixties" but chronologically more than that) didn't result from a fright winger screaming. They resulted from caving. People not willing to fight for what, moments ago, they believed in (at least publicly believed in). As Kimberley and Wolf point out, this isn't a Republican v. Democratic issue. The assault is coming from Democrats as well as from Republicans.

Kimberley notes:

Louisiana is following in its neighbor's footsteps. It has voted to end abortion in anticipation of Roe v. Wade being overturned. State Senator Diana Bajoie is a Democrat and a founder of that legislature's black caucus. She wants to outlaw abortion, with no exceptions permitted, not even to save the life of the mother. "If you believe in life, that's what it should be."
Bajoie thinks that abortions performed to save the mother's life are wrong because the mother could decide that she wants the baby to live instead of herself. Phony melodrama about women willing to die in childbirth is the product of a sick mind. Hurricane Katrina must have addled Bajoie's brain.

Wolf notes:

The jig is up. In January, it was Kerry and Hillary and the gang phoning in a thirty-minute filibuster before the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Court, posturing against the anti-choice nominee just long enough to provide ad footage for their reelection campaigns. Then, Democrats in South Dakota helped both to sponsor and pass the law banning abortion in South Dakota. "So much for the notion that Democrats are pro-choice and Republicans are pro-life," Democratic state representative Gil Koetzle smirked to the Associated Press. State senator Paul Symens, another Democrat, actually complained that his party wasn't getting enough media coverage for its support of the ban. Now, all nine Democratic women in the Senate have signed a letter of support for Pennsylvania anti-choice senatorial candidate Bob Casey Jr.

Supporting Junior is shameful whether it comes from Hillary Clinton or Barbara Boxer. With few exceptions, the Democratic Party's "strategy" is to tell people that if they grab at least one of the two houses in Congress in the 2006 election, things will be different. From their actions, "different" may be inferred as "different from what the Party has long stood for." It's an interesting game they're playing (collectively) where they offer no strong stands but want voters to believe that, if one house is won, come January 2007, they'll suddenly have a spine.

In 2004, were told to basically shut up about all issues. The "look where the country has gone, think how much worse it can be" was the supposed reason for blind support of John Kerry. (I supported John Kerry in 2004.) The result was that Kerry could avoid addressing the abuses of Abu Ghraib, could avoid addressing the issue of Iraq (other than offering he'd fight it 'smarter'), avoid addressing economic realities . . . Go down the list. We don't need to shut up.

Everyone has a right to express their concerns. Just as everyone who wants to run for office is entitled to run for office. Ellen Goodman has a column entitled "Don't Run, John Kerry" which is a take on the "Ralph Don't Run" (Nader) that took hold in 2004. I disagree with the column. Both for the sources as well as for the basic point it makes.

I don't think we need to get behind a message of "Don't run!" Regardless of whom the candidate (or aspiring candidate) is. (Disclosure, I supported Kerry's run in 2003 and 2004. Kerry does not have a lock on my vote should he run in 2008 -- no one does.) During the 2004 primaries, we heard this repeatedly. It was "too crowded," there were "too many" candidates. Let that be the worst problem a democracy ever faces.

Al Sharpton brought life to the debates. Dennis Kucinich did as well. Anyone who wants to, should run. Right, left or center. Goodman's sources will mock them, as they did in 2004, but anyone should have the right to run. A larger field should ideally provide some actual positions as opposed to pleasing slogans. Kerry made mistakes in 2004. "Tea cup" is his own mistake and can't be passed off on anyone else. But it's also true that a lot of the mistakes came not from the candidate but the crowd (paid and unpaid) that attached themselves to the campaign. If he realizes that, if he realizes he was encouraged to be boxed in (and went along with that), he might actually be a candidate worth watching. For now, he's the candidate whose campaign wouldn't touch the issue of Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo, wouldn't offer any position on the (illegal) war that differed from Bully Boy's ("smarter" isn't a different course), wouldn't address reproductive rights, economic realities, go down the list. We should have demanded he address these (and other) issues (if we supported the campaign). Instead we (those who supported him) gave him a pass based largely on his past (whether it was speaking out against Vietnam, Iran-Contra or other braver moments).

The year is 2006. Some began lining up for their choices (some more publicly than others) last year. Feminists shouldn't do that. Just as the last two Democratic candidates should feel betrayed by their armies of consultants (and their own party in Gore's case, possibly Kerry's as well based upon what he told Mark Crispin Miller), feminist should realize it as well. Miaimi in 1972 should never be forgotten but it appears to have been. McGovern sold out. We're not supposed to say that because he was against the war.

But it's happened repeatedly in every election cycle. Elements of the Carter administration openly sneered at feminists. Feminists don't need to cede their votes to a candidate until he or she proves to be worthy of the vote. Nor do they need to be quiet before, during or after. The New York Times infamously told the 'little ladies' to shut up (and know their place?) when NOW endorsed Carol Mosley Braun. They didn't hector the unions with an editorial for their endorsement of Howard Dean. When the Leauge of Conservation Voters endorsed Joe Lieberman, the Times didn't feel the need to weigh in. When the Iron Workers Union endorsed Dick Gephardt, there was no editorial condeming them. If anyone's confused, Dean, Gephart, Lieberman and others who won endorsements didn't end up with the Democratic nomination for president in 2004. But NOW, the Times told you, had a "Woman's Problem."

Was it penis envy? Was it womb hysteria? Or maybe we needed to go running for the FDS? It was an equally sexist assumption, that NOW dared to speak out. 'Little ladies' shouldn't do that, apparently. NOW didn't have a "Woman's Problem." The New York Times did and does. In the last few years, they've added two (national as opposed to local/regional) columnists. Both? White males. They've had two public editors. Both? White males. Despite the fact that women are in the majority of the population in this country, they are vastly underrepresented on the op-ed pages of the Times. Not much changed with the installation of a woman as editor -- the same token spot for women was there well before the editorial page got a female editor.

Is that what we settle for? It's all connected to the same thing. Women need to stop accepting and start fighting. (Some always do, I'm speaking collectively.) The attacks on abortion have nothing to do with abortion. They're part of the attacks on birth control but it's really not about that either. It's about women being able to make decisions.

The decision to end a pregnancy, the decision to utilize birth control, the decision to endorse a candidate, the decision to speak your mind or live your life. The right to make decisions is what's at stake. The right to be actors and agents of change as opposed to reactors and Dresden dolls. We're encouraged to hand over our decision making rights and, instead, recline on the couch watching the psuedo-feminist Commander-in-Chief -- presented as a victory for women. If that's victory, we're in trouble.

It's all one long "rest cure" -- where we're encouraged to go along, not demand.

We're told not to rock the boat and that the mood in the country (the climate -- which is apparently humid and our hair might frizz) isn't "with" us. That's a lie and it always is. Polls demonstrate it. Strides made in the seventies (tremendous ones) came about from demands not accepatance and it's time for demands to be made again. When an organization that supposedly represents women (NARAL) can't or won't make demands, it's of no use to women.

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Friday, April 28, 2006

Democracy Now: Jesse Jackson, Nativo Lopez, Marie Runyon of Raging Grannies

Thanks for tuning in. I will be speaking in Boston at Emerson College on Friday at 7 PM. The film The Jihadi and the Journalist which I worked on opens at the Tribeca Film Festival on the 27th, and South African Broadcasting’s SABC 1 airs on April 26th on SABC 1 at 9 PM. Amandla!

Today. Danny Schechter is in Boston today. Wally noted that earlier this week from Tuesday's News Dissector. So if you're in the area, it's today. (Not Saturday as I wrote this morning.)

Iraq War Costs Approach $320B
A new Congressional report says the cost of the war in Iraq will soon top $320 billion dollars -- a figure that will likely more than double by war's end. According to the Congressional Research Service, the ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan stand to cost nearly as much as the departments of Education, Justice and Homeland Security combined.

18 Wealthy US Families Bankroll Estate Tax Campaign
A new report from two watchdog groups says 18 of this country's wealthiest families have been behind a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign to repeal the federal estate tax. According to Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy, the families have directely funded campaigns and set up shadow associations to spread misleading information on the benefits of repealing the tax. The groups say a repeal of the estate tax would save the families over $71 billion dollars. The families include those behind the companies Wal-Mart, Campbell's soup, and Mars Incorporated. Joan Claybrook of Public Citizen called the campaign "one of the biggest con jobs in recent history."

57 Arrested at NYU Grad Student Protest
Here in New York, 57 people were arrested Thursday at a protest in support of New York University's graduate students union. Members of the Graduate Student Organizing Committee have been on strike since November over the school's refusal to negotiate a second contract.

Specter Warns of NSA Funding Cut in Domestic Spy Row
On Capitol Hill Thursday, Republican Senator Arlen Specter said the Bush administration is continuing to stonewall congressional inquiries into its warrantless domestic spy program. Specter said he is considering a proposal to cut off funding for the National Security Agency until the Bush administration answers questions over the program's legal justification. Specter said : "Institutionally, the presidency is walking all over Congress."

The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Joan, Lyle, Ryan and Francisco. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for April 28, 2006

- HRW Warns Darfur Civilians At Increased Risk
- Speculation Increases Over Rove Indictment in CIA Leak Case
- CIA Warns Ex-Employees Against Speaking To Media
- Iraq War Costs Approach $320B
- Exxon Posts $8.4B Quarterly Profit
- Lawsuit Alleges Bush Administration Failed Medicare Recipients
- Specter Warns of NSA Funding Cut in Domestic Spy Row
- 57 Arrested at NYU Grad Student Protest
- States Challenge EPA Over Pollution Standards
- Roger Toussaint Released From Prison

Los Titulares de Hoy: Democracy Now!'s daily news summary translated into Spanish

Has Global Oil Production Reached Maximum Capacity? A Debate on Peak Oil

With the price of oil soaring to record highs and oil companies reporting record profits, many are asking whether the world has reached peak oil production. Peak oil occurs when half of all existing oil has been pulled from the ground. Some experts believe we are at peak now while others disagree. We host a debate on the issue with Julian Darley of the Post Carbon Institute and Michael Lynch of the Strategic Energy & Economic Research. [includes rush transcript]

Jesse Jackson on Race Comments by New White House Press Secretary Tony Snow: "An Attempt to Make the Quest for Racial Justice Illegitimate"

We get response from the Rev. Jesse Jackson about comments made by incoming White Press Secretary -- former Fox News commentator Tony Snow. Last week, Snow said on his radio program, "People like Jesse Jackson who have committed themselves to a view that blacks are constantly victims have succeeded in underclass that doesn't seem to be going anywhere." [includes rush transcript]

March for Peace, Justice and Democracy Scheduled in New York

On Saturday, United For Peace and Justice is organizing a March for Peace, Justice, and Democracy in New York City. We speak with an organizing coordinator of UFPJ and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder of the Rainbow/PUSH coalition that is co-sponsoring the march. [includes rush transcript]

Immigrant Rights Groups Call for Massive Nationwide General Work Strike and Economic Boycott

Hundreds of thousands -- if not millions -- of immigrants are expected to stage a work strike and take part in a one-day economic boycott on Monday to protest anti-immigrant legislation being considered by Congress. We speak with Nativo Lopez, one of the organizers and president of the Mexican American Political Association.

Tens of Thousands Expected for DC Demonstration Against Darfur Genocide

On Sunday, tens of thousands are expected to gather in Washington for a demonstration against the ongoing genocide in Sudan. We speak with Joe Madison president of the Sudan Campaign.

Raging Grannies Acquitted in New York

On Thursday, 18 peace activists were acquitted in New York on charges of blocking the entrance to a military recruitment center in Times Square. All 18 of them were grandmothers -- part of the Raging Grannies. We speak with 91-year-old Marie Runyon outside Manhattan Criminal Court. [includes rush transcript]

Iraq snapshot.

The Associated Press notes that despite the hoopla of the Elections Come To Iraq! spin things have not improved on the ground. Using their figures, in the last year "8,000 people have been killed and there are increasing cases of civilians being kidnapped, killed and dumped in public places." This comes while US military officials are trumpeting the death of a "key insurgent" demonstrating that, after all this time, they still fail to grasp the cycle they're in. (It's called "occupation.")

The violence continues. The AFP reports that an Iraqi army headquarters in Del Abbas was "attacke by more than 100 rebels" resulting in four resistance fighters dying, six Iraqi army soldiers dying, eight Iraqi army soldiers wounded, two civilians killed and four wounded. Baquba is under curfew after yesterday's events which included, as Reuters notes, an attack of a police station and checkpoints in Baquba which resulted in the death of at least 17 resistance fighters and one Iraqi soldier (and two more wounded). The US military credits "Iraqi forces" with coming to the aid of the police; however, "Baquba police say US forces came to aid of the police."

The BBC notes that two Iraqi police officers were killed in Falluja. Later, Reuters would report that number would rise to three. In Baghdad, a roadside bomb claimed the life of one Iraqi police officer and wounded at least two others. In addition, two more corpses were found in Baghdad ("handcuffed, blindfolded and bullet-ridden"). CNN notes that "[t]wo mortars or rockets were fired at downtown Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone."

And, as reported yesterday by David Enders, on Free Speech Radio News and The KPFA Evening News, violence continues to target the schools in Iraq. Road blocks, traffic and loss of friends and family are among the reasons leading to absences (teachers and students). The system itself needs 4500 new schools. Fatalities have included 400 teachers and school employees, casualties include at least 170 wounded. 417 schools in Iraq have been attacked.


Mia notes something (and says to put in, "Micah, pay attention"), James Ridgeway's "What You Won't See in Flight 93, the Film" (CounterPunch):

The only people to defend the United States on 911 were the passengers and crews of the 4 hijacked planes.
The President and the Secretary of Defense, the two top officials in the chain of command responsible for defense the country were out of commission. Dick Cheney, the vice president, who under the constitution has no authority to issue orders, was running the country from the White House bunker. The FAA and the military were nowhere.
On Flight 11, flight attendants Betty Ong and Amy Sweeney were on the phone to American Airlines ground personnel minutes after the hijacking began. Even though both the FAA and the airlines had been warned more than 50 times in the months preceding the attack, officials on the ground reacted with skepticism an annoyance to Betty Ong's desperate call.
According to one account by people who have listened to all the tapes, American Airlines people were anxious to keep what was going on secret. An American Airlines tape, according to Gail Sheehy in the New York Observer, shows the managers were concerned about keeping things secret. People who listened to the tapes said there were statements including the following: "Keep it close," "keep it quiet," "Let's keep this among ourselves."
So in those terrifying minutes before the first hit, two brave women on the phone inside Flight 11 were calmly telling American Airlines ground officials exactly what was happening.
The airline's reaction: Nothing. It did absolutely nothing.
Ridgeway, in case anyone forgets, was writing for The Village Voice. The Voice was Micah's favorite weekly. (Probably more than just weekly.) Ridgeway's no longer with The Voice but then The Voice is no longer The Voice.

Lloyd notes Matthew Rothschild's "A Gouging Market" (This Just In, The Progressive):

Accusing oil companies of price gouging is like accusing sharks of swimming. That's what oil companies do. In fact, that's the imperative of the marketplace: to charge whatever you can get.
I remember taking Economics 10 at college, and my instructor told us that on a hot day the ice cream parlor should raise prices. Well, it's a hot day right now, and the oil companies are jacking up the price at the pumps.
If you worship the market, fill your tank and smile.
But the free market is not exactly in a textbook place right now when it comes to oil. Rather than having a multitude of ice cream parlors to choose from, the consumer can select from only a few oil companies, and they own not only the parlor but the cows and the dairies, too.
Plus, there's another big difference between ice cream and oil. The choice of having an ice cream cone is a luxury. Driving a car, for many of us, is a necessity.
That's something the hardcore free market apologists don't grasp.

Gareth notes an article on Helen Thomas, Julian Borger's "'A blend of journalism and acupuncture' -- the 85-year-old who terrifies presidents" (Guardian of London):

It is not entirely true that the White House press corps gave George Bush an easy ride on the road to war in Iraq. There was one significant exception. Almost every day the administration had to face the furious questioning of an octogenarian woman from Detroit who at times seemed to be the sole sceptical voice in the building.
At the age of 85, Helen Thomas is a little frail and her voice does not carry as well as it once did, but she cannot be easily overlooked. She has been reporting on the White House longer than most of her fellow journalists have been alive.
She has interrogated every president since John F Kennedy, and she was on duty in Washington the day he was shot. She was standing in the doorway of the Oval Office when Lyndon B Johnson announced he would not stand for re-election, and she accompanied Richard Nixon on his historic trip to China in 1972.
Along the way, Ms Thomas, now a columnist for Hearst Newspapers, has become an institution. Her seat is reserved with a small brass plaque in the centre of the front row in the White House briefing room, and from that perch just below the podium she stares up at the administration's mouthpiece each day and poses arrestingly direct questions.
About a month before the invasion, for instance, she demanded to know why President Bush wanted "to bomb innocent Iraqis". Ari Fleischer, the spokesman at the time, assured her that he had no such intention.
Ms Thomas remains unconvinced. Like the chorus in a Greek tragedy, she seldom misses an opportunity to tell the president and his aides they have blood on their hands.
"I don't think history will ever vindicate anyone who starts a war on false pretences," she told the Guardian. "I think it diminished us as a people ... We are despised when we were once beloved."

And Miguel notes Ed Morales' "The Media Is the Mensaje" (The Nation):

At first, after the March 25 protests, it may have seemed that 1960s Chicano activist Moctesuma Esparza's HBO docudrama Walkout had inspired all Los Angeles to run into the streets and demand justice. Or that life was imitating the 2004 black comedy A Day Without a Mexican, in which every Latino disappeared from California. The sudden emergence of the immigrants' rights issue has surprised many Anglophones, but for consumers of Spanish-language radio, TV and newspapers, it was the crescendo of a media message that was a long time evolving.
It is widely acknowledged that an unlikely band of ribald, prankster disc jockeys in LA played a crucial role in generating the massive turnout. In what may go down as a historic meeting of the mouths, four rival morning DJs--KSCA's El Piolín (Eduardo Sotelo), KLAX's El Cucuy (Renán Almendárez Coello), KBUE's El Mandril (Ricardo Sánchez) and KHJ's Humberto Luna--held a joint news conference announcing their support for the March 25 rally. Sotelo, whose show on Univision-owned KSCA is the highest-rated radio program in LA, called the meeting and became the most recognized for his passionate support of the rally. "It was fascinating, to say the least," said LA march organizer Javier Rodríguez. "Here were [El Piolín and El Cucuy] the two top [morning show] DJs, competitors, coming forth and saying, We're going to march with you, we're going to get everybody together." Rodríguez laid much of the groundwork for the DJ détente by organizing a breakfast March 14 that not only resulted in massive local news coverage but also prompted an invitation from El Mandril to appear on his show. Two days later, El Mandril called his rival El Piolín on the air, and the DJ movement was on.
"Radio, unlike TV, focuses on how to effectively speak to the common man and woman and thus has been able to generate a great deal of enthusiasm," said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, one of the march organizers. "Many of the disc jockeys are themselves immigrants and can relate to the struggle that their listeners face and motivate them to be active."

Which is probably among the reasons, as noted in the New York Times yesterday, that radio and TV giant Univision now has the Carlyle Group sniffing around it along with all the more 'traditional' suiters.

Closing out again with the reminder that Danny Schechter is in Boston today, speaking at Emerson College -- 7 PM.

Posting today or tomorrow? Wally plans to do something early, early Saturday morning. Rebecca plans to do something Saturday. Mike will have something up Saturday. And Rebecca noted something from FAIR yesterday but it messed up while posting. If it works, here's what she was attempting to note:

Speak up for media freedom by opposing the COPE Act. Visit the sites below to send your message to Congress:

(a coalition dedicated to preserving community TV)
(the action page for the coalition)

In fact, in case anyone's lost, the friend I'm dictating this to is going to insert some of Rebecca's commentary on why it's important to participate:

do you watch public access tv? if you do, you know it's an important resource. if you don't, maybe it's not your thing, i still think you can get behind wanting to preserve it. that's the public's way of speaking out. it's a medium that can cover what cnn and others refuse to.
when cable companies were getting all these financial breaks, 1 reason justifying them was that they would create this public space where communities could be served. maybe public access isn't something you watch (or maybe you don't watch tv), but this is something that i think you can appreciate the conecpt of.
in terms of the net, are the communications company going to be able to 'steer' traffic by denying you the access you have now? the net's the 'information highway.' now they want to put toll boths on it and create a tiered system that's, another example, is a great deal like 1st class, coach, et al on an airplane.
who told them that they could do that? who let them think we were fine with them seizing our internet?
it's our internet. this is a public common.
did we get it for free?
hell no. i paid for it, you paid for it, people before us paid for it. because the net is something that the government spent millions in tax payer dollars.
this is our space and we shouldn't privatize it anymore than we should allow some 1 to privatize a national forest or a park.
so join fair in the fight to save the communications commons.

If the links run together the way they did for her, click here for FAIR's action alert. What does it mean? Probably I'm doing an entry at some point tonight. It will be late when I do. Stay active this weekend, whether you're in NYC or not.

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Other Items

Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case, is expected to decide in the next two to three weeks whether to bring perjury charges against Karl Rove, the powerful adviser to President Bush, lawyers involved in the case said Thursday.
With the completion of Mr. Rove's fifth appearance before the grand jury on Wednesday, Mr. Fitzgerald is now believed to have assembled all of the facts necessary to determine whether to seek an indictment of Mr. Rove or drop the case.
Lawyers in the case said Mr. Fitzgerald would spend the coming days reviewing the transcript of Mr. Rove's three hours of testimony on Wednesday and weigh it against his previous statements to the grand jury as well as the testimony of others, including a sworn statement that Mr. Rove's lawyer gave to the prosecutor earlier this year. The lawyers were granted anonymity so they could speak about the internal legal deliberations in Mr. Rove's case.

The above is from Elisabeth Bumiller and David Johnston's "Prosecutor Weighs Charges Against Rove in Leak Case" in this morning's New York Times. Amanda noted and noted the excerpt above. I'm about to follow over this morning (tired) so we'll just note a few items members are highlighting and call this an entry.

Cindy notes Molly Ivin's "The Great Bush Reclassification Project" (Truthdig via Common Dreams):

It's nice to know that the investigative reporter Jack Anderson is still under investigation, although seriously dead.
Anderson died last year, and for 19 years before his death he suffered from Parkinson's disease and was increasingly less active as a reporter. Now that he's safely deceased, the Federal Bureau of Investigation wants to go through nearly 200 boxes of his files to see if there are any classified documents in there. If it's classified, they want it back--even though Anderson was in the habit of printing anything he ever got that was of any interest.
This is apparently part of the Great Bush Reclassification Project, in which government information that has previously been declassified and offered for public consumption is now being reclassified as secret so nobody can find out about it. Those who saw government documents between declassification and reclassification are just going to have to forget what they saw. That, or some Man in Black will be sent around to zap your memory with a little thingamajig.
For some reason, the FBI thinks Jack Anderson, despite Parkinson's disease, had some papers involving two employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) who have been criminally charged with receiving classified information. That case is a crock in itself, and to use it to dig through Anderson's archived stuff is just ludicrous.
Among Anderson's targets of old was the Federal Bureau of Investigation itself--gee, still worried he might have photos of J. Edgar Hoover in a dress after all these years?

From the war on the press, to resisting the war, we've got a highlight pointing out (rightly) that there are many forms of resistance. Ken notes Kenyon Farrow's "Not Showing Up: Blacks, Military Recruitment and the Antiwar Movement" (The Black Commentator):

In the face of poverty, prison, and unemployment, why is Black communities' collective "NO" to the military not considered an act of bravery and resistance by much of the Left? Part of the problem is that the white Left wants Blacks to act on its terms, in forms it deems appropriate or recognizes as resistance. Why can't Blacks determine for themselves what their resistance will look like?
"Activists define resistance in a very narrow way," says Kai Lumumba Barrow, a longtime organizer and Northeast Regional Coordinator for Critical Resistance. Barrow says that while marches, rallies, and sit-ins are the most coherent forms of resistance for many whites, Blacks have also resisted through armed struggle, cultural production, and more subtle tactics.
During slavery, those more subtle acts took the forms of work slow-downs, poisonings, and other militancy that did not involve public displays of resistance -- a dangerous way to show opposition. While some may debate whether or not Black people are in the same oppressive conditions where more subtle forms of resistance are necessary, the point is resistance is not a formula to be followed like a recipe. Those who are most affected by systems of oppression carry out daily acts of resistance that go unnoticed under the mainstream movement’s radar.
Moreover, lest we forget, when Black people do in fact rise up en masse, it is immediately criminalized -- usually by calling it a riot -- and is violently put down.

There are three e-mails noting Margaret Kimberley's latest. It will be noted no later than Saturday morning. I'm holding it because that's a topic that may go up tonight. (Depending upon how many people in the community are posting tonight, I may do an entry, very late at night if I do one). There's a piece from CounterPunch and I think one other one that actually fits with the topic and, before Kimberley's latest went up, I'd already decided to make that the topic of a backup entry in case I had to post on Friday. Today's scheduled topics for Democracy Now!:

Preview of this weekend's major protests: Saturday's anti-war rally in New York; Sunday's protest in DC over the genocide in Sudan; and Monday's Boycott for Immigrant Rights.

And remember Amy Goodman is in Italy tomorrow:

* Amy Goodman in Rome, Italy:
Sat, Apr 29
Lelio Basso Foundation

Saturday's the protest in NYC, as noted last night, if you can't be in NYC don't let that silence your voice. And if you're able to take part in Monday's protests for immigrant rights, please do so. I support the call of no purchasing on that day and of not going into work. If you're choosing the latter, remember that there can be retaliation in the work place. Do not use a sick day (we've seen people fired for that in the last few years) if you're going to be at a protest unless you're willing to risk it. (That's your call.) Whether you see the scapegoating as another attempt to dismantle the New Deal, as another attempt to find a rallying cry for the 2006 elections, as outright hideous . . . as all three and more, this is an issue that effects us all. In this morning's round-robin, the issues is covered from various angles and members have also highlighted events in their area, so check your inboxes for the gina & krista round-robin.

For more on the immigrants issue, Zach gives a heads up to a program on KPFA today (time given is Pacifica):

7:00 pm
Full Circle

Can you imagine a day without immigrants? What would we do without them? How would our lives change?
This week on Full Circle, we revisit the controversial immigration/civil rights issue. We'll bring you highlights of the immigration rights rally and listen to the voices of the activists as they march to the San Francisco federal building .
We'll bring you the sounds and the voices of last Sunday's immigrant rights rally this Friday, at 7pm, on Full Circle.

Danny Schechter's in Boston tomorrow and we'll note that (again) later today.
For now, we'll note "Danny and Rory Discuss When News Lies on C-Span - (Video)" (

In case you missed it:
MediaChannel's Rory O Connor interviewed News Dissector Danny Schechter on C-SPAN's "Book TV." The discussion of Schechter's new book, "When News Lies: Media Complicity and the Iraq War" aired this past weekend and Monday morning. You can watch the first half here on
UPDATE: Book TV will be airing an encore of this discussion on Saturday (4/29) at 10pm EST.

We'll go out with Marcus' highlight, Brian Conley's "Nuri Nuri on the Wall..." (Alive in Baghdad):

Who's the "realest" strongman of them all?
Saddam Hussein, known almost ubiquitously as Iraq's most famous strongman, was preceded by another. Jawad Al'Maliki, for all intents and purposes selected Prime Minister of Iraq, reverted to using his birth name today.
His name "Nuri" may not come from Iraq's original strongman, but it certainly rings reminiscent of Nuri Al'Said. Although I am wise enough not to look for a conspiracy around every corner, I find this "coincidence" very interesting.
When I mentioned it to my friend Angus, he rasied the question of whether it was just a coincidence, or something symbolic that most Iraqis might recognize.
I'm waiting to hear back from friends of mine in Iraq, whether the street is buzzing with any reponse to Maliki's decision. Until then, perhaps its a good time for a history lesson for my readers.
Nuri Al'Said was Iraq's Prime Minister during the signing of the controversial Anglo-Iraqi Treaty in 1930. According to Thabit Abdullah, an Iraqi historian, in his book, A Short History of Iraq;
"Under the forceful leadership of Prime Minister Nuri al-Sa'id, the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930 was signed. It was to last 25 years and provided for the independence of Iraq within two years of its ratification.(p136)
Abdullah explains that Nuri al-Sa'id came to prominence due to his relationship with al-'Ahd, or the "Covenant Society." This was the secret society of Iraqi Arab officers whose direct influence led to the revolt against the Ottomans in the midst of Word War I.

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NYT: A reporter discovers the Granny Peace Brigade

Eighteen "grannies" who were swept up by the New York City police, handcuffed, loaded into police vans and jailed for four and a half hours were acquitted yesterday of charges that they blocked the entrance to the military recruitment center in Times Square when they tried to enlist.
After six days of a nonjury trial, the grandmothers and dozens of their supporters filled a courtroom in Manhattan Criminal Court to hear whether they would be found guilty of two counts of disorderly conduct for refusing to move, which could have put them in jail for 15 days. The women call their group the Granny Peace Brigade and said they wanted to join the armed forces and thus offer their lives for those of younger soldiers in Iraq.

[. . .]
Despite the judge's demurrals, the verdict was one in a series of victories for protesters who have been arrested by the New York police since the invasion of Iraq.
While more than 300 people were detained for minor offenses during demonstrations at the 2004 Republican National Convention, few were convicted. Also, earlier this year, a state judge rejected the city's efforts to quash Critical Mass, a monthly bicycle rally in Manhattan.

The above is from Anemona Harticollis' "Setting Grandmotherhood Aside, Judge Lets 18 Go in Peace" in this morning's New York Times. What happened at the paper? Did Clyde Haberman's column last Friday shame them into action? Maybe it wasn't shame, maybe it was just seeing Haberman call the trial "news" in print, convinced the paper that it was? Haberman was correct. This trial was news. Prior to his column, the story was a paragraph -- a brief March 3, 2006 -- and nothing more (in the New York Times). The case was news and people showed up to support the Granny Peace Brigade throughout the trial. It was news before the verdict came down yesterday. Last week, the paper failed the news test. The trial started and they were nowhere to be found. As Halberman pointed out in his column "What Did You Do In The War, Grandma:"

Grandmothers being hauled away in a police wagon is what we in the news business call a story.

A week later, the news section can see what was obvious to Halberman at the start of the trial. Even in they do make a 'regional' story (and run it on page A21).

For more on this story, as we noted last night, The KPFA Evening News covered yesterday's verdict. Also from the news section we'll note this from Richard A. Oppel Jr.'s "Iraq's New Premier Gains Support in Talks With Shiite Leaders:"

Violence cast a shadow on the meetings, with the drive-by killing in Baghdad of the sister of Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi and the deaths of one Romanian and three Italian soldiers near Nasiriya, which spurred calls from some Italian political leaders to speed up the withdrawal of the country's 2,600 remaining troops in Iraq.

We'll also give Oppel credit for noting a statement from the US military was "an optimistic view of the situation in Iraq." Yazz will think I'm going easy on the paper (I'm not and the plan for tomorrow morning is to point out what the paper has consistently refused to report on -- from another region -- all week long), but in a world of Dexter Filkins, the easiest thing to do (and what's too often done in the paper) is to a military statement and run it either without question or as fact.

There will be entries here tomorrow morning and Sunday morning. In the DN! entry later today, I'll note the plan otherwise (as well as who's planning on blogging tonight). On the topic of Democracy Now!, Rod passes on these scheduled topics for today's shows:

Preview of this weekend's major protests: Saturday's anti-war rally in NewYork; Sunday's protest in DC over the genocide in Sudan; and Monday's Boycott for Immigrant Rights.

Martha notes Robert Barnes' "Running for Senate, and Against the War: Area's Democratic Candidates Find Support in Calling for U.S. to Leave Iraq" (Washington Post):

From a cocktail party of liberal contributors in Baltimore to the ball-cap-wearing crowd in a conservative town in southwest Virginia, wherever Democratic loyalists gather, there are five words sure to prompt applause for a Senate candidate:
End the war in Iraq.

Virginia Democrat James H. Webb Jr.'s early warnings about invading Iraq are the main reason he has been so embraced by the liberal bloggers who started a draft movement to get him into the race. Maryland candidate Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin was one of 133 House members who voted against the original resolution authorizing President Bush to take action -- and he might be the most conservative on the issue among Democrats seeking to replace retiring Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D).
[. . .]
But the most recent Washington Post poll showed that only 37 percent of the country approved of Bush's handling of the Iraq situation, and respondents said it will be among the key issues in deciding their votes in congressional elections this fall.
"Oh, it's everywhere," Webb, a decorated Vietnam War Marine veteran and former secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan, said of the concern about the war. "You heard it in Gate City."

Everywhere, Martha notes, but in the leadership of the Democratic Party.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

And the war drags on . . . (Indymedia Roundup)

Early last August I joined Cindy Sheehan on her march to King George's ranch. We wanted to ask him what the "noble cause" was that our sons had died for. In a speech earlier that week, King George stated that the sons and daughters of America who were fighting and dying in Iraq where there for a "noble cause".
Those of us who where there that fateful afternoon, marching in the ditches and the hot Texas sun were united in the belief that George Bush and his administration had waged an unjust war on the Iraqi country and Her people. We believed that the lives of the Iraq people were not better off at that time, as we had been told, but were even worse off than they were when the whole thing began. We still believe these things.
As you all know, we never got the meeting we requested. George Bush never answered our question and he has not looked any of us in the eye and given an acceptable explanation as to why America's sons and daughters are dying.
And now -- now we hear rumors of impending war in Iran, possibly with nuclear weapons. I find this news greatly disturbing on so many levels, so wrong in so many different ways.

The above is from Amy Branham's "Dear Fellow Citizens" (Gold Star Families for Peace) and Lynette wanted us to open with it. She feels it sets up where we were, where we are and where we have to make sure Bully Boy doesn't take us next. You can't argue with a ringing endorsement like that (and shouldn't). So that's where we were, last summer. Bully Boy had lied a nation (a world?) into war. Into an illegal war. Nothing stuck to the teflon boy-king. And along came Cindy Sheehan and other people who'd lost family and loved ones in his illegal war of choice. Even the ones who attacked Cindy Sheehan (and they did and they do) were made uncomfortable by reality. It had been so long since we'd had any. The bodies were hidden from the cameras. "Reporters" like Dexy Filkins took dictation from the military and adopted the terms the military used. It was all so far from reality.

Sheehan brought reality home. Not just to the Bully Boy who couldn't face her (then or since), but to the nation. The tidy, little video game and Bully Boy's lip service of 'sacrifice' were exposed as the fraud they were. Other voices had long been speaking out -- and Sheehan herself had been as well -- but that moment was huge. Still is. Reality was staring America in the face and it wasn't "comfy" or "reassuring." So some attacked but more started to think. Those who'd ignored the reality of the war (and what it was built upon) thought about that, those who were already active thought about how to do more. It was an important moment and helped us arrive where we are now. The public can criticize the Bully Boy and does. The media's still a little lapdog that occasionally growls before whimpering off. (Corporate media. Some whimpering takes place on the chat and chews where they do penance for their sins of making officials uncomfortable.)

Which is why a war on Iran may be harder for the Bully Boy to wage. (Daniel Ellsberg noted on Democracy Now! today that he believes Bully Boy may bypass Congress and just go forward with his plan without their consent.) But how much harder? How far along are we? That's at the heart of Brad's highlight. Read the full thing but we're going with the section that quotes Danny Schechter. From Mark Jurkowitz's "Won't get fooled again" (Boston Phoenix):

For one thing, such loyal and influential Bush media allies as talk radio, the Fox News Channel, and conservative (particularly neoconservative) periodicals can be counted on to make the case for war, if necessary. Writing in the April 24 Weekly Standard, William Kristol mentioned the situation with Iran in the same breath as Hitler's Germany, before counseling "serious preparation for possible military action."
And if war fever really takes hold, the news industry will quickly shift from the task of examining the justification for that policy to focusing on the daunting logistics of how to cover the impending carnage.
Danny Schechter, who, in his 2004 documentary WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception, attacked TV news for treating the war in Iraq as a ratings and revenue windfall, remains unconvinced that things have changed all that much in three years.
"Iran is easily demonized, [and] it seems the Fox Newses of the world are still framing the issue," he says. "I don't feel the media coverage is any better."

It's easy to get caught up in dancing to the drum beats of war. (Many did with regards to Iraq.)
Liang has an excerpt for us that she hopes we "will embrace and take to heart." From Shea Howell's "Wild Speculation" (Michigan Citizen via The Boggs Center):

Dr. King would have a response to this. As he said of Vietnam:
"Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours. "If we do not stop our war, the world will be left with no alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy, and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning."
We can no longer avoid the challenges Dr. King posed so long ago.

Vietnam? Iraq? Are they really that different? Iraq's part of an effort to combat the realities that Americans faced about illegal wars (as Norman Solomon, among others, have pointed out). The well orchestrated attacks on the achievements of the "sixties" (largely late sixties, early seventies) which included revisionist history (we have a highlight on that) as well as erasing actual history. Kara notes Paul Rockwell's "'Sir! No! Sir!' begins national screenings" (In Motion Magazine via Not In Our Name):

"Sir, No Sir," the untold story of the GI movement to end the war in Vietnam, is a documentary. It’s not a work of nostalgia. It's an activist film, and it comes at a time when GI resistance to the current war is spreading throughout the United States.
There are more than 100 films -- fiction and nonfiction -- about the war in Vietnam. Not one deals seriously with the most pivotal events of the time -- the anti-war actions of GIs within the military.
The three-decade blackout of GI resistance is not due to any lack of evidence. Information about the resistance has always been available. According to the Pentagon, over 500,000 incidents of desertion took place between 1966 and 1977. Officers were fragged. Entire units refused to enter battle.
Large social movements create their own "committees of correspondence" -- communication systems beyond the control of power-holders and police authority. Despite prison sentences, police spies, agent provocateurs, vigilante bombing of their offices, coffeehouses and underground papers sprung up in the dusty, often remote towns that surrounded U.S. military bases throughout the world. "Just about every base in the world had an underground paper," Director Zeiger tells us in Mother Jones.
When the first coffeehouse opened in Columbia, South Carolina, near Fort Jackson, an average of six hundred GIs visited each week. Moved by the courage and audacity of soldiers for peace, civilians raised funds to help operate the coffeehouses and to provide legal defense.
When local proprietors, like Tyrell Jewelers near Fort Hood, fleeced GIs, GI boycotts were common. At one point, the Department of Defense tripled its purchase of non-union produce in order to break the United Farm Workers boycott. American GIs, many from the fields and barrios of California, immediately joined the Farm Worker pickets. Mocking signs appeared on military bases saying "Officers Buy Lettuce." The GI movement was a profoundly class-conscious movement.
A counter-culture blossomed inside the military. Affinity groups, like "The Buddies" and "The Freaks" were formed. Afros, rock and soul music, bracelets and beads, the use of peace signs and clenched fists -- a culture antithetical to the totalitarian culture of military life -- proliferated. Prison riots in the stockades, from Fort Dix to the Marine brig in Da Nang, were common by 1970.
In response to a detested recruitment slogan -- "Fun, Travel, Adventure" -- GIs named one periodical "FTA," which meant "F**k The Army." When GIs ceased to cooperate with superiors, the military lost control of culture and communication.
Military attacks on GI rights -- the right to hold meetings, to read papers, to think for themselves, to resist illegal orders -- did not subdue the growing anti-military movement. Repression actually widened the resistance.
Like Pablo Paredes, Kevin Benderman, Kelly Dougherty, Camilo Mejia -- to name a few war resisters of our time -- the GI resisters of the 60s and 70s showed incredible courage. Pvt. David Samas, one of the Fort Hood Three, who refused to serve in Vietnam, said in one impassioned speech: "We have not been scared. We have not been in the least shaken from our paths. Even if physical violence is used against us, we will fight back...the GI should be reached somehow. He doesn't want to fight. He has no reason to risk his life. And the peace movement is dedicated to his safety."

That's a reality you don't get very often. You get jerk off fantasies about how we could have "won". Jerk off fantasies are easier to bandy around then dealing with the reality of Vietnam. And that's really true of the Iraq war as well. You see that when Dexter Filkins wins an award for a piece of propaganda that's already made him the butt of many jokes. (Many more to come. And no, I'm not referring to jokes I'd make.) But reality does have a way of emerging. It did last summer. And it will continue to do so.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

The war drags on. Indymedia roundup, where we focus on Iraq. Last Thursday, the number of US American fatalities stood at 2378. Right now? 2395. On today's Free Speech Radio News and The KPFA Evening News, David Enders filed a report from Iraq on the violence aimed at schools in Iraq. Currently, Iraq needs 4500 new schools. Just keeping the ones they have open and safe is a problem. A bus attack last month led to the death of a driver. Road blocks, traffic and the loss of friends and family leads to many absences (teachers and students). Fatalities include 400 teachers and school employees, casualties include at least 170 wounded. In all, 417 schools in Iraq have been attacked. If you already knew of this story, you're probably utilizing indymedia. If you didn't, why aren't you?

If you listened to The KPFA Evening News, you were aware that, in NYC, the Granny Peace Brigade waved canes in victory and sang "God Help America" when the judge found the eighteen women not guilty of disorderly conduct. An estimated 100 grandmothers sang "God Help America" outside the courthouse. Will you read about that in the New York Times? (You might in a column -- and no offense to the columnist -- but will you see it written by a reporter in the hard news section?) You need to know about that victory as much as you need to know about the defeats.

How do we end the illegal war? Information, which the embeds (in Iraq and in this country) can't provide you with. (Unless you're idea of news is officials -- named and unnamed -- making statements and setting the terms.) Along with information, we end the war through action and using our voices. On this, Rebecca demands that I share a personal story and has lobbied me throughout the day.

I was speaking today and afterwards was out on the street when someone with a weird vibe approaches saying, "You're against the war, right?" (He wasn't part of the group I had been speaking with.) Long story short on that, you're under no obligation to speak out against the war to someone that every fiber of your being screams "Avoid!"

Learn to trust your instincts. (That's the short version of that story.) Here's what Rebecca wanted me to share. When I speak, often times someone will ask what they can do and, after I offer an example, they may say "Oh, I could never do that." In those instances, I usually make a deal that if they try, they'll find out they can do it and I'll owe them. Which is how I end up with markers being called in. (And they should be, I'm not complaining.) A college student called one in after she spoke to a group (she didn't think she could, she did a wonderful job). She was working on an issue close to her and we'll call it block walking (the task at hand). She called in her marker so I joined her for that. I'll go anywhere (have and will) but, and this is why Rebecca sold me on sharing this story, I listen to my own internal warning system. As we worked our way through a building, we met many wonderful people. On the fourth floor, there was a man watching us from his doorway. He called to us and I said he creeped me out but she was already down the hall. He was half-blocked by his door (half his body was unseen) and he's asking her what she's doing. She explains her issues and steps inside as he waves her in. I go inside as well (always stick together) and am wondering what we just got ourselves into?

He closes the door and is standing in front of it . . . and is holding a butcher knife. There's no food on the counter and except for the grease filled skillet that has bugs crawling in, there's no indication that there's been any cooking going on. She was freaking out (as she should have been) as soon as she saw the knife. I went into what Rebecca terms "dazzle time" and managed to charm him. He wanted to kiss me on the cheek (why? who knows, he wasn't all there) so when I leaned in for that, I put my hand on the door knob and opened it for her to get out and I followed right after. On the stairs, she asked, "What was that crap on his walls?" I replied, "I think that's exactly what it was." (And I wasn't being funny.)

Point, Rebecca wanted this story in here because we're all (at all of our sites) talking about the need to get active and to be more active. That doesn't mean you must speak to everyone. If someone sets off warning bells inside you, listen to that. You also do not go into a stranger's home. I've block walked for years -- the front porch or the entry way to an apartment are just fine. Rebecca thinks (and I agree but she wanted this in here so credit her) that there's a tendency to think, "If I can just speak face to face with someone, I can change their mind." That's true only when you're dealing with people who aren't wack jobs. (My term. Elaine would have a better one.) If something is creeping you out or causing you to worry, you're more important alive, walk away immediately if something doesn't feel right.

That's if you're a male or a female. That's even if you think you can handle any situation. Rebecca got an e-mail from the mother of one of her readers (and a community member). The mother was talking about a plan she and her daughter had (a very safe one, inviting friends to their home). Since Rebecca hadn't heard from the daughter (Goldie), she checked her spam folder and there were two e-mails from Goldie as well a ton of e-mails from her other readers with things they were going to do this weekend since they couldn't be in NYC. Rebecca's replying (she thinks it will take at least another hour to finish) to all of those e-mails. Her point, and I agree, is that they've come up with great plans to get the word out. However, you need to remember that you can speak to someone on their porch or at the front door. You don't go inside. That's in a "good" neighborhood or a "bad" one. Unless you know them, you don't go inside. Rebecca has a large number of high school readers and a healthy number of junior high ones. It's so amazing how committed they are and applause to them. But they need to be safe.

I told her about the weirdo (the short story above) and she said that needed to go up here (it won't) and said the knife encounter did need to go up here. She lobbied for that all day -- and that was before she found out that a large number of e-mails from her readers had gone straight to the spam folder of her account. When she read them, she said she was sharing the story I told and that it really needed to go up here. I would hope that this is basic to most adults (though I know it's not to all) but since we are talking about underage teenager and at least one preteen, I agree with her that it has to be noted.

If someone creeps you out, the peace movement can get by just fine without you putting yourself in danger. Learn to listen to your inner warning systems. (Again male or female.) That's not to frighten anyone or to feed a cycle of fear. That's to say, be practical. And stay out of people's homes. If you're invited in and you don't know the person, you can politely reply that if you go inside you know you'll be tempted to sit down and you'd promised yourself you'd get to everyone on the block or in the complex (which wouldn't be possible if you sat down).

The DIY efforts Rebecca's readers have planned for this weekend are wonderful. They should be a huge success and congratulations on the creativity and the passion. But remember that if you aren't safe, you aren't any help to anyone.

End of sermon. Back to highlights.

Brenda notes Samuel Bostaph's "Cindy Sheehan: The Human Costs of Peace" (Gold Star Families for Peace):

Although much has been written and said about the casualties of war, there are few mentions of the casualties of those committed to peace and opposed to war. In demonstrations against past wars, protestors have been beaten by police, imprisoned and rendered penniless by expenditures on defense lawyers, as well as had their characters and reputations lied about and smeared by government officials, war supporters and the press. This is no less true of those opposed to President George W. Bush's war against Iraq and his use of U.S. military forces in a continuing occupation of what was once the "cradle of civilization."
On August 6, 2005, a peace activist named Cindy Sheehan arrived in Crawford, Texas, and camped outside the gates of Bush's ranch. Her avowed purpose was to meet with the president and obtain an explanation from him for his preemptive, unconstitutional war against Iraq. She had personal knowledge of the casualties of war. On April 4, 2004, her son U.S. Army Specialist Casey Austin Sheehan was killed in Sadr City, Iraq, while on a rescue mission. Cindy Sheehan had been against the Bush presidency and the war in Iraq before Casey's death, but afterwards she began publicly traveling and speaking against the war. What took her to Crawford was a television clip from a speech by Bush that was broadcast on August 3. In it, he described his war against Iraq and the subsequent occupation of that country by American troops as a "noble cause" that required continuation "to honor the sacrifices of the fallen."
Enraged at the president's vacuous justification for what she perceived to be a great wrong, and the use of the death of her son as an argument in support of continuing that wrong, Cindy Sheehan went to Crawford for retribution. As the mother of one of the victims of his unjust war she wanted to confront the president and call him to account. He refused to meet with her, but sent two of his staff -- National Security Advisor Stephan Hadley and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Joe Hagin -- in an attempt to mollify her. They failed, and her subsequent vigil led to international publicity and her almost instant celebrity as the "Peace Mom."
It also made her the favorite target of pro-war and pro-Bush journalists, commentators, pundits, talk-show hosts and political organizations. She was subsequently arrested for demonstrating without a permit (September 26, 2005), for unlawful conduct (January 31, 2006) and for criminal trespassing and resisting arrest (March 6, 2006), the last of which was coupled with an unnecessarily violent arrest and rough treatment by New York City police. Thus, Cindy Sheehan joined the casualties of peace.

Comes with the territory (as Sheehan would be the first to admit and I think we have a highlight where she talks about that -- judging by the title of Eddie's e-mail). Taking a stand is never easy but easy doesn't build a democracy or keep one alive or rescue one. It's so much easier to play "on the one hand, on the other." It's so much easier to couch your beliefs or hide them. That won't stop the war.

Reading Eddie's e-mail now and the title indicated it would fit with this. (The most specific your e-mail title, the more likely it will get included even if I'm rushing -- as I am tonight). From Cindy Sheehan's "Peace Takes Courage" (BuzzFlash):

I have a new friend. She is a 15 year young peace activist named Ava Lowery. She is disgusted with the war and with the Bush regime and she started to use her talents for animation to make cartoons that oppose Bush and the war in Iraq.
She first came to my attention when I read an article about all of the ugly hate mail she is getting on her site for a particularly poignant and brilliant animation she has called: "
WWJD." It is a heartbreaking piece that has a child singing: "Jesus loves me" and during the song she shows pictures of dead, wounded, bloody, and screaming Iraqi children. She wanted to show how Jesus loves Iraqi children also which is apparently a frightening concept to the people who practice Bushianity.
For this inspired bit of courageous matriotism, Ava has been the object of
intense and horribly ugly hate emails and not too subtle threats to do her bodily harm. As soon as I heard about her troubles, I emailed her and she phoned me right away so we could talk.
Even before I went to Crawford last summer, I was the object of these attacks by many people who touted themselves as Christians doing God's work. The attacks are rabidly obscene and horrible in their rage and just downright meanness. There are entire websites dedicated to assailing me and my character and where such comments as: "Someone ought to do the world a favor and shoot the bitch in the head to shut her up," are common. During Camp Casey we had to refer more than one death threat to the FBI.
One particularly wicked threat was sent to me the night before I testified at Congressman Conyers' Downing Street Memo Hearings in June, I got an email from a man who said that he hoped that my other three children would die. I think these people level pretty harsh punishments at other people who are only exercising their freedom of speech when the person who is responsible for killing American soldiers and executing innocent Iraqi children and making them orphans is touted as a fine Christian man.

Like Sheehan wrote, speaking out takes courage. Use your courage and dig deep (but be smart -- see sermon).

Let's stay with courage for a moment. (Don't worry, we will get to the Democratic "leaders.") Camilo Mejia spoke out. And continues to do so. Jonah steers us to Eric Ruder's "'It's the same system behind both injustices'" (Socialist Worker):

HOW DOES being an immigrant affect how people are recruited into the U.S. military?
IT DEPENDS. You have immigrants who were born and raised here, and whose families are really Americanized, and there's not much of a difference between them and a native-born soldier.

But when it comes to someone who, for instance, grew up in Mexico, they don't have that blind patriotism, because their patriotism was acquired later in life. They don't have the same innate imprint that America is perfect and beautiful and generous and infallible.
Instead, they have more of a longing to be American--a longing to be a part of this great nation, to be a patriot and to pledge allegiance to all these symbols that, sadly, people identify with being American. But they don't have that imprint that for people born and raised here goes unquestioned--until something big happens in their life, and they start seeing things from a different perspective.
Still, everyone in the military has to struggle with a lot of demons--the heavy indoctrination of constantly being told that we live in America, the Beautiful and the Generous. Suddenly, they're in Iraq, and the filter is removed. It's not easy to digest the reality--this war is not for democracy or against terrorism, this is an imperial war.

Speaking out, finding courage, encourages others to do likewise. It's the story of The Emperor's New Clothes. "One Small Voice" by Carole King for those who relate better to songs. Off her album Speeding Time. ("One small voice can change the world . . .") It just takes one to get the ball rolling. (Look at Bully Boy's poll numbers for evidence of how well that's paid off.)

Courage can be contagious. So can cowardice. (Remember, I said we'd get to the Dem "leaders.") Karen notes Stuart S. Light's "The Spineless Democratic Party" (Santa Barabara Independent):

So the "two-party" system has come to this: the Republicans, the party of bad ideas, against the Democrats, the party of no ideas. With these Democrats, the term "loyal opposition" is an oxymoron. Opposition like that -- what is it good for? Absolutely nothing. And a shame it is too, because this administration and the cohorts supporting it in both houses of congress have proven to be the bottom feeders of the new millennium. How inspiring it would be to hear some booming, oratorical rants from the so-called leaders of the "opposition" party. Can't you almost hear their voices?
"Hell no, Mr. Bush, we’ll be fighting tooth-and-nail to make sure you don't get another dime for your stupid, dishonest, and brutal mistake in Iraq."
"Hell no, Mr. Bush, there will be no more illegal, Constitution-shredding wiretapping of the American people. Come heaven, hell, or high water, we're going to stop it."
"And, speaking of high water, Mr. Bush, your administration's failure before, during, and after Katrina will not be swept under the rug with Brownie. We're putting it back on your desk, where, you might have heard, the buck stops."
"And for crying out loud, man, stop invoking 9/11 to justify every sordid, secretive, anti-democratic thing you do. Have you no decency, sir?"
It's like dreaming the impossible dream. Like imagining John Kerry getting elected by having enough spine to stand up for his own history and beliefs. But spines, it seems, must be checked at the door when one enters the big tent known as the Democratic Party -- unless your name is Feingold. As you might recall, the Wisconsin senator did the unthinkable recently by asking his party members in the Senate to stand up and support a resolution of censure against President Bush for illegally spying on the American people. Judging by their response, you might have thought he'd invited them all over to his desk to inhale anthrax -- except Hillary, of course, who doesn't inhale either.

A climate that allows for dissent and discussion can be created and it has been. One example is Miguel's highlight, "Songs of Protest" (The Nation):

And what they sing and say still matters, as the first skirmish of the Iraq War--the frontal assault on the dissenting Dixie Chicks after their lead singer criticized George W. Bush--confirmed.
As the devastation escalated, so did the music. Green Day's album American Idiot, a roaring pop-punk assault on the "redneck agenda" and the warped discourse of post-9/11 America, went to Number 1 on the charts, won a Grammy in 2005 for Best Rock Album and has sold more than 5 million copies. Hip-hop star Kanye West telescoped frustration with the White House's dawdling response to Hurricane Katrina when he told a national television audience, "George Bush doesn't care about black people." On his CDs West has been equally fierce, sarcastically suggesting on his 2005 song "Crack Music" that if anyone's still got questions about Saddam Hussein's supposed chemical weapons stash, "George Bush got the answer."
Now, as Bush's chart position sinks, he's getting even worse reviews. Pearl Jam's new single, "World Wide Suicide," the story of a mother mourning a son killed in battle because his was a life "the President took for granted," tops Billboard's Modern Rock chart. Bruce Springsteen has recorded a rollicking tribute to protest songs by the country's most famous folk singer in a new album, The Seeger Sessions: We Shall Overcome. Moby and REM's Michael Stipe just headlined an antiwar "Bring 'Em Home Now" concert, and the Dixie Chicks are letting Bush know they're not backing down, with their new single, "Not Ready to Make Nice." The extent to which Bush's fortunes have turned may be summed up by the news that pop singer Pink, who began the Bush era promising to "Get the Party Started," is ending it with a sobering lament, "Dear Mr. President," that savages Bush's stances on gay rights, the minimum wage and the war. Hitting even harder is veteran rocker Neil Young, whose post-9/11 song "Let's Roll" was heard by some as a call for war. Young clarifies things on his new CD, Living With War. With a track titled "Let's Impeach the President," it won't feature on George Bush's iPod.

What is sung and said does matter. It puts the issue front and center. Miguel enjoyed the editorial but felt other songs could have been selected. He's right, others could. It's an editorial so it's a group process. At The Third Estate Sunday Review, we note music and other things. On those pieces, it's a matter of what can everyone agree to live with and what can't they. This an editorial so it wasn't written with input from a group. Even if it had been written by one person, there's no way someone reading it wouldn't have thought of other songs. There's not a piece there (or here) that I haven't had "one more thought!" on after it's gone up. That's life. Is this a piece that you can post comments to? If so, you could add a song or artist you would have selected. If not, members can write and suggest some songs. I can't guarantee it will go up this weekend but it will be noted because it is important to track who is speaking out (and who has a nasty case of "War Got Your Tongue?"). Miguel notes that Bright Eyes should have made the list. I agree with that (and can think of others). But it could be a case of someone not thinking of it until after the piece went up as easy as it could be a case of someone not liking Bright Eyes. Also consider what the people listen to. (There's not a lot of indymedia or nonbig names on the list.) Someone who might be able to compose an amazing list is Ruth Conniff. (Might be able to if she's still as passionate about music -- or even half as passionate -- as she was in college.) So you could also e-mail The Progressive and suggest that she weigh in on this topic. I note that for two reasons. First, in a world without poll tested play lists and corporate radio, she could have made a great dee jay. Second, I wanted to work in a highlight. I only got to the new issue of The Progressive today (it had to sit unread for several days due to my attempting to finish reading two other things -- a book and something a friend's working on). There are many wonderful things in there (including Anne-Marie Cusac's book review which I'm sure won't be available online -- Conniff, Matthew Rothschild and Cusac write the strongest book reviews, my opinion), one of which is Conniff's interview with Lewis Lapham. From "The Progressive Interview:"

Q: What do make of the Time's editorial that said calls for impeachment and even Senator Feingold's censure bill will only embolden the right?
Lapham: Well, the right doesn't need emboldening. The right is perfectly happy to lie, cheat, steal, say anything that comes conveniently to mind. If you make your politics a matter of waiting to see what the other fellow will do, you already have lost the argument, or the election. And it is this kind of pussy-footing on the part of the Democratic Party that has led us into this morass.
We presumably elect members of Congress to look out for the interests of the American citizen, to protect and uphold the Constitution. Here we hae the executive trampling on the legislature and judiciary, and it is up to the Congress to correct that condition. Because that is a fouling of the constitutional form of government.

In a democracy, it takes more voices, more speaking up, not less, not silence. Not shrugs. It takes a Lapham, it takes a song, it takes a parent, it takes . . . Everything. Which is why it is so important to use your voice, your power, and make the war a topic that resonates in your world.
It takes a movie. (Many atually.) And we'll end with Sir! No! Sir! (Two highlights and upcoming dates.)

First up, KeShawn notes Paul Cox's review "Sir! No! Sir! A Lost History" (Citizen Soldier):

Donald Duncan, Howard Levy, Susan Schnall, and Keith Mather are names that do not, as far as I know, appear in any high school or college history texts that survey the Vietnam War. But they should. Sir! No, Sir! is lost history excavated, displayed, and annotated. Filmmaker David Zieger presents some of the highlights of the diffuse but exceedingly important anti-war and anti-military movement by active-duty servicemen and servicewomen during the Vietnam War. Most texts minimally cover the anti-war movement, generally focusing on a few seminal events such as the 1968 Chicago police riot, the large mobilizations, or draft-card burners--and generally take a neutral to semi-hostile tone. But nary a word is spent on the actions of these early four and thousands of others who as active duty GI's gave the brass that good old late night indigestion.
Duncan's high-profile resignation from the Green Beanies, and Dr. Levy's refusal to train Special Forces medics for Vietnam were the first indications that all was not well in the ranks, and Dave Zieger's film captures very well the immense importance of their stands.
The brass saw the GI Movement as one of several elements of the poor morale that very quickly dragged down the effectiveness of the US fighting forces in Vietnam. Drugs and desertions were the two other critical morale indicators, but it was the organizers and barracks lawyers who were going to bring down the house of cards upon which military discipline was built.
Zeiger, himself a GI activist at Fort Hood, effectively uses the available footage and still graphics to tell a compelling story about the resistance within the military. He also filmed numerous very moving interviews with people who were central to these events.
Duncan, about his tour in Vietnam: "I was really proud of what I thought I was doing. The problem I had was realizing that what I was doing wasn't right. I was doing it right, but I wasn't doing right. As bad as the [torture of prisoners] was, the cynicism that attached to it was the part that was really sickening."

It is lost history and it can stay that way if we let it. The film has added dates and will be playing many places. For a full listing, check out the website Sir! No! Sir! and check out the movie if it's in your area:

05 TEKFESTIVAL (Rome, Italy)
LAEMMLE's MONICA 4 (Santa Monica)

I see it will be playing in Betty's area (she's seeing it, we were on the phone tonight), in Wally and Krista's area, and in the DFW area which is an area with a huge number of community members. Go to the film, take a friend, take friends.

I thought we had this last highlight, this week's song and then an announcement (and then I was through) but I'm finding some more in the e-mails so we'll note Sir! No! Sir! and then we have a few more items before we close. Cindy notes Richard von Busack's "Good Evening, Vietnam" (Metro Santa Cruz):

Rewriting Vietnam began some 10 years after the war ended. Pundits and presidents retold the story of 58,000 American dead, making them martyrs stabbed in the back by a weak-willed public who couldn't man themselves up enough to finish the job.
By the mid-1980s, Sylvester Stallone's steerlike face writhed on the big screen as he begged, "Sir, do we get to win this one?" Any public mention of the American war in Vietnam demanded tortured, passive reasoning. One example is former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's claim in Paul Hendrickson's book The Living and the Dead that "the nation took itself into Vietnam"--as if it jumped, instead of being pushed.
Filmmaker David Zeiger's Sir! No Sir! is an essential revisit to the war and its consequences. It's a trove of history delved up from the public memory hole. In particular, it stresses the unpopularity of the war among those who fought it. Zeiger, a '60s activist turned successful documentary filmmaker, reminds a new generation of some forgotten details: the stockade rebellions and moratoriums, and the 20,000-strong membership of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Sir! No Sir! plays a one-night-only engagement at the Reel Work Film Festival on April 27. It will be released later this spring.
METRO SANTA CRUZ: Had you planned on making this movie since the Iraq war began?
ZEIGER: I wasn't planning on making this film, since I felt the time had passed. Vietnam was old news, and it just wasn't going to resonate. It was the buildup to the Iraq war that made me think it was necessary to tell the story.
You see parallels between Iraq and Vietnam, then?
The Iraq war is no more just or right than Vietnam was. I think ultimately in the coming year the soldiers will become the elephant in the house of the American military planners. They're planning on digging in in Iraq, they're not leaving. There is already an organization of Iraq Vets against the war. I understand that when Cindy Sheehan was in Crawford, there was a fairly steady stream of active duty soldiers from Fort Hood coming to see her.

Cindy noted that she was going to see it tonight. If it comes to your area, make sure you see it. Check the dates because it may be a one night only showing or it may be extended. But this is a movie that you'll enjoy.

Now Julie noted Elliot Stoller's "Ft. Lewis Demonstration for Kevin Benderman's Freedom" (Seattle Indymedia) which is is a photo essay of demonstrators gathering to show their support for Kevin Benderman.

That keeps the issue the alive. They can only punish if we look the other way. Which brings us to Trina's highlight, "The new McCarthyism: Bush tries to scare the wits out of whistle blowers -- and the press" (Boston Phoenix):

Whoever leaked to the Post, the Times, the New Yorker, and other outlets determined enough to report the truth deserves this nation's unrestrained gratitude.
When Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon papers, he revealed the lies with which the Johnson administration prosecuted the Vietnam War. The Nixon administration, which had its own lies to worry about, tried but failed to put him in jail.
Those who blow the whistle during the Bush administration may not be so lucky. And this time, there is no reason to believe that those who do the leaking will be the only ones to face imprisonment. The press is the next logical target. Bush will stop at nothing, unless the nation makes it clear that it won't tolerate him. But so great is this man's arrogance that he seems unrestrained by the latest polls, which show that only 32 percent of the nation endorses his rule while 60 percent disapproves of it.

He's lost the support of the people. (And their confidence.) This weekend, in NYC or not, make an effort to get the word out. (See sermon above for practical note -- not "cautionary note.") The pick this week is:

Peter said to Paul you know all those words we wrote
Are just the rules of the game and the rules are the first to go
But now talking to God is Laurel begging Hardy for a gun
I got a girl in the war man I wonder what it is we done
-- "Girl In The War" written and recorded by Josh Ritter from the album The Animal Years

And yes, Kat's planning to review it. Now for the announcement, "Danny and Rory Discuss When News Lies on C-Span - (Video)" (

In case you missed it: MediaChannel's Rory O Connor interviewed News Dissector Danny Schechter on C-SPAN's "Book TV." The discussion of Schechter's new book, "When News Lies: Media Complicity and the Iraq War" aired this past weekend and Monday morning. You can watch the first half here on UPDATE: Book TV will be airing an encore of this discussion on Saturday (4/29) at 10pm EST.

Those who are having people over or might be looking for a way to participate this weekend could watch C-Span's Book TV and discuss it after.

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