Saturday, March 31, 2007

NYT: "Shiite Cleric Donemsn U.S. as His Militia Takes to Streets" (Edward Wong)

Religious leaders commanded by the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr delivered a searing speech at Friday Prayer condeming the American presence in Iraq, while militamen loyal to Mr. Sadr engaged in street battles against Iraqi Army soldiers in south-western Baghdad, signaling a possible resurgence of the militia.
Mr. Sadr has ordered the Mahdi Army, the militia he controls, to lie low during the early days of the new Baghdad security paln so as not to provoke a direct confrontation with the Americans. With the speech on Friday, which the religious leaders attributed to Mr. Sadr, it appeared that he was continuing to walk a tighrope, not openly defying American and Iraqi government attempts to secure the capital, but still sharply critizing the United States presence in Iraq.

The above is from Edward Wong's "Shiite Cleric Condemns U.S. as His Militia Takes to Streets" in this morning's New York Times. Wong also notes that the US military has maintained that al-Sadr is in Iran but those close to him say he is in Iraq and that "at least 12" corpses were discovered in Baghdad on Friday. If the above seems important to you, not so to the Times which front pages a story, Dateline would be so proud!, on the injury increases/risks for cheerleaders.

We'll note this from Carl Hulse and Thom Shanker's "Army's War Funds Can Last Through July, Report Says:"

The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has estimated that the Army has enough budget flexibility to pay for its military operations through July in the even that a standoff between the White House and Congress over Iraq holds up the money [. . .]

Thank you to Joan for sending ("for a good laugh") the kiss up to WalkOn. I guess there was extra time after ripping off writers and threatening children for a big long ass smooch to WalkOn? Joan notes that "17" appears to be the age that "made it personal" and thinks it's too bad the illegal war wasn't an issue at "16, 15, 14 or younger". Agreed. Interesting that none of the questions included: "With the American people against impeaching Bill Clinton and many fighting to stop the right dead in the tracks, why did you enable by offering censure -- which was seen as doing very real harm in the fight to derail the impeachment?" (Answer? Probably because it was "easy" and "attention getting." As noted before, friends in the Clinton White House were outraged and saw that as appeasement.)

Joan wondered if everyone was scared of WalkOn? No, some defenders and supporters are in bed with it. They hear that number bandied about (3 million!) and think, "If I could get some of that . . ." Reality is that WalkOn wishes they had 3 million members -- membership isn't that high today (that was the peak) and people signed up mulitple times (as different people using different e-mail accounts).

A community member who is supporting Hillary Clinton is bothered by a New York Times article. I'm not endorsing anyone (and "War Hawk" usually accompanies Hillary's name here -- She could change that by getting real on Iraq). But the Times article is nonsense. The handicappers who treat political campaigns as horse races follow the money. Bill Clinton is both a liability and an asset for Hillary's campaign. She'd be foolish to hide him away because those who want to critique Bill Clinton (and there are valid critiques of him) will do so regardless of whether he campaigns for her or not. She's playing in a corrupt field (fundraising) and anyone who thought she wouldn't (or that the majority of candidates wouldn't) was kidding themselves.
She has every right to use Bill Clinton in her fundraising efforts. The Times article -- and note its worship of the money and how it doesn't address one issue about the campaigns other than money -- appears to think it was out of bounds for Hillary to deploy Bill Clinton so early. It was smart on her part because she knows this quarter's fundraising (ends today for anyone planning to contribute to any presidential candidate) will be worth two weeks worth of 'reporting' and will be mentioned throughout the campaign. The fundraising is disgusting and the press' coverage is as well. But in terms of Hillary, she's playing on the same field others the press promotes are and there's nothing wrong or evil about her allowing Bill Clinton to fundraise for her. It's smart and the Times can play shocked but the only whining really comes from other campaigns who wish they were able to get Bill Clinton to fundraise for them. I'll fault her for many things (Iraq being the biggest one) but the psuedo shock of the Times is a put on.

I'll also address the issue of the "big squeeze." Poor baby. One whiner complains that it's a big squeeze and it's too much for him. I have friends working for Hillary's campaign and they all know I'm not giving a cent to anyone supporting the war. If the little baby is having problems with being hit up for money it's because he's not speaking clearly to the campaign, just whining in the press.

I think we need real campaign finance reform. We don't have it and Hillary's using every asset she has is smart and nothing to be shocked over. Ahnuld used Maria during the campaign because she's a very strong asset and there wasn't shock over that. It's a double standard and goes to the Times long hatred of Hillary. Bill Clinton is beloved by many and hated by some (some might feel it should go the other way). Their marriage is no hidden secret and the press has never had a problem running smears on it. They've stood together before and there's nothing wrong with her using his fundraising strengths. (She has her own fundraising strengths and is using those as well.)

So for that member (who wants to go unnamed) and any other who is supporting Hillary, if an article bothers you about her policies or politics, consider that. An article that endorses the money race (which the paper does by covering it -- and not the policies candidates are advocating)? Realize it's a cheap smear.

I'll take her to task for many things but her fundraising efforts demonstrate that she grasps the system (a system that needs to be changed) and is mastering it. Some on the left will, no doubt, disagree with that. Unless it's an article on the system or the fact that all the designated 'major' candidates are playing in the same system, we won't note it here. I want to be clear because someone will say "She's mastering the greed system" or something to that effect. She's mastering the same system that Biden, Obama and the other 'majors' are. Holding her up for ridicule because she's doing it better doesn't reveal a flaw in her, it just underscores that other candidates who are defining the race through money are having trouble holding their own. It should also be noted that her fundraising efforts for her campaign are no different than the same ones she used in 2002 and 2004 to help other candidates and there was no "OH NO!"s uttered then. And when she and her husband used their one-two punch, it was cause for celebration. Apparently, a female politician is allowed to do that for others but supposed to refrain from doing it for herself -- it's sexism.

Find one section of the article rejecting the current system of furndraising? You can't. The article endorses it but wants to take Hillary to task for being good at ("good" is probably too weak -- she's a proven fundraiser). If you endorse the system, and the Times does by covering it -- each election cycle -- as one of the most important 'issues' -- you really should be focusing on the 'majors' who have chosen that race but can't keep up.

It's the weekend which means RadioNation with Laura Flanders (Saturdays and Sundays, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm EST) takes to the airwaves on Air America Radio, XM radio and online. Here's some of what's in store for the two weekend shows:

The Bush administration's ducking and covering as if Nixon never happened while in progressive ranks, there's a lot of learning going on. Author, radio host, DEEPA FERNANDES, at the immigrants' rights movement since Cesar Chavez’s day and Nation magazine contributor, CHRISTOPHER PHELPS investigates the revival of Students for a Democratic Society and what they are taking from the original SDS to create a dynamic contemporary student protest movement today.
MONET OLIVER DePLACE, of Billionaires for Bush believes he knows why the New York Police Department spied on his group before and during the 04 Republican National Convention. We'll find out. [. . .] The Nation's ESTHER KAPLAN reflects on 20 years of ACT UP! Election protection expert and RadioNation alum STEVE ROSENFELD and FRANCES MOORE LAPPE joins Laura to launch the Blue Grit Forum, where listeners tells about progressive victories in their neighborhoods.

WBAI listners should note guests Esther Kaplan (Beyond the Pale) and Deepa Fernandes (Wake Up Call). [Beyond the Pale airs Sundays at noon EST. I don't know of an individual website for the show. Rachel, Micah, Jonah and other community members who are WBAI listenrs will quickly steer us to it if there is one.] Rachel notes she was out the door last Saturday before the e-mail came in, but here are two upcoming programs (Sunday and Monday) on WBAI -- over the airwaves in the NYC area (and beyond) and also available online (times given are EST):

Sunday, April 1, 11am-noon
Author, actor, raconteur Malachy McCourt holds forth.

Monday, April 2, 2-3pm
Spiritual leader Agnes Baker Pilgrim, one of the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, talks about a new book, "Grandmothers Counsel the World"; activist-artists Joan Wile and Vinie Burroughs, founders of Grandmothers Against the War, talk about their expanding movement, Grandmothers for Peace International; and jazz vocalist Sachal Vasandani talks about his new CD, "Eyes Wide Open." Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
and Trina's Trina's Kitchen

And Marcia and Kayla both noted Margaret Kimberly's "Freedom Rider: Abortion Rights are Civil Rights" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report) on Thursday:

In 1973, the United States Supreme Court ruled that abortion rights were constitutionally protected. The Roe v. Wade decision was one of the most significant in the court's history and one of the most important for black people. Roe v. Wade is a perfect solution to the abortion controversy. It allows every woman to follow her own conscience, a principle that most Americans claim to support whole heartedly.
After 30 years of legal abortion, that right is now under assault across the nation. Religious conservatives have long planned to over turn Roe. They have been at work in state legislatures throughout the country, establishing
"trigger" mechanism legislation that would immediately outlaw abortion if Roe is overturned by the Supreme Court. Numerous states require waiting periods and specious warnings about mental and physical risks before abortions can be performed.
The South Carolina legislature is on the verge of passing a bill requiring women to see an
ultrasound image of the fetus before undergoing an abortion. They would then be forced to sign an affidavit swearing that they had seen the ultrasound. An African American legislator, Gilda Cobb-Hunter, summed up just one problem created by this needlessly meddlesome legislation. "You love them in the womb but once they get here, it's a different story."

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