American Samizdat Guernica
Saturday, June 19, 2004
Faithful Citizenship?
Politicians Face Censure From Bishops on Abortion Rights
 
This really pisses me off! Now the Fundies seem to have buffooned the Catholic bishops into a de facto endorsement of Too Stupid To Be President. "Politicians Face Censure From Bishops on Abortion Rights". The actual text (generically named "Catholics in Political Life") is here. The question here is why, when the Catholic Church's position on abortion has been fully clear for years, these bishops suddenly felt the need to issue a statement like this in the middle of an election campaign. Are Catholics now supposed to vote for Idiot Boy on the basis of a single political stance? The same dry drunk who actual paid for a girlfriend's abortion when it was still illegal. Or has God forgiven that "evil"?

How about a similar statement regarding the ethical considerations involved in blowing up little children with cluster bombs in an illegal war of choice? (Oooh. There's that "choice" word again.) Or maybe a statement about what Jesus would have to say about a "Christian nation" that failed to provide adequate healthcare for all of that nation's sick and injured? Or maybe something about Christian congressmen who chop the legs from under the social safety net as they simultaneously trumpet the need for more costly and effective killing machines? Or funding cuts for education that disproportionately punish those children whose only mistake was that of being born to impoverished parents? What about some statements on these?

Faithful citizenship, my ass. This is nothing more than blatant religio-political hypocricy! And they wonder why I left the Church?


Friday, June 18, 2004
"It is [in regard to] the stopping of the machine that we seem to falter. For some reason, we have not understood clearly what the blueprint was when we recall and think about what happened in the Civil Rights Movement and the Labor Movement and the Women's Movement in [their] early manifestations. The one thing that all those movements had in common was that they stopped the machine.

"And until we stop the machine, and the way in which they hungrily pursue profit; until we tell them you will not turn another moment of profit until you deal with our spiritual bankruptcy as a nation; until you find a new code of honor in which to deal with the world, we will not tolerate any longer your banks, your institutions. We'll no longer tolerate your military interventions and your military impositions. And we are ready to put our bodies and our lives on the line to do that."

Harry Belafonte, who spoke at the 2004 Human Rights Awards Ceremony in San Francisco on June 10.
The United States is holding suspects in the war on terrorism in more than two dozen detention centres around the world, at least half of which operate in total secrecy, a human rights group charged on Thursday.

In a report called "Ending Secret Detentions," Human Rights First said that secrecy surrounding the detention centres makes "inappropriate detention and abuse not only likely, but inevitable".
9/11 tapes and closed-door testimony
Despite all the high secrecy surrounding the briefing, a half-dozen different [9/11] family members were so horrified by voice evidence of the airlines' disregard for the fate of their pilots, crew and passengers that they found ways to reveal some of what they heard on those tapes, and also what they felt. To them, the tapes appeared to show that the first instinct of American and United Airlines, as management learned of the gathering horror aboard their passenger planes on Sept. 11, was to cover up.

The response of American's management on duty, as revealed on the tape produced at the meeting, was recalled by persons in attendance:

"Don't spread this around. Keep it close."

"Keep it quiet."

"Let's keep this among ourselves. What else can we find out from our own sources about what's going on?"

"It was disgusting," said the parent of one of the victims, herself a veteran flight attendant for United Airlines. "The very first response was cover-up, when they should have been broadcasting this information all over the place."


There's also a little more about Sibel Edmonds, who's now teamed up with Daniel Ellsberg:

"The whistleblower pair were protesting yet another delay by Judge Reggie Walton of the District Court of Columbia in determining whether Edmonds' closed session testimony to Congressional inquiries can be declared state secrets by U.S. Attorney General, John Ashcroft.

"In a statement, Edmonds called Ashcroft's legal moves anti-freedom of speech and anti-due process.

"Ellsberg's common cause with Edmonds is founded on his own battle to make public a top secret study of US decision-making in Vietnam, known as the Pentagon Papers."
I know, I know: this sounds very much like a call for class war. But the class war was declared a generation ago, in a powerful paperback polemic by William Simon, who was soon to be Secretary of the Treasury. He called on the financial and business class, in effect, to take back the power and privileges they had lost in the depression and new deal. They got the message, and soon they began a stealthy class war against the rest of society and the principles of our democracy. They set out to trash the social contract, to cut their workforces and wages, to scour the globe in search of cheap labor, and to shred the social safety net that was supposed to protect people from hardships beyond their control. Business Week put it bluntly at the time: "Some people will obviously have to do with less....it will be a bitter pill for many Americans to swallow the idea of doing with less so that big business can have more."

The middle class and working poor are told that what's happening to them is the consequence of Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand." This is a lie. What's happening to them is the direct consequence of corporate activism, intellectual propaganda, the rise of a religious orthodoxy that in its hunger for government subsidies has made an idol of power, and a string of political decisions favoring the powerful and the privileged who bought the political system right out from under us. [more]

Thursday, June 17, 2004
George Orwell, meet Franz Kafka.
"For 1984, his classic novel of totalitarianism, George Orwell created 'Room 101,' an interrogation room where a prisoner's deepest fears were to be realized and applied. Tier 1 in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, as the now-infamous photos indicate, was the Bush administration's Room 101 for the 'Arab mind,' and so the crown jewel of its global interrogation facilities; just as Guantanamo was the 'crown jewel' of the prison camps in its global Bermuda Triangle of injustice; just as the new appointed 'interim government' hidden within the ever-more fortified Green Zone in Baghdad and led by a prime minister and former CIA asset whose exile organization, we learned this week, once set off car bombs in downtown Baghdad, is now the crown jewel of "freedom and democracy" in the Middle East. This is our 'war against terrorism.' Talk about an Orwellian world."

from TomDispatch
New to Boston and coming soon to a city near you: random ID checks on commuter trains. Sounds more like Nazi Germany than 21st Century America. Are the two as different as we once thought?
Dubya Seeks A Little Help From His Pope
As Pen-Elayne points out, religion's been in the news lately. Not only do you have your basic Baptist secession, but you have Bush seeking political favors from the Vatican. The latter inspired this poem:

Dubya's Plea
By Madeleine Begun Kane
Our Bishops need to do much more
To safeguard all that's good,
Said Dubya to the Pope when Dub
Was in the neighborhood.

The rest of Dubya's Plea is here and here.
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Matthews:� According to the papers this week, there's three guys in the running right now.� They're all men.� They're all white guys, because it seems to be the list we go from anyway.�

Franken:� OK, white men.� So you're talking Edwards, Gephardt and Vilsack?��

Matthews:� No, Edwards, Gephardt and Clark still.

Franken:� Oh, Clark.

Matthews:� Clark is back in.� Vilsack seems to be out.

Franken:� Oh, I don't follow these as closely as you do.

Matthews:� Which of those three do you think is the most likely to be picked by the next convention?�

Franken:� I'd say Edwards is.� They have to make a sort of threshold choice, Edwards or not.� So I think that's a 50-50 on Edwards.�

Matthews:� That's very shrewd.� That's exactly where I think it is.� No, I really do think that's what he thinks, too.

Franken:� Thank you.� (LAUGHTER)

Matthews:� Fifty-fifty on Edwards.� Which way would you�if you were putting together the ticket, where would you go?

Franken:� I would go with Edwards.� �I'll tell you why:� The job of the running mate is to make the case for the guy at the top of the ticket.� Well, who would you like to make the case for you other than one of the great trial lawyers in our country?�

Matthews:� So he's the up-up man.� He's the guy who's going to say, �I give you John Kerry. � I think he complements more than supports.� I think he would be the regular guy, humble upbringing, son of a factory worker, a father who lost his job, a good thing to take that case to Ohio, places like that.

Franken:� Yes, absolutely. The two Americas. [more]
"I'm not bothered [by the danger] - nothing bothers me," said Mr Menefee, grinning. "The chances of something happening are the same here. I could step out of the door and get hit by a bus."

Wait... didn't I just read this "Well, I could die right here at home, so why not go where people are inclined to shoot me" rationaliztion?

"The only thing I'm really scared of is if I can't do it, can't get through basic [training]," Ms. Jordan said. "I guess I didn't want to be a small-town girl who figures she's not going to amount to much. I may not have my name in the stars, but I'll be part of something.

"You could get shot," she added, "going to the gas station."

Yes, in that restive ghetto that is Lyndon, Kansas...
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Dump Bush Song Parody
Here's my Dump Bush Song Parody, to be sung to "Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush," It's perfect for Bush's next appearance in an elementary school classroom, don't you think?

Dump Bush Song
By Madeleine Begun Kane

We must defeat George W. Bush,
George W. Bush, George W. Bush.
We must defeat George W. Bush.
Vote Kerry this November.

Cheney and Bush are our nation's foes,
Our nation's foes, our nation's foes.
Cheney and Bush are our nation's foes.
Vote Kerry this November. ...

The rest of my Dump Bush Song Parody is here and also here.
Israel stealing land? The sun coming up in the morning?

How about a little, "Mr. Sharon, tear down this wall!"--?
Tim Elliott, a Chicago attorney who recently challenged the revision in a Texas federal courtroom on behalf of a bankrupt food distributor, said defining French fries as fresh vegetables defied common sense.

"I find it pretty outrageous, really," said Elliott, who argued that the Batter-Coating Rule is so vague that chocolate-covered cherries, packed in a candy box, would qualify as fresh fruit. [more]
"It turns out to be a really brilliant piece of work, and a film that members of all political parties should see without fail."
Monday, June 14, 2004


"The trip by the current US defence secretary, to pledge US support for Saddam Hussein (in 1983), marked one of the lowest points of the entire Reagan presidency, and symbolically represents the real legacy of the 'Great Communicator.' For Reagan was the president who allowed the US to secretly arm the Iraqi dictator with weapons of mass destruction, supported Iraq's military expansion, turned a blind eye to Saddam using chemical weapons against Iran, and thereby set in train the events that would lead to George W. Bush's disastrous decision to invade the country in 2003...

"'Saddam Hussein showed obvious pleasure with... Rumsfeld's visit... Rumsfeld told Saddam US and Iraq had shared interests in preventing Iranian and Syrian expansion. He said the US was urging other states to curtail arms sales to Iran and believed it had successfully closed off US-controlled exports by third countries to Iran.

"'Our initial assessment is that meeting marked a positive milestone in development of US-Iraqi relations and will prove to be of wider benefit to US posture in the region.'"
Score one for the neo-con religious right. The Supreme Court dismissed the case brought by Michael Newdow of California on a technicality, saying the father did not have sufficient custody to sue on behalf of his daughter. Not only is the Court allowing religion to remain in public schools, it is doing so in a backhanded, cowardly way. Bastards.
"The only thing I'm really scared of is if I can't do it, can't get through basic," Ms. Jordan said. "I guess I didn't want to be a small-town girl who figures she's not going to amount to much. I may not have my name in the stars, but I'll be part of something."
Sunday, June 13, 2004
"The State Department is scrambling to revise its annual report on global terrorism to acknowledge that it understated the number of deadly attacks in 2003, amid charges that the document is inaccurate and was politically manipulated by the Bush administration," reports the LA Times.

The report, "Patterns of Global Terrorism," was released to much fanfare in late April and used to bolster claims that the Bush administration was winning the "war on terror." So much for that. The revised version will indicate that global terrorism has increased over the past year.
The St. Petersburg Times has confirmed the existence of the long denied flight of Saudis out of Tampa International Airport on September 13, 2001.

For added context, see this recent op-ed piece by Craig Unger, author of House of Bush, House of Saud, from the NY Times.
In a content analysis of CNN's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Nigel Parry writes:
Palestinians and Israelis continue to die because citizens of the US � the country that intervenes more than any other to perpetuate the status quo on the ground � are offered a grossly distorted account of events on the ground that gives them no real sense of the imbalance of power between the two sides in the conflict, no idea of the extent of the US role in the conflict, and little impetus to call for a more even-handed US foreign policy in the Middle East.

It is hard to quantify in absolute terms, but most regular readers of the extremely detailed Palestinian Center for Human Rights' Weekly Reports on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories would be willing to make a safe guess that somewhere in the region of 98% of the violence perpetrated against all civilians in the conflict is violence perpetrated by Israel against Palestinian civilians, their property, and their land.

Consumers of the US media can be forgiven for concluding that the majority of violence is perpetuated by Palestinians against Israeli civilians, as this violence receives grossly disproportionate coverage.

In the same way that Serbian state television was considered complicit in Serbian war crimes by communicating a distorted view to its people of the decade-ago conflict in the former Yugoslavia, it is time that people begin to consider the culpability of the US media.

In the case of CNN's coverage of Palestine, the lie is one of omission. The effect of the majority of US news coverage is to promote an unbalanced view of who is perpetrating the violence, which has the potential to affect reality in disturbing ways. [more]
While I have misgivings about prosecuting media workers for the consequences of their reportage, the question that remains is how to hold the media accountable, particularly when they are inciting violence. Besides Serbia, we've recently seen this in Rwanda. And for anyone who hasn't been asleep for two years, we've also seen it in regards to how the American media banged the Iraq war drums.

What to do about this? My own conclusion is to start mobilizing for media reform, but still that strikes me as a bit of an amorphous prescription. Any other ideas?
Saturday, June 12, 2004
Friday, June 11, 2004
"Going to where the silence is. That is the responsibility of a journalist: giving a voice to those who have been forgotten, forsaken, and beaten down by the powerful. It is the best reason I know to carry out pens, camers, and microphones into our own communities and out to the wider world."
Back in April I had the opportunity to hear Amy Goodman near the start of her tour promoting her new book, The Exception to the Rulers. As I'm sure virtually every one of my readers knows, Goodman is the host of the Pacifica radio (and TV) show Democracy Now!, the single best progressive news show on the air today.
"If you are opposed to war, you are not a fringe minority. You are not a silent majority. You are part of a silenced majority. Silenced by the mainstream media."
Goodman's book, written with her brother David, covers the full gamut of issues from her perspective as reporter and news anchor. Some of the chapters cover familiar territory - the media coverage of the invasion of Iraq, attacks on civil liberties with the PATRIOT act, the consolidation of the media. Other chapters cover events more associated with Goodman in particular, some about well-known events, like her coverage of the Nigerian dictatorship and the genocide in East Timor, and some about more uniquely personal events, like Goodman's appearance on the Sally Jessy Raphael show or her lengthy on-air interview of Bill Clinton ("hostile, combative, and even disrespectful" according to Clinton). Others deal with historical issues, like the coverup of the radiation deaths in Hiroshima by the New York Times.
"You have to ask the question: If we had state media in the United States, how would it be any different?" [A particularly appropriate question during this week of Reagan hagiography, I might add]
Whether you're reading about things you know, or things you don't, this book will add something to your understanding of those events. It's well-written, easy to read, and, as the pulled quotes sprinkled through this review hopefully show, filled with memorable phrases. It is also a wonderful gift book for your friends or relatives who maybe aren't so political, or aren't political at all, or are political but are more "centrist" and lacking a real understanding of how this country and its power structure operates. Because, although the book pulls absolutely no punches, it's still written in Goodman's generally mild-mannered tone in a way that inspires absolute confidence in what she writes (not to mention well-documented for the skeptics). And as an added bonus, as Goodman explained in her recent interview on C-SPAN's Booknotes, all profits from the book are going to Pacifica and local radio stations. What a deal! Read a good book, buy some presents that will influence your friends, and support a good cause at the same time.

You can watch or read the transcript of the Booknotes interview on the Democracy Now! website (upper right hand corner), read excerpts of the book, and get details of her book tour (see her if you have the chance).

Read this book! And if Democracy Now! isn't part of your daily listening habits - what's wrong with you? ;-)

I don't see how this will look good to either side--the right-leaning middle of the roaders will not like it that McCain said no, and all the lefties will wonder why the hell he was asked in the first place. Of course, if Kerry kneeled down and asked a turnip growing by the side of the road to be his running mate, I'd be voting for Kerry as well . . .
From an email I just received:

"This is a one time only ad that will run only in the NYTimes shortly..."

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