Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday News Peruse

Last night Tavis Smiley and other non-white journalists moderated a forum for the "Democrat" candidates on PBS, which I guess is the first of it's kind because it's moderated by non-whites and will focus on the issues of non-whites (I swear I saw Condi in the audience, wearing something between a grin and a smirk. To verify, look at the "Aids Epidemic" section, almost at the end. ). This Mike Gravel guy, whom I'm ashamed to say I haven't even heard of, is the Ralph Nadar of the group, keeping it real and letting the crowd know that the candidates are equally guilty for the unequal system under which we live. It was the first time I've listened to the candidates, except for what seeps through on the news, and I was fairly impressed. I think they should all be co-presidents, a round table of conscientious and intelligent minds to run this over-sized country.

Smiley said on Democracy Now yesterday, speaking about the forum: "You know, there are some issues, Amy, that haven't even been raised. I’ve been so disappointed in these previous debates with issues having not even been raised yet . . . Now, if every white brother, if every white sister was like Amy Goodman, I know the questions would be asked that mattered to all of us anyway, but we don’t live in that world, unfortunately. And so, at some time, at some point, we have to take a moment to say that these are issues that matter to everybody in America, but particularly because they disproportionately impact black and brown people, these questions need to be asked." Cornell West also called Amy "my sister."

Have you seen the oddly-creepy-yet-funny YouTube endorsement for Kucinich?

If they are not already cringing from revelations of misdeeds and ludicrous denials, Republicans should be embarrassed by this event, or lack thereof:

"The Republican candidates have blown off Hispanics in Florida," said state Rep. Juan Zapata, a Republican who helped bring the NALEO event to the state.

Read the whole AP article here.


Listening to NPR on my mp3 player on my morning walk yesterday, I heard in an interview with one of the commanders in Iraq refer to some insurgents as "Al-Qaeda." I thought, Why do they get away with that? Not all insurgents are al-qaeda, in fact, now every terrorist or enemy seems to be referred to as al-qaeda. I'm glad to hear I wasn't the only one to notice, which makes me hopeful that others of you are noticing, too. A writer wrote this:

That the Bush administration, and specifically its military commanders, decided to begin using the term "Al Qaeda" to designate "anyone and everyeone we fight against or kill in Iraq" is obvious. All of a sudden, every time one of the top military commanders describes our latest operations or quantifies how many we killed, the enemy is referred to, almost exclusively now, as "Al Qaeda."


(if you have to squint to read this, click cartoon to enlarge)

Here's a special treat, a NYT Select column you don't have to pay to read:

A Vice President Without Borders, Bordering on Lunacy
By Maureen Dowd
The New York Times Sunday 24 June 2007

It's hard to imagine how Dick Cheney could get more dastardly, unless J. K. Rowling has him knock off Harry Potter next month.
Harry's cloak of invisibility would be no match for Vice's culture of invisibility. I've always thought Cheney was way out there - the most Voldemort-like official I've run across. But even in my harshest musings about the vice president, I never imagined that he would declare himself not only above the law, not only above the president, but actually his own dark planet - a separate entity from the White House. I guess a man who can wait 14 hours before he lets it dribble out that he shot his friend in the face has no limit on what he thinks he can keep secret. Still, it's quite a leap to go from hiding in a secure, undisclosed location in the capital to hiding in a secure, undisclosed location in the Constitution. Dr. No used to just blow off the public and Congress as he cooked up his shady schemes. Now, in a breathtaking act of arrant arrogance, he's blowing off his own administration. Henry Waxman, the California congressman who looks like an accountant and bites like a pit bull, is making the most of Congress's ability, at long last, to scrutinize Cheney's chicanery. On Thursday, Mr. Waxman revealed that after four years of refusing to cooperate with the government unit that oversees classified documents, the vice president tried to shut down the unit rather than comply with the law ensuring that sensitive data is protected. The National Archives appealed to the Justice Department, but who knows how much justice there is at Justice, now that the White House has so blatantly politicized it? Cheney's office denied doing anything wrong, but Cheney's office is also denying it's an office. Tricky Dick Deuce declared himself exempt from a rule that applies to everyone else in the executive branch, instructing the National Archives that the Office of the Vice President is not an "entity within the executive branch" and therefore is not subject to presidential executive orders. "It's absurd, reflecting his view from the first day he got into office that laws don't apply to him," Representative Waxman told me. "The irony is, he's taking the position that he's not part of the executive branch." Ah, if only that were true. Then maybe W. would be able to close Gitmo, which Vice has insisted he not do. And Condi wouldn't have to worry every night that she'll wake up to find crazy Dick bombing Iran, whispering to W. that they have to do it before that weak sister Hillary takes over. "Your decision to exempt your office from the president's order is problematic because it could place national security secrets at risk," Mr. Waxman, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote to Cheney. Of course, it's doubtful, now that Vice has done so much to put our national security at risk, that he'll suddenly listen to reason. Cheney and Cheney's Cheney, David Addington, his equally belligerent, ideological and shadowy lawyer and chief of staff, have no shame. After claiming executive privilege to withhold the energy task force names and protect Scooter Libby, they now act outraged that Vice should be seen as part of the executive branch. Cheney, they argue, is the president of the Senate, so he's also part of the legislative branch. Vice is casting himself as a constitutional chimera, an extralegal creature with the body of a snake and the head of a sea monster. It's a new level of gall, to avoid accountability by saying you're part of a legislative branch that you've spent six years trying to weaken. But gall is the specialty of Addington, who has done his best to give his boss the powers of a king. He was the main author of the White House memo justifying torture of terrorism suspects, and he helped stonewall the 9/11 commission. He led the fights supporting holding terrorism suspects without access to courts and against giving Congress and environmentalists access to information about the energy industry big shots who secretly advised Cheney on energy policy. Dana Perino, a White House press spokeswoman, had to go out on Friday and defend Cheney's bizarre contention that he is his own government. "This is an interesting constitutional question that legal scholars can debate," she said. I love that Cheney was able to bully Colin Powell, Pentagon generals and George Tenet when drumming up his fake case for war, but when he tried to push around the little guys, the National Archive data collectors - I'm visualizing dedicated "We the People" wonky types with glasses and pocket protectors - they pushed back. Archivists are the new macho heroes of Washington.

Some other juicy editorial rants can be read here and here.

In case you didn't watch the Daily Show clip about Cheney declaring he's not part of the executive branch, please give it look-see, it's hysterical!

And, if you can't get enough and are looking (as I was) for the series of articles the Washington Post did on Darth Cheney, you can go to this page.


Some good news:

Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest, discusses what he sees as the largest social movement in human history, and why that movement is so invisible to the media - and itself.

I heard him interviewed on Democracy Now a few weeks ago and it reinforces my opinion about why everyone should have equal and unlimited access to the internet, our last (and maybe only) public commons. I believe it should be operated as a public utility, if anyone cares to know. Maybe I should sit on that presidential round table.

And on tap for Amy's show today:

“Another World Is Possible, Another U.S. Is Necessary”: Thousands of Activists Gather in Atlanta for the First-Ever U.S. Social Forum

"The Social Forum is a massive gathering. It’s almost like a big networking meeting. People come to talk about the campaigns they’re undertaking, talk about the situations in their cities around the issues, and to share and to learn from each other, which is the most critical part, and then, something that we're doing that is different from the other Social Forums, actually sitting together and figuring out strategies for how we move our vision for another world forward."

Michael Moore's "Sicko" opens today across the country. Amy had him on a few weeks ago, but if he annoys you you can check out what some of the critics and pundits are saying, like Roger Ebert and Marie Cocco of the Washington Post. I understand even Oprah is endorsing the movie, which is the least she can do, considering she failed to speak out in either the 2000 or 2004 election and can shoulder some responsibility for not getting out the word on BushCo in time to save us from it.

I was a little apprehensive about "Ratatouille" because it's about some French rats, which would just be too easy a plot to further malign my cousins, but the first review I've read, from the San Francisco Chronicle, is favorable, as is the one from New York Times:

“Ratatouille” is a nearly flawless piece of popular art, as well as one of the most persuasive portraits of an artist ever committed to film. It provides the kind of deep, transporting pleasure, at once simple and sophisticated, that movies at their best have always promised.

Finally, for some good boys-will-be-boys fun, check out this jeep that . . . well, I don't want to spoil the surprise!

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