Archive for October, 2005

Entry for October 27, 2005

October 27, 2005

Crony Baloneyby Rob McGrath at his site, Not Banned Yet.

SCOTUS POCUS

Progressives need to organize and pressure the center to join them in saying no to ultraconservatives and to cronies. It is time for a Supreme Court nominee independent of the Executive who makes decisions for all of us, not a narrow constituency.

Focus on the Family’s James Dobson has deserted Harriet Miers. Ann Coulter is crowing on Wolf Blitzer’s “Situation Room”, “This is an absolutely historic, stunning event. I mean…this does show the power of the radical right wing, as Democrats call it, normal Americans, as I call it, in this country.” Right wing blogs are discussing the difference between being “borked” and being “miered”.

On October 27, on the eve of a special prosecutor’s announcement of whether indictments will be issued to White House senior staff members like Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and vice-president Cheney, George Bush scuttled Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court to replace swing vote Sandra Day O’Connor. In her letter, asking that he withdraw her nomination, Miers complained, “I have been informed repeatedly that in lieu of records, I would be expected to testify about my service in the White House to demonstrate my experience and judicial philosophy. While I believe that my lengthy career provides sufficient evidence for consideration of my nomination, I am convinced the efforts to obtain Executive Branch materials and information will continue.

Both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee had asked for records, short of such privilege, to gauge Miers’ position on constitutional issues; they had no other writings on which to base an opinion. The conservative group Progress for Americawhich had launched a site JusticeMiers.com ignored the Senators’ self-limited requests. “Ms. Miers has a long and distinguished record of service to her country and the field of law. Unfortunately, Harriet Miers recognizes that many Senators will not be satisfied until they gain access to internal White House documents protected by attorney client privilege. Her withdrawal demonstrates her deep commitment to the fundamental constitutional principle of separation of powers.

Meanwhile, the progressive People for the American Way commented, “

Harriet Miers’ withdrawal from her Supreme Court nomination demonstrates that ultraconservatives are so determined to swing the Supreme Court sharply to the right that they pounded their own president’s nominee into submission, and now demand a nominee with unquestioned far-right credentials.”

It speculates, “Now that Harriett Miers has withdrawn, we hope that President Bush will nominate a respected jurist who can draw bipartisan support and respect. But we doubt that will happen. The far-right wing of the Republican Party brought down Harriet Miers’ nomination because they want to replace Sandra Day O’Connor with a justice who is openly committed to shifting the Court dramatically to the right. That has been the goal of right-wing leaders since they first endorsed Bush for president, and they’re now demanding the payback they believe they’ve earned.

The group hasput out a fundraising alert. “With the President’s approval ratings at an all-time low, right-wing leaders and their allies in Congress are now demanding a nominee of their choosing — a far-right jurist to replace the moderate conservative Sandra Day O’Connor. A shift further to the right could reverse the progressive gains of the past 70 years for a generation or more. We need funds immediately to prepare for the battle ahead to ensure that our rights and liberties are not lost to a radical takeover of the Supreme Court.”

Eli Pariser, MoveOn.org Political Action Executive Director issued a statement saying, “The lesson of the Miers withdrawal is that Presidents must not appoint unqualified cronies or personal friends to the highest Court in the land, nor to other positions of critical responsibility to the public welfare. We may never know the real reason for Harriet Miers’ withdrawal. Perhaps it was her involvement in the Plame case as White House Counsel. Regardless, whether it’s the Supreme Court or FEMA, no more cronies, just qualified public servants please.”

Editor’s Note: To read an analysis of the right wing attacks, see Give Us A Right-Winger or Else.

Entry for October 26, 2005: Refinery Welfare

October 26, 2005

Illustration from Dod.net 

Write your Senator on the Environment and Public Works Committee

Remember my entry on HB 3893?   Here’s what’s happening in the Senate.

The Republican Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, sponsor of the Senate refinery bill, SR 1772,  also introduced September 26, attempted to distance himself from the house measure at October 18 hearings before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which he chairs. 

 On October 26, before the Committee voted, the ranking minority member, Vermont independent JimJeffords, critiqued the Senate bill, saying, “I am not convinced, on the basis of hearing testimony last week, that permitting requirements under federal law are providing a serious impediment to refining capacity. And even if they were, EPA is working to implement the streamlined permitting authority for refinery projects contained in the new energy law Congress just passed… I believe that, not only should refinery projects be treated the same as other manufacturers, but that their record high profits could be invested in increasing capacity. But, as I highlighted at the hearing, I am most concerned [about] changes to the Clean Air Act…beyond those in our new energy law.

After a tie vote, thanks to Jeffords, all the Democrats on the committee  and Republican Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Jeffords  added, “The defeat of this legislation today is a victory for public health and the environment. This bill would have weakened environmental regulations and dramatically changed the federal-state structure of judicial review established in our environmental laws, while doing virtually nothing to lower gas prices. If we are serious about addressing soaring gas prices we must promote conservation, boost the supply of clean fuels and protect the environment, measures included in an amendment I offered at the mark-up today. This legislation would not have helped our constituents suffering from higher prices at the pump, but it would have exposed them to increased pollution and threats to their health.”

After the defeat, Senator Inhofe complained, “I am disappointed that the Committee’s minority decided to play politics with the pocket books of the American consumer in rejecting the sensible provisions contained within the Gas PRICE Act…We intend to regroup and determine in short order what our next step will be to move the Gas PRICE Act forward. 

“During the meeting, I mentioned that one of the concerns we’ve been hearing about is the fear of a conference with the Barton Bill, which was actually referred to the Energy Committee.  While the Gas PRICE Act is not a companion piece to any legislation, I would emphasize again that the fear of a conference is no excuse not to legislate.” 

 

Here’s my letter to Virginia Senator John Warner

October 26, 2005

I am disappointed that Congress would use the tragedies of hurricanes Katrina and Rita to justify special favors to the oil industry.

I have read the hearing testimony of October 18 and am not convinced that federal permit requirements pose a serious impediment to refining capacity. And, if so, the EPA is working to streamline permits under the new energy bill just passed.  I cannot understand why refinery projects need special help, especially since  record-high profits could be invested in increasing capacity. And I am most concerned about further weakening of the Clean Air Act, beyond the new energy law.

I wish you had joined Senator Chaffee today in opposing S. 1772 in the Committee on the Environment and Public Works.  This bill would have weakened environmental regulations, changed the judicial review process and done virtually nothing to lower gas prices while increasing pollution and threatening our health.

Senator Inhofe, has stated that, “We intend to regroup and determine in short order what our next step will be to move the Gas PRICE Act forward.”

I am afraid that will truly be a step backward   Republicans for Environmental Protection has argued that “Congress should be helping Americans use energy more efficiently and speeding up fuel diversification. Instead, the House is planning to… endanger public health while doing nothing to lessen oil dependence.”

I agree.  I ask you as my Senator not to condone this corporate welfare measure.  Please vote against S 1772 in committee.

********    

 Senator John Warner sits on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and supported S. 1772.  You can write him at 225 Russell Building
Washington, D.C. 20510 or email him at enail him on this form at his website. 
 
 You can read testimony on the Senate bill online.  To track the bills, type  “H.R.  3893”  and “S. 1772” into the search box  of  Thomas, the Library of Congress’s legislative information site. 

Entry for October 26, 2005: Candlelight Vigil

October 26, 2005

Plowshare vigil tonight over 200th death in Iraq 

Okay, that picture is from the vigil held for the Pope, but wouldn’t it be nice if a lot of people showed up tonight?  Here’s the information:

The two thousandth American soldier has now died in Iraq.
In response, a candlelight vigil will gather near the City
Market building in Center-in-the-Square from 6 to 6:30 PM
tonight.  Please bring candles with cups to shield them from
the wind.  (We will bring some extras).  Please bundle up as
it will be in the lower 30’s with rain or snow predicted.
Also, please note: we do not have a permit for this.  We
don’t anticipate problems, however.  If there are
objections, we will move along and become a “moving” vigil.

For more information, call Gary Sandman at 985-0808.

 

Entry for October 25, 2005: 2000 US Soldiers

October 25, 2005

“Death on the Barricades”–1849 woodcut by German artist Alfred Rethel, The Web Gallery of Art  

Legislation before Congress to Shorten Iraq Occupation

At 1:49 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on October 25, CNN  announced that the Department of Defense’s death toll for U.S. soldiers in Iraq reached 2,000. The latest poll sponsored jointly by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News on October 10 to 12, finds that a majority of Americans believe that the war was not worth either the deaths or the financial investment and want troups reduced.

Now, in addition to called for demonstrations against the death toll,  United for Peace and Justsice  is calling for Free Press readers to schedule meetings with Congressman Rick Boucher and their other representatives as part of campaign to visit at least 100 representatives before Thanksgiving and ask them to support measure currently before Congress designed to limit the war.  As of October 25, Congressman Boucher had not signed on to co-sponsor any measures. 
UFPJ first organized delegations of over 1000 citizens to visit over 300 senators, representatives and/or their aides on September 26 to lobby for support of those measures currently as a part of the September mobilization against the war in Iraq it co-sponsored. (see NRFP * issue.

The first measure, House Resolution 551, was introduced February 2, 2005 by Representative Michael Honda.  The “Student Privacy Protection Act of 2005”  requires schools to notify each secondary school’s parent of the option to consent in writing to a release of the student’s name, address, and telephone listing to military recruiters and to  provide military recruiters, upon their request, with access to such information only if the student’s parent has given such written consent.  As of October 25, the bill has 66 co-sponsors,  2 of whom signed on after lobby day.  Republican Trent Franks withdrew his support October 20.  On March 24, it was referred to the House subcommittee on Education Reform.

Senate Resolution 171 was introduced on June 14 by Senator Russell Feingold.  It expresses the sense of the Senate that: (1) the United States should remain committed to providing long-term diplomatic and political support to Iraq; (2) the United States should continue to pursue a robust and multi-faceted campaign against international terrorist networks in Iraq and around the world; and (3) not later than 30 days after the Senate agrees to this resolution, the President should report to Congress describing the Armed Forces’ remaining mission in Iraq, and a time frame for the subsequent withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. The resolution has only one co-sponsor, Senator Barbara Boxer.

House Joint Resolution 55 was introduced on June 15 by Representative Neil Abercrombie.  The Homeward Bound” bill declares that it is U.S. policy to: “(1) announce, not later than December 31, 2005, a plan for the withdrawal of all U.S. Armed Forces from Iraq; (2) turn over, at the earliest possible date, all military operations in Iraq to the elected government of Iraq and provide for the prompt and orderly withdrawal of all U.S. Armed Forces from Iraq; and (3) initiate such a withdrawal as soon as possible but not later than October 1, 2006.  As of October 25, the bill had 62 co-sponsors, 4 of whom, including Republican John Duncan of Tennessee, had signed on after the lobby day.  It has been referred to the House Committees on International Relations and Armed Services.

House Congressional Resolution 197 was introduced June 30 by Representative Barbara Lee.  The “No Permanent Bases” bill declares that it is U.S. policy not to enter into any base agreement with the government of Iraq that would lead to a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq. As of October 25, the bill has 57 co-sponsors, 10 of whom has signed on after lobby day.  It has been referred to the House Committee on International Relations.

UPJ is also asking that members of Congress to join Join the Out of Iraq Congressional Working Group.  The Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus was created during the second week of June 2005 to increase pressure on the Bush administration and Congress to end the Iraq conflict and bring American forces home.  Representatives Maxine Waters, Charles Rangel, Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, Xavier Becerra, John Conyers, and John Lewis are leading the Causcus,  which had 41 members at its launch and 50 members as of June 20.  After the September mobilization, three new members (Lois Capps (D-CA), Michael McNulty (D-NY), and Richard Neal (D-MA)) joined.

Sue Udry, of UFPJ’s legislative working group is available to answer questions at
301-565-4050, Ext. 315 (voice), 301-325-1201 (cell) or you can email her.     To track the current status of legislations, see  the Library of Congress’s information site, Thomas.  

(a version will also appear in the New River Free Press)

Entry for October 24, 2005: ACLU Torture Report

October 24, 2005

2004 Cartoon by Tom Toles in Washington Post

At the September 24 Washington D.C. mobilization against the war in Iraq, some protesters help up signs reading,” Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam. Disputed origins, a fierce resistance, and repugnant abuses by US troops all recall the trauma of that quagmire.

 

A month later, on October 24, the .American Civil Liberties Union  released its analysis of autopsy and death reports of detainees held in U.S. facilities  in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom died while being interrogated. The documents show that detainees were hooded, gagged, strangled, beaten with blunt objects, subjected to sleep deprivation and to hot and cold environmental conditions. Not only CIA personnel, but those from the Navy Seals and military intelligence were involved.

 

According to the ACLU’s executive director, Anthony Romero, “There is no question thatU.S.interrogations have resulted in deaths. High-ranking officials who knew about the torture and sat on their hands and those who created and endorsed these policies must be held accountable. America must stop putting its head in the sand and deal with the torture scandal that has rocked our military.”

 

As I noted in an earlier entryMilliarium Zero is re-releasing a 95 minute documentary, Winter Soldier , about the Vietnam Veterans Against the War’s Winter Soldier Investigation. The Virginia premiere October30 at the Virginia Film Festival will be followed by screenings at E Street Cinema in Washington D.C. December 9 – 15.

 

At the Winter Soldier Investigation, returning veterans of from all branches of the military offered eyewitness testimony to the atrocities for three days in Detroit in February 1971, one month after the revelations of the My Lai massacre. 

 

Many writers and camera crews attended, but major news organizations chose not to report the evidence presented. Winter Soldier, filmed and edited by Winterfilm Collective, eighteen independent New York-based filmmakers, became the only audio-visual record. National broadcaster refused to show the film. After screenings in Manhattanat Cinema 2 and the Whitney Museum, and an airing on New York’s PBS affiliate, Winter Soldier and its testimony were effectively buried.

 

More than a year ago, retired army Lieutenant General William E. Odom, now an adjunct professor of Political Science at Yale spoke about Iraq to The Guardian saying, “This is far graver than Vietnam…though in both cases we mindlessly went ahead with the war that was not constructive for US aims.”

 

In 2002, the majority of American voters and their proxies in the Congress seemed to forget the lessons of a mindless, destructive war. Now, In These Times reviewer Michael Atkinson says, “in an ideal and informed democracy, a Winter Soldier screening would be a voter registration requirement.”

 

 

Entry for October 24, 2005: Rosa Parks Gone at 92

October 24, 2005

After  Supreme Court decision, Rosa Parks rides at the front of the bus.    UPI/Bettman

Rest in Peace Rosa

Entry for October 23, 2005

October 23, 2005

Tom Delay

Again, from Hail Dubyus… (Image reproduced courtesy HAIL DUBYUS! copyright 2005.)

Happy birthday, Dad (10/22/05)

October 22, 2005

My dad Peretz, who died last year the day after Bush’s election, would have been 89 today.

Here’s the poem I wrote this January:

THREE FOR THE ROSES

1.

Dad, after I voted, I stayed up
all night listening to returns, hoping
Kerry had garnered enough votes in Ohio.
I was eating breakfast at Gillies
reading the paper when Mom called before eight
and I knew the news before I answered:
it was too early for her to be up.

The next day, when we reached home
Carol said it had been a horrible day, first Kerry
and now you, and I joked
that at the end you had just been to tired to move to Canada.
She found three pink perfect roses you had planted in the yard,
brought them inside.  One for each of us, she said.

2.

Today in the paper, Monty Leitch wrote about
how her father’s recent death haunts her
in the Jack O’Lanterns rotting in the garden,
in her first-time fear of the leafless winter woods.

Yours haunts me on the internet.
I found an engraved ivory pistol stock entitled full-blown rose.
You had stopped eating when you asked for a gun,
then asked me why I looked so sad.

Your last real words were how you had been a happy man,
that you had two daughters who had brought you joy,
that you wanted to see your father who had died when you were five. Carol’s dog, Otto, jumped up on the bed and then a cricket. I told you all the things you had given me:
walks in the woods, a green thumb, a series of perfect books.
You lived another eleven days, your once strong body
good only for lingering on.

At your funeral, Carol talked about those roses.
I talked about how you would have
loved the clear sky.  Of  the things you had given me:
walks in the woods, a green thumb, a series of perfect books.

3.

I found it on the kitchen table in a stack
with other mail from the past two years.
This past Father’s Day,
your forgetful daughter had lost the card
purchased months earlier,
flipped instead, as through a tarot deck,
the stack of handmade
ones I’d clipped and glued on heavy stock,
fronts all recycled from the endless supply
which charities send out.

I selected a full blown pink rose
and inscribed a note on how
it reminded me of your gardens.
Days after your funeral
before the first hard frost
I walked out in the cold dark and
bent double the lanky stems to cut
another two pink buds at the five-leaved joints
like you taught me.

The next day Carol found two more
red ones in the front yard,
distorted by the fading light but still fragrant.
When we left to return to our own homes
they were full blown in Momma’s kitchen window.

Entry for October 21, 2005

October 22, 2005

(Illustration from The Guardian) 

Judith Miller more notorious than noted

Finally, folks are raising the point that Miller  was complicit in spreading the White House lies while acting as if she were investigating a story and then a noble journalist willing to go to jail to protect her sources.
 

On October 15, Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor and Publisher  called for Miller to be fired  for

crimes against journalism, and her own newspaper. And Bill Keller, executive editor, who let her get away with it, owes readers, at the minimum, an apology instead of merely hailing his paper’s long-delayed analysis and saying that readers can make of it what they will.


 Former Times Reporter Alex S Jones appeared formerly of the Times and currently director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy  appeared on News Hour with Jim Lehrer on October 17 and on Al Franken’s show on October 20.   October 18, Richard Ven-Veniste appeared on the Charlie Rose show, along with Miller’s Attorney, Robert Bennett.   

 

The  Washington Post  story on Judy Miller notes the rift with her editors at the New York Times.  Her attorney, Robert Bennett,  is complaining that editors told Miller she could not continue at the paper unless she wrote a first-person account.  
 
Bennett denies Miller’s responsibility to the Times readers now that she is not in legal jeopardy,  He contends that Scooter Libby’s waiver and special prosecutor Fitzgerald’s agreenebt  appy only to Miller’s grand jury testimony.
 

Last week’s Times story seemed muddled as a result of Miller not providing her notes to reporters, but Bennett says he insisted that she not do so.

They were documents which had been subpoenaed by the grand jury, and I didn’t think it was appropriate to share them. But even if it wasn’t illegal, there was a pending criminal investigation.

 Meanwhile Executive Editor Bill Keller has accused Miller of  misleading the newspaper about her dealings with Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby.

Until Fitzgerald came after her, I didn’t know that Judy had been one of the reporters on the receiving end of the . . . whisper campaign” against Joe Wilson, the husband of CIA operative Valerie Plame. “I should have wondered why I was learning this from the special counsel, a year after the fact.
 
Citing a 2003 conversation the Washington bureau chief had with Miller,  Keller continues:
 
Judy seems to have misled Phil Taubman about the extent of her involvement.

Further, Keller added,

if I had known the details of Judy’s entanglement with Libby, I’d have been more careful in how the paper articulated its defense and perhaps more willing than I had been to support efforts aimed at exploring compromises.

Keller endorsed a previous email by White House Correspondent Richard Stevenson which said the paper should,

“go to the mat [ for its reporters]  only to the degree that the reporter has lived up to his or her end of the bargain, specifically to have conducted him or herself in a way consistent with our legal, ethical and journalistic standards, to have been open and candid with the paper about sources, mistakes, conflicts and the like.

 

An October 18 story in Editor and Publisher quotes Times reporter 

commenting that the repercussions of this story may surpass those of the Jason Blair story fabrications:   

the implications of it are worse, for the press and the paper, that we are capable of suppressing reporting of an important story.

Jay Rosen,  an assistant professor on the NYU journalism faculty,  has many interesting entries on his blog. 

 

Entry for October 20, 2005

October 22, 2005

October 20, 1947: HUAC opens hearings into alleged Communist influence in Hollywood

Night and Good Luck

George Clooney’s film isn’t slated for the Grandin yet.