Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review 9-18-05

C.I.: Good morning and welcome to The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review for September 18, 2005. We'll have reports on Iraq, Haiti, the media and the Senate hearings on John Roberts, Jr. among other stories. Dona asks that we note this as a "rough transcript." First up, a rarity, Jim of The Third Estate Sunday Review who usually works behind the scenes on the news review, is filing his own report this week. Jim, you're addressing Carl Bernstein's Vanity Fair article, "Watergate's Last Chapter" in their October 2005 issue, with Paris Hilton on the cover.

Jim: Correct. I wasn't sure what to make the article when I began it. Bernstein's attempt to provide his viewpoint on the historically important Watergate series that he wrote for The Washington Post with Bob Woodward? The article does offer that but it also offers much more. You'll learn of how the Nixon White House wanted to use the paper's TV stations as leverage against the paper. In a time when charges are made that a desire for even greater deregulation by the FCC led to much of the cheerleading in Bully Boy's first term, that's worth noting. There are many other details worth noting. I'll focus on the fact that the right-wing pundits slamming Mark Felt as disloyal to the country contained other "deep throats." Bernstein is vague, but after noting Chuck Carlson, Peggy Noonan, G. Gordon Liddy, Patrick Buchanan and others, Bernstein writes "very little of the information Woodward and I reported had come originally from Deep Throat but rather from officials high and low in the White House and Nixon campaign, some of whom were to do the loudest braying over the next couple of weeks about Mark Felt."
To tie this historical story into the present day, Bernstein writes:

The Nixon White House, with great success for a disturbingly long time, made the
conduct of the press the issue in Watergate, instead of the conduct of the
president and his men. Today, a whole political movement -- often appearing
utterly unconcerned with the truth, seeing an easy scapegoat in the press, angry
at its perceived enemies, rapturous at its unprecedented power in all three
branches of government -- has had great sucess doing the same, as has the White
House of another president.
[. . .]
Like Nixon during the Vietnam era,
George W. Bush and the people around him have often relied on outright denial
and adept manipulation of the media in response to uncomfortable truths. In more
straightforward times and circumstances, and absent the trappings of the
presidency (and vice-presidency) and the desire of citizens to believe their
leaders in wartime, this mind-set would have been more obvious early on. The
signposts were already evident from pre-9/11 (non)preparedness to (nonexistant)
W.M.D., to Saddam Hussein's (non)role in the attack on the World Trade Center,
to MISSION (UN)ACCOMPLISHED, to the (in)visible coffins of America's dead
warriors. Since then, the flashing red lights have been harder to ignore, from
responsibility at the highest levels of the chain of command for policies
leading to the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, to the
Karl Rove-Scooter Libby-Ari Fleischer-Scott McClellan convolutions around Joseph
Wilson, his wife, Valerie Plame, and the columnist Robert Novak.
The irony
of the current, overdue disintegration of this presidency's immunity to the
consequences of lying is that it arrived on the wings of the least weighty
instance -- relatively speaking -- of White House mendacity: the attempt to
avoid responsibility in the Wilson affair.

Jim (con't): It's a powerful piece of memoir, commentary and reporting. Though this is not the conclusion of the piece but this is a section that stood out to me, so I'll close with it:

It was Woodward who, years later, wrote compellingly about the tapes' most
troubling aspect: virtually never is there talk about the lofty goals of a
nation, of liberal democracy, of the grieving families of America's young men
killed in Vietnam, of justice or compassion for the poor. There is some grand
geopolitical strategizing, but mostly there is smallness and mean-spiritedness
and terminal self-involvement: Nixon's destiny and the country's regarded as one
and the same.

C.I.: We're discussing Carl Bernstein's "Watergate's Last Chapter" available in the October 2005 Vanity Fair issue currently on sale. Your thoughts on the article?

Jim: I'm amazed. Bernstein truly is the John Lennon of the team. Bob Woodward's bland interviews on the topic and bland statements put me to sleep. I did read Woodward's book and it couldn't hold my interest other than the small section written by Bernstein. This article, in my opinion, takes Watergate and highlights its historical role and contribution while also addressing the importance of the reporting done by Bernstein and Woodward to this day.

C.I.: Thank you, Jim. And we'll note that the piece is not currently available online so purchase the magazine, read it in the store or library. Next we go to Betty who has assembled what she's dubbed "The Weekly Howler Players" for an editorial skit. Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix and Ty of The Third Estate Sunday Review. Betty?

Betty: C.I. I want you to picture a court room setting. We have Cedric on the stand, we have Ty cross-examing him.

Ty: How does it feel to know that you lied in your testimony?

Cedric: It's a blot. I was given faulty intelligence. I felt bad. I feel bad.

Betty: That leaves one impression. Cedric is determined and bold. Now let's do take two.

Ty: How does it feel to know that you lied in your testimony.

Cedric: I, uh, it's a, it's a, of course it's a blot. I felt uh, felt bad. I-I feel bad.

Betty: Not as smooth, rather shifty. ABC's 20/20 aired an interview on Friday the ninth with Colin Powell. Here is how the exchange played out on TV screens:

Powell: Well it's a, it's a, of course it will. It's a blot. I'm the one who
presented it on behalf of the United Nations, uh, United States, to the world.
And it will always be uh, part of my, uh, my record.
Walters: How painful is
Powell: (shrugs) It was -- it *was* painful. (shifts, shrugs) It's
painful now.

Ty: ABC cleaned it up in their online report so that the above now supposedly took place as:

"It's a blot," Powell said. "I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United
States to the world, and [it] will always be a part of my record. It was
painful. It's painful now."

Ty (con't): The mop up presents a more calm, less rattled Powell and may lead some to ask whether or not this is yet another "gloss over" for Powell by the press and/or whether or not this is meant to portray the archietects of the war as polished and unwavering. Here at The Third Estate Sunday Review, Ava and C.I. noted the "shifty" performance of Colin Powell. Writing at The Common Ills, Ava and C.I. have also dealt with it and Robert Parry of Consortium News addressed the issue as well.

Cedric: In other media news, as noted in Ruth's Morning Edition Report Saturday, NPR allowed Juan Williams to "report" on whether or not race and racism played into the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina. Ruth steers you to CounterSpin which two Friday's ago noted Juan William's dismissal of such allegations on Fox "News:"

"I think that's ridiculous. I think that's kind of spouting off of people who
don't know know the president, don't know this administration, don't know the
people who work there."

Cedric (Con't): As Ruth rightly notes, assigning Williams to report on a story he'd already conjectured on and dismissed hardly seems appropriate and questions the "objectivity" that NPR supposedly attempts to maintain.

C.I.: Thank you for that, Betty, Cedric and Ty. I need to note that we're providing general links in many instances in this report. Dallas, as always, hunts down the links and there are apparently problems with many sites including The Third Estate Sunday Review which repeatedly results in a "Cannot find site" message. We'll post this news review as soon as it's completed, with or without links. If there is a problem with posting, and you see this but no other articles as Sunday early morning becomes late morning, please refer to The Common Ills where we'll have some sort of message as to where the posts will be. Now we go to Jess of The Third Estate Sunday Review with the peace report.

Jess: At this week's end, there will be lots of activity and activisim opportunities. From the United for Peace & Justice website:

Sat., 9/24
Massive March
& Rally

Peace and Justice

Operation Ceasefire

Sun., 9/25
Interfaith Service
Training for Grassroots Lobby

for Mass Nonviolent Civil Disobedience

Meeting for Counter Recruitment

• Other Activities Mon., 9/26
Grassroots Lobby Day
Mass Nonviolent Civil Disobedience

Jess (con't): Other organizations participating in the events include Not In Our Name and CODEPINK. At CODEPINK, Emily has started a blog that will cover the events in D.C. Already she has noted the bipartisan Hearings on Iraq called for by Lynn Woolsey. This took place Thursday of last week. Emily's entry on that is worth reading and we'll note from it that "Zogby poll results [. . .] show 69% Shiia and 82% Sunni Iraqis supporting an IMMEDIATE withdrawal of U.S. troops within a specified timeline."
This weekend is your chance to make your voice heard on the issue of stopping the war. In addition to activities in D.C., other communities will be holding rallies and other events so be active in your own communities if you're unable to go to D.C.
I found Cindy Sheehan's most recent contribution to BuzzFlash, "Camp Casey to DC, With a Detour to New Orleans," inspiring, so I'll share the opening of that:

The Camp Casey to DC tour is going very well! We have the three RV's that are
going from city to city and we are speaking in front of rallies that have
hundreds, and sometimes thousands of people attending. We are receiving positive
responses from all over America. We have had amazingly little opposition to what
we are doing. Today in Raleigh, NC at the University, there were some Young
Republicans who support the President and support the war. I tried to get one of
the many recruiters who were on campus to go over and sign them up for the
service, but they wouldn't even look at me. I think the recruiters missed a
golden opportunity to swell the ranks. I have a feeling that the Young killing
supporters wouldn't be willing to go over and put their money where their mouths
are. One of the fine young American baby chicken hawks told one of the members
of our tour whose brother was killed in Iraq that: "someone has to stay in
school and employ people." Sounds like the "Dick Cheney" alternative to serving
your country to me.
The people who are on the three RV's are true Americans
serving their country without reservation. Most of the patriots on the tour have
given up their entire months of August to be at Camp Casey in Crawford and now
they are giving up their Septembers to be on the bus tour or at Camp Casey III
in Covington. If everyone who believes that our country can change from a
paradigm of war to one of peace did even a small fraction of what our Camp Casey
loyalists did, this war would be over tomorrow, the troops would be home, and
America would be a safe and sane place to live. I honor everyone who works for
peace, but especially the people who dropped everything to take back our country
and make it a better place to live and raise children.`
In Columbia, SC,
yesterday, the Southern Leg of the Bus Tour spoke to a few hundred supporters
and 2 counter protestors. One of the counter protestors had a sign that said:
"Support the Mission." I invited her to talk to me after the rally to explain to
me what this ever-changing and ephemeral mission is now. She didn't. We all know
on August 29th, George said that we need to stay in Iraq to
keep the "oil fields" from falling into the hands of terrorists
. Is that the
mission? Are we supporting our troops dying and innocent Iraqi people being
killed for oil and greed? This doesn't sound like anything I want to support.

C.I.: Thank you, Jess. I'll add that NOW is participating in the D.C. activites as well. Many organizations are, but the reason I mention NOW is that if people are unable to come to D.C. but wish to be heard, they can call their local chapters of NOW to inquire about activities in their area. We now go to Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude with an editorial report on Roberts and the state of Roe.

Rebecca: Disclosure, I've had an abortion and in the same set of circumstances, I would have one again. The dog & pony show that was the John Roberts hearings were disgusting. This is NOW's Kim Gandy cutting through the crap:

But I think it's clear from what he has said, I don't think he has been
dishonest in the sense of what "is" is, but he has been misleading. He has very
brilliantly -- I agree with the right wing commentator that he has brilliantly
given answers that have led some people, including ones on the committee, to
believe that he supports the right to privacy and the Roe framework, when in
fact he has been laying out, and I hope never to need to say, "I told you so,"
because I hope he won't be confirmed, but if he is confirmed, I think that
people will look back and they will say, "Oh, yeah. See here, right here in the
hearing, he talked about erosion. He talked about workability. He talked about
extensive disagreement as being grounds for reversal, and gee, isn't it
interesting? These are the exact grounds they used to reverse Roe."

Rebecca (con't): That was Kim Gandy on Democracy Now! Tuesday stating what the mainstream press wouldn't tell you either because they don't understand Roe or because they don't care about Roe. For those who care about Roe, it was difficult to get through the 'happy-happy, let's all laughs and hey, there's John Roberts Junior listing his favorite movies and what do you know Porky's didn't make the cut.' Those expecting a hard grilling of Roberts from Diane Feinstein, were disappointed. Never has she played it so demure. Listening to her offer "I don't know nothing about no lawyering" and other similar comments, one wondered if she longed for the day when "ladies" wore hats and gloves. When Anita Hill faced the Senate Judiciary Committee, there were no women sitting on the committee. For all of her sunny disposition, Feinstein might as well have not been sitting on the committee. If she thinks that cuts it, she better think again. As Bully Boy begins preparations to fill the other seat, Roberts is up for the late Rehnquist's seat not O'Connor's, Democrats better be more prepared and more combative. And unless Lindsey Graham intends to french kiss the next nominee, perhaps Arlen Specter better put a leash on him. Listening to his annoying dipthong bounce up and down in a pitter-patter motion not unlike the way his heart appeared to flutter over John Roberts Junior, it was difficult to tell which was more annoying "Miss Diane," soft and genteel, or the Senate's apparent Blanche Du Bois fussing over Roberts the way Blanche attempted to make Mitch seem much more than he was. Keep it up, Graham, and people will start saying, "'Lindsey. It's a French name. It means no wood. You can remember it by that!" Watching the nonsense, you were aware that even those participating knew it was nonsense, as when Arlen Specter stated, "They may be misleading, but they are his answers." But was their a method to his misleading?
Kim Gandy, president of NOW:

Roberts in fact appears to be laying out a roadmap for how he would overturn
Roe. As grounds for overturning precedent, he cited both "extensive
disagreement" and whether a core holding has become "unworkable," both of which
are very common arguments made by the right-wing for overturning Roe.
Additionally, by repeatedly turning to Casey v. Planned Parenthood
while addressing Roe, Roberts suggested erosion of the precedent as additional
grounds, since Casey significantly eroded the Roe protections and reasoning, as
has subsequent state and federal legislation.

C.I.: Thank you, Rebecca, for that editorial report. For those who missed it, "It means no wood" is a play on Blanche DuBois's lines in A Streetcar Named Desire. We now go to Mike of Mikey Likes It! who will give us what The New York Times doesn't.

Mike: Thank you, C.I. as an Irish-American and a Catholic, I've gone beyond amazement, beyond anger, to acceptance of the fact that The New York Times is interested in violence when it pertains to Catholics but not when it pertains to the "loyalists" who are pro-British. Case in point, the lack of reporting on the events of last week when Loyalists erupted in violence during their parade. What was characterized as "some of the worst rioting in years" was not something Times correspondent Brian Lavery was overly interested in sussing out.

C.I.: In fairness Mike, we should point out that Lavery has publicly stated the various "alphabets" to the various groups are confusing to him. ["Editorial: NYT's Lavery, is he joking or unfit for the assignment?"]

Mike: That is correct. Following what has called "the worst rioting in a decade," Australia's ABC reports that the loyalists have pulled out of talks with the police that were intended to foster a better relationship between the two groups. Meanwhile The New York Times has found an Irish man they like, Bono. And while they trumpet his "power" today, the sad reality is that the UN is not meeting its obligations so much so that Bono's cheerleading buddy, as reported by The Irish Examiner, Bob Geldof has stated, or understated, "I am not thrilled" by the UN's non-reaction to the issues of poverty, debt relief and aid. On a personal note, since I never signed up for Bono's organization, can someone explain to me why I continue to get almost daily e-mail updates from it? "Together we are all ONE" proclaims the latest e-mail. I am not "one" with the tools for the Bully Boy who need to do some work on rebuilding their credibility quickly after fawning over the Bully Boy and giving him cover only to now whine that "I am not thrilled." Telling you what The New York Times won't, this is Mike.

C.I.: Thank you, Mike. For more on the relationships of Bully Boy, Bono, Blair and Geldoff, you can refer to Bianca Jagger's article at openDemocracy. Now with an update on Iraq, we have Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz.

Elaine: The official US military fatality count in Iraq stands at 1899 currently. From wire reports and public radio, today a car bomb went off near Abu Ghraib prison, a bomb went off in Nahrwan, in Baquba and those are just the highlights. 29 months after the invasion, the violence continues. Riverbend of, Baghdad Burning, has examined the proposed Constitution and found out that there are, in fact, three versions. Two are in Arabic, neither of which is as The New York Times reported it, and the third is in Kurd. At Iraq Dispatches, Dahr Jamiail addresses Tal Afar:

The Fallujah model is being applied yet again, albeit on a smaller scale. I
haven’t received any reports yet of biometrics being used (retina scans, finger
printing, bar coding of human beings) like in Fallujah, but there are other
striking similarities to the tactics used in November.
While the US military
claims to have killed roughly 200 "terrorists" in the operation, reports from
the ground state that most of the fighters inside the city had long since left
to avoid direct confrontation with the overwhelming military force (a basic
tenet of guerrilla warfare).
Again like Fallujah, most of the families who
fled are staying in refugee camps outside the city in tents amidst horrible
conditions in the inferno-like heat of the Iraqi summer.

Elaine (con't): The New York Times reported Saturday that what the US military is calling the "Tal Afar model" will now be utilized in the Anbar Province. The Constitutional referendum takes place on October 15th which makes the US military plan for "the coming weeks" interesting to say the least. Finally while the US military and The New York Times continue to maintain that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is orchestrating the resistance, Aljazeera reports that Iraqi Shia cleric Sheikh Jawad al-Kalesi claims al-Zarqawi is dead, has been since the beginning of the invasion of Iraq, and that his family in Jordan long ago held a funeral for him.

C.I.: Thank you, Elaine. Now we go to Ava, of The Third Estate Sunday Review, with information on Haiti's upcoming elections.

Ava: In Haiti, Aristide's Lavalas Family party would like to run jailed Catholic priest Father Gerard Jean-Juste as their party's nominee for the presidency. He has been barred from running. Dumarsais Simeus would also like to be president despite the fact that he's lived outside of Haiti, in the US, for over forty years. Marc Bazin, a former Prime Minister of Haiti, is claiming that he has the endorsement of the Lavalas Family party, a claim that some members of the party are rejecting. The BBC reports that in all there are thirty candidates vying for the title of president. Joe Mozingo, of The Miami Herald, reports that there are fears of corruption in the elections due to be held in November.

C.I.: Ava, the reason being given for barring Father Jean-Juste, whom Amnesty International has declared a prisoner of conscience, from running is that every candiate must register in person?

Ava: That's correct. And since he's been jailed for a crime many are skeptical of, he's unable to register in person. Roger Annis of Canada Haiti Action reported the following on September 14th:

The foreign occupation forces in Haiti are preparing to stage three rounds of
elections -- municipal, national legislature and presidential. They hope this
will give legitimacy to their neo-colonial rule. They are working intensely, and
spending millions of dollars, to create a rightist political party with
credibility -- if not in Haiti, then at least abroad.
But so far, these
elections fall short of having the appearance of legitimacy. Tens of thousands
of Haitians have demonstrated for the return of their constitution and their
elected government. They have shown they will not accept a sham election. Only
20% of the population, 840,000 out of 4 million people of voting age, have
submitted to the occupiers' voter registration. Municipal elections that were
planned for October 9 have been postponed to a later, unspecified date. The
legislative and presidential elections have been scheduled for November 20.

C.I.: Thank, you Ava. For those needing further information on Haiti, Democracy Now! has covered the region repeatedly and a starting point there would be the interview Amy Goodman conducted with Jean-Bertrand Aristide where he spoke of his ouster as a kidnapping backed by the US. We now go to Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills) for a report

Kat: Music critic and BuzzFlash Gop Hypocrite of the Week award winner Laura Bush declares Kayne West's statements disgusting. Don't think anyone died from Kanye's words so Laura might want to look closer to home when doling out disgust. As Elaine pointed out, Stepford Wife Laura Bush's charm offensive is apparently intended to humanize her Bully Boy, which might be an impossible talk. Listening to her go on about "the president" does remind one of something out of Maoist China. Send in the fembot? Oh, look, she's here.
Meanwhile, Kanye West continued to hold on to the number one spot this week with Late Registration, sugesting that, unlike Laura Bush, music fans are neither offended nor disgusted. Laura Bush, get thee to a hoe down.
November 8th, Spin reports, will see the release of The Body Acoustic. What is The Body Acoustic? Cyndi Lauper's latest album which will be acoustic recordings of her previous hits and will feature Sarah McLachlan, Shaggy, and Ani DiFranco.
The last week in September, PBS's American Masters will air Martin Scorcese's No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, a look at the career of Dylan featuring concert footage and recollections by Joan Baez among others.

C.I.: And that concludes this week's news review. Thanks to Dallas for hunting down links. To Dona and Jim for working behind the scenes to keep everything running, Dona and Jim of The Third Estate Sunday Review, and to Jess' parents for help tracking down stories.
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