Monday, November 07, 2005

Si Kahn & Elizabeth Minnich

What Mike and I are doing right now is noting two things from Democracy Now! as our "news" and then writing about something on our minds. I hope that switch doesn't bother anyone. We're just trying it out. So be sure to check Mike's site Mikey Likes It!

Iraqi: "Americans Bombed Everything, Our Houses Are Destroyed" (Democracy Now!):
Most communication to the Sunni towns of Husaybah and Qaim has been cut off. An Iraqi journalist in Husaybah told Al-Jazeera "The city is suffering a complete lack of all of life's basic necessities. There is no fuel and winter is upon us. There is no food and there are no services whatsoever, not even health services." The journalist said that ambulances have been unable to respond to emergencies because no movement is allowed in the city. "They destroyed Qaim, Americans bombed everything, our houses are destroyed, our children are victims and we want a solution," one resident told Reuters. "What do we have to do? We need a solution." Residents have been forced to flee the town on foot. The Associated Press reported that the U.S.-led forces warned over loudspeakers that anyone leaving the town in vehicles would be shot. The U.S. said Operation Steel Curtain was needed to stop foreign fighters from crossing the Syrian border. Meanwhile Sunni politicians criticized the U.S.-led attack. The head of the moderate Iraqi Islamic Party Mohsen Abdul-Hamid said "We reject all military operations directed against civilian targets because such acts lead to the killing of innocent people and the destruction of towns and cities."

Once Disgraced Iraqi Exile, Ahmed Chalabi, Returns to DC (Democracy Now!)
The former head of the Iraqi National Congress Ahmed Chalabi is heading to Washington this week for his first official trip in over two years. He is planning on speaking at the American Enterprise Institute on Wednesday and will be meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Treasury Secretary John Snow. Before the invasion of Iraq, Chalabi had close ties to the Pentagon as well as some reporters including Judith Miller of the New York Times. He has been accused of feeding fabricated information about Iraq's weapons capabilities to US intelligence agencies and to journalists ahead of the Iraq invasion. Questions have also arisen over his close ties to Iran. Over the weekend Chalabi was in Tehran for closed-door meetings with high-ranking Iranian officials including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Last year the Defense Intelligence Agency concluded Iranian intelligence had used aides of Chalabi to pass disinformation to the United States.

Here's something else I felt was worth noting.

"The Fox In The Henhouse: How Privatization Threatens Democracy" (Democracy Now!):
AMY GOODMAN: Elizabeth Minnich, talk about why you think this undermines democracy and how the media deals with this, if people in this country are understanding the shift of the public commons to the private sphere.
ELIZABETH MINNICH: The most important thing to emphasize over and over again is precisely that shift from the public, that which belongs to us, services, goods, values that we have held dear, that we have government established to protect and to provide for us, being opened up to for-profit exploitation, in which case two things key happen. One is, goods that are supposed to be for the people, that we set aside, that we established as rights for the people, which is democratic to the core, being taken over by for-profit corporations for private pockets, dispersed away from the people most directly affected. This is anti-democratic in the extreme.
The whole notion of shrinking government that they talk about? That’s not -- it's about shrinking government that’s responsive to the people. It's not about shrinking the powers of government. With the media, we see -- you know this, of course, infinitely better than I do -- but the whole notion of public airwaves, analogous strictly to public lands and to rights, to the exercise of freedom of the multiple kinds of freedom. Hand that over to for-profit, and it is by definition not run democratically.
AMY GOODMAN: Si Kahn, Hurricane Katrina, and how this fits into your picture?
SI KAHN: Amy, part what I love is the common argument that, oh, the administration wasn't prepared. They were absolutely prepared for Katrina, but they were prepared for an agenda that they were prepared to move. Here's what I think is remarkable about the Bush administration and their cronies. They take every disaster, they take every national trauma as an opportunity to move forward on a privatization agenda, a centralization agenda, an authoritarian agenda.
So, in Katrina, the response that we're seeing is not a humanitarian response, it's not a humane response. It is: Let's see how much contracts, sole source contracts, can be given to Halliburton, to Lockheed Martin, to Wal-Mart, to Home Depot. And we just see the proposal to take $2.6 billion to create vouchers that would allow the children of the Gulf Coast to go to private schools all over the country. The Bush administration has been struggling to privatize education. Let's say that for what it is: to destroy public education and to put education in the hands of for-profit corporations. And they're taking advantage of this extraordinary disaster, this human tragedy, to move $2.6 billion into private corporations for education.

I think the interview that's from is an important one. There are other parts to it that might make a better excerpt, so if you haven't watched, listened or read, you can use the link.

You can't trust regulation and privatize health and safety. It doesn't work that way. As pointed out in the interview, a business' concern is turning a profit. That's what they're focused on. That might work, or might not, with a department store but it does not work with public services. C.I.'s talked about this over at The Common Ills, especially in terms of the nineties "bible" Reinventing Government. The "left" that supported that nonsense allowed us to get where we are today, a place where Bully Boy can give the "corporations are more efficient" nonsense speech and everyone nods their heads.

Corporations are not better at serving a people. They aren't even good about serving their employees. They're good about paying the people at the top, giving out golden parachutes, declaring bankruptcies and insider trading. They're good at cutting corners to "keep down costs" (and raise pay for the people at the top).

But they cannot do the work of government. Look at Iraq and realize that we've destroyed their safety net as much as we can (we haven't destroyed their food program but we're still trying on that). We had a tag sale on all their public goods and let American corporations bid on the rights.
The result? Electricity still isn't up to the levels it was at under Saddam.

An idiot in the Times Saturday wrote breathlessly over how Iraq is now filled with "consumers."
I wonder whose ass she was kissing? (You can click here to read C.I.'s comments on the idiot from the paper thrilled about shootings at traffic stops.)

It's time for us to stop looking at privatization as some sort of wonder cure and instead take a hard look at the results which have not benefitted us. People have a right to expect certain things from their government. Certainly people in New Orleans had a right to expect that government would have taken the needed steps to present the non-natural disaster that killed many and left many more homeless.

I'm backed up on reading, but I am going to make a point to pick up Kahn and Minnich's book entitled The Fox In The Henhouse.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
There is no time left for anything but to make peace work a dimension of our every waking activity.