Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Ford & Brown blather

First off, please read C.I.'s "Correction to Barbara Ehrenreich on Democracy Now! today" about the embarrassing and shameful speech Barbara Ehrenreich gave that was broadcast on Democracy Now! today. Ehrenreich did not know what she was speaking of but saw a chance to deliver a cheap slam at Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda and GreenStone Media. It was embarrassing and it was shameful. It also calls into question Ehrenreich's own critical abilities.

To stay on Democracy Now! today, I didn't get the idea that Goodman or anyone got what Ford proposed for those who dodged the draft during Vietnam. That was rather shocking. The program they seemed to be referring to was Jimmy Carter's. Possibly they werent, if so, the confusion stems from the fact that they did shout outs and not discussions.

Micah's already complained about Victor Navasky's mouth run ons. You know what, no one needs to listen to that. Let me tell you what that story was in full:

1) Gerald Ford wrote his memoirs.

2) Victor Navasky was passed information on it pre-publication.

3) The Nation published the information, that Ford may have worked out an agreement with Al Haig to pardon Nixon prior to Nixon resigning.

4) Time magazine, Reader's Digest and the publisher were unhappy that The Nation 'scooped' and a lawsuit resulted -- Time and Reader's Digest had intended to excerpt the book.

5) The case landed in the Supreme Court. The Nation lost the case.

This was, at best, a three minute story -- the three minutes includes any exchanges between Goodman and Navasky. Instead, this was the most annoying, most boring moment of broadcast radio for the week, the month and possibly the year. It was the never ending anecdote and it was also pointless in terms of a press issue.

This wasn't about free speech. The story The Nation 'broke' wasn't in danger of being suppressed. The 'scoop' was the same sort of nonsense the New York Times prides itself on -- something that will be known in a day or a week gets leaked to them ahead of time and they rush it into print. It's not breaking news, it's running with a leak. It's not investigative reporting because it doesn't uncover anything, it just cuts ahead of line.

What was more embarrassing about the Ford focus was that, big deal, Gerald Ford died. Exactly why Democracy Now! has to cover the 'statesman' is beyond me. I was making that point to C.I. who recommended I check out something. I did and I enjoyed it enough to share it here.

"Gerald Ford, Unsentimentally" (Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive):
Sorry, but I refuse to let my tear ducts open over the death of Gerald Ford.
There's something profoundly undemocratic and vaguely medieval about the almost mandatory salutes that we, the people, are supposed to offer when a former President dies.
The niceties of custom all too often reinforce the habits of blind obedience to the unworthy wielders of power.
Say no ill of the dead, we are told.
Hogwash. Let’s look at Gerald Ford's record.
The first thing he did was to pardon Richard Nixon, even though ten days previously he had said that the special prosecutor should proceed against "any and all individuals" and a year before, he averred that "I do not think the public would stand for it."
The pardon short-circuited the necessary prosecution of Nixon, which would have served as a salutary check on future inhabitants of the Oval Office. Instead, the pardon set a precedent for such flagrant lawbreakers as we have in the White House today.
If impeachment of Bush and Cheney may be just a remote possibility, prosecution and incarceration remain inconceivable. And so Bush and Cheney, thanks to Ford, can float comfortably above the law.
On domestic policy, Ford was a standard issue Republican, vetoing social spending bills, cutting food stamps and housing and education programs, infamously denying aid to New York City while all the while boosting Pentagon spending. And, in a move Bush and Cheney would have applauded, he proposed the nation's first official secrets act to provide criminal penalties for the unauthorized disclosure of classified material.

Covering the rich and powerful, Democracy Now! C.I. pulled something from the snapshot (noting, "I'm too angry right now") that I will note here. Democracy Now! failed to tell you that 100 people died in Iraq on Tuesday -- corpses, bombings and shootings. They also failed to tell you the number of US troops who were announced dead on Tuesday. But they had time for Ford, they had time to trash Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda, and they had time to tell you about James Brown's upcoming funeral/memorial.

Since (a) Brown was an apologist for Richard Nixon, (b) a supporter of Ronald Reagan, (c) an all around suck up to Republicans, (d) his arrests for battering women, I really don't give a damn that James Brown is dead. James Brown died around the time he buddied up with Tricky Dick. His career from the 70s to today has been one long embarrassment after another -- an embarrassment of crap, most of which failed to chart. On the domestic abuse charges, has everyone forgotten how many times he was arrested for beating up Adrienne Rodriegues, his third wife?

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, December 27, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the US military announces more deaths of US troops while they call up 3,500 more troops, a British general calls for more war money while lowering expectations, England and the United States face strong backlashes in Iraq and the puppet of the occupation proves unpopular.
As December has become the second deadliest month in 2006 it's easy to see who covers the fatalities (Washington Post -- usually
Nancy Trejos) and who doesn't (New York Times). Today the US military announced: "A 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldier died as a result of non-combat related injuries on Logistics Support Area Anaconda Dec 23." And they also announced: "A second Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died of injuries received when a High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle rolled over along a dirt canal trail during a combat reconnaissance mission south of the Iraqi capital Dec. 26." And they announced: "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died today from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar Province." ICCC lists the total for the month of December thus far at 94. October is the month with the highest US fatalities in 2006 (thus far): 106. The total number of US troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the illegal war stands at 2983, 17 away from the 3,000 mark.
Meanwhile the
US Defense Department reports that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates hasapproved John Abizaid's request and 3,500 troops of the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team were informed today that at the start of next month they will deploy to Kuwait to replace the 15h MEU who moved to al-Anbar Province last month.
The call up means that 3,500 troops have had to head to Fort Bragg and cut short the holidays. In Iraq, the holiday reflected the illegal war.
Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily (IPS) report that, for little girls, crying dolls were the most popular gift and, for little boys, tanks and guns because, as Ahmed Ghazi told the reporters, "Children try to imitate what they see out of their windows." Jamil and Al-Fadhily write:
Social researcher Nuha Khalil from the Iraqi Institute for Childhood Development in Baghdad told IPS that young girls are now expressingtheir repressed sadness often by playing the role of a mother who takes care of her small daughter.
"Looking around, they only see gatherings of mourning ladies who lost their beloved ones," said Khalil. "Our job of comforting these little girls and remedying the damage within them is next to impossible."
[. . .]
"The only things they have on their minds are guns, bullets, death and a fear of the U.S. occupation," Maruan Abdullah, spokesman for the Association of Psychologists of Iraq told reporters at the launch of a study in February this year.

Sam Knight (Times of London) reports that Major General Richard Shirreff ("commander of British troops in southern Iraq") is stating that the British Army is underfunded and lowering expectations for 'democracy' and/or 'liberation' in Iraq -- Shirref stated: "When I set up, came up here and initiated the operations we have been conducting, I was looking for a 100% solution. But this is Iraq, this is Arabia and this is reality, so a 60% solution is good enough for me." This as Steve Negus (Financial Times of London) reports that Monday's raid and destruction, by British forces, on a police station in Basra is resulting in a backlash: " Several local leaders, including the head of the city council and a Basra police commander, have condemned Monday's raid. Mohammed al-Ibadi, provincial council chairman, said the council had decided to cut off ties with British forces pending an explanation of why they destroyed an 'Iraq government building flying the Iraqi flag' and removed detainees he described as suspected terrorists'."
This as the US faces their own backlash over a death in Najaf. Earlier today, Reuters reported that,
despite earlier denails by the US military, a US soldier was the one who shot an official of Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc. Khaled Farhan (Reuters) reports: "Thousands of supporters of anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr marched through the holy Iraqi city of Najaf in an angry funeral procession after a senior Sadr aide was killed by a U.S. soldier on Wednesday. Chanting 'No to America' and carrying placards decrying U.S. occupation, mourners, including black-robed clerics, carried the coffin of Saheb al-Amiri through the streets." Supporters maintain that Saheb al-Amiri was shot dead "in front of his wife and children" and that he was a charity lawyer, not a 'terrorist.' The attack on the member of al-Sadr's bloc follows last week's (unsuccessful) efforts by the US to isolate Moqtada al-Sadr as outlined by Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) Friday.
While England and the United States face backlashes,
Reuters reports that a bomb has killed two Latvian soldiers and left three more wounded. In other violence today . . .
BBC reports a car bombing in east Baghdad that has claimed 8 lives and left 10 more wounded. The Press Association reports that seven British troops were wounded by a roadside bomb in Basra. Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Baghdad that left five people wounded and a roadisde bomb in Suwayra that killed three Iraqi soldiers.
Reuters notes an attack on "a bus carrying employees of the Ministry of Higher Education" that left two wounded.
In peace news,
Dana Hull (San Jose Mercury News) reports that Nadia McCaffrey, mother of Patrick Ryan McCaffrey who was killed in Iraq by Iraqi security forces he was training, is planning to build a retreat for returning troops -- Nadia McCaffrey: "Patrick isn't dead. His spirit is very much alive, in me and all around us. The rest of my life is going to be dedicated to peace and justice, and to helping the veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.''
Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily (IPS) report that the support for puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki continues to nose dive among Iraqis (some polls noting 90% of Iraqis are displeased with al-Maliki's 'governing') and notes that Tariq al-Hashimi ("leader of the Islamic Party") feels that many have been shut out in al-Maliki's so-called unity coalition while Dr. Salih al-Mutlaq tells the reporters, "This government will definitely lead the country into a disaster."

iraqthe washington postnancy trejos