Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Rove to Republicans: "Don't worry kids, it was just a few bad apples in '06"

Guess what folks.

According to Bush's political guru Karl Rove the Republicans didn't lose Congress in'06 because of the war or Katrina or administration incompetence, but just because of a few bad apples. According to Robert Novak:

"Karl Rove, President Bush's political lieutenant, told a closed-door meeting of 2008 Republican House candidates and their aides Tuesday that it was less the war in Iraq than corruption in Congress that caused their party's defeat in the 2006 elections.

"Rove's clear advice to the candidates is to distance themselves from the culture of Washington. Specifically, Republican candidates are urged to make clear they have no connection with disgraced congressmen such as Duke Cunningham and Mark Foley. In effect, Rove was rebutting the complaint inside the party that Bush is responsible for Republican miseries by invading Iraq."

Could that be because Rove used the invasion of Iraq to get Bush elected in '04? And it isn't working this time around. They must be getting really worried that scared Republicans who have to run for re-election will abandon the administration on Iraq. So what we have to do is keep reminding people that it's the "Republican war" in Iraq.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Is the New York Times once again carrying the administration Iraq water?

If you were at all led to question your opposition to the escalation ("surge") of the war in Iraq by the op-ed piece in the July 30 New York Times by Michael E. O’Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack of the Brookings Institution, who bill themselves as opponents of the war who have been converted to the escalation by a recent [administration-sponsored] visit to Iraq, Don't let them (or the Times) fool you. They have never been critics of the war, but only of the Bush/Rumsfeld inadequate support for the invasion by not committing enough troops and force from the beginning.

You should read Robert Parry's Consortium News expose of O'Hanlon and Pollack.

Just remember the Times was an important part of the administration propaganda machine in the run-up to the 2003 invasion.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

King George takes another swing at the Constitution

On Friday Peter Chamberlin posted the following on Thomas Paine's Corner:

"On [Friday] July 17, 2007, Bush quietly issued an executive order entitled Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq. By this order, he made it a crime to commit, or to pose a significant risk of committing…, acts of violence that threaten 'the peace and stability of Iraq,' or undermine 'efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people.'

"It remains to be seen just how far Bush will stretch this law, in light of ongoing attempts by Neocon enemies of America, who charge Americans with 'subversive activities' and 'providing support to the enemy,' for protesting the war. No one is safe from their crusade to brand most of the American people as 'treasonists,' for opposing Bush’s out-of-control 'leadership' of the war effort. Even Sen. Hillary Clinton has been accused of these 'crimes' by Neocon stooges like [Under Secretary of Defense for Policy] Eric Edelman, who attacked her for requesting a briefing for her committee from the Department of Defense on contingency plans for withdrawal from Iraq."

Brecht Forum: Black August events (early schedule)

Here's some info about the Brecht Forum's Black August program:

Thursday, August 2, 7:30 pm

James Baldwin Birthday Celebration

James Baldwin: Life and Legacies:
An Activist-Artist Round table

With: Kenyon Farrow,Joan Gibbs, Reggie Gossett, Anika Haynes, Hank Williams, Ajamu Sankofa,

Friday, August 3, 7:30 pm


"What We Want"
"What We Believe"
"The Black Panther Party Library"

With: Ashanti Alston, S.E. Anderson, Roz Payne & Others TBA

Thursday, August 9, 7:30 pm


"Cuba Negra"

Discussion with Filmmaker Ricardo Bacallao

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Aug. 2: DJ D spins for the Iraq Moratorium!

From our friend and comrade Juliet Ucelli:

DJ D spins for the Iraq Moratorium!

Thursday, August 2, 8 PM to midnight (or so)
Teddy's Bar & Grill
Corner of Berry and North 8th,
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
(L train to Bedford Avenue)

DJ D has a resident gig every other Thursday at the venerable Williamsburg institution, Teddy's Bar & Grill,
and on August 2, he will be running it as a fundraiser for the Iraq Moratorium.
The Iraq Moratorium is a vitally important initiative to manifest and focus the growing majority anti-war sentiment among the American people with locally-based activities on the Third Friday of every month, beginning on September 21.

Admission is free.
Teddy's management will donate a portion of the night's take to the Iraq Moratorium. So contribute by dining from Teddy's worthy menu and by drinking freely.
And bring some spare cash--donations will be solicited.

In honor of the event, and to draw out folks unimpressed by mere great deejaying, DJ D promises a heavily political set:

* Hum along to Christian pacifist Bruce Cockburn's "If I Had a Rocket Launcher"
* Discover Lula Belle & Scotty's hillbilly rant "I'm No Communist"
* Hear the two best songs of the Vietnam War era (one by crooner BJ Thomas!)
* And for the first time in any NYC club in 30 years, easy, thrill to the Black Panther Party's house band, the Lumpen, singing "Free Bobby Now!"

Note: the term "political" is very loosely defined-there'll be songs about sex, drinking, shoes, working, hooking up at demonstrations, getting old, school, and major strikes as an occasion for cheating.

Plus plenty more. Ya can't beat it with a stick.
And if you are unable to attend, please consider making a direct tax-deductible donation to the Iraq Moratorium

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Cindy Sheehan in New York City

Photo by Dan Cohen

Thursday, July 26th, 5-9 PM
Rally/Vigil at UN Dag Hammarskjold Plaza,
Bring your anti-war messages to the UN!
Rally with Cindy Sheehan and other speakers at Dag Ham Plaza,
then walk to the UN Mission for a Candlelight Vigil,
and then walk back to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.

Friday, July 27, 5–9 PM
Launch of Orange Fridays as part of the Declare It NOW: Wear Orange! Campaign,
Union Square,
World Can’t Wait, Cindy Sheehan, Jonathan Tasini, Ret. Col. Ann Wright, Victor Toro,Councilmember Charles Barron, Rev. Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir, Elaine Brower, Carlos Arredondo, Sunsara Taylor, and local elected officials will speak and Declare their opposition to the Bush Regime.

Sunday, July 29th, Noon–6PM
Gather-in Of Hearts Festival, Central Park-the East Meadow
Artists invited! Open mic!
Bring your chairs, blankets, picnic games, food and family…to a fun filled day with Cindy Sheehan.
"Eyes Wide Open" memorial exhibit (NYS exhibit), and tabling;
speakers also from Granny Peace Brigade, singing by Raging Grannies, Vets for Peace, Military Families Speak Out-NYS chapter; CodePink NYC; Rev. Billy; "Filthy Rich for Fossella" from Staten Island.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Stop the permanent occupation of Iraq and the theft of Iraqi oil

I sent a letter to our representative Jerrold Nadler. Please send one to your rep.

"On July 24, PDA advisory board member Rep. Barbara Lee said, 'There is a lot of disagreement about Iraq, but there is widespread agreement on both sides of the aisle that U.S. occupation should not be permanent.

"'The perception that the United States plans a permanent military presence in Iraq strengthens the insurgency and fuels the violence against our troops. The Bush administration's recent comments that they envision a military presence extending more than 50 years - the Korea model - have only made matters worse,' said Lee.

"The key to quelling the insurgency is to prove to them that the U.S. does not intend to stay in Iraq permanently, or usurp the right to their natural resources.

Please, take action now, the vote is today, Wednesday July 25.

Should Imus be kept off the air?

Throughout the brouhaha over Imus' racist and sexist comments I've had mixed feelings about how to best deal with the problem. And I do not doubt for one minute that there is a problem. But it seems to me the question still is how best to respond to it creatively.

I am more and more convinced that Imus is merely the symptom and not the problem. The problem is that if there was not a substantial group of mostly white men out there who identify with Imus and find his racist and sexist comments funny, he wouldn't be on the air in the first place. By keeping him off the air all we do is turn him the bozo into a $10 million-a-year victim. The question is how can we educate his audience so that they turn him off. If that happened Imus and all those like him who exploit racism and sexism would disappear overnight.

Here's one view of the situation:

"As speculation mounts that Don Imus will return to the airwaves after his ouster in April for racist and sexist remarks, the National Association of Black Journalists, the first organization to call for his removal three months ago, says no way."

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who spearheaded the campaign to remove Imus from the airwaves has a different take now:

"'My position is that we never called for him to be permanently barred from being on the air. We’ll see when he comes back, and if he comes back, what are the boundaries and what is the understanding. We’ll be monitoring the situation, but we wanted him to pay for being a repeat abuser, and he paid. We never said we didn’t want him to make a living,' according to Mike Boyle, writing on Wednesday in Radio & Records."

Here's another viewpoint on what should be done with Imus.

It, nevertheless, seems to me that turning Imus into a martyr is counterproductive to changing people's consciousness so that they kick him to the curb, where he and his ilk belong.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Petition to Sen. majority leader Harry Reid

I have just signed this petition to encourage Sen. Harry Reid to stand up to the right-wing obstructionists in Congress. It's organized by the Campaign for America's Future:

"Tell Senator Reid: Stand Up To Conservative Obstructionists

"Sen. Harry Reid has begun the effort to expose the conservative obstructionists who have repeatedly prevented Congress from carrying out the public will -- on issues such as renewable energy, prescription drug costs, and easing the path to join unions.

"But one all-night debate is not enough. Sign this petition, and let Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid know you want to keep the heat on, until the conservative minority either relents or pays a steep political price for their continued obstruction.

"Senator Reid. Like you, we're frustrated that a conservative minority continues to obstruct reforms that most Americans support. We think it's time this minority pays a price for thumbing its nose at the American people. We urge you to bring essential reforms to the Senate floor, and KEEP them there until this minority yields, or takes deserved heat for obstructing progress. We pledge to help you stand up to the conservatives standing in the way of progress!"

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

July 20: Anti-Bush Rally at Union Square


"Join us [The World Can't Wait; Drive Out the Bush Regime] at the south end of Union Square. Wear lots of orange, and invite your friends to come with you and do the same: Declare Yourself Against the Bush Regime!

"Our plan is to form a procession circling around Union Square Park, so if you own drums or other musical instruments, bring those as well.

"We will also sell orange 'Drive Out the Bush Regime' bandanas and flyers urging others to join in declaring themselves visibly and powerfully against the Bush Regime.

"On Sunday, The N.Y. Times ran a front page story about rising opposition to the war among military families. 'Penny Preszler of Phoenix, whose son is on his second tour of duty in Iraq, says she no longer wears red on Fridays in support of the Iraq war.'

"World Can’t Wait is asking everyone to join in a campaign to Declare Yourself: Wear Orange, especially on Orange Fridays, that can give people the heart and courage and sense of collective strength to rouse themselves and others to alter the political atmosphere from one of paralysis and despair, into one of massive mobilization and hope in the power of people acting independently to change all this. A groundswell of orange that can turn into a groundswell of hope and anger – a groundswell that rises up from below and has the potential of sweeping Bush from office before his term is up.


"This Friday is particularly crucial, since it is the last Orange Friday before July 27, the date of our big launch event for the Declare Yourself movement.

"On July 27, in Union Square, we will hold a press conference where speakers--including Sunsara Taylor, Elaine Brower, and the recently unretired Cindy Sheehan--will declare themselves against the Bush Regime and give their reasons why.

"Following the press conference, a rally will begin with the sounds of live music, drumming, and poetry. Orange will cover Union Square Park as there is a procession around the park led by musicians to bring more people into the rally. The monthly Critical Mass bike ride will arrive in the park at this time."

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Bomb, Bomb Iran boys are at it again

According to Amy Gooodman on Democracy Now:

"...the Democratic-led Senate unanimously passed a resolution last week sponsored by Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman to censure Iran for complicity in the killing of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Lieberman opened debate on the measure by saying the Senate has a 'choice between turning a blind eye to the murder of our troops and confronting those who are murdering them.' The measure passed by a vote of 97 to zero.

"Lieberman has been the leading voice in the Senate in support of a possible U.S. military strike on Iran. Last month in an interview on CBS' Face the Nation, Lieberman said 'I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq.'"

Let's just see how long it is before some of the Senators who voted to tighten the screws on Iran last week will be pleading: "if we knew then what we know now, we wouldn't have voted to target (pun intended) Iran for "the murder of our troops."

On the same broadcast Goodman also noted that:

"The Los Angeles Times is reporting that nearly half of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops in Iraq have come from Saudi Arabia – one of Washington's closest allies in the Middle East. Of the 19,000 prisoners being held by the U.S. in Iraq only 135 are foreign-born fighters and half of them are Saudi. U.S. officials have so far refused to publicly criticize Saudi Arabia's role in Iraq. [Obviously including the Senate and Joe 'I never saw a bomb I didn't like' Lieberman]."

Once again, as in 2003, if these Senate hawks paid attention, they'd know now when it counts. Nobody elects Monday morning quarterbacks to the presidency.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Chertoff says: "The sky is falling, the sky is falling"

Chicago Tribune staff reporter E.A. Torriero wrote:

"...U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in Chicago Tuesday that the nation faces a heightened chance of an attack this summer.

"'I believe we are entering a period this summer of increased risk,' Chertoff told the Chicago Tribune's editorial board in an unusually blunt and frank assessment of America's terror threat level.

"'Summertime seems to be appealing to them,' he said of al-Qaeda. 'We do worry that they are rebuilding their activities.'

"Still, Chertoff said there are not enough indications of an imminent plot to raise the current threat levels nationwide. And he indicated that his remarks were based on "a gut feeling" formed by past seasonal patterns of terrorist attacks, recent al-Qaeda statements, and intelligence he did not disclose."

"There is an assessment 'not of a specific threat, but of increased vulnerability,' he added.

"There have been reports already that suggest intelligence warnings at a similar level to the summer before Sept. 11, 2001 and that al-Qaeda may be mobilizing.

"In recent days, ABC news reported that a secret law enforcement report prepared for homeland security warns that al-Qaeda is preparing a 'spectacular' summer attack. On Tuesday, ABC News also reported that 'new intelligence suggests a small al-Qaeda cell is on its way to the United States, or may already be here.'"

Chertoff's "unusually blunt and frank assessment of America's terror threat level" comes at a very convenient time for the Bush administration. As more and more serious questions are being raised even among long-shuffling GOP loyalists, what's more effective than raising the fear level among the people. As Congress gets closer to another debate over Iraq, Chertoff dutifully provides scary grist for the ever-shrinking pro-war contingent.

One difference between Chicken Little and "Chicken Mike" is that Little really believed the sky was falling. But the real question isn't whether or not Al-Qaeda is still a threat, but why bring up these fears right now, "Just weeks [after], Arkansas Republican chairman Dennis Milligan,... said in an on-the-record interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: 'At the end of the day, I believe fully the president is doing the right thing, and I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [Sept. 11, 2001], and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country.”

Since we already have substantial evidence that this administration has corrupted the Justice Department and its own medical/scientific advisers, how far a stretch is it to believe that Homeland Security is under the thumb of the White House "Axis of Evil" (Cheney, Rove and Bush).

Although, as I.F. Stone pointed out, "all governments lie." I don't think any other U.S. administration has as steadfastly acted to advance its own political interests at the expense of the U.S. people. From spreading lies about its opponents to lying to justify invading Iraq just in time to make Bush a "war president" during the 2004 campaign and to insist on continuing the occupation in order to get control of Iraqi oil for its Anglo-American oil company friends, nothing seems beyond these people.

Dishing out a new Al-Qaeda scare to feed the administration's needs is hardly out of step for a Bush-appointed cabinet secretary.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Go Cindy Go!

For a long time it has seemed to me that the Pelosi-led Democrats have abandoned a key weapon in the campaign against Bush's war in Iraq - impeachment. I don't think any hostage negotiator gives up a key negotiating tactic before the hostage crisis is solved. And it's abundantly clear that Bush is holding the U.S. hostage to his and Cheney's war in Iraq.

So it's time to support someone who isn't in the sway of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) which has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory once to often.

Here's what the DLC said after the 2006 election:

"Democrats will need to show that they have a forward-looking national security agenda and can wage a more effective fight [than the Republicans] against terror. The party seems well on the way toward achieving that goal. Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) squelched talk of Iraq-related impeachment proceedings, and helped orchestrate a 'Real Security' plan that pledged House Democrats to such measures as implementing all of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations, locking down dangerous nuclear and chemical materials in the former Soviet states, and strengthening the overstretched U.S. military. Obviously, the biggest test will come on Iraq. Democrats need to show they can provide a new direction in Iraq without forcing a hasty withdrawal or unconscionably surrendering the Iraqi people to even broader civil strife and slaughter."

This is clearly different from what Cindy Sheehan proposes.

Cindy Sheehan
(photo by Dan Cohen)

Sheehan Considers Challenge to Pelosi
(Associated Press Writer)

"CRAWFORD, Texas - Cindy Sheehan, ... said Sunday that she plans to run against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unless she [Pelosi] moves to oust President Bush in the next two weeks.

"Sheehan said she will run against the San Francisco Democrat in 2008 as an independent if Pelosi does not seek by July 23 to impeach Bush. That's when Sheehan and her supporters are to arrive in Washington, D.C., after a 13-day caravan and walking tour starting next week from the group's war protest site near Bush's Crawford ranch.

"'Democrats and Americans feel betrayed by the Democratic leadership,' Sheehan told The Associated Press. 'We hired them to bring an end to the war.'"

This is from the Nation:

"Many more House Democrats would sign on for impeachment if the leadership of their caucus was not pressuring them to back off.

"Thus, the greatest barrier to the movement to hold the president and vice president to account is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California."

"Unfortunately, Pelosi has misread her moment in history."


Friday, July 06, 2007

It's amazing what a trip home can do

"Sen. Pete Domenici on Thursday [7/5] withdrew his support of President Bush's Iraq war policy and embraced a proposal to bring home most troops by March.

"The longtime New Mexico senator is the latest of several Republican stalwarts who have abandoned Bush on Iraq in the past 10 days. They have urged a change sooner rather than later and further isolated the GOP president in his attempt to defend the unpopular war.

"Last week, Sens. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and George Voinovich, R-Ohio, said the U.S. should significantly reduce its military presence in Iraq while bolstering diplomatic efforts. Sen. John Warner, R-Va., this month is expected to propose a new approach."


The irony of this was the role Domenici played in the Alberto Gonzales fiasco:

"Former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias was fired after Sen. Pete Domenici, who had been unhappy with Iglesias for some time, made a personal appeal to the White House, the Journal has learned.

"Domenici had complained about Iglesias before, at one point going to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales before taking his request to the president as a last resort."

Thursday, July 05, 2007

7/13: Three-day seminar begins-Capitalism & Other Unnatural Disasters

Here's some excellent info from the Brecht Forum:

Friday, July 13, 9:30am - 6:00pm

29th Annual Intensive Introduction to Marxism: Capitalism & Other Unnatural Disasters

Three-day seminar begins

With Stanley Aronowitz, Bhairavi Desai, Sujatha Fernandes, Forrest Hylton, Lisa Maya Knauer, Randy Martin, Biju Mathew, Rene Francisco Poitevin, Heather Rogers, Anwar Shaikh & Others TBA

451 West Street (Bt Bank & Bethune)
(212) 242- 4201

(1, 2, 3 A, C, E to 14th St,
14A, 11, 20 buses to Abingdon Square (where 8th Avenue meets Hudson St)
8 bus to 10th & West Sts
L to 8th Ave @14th St.)

Sliding Scale: $75 - $95
Free for Brecht Forum Subscribers

In the face of the pervasive war, poverty and environmental destruction that mark our times and even threaten life on this planet, people are beginning to take a fresh look at the complicity of capitalism in perpetuating these ills. Through lectures, readings and lively discussion, in an adamantly open-minded environment, participants will be introduced to Karl Marx' revolutionary critique of capitalism--not to find a ready-made blueprint for change, nor a dogma that excludes other
traditions, but for tools of analysis that can help us to think more strategically and act more effectively.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Maybe some dark clouds do have silver linings: Libby commutation and Sheehan re-emergence

There is much to be said about the Bush's commutation of "Scooter" Libby's sentence.
It's hardly surprising that the president would choose to celebrate Independence Day by proving once again that there is no depth to which he will not sink to save his own ass and that of his Axis of Evil cohorts, Cheney and Rove. There is no depth of disgrace that he will not subject the country and the presidency to cover up his crimes.

But some dark clouds do have silver linings after all. Or perhaps just unanticipated consequences. This is from Cindy Sheehan:

"I'm not backing off. I tried to remove myself from the political realm of the U.S., what BushCo is turning in to an Evil Empire, but the blatant audacity of George commuting Scooter's sentence (he's not ruling out a full pardon ---and you know he will) has dragged me kicking and screaming back in. I can't sit back and let this BushCo drag our country further down into the murky quagmire of Fascism and violence, taking the rest of the world with them!"


"Please, I already see 'Attention Whore Back.' If anyone thinks that I am going to walk hundreds of miles in the Deep South during July for attention, then please join us! We will be publishing our route and plans for Accountability events along the way, within the next few days. Stay tuned."

July 8: Book party & reading at Brecht Forum

Sunday, July 8, 4:00 - 7:00 pm

Health Proxy

with Author Robert Roth & Readings by Martha Lincoln, Margaret Mercer, Ralph Nazareth, Myrna NIeves & Joy Walker

4:00 - Reception

5:00 - Readings

451 West Street (Bt Bank & Bethune)

1, 2, 3 A, C, E to 14th Street,
14A, 11, 20 buses to Abingdon Square (where 8th Avenue meets Hudson Street)
8 bus to 10th & West Streets
L to 8th Ave @14th Street.)

"Robert Roth's Health Proxy is a dynamic collage of consciousness—bits and pieces of perception, insight, observation, dialogue, interior monologue, commentary, tirade, always deeply personal, profoundly philosophical at times, wide-ranging in its concerns and themes, ever in touch with the particular, deep in its sympathy, resolutely free—or shall we say there's a mighty struggle here to be free—of imperialist assumptions, hierarchical judgments. All of this makes it radically counter-cultural in its politics, a palpable extension of what we were all shaped by in the late 60s and early 70s.

"Circles of gay men with AIDS would come together. Each man speaking with enormous glee about whom they had cut out of their lives that week. I myself just waiting for that time to come. Pete turning on me in a fury and cutting me out of his life. And to know that the final pleasure you are probably going to give someone is the giddy delight they will feel when they cut you out of their lives is pretty bizarre to say the least. And that knowledge is part of the peculiar numbness that set in that helped me deal with the tragedy we were inside of.

"Though the situations are not parallel this reminds me of the fate of many who from the outside fought to help liberate South Africa from apartheid, who have helped liberate East Timor from centuries of oppression only to see those places liberated into the hands of the IMF or the World Bank. At that point of viability we recede into irrelevance and possibly even become a danger to those states. We are easily discarded.

"But you do it anyway."

from Health Proxy

"Robert Roth is a writer and co-creator of the magazine And Then. He has been in and around political movements as long as he can remember."

Sunday, July 01, 2007

2007 New York City Labor Chorus 2007 biennial concert

Here are some photos from the New York City Labor Chorus's 2007 biennial concert held June 16 at The Society for Ethical Culture
(Photos by Dan Cohen)

(More photos to come)