American Samizdat Guernica
Saturday, June 12, 2004
Friday, June 11, 2004
"Going to where the silence is. That is the responsibility of a journalist: giving a voice to those who have been forgotten, forsaken, and beaten down by the powerful. It is the best reason I know to carry out pens, camers, and microphones into our own communities and out to the wider world."
Back in April I had the opportunity to hear Amy Goodman near the start of her tour promoting her new book, The Exception to the Rulers. As I'm sure virtually every one of my readers knows, Goodman is the host of the Pacifica radio (and TV) show Democracy Now!, the single best progressive news show on the air today.
"If you are opposed to war, you are not a fringe minority. You are not a silent majority. You are part of a silenced majority. Silenced by the mainstream media."
Goodman's book, written with her brother David, covers the full gamut of issues from her perspective as reporter and news anchor. Some of the chapters cover familiar territory - the media coverage of the invasion of Iraq, attacks on civil liberties with the PATRIOT act, the consolidation of the media. Other chapters cover events more associated with Goodman in particular, some about well-known events, like her coverage of the Nigerian dictatorship and the genocide in East Timor, and some about more uniquely personal events, like Goodman's appearance on the Sally Jessy Raphael show or her lengthy on-air interview of Bill Clinton ("hostile, combative, and even disrespectful" according to Clinton). Others deal with historical issues, like the coverup of the radiation deaths in Hiroshima by the New York Times.
"You have to ask the question: If we had state media in the United States, how would it be any different?" [A particularly appropriate question during this week of Reagan hagiography, I might add]
Whether you're reading about things you know, or things you don't, this book will add something to your understanding of those events. It's well-written, easy to read, and, as the pulled quotes sprinkled through this review hopefully show, filled with memorable phrases. It is also a wonderful gift book for your friends or relatives who maybe aren't so political, or aren't political at all, or are political but are more "centrist" and lacking a real understanding of how this country and its power structure operates. Because, although the book pulls absolutely no punches, it's still written in Goodman's generally mild-mannered tone in a way that inspires absolute confidence in what she writes (not to mention well-documented for the skeptics). And as an added bonus, as Goodman explained in her recent interview on C-SPAN's Booknotes, all profits from the book are going to Pacifica and local radio stations. What a deal! Read a good book, buy some presents that will influence your friends, and support a good cause at the same time.

You can watch or read the transcript of the Booknotes interview on the Democracy Now! website (upper right hand corner), read excerpts of the book, and get details of her book tour (see her if you have the chance).

Read this book! And if Democracy Now! isn't part of your daily listening habits - what's wrong with you? ;-)

I don't see how this will look good to either side--the right-leaning middle of the roaders will not like it that McCain said no, and all the lefties will wonder why the hell he was asked in the first place. Of course, if Kerry kneeled down and asked a turnip growing by the side of the road to be his running mate, I'd be voting for Kerry as well . . .
From an email I just received:

"This is a one time only ad that will run only in the NYTimes shortly..."

Thursday, June 10, 2004

No RNC Poster Collective is a small collective of friends with experience in graphic design and independent media. We came together with the goal of facilitating visual resistance against this summer’s Republican National Convention. We want to make protest beautiful and connect artists with organizations working against the RNC.

Our goal is to create a visual blitz in New York City against Bush and the Convention, and to blend art with politics in the finest New York style.

Reagan vs. Bush

You know, Reagan's policies were cruel and unusual punishment to tens of thousands, to be sure, but when comparing him to GW on a personal level, this cover says it all.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004
From today's NY Times:
Iyad Allawi, now the designated prime minister of Iraq, ran an exile organization intent on deposing Saddam Hussein that sent agents into Baghdad in the early 1990's to plant bombs and sabotage government facilities under the direction of the C.I.A., several former intelligence officials say.

Dr. Allawi's group, the Iraqi National Accord, used car bombs and other explosive devices smuggled into Baghdad from northern Iraq, the officials said. Evaluations of the effectiveness of the bombing campaign varied, although the former officials interviewed agreed that it never threatened Saddam Hussein's rule. [more]
Terrorism: bad for them; ok for us.

Thankfully, this is history long gone by, so we need not find it relevant to current events. I only wonder if this operation had a cool name, ya know, something like "Operation Mongoose."
Does it matter if a few (hundred?) unfortunate fellows get beaten and sodomized?
Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, in a heated exchange with Mr. Ashcroft, asked him if he believed torture was ever justified. When he first declined to answer, Mr. Biden accused him of being evasive, and Mr. Ashcroft replied: "You know I condemn torture. I don't think it's productive, let alone justified."

But Mr. Biden persisted, saying: "There's a reason why we sign these treaties: to protect my son in the military. That's why we have these treaties, so when Americans are captured they are not tortured. That's the reason in case anybody forgets it."
Galerie St. Etienne, New York (June 8, 2004 - September 17, 2004). "...The Galerie St. Etienne's 2004 summer exhibition is given a slightly atypical slant by the forthcoming presidential election. An important component of the show is Sue Coe's new series, Bully: Master of the Global Merry-Go-Round, an examination of the Bush administration. It will come as little surprise to followers of Coe's career to learn that she is no admirer of George Bush (the 'bully' in her title). Like the work of the Weimar-era artists George Grosz and John Heartfield (with which it is paired), Bully is an impassioned protest against the abrogation of democratic and human rights. In these meticulously wrought, finely detailed small drawings, Coe documents what she perceives as the Bush administration's manifold failings."
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
According to a Justice Department memo, sometimes torture "may be justified" while interrogating prisoners. This seems in stark contrast to the White House's claim that the attrocities at Abu Ghraib prison were isolated incidents. You can't have it both ways, Mr. Bush.

Ronald Reagan was a conman. Reagan was a coward. Reagan was a killer.

In 1987, I found myself stuck in a crappy little town in Nicaragua named Chaguitillo. The people were kind enough, though hungry, except for one surly young man. His wife had just died of tuberculosis.

People don't die of TB if they get some antibiotics. But Ronald Reagan, big hearted guy that he was, had put a lock-down embargo on medicine to Nicaragua because he didn't like the government that the people there had elected.

Ronnie grinned and cracked jokes while the young woman's lungs filled up and she stopped breathing. Reagan flashed that B-movie grin while they buried the mother of three. [more]

See also: Planet Reagan, by William Rivers Pitt and 66 (Unflattering) Things About Ronald Reagan by the editor of the Nation, David Corn.

Of course, Reagan had many good qualities--i.e., he loved to read (unlike Bush the Minor). But he was also responsible for tens of thousands of deaths. He created homelessness. Etc. I never applaud anybody's death, but it is important to be reminded of the actual policies and actions of a man when he dies and not just the loss of his charming smile, eh?
Monday, June 07, 2004
As a nation, a distinct republic, the United States of America is relatively young. When we are taught its history in the republic’s public schools, we are left with the impression of a natural, inexorable march from “Discovery” in 1492 to “Freedom” in the 1770s. The glowing, pulsing arrow directing this march, we are told, was “Democracy”, codified in our federal constitution and born as a plump and smiling child to be nurtured by the Bill of Rights, the perfect mechanism of checks and balances, separation of church and state, and so forth. That child, however, was still-born, brain-dead, since its parents were all wealthy, white, rich, and male. The money behind the rebellion and the early years of the republic knew this. They also knew that freedom from the tyranny of monarchy — both present and future — required that the unwashed masses get and stay on board. They were in many ways, however, more terrified of the tyranny of the masses than they were of a tyrannical monarchy.

So The Child named “Democracy” was hooked up to a life-support system of myth and rhetoric, costumed, animated, and displayed whenever the masses got too organized and uppity. The hardest tasks the wealthy have faced are those of timing and script writing. For 230 years, you have to admit, they’ve done a pretty good job. The republic is still here, still serving wealth well. The question is whether they will decide to pull the plug on the kid. That decision will be the result of two critical calculations: (1) “is the republic secure enough in our hands?” and (2) “if not, do we still need the republic?”
[full essay]
Sunday, June 06, 2004
Now that we know the truth behind how U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have been treating captured fighters (and captured innocent bystanders), it's time to revisit the case of John Walker Lindh, the so-called "American Taliban fighter" who is now serving 20 years in federal prison. For had Lindh pursued his case in court, instead of settling and getting slapped with a gag order, he might have exposed the whole prisoner abuse scandal two years ago, and spared the U.S. -- and a whole lot of abused or slain POWs -- the Abu-Ghraib fiasco. [more]
The spring of 2004 may prove to be a turning point not only in the history of America but also in that of the world. Until recently, Bush critics could hope the Iraq war would be an unfortunate but minor episode ahead of a long period of benevolent US global hegemony. Now that America's reputation for benevolence and irresistible power has been severely damaged, the US will be forced to settle for a far more modest role in the world than that sought by both neoliberals and neoconservatives. Whether Mr Bush is re-elected or not, his legacy is already apparent. [more]
Now that the Gipper has passed away, prepare yourself for the onslaught of the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project. It will be fierce.
... with jolting clarity, ... the snarling rictus of an ape.  ...Chris Floyd:

Every now and then the mask slips, and we see the true face of the system that marshals the world. For an instant, the heavy paint of sober wisdom and moral purpose falls away, and there, suddenly, with jolting clarity, is the snarling rictus of an ape.

Note carefully the change in rhetoric -- the change in target -- from "terrorism" to "insurgency." An "insurgent" is someone who rises up to resist or overthrow a ruling power. George Washington was an insurgent; so was Pol Pot. But a perceived "global insurgency" can only be aimed at a global power. What Rumsfeld is clearly saying is that anyone anywhere who resists the world-spanning will of the American Empire will be subject to "the path of action." That's the blood-and-iron terminology that Bush himself used to describe his policies in the official "National Security Strategy" he issued -- just months before killing more than 10,000 civilians in Iraq.

No doubt the definition of "global insurgent" will prove to be every bit as elastic as "terrorist," in a world where Iraqi prisoners -- 70 percent to 90 percent of them completely innocent, according to the Red Cross -- were "Gitmo-ized," treated just like the alleged terrorists in America's lawless Guantanamo concentration camp; a world where even U.S. citizens simply disappear into the maw of military custody, held without charges, indefinitely, on the president's express order. If America controls your country and you don't like it, you're an insurgent. If you're an American who doesn't like to control other countries, you too are an insurgent. And the war against you is "just beginning."

What should you do with such dangerous creatures in a civilized society? Why, put them in a cage, of course.

[ As always, lots of good links.]

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