POLITICAL ALLIES: ACTION/Calendar: Martin Luther King Jr. - Visionary and Trade Unionist
PHILLY AREA ACTION
NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL ACTION:
PHILLY AREA ACTION:
3 events to celebrate peace activism and oppose the war.
1. Parkwy NW Peace and Justice High School is holding a Civil Rights Museum at Germantown High School, 2nd floor from 9- 11:00 AM on Jan 21st . Students of Parkway NW High School for Peace and Social Justice have created a "Teach In" about the Civil Rights Movement to honor the legacy of Dr. King. Featured projects will showcase varying aspect of the movement, from famous speeches to female voices to Brown vs. Board of Ed. to the effects of the movement beyond black and white, yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Laura Richlin, Peace Program Coordinator, Parkway High School for Peace and Social Justice
7500 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19119
215-248-6220 school office, 215-248-6669 direct, email@example.com
2. "Make War No More!" MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY of NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE at LOCKHEED MARTIN, Sponsored by the Brandywine Peace Community.
Monday, January 21, Noon, at the Lockheed Martin weapons complex, Mall & Goddard Boulevard, Valley Forge, PA (behind the King of Prussia Mall).
"The Martin Luther King Day of Nonviolent Resistance will include Nonviolent Civil Disobedience (Those willing to face arrest for nonviolent civil disobedience in the MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY of NONVIOLENT RESISTANCE at LOCKHEED MARTIN need to attend a planning and preparation meeting. Please call the Brandywine Peace Community,
Others of us will participate in the demonstration with a Philly Code Pink banner.
3. Philly Code Pink monthly planning meeting- Jan 21, 5PM at 30th St.
Station (tables near the windows.)
See you on Martin Luther King's Birthday to fight for Justice.
"Trees of Reconciliation: A Tu B'Shvat Seder of Healing and Reparation."
Monday, January 21, 6-8 p.m.
Germantown Friends Meeting, 47, W Coulter St. Philadelphia, PA 19144
Jewish Voice for Peace has created a new Hagaddah which weaves liturgy, poetry and song to explore the legacy of trees in Jewish tradition and in Israeli and Palestinian culture. The seder is political/cultural (not Kabbalistic/mystical) This is the first step of launching the "Trees of Reconciliation" initiative, which will seek in the coming years to raise money to replant olive trees in the West Bank and, at the same time, to raise consciousness among U.S. Jews about the realities of the Israeli occupation. We are excited about both aspects of this new initiative, and look forward to build an ongoing economic and educational program beginning with this year’s Tu B'Shvat seder.
ALL ARE INVITED!
We can still save Germantown Ave!
A couple of weeks ago, I sent you a message about the negative impact on Trolley Car Diner and other small businesses in Mt. Airy/Chestnut Hill due to the PennDot construction project on Germantown Ave. I was pleased with the outpouring of support from friends and others in the community. Many asked what they can do to help.
First, please make a special effort to support businesses in and around the construction zone. We need your continued patronage to stay open during this difficult period. Check out www.savetheave.org for special promotions and construction status.
Second, let our local elected officials know that businesses need support during and after the PennDOT construction. . The Coalition to Save Germantown Avenue and Mt. Airy Business Association has requested $250,000 to market businesses along Germantown Ave during construction. Contact State Senator LeAnna Washington at (215) 242-0472 or firstname.lastname@example.org, State Representative Cherelle Parker at (215) 242-7300 or CParker@pahouse.net , and State Representative Rosita Youngblood at 215-849-6426 or email@example.com to let them know you support marketing funds to keep our businesses alive.
Finally, contact PennDOT and inform them that you are concerned about negative side effects of the project. I am particularly worried about the amount of trash and other debris piling up as a result of construction. You can reach the regional District Executive of PennDOT, Lester Toaso, at 610-205-6660 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please let him know that our community is watching and we will not allow our neighborhood to be turned into a garbage can! Please request that PennDOT either hire a dedicated cleaning crew or pay the Mt. Airy Business Improvement District to keep the construction zone clean.
Strengthening Community Through Economic Development
Ken Weinstein, (215) 848-1133 x204
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ACTION SATURDAY, JAN 26, 2008
March from 5th and Market to the Israeli Consulate at 15th and Locust. Assemble at 12 noon.
FRIDAY, JAN 25, 2008 at 12:30 pm, we will hold a press conference at the Israeli Consulate (15 th & Locust) demanding that the relief convoy be allowed to cross.
GAZA : LIFT THE BLOCKADE!! SUPPORT THE RELIEF CONVOY TO GAZA NOW!
Please bring signs & banners.
Saturday, January 26th, relief convoys will depart from Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beer Sheva, bearing signs "GAZA: LIFT THE BLOCKADE!" Converging at Yad Mordechai at 12 noon, the rally will be at Erez Checkpoint at 13.00. On the other side will be hundreds of Gazans, organized by The Palestinian International Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (www.end-gaza-siege.ps), including psychiatrist and human rights activist, Dr. Eyad Sarraj.
The convoy will carry vital supplies, with a special focus on water filters, since the water of Gaza is an undrinkable cocktail of brine, sewage, pesticides and oil, with levels of nitrates ten times higher than those set by the WHO, and coliform eight times higher: denial of filters to Gazans is an unacceptable violation of basic humanitarian standards. We will insist that the military authorities allow the goods entry into Gaza, are prepared for prolonged stay near Erez, and a public/judicial campaign.
For tax deductible contributions in the U.S.: Checks should be written to:
"Eschaton/Gush Shalom," with "Gaza Convoy" in the memo section, and mailed to Eschaton Foundation, 515 Broadway, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. At the same time an e-mail should be sent to Gush Shalom at email@example.com indicating that a check has been sent to Eschaton for the Gaza convoy and including the amount. That way your donation can be used to make purchases for the action on Jan. 26.
Thank you for whatever you are able to do to help, and please pass this urgent request on to your friends and political colleagues.
Links for more information:
Faces of CFS exhibit at 30th Street Station right now/ Stop by & Tell your friends!
Also, if you hear something on the radio or see something on TV please let me know so I can try to track it down, too. This Sunday morning between 6-7 am there is an interview on WHYY, so you earlybirds can check it out. The national traveling photo exhibit, "The Faces of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome," is now on display in the North Waiting Room of Amtrak's 30th Street Station (corner of 30th and Market streets) through January 21.
PA Dept. of Agriculture backs down!
Pa. backs off milk-label change By Tom Avril and Amy Worden INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS
Pennsylvania agriculture officials backed down today from a controversial ban on milk labels that identify the milk as coming from cows not treated with synthetic growth hormone.
The ban was to take effect Feb. 1, to the dismay of consumer activists and many smaller dairies who choose not to inject their cows with hormones. But the move was superseded by new standards issued today, after a review by the office of Gov. Rendell. Rendell ordered the agency to review the policy after consumer outcry, his spokesman said” The governor's position was relatively simple: he wanted the labels to be accurate and informative," said Rendell's press secretary Chuck Ardo.
Though labels are once again permitted to mention that hormones were not used, the standards require a disclaimer stating there is no difference in milk from cows injected with hormones and milk from cows that are not injected. Such disclaimers already are printed on many milk cartons.
"It's basically a complete back-down," said Michael Hansen, a senior scientist at the nonprofit group Consumers Union, which had opposed the ban.The agriculture department had issued the ban in October, arguing that a misleading impression might be conveyed by identifying milk as coming from cows not treated with synthetic hormones. Pennsylvania would have been the first state to implement such a ban.
The synthetic hormones are said to boost milk production by about 10 percent, and were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1994, though they are not allowed to be injected in Canada or Europe. The product, which is marketed as Posilac, is used on about one-third of U.S. dairy herds, according to the manufacturer, St. Louis-based Monsanto.
NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL ACTION:
IS THIS THE END OF THE YELLOW ROSE OF TEXAS BUS FOR PEACE?
Please help Jim Goodnow, the bus driver and the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) in replacing their bus that was destroyed by fire. Even if you cannot do much, every dollar counts! And if you cannot, would you forward this message to friends who may help?
Monique saw Jim last night and made a short video of his message you can hear and read more by going to: http://www.yellowrosepeacebus.blogspot.com/
Those of you who participated in our "Human Chain For Peace" in Philadelphia on October 27th, remember the "Yellow Rose of Texas Bus For Peace". Please, don't let it die.
On the site above there is a link for donation via PayPal.
Check or money order donations can be mailed, made out to:
Veterans For Peace, Chapter 106 (bus fund)
Mail your tax-deductible contribution to:
Veterans For Peace, Chapter 106, 1804 Tree Line Drive, Carrollton, Texas, 75007
Rock Video showing in theaters promoting military enlistment (U.S.)
In NYC, I have seen shorter trailers about the National Guard and/or US
Army, which were part of the coming attractions for a main film at theaters
on 42nd. St. Those trailers emphasized military service as humanitarian
efforts, patriotism, comradeship, adventure and travel. Then friends told
me about seeing them in other local theaters in Manhattan.
If you live in a suburban area, speak to the theater manager.
A demonstration and boycott of the theater may be effective.
As we know, the military budget for advertising is close to $4 billion and its message is everywhere - billboards, magazines, hot cup holders, give-away items, at rock concerts. The emphasis is on machismo, brotherhood (and sisters), and warrior savior. But the bigger than life video is frightening.
A petition or flood of letters to CEO's and corporate headquarters
demanding removal of this propaganda video or equal time for a rebuttal
trailer. Boycott theaters that show military trailers. Speak to the manager and
find out what he/she can do.
Flyers to counter the dramatic and theatrical military message displayed
in the trailers and to show the other side:
The National Guard video implies that war is glorious and the good guys
never die -
The truth is that soldiers die, civilians die, children die.
The truth is that tens of thousands of military personnel and civilians
suffer severe injuries and disabilities. Needed are visuals as powerful as
demonstrated in the video.
The combination of bravery in times of trouble, providing care and bringing
freedom, combined with strength and self-esteem is enticing to youth who
have few choices after high school graduation. It's also like many video
games that kids now play. Students have told me that the military is cool. And when a rock group promotes the National Guard, it may well provide him with the inspiration to
do the right and patriotic thing and enlist.
The video is shown at matinees. For younger children, it's just another form of militarization of our kids - preparing for action and beginning to see war, battle, and destruction as a common part of life.
Please forward ideas and examples of actions taken by groups around the
country, so our local group can develop a program/action to counter the
militarization of youth.
Peace, Barbara H -1. barbara harris [firstname.lastname@example.org]
FEBRUARY 5TH SHAPING UP TO BE HISTORIC DAY IN RACE FOR U.S.PRESIDENT
Democrats will hold contests in 22 states and one territory on February 5, known as Super Tuesday, while Republicans have scheduled contests in 21 states for that day. According to The Washington Post, 52% of all pledged Democratic delegates will be awarded on Super Tuesday, compared with the 4% that will have been allocated in the four opening competitions of the year. The Republican delegates elected that day will make up 41% of the total available. Contests in Nevada and South Carolina, along with Florida's primary on January 29, are seen as critical for building momentum before Super Tuesday. In California, the biggest prize on February 5, state election officials estimate that more than half of voters may vote by mail. About 42% of Democrats and 47% of Republicans in Florida have requested absentee ballots. Nationwide, 31 states allow some form of early voting with "no excuse required." New York, whose primary is also February 5, requires voters to state a reason when they apply for an absentee ballot, leading political professionals to speculate that such voting by mail will not be as large a factor there as in other states. In Arizona, another Super Tuesday state, balloting has already begun.
"Please be sure that you are registered, educated and know the voting rules for your state," said George J. Kourpias, President of the Alliance. "If you have questions about identification requirements or voting by mail, it is better to ask your local elections office sooner rather than later." Information is always available at 1-866-OUR-VOTE, the National Campaign for Fair Elections hotline.
Congress will soon decide whether to grant immunity to telecom companies that may have violated the law in assisting with the administration's illegal wiretapping program by handing over their customers' private records without a warrant.
Granting retroactive immunity would pull the plug on current and pending litigation against these companies, allowing the Bush administration to keep buried important information about the extent of its illegal spying programs.
Don't let it happen. Here are two ways you can make an impact:
1. Please use this form to send an e-mail to your senators -- we will also use this action like a petition in our lobbying efforts, bringing to senators a record of the numerous action-takers in their states.
2. If you have a video camera or a webcam, send us a short video (preferably under a minute), by the end of the week, telling members of Congress in your own words why they should say NO to telecom immunity.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers may hold a telecom immunity hearing as early as next week and our hope is to get Rep. Conyers activist video testimonials that may be useful in the hearing.
In addition to making the videos available to Rep. Conyers, we'll compile and deliver them to the Hill prior to the Senate vote.
Please submit videos that are less than 60 seconds long (or not much longer) and don't exceed 100MB. Make sure you identify yourself and where you are from in your video (and also in the e-mail message you send us).
How to Submit
Once you've shot your video and have saved it as a file on your computer, send it to us in one of the following ways:
1. E-mail us the file at email@example.com. (Please include at minimum your name, city and state in the e-mail message.)
2. Use the file-sending site YouSendIt to upload your video to the web -- no registration required. YouSendIt will then send your video to us. To use YouSendIt:
i. Go to www.YouSendIt.com.
ii. In the "To" field, enter firstname.lastname@example.org.
iii. In the "From" field, enter your e-mail address.
iv. In the "Select a file" section, hit "Browse," and find your video file on your computer.
v. Your video will then upload, and you'll be presented with a screen saying your upload was successful.
vi. Make sure you provide your information (name, city, state) in the "message" field and then simply hit "Send." (There is no need to click any of the other options that are offered.)
Please note that by submitting a video you are releasing ownership of it (see terms below), but we won't use it in a way to which you object. We'd like to post some of the videos on YouTube and Facebook, as well as pfaw.org, to get the word out, so please let us know in your e-mail or in the message area provided by YouSendIt if you'd prefer we not share your video with anyone other than members of Congress.
Thank you for your activism!
-- Your Allies at People For the American Way
P.S. If you need some more background information on telecom immunity before recording your video submission, you can get some facts here:
Martin Luther King Jr. - Visionary and Trade Unionist by James Parks
January 18, 2008
We all know that Martin Luther King Jr. was a
visionary. We know he was a champion for civil rights.
But did you know that he also was a strong supporter of
unions and workers' rights from Day One?
As AFL-CIO Organizing Director Stewart Acuff said last
year, speaking before the Electrical Workers:
I would submit to you that Dr. King was a trade
unionist. He believed in our movement and struggled
for our movement. He knew and he preached that
civil rights were inadequate without economic
rights. Dr. King knew that our economic system
allows a few to have too much power and wealth and
workers to have too little, so he believed that we
have a responsibility to struggle to push down
wealth and power from those who have too much to
those who have too little. That is why he was a
trade unionist. His last great campaign was the
Poor People's Campaign to organize America's poor
to fight for economic justice and dignity.
Click here to read excerpts from Acuff's speech:
In 1961, King explained his belief that the civil
rights and union movements were linked. Speaking before
the AFL-CIO Convention that year, he said:
The two most dynamic and cohesive liberal forces in
the country are the labor movement and the Negro
freedom movement... Together we can bring about the
day when there will be no separate identification
of Negroes and labor.
Four years later, he told the Illinois AFL-CIO convention:
Negroes in the United States read the history of
labor and find it mirrors their own experience. We
are confronted by powerful forces telling us to
rely on the goodwill and understanding of those who
profit by exploiting us. They deplore our
discontent, they resent our will to organize, so
that we may guarantee that humanity will prevail
and equality will be exacted.
And in 1967, one year before he died, King wrote in his
book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?
that unions are just as important as business in
ensuring economic success for people of color:
Our young people need to think of union careers as
earnestly as they do business careers andprofessions.
This year, the annual AFL-CIO King Day celebration is
in Memphis, the site of his last campaign and where he
was assassinated while helping city sanitation workers
gain a voice at work. (See video of King supporting the
Michael Honey points out his book, Going Down Jericho
Road (available at The Union Shop Online
that King always supported the union movement as a means
of bringing justice to the workplace. Honey is one of
the speakers at the annual King Day celebration.
King had qualities that allowed him to lead a mass
movement that joined working-class people to the
middle class through the black church. In a
remarkable few moments in his first speech at the
first mass meeting of the Montgomery Improvement
Association, King put the struggle against
segregation into a moral and world-historical
context. 'There comes a time when people get tired
of being trampled over by the iron feet of
oppression,' and have to organize, he said. Unions
had set the precedent. 'When labor all over this
nation came to see that it would be trampled over
by capitalistic power, it was nothing wrong with
labor getting together organizing and protesting
for its rights.'
- Portside aims to provide material of interest
to people on the left that will help them to
interpret the world and to change it.
Submit via email: email@example.com/ Submit via the Web: portside.org/submit
Frequently asked questions: portside.org/faq/Subscribe: portside.org/subscribe
Inky Notes (January 12, 2008): The Inky’s Continued Excessive Attention and Kindness Toward Bush; Bush Trip to the Middle East; Bush as Constitution-Buster; Satullo on Impeachment and Current Candidates; More on Rubin Bias on Pakistan Crisis, Edward S. Herman
The Inky has shown some signs of improvement recently, with its letters columns allowing longer, more powerful analyses (previously giving excessive space to idiotic effusions of the rightwing), and occasional surprises like the Commentary column authored by three members of the House Judiciary Committee entitled “Impeach Cheney Now” (Dec. 27). But the rightwing still dominates the Commentary page, and the Inky remains a prime source if you are interested in the trials and tribulations of Britney Spears (and now her sister Jamie Lynn Spears), Paris Hilton, Janet Jackson, Lindsay Lohan, Alycia Lane, and the gang (see, e.g., “Just how low can Lilo go?” [Jan. 3]; Mary Sanchez, “Another Spears soap opera spotlights teen pregnancy” [ Jan. 2]; “2007 In Gossip: Sinning Celebs of ‘07” [Dec. 29]).
Bush’s Trip to the Middle East
And they continue to grovel before George Bush, with everything he says and every trip he makes front and center and without critical analyses in the news articles, or very often on the editorial pages. Most recently, Bush is off to the Middle East, and the Inky features this as big news but misrepresents its probable aims. On January 10th we were given a front page piece with a Bush and Olmert picture, and misleading title, by Michael Abramowitz, in “An early act: Nudging the sides toward accord.” Earlier, “Bush presses on to Mideast amid change” (January 7), a front page article by Warren Strobel, which takes it as a given that Bush once strove to create a democratic Middle East (the mainstream media have never digested the facts that Bush-Cheney originally intended a Chalabi rule in Iraq, and were only forced into elections--but not democracy-- by circumstances beyond their control; or that pressure for “democracy” exerted on the friendly dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc. have been absolutely minimal). Terence Hunt’s “Bush prepares to see Mideast for himself” (Jan. 6), talks about the Bush objective of building “momentum for the troubled peace process,” but this, like Abramowitz’s piece, is baloney as Annapolis was a propaganda stunt--as well as an anti-Iran organizing device-- which followed six years of Bush support for Israeli settlements, the apartheid wall, and ethnic cleansing, with Bush openly proclaiming at Annapolis that he was not going to exert any pressure on the parties negotiating—which guaranteed total failure.
This current visit to the Middle East is one more photo-op trip, again with a possible link to Bush’s (and Olmert’s) eagerness to attack Iran. It is interesting to see how an Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, can publish a devastating critique of Bush’s visit, assailing his record and featuring the fact that only in Israel is Bush really welcome at this point (Gideon Levy, “A hostile president,” Haaretz, Jan 6, 2008: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/941823.html). Nothing like this can appear in the Inky, or in the New York Times for that matter.
There are also a number of articles in the international media, even the media in friendly Middle Eastern states (Cernig, Bush From The Arab Street , in which Omar Hassan, a Kuwaiti op-ed writer for AFP, gives us some hints), suggesting that a major purpose of the Bush trip is a further effort to prepare for a war on Iran, but nothing like that can be found in the Inky. (See, e.g., Justin Raimondo’s very good piece “'A heartbeat away' from war with Iran and Pakistan”: http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=12176; and for a good critical overview of Bush’s visit, see the Z Commenatary by Phyllis Bennis: http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2008-01/10bennis.cfm.)
The Israel-Palestine conflict is of course a subject on which the U.S. mainstream media have collapsed completely, and the Inky doesn’t depart from this failure either in its news or editorial policy. The Los Angeles Times at least had the courage to allow John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt space for a presentation of their views on the power and negative effects of the pro-Israel lobby (“Israel’s False Friends”: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/sunday/commentary/la-op-mearsheimer6jan06,1,6831048.story?ctrack=1&cset=true.). But the Inky has not done this, nor has it reviewed those authors’ powerful and scholarly book on the subject.
Bush as a Constitution-Buster
I’ve noted before, also, that the Inky has long failed to publish news and editorial material that features the scope of Bush’s attacks on the checks and balances system, the Constitution, and the rule of law. And of course they don’t review any of the numerous books coming out on those subjects, as a matter of their scandalous no-political-books review policy. The Inky never picked up Paul Krugman’s excellent “Distract and Disenfranchise,” subtitled “A unified theory of Bush scandals” (NYT, April 2, 2007), nor Bob Herbert’s piece on “The Definition Of Tyranny,” subtitled “Are we willing to cede our checks and balances?” (NYT, July 17, 2006). They have also failed to give much attention to the stream of critiques of Bush law violations, including the recent statement by over a thousand lawyers, including former Governor Mario Cuomo and former Reagan administration official Bruce Fein, demanding wide-ranging investigative hearings into unconstitutional and potentially criminal activity by the Bush administration (see the posted item by Katrina Vanden Heuvel on “Lawyers Stepping Up,” The Nation, Dec. 12, 2007. Go to Original.) Admittedly, there are a few exceptions, including the earlier call for impeachment in a short Commentary column by Lindorff and Olshansky and the very recent piece mentioned above by three congresspersons on “Impeach Cheney Now.” But given the abuses and constitutional crisis and threats at stake the Inky has short-changed its readership on this set of issues.
Satullo on Impeachment and the Candidates
Furthermore, as I have pointed out before, the Inky refuses to treat Bush as harshly as they treated Clinton (an understatement). Former Inky Editorial Page Editor Chris Satullo wrote an editorial back on January 22, 1998 calling for Clinton to resign if he had had that affair with Lewinsky and lied about it. He returned to this subject in his Commentary of June 20, 2004 (“Overdue question to Clinton devotees”), and in the process revealed once again how he has provided de facto protection to Bush while proving that he is not guilty of any liberal bias. In his June 2004 piece Satullo argued that if Clinton had resigned back in 1998 it is more likely that Gore would have won in 2000. This is not only questionable, but a silly basis for calling for a resignation of a sitting and not unpopular president. As for lies, way back in 2004 Senator Charles Schumer assembled a list of 237 administration lies, and there are many books now written about Bush’s lies (none reviewed in the Inky, which also has never had a Commentary article listing of lies, a listing available in many forms). Even more important, the Bush lies have had huge political and policy consequences, in contrast with Clinton’s lies on Lewinsky. But it seems never to have occurred to Satullo that if he editorialized calling for Clinton’s resignation based on lies that he should do the same for Bush, and that such a call was long overdue. He has apparently internalized the double standard that has made the editorial board alert to Democratic failings while treating Bush with great kindness (I discuss this longstanding bias more fully in “Profiles in Cowardice,” Z Magazine, July/August 2001, available in the inkywatch.org archive).
Satullo’s recent column “Who’s who and why in the race for president” (Jan. 6), has some clever writing and makes some telling points, but most of it is too clever by half, and with biases too raging. Thus, on Kucinich, Satullo says that “When his vote totals turn out to be as tiny as he is, fiery bloggers will blame that on the ‘corporate media,’ rather than his fringe appeal.” Satullo cannot resist a sneer at Kucinich’s “tiny” size, just as in dealing with Edwards he can’t resist calling him a “faux populist with a seven figure bank account, a killer mansion and ab/hab hair…” Sheer nastiness!—imagine what Satullo could have done to the crippled, wealthy populist Franklin D. Roosevelt! But note also how Satullo suggests that the “corporate media” couldn’t be influencing election outcomes, which is off-the-wall analysis; and that Kucinich’s views are “fringe.” On the latter point, Kucinich is alone among the candidates in supporting an Iraq policy and health care and tax policies that polls show to be consistent with the views of two thirds of the public. Poor Satullo has internalized the views of the dominant class so completely that “fringe” for him means “fringe of the power elite.”
Trudy Rubin on Pakistan, Always Within the Frame of U.S. Interests
Trudy Rubin talks mainly with U.S. and client state officials, and locals who will follow the official line, and she has long tended to identify with the policies espoused by her own country’s establishment. This is why in her handling of Russia in the Yeltsin years a reader of her columns would hardly know that the mass of the population was undergoing a calamity; things were moving in accord with U.S. policy interests in ending any “socialist” or even social democratic threat and Russia was being both beggared and integrated into the Western-dominated global economy. So she was pro-Yeltsin and missed the fact of--and responsibility for--a catastrophe.
In the same mode now on Pakistan, Rubin argues that “Pakistan won’t see the danger: Most refuse to see the threat of Islamist expansion” (Dec. 30, 2007). But Rubin can’t comprehend that most Pakistanis don’t want their country to be embroiled in a major civil war such as Rubin’s leaders have brought to Iraq. She recognizes that the United States first supported the buildup of the Islamic jihad to destabilize the Soviet Union and that this was crucial in helping the Taliban obtain power. She often mentions the connection of the Pakistani intelligence (ISI) to these Islamic extremists, but she underplays the role of the United States and fails to mention the resentment of the jihadists, who recognized that they had been used, when the United States abruptly abandoned their country after the Soviet withdrawal. (This is a point stressed by Chalmers Johnson in “Abolish the CIA”: www.tomdispatch.com/post/1984/chalmers_johnson_on_the_cia_and_a_blowback_world. Johnson, the author of three outstanding books on U.S. militarism and “blowback” has never had a Commentary column, nor had a book reviewed, in the Inky.)
Trudy Rubin also downplays the extent to which military rule in Pakistan and the denial of democracy has been U.S.-supported for many years and seems to be a central feature of U.S. policy there—and one deeply resented by the locals. (See Graham Usher, “How Pakistan’s Military Came to Dominate the State: The Army Won’t Return to the Barracks,” http://mondediplo.com/2007/12/02military .) Now that Musharraf is apparently no longer useful Rubin suggests more democracy, but she fails to recognize that Bhutto’s reentry was designed to provide a democratic fašade, not to provide real democracy. There is strong evidence that a real democracy would not welcome Pakistan’s subordination to a U.S. war; hence this country’s leaders are still not going to support it. Rubin asserts that Bhutto’s is “a warning to Pakistanis---and us—of the growing threat of Islamic expansionism.” She just takes it for granted that Islamic extremists murdered Bhutto, although it is widely believed in Pakistan (and with some evidence) that this was an operation of the army—and if so, is that a warning to the Pakistanis?
The post 9/11 U.S. and NATO war on Afghanistan drove millions of mainly Pashtuns into Pakistan and created further huge resentments at U.S. intervention and the U.S. subsidization and manipulation of the Pakistani army and political leadership. She takes it as a given and natural right for this country to intervene with military force and to buy and dominate governments anywhere. The thought that a majority of Pakistanis might consider army rule—long supported by the United States—and U.S. intrusions, as more dangerous and threatening to their welfare than “Islamic expansionism” is outside her frame of reference. Rubin can’t conceive of “U.S. expansionism” as a problem, or the idea that the Islamic expansionism in Afghanistan and Pakistan could be a result of her own country’s policies. Rubin found a publisher and analyst in Pakistan who would agree with her that the Islamic threat there is not the West’s fault, but there are other views that do not surface with Rubin or the Inky: for some samples, see Jim Lobe’s “Pakistanis See US As Greatest Threat”: http://www.countercurrents.org/lobe080108.htm. Joelle Kuntz, “Asia Hobbled by Its Military,” from Geneva’s Le Temps: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/010808G.shtml; Robert Fisk, “They don’t blame al-Qa’ida, They blame Musharraf”: ://news.independent.co.uk/fisk/article3291600.ece; and Tariq Ali’s “A tragedy built on military despotism and anarchy” www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2232700,00.html. Tariq Ali is another superb writer on Islam whose work can never be read in the Inky (and whose books are never reviewed there).
Consider also this excerpt from a recent Guardian article by the Indian author Pankaj Mishra, which has a tone and intellectual thrust quite different from that of Trudy Rubin:
In any case, the Taliban and their sympathisers can't be "eliminated". The web of strategic tribal and ethnic alliances has represented the strongest Pashtun claims in recent decades as traditional rulers of Afghanistan's ethnic mosaic. Even today, as the writer Rory Stewart has pointed out, "many Pashtun clearly prefer the Taliban to foreign troops". In actuality, the Taliban can only be contained. But even that may remain a fantasy if foreign occupation continues to radicalise Pashtuns in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Musharraf has himself only just escaped assassination. Even though he grudgingly accepted Washington's choice, Bhutto, as a civilian facade for military rule, he can't be unaware that Pakistan's stability depends on successful deal-making in the Pashtun heartland rather than in the White House. This lesson is not entirely lost on western policymakers. EU diplomats expelled from southern Afghanistan a day before Bhutto's assassination were trying to reach out to the Taliban. But such peacemakers face their most influential adversaries among those who think that errant natives respond best to a bit of stick. Writing in the Wall Street Journal last week, the Tory MP Michael Gove warned the west not to betray any "sign of weakness" to the Taliban.
Doubtless the Churchill wannabes that have proliferated since 9/11 would fight on their laptops to the last drop of Afghan and Pakistani blood. Intoxicated by their own cliches, they remain blind to how their warmongering in the cause of democracy in Afghanistan and Pakistan has boosted the most militaristic elements there, ruining even the basic hope of a violence-free life, not to mention the grand ambition of democracy.
The CIA's anti-Soviet jihad not only ensured the dominance of the military intelligence establishment over elected government in Pakistan; it also spawned a new radical force, which now menaces military as well as civilian authority in Pakistan. We may praise or blame Benazir Bhutto for what she did or did not do, but as long as Pakistan remains hostage to failed western policies those aspiring to lead it can achieve little apart from personal power - along with a high risk of martyrdom. www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2237021,00.html
In a fundamental sense, American democracy has been derailed throughout the Bush-Cheney regime. The dominant commitment of the administration has been a murderous, illegal, nonsensical war against Iraq. That irresponsible venture has killed almost 4,000 Americans, left many times that number mentally or physically crippled, claimed the lives of an estimated 600,000 Iraqis (according to a careful October 2006 study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) and laid waste their country. The financial cost to the United States is now $250 million a day and is expected to exceed a total of $1 trillion, most of which we have borrowed from the Chinese and others as our national debt has now climbed above $9 trillion - by far the highest in our national history.