From 'Nam to Lebanon, the Gulf War and, um, Texas.
I often disagree with TNR's Peter Beinart. But his latest essay, debunking the myth that George W. Bush isn't really a conservative, is dead on.
"Rarely has so widespread a view been so wrong," Beinart writes. "In fact, Bush is not merely conservative; he is more conservative than Ronald Reagan, the man whose ideological legacy he has supposedly betrayed."
The argument being peddled by conservative intellectuals is as disingenuous as the argument made by liberal hawks that they didn't know Bush would screw up Iraq so badly.
A group of venerable moderate Republican millionaires are starting a new group, Republicans Who Care. As Ellen Miller writes on TPM Cafe, "Does that mean that the rest of the Republicans are members of 'Republicans Who Don't Care'?"
And what precisely do the moderates care about? According to Bloomberg News, the group is raising money for "Republicans who favor balanced federal budgets and believe government should take a hands-off approach on such issues as abortion." The candidates they're planning to help include Senator Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island and Reps. Chris Shays, Nancy Johnson, Rob Simmons, Martha Rainville and Deborah Pryce.
But do these candidates stand up on the aforementioned issues? Take abortion. Pryce had only a 40 percent rating from NARAL last year and is the fourth-ranking Republican in a GOP leadership that is adamantly pro-life.
What makes you think he knows anything?
From Vermont to Illinois to California, voters this fall will be deciding the fate not just of candidates for Congress but of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.
Communities that are home to more than 1 million Americans will have an opportunity to cast ballots on the question of whether Congress should begin impeachment proceedings against the president and vice president.
Only the U.S. House of Representatives can impeach a member of the executive branch, and only the Senate can convict the targeted official and remove him from office. But the founders always intended for citizens to have a voice in the process. Thomas Jefferson, who argued that power must ultimately rest in the people, as they alone are the surest defenders of the republic and its democratic aspirations, observed, "It behooves our citizens to be on their guard, to be firm in their principles, and full of confidence in themselves. We are able to preserve our self-government if we will but think so."
Gallaudet protests shut down school.
Students lobby Congress to get involved.
Controversy escalates over sexual violence on campus.
The US-backed special tribunal in Baghdad signalled Monday that it will likely delay a verdict in thefirst trial of Saddam Hussein to November 5. Why hasn't the mainstream mediaconnected the dots between the Saddam's judgment day and the midtermelections?
Here's how the story was
A possible death-sentence for Saddam and his top lieutenants on November 5? Now, shouldn't that raise a few eyebrows somewhere? If you happento have a calendar close at hand, pull it over and take a quick look. That verdict would then come, curiously enough, just two days before themidterm elections. It's the sort of thing that--you would think--thatany reporter with knowledge of the US election cycle (no less of howKarl Rove has worked these last years) would at least note in anarticle. But no, you can search high and low without finding areference to this in the mainstream media.
Doonesbury cartoonist Gary Trudeau had a terrific idea which he introduced in his Sunday strip. Explaining that the public is "increasingly disconnected from the troops," in part because it has become increasingly dangerous for reporters to cover the war, Trudeau created a milblog for troops to "report on themselves" in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Sandbox offers soldiers a forum to share "â€¦ the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd."
"I think the wars are just too remote for people's minds," Trudeau said. "They see two, three minutes on the evening news, maybe, if they don't look away."
Visit the site for authentic, first-hand accounts of soldiers' experiences. Here are some excerpts from recent posts:
Yesterday, more than 200 Wal-Mart workers held a demonstration in front of a Wal-Mart store in Hialeah Gardens, Florida. In the first significant protest ever organized by Wal-Mart employees in the United States, workers objected to managers cutting their hours, and to the company's insistence on employees' "open availability," as well as to a new, more stringent attendance policy. It's courageous of these workers, who are part of a Florida group called "Associates at Wal-Mart," to speak out publicly and demand better treatment. Let's hope their protest is a turning point in the fight for workers' rights at Wal-Mart, and that more workers will be emboldened by the Florida workers' example and begin to organize. Too much of the debate over Wal-Mart takes place without the perspective of the true experts -- the workers themselves.
Speaking of retail workers, the IWW's Starbucks campaign -- which I've mentioned on this blog before -- is growing, and having some encouraging effects. Workers have organized in New York City, and, this summer, Chicago. Last week, the company raised its Chicago workers' wages, increasing starting pay by thirty cents (to $7.80) and promising that if an employee gets a favorable performance review, her pay will go up to $8.58 after six months. New York City workers will make $9.63 an hour after six months on the job (and a favorable review), which means that the IWW campaign will have raised many employees' wages by nearly 25% in two and a half years. The company insists that the raise has nothing to do with the union, but that claim simply isn't credible. As Daniel Gross, who was recently fired for from Starbucks for union organizing, points out, the wage increase "isn't justified by macroeconomic factors, or by any factors other than the union. Real wages for other workers in New York City haven't increased by 25%, or anywhere near that!"
Of course, as Daniel points out, even with the increase, Starbucks workers do not make a living wage. He also stresses that the wage increase needs to be viewed in the context of Starbucks' anti-union campaign: "The company still doesn't recognize the union's right to exist." Starbucks still has a long way to go before the reality behind its counters matches its socially-responsible image.
The Hummer-driving governator greens up.
Twenty years ago this month the world might have taken a different course. On October 11, 1986, at the Reykjavik Summit, Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan entertained the idea that had long been unthinkable among the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union: a world free of nuclear weapons. Yet, despite the end of the Cold War and the development of relatively normal relations among the world's nuclear powers, the idea of a non-nuclear world seems more distant than ever. As the recently released report of the International Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction makes clear, even the limited goals of nuclear arms control and non-proliferation have been set back by the lack of leadership on the part of the United States and by the proliferation of new weapons states. Also worrying, the goal of nuclear disarmament no longer seems to animate the progressive community or the peace movement-- let alone figure into today's discussion of American national security policy.
But even as the idea of a non-nuclear world seemed more distant than ever, Mikhail Gorbachev was in New York speaking eloquently of his belief that there are always alternative roads to sanity. At a gathering at the Museum of Television and Radio's auditorium, the former Soviet President insisted that the major nuclear powers must abide, in good faith, by the Non-Proliferation Treaty's core obligations. That includes, he reminded the packed hall, pursuit of real nuclear disarmament leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Just hours before Gorbachev spoke to a standing ovation, the New York Times' lead story called our era a "second nuclear age." And the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to impose sanctions on North Korea for its reported nuclear test.
Here's how the President described the enemy in Iraq at his press conference last week. "The violence is being caused by a combination of terrorists, elements of former regime criminals, and sectarian militias." "Elements of former regime criminals," aka "bitter-enders," aka "Saddamists," aka "Anti-Iraqi Forces." The "sectarian militias" may have been a relatively recent add-on, but this is essentially the same list, the same sort of terminology the President has been using for years.
In the last two weeks, however, rumblings of discontent, urges for a change of course in Iraq have been persistently bubbling to the surface of already roiling Washington. Suggestions are rife for dumping the President's goal of "democracy" in Iraq and swallowing a little of the hard stuff. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, for instance, reports (as did Middle Eastern expert Robert Dreyfuss at Tompaine.com a week earlier) that in two desperate capitals, Washington and Baghdad, rumors about possible future Iraqi coups are spinning wildly. People of import are evidently talking about the possibility of a new five-man "ruling commission," a "government of national salvation" there that would "suspend parliament, declare martial law and call back some officers of the old Iraqi army." Even the name of that CIA warhorse (and anti-neocon candidate) Ayad Allawi, who couldn't get his party elected dogcatcher in the new Iraq, is coming up again in the context of the need for a "strongman."
This was, of course, the desire of the elder George Bush and his advisors at the end of Gulf War I, when they hoped just such a Sunni strongman, who might actually work with them, would topple a weakened Saddam Hussein. Dreams, it seems, die hard. And, as if on cue, who should appear but former Secretary of State and Bush family handler James A. Baker III, a Bush Elder kind of guy whose bipartisan commission, the Iraq Study Group is, according to a leak to the New York Sun, considering skipping "democracy" in Iraq, minimizing American casualties, and focusing "on stabilizing Baghdad, while the American Embassy should work toward political accommodation with insurgents."
[Correction, 11/2/06: The percentage that AmEx Red donates to the Global Fund was incorrectly reported. See my note in paragraph 8.]
Africa's poor had, like, the best week ever. Not since the days of khaki colonialism has buying Africa been so sexy, so fashionable. Early last week, Madonna and husband Guy Ritchie swooped into the village of Mphandula in Malawi and adopted 13-month old David Banda. Price tag for this celebrity accessory du jour: $3 million to anti-poverty programs and $1 million to produce a documentary on the plight of Malawi's children, one million of whom are AIDS orphans (though little David is not, his father is very much alive and planned to reclaim the child until the Material Girl made an offer).
But don't worry, if an African baby is too pricey for you (and conjures up undesirable associations to Angelina Jolie or slavery), then you can buy Red instead. Launched this week in North America, Bono's campaign re-brands Motorola Rzr phones, Gap t-shirts, Armani sunglasses and Converse sneakers with the Product Red logo. Up to half of all profits will go to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS; a $199 Red Ipod Nano will, for example, lead to a $10 donation by Apple. Oprah, Steven Spielberg, Penelope Cruz, Christy Turlington, Chris Rock, Mary J. Blige and other celebrities have all endorsed the campaign. "Can a tank top change the world?" asks one Gap ad. In the UK, where AmEx Red donates 1% of all purchases to The Global Fund, the question was simply "Has there ever been a better reason to shop?"
In an op-ed in Sunday's Washington Post, Rep. John Murtha notes the "astonishing and unprecedented parade of retired US generals calling for a new direction in Iraq."
But last week in Britain it was an active general â€“ and the new head of the Army at that â€“ who joined the growing chorus of military officers criticizing the war in Iraq. Gen. Sir Richard Dannatt said that British troops should leave Iraq "sometime soon because our presence exacerbates the security problems." And in a stinging indictment of the Bush and Blair administrations, he went on to say, "I think history will show that the planning for what happened after the initial successful war-fighting phase was poor, probably based more on optimism than sound planning."
Dannatt characterized his comments this way: "Honesty is what it is about. The truth will out. We have got to speak the truth. Leaking and spinning, at the end of the day, are not helpful."
The Swedish Academy bestowed this year's Nobel Peace Prize to Muhammad Yunus, the father of microcredit. It's easy to believe Yunus's low-interest loans to the poor are a silver bullet against global economic injustice. But it's not that simple.