Left Out Program Notes for November 15, 2005

Welcome to Left Out, reality-based independent radio on WRCT 88.3FM, and on the worldwide web at leftout.info. Left Out discusses the news from a perspective left out of the mainstream media. Left Out is co-hosted by Bob Harper and Danny Sleator. Today's program is produced by Matt Hornyak. Listeners are invited to call the program at (412) 268-WRCT (9728), or to send email to bob@leftout.info


Listen to Democracy Now every weekday morning at 8am on WRCT.

Listen to Fight'n Lefty Review Wednesdays at this time on WRCT.

Listen to Rust Belt Radio Mondays at this time on WRCT.

Listen to Revealed Tuesdays at this time (alternate weeks with Left Out)

Annual Convergence to Close the School of the Americas (SOA)
November 18-21, 2005: Join thousands for a weekend of nonviolent resistance in remembrance of victims of the 1989 massacre and countless others murdered, tortured, and oppressed by SOA graduates. You can register for a bus trip from Pittsburgh to Fort Benning GA to join the protest. http://www.thomasmertoncenter.org/ 412-361-3022

Public Hearing on Allegheny County's voting machine modernization
The Allegheny County Council will hold a Public Hearing on Thursday, November 17, 2005 at 5:00 pm in the 4th Floor Gold Room of the Allegheny County Court House, 436 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219. Public comments are invited. The issue of DRE (Direct Recording of Election) machines versus having a voter verifiable paper trail will be dicussed.

1) Call your County Council member... urging support for Voter-Verified Paper Records (V-VPRs) and Precinct Based Optical Scan Voting Systems (PBOS). You can get the number at http://www.county.allegheny.pa.us/council/

2) Call the Chief Clerk of County Council (no later than 12 noon Wednesday, 11/16) and ask to speak at the County Council hearing on 11/17 at 5pm : Allegheny County's Chief Clerk, John Mascio at 412-350-6495. Jmascio@county.allegheny.pa.us

3) Show up to speak to County Council. Call for support of *Voter-Verified Paper Records in our county and state *Precinct Based Optical Scan Voting *HB2000/SB977 (The V-VPR bills in the PA legislature)


Listen to the broadcast (requires MP3 player). (Streaming, Download, Podcast)

Guest: Elizabeth Minnich

Elizabeth Minnich is coauthor (with Si Kahn) of The Fox in the Henhouse: How Privatization Threatens Democracy. It's an excellent book. We can just barely begin to touch all the topics covered there.

Topics to discuss:

fire fighting
in the DOD
health care (Krugman's latest column)

Private corporations are more efficient than government.
Government is incompetent
People are motivated soley by money
If properly used, a market can solve any problem

A lot of people have come to believe the bogus arguments for privatization. It's been been promoted intensly by politicans and the media for decades. We think a very powerful way to stem the tide of privatization is to have a set of very simple easy-to-understand stories of how things go wrong under privatization. We'd like to tell some of those stories here.

x Mosul Mess Hall
x The codfish of Newfoundland
x Big Oil limits refinery capacity (story in NOW). Even Republicans (Ken Mehlman on meet the press) say that congress should intervene.
x Distill Enron down ???

Bush's Latest PR Campaign

Starting last Friday, Bush has been giving speechs blasting the democrats for criticizing the Iraq war, and "rewriting history" about how it was started. Continuing the pattern of his entire presidency, the speech contains a multitude of distortions and outright lies. These have been pointed out by many, including David Corn in his Nation piece Bush Rewrites History To Criticize His Anti-war Critics

About his speech on Friday, David Kusnet of the New Republic calls it The Worst Speech of Bush's Presidency.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's chief of staff during his tenure as Secretary of State, exposes the truth about the Iraq War.

Senator Carl Levin has released documentation showing that the Cheney Administration knew that it's prime source was unreliable, and had been told so by the DIA.

LA Times Fires Robert Scheer

Robert Scheer, who has been a reporter and liberal columnist at the LA times for decades has been fired, apparently for his political views. Here's what he wrote in The Huffington Post:

On Friday I was fired as a columnist by the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, where I have worked for thirty years. The publisher, Jeff Johnson, who has offered not a word of explanation to me, has privately told people that he hated every word that I wrote. I assume that mostly refers to my exposing the lies used by President Bush to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Fortunately sixty percent of Americans now get the point, but only after tens of thousand of Americans and Iraqis have been killed and maimed as the carnage spirals out of control. My only regret is that my pen was not sharper and my words tougher.

Starting Wednesday morning, my column will be appearing here on the Huffington Post.

We discussed the possibilities of columnists Krugman and Herbert being fired from the NY Times here on Left Out on September 20th. It's certain that the NY Times is uncomfortable with the direction that Krugman and Herbert have taken. Sleator thought they would not be fired because of contractual obligations. Norman Soloman felt that was not the obstacle, but that they would not be fired because of the reader uproar it would cause. This does not seem to have stopped the LA Times.

Here's the LA Times's explanation. Make of it what you will. Jonah Goldberg instead of Robert Scheer?

Krugman Puts Shrub In Proper Perspective

In his October 31, 2005 column Paul Krugman points out the obvious, the across-the-board incompetence of the Bush administration.

The record of policy failure is truly remarkable. It sometimes seems as if President Bush and Mr. Cheney are Midases in reverse: everything they touch - from Iraq reconstruction to hurricane relief, from prescription drug coverage to the pursuit of Osama - turns to crud. Even the few apparent successes turn out to contain failures at their core: for example, real G.D.P. may be up, but real wages are down.

The point is that this administration's political triumphs have never been based on its real-world achievements, which are few and far between. The administration has, instead, built its power on myths: the myth of presidential leadership, the ugly myth that the administration is patriotic while its critics are not. Take away those myths, and the administration has nothing left.

How is this possible? Because the mainstream news media have actively collaborated in perpetuating the myth of competence and leadership by Bush administration officials, and colluded to obscure and distract from its blatant and catastrophic failures.

Tonkin Gulf Revisited

As you probably know, the Tonkin Gulf Episode, in which the Viet Cong attacked the US in the Tonkin Gulf in 1964 was fabricated. This was used as an excuse to get the US to expand the Viet Nam war. (Sound familiar?) Although this has been know for years by us on the left, the NY Times recently published an article about this. The thrust of the article is that an NSA historian (wow, I didn't know they had these) wrote an article stating exactly this, in 2002. But that the agency refused to let him publish it. Here's one paragraph:

Mr. Hanyok's findings were published nearly five years ago in a classified in-house journal, and starting in 2002 he and other government historians argued that it should be made public. But their effort was rebuffed by higher-level agency policymakers, who by the next year were fearful that it might prompt uncomfortable comparisons with the flawed intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq, according to an intelligence official familiar with some internal discussions of the matter.

It's great that they make the connection to the Iraq WMD scandal. Then they go on:

Both men said Mr. Hanyok believed the initial misinterpretation of North Vietnamese intercepts was probably an honest mistake. But after months of detective work in N.S.A.'s archives, he concluded that midlevel agency officials discovered the error almost immediately but covered it up and doctored documents so that they appeared to provide evidence of an attack.

Interesting how the midlevel people are blamed.

Juan Cole on the Neocons

On October 28, Juan Cole (historian, middle eastern scholar, and professor at the University of Michigan) wrote this piece for Salon. Part of the piece analyzes a 1996 article called "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," which was written by Richard Perle, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser.

The neoconservatives were actually more concerned with Syria initially than Iraq, since it more directly threatened Israeli security. Indeed, "A Clean Break" advocated the removal of Saddam Hussein mainly as a way of pressuring Damascus. The policy paper said, with astonishing ignorance, "Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq - an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right - as a means of foiling Syria's regional ambitions. King Hussein may have ideas for Israel in bringing its Lebanon problem under control. The predominantly Shia population of southern Lebanon has been tied for centuries to the Shia leadership in Najf [sic] Iraq rather than Iran. Were the Hashemites to control Iraq, they could use their influence over Najf to help Israel wean the south Lebanese Shia away from Hizballah, Iran, and Syria. Shia retain strong ties to the Hashemites: the Shia venerate foremost the Prophet's family, the direct descendants of which - and in whose veins the blood of the Prophet flows - is King Hussein."

This paragraph must be the most absurd, ill-informed and frankly lunatic pieces of prose ever produced by any policy advisor anywhere. It is full of false premises and ignorantr assumptions. Saddam Hussein's branch of the Baath Party was a rival of the Syrian Baath Party, not a supporter. Syria had joined Bush I's coalition against Iraq, allying with the Americans in 1990-91. Removing the Iraqi Baath would more likely strengthen Syria than weaken it. As for the Shiites in Iraq and southern Lebanon, they had been deeply influenced by the ideology of Ayatollah Khomeini, who preached that monarchy is incompatible with Islam. The idea that the old Hashemite monarchy could be revived and reinstalled in revolutionary Iraq was itself absurd. That a Sunni king in Baghdad might have any appeal to the Shiites of southern Lebanon, who favored Hezbollah and Khomeinism, would only occur to someone completely ignorant of the actual politics of Tyre and Nabatiya. The tragedy is that this sort of hallucination appears actually to have underpinned real policy moves by the neoconservatives as they became powerful in Washington under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.


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Tom Paine
The Independent
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Last modified: Tue Nov 29 23:14:44 2005