Saturday, July 24, 2004

Scanning the Vans

 I promise you that we won’t let terrorists scare us out of covering the Democratic convention. The FBI, ever on the alert, warns us that they are talking about blowing up our vans in the parking lot. And these are not Moslem terrorists, who are easy to recognize, but true-blue American Bush-loving terrorists, who talk like Ann Coulter.

Anyhow, we don’t have a van, and we don’t expect to pay much mind the floor shows inside either convention. All the fun will be outside. Already, the cops in Boston have won themselves a raise by threatening to picket the hall. Inside, delegates will be chanting for a candidate who promises to raise the minimum wage to seven dollars and change by the year two thousand and seven. Even our billionaire Republican mayor has put himself down for ten -- and that doesn’t even catch up.

The mayor has a thing, though, about peace marchers. He won’t allow crowds to trample the grass in Central Park -- except for big concerts -- or to choke up Times Square, except for New Year’s Eve. Fifth Avenue -- nothing doing.  It was the West Side Highway -- take it or leave it. But we will be marching there PAST the Garden -- and I promise you they’ll know we were there. The efforts to repress our protest, only incite the imagination of our protesters. The watchword is to avoid violence, which only plays into the hands of the enemy. There is always the danger that some wackos -- possibly provocateurs - will try to make trouble. Our own security teams will try to foil them. For the rest, let the fun begin.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

3 Pluses for the Times

 There’s an old line that expresses the attitude of the meanies among us -- “I’m all right, Jack - Eff you!” The great Barbara Ehrenrreich reminds us today that there are also women meanies, whose motto might be “I’m all right, Jane, Eff you!” She cites a well-off woman who got an abortion because something showed up wrong with her fetus -- but objected to waiting in a clinic with working mothers who just could not face having another baby.

A great column in the Times today --  do read it. In fact, it was a good hair day for the Op-Ed page: a piece about how poor the job figures really are -- and Maureen Dowd making fun of Sandy Burglar, as they now call Clinton’s former security adviser.  She reminds us that Fawn Hall once smuggled papers out of the White House under her sweater -- to cover up Ollie North’s role in the Iran-contra scandal. Dowd also plays up the way the Bush pack is sniffing out nukes and al Queda terrorists in Iran, instead of Iraq. Much of its base surely wouldn’t know the diference.

One more merit badge for the Times today. It apologizes for saying that Venezuela’s leftwing president, Hugo Chavez, faced a recall because he was accused of electoral fraud. It admits that a commission headed by Jimmy Carter cleared his election.  Chavez won by an overwhelming majority, but the Bush administration, which did not, has never let up on its effort to overthrow him. Neither has the Times. The story is one of the darker chapters in its history. Today’s confession offers at least a glimmer of light.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Wrong Rx - Again

The Times half apologized the other day for having endorsed the Bush bill on Medicare last fall. It said it figured Congress would mend some of its shortcomings by now --  and it looks like that ain’t gonna happen. That’s a mistake the Times has made often before -- pushing dangerous legislation with predictions that it would be fixed. You’d think it would have learned by now - but no, this editorial repeated one of the crudest sins in my book -- My Times: A Memoir of Dissent.

It has to do with the catastrophic Medicare bill, which Congress passed by an overwhelming vote during in the Reagan administration. A catastrophe indeed, it zapped the elderly alone to pay for catastrophic illness, and included a stiff surtax on people over 65. The newspaper of record got it all bass ackwards, and the rest of the media followed. But when the new program took its first bite into social security, millions of people learned that they’d be worse off than before. There was a grass roots rebellion, and the law was repealed.

But history as misreported by the Times is often stronger than the truth. This new editorial repeats a myth from that disgraceful year A bunch of rich ladies were supposed to have tried to tip over the car of Rusty Rostenkowski, the Democratic boss of the House. Rusty was the only witness, but the story sure had legs. The editorial did not mention that Rusty later went to jail as a crook. He was a hero to the Times in those days, and in this tale he still is.

I remember calling for corrections at the time, and at least once I got one. I now repeat that. But I’m not holding my breath.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Police Blotter

I couldn’t get worked up about Martha Stewart -- not even when she likened herself to Nelson Mandela, as a victim of persecution. He fought to liberate his country -- she hustled housewares.  She was on the way to making a billion at it, when she absent-mindedly picked up a bit of petty cash doing what insiders have always done on Wall Street -- buying stock on a tip, and unloading it on a tip. True , some outsiders got taken for, what, 50 grand? But five months in the slammer doesn’t look like cruel and unusual punishment -- if she ever serves it.

The fuss the media made over it was unusual. The day she was sentenccd, the courts were fiddling with half a dozen swindles on the order of billions of dollars, involving our food, gas, electricity, pharmaceuticals -- don’t get me started on that, I’m just back from the drug store. General Electric just added another conviction to what may be the longest rap sheet on record, and don’t thnk it’s over.

Today’s new crime sensation may look like small potatoes -- Samuel Berger, accused of taking home records of his doings as adviser to Bill Clinton. A neo-con, he seems to have been involved in operations in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, the Balkans, Latin America and Africa.  If the archives were opened, things that have been swept under the rug would be brought back to light. I just mentioned Nelson Mandela. It was probably before Berger’s time that our intelligence service put the finger on him for the apartheid government of South Africa, but that sort of cooperation never ended. Now, Berger is a chief adviser to John Kerry. So yes, by all means, let’s get a look at his files.