Wonk’s Saturday Reads: Hillary, Jeannette, and Perditta

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives for the funeral mass for former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, Thursday, March 31, 2011 in New York.

Morning, news junkies. Note: You’ll have to read all the way to the bottom of this one for the tie-in to “Jeannette” and “Perditta.” There’s also some comic relief from the Onion waiting there at the end as a reward for making it through. My Saturday reads are often on the ‘heavy’ side I know, and this weekend is no exception.

I’d like to start with a story I touched on in a roundup about a month ago. You may recall that I linked to Glen Ford/BAR’s commentary on the pogrom-like massacre against sub-Saharan black migrant workers in Libya, at the hands of so-called anti-Gaddafi rebels. The Western media has virtually blacked this story out–or if they are covering it in any substantive or sustained way other than in passing, I must have missed it over the past month. Leave it to the WSWS (World Socialist Web Site) to have one of the few informative pieces I’ve seen covering the story at all (h/t paperdoll for pointing me to it.) The WSWS piece references a March 22nd article, in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung by Gunnar Heinsohn (which cites as its source a report by Zimbabwean journalist and documentary filmmaker Farai Sevenzo).

From the WSWS link:

The article states:“Because mercenaries from Chad and Mali are presumed to be fighting for him [Gaddafi], the lives of a million African refugees and thousands of African migrants are at risk. A Turkish construction worker told the British radio station BBC: ‘We had seventy to eighty people from Chad working for our company. They were massacred with pruning shears and axes, accused by the attackers of being Gaddafi’s troops. The Sudanese people were massacred. We saw it for ourselves.’

The zombie in place of the fourth estate, our corporate US media, has either glossed over or omitted the massacre altogether. Meanwhile, Al Jazeera, unsurprisingly, has had more to say on the killings than I’ve seen from CNN or Fox over the last few months combined. Again, from the WSWS link:

On February 28, the Arab TV station Al Jazeera reported the racist massacre of black African workers by so-called “freedom fighters” as follows: “Dozens of workers from sub-Saharan Africa, it is feared, have been killed and hundreds are hiding because angry opponents of the government are hunting down black African mercenaries, witnesses reported…. According to official reports, about 90 Kenyans and 64 people from southern Sudan, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Zambia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and Burundi landed in Nairobi today.

One of them, Julius Kiluu, a 60-year-old construction manager, told Reuters: ‘We were attacked by people from the village. They accused us of being murderous mercenaries. But in reality they simply refuse to tolerate us. Our camp was burnt down. Our company and our embassy helped us get to the airport.’“Hundreds of black immigrants from the poorest African countries, who work mainly as low-wage day labourers in Libya, have been wounded by the rebels. From fear of being killed, some of them have refrained from going to a doctor.”

I went digging for the Al Jazeera report:

“But why is nobody concerned about the plight of sub-Saharan African migrants in Libya? As victims of racism and ruthless exploitation, they are Libya’s most vulnerable immigrant population, and their home country governments do not give them any support,” Hein de Haas, a senior fellow with the International Migration Institute, writes in his blog.

In clicking on the link to de Haas’ blog and perusing the comments, I stumbled upon a link to this February blog post at the Independent by Michael Mumisa: Is Al-Jazeera TV complicit in the latest vilification of Libya’s Blacks?

Mumisa wrote:

Even Al-Jazeera TV has based most of its news coverage of bands of marauding savage Africans on information posted via tweeter, facebook, and other social networks. That there may be African mercenaries operating in Libya is very possible but there are also credible reports from Serbian military sources as well as other Western agencies that Serbian mercenaries are fighting to protect Muammar Gaddafi. Yet nothing has been said about Gaddafi’s Serbian and Russian mercenaries.

Black Africans have always been a ‘visible’ and persecuted minority in Libya. By giving credence to potentially dangerous and unverified reports and rumours posted on social networks without taking into consideration the racial context of Libyan society Al-Jazeera and other foreign media outlets are complicit in the latest vilification and scapegoating of Libya’s Black minorities and its African migrant workers.

I don’t claim to be an expert on what’s happening on the ground in Libya, but I would like some answers on the deaths of these migrant workers. I would really love to hear someone put this humanitarian issue to Madame President Hillary Clinton for comment.

Switching gears now… because yep, you heard me correctly…

I just called her Madame President Hillary Clinton.

If the aliens visiting for the upcoming royal wedding were to observe what was going on right now, what else would they conclude? Hillary’s leading, Obama’s not, and everyone knows it.

Nothing new there, of course, except for the part about everyone knowing it. If Obama is the Where’s Waldo president, our media was the Where’s Waldo fourth estate in 2008, as well as during the entire past decade. That Where’s Waldo media, by the way, very much included left blogistan, guilty of its own version of the “Village” insularity and hegemony in the traditional media that the prog blogs cut their teeth railing against.

In 2008, access was more important than our country’s future to journalists and bloggers, and I have no reason to believe in 2012, the story will be any different.

Which brings me to my next set of links…

Hillary, Obama, Polls, and 2012/The Donald Goes Birther week-in-review

The latest results are from a March 25-27 Gallup poll conducted while the United States was actively involved in enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, a policy Clinton reportedly advocated. The same poll finds Clinton rated more positively than other top administration officials. Obama receives a 54% favorable rating, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, 52%, and Vice President Joe Biden, 46%.

  • A CNN/Opinion research poll from March 11 to 13 yielded pretty much the same results: 2 in 3 Americans have a favorable opinion of Hillary Clinton, with 92% of Democrats, 64% of Independents, and 35% of Republicans (or 83% of liberals, 80% of moderates, and 42% of conservatives) giving her a thumbs up. (That’s nearly identical to the Gallup findings from the end of March: 92% of Dems, 62% of Indies, and 40% of Repubs.) How’s that for “likeable enough” and “polarizing”? Agree or disagree with her, what people have for Hillary–which Obama can’t win with his empty speeches and voting “present”–is respect for her substance, diligence, and commitment. You not only know where she stands on Libya, you know she won’t half-ass it, she won’t vote present like Obama and she won’t cut Bush-like corners either–it’s clear that she’s giving it her all and she’s all in, even if you disagree with her.

It doesn’t look like Florida will be losing its status as one of the most competitive states in the country at the Presidential level next year- voters in the state are almost evenly divided on Barack Obama’s job performance and although he leads all six of the Republicans we tested him against, some of the margins are quite close. […] Mitt Romney does the best, trailing Obama 46-44. […] former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who trails Obama 48-45 in the state. Obama would start out in a slightly healthier position against four other Republicans we tested. He leads Rudy Giuliani by 6 points at 48-42, Mike Huckabee by 7 at 50-43, Newt Gingrich by 8 at 50-42, and Sarah Palin by 13 at 52-39.

Obama’s not likely to win Michigan by his blowout margin of 16 points in 2008 again but if the state voted today he would have an easier time taking it than either John Kerry in 2004 or Al Gore in 2000 did. Mitt Romney does the best of the Republicans against Obama, but still trails 48-41. […] Obama could be vulnerable in Michigan for sure. But consider this- despite that weak 78% approval with Democrats, he gets 85-90% of the Democratic vote against each of these five Republicans. There are enough Democrats who don’t like Obama that a Republican could get the support necessary across party lines to win the state- it’s just far from clear that any of these Republicans could get the support necessary across party lines to win the state.

  • And, in more “coming home to Obama” news… according to a Harvard survey, the “Waiting on the World to Change” generation has fallen back into their Obama-Hope coma (via TPM). If you read the fine print, though, the survey was taken from February 11 to March 2, i.e. before Obama’s (non-)war in Libya. Regardless, it’s not like younger voters are going to vote for whatever horrific candidate the GOP nominates anyway. But, will they show up with the enthusiasm of “being part of something historic and cool” that they did in 2008? I officially left the under 30 demographic last week, and one of the saddest things to watch about US politics over the last three years is how Obama crushed some pretty earnest, if misplaced, idealism on the part of many of my and my kid sister’s peers. I’m sure they’ll still vote for him, but it will be out of fear of the Republican being worse, not out of hope. Obama 2012 is all about cynicism. So was Obama 2008. Again, people just didn’t know it yet.
  • Also buried in the Harvard survey under the headline is this finding: 42% of young voters approve of Obama on the economy, while 55% disapprove. So, it’s not like “kids today” are completely oblivious to their own destruction under this president. There’s just no meaningful alternative.

There’s a good chance that Trump’s flirtation with the GOP will be over as soon as this season of Celebrity Apprentice ends, and that his real motivation is jealousy that Obama is starring in what he sees as the world’s highest-rated reality-TV show: President of the United States. But if you think there’s any chance he’ll actually throw his hat in the ring, consider this: The only consistent position Trump has taken so far is that in 2011, he’s against whatever Obama is for.

Hillaryland

  • This one is a bit of a ‘where foreign policy meets domestic policy’ read…[USAID’s Rajiv] Shah: GOP budget would kill 70,000 children. Josh Rogin at FP’s The Cable has the details at the link. Once again, I must point out that we have a Madame President Hillary Clinton on the global stage at a time when her strength, stature, and ‘smart’ power on the domestic stage could have been very well-utilized. (As, Jon Corzine let slip at a party in the summer of 2010… “She would have been able to handle this Congress.”) Still, Hillary and her people at the State Department are doing everything they can from within their foreign policy context to push back on the GOP’s fiscal irresponsibility.

Japan

Japanese authorities on Friday were struggling with a new problem at the devastated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant: where to put tons of radioactive water.

Afghanistan

This Day in History (April 2nd)

Stressors the general public typically don’t have to deal with such as deployments, temporary duty assignments, permanent change of station assignments every few years or less, exercises and so many other requirements can take a toll on these families, since autistic kids have such a hard time adapting to change.

Following her election as a representative, Rankin’s entrance into Congress was delayed for a month as congressmen discussed whether a woman should be admitted into the House of Representatives.

Finally, on April 2, 1917, she was introduced in Congress as its first female member. The same day, President Woodrow Wilson addressed a joint session of Congress and urged a declaration of war against Germany. On April 4, the Senate voted for war by a wide majority, and on April 6 the vote went to the House. Citing public opinion in Montana and her own pacifist beliefs, Jeannette Rankin was one of only 50 representatives who voted against the American declaration of war. For the remainder of her first term in Congress, she sponsored legislation to aid women and children, and advocated the passage of a federal suffrage amendment.

  • “You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.” –Jeannette Rankin
  • Back in January, I wrote about the Jeannette Rankin Brigade, so instead of reinventing the wheel, I’ll just quote myself:

Today is January 15, 2011… Eighty-two years ago, in 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was born. Thirty-nine years later, in 1968, the Jeannette Rankin Brigade gathered in DC to protest the Vietnam War (links go to two great photos). At the end of the march, the 88-year old Rankin–on behalf of a delegation of women that included Coretta Scott King–presented to then-House Speaker John McCormack a petition calling for an end to the war (link takes you to another amazing photo).

Updates and Closing Thoughts on Libya

FP’s latest brief at the time of my writing this post (Friday mid-morning/noon):

A senior aide to Saif al-Qaddafi is reportedly in London for secret talks with British authorities. Following yesterday’s defection of Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa, rumors have swirled of other high-profile defections from the Qaddafi regime. Ali Abdussalam el-Treki, a former U.N. envoy who had also reportedly defected on Thursday, denied the rumors, but said that he is trying to negotiate a ceasefire. Libyan officials have now posted guards to prevent other defectors from leaving.Members of NATO are warning Libya’s rebels not to attack civilians, or they will face the same airstrikes that have been directed at Qaddafi’s troops. The BBC is reporting that seven civilians were allegedly killed in a coalition airstrike near Brega.

More from the BBC link just above:

All the dead were between the ages of 12 and 20, Dr Refardi said. Nato says it is investigating the claim.

The news comes as opposition leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil said the rebels would agree to a ceasefire if Col Muammar Gaddafi’s troops withdrew from cities.

“We agree on a ceasefire on the condition that our brothers in the western cities have freedom of expression and also that the forces that are besieging the cities withdraw,” he told a news conference in the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

But he said the rebels would not back down on their demand that Col Gaddafi must go.

So it sounds like Gaddafi’s hold is sliding, but who knows how things will be by the time you see this post on Saturday morning.

At any rate, I wonder what Jeannette Rankin and her anti-war brigade would say to this woman (via FP/Blake Hounshell, A Bright Voice from Libya’s Darkness):

What does grief and courage sound like? It sounds a lot like the voice of Perditta Nabbous, the wife of Libyan citizen journalist Mohammed Nabbous, 27, who was shot and killed last Saturday by forces loyal to Muammar al-Qaddafi. Mohammed was the charismatic voice and face of Libya al-Hurra, the online TV station he set up in the early days of the uprising. Mo, as his many fans and supporters around the world called him, was attacked while trying to record footage from Benghazi.

[…]

She is 8 months pregnant. “I want Mohamed’s child to live,” she told me.

Her voice growing stronger, she called for the U.S.-led strikes on Qaddafi’s air defenses and troops to continue. Here it is in her own words. I can’t put it any more powerfully than this:

“We started this in a pure way, but he turned it bloody. Thousands of our men, women, and children have died.

We just wanted our freedom, that’s all we wanted, we didn’t want power. Before, we could not do a single thing if it was not the way he wanted it.

All we wanted was freedom. All we wanted was to be free. We have paid with our blood, with our families, with our men, and we’re not going to give up.

We are still going to do that no matter what it takes, but we need help. We want to do this ourselves, but we don’t have the weapons, the technology, the things we need. I don’t want anyone to say that Libya got liberated by anybody else.

If NATO didn’t start moving when they did, I assure you, I assure you, half of Benghazi if not more would have been killed. If they stop helping us, we are going to be all killed because he has no mercy anymore.

Remember Rankin’s warning that “you can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.”

I’m torn between Jeannette’s voice and Perditta’s.

I find myself increasingly hoping against hope that things turn out for the best in Libya and the rest of the MENA region and for us all.

That’s pretty much it for me. What’s on your blogging list this Saturday?

If you made it to the end, here you go… as promised… The Onion: American Dream Declared Dead As Final Believer Gives Up

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Sky Dancing and Taylor Marsh]

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