Beneath The Surface with Suzi Weissman airs every Friday on KPFK Pacifica Radio from 5:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. Tune in at 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, 98.7 FM in Santa Barbara, and worldwide on KPFK.ORG. You can listen to archived shows online on the KPFK website.

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BTS 11/28/05: Latest on Iraq War; Stan "Tookie" Williams; Polish Elections and the Defeat of Solidarity

Listen: Christian Parenti - Phil Gasper - David Ost

A week is a long time in politics. Just over a week ago Bush and Cheney were criticizing their anti-war critics and repeating their mantra of ‘staying the course.’ Now it seems Jack Murtha’s call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq has resonated and the administration is talking about withdrawing some before midterm elections of 2006 and more before the election of 2008. It all depends on the new Iraqi government and the readiness of its army and police, right? Christian Parenti joins us on this latest in the US-Iraqi war.

On December 13 Stanley Tookie Williams is scheduled to be executed in California, though the pressure for a stay is strong. We’ll talk to Prof. Philip Gasper about Tookie’s case.

Our final segment is about the Polish elections and the defeat of Solidarity – that monumental union that challenged Stalinist authority and won. David Ost, author of The Defeat of Solidarity, explains how Poland can elect the Kazcynski twins – who offer moral satisfaction instead of economic justice in a model familiar to anyone from Kansas and elsewhere.

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BTS 11/21/05: Cheney's Woes; America's Economic Decline; Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price

Listen: John Nichols - Bob Pollin - Robert Greenwald / Meleiza Figueroa

Both Republicans and Democrats are rewriting the history of the run-up to the war in Iraq – though the Democrats have a lot of catching up to do to match the Republicans. A spat broke out in Congress when Congressman Jack Murtha outlined a plan for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Vice President Cheney, in a lot of trouble for pushing torture, the war, and Plamegate, today accused his political opponents of “corrupt and shameless” revisionism in claiming that Bush misled the nation into the Iraq war and warned that withdrawing forces would “be a victory for the terrorists.” We begin tonight’s Beneath The Surface with The Nation's Washington correspondent and author of the highly unauthorized biography of Cheney, John Nichols, to discuss Cheney’s woes.

We then turn to the state of the economy: today GM announced 30,000 layoffs, while China is unveiling a new SUV to be sold in Europe and America. Bob Pollin, author of Contours of Descent, will put it all into context as we unravel America’s economic decline – and coincidentally touch on Bush’s trip to China and his ill-fated trip to Argentina.

And finally we welcome back Robert Greenwald, producer-director of Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Price, along with lead researcher Meleiza Figueroa to talk about Wal-Mart’s troubles and response to the successful release and impact of the new documentary.

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BTS 11/14/05: Robert Scheer fired from the LA Times; Community and Cooperation after Katrina; Going Postal

Listen: Howard Blume / Robert Scheer - Monique Verdin - Mark Ames

Robert Scheer was fired from the LA Times  on Friday, the latest in a series of mishaps on its editorial pages since the Chicago Tribune bought the paper two years ago. He’ll join us from the Nation’s cruise somewhere off Baja California to fill us in.

Later Monique Verdin, the spectacular photographer from Southern Louisiana will talk to us about community and cooperation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Here are a few of her amazing photographs from Louisiana:

And finally, Mark Ames has a new book Going Postal -- analyzing rage, murder and rebellion from Reagan to Clinton and Beyond.  It is all about the political economy of decline in an age of uprising and atomization.

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BTS 11/7/2005: Bush's Embarassment in Argentina; California's Special Election

Listen: Fernando Guerra / Lori Wallach - Warren Beatty - Peter Laarman / Akili - Lenny Goldberg - Louis Vandenburg / Meleiza Figueroa

Special in-studio Guest: Fernando Guerra

Bush’s woes keep getting worse. The summit of hemispheric leaders he attended in Argentina was a total embarrassment, with thousands demonstrating against him and talks going nowhere. Undeterred by the setback at the Summit of the Americas, President Bush has renewed his drive for hemispheric free trade, declaring that open markets would energize economies and foster social justice at a time when some in Latin America sought to "roll back the democratic progress of the past two decades. To look beneath the surface on the trade issues Lori Wallach of Public Citizen’s Global Free Trade Watch joins us.

We then turn to California’s special election, which begins in just 14 hours. Governor Schwarzenegger’s initiatives are failing in the polls, leaving many to wonder if the era of government by initiative might be in its last throes? We’ll cover the propositions and the larger questions they raise, with Peter Laarman, Executive Director of Progressive Christians Uniting; and Akili, South LA Coordinator for Alliance for a Better California; with a surprise call-in by actor and activist Warren Beatty!

Also, Lenny Goldberg, spokesperson for the Utility Reform Network, talks to us about Prop 80, and Louis Vandenburg, former candidate for the U S Congress from Riverside County, producer for Ian Master’s “Background Briefing,” tells us what is important in the Inland Empire – Riverside and San Bernardino Counties in the special election tomorrow.

Finally, Robert Greenwald's new film "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price" is playing this week at the Laemmle Fairfax Theatres. See it this week in the theatre, or click on the image below to order the film on DVD and show it to all of your family and friends:

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BTS 10/31/2005: Scooter Libby and Plamegate; Samuel Alito Nomination; CA Special Election Propositions

Listen: Arianna Huffington - Elizabeth de la Vega - Emily Bazelon - Jamie Court

On this Halloween night we look into the developing scandal engulfing the White House which has now resulted in 5 indictments and the resignation of VP Chief of Staff Scooter Libby. Does it stop here? Patrick Fitzgerald underlined the seriousness of the charges, but limited his scope to the legal questions on the outing of Valerie Plame.

We begin tonight with Arianna Huffington – who has never let us forget this is about concocting a false rationale to invade and occupy Iraq. We then speak to former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega who lays out a legal argument for Criminal Conspiracy. The news cycle of the past few weeks has been breathtaking – each day’s revelation out-shadows the previous day.

In quick succession Harriet Miers withdrew, indictments were handed out implicating the Cheney wing of the White House, and this morning, Bush nominated Samuel Alito to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court. We speak to Slate’s Emily Bazelon for more.

Finally, in one week California goes to the polls in ‘Arnold’s’ special election. Here to discuss some of the propositions is consumer advocate/watchdog, Jamie Court.

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BTS 10/10/2005: Texans in Trouble; California Special Election; Iraqi Constitution; "Occupation: Dreamland"

Listen: Lou Dubose - Bobbi Murray / Bill Bradley - Rahul Mahajan / Garrett Scott

On Tonight’s BTS we begin with the Texans in trouble – Tom DeLay and Karl Rove (OK, he’s the transplanted Texan from Colorado) – and the next Texans about to become very influential: Harriet Miers, Bush’s pick for Sandra Day O’Connor’s Supreme Court seat, and the man speaking for her, Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht, alternately described as her ‘companion’ and sometimes her ‘boyfriend.’ Lou Dubose, our favorite when it comes to all matters Texan, joins us.

We then move to California’s special election and the propositions that matter, with LA journalists Bill Bradley and Bobbi Murray.

Finally we turn to Iraq: Rahul Mahajan joins us for an update on the Iraqi Constitution that will be put to Iraqi voters on Sunday, and then turn to Garrett Scott, co-director of the award winning documentary, "Occupation: Dreamland" -- A film for those who think that embedded journalism never yields results. The film makers follow unit 24/7 of the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq, travelling with the soldiers when they were stationed near Falluja, just before Falluja became a household name – and one of the grimmest hotbeds of the war. The result is revealing and surprising and tells us a lot about American war-making in the 21st Century.

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BTS 10/3/2005: Katrina Aftermath; Harriet Miers Nomination; Tom DeLay Corruption; UTLA Forum

LISTEN: Adolph Reed Jr. - Craig Holman / Jeff Berman - Josh Pechthalt / Bill Gallegos

On tonight’s BTS we begin with aftermath of the Katrina catastrophe. New Orleans was murdered by Katrina, environmental racism, misguided engineering, dubious planning, government neglect and more, while relief and rebuilding are meant to showcase privatization (dare we call it cronyization) whose results are anyone’s guess: but Adolph Reed, a New Orleanian now teaching at Penn, says more than poverty and racism were exposed in new Orleans, and if the natural disaster revealed in stark terms the convergence of economic, political, social, racial and environmental crises, it is a shocking foretaste of what is in store for many of us unless we build a broad movement of the vast majority of us who are not part of the investor class.

Later in the hour we will see what fruits can be won from years of patient grass-roots organizing. Josh Pechthalt, VP of UTLA and Bill Gallegos from the Coalition for Educational Justice join us to discuss Schwarzenegger’s attack on the Teachers Union as well as what they are doing to defend and transform public education and meet the right wing challenge.

And in between we’ll take a look at President Bush’s Texas Lawyer Harriet Miers – nominated today to fill Sandra Day O’Connor’s Supreme Court vacancy, as well as the ethical problems of another Texan, Tom DeLay - with Jeff Berman, Western Regional Director of People for the American Way, and Craig Holman, a legislative representative from Public Citizen.

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BTS 9/26/2005: Katrina Report / Avian Flu; On John Roberts, Federalism and its Consequences

Listen: Mike Davis - Michele Landis Dauber

ON tonight’s BTS we continue looking at Katrina’s catastrophe – on the ground and the larger implications for the state of the state. The disaster exposed extreme cynicism, incompetence and sheer racism previously hidden or ignored.

We begin with Mike Davis, who returned to Southern California last night after more than a week in Louisiana, and we’ll talk about what he saw, as well as his new book The Monster At Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu. The parallels are conspicuous and ominous -- since prevention of mass death depends on a government prepared to deal with disaster.

We then speak to Michele Dauber of Stanford University Law School on the implication of a Roberts Supreme Court -- and the connection between the two segments is clear as Prof. Dauber focuses on the history of federal disaster relief, and the way FDR and New Deal lawyers used the precedent of disaster relief in his struggles with the Court to expand federal authority during the New Deal.

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BTS 9/19/2005: Wal-Mart Documentary and Hearing; Katrina - Incompetence or Class War?; Germany Losing Its Own Election

Listen: Robert Greenwald / Fred Azcarate - Brad Delong - Norman Birnbaum

Our focus tonight is on what could perhaps be called the paranoid class consciousness of ruling circles these days from Wal-Mart to Katrina to the stalemated elections in Germany.

We begin with Wal-Mart, a leader in promoting attacks on workers, women and communities, lowering living standards while asking the state to pick up the costs. Fred Azcarate , Executive Director of Jobs with Justice and Robert Greenwald, producer of the new documentary “Wal-mart: The High Cost of Low Price” join us to preview the film and the upcoming national workers rights board hearing on Wal-Mart in Saint Louis.

Continuing in the class war vein, we look at what Hurricane Katrina has laid bare in US Politics: the response has been naked, brutal, singularly incompetent, and matching current Enron-type business practices – what we can only call short-termist. While the Democrats and the rest of the world are stunned by the sheer incompetence of the response, is their something more deliberate? The botched bureaucratic response by the Government through FEMA also reflects an attempt to regain control after people were forced to take their own measures to survive. How to explain FEMA’s preventing supplies from getting through and the quick military response to people getting what they need in crisis? Early on the word ‘insurgents’ was used to describe people in the streets of New Orleans. Did the government worry more that uncontrolled poor and black people in New Orleans represents a potential or actual insurrection? Does Barbara Bush’s remarks in this context reveal a paranoid mindset that the ruling circles see themselves as besieged by ‘lower classes’ who must be controlled and kept down? Does the Bush administration reflect a paranoid class consciousness? We put these questions to Berkeley Economics Professor Brad DeLong who has written of the Bush Administration incompetence in the Financial Times.

And finally on tonight’s BTS we look at the election held in Germany yesterday. The headline in Der Spiegel suggests that Germany lost its own election. Neither party can claim a true majority and Norman Birnbaum sees it as Sturm und Drang or turbulence and passion. The supposedly consensual and orderly Germans are fighting each other after the election resulted in a numerical stalemate: The seventy six percent of the citizenry who voted disregarded journalists, pollsters, professors and business elites, who instructed them to abandon the welfare state and return to subordination to the US. Fifty one percent of the electorate voted for the opposite.
The complicated result reveals a deeper truth, as applicable in Germany as the US, Britain, France and elsewhere. Most of the news stories call the election a defeat for all the candidates, one could say the result is good. Working people in Germany weren’t seduced into voting for their own demise by supporting the CDU but didn’t have enough self interest to vote for the SPD.

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BTS 9/12/2005: Hurricane Katrina - The Perfect Convergence of Everything That's Wrong; Why They Don't Hate Us

Listen: Ben Ehrenreich / Shakoor Al-Jawani - Salaam Al-Maryati / Mark Levine

On tonight’s program we examine what the response to the Gulf Coast catastrophe and the anniversary of 9/11 tell us about the state of the state.

Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans have brought our society face to face with the reality of the condition of life in the US – and that is that 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina -- the two greatest disasters to hit the US since the bombing of Pearl Harbor coincide with the worst presidency in over a century – since Rutherford B Hayes took office in a crooked political deal after the deadlocked 1876 election ended post-Civil War Reconstruction and restored unchallenged white supremacy across the south.

The cynicism, incompetence and sheer racism of the Bush administration’s response to the Gulf Coast catastrophe brings together everything the critics of the system have been writing for the last century: the role of the state/government; military presence as the response, how race and class intersect with the neglect of infrastructure and the neoliberal notion of a minimal state -- and these combine with a total absence of leadership on all sides. Where are the Democrats? Where are the Labor and Community leaders? Who is stepping up to organize mass protest? In the absence of this kind of leadership, the population turns to charities and self-help organizations to get through and help where the state is absent. Does this vindicate the Republican ethos that the state doesn’t need to get involved?

Shakoor Aljuwani and Ben Ehrenreich have been in New Orleans and Texas following the story on the ground. You can read Ben Ehrenreich’s dispatches in the LA Weekly. Shakoor Aljuwani brings his immense community organizing skills and has been talking to people on the frontline.

Later in the program we welcome Mark LeVine, author of Why They Don’t Hate Us and Salam al- Maryati from the Muslim Public Affairs Council to preview a forum being held tonight at the Levantine Cultural Center in Culver City at 7:30 on Mark Levine’s new book, which our own Jon Wiener says proposes a different way of thinking about “us” and “them” in the Middle East – not a clash of civilizations but a call for historical understanding and the creation of an axis of empathy. Stay tuned to hear Mark LeVine and Salam Al-Maryati and join us in Culver City tonight at 7:30. I’ll be moderating.

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