Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Specter thinks he might be angry, Dave Zirin and more

"Did I get done studying quick?" Leigh Ann wondered. No. I was up until midnight. So here's a post and maybe it will be worth reading and maybe it won't. Before I go any further, I need to say, check out Cedric's "Michael Smith's speech from Law and Disorder." He did a great job capturing the speech and I also agree with 101% about that DC station. I was so bummed when I heard that and thought, "That's some kind of free speech radio?" So now let's get things kicked off with Democracy Now!

Sen. Specter Considers Suing Bush Over Signing Statements
In other news from Washington, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said he is seriously considering suing the White House over President Bush's use of signing statements. Bush has maintained that he has the right to revise, interpret or disregard hundreds of laws on national security and constitutional grounds. Since his election, Bush has issued more than 750 signing statements -- more than all previous presidents combined. Senator Specter raised the possibility of suing the White House during a hearing on the legality of presidential signing statements. At the meeting Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy called the president's use of signing statements a grave threat to the nation's constitutional system of checks and balances.

He is "seriously considering"? He let the White House walk all over him, they tugged his leash and he said, "No under oath for Alberto Gonzales when he testifies." Now he's thinking it might be time to get serious? It is a big threat and Michael Ratner talked about that on Law and Disorder Monday.

Had to stop. I know my folks. My kid sister's still learning. Dad's got Joni Mitchell's CD on the stereo (the one with "Michael From Mountains" which I always thought was a cool song when I was a kid and would go, "Play my song! Play my song!" :D). If I'm not asking for it, then one of them put it on because they wanted to hear it and that means one or both is feeling romantic. So I had to run in to my sister's room and warn her, "Stay out of the living room!" :D

When I was a little kid, I used to say, when a grown up would ask my name, "My name is Michael From Mountains." :D I was a dumb ass even then. :D

U.S. Military Admits Security Not Improving Much In Baghdad
Meanwhile the U.S. military has acknowledged that the security situation has barely improved in Baghdad despite a two-week-old security clampdown involving 75,000 Iraqi and U.S. troops. On Tuesday at least 18 people died in Iraq including a U.S. Marine and three U.S. soldiers.

File it under the "no shit" report. :D Where is that corner, Bully Boy, the one you thought we were turning? That was before a state of emergency was declared in Baghdad. There is no turned corner. There is quick sand and the military's up to its neck. It's time to bring the troops home.

Cindy Sheehan and Others to Launch White House Hunger Strike
Code Pink, Global Exchange and Gold Star Families for Peace have announced they will launch a hunger strike on July 4th outside the White House to protest the war in Iraq. Dozens of military family members, veterans, activists and celebrities have vowed to take part in the hunger strike. The list includes Cindy Sheehan, Dolores Huerta, Willie Nelson, Danny Glover, Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon. Cindy Sheehan said in a statement: "We've marched, held vigils, lobbied Congress, camped out at Bush's ranch. We've even gone to jail. Now it's time to do more."

This is just a bonus item that we're both putting up to get the word out. Am I going to fast? I don't know. I love the 4th bbq. I know why they're doing it on the 4th and all and I could maybe go a whole day without food but when there's stuff on the grill and all? I don't know. I'm thinking about it. Elaine's coming over (with her boyfriend) and she says she's fasting. Nina says she's fasting too. When ever one of them says that, there's this long pause where I guess I'm supposed to leap in and go, "Me too!" But hamburgers. Ribs. Cole slaw. BBQ. Potato salad. Corn on the cob. Why couldn't they have fasted on Easter? :D Michael From Mountains needs his beef! :D I don't know. I'm thinking about it. Be sure to check out Elaine's thoughts at Like Maria Said Paz.

This is from Monday's Democracy Now! -- "The World Cup: War, Peace and Racism in the Biggest Sporting Event on the Planet:"

AMY GOODMAN: Dave Zirin, talk about Iran.
DAVID ZIRIN: Absolutely. Well, Iran was part of the World Cup. They were the Middle Eastern champions this year. And there was a push to keep them from playing in the World Cup, because of the nuclear controversy that’s been going on there, because of the desire for a nuclear enrichment program led by President Ahmadinejad. And the European Union, they passed a resolution to try to keep Iran out of the World Cup. One of the leaders of the E.U. suggested that they get Bahrain, who came in second, to play in the World Cup, because they said if we get Bahrain here, then people won't think it's an attack against the Muslim world. It will show how generous we are that we actually want Bahrain to play, which is just an idiotic, head-scratching concept.
In the United States, this happened, as well, when Senator John McCain, the maverick of Bob Jones University, attempted to get a bill passed through the Senate that would call for FIFA -- that’s the governing soccer body -- from keeping Iran from playing in the World Cup. I mean, it was a transparent effort to try to use the current geopolitical situation as a club to keep Iran out of the World Cup, and it's something that failed, which is a very good thing.
AMY GOODMAN: Racism at the games?
DAVID ZIRIN: Oh, my goodness. Well, in the lead-up to the Cup, there was a continent-wide controversy throughout Europe about racism at the top levels of soccer. And this is accompanied in Europe, issues around immigration, asylum, anti-Muslim sentiment. And with that, you see a resurgence of just some absolutely awful spectacles, like star African players who play in the European leagues, every time their foot would touch the ball, fans would make ape noises or monkey noises. Fans would be throwing -- I actually don't even like calling them "fans" -- but people in the stands would be throwing banana peels at them, peanuts at them. And it got so bad that a star player named Samuel Eto'o, who's from Cameroon and plays for Barcelona, he literally started to walk off the field and said, "I'm not going play anymore." And it took players from both teams to get together to quiet the fans down, to eject fans.
Another player named Marc Zoro, who plays for a top Italian club, who's from Africa, he picked up the ball and started to just walk off the field holding the ball. Not allowed to touch the ball with your hands. He was pretty mad. He was ready to walk away. I mean, it's an absolutely horrible thing. One of the African players was quoted anonymously, saying that "in Europe, we're treated as worse than dogs." And it got some play here in the U.S. when a U.S. player of African descent named DaMarcus Beasley, he described the situation. He said, "Every time my foot touches the ball, I fell like I'm in just some horrible racist, anachronistic film, you know, of some kind." And this is the sort of thing that soccer is facing right now.
AMY GOODMAN: But it hasn't happened as much at the World Cup.
DAVID ZIRIN: No, and it hasn't happened -- we should be very clear about this, that the reason why it's happened less at the World Cup, despite some little outbursts by little Neo-Nazi fringe groups trying to organize rallies or what not, is because of the organization of players and fans themselves. There's a group called FARE -- that's Footballers Against Racism -- that have been organizing to keep the racists out.

So there were actually three letters about Dave Zirin's column on Barry Bonds. One may be agreeing with the column (or else is saying it's not important enough to even write about), one I don't know what he's saying (I think they edit these letters in The Nation) and the third one is all upset that someone didn't think Babe Ruth was better than Barry Bonds.

I think it matters. I think it's worth writing about. Zirin's not just writing, "And then Barry rounded the base . . ." There are some heavy issues here: scapegoating, race, class and a lot more. If Nation readers can't see that then maybe they're not that smart, maybe they're just trained to see "important issue" when they get their cues. I'll take Dave Zirin any day over the lip-smacking, centrist nonsense of Eric Alterman. Nina said put in the "Effete Eric Alterman." :D

Dave Zirin is a lot more on the ball than a lot of people who just blow smoke out their ass. He could be like Alterman writing about the cable news (mainly Fox). I mean what are there, eighty-two million by now? Who needs it? He's such a "tough boy" going after Fox. What a brave "boy" Eric Alterman must be. He's probably strutting around in his pull ups going, "Look at me, I'm a big boy." He's the biggest waste of space in the magazine. I like the people with real opinions (Dave Zirin, Katha Pollitt, Patricia Williams and Alexander Cockburn), not the ones trying to be 'tasteful' so they can get on TV.

Eric Alterman's the nerd raving over his Star Wars action figures. I don't see many letters complaining about him. Maybe no one reads him?

I've linked to it before and I'll link to it again. Here's Dave Zirin and John Cox's "Hey Guys, It's Just a Game:"

More than half a century ago, Dwight Eisenhower famously said, "The true mission of American sports is to prepare young men for war." This is the undeniable downside of sports: the way teamwork, camaraderie and competition can be used to desensitize a population to the horrors of war. And it is particularly part of the sporting DNA of what Americans call football, where games are routinely referred to as "battles" or "wars," and NFL quarterbacks are "field generals" who throw bullet passes and bombs for the purpose of advancing on enemy territory.
Consider the bellicose posturing of American striker Eddie Johnson at the World Cup, a few days before his team managed to tie the favored Italians in an
ugly match featuring three ejections.
"We're here for a war," Johnson
said a few days before the game, after visiting US troops at Ramstein Air Base. "Whenever you put your jersey on and you look at your crest and the national anthem's going on, and you're playing against a different country, it's like you do or die, it's survival of the (fittest) over ninety minutes-plus. We're going to go out there and do whatever we've got to do, make tackles, do the things when the referee's not get three points." Johnson concluded by saying, "It's do or die.... I don't want to go home early." Ironically, most of the American troops Johnson thinks he's supporting would like nothing better than to "go home early" from combat duty in Iraq.

Do you get that this is more than you're getting on ESPN? Do you get that there's some actual thought going on and someone trying to say something that you're not already hearing from Eric, Jimmy, Paul, et al?

Oh, I got a laughable e-mail from James Carville and Paul Begla. They want you to fight the Republican spin machine . . . by giving money. Am I wrong on this or isn't Mary Matalin part of the Republican spin machine and isn't Carville married to her? If he's got problems at home, he doesn't need to drag me into them.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence continue.
Five corpses were
found in Baghdad on Tuesday. Other incidents included, in Mahaweel, a roadside bomb took the life of a police officer and three were wounded amd, in Kirkuk, a car bomb took the lives of three and wounded 17. In all, the New York Times estimates that 21 Iraqis died Tuesday and forty-one were wounded.
Today bombs continued.
CNN notes a carbomb in Baquba "near a coffee shop" that took at least one life and wounded at least fourteen more. Reuters notes that bombing as well as nother in Baquba which "seriously wounded two" police officers. Reuters also notes a bomb that went off in a Baghdad market and resulted in one death and eight wounded. CNN notes "a roadside bomb targeting a U.S. military convoy detonated" taking the lives of "one civilian and wounding two." The Associated Press notes that Riyad Abdul-Majid Zuaini ("customs director for Central Baghdad") was shot dead by assailants (as was his driver) and that, in Mosul, a clash "between gunmen and police . . . broke out" with one police officer left wounded.
Amy Goodman noted on Democracy Now!, Russia's lower house of parliament has "criticized the occupying countries in Iraq for losing control in the country." Xinhua reports Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Foreign Minister of Germany, noted, on behalf of the ministery, that they were "outraged and shocked over the terrible fater of our Russian colleagues." KUNA notes that Kuwait has "condmended . . . the killing of Russian diplomats by a terrorist group in Iraq."There were four diplomats kidnapped on June 3rd in Baghdad after their car was attacked by unknown assailants. During the attack a fifth diplomat,Vitaly Vitalyevich Titov , was killed. On Sunday, a videotape was released which showed what appear to be three of the four being killed. The Mujahedeen Shur Council have proclaimed that they are responsible for the murders.
Reuters reports that Russia experienced "a roadblock" today when it the United States and England "objected to parts of a draft Russian statement on the killings, arguing the text amounted to a slap at the U.S.-led multinational force, which includes 127,000 U.S. troops and 7,000 British soliders".
This as another official 'response' is reported: Russian president Vladimir Putin,
according to the Associated Press, has sent "special services to hunt down and 'destroy' the killers." Possibly this is what Bully Boy saw when he looked Putin in the eye? Pavel Felgenhauer dismisses the news as "a public relations excercise" to AFP and dubs it "an obvious imititation of those of Bush after September 11."
Meanwhile, Japanese government feels they met their "
objectives" in Iraq. Japan's chief of defense, Fukushiro Nukaga, termed the venture "a success" while speaking to the Associated Press and noted that, "The Iraqis are ready to resume control."But are the bits and pieces of the so-called coalition willing to leave? Reuters reports that Austraila's Brendan Nelson (defense minister) is making noises about not being held 'hostage' by a deadline and comparing his government's position to that of the United States' government.
In other news, apparently there was a poll of so-called insurgents. The
Associated Press is all over the so-called news (anonymice, of course) that "insurgents" are pushing for a withdrawal of US forces within two years. Does anyone believe that? Nouri al-Maliki may be meeting with representatives for resistance groups but, despite what an unnamed "senior Iraqi government" official says, it doesn't seem logical that the resistance would propose a two-year timetable. It will be all over the news but to buy into it, you have to suspend all disbelief and then some. (For any who are confused, people -- from various groups -- are willing to risk their lives, give their lives, resort to various acts of violence and they're going to send envoys to tell occupation puppet al-Maliki, "Hey, we're good. Two more years? Sure." Call it the resistance or call it the "insurgency," it's not about a two-year time-line. This very obvious propanganda is American made, my opinion.)
On the issue of "a media feeding frenzy,"
Dahr Jamail takes a look at the so-called "plan" offered by al-Maliki and notes that resistance groups have "rejected the 'plan' because they do not recognize the Iraqi 'government' as a legitmate entity. These same resistance groups understand that under international law, the current Iraqi 'government' controls nothing outside of the 'green zone,' and its existence violates the Geneva Conventions."
Iraqi forces have Yousri Fakher Moahmmed Ali in custody and allege that he is the one who blew up the Shi'ite shrine in February. As Amy Goodman noted, the Samarra bombing was followed by "increased fighting" which has resulted in the displacement of at least 150,000 Iraqis. Yusri Fakhir Muhammad Ali is also known as Abu Qudama and Al Jazeera quotes Iraq's national security adviser (Mouwafak al-Rubaie) reports that he "is also wanted for the murder of Atwar Bajhat, a television correspondent for Al-Arabiya news channel who was shot dead along with two of her colleagues hours after the shrine bombing". China's People's Daily notes: "The shrine of Ali al-Hadi, or the al-Hadhrah al-Askariyah, contains two tombs of Ali al-Hadi, who died in 868 A.D., and his son Hassan al-Askari who died in 874 A.D. The two were the 10th and 11th of Shiite's twelve most revered Imams. Shiite pilgrims visit the shrine from all over the world."
The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq
estimates a total of 1.3 million are displaced. One of the refugee camps is Baladiyat Refugee Camp set up for the Palestinian refugees. This camp was attacked Sunday June 25th and Omar interviews residents of the camp at Alive in Baghdad.And finally, the ICRC is noting that "public services have almost ground to a halt" in Ramadi which "has been without power since 22 May." That's when US forces began the seige of Ramadi and power, water and phone services were cut.