Friday, July 29, 2005

Marines killed, War Resister imprisoned, Bully Boy's war goes on

Good evening. As usual, let's kick things off with Democracy Now!

Marines Killed In Iraq
In Iraq, resistance fighters killed two Marines with guns and rocket-propelled grenades in western Iraq. The attack was followed by a massive US attack in the area, with US warplanes pounding the area with high-tech bombs. The Marine deaths brought the number of U.S. troop fatalities in Iraq this week to 10. In Baghdad, meanwhile, a car bomb exploded near a joint U.S.-Iraqi patrol.

War Resister Benderman Sentenced to 15 Months
A US Army mechanic who refused to go to Iraq while he sought conscientious objector status was acquitted yesterday of desertion but found guilty of a lesser charge during his court-martial. Sgt. Kevin Benderman was sentenced to 15 months in prison on the charge of missing movement. He also was given a dishonorable discharge from the military and a reduction in rank to private. If he had been found guilty of desertion, he could have faced five years in prison. Still, his sentence appears to be the harshest yet given to an Iraq war resister.

You gotta wonder if the reality of this invasion/occupation has hit Bully Boy's family yet? Do Jenna & Barbara defend the war or do they, like most people our age, shake their heads and talk about how disgusting the whole thing is?

And did either of them get a job? Wasn't one of them supposed to be teaching in Harlem by now?

Let's go to the e-mails. Bobbie's question had a lot of you weighing in. Some, like Rose, felt that Bobbie might be "one of those people who just don't like sex. There are people like that. There's nothing wrong with it as long as you realize it. If you don't realize it, you'll never understand what's going on." Others like Miko felt that Bobbie needed to think seriously about the partners she's had. "Maybe she attracts a certain kind of guy?" wondered Suzie along the same lines of Miko. Jordan waded in to the fray wondering if the whole thing wasn't rushed and maybe Bobbie needed more foreplay and build up. Mac felt that if the whole thing last three minutes, Bobbie needs to seek out some guys with more stamina. Lou felt Bobbie needed to think about it and ask herself what was missing.

I think everybody had some good advice and that if Bobbie pieces it all together, she'll know what's what. I think Lou's thing is really like the framework and what Bobbie should be thinking about as she asks herself about the input from everyone.

Bobbie wrote already to say thanks for linking to Rebecca's thing yesterday and that she really enjoyed it. She really enjoyed what Rebecca had to say about The Common Ills. No problem.

From the excellent site CounterRecruiter, I want to note this:

The House Armed Services subcomittee recently discussed how the war in Iraq is hurting recruiting, according to an article in Star and Stripes, the "Department of Defense-authorized daily newspaper distributed overseas for the U.S. military community."
"Deep into a four-hour congressional hearing on why the active Army and its reserve components are missing recruiting goals, Rep. Vic Snyder, D-Ark., turned a spotlight on the elephant in the room.
The war in Iraq, Snyder said, is unpopular with many Americans, a fact that needs airing, given the all-volunteer nature of the U.S. military.

It's a fact that needs airing everywhere including in the media which has reported on one poll after another recently about how many people want the troops brought home now but has yet to do one of their stories where they let people speak. You know the type of stories I mean because we saw them when there was more support for the war. A reporter goes to a town and gets various people to quote. So now that those of us opposed to the war are in the majority where are those stories?

I think most of you know I consider Cedric a great bud but even so, you should really read his latest post this weekend if you haven't already. I also want to thank Elaine for her very kind words last night. Ma said to pass on Kat's review of Carly Simon's latest. And don't miss Betty's "Facing Down Patti." Got to hit the door but I hope everybody has a great Friday night and weekend. Peace.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Labor Union calls for an end to the war, Cedric talks about two roads

Good evening. Let's start things off with Democracy Now!

AFL-CIO Convention Calls for End to Iraq Occupation
Under major pressure form its membership and dissident unions that pulled out of the federation, the AFL-CIO has passed a resolution calling for a "rapid" return of all U.S. troops currently in Iraq. The resolution came at the group's national convention in Chicago. The group US Labor Against the War called the resolution a "major shift in policy." The groups says that the AFL-CIO General Executive Council had tried to push through a watered-down resolution that did not clearly call for a prompt end to the occupation. This attempt was headed-off after one of the leaders of Labor Against the War put forward an amendment calling for an end to the occupation.
Gene Bruskin, US Labor Against the War: The resolution was an historic one because it ended decades of silence from the labor movement and actual support for the U.S. government on the issue of foreign policy. As Henry Nicholas, president of 1199 AFSCME of Philadelphia said when he rose to the mic to condemn the war, "In my 45 years in the labor movement, this is my proudest moment. We have finally stood up to this war and said, 'Enough is enough.'"

Good news because we need some leaders today and we don't see any in D.C. Jane Fonda, the AFL-CIO, Bright Eyes are standing and accounted for.

Anyone else going to join them? Made me think about one of Ruth's Morning Edition Reports where she talked about how the change comes from the people not our elected leaders. And what she told The Third Estate Sunday Review when they interviewed her:

"I guess," Ruth says slowly, "I'd say we're at the turn of the tide. That's my guess. That's what it feels like to me. The Bully Boy's played every card trick he can play. It's over. We've had over four years of floating along on a fantasy but now reality is seeping in. Maybe I'm being too optimistic but it really feels to me like the tide has turned. Finally. It's past time to bring the troops home from a war they never should have been sent to fight. I don't think that's going to happen tomorrow or next month but I think we will be hearing more calls for that and, hopefully, the troops will be brought home. But, based on the way I remember it, I'd add that the call and the pressure have to build and build before anything is accomplished. Keep fighting."

And that's one of the great things about The Common Ills community. Cedric and me were on the phone last night and talking about that and how it can be easy to think that there's no one listening and all and that maybe you're in this alone. But then something like The Common Ills comes along and you realize that you are not alone and that there are a lot of people who feel like you do. Cedric was talking about some guy that I never heard of who does some Chinese proverb or something and Cedric was going that in the time that The Common Ills has been going, that guy has flipped and flopped on the war. Or the guy's been saying, "We need to listen to James Dobson." Or the guy's saying, "I didn't know that guy was for the war!" This idiot has been blogging and flip-flopping for months. Cedric goes, "You gotta have a core. You gotta have things you believe in. Otherwise you never stand for anything."

And that reminded me of a thing Rebecca wrote. There's so much coming out of that community and it's amazing what's been created. I would say, "What C.I. has created" but I know I'd get a lecture from C.I. about how members made that community. And it's so great that the community has so many voices. And we've got members doing blogs like Cedric and me and Rebecca and Betty and Kat. And we got The Third Estate Sunday Review. And you got members like Isaiah and Ruth doing stuff over at The Common Ills. And like for six months, you had Folding Star blogging. And don't forget the gina & krista round-robin or the UK Computer Gurus newsletters. So there's just a lot that's come out of this community in a really short time. And like Rebecca's on vacation and Elaine's filling in for her which is so cool and I think Elaine's doing some amazing stuff and understand why Rebecca and C.I. were always saying that Elaine needed to blog.

I think Dad was the one who found "Should This Marriage Be Saved?" but that's probably one of my favorite things at The Common Ills on Iraq. It's important to to speak out against the war and not be like some kind of Thomas Friedman twisting in the wind.

Let's dip into the e-mails. Bobbie has a question today. She's 19 and says she doesn't get why sex is so important because "it's nothing but three minutes of heavy breathing and a little sweat."

It would be real easy to make a joke but I think Bobbie is really serious. So I'd offer that maybe she needs to find a better level of lover and not some guy fumbling around in the dark. But I'm going to toss this out to everybody and share your thoughts and some more of my own tomorrow.

Now I want to close with a post of Cedric's from yesterday cause I was the new kid for a long time and I know it can be hard and all finding your voice and all and figuring out what you're trying for. I think Cedric's doing a great job and I think all of his posts are worth reading. Here's his thing from Wednesday. If you haven't checked him out, please get over to his site:

Two women, two paths, one leads to killing, the other to peace
A lot of talk about Hillary Clinton these days since she gave that speech Monday at the DLC gathering.
With my friends, she blew any credibility she had left in that one non-shining moment in time. There's not a lot that she's really done that any of us point to anyway. And we all know the Democratic Leadership Council for their attacks on Jesse Jackson (Sr.) so we see it as a racist organization that tries to stomp out anyone who doesn't want to sell out to the highest corporate bidder.

That Clinton thinks she needs to lick the boots of the DLC would mean she's an idiot. That Clinton thinks the DLC represents America would still mean that she's an idiot. No matter what hypothesis you can come up the conclusion is the same: she's an idiot.
Over at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Rebecca came out some time ago against Hillary Clinton as a 2008 primary candidate. I'm going to back that up. Hillary Clinton is now officially a joke. Not the wronged wife you're sorry for. Not the junior senator from New York who makes one mistake after another (usually out of cowardice) that you can excuse by saying, "Well she's new to the Senate." She's made herself disgusting.
There was a time when the DLC had the illusion of power. It doesn't now. But they hitched their star to the former First Lady this week and they and their hate driven policies got back into the spotlight which is what they wanted. Hillary Clinton let them use her for that, for whatever reason. She has made herself disgusting.
As she "moderates" her positions repeatedly, we see that African-Americans are a group she has little concern for. She goes to Ohio to speak to the DLC. Where was she at the recent NAACP conference?
Where has she been on our issues? She can't be found. And I heard that and more repeatedly since Monday. The woman has an image problem now and she has only herself to blame for that.
As she has rushed to push each talking point of Operation Happy Talk, it's become quite clear that she's not very concerned with the actual dying in Iraq. Whether it's Iraqis or (to use Ava and C.I.'s phrase) those fighting in the coalition of Operation Enduring Falsehood, Clinton just can't be bothered. Yesterday Elaine pointed out what a war monger Hillary Clinton has become. It Takes a Village to Destroy a Village would be her next book, I'm guessing.
Lawanda, a woman from my church, said tonight after the service that Hillary Clinton has sold moral convictions to prove herself as a war monger and I'd agree with that 100%. Lawanda said she used to feel sorry for Clinton due to Monica Lewinsky but that those days are long past. "Her husband cheated on her," Lawanda explained, "that only gets you so much sympathy. She's destroyed it with her continued support for a war that neither she nor anyone in her family will fight, a war that goes against church teachings I'm aware of. If she truly was the devoted follower so many have claimed over the years she would long ago have said, 'In the name of Jesus, I'm asking that we stop this immoral war and the killing.'"
Harsher words came from the choir director who says she's got blood lust dripping on her power lust.
On the other hand, there was praise for Jane Fonda and her decision to start out a speak out tour against the war. The differences between the way the two women were spoken of was pretty amazing. But as my preacher said to me after the service, they've chosen different paths, one leads to killing and the other to peace. As his wife said, "Mrs. Clinton appears to have forgotten that Jesus was the Prince of the Peace."
There's a drawing that Isaiah did for The Common Ills of Jane Fonda that I'd like to put up here but in case it doesn't work, you can see it by clicking here.

I really like how Cedric weaves it all together and how he talks about what the people at his church were saying.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

National Guard, What's My Name Fool?, male nipples and Rendon Group

Good evening. We'll kick things off with Democracy Now!

National Guard Company Face Abuse & Extortion Allegations
In other news from Iraq, a company of the California Army National Guard has been put on restricted duty following allegations that battalion members mistreated detainees in Iraq and extorted shopkeepers. This according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. Among the allegations is that at least six soldiers from the battalion took part in a scheme to extort over $30,000 from Iraqi shopkeepers, apparently in exchange for protection. Up to 17 soldiers are also under investigation for mistreating Iraqi detainees. A videotape reportedly exists that shows soldiers abusing a handcuffed and blindfolded detainee with a stun gun. In addition, a first sergeant has been relieved of duty after being accused of shooting a water heater during an interrogation, then turning to an Iraqi detainee and saying: "You're next." The sergeant then reportedly held his pistol to the man's head, moved it a few inches to the side and fired.

Now let's go to what C.I. wrote last night:

On the subject of books, let me note that whatever else happens in this Sunday's The Third Estate Sunday Review, there will not be a book discussion about What's My Name Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States. The book, by Dave Zirin, will be noted at some point (hopefully two Sundays from now); however, when Betty called this morning, she mentioned she was having to utilize interlibrary loan for the book and wasn't sure how long it would take. Similarly, Kat's not finding it in her library. (I didn't try, honestly. I called my local independent book store and asked them to hold a copy that I'll pick up as soon as I get a chance -- and had expected to pick it up already.) The book sounds very interesting and is something we're all interested in reading and discussing but I spoke to Jess and Ava tonight and they said they'd rather wait so that Kat and Betty could participate in the discussion.
For those who have no idea what the book is about, here's a report
Democracy Now! did on it last week entitled "What's My Name, Fool?: Sports and Resistance in the United States."

I've already started reading the book and I bring that up because Dave Zirin has a story at CounterPunch that C.I. sent me. It's called "Why Lance Armstrong Must Break with Bush."
Here's a part of it.

Armstrong has devoted countless hours to the fight against cancer. There is not more money for cancer research because of the war. It's that simple. It's also not just cancer. In my hometown of Washington, DC, this $800 billion price tag means high rates of infant mortality, shuttered public hospitals, and schools in a constant and eternal state of crisis. This is a battle for priorities. If Lance wants to see victory, chuckling it up with his "fellow Texan is no way to lead this movement forward. Instead Armstrong should ride among the critical mass bikers and anti-war couriers at the national anti-war protests on September 24th in Washington, DC. Consider this an invite, Lance. Consider this a way to continue to "live strong.

I really like Zirin's writing.

Now let's hop into some of the e-mails. The topic tossed out yesterday by Belinda was about the male nipples. My buddy Tony actually e-mailed in on this. He said his are sensitive but he doesn't like to act like he likes them played with because it doesn't seem manly.

Tony, nobody thinks you're manly anyway!

Just joking. A lot of guys wrote in saying stuff like that so we'll go with Tony since if you can't embarass your friends, who can you embarrass?

Gary and Lane wrote in both saying that they like it when their's are touched but like it more when they are licked or sucked. Gary makes a point to note he's straight and Lane makes a point to note he's gay.

Common Ills community member Rachel e-mailed to say that guys are hung up about it because they think it makes them look "girly" but she's never been with a guy that didn't like it. (See Tony, nothing to worry about.) Felecia says she doesn't care if a guy likes it or not, she's not doing it because every guy she's been with always "expects me to do something." She says she never knew guys could be so lazy and that includes her being on top doing all the work.

Laveda e-mailed to say that she's never been with a guy who's liked having his nipples played with and wonders if that's because she hasn't really tried much because she doesn't like it when her's are played with and hates "guys who think grab my tits and I'm ready to go."

Beau e-mails saying this is a "wack" topic and I better watch my back because "you know who" will probably "rip you off again."

Thom says that he hates it when his nipples are touched. He says some shirts are too rough and he wears a t-shirt underneath nearly everything because of the pain.

So hopefully that gives you a cross-section of views Belinda.

Now I want to note something from Democracy Now! one more time.

Navy Hired Rendon Group Ahead of Vieques Vote
This news from Puerto Rico... Evidence has emerged that in 2001 the U.S. Navy paid one point seven million dollars to a public relations firm to increase support for a public referendum over the Navy's use of Vieques. In November 6, 2001 voters in Puerto Rico went to the polls to decide whether the Navy should be allowed to keep use Vieques for live-fire training. Voters overwhelming called on the Navy to stop using the site even though the Navy spent approximately $358 per referendum voter in their PR effort. According to documents obtained by Judicial Watch, the Navy hired the Rendon Group to ". . . organize local leaders to build grassroots communications support . . . ensure the integrity of the voting process . . . develop methods and tracking procedures to increase support among citizens." The Rendon Group is the same PR firm that was used to help form the Iraqi National Congress - the Iraqi exile group that pushed for the U.S. invasion. Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, "I think most Americans would be shocked to learn that the military had a program to 'ensure the integrity' of our voting process."

The Rendon Group is something Amy Goodman talks about in her book The Exception to the Rulers and we were just discussing that book Sunday at The Third Estate Sunday Review. And that's what I want to close with. I have a blast with The Third Estate Sunday Review and the discussions are probably my favorite part.

"1 Book, 10 Minutes"
We thought we were done. We had a paragraph to go on the editorial and then it was off to bed for all of us. (We hoped.) (C.I. posted an item on our last break at The Common Ills and we were hoping that would mean even C.I. could hit the sack.) But as we finished the editorial and got focused on posting the things already written, Mike asked if we were really not going to do the "Five Books, Five Minutes." Yes, we really weren't going to do that.
We'd slacked off on that during the week.

Mike was disappointed because for two weeks he'd wanted to discuss Amy & David Goodman's The Exception to The Rulers. "Great, write a review and we'll post it!" we cried (lazy, smart asses that we are.) But what Mike wanted was the give and take of a discussion. We all love Mike and he helps out here so the least we can do is help him out. With a ten minute discussion limit, we all agreed to discuss The Exception to the Rulers.

Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ty, Jess, Dona, Jim and Ava, C.I. of The Common Ills, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Kat of Kat's Korner and Mike of Mikey Likes It!

Here's an excerpt from
the book, pages 254 - 255:

The Bush administration recruited some time-tested help for this effort. It retained John Rendon, head of the PR firm The Rendon Group. Rendon is a self-described "information warrior," who has worked on Iraq-related issues for clients including the Pentagon and CIA. Rendon was instrumental in setting up the Iraqi National Congress in 1992, securing the channeling of $12 million from the CIA to the group between 1992 and 1996. The Pentagon's Office of Strategic Influence retained Rendon for the invasion of Iraq.
Rendon spoke at a July 2003 conference in London about the propaganda effort around the invasion. Colonel [Sam] Gardiner attended the talk and recounts that Rendon "said the embedded idea was great. It worked as they had found in the test. It was the war version of reality television, and for the most part, they did not lose control of the story."
Rendon did note one problem: "He said one of the mistakes they made was that they lost control of the context. The retired people in the networks had too much control of the context. That has to be fixed for the next war."
The themes of the invasion propaganda effort were twofold. The war on terror is a fight between good and evil (and it didn't hurt to invoke images of a Christian crusade against Islam). And Iraq was responsible for the 9/11 attacks -- "what propaganda theorists would call the 'big lie,'" said Gardiner.
With these two concepts underlying all messages, Gardiner states that the strategic influence campaign around Iraq "distorted perceptions of the situation both before and during the conflict; caused misdirection of portions of the military operation; was irresponsible in parts; might have been illegal in some ways; cost big bucks; will be even more serious in the future."
The media had a starring role in this effort. Propaganda requires a gullible and complacent media in order to thrive. The U.S. corporate media played its part to the hilt."

Jim: Okay, Mike, get us started.

Mike: Well the book's written by two journalists, Amy Goodman and her brother David Goodman. I don't know much about David Goodman but Amy Goodman's the host of
Democracy Now! which airs on TV, radio and the internet. It's a one hour news show that airs Monday through Fridays. It's something that we all count on, all of us here, to provide us with real news as opposed to stories about the latest missing blonde or the latest celebrity scandal.

Kat: News you can use. News that informs.

Mike: Exactly.

Dona: What stands out to me, and this is something C.I. and I have spoken about a lot probably starting in January or February, is the critique of The New York Times.

Jess: Which is really strong in terms of what the mea culpa covered and what it didn't and what stories still require corrections but have never gotten them. And we've addressed that at length in roundtables.

Dona: And just as important as that critique is to the present day, to citizens, I'd argue that the critique of the reporting on the atomic bom is just as important. The New York Times likes to cloak themselves in the "We are The New York Times." Yes, they are. And Jayson Blair didn't spring out of thin air. The paper has a history of pushing stories that the parties involved, reporters and editors, should have known better than to push. I'd argue it was a decision that they made to push them. It wasn't ignorance, it wasn't a mistake, it was a deliberate decision.

Betty: Which goes to the points that I felt they were raising in the book, Amy and her brother, about access and how you can trade independence for access and so many do.

Ty: It's not really important to any of us to know what joke some blowhard told at a dinner party in D.C. but to make sure they're at those dinner parties, they cozy up and do the fluff treatment and all the while act like they're in the business of reporting when in fact they are more often than not concealing. That's their business.

Betty: I'm so glad you said that! I was reading the stuff on "
It's Only a Summer Scandal" at The Common Ills this past week and I love the song but what stood out to me was I don't believe that Gwen Ifill ever told viewers, before her "Condi gets accountable" NewsHour interview with Rice, that she and Rice often dine together and that Condi's bragged publicly about what a great cook Rice is. I'm not a huge fan of Diane Sawyer and haven't watched her in years but when she was co-hosting Prime Time Live, if someone came on from ABC or any of it's divisions, she'd note that. If she was interviewing Carly Simon or someone else that she knew outside of work, she'd note that. Public television needs accountability and at the very least, viewers of the NewsHour, and I'm remembering this as Condi's damage control for the news of the PDB finally coming out, should have been told at the start of the interview that Condi and Ifill were close friends. The public was owed that.

Ty: And if it had been disclosed, as it should have been, the question on most people's minds would have been why is Gwen Ifill doing this interview? This wasn't "Getting to Know Condi!"This was about the public needing serious answers about a PDB prior to 9/11 that warned of coming attacks. There is no reason in the world that she should have been interviewed by a friend when the public needed and deserved answers. It's shameful that anyone would be allowed to do what she and Condi Rice did.

Kat: Agreed.

Mike: I was also amazed by the pack mentality and, for instance, Charlie Rose having his hissy fit because Amy Goodman quotes Dan Rather and Charlie's sweating about "I can't imagine Dan saying that, I'm not doubting you that he said it . . ." And then minutes later he is doing just that and Amy has to remind him, "I was just quoting Dan Rather." Or Lesley Stahl rescuing the guy --

C.I.: Richard Holbrooke.

Mike: Right so he doesn't have to answer questions from the press. Or Tom Brokaw omitting part of the title of the documentary film because it might offend the corporate sponsors.

C.I.: In fairness, it might have been a flub. He's made his share of his flubs such as his infamous comment when filling in on The Today Show about how coming to work so early that morning he was envisious or jealous, this is a paraphrase -- look it up if you care about it, of the homeless asleep on the street. Far more damning to me was his refusal to allow questions to be asked or to be concerned that a journalist was being roughed up at an awards banquet for journalists. At an awards banquet for journalists where the one being roughed up is winning an award! Or his pandering remarks to flatter Holbrooke during the ceremonies. He comes off like a first class kiss ass. And this is when Brokaw had some actual power so to see him kissing ass like that is embarrassing. And don't forget Holbrooke's own jokes.

Ava: Laughing, with the journalists in the room laughing along, that a Serb TV station had been bombed. I want to quote the Goodmans on that:

Laughter broke out in the room.
"It is an enormously important and I think positive development," Holbrooke added.
Here were hundreds of reporters supposedly upholding the highest principles of journalism, and they chuckled on cue -- at a war crime committed against journalists.Now, what would have been different if Milosevic had stood up to announce, "We just bombed CBS!" and a bunch of Serb journalists had laughed? Radio Television Serbia, whatever its faluts as a mouthpiece for Milosevic, is not a military target. We went back to our office later that night to see the pictures of body parts being pulled out of the wrecked TV studios in Belgrade. It wasn't soldiers blown to pieces in the rubble. It was the people who apply makeup, the cameramen, and the journalists who were inside. People like 27-year-old technician Ksenija Bankovic, whose mother Borka we interviewed on Democracy Now! Borka asked how journalists could laugh at the killing of her daughter, whose only crime was going to work that night. In all, sixteen media workers were killed in the bombing.

Can we get a
link for that Democracy Now! report?

C.I.: Dallas is already searching. You hear those stories and it's hard to say, "Well it's the jaded press corp." It's quite frankly disgusting. The pages are 286-287 that's Ava's referring to.

Jess: Which brings up the section I was wanting to quote and I'm not sure if we have enough time but it's page 152:

The media has the responsiblity to show the true face of war. It is bloody. It is brutal. Real people die. Women and children are killed. Families are wiped out; villages are razed.

Jim: Which is Falluja, let's be honest. Dexter Filkins turned it into a rah-rah video game. You never got the sense of the fact that a city was being destroyed, that people, males, were prevented from leaving the city. It was a turkey shoot and it was disgusting. But Filkins comes in with his rah-rah reporting and it's put it in the X-box and let's all play! Is it gallows humor? I don't know but it's not reporting.

C.I.: And Dona's indicating time's up but before that happens, let's let Mike talk about what stood out to him the most since he's the one who wanted this feature. Mike?

Mike: Well the parts everyone named are great and they're informative and anyone wanting to read a book that's going to tell it like it is needs to grab this book. I'm sure East Timor stood out for everybody. And that section was probably the one that spoke to me. Amy Goodman and Allan Nairn stayed on that story even when the media didn't care and didn't want to know and they pushed that story into the news, into the mainstream news, with their actions. It's the kind of thing that causes my mother to say Amy Goodman's a candle in darkness. And to me, that's what's so great about the book and so great about
Democracy Now! because it's not "here's what everyone is talking about so we better get on message." It's about telling the story that might not get told. Or showing you the part of the story that you might not see. That's what this whole books about --

Dona: I'll play Amy Goodman, ten seconds.

Mike: and that's why people should be reading it. Make sure you look this book up. Look it up at a bookstore or a library --

Jim: Or the
link which takes you to a Democracy Now! web page where you can order it directly, it's now out in paperback.

Mike: But like if you can physically hold it in your hands and just read two pages, I think you'll realize how important this story is.

C.I.: And the
link Jim's talking about does provide an excerpt to the book. So you can follow Mike's advice and read a bit of it even if you're ordering it online.

Dona: (laughing) And that was not one book in ten minutes, more like twenty. Amy Goodman and David Goodman's
Exception to The Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicans, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Yea for Jane, boo for Hillary

Good evening.

So this morning I grab some eggs, toast and plop down in front of the computer in the kitchen this morning and Ma says, "Did you know C.I. had computer problems?" No, cause I thought they were fixed or almost fixed. I felt really bad because I would have taken down dictation and posted and would have offered that last night if I'd known about it. There's a really strong post up and now the Democracy Now! post is up too. But I did call C.I. today and make the offer. UK Computer Gurus think they've either figured it and can fix it or can put on a bandaid for it.

I feel bad cause I haven't had a single problem at all. I could copy and paste and use different browsers just like always.

I also want to note another thing about the community, I really think Elaine's doing a great job subbing for Rebecca. Yesterday's post had her noting some stuff she thought Rebecca would note and I'm sure Rebecca appreciated the effort but I'm also sure Rebecca wants Elaine to write about her stuff. And applause and props for Jane Fonda. I learned about that from Elaine's post. I had an e-mail from Kat about how the same day Fonda comes on strong for peace Hillary Clinton's trying to prove . . . Well what is she trying to prove?

I never disliked Hillary until that speech she gave yesterday. She's not one of my senators so I didn't pay as close to attention to her as I did to Kerry and Kennedy. But she was our First Lady and I thought she did a pretty good job of that. Yesterday she embarrassed herself. Now maybe she appealed to some cowards and stuff but she came off pretty cowardly to me.

So let's focus on Jane Fonda who is a strong woman taking a strong stand.

That's Isaiah's drawing and thank you C.I. and Isaiah for permission to put it up here.

My sister said she had the TV on this afternoon and some idiot show called The Insider with that nasal jerk who's off the drugs or whatever and trying to rebuild his career had an interview with the jerk that spit on Jane Fonda. Made me wonder what's next? An interview with the guy who stalked Sharon Stone? An interview with the guy who shot down that woman from My Sister Sam? I don't know The Insider but my sister said it does a lot of "Page Six" nonsense which means it's probably a Murdoch property. Figures, right? My Dad was talking about him the other night wondering if Murdoch would switch his citenzship to China to get a better deal for his networks like he switched to American? Ma jokes that he probably has already but we just don't know.

So that's what the talks been last night and today around the house. Let's move on to Democracy Now!

Report: Iraq Resistance Has Infiltrated Iraqi Police
Another government study on Iraq is also making news this week. A joint report by the Pentagon and State Department has concluded that the Iraqi police force has been infiltrated by the Iraqi resistance. The report also criticizes the U.S. military for failing to adequately train the local police forces.

Poll: 64% Say Bush Has No Clear Strategy in Iraq
Meanwhile a new poll by the Pew Research Center has found that 64 percent of Americans believe President Bush does not have a clear strategy for bringing the situation in Iraq to a successful conclusion.

Yeah, I'm giving you two things to think about today. That's because Hillary embarrassed herself yesterday and people seem afraid to say so. She wants more troops on the ground. While America wants their sons and daughters home, Hillary wants to put more over in the quagmire. Not her own daughter, of course, but other people's kids. She keeps this up she'll be less than popular than Nancy Reagan.

I was one of those people who voted in their first presidential election last year. That was the first year I was old enough. And I really did think John Kerry was the only hope and all. But I mean he was lousy at telling people what he thought. I know C.I.'s talked about how some of that was the press but a lot of it was Kerry.

And that convention was embarrassing to watch. John Edwards coming off like super warrior, like just because he was on the ticket with Kerry he was honorary military or something. When the debates were going on, Mike Papantonio talked about how John Edwards did a lousy job during his debate with Cheney and I agreed with that. Not just cause his voice does that annoying thing where it rises and rises until it's almost a high pitched squeak but because he never nailed Cheney. Like Pap said, Edwards was supposed to be bringing trial experience to the ticket but he didn't even debate well.

So with Hillary embarrassing herself Monday, I've thinking about 2008 and what it's going to take to get my vote. The person is going to have to talk straight and they're going to have to draw a line between themselves and the Republican Party. That may mean I vote Green if Hillary's actions yesterday are any indication of the way the Democratic Party is headed.

I heard this woman going on and on about the Democrats in Congress were lied to and that's why they went along with Bully Boy's invasion of Iraq. The country was lied to but that didn't stop my dad from knowing we were being lied to. If my dad can know, then somebody who thinks they're fit to be in Congress should have known. He doesn't have a staff working for him that he can send out to hunt down facts for him.

The truth is no one wanted to look "weak" before the 2002 elections. And then they painted themselves into a corner if they supported the invasion. They need to get honest about why they voted the way they did and people need to quit giving them wiggle room.

When I spoke to C.I. Jeremy Scahill's "The Smoking Bullet in the Smoking Gun" came up and C.I.'s meant to highlight that and not just link to it. Knowing there were computer problems that might continue tonight I said I'd grab it.

On the eve of the official invasion, on March 8, 2003, Bush said in his national radio address: "We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq. But if Saddam Hussein does not disarm peacefully, he will be disarmed by force." Bush said this after nearly a year of systematic, aggressive bombings of Iraq, during which Iraq was already being disarmed by force, in preparation for the invasion to come. By the Pentagon's own admission, it carried out seventy-eight individual, offensive airstrikes against Iraq in 2002 alone.
"It reminded me of a boxing match in which one of the boxers is told not to move while the other is allowed to punch and only stop when he is convinced that he has weakened his opponent to the point where he is defeated before the fight begins," says former UN Assistant Secretary General Hans Von Sponeck, a thirty-year career diplomat who was the top UN official in Iraq from 1998 to 2000. During both the Clinton and Bush administrations, Washington has consistently and falsely claimed these attacks were mandated by UN Resolution 688, passed after the Gulf War, which called for an end to the Iraqi government's repression in the Kurdish north and the Shiite south. Von Sponeck dismissed this justification as a "total misnomer." In an interview with The Nation, Von Sponeck said that the new information "belatedly confirms" what he has long argued: "The no-fly zones had little to do with protecting ethnic and religious groups from Saddam Hussein's brutality" but were in fact an "illegal establishment...for bilateral interests of the US and the UK."
These attacks were barely covered in the press and Von Sponeck says that as far back as 1999, the United States and Britain pressured the UN not to call attention to them. During his time in Iraq, Von Sponeck began documenting each of the airstrikes, showing "regular attacks on civilian installations including food warehouses, residences, mosques, roads and people." These reports, he said, were "welcomed" by Secretary General Kofi Annan, but "the US and UK governments strongly objected to this reporting." Von Sponeck says that he was pressured to end the practice, with a senior British diplomat telling him, "All you are doing is putting a UN stamp of approval on Iraqi propaganda." But Von Sponeck continued documenting the damage and visited many attack sites. In 1999 alone, he confirmed the death of 144 civilians and more than 400 wounded by the US/UK bombings.

1999 was Bill Clinton. There's a reason he plays dumb on the Downing Street Memo and a reason he couldn't come out against the war. But now we got a bunch of dumb asses with boners for another Clinton era and they don't want to address reality.

Looks like Bill O'Reilly ain't the only one who's not looking out for you.

Let's dip into the e-mail before I spoil everyone's good night. Cody e-mails to say thanks to my mother because he's in his early twenties and his drawers stink. He's always trying to save some money and when the dryer stops, he takes the load out. He asked if there was anything he could do about it. Ma says you can hang your underwear to dry immediately. She also says that if they're white, you can use bleach on them in the wash and that will cut out the mildew too.

Belinda e-mails wondering why every guy she's ever been with has gone straight for her breasts but guys freak out when she wants to play with their nipples?

Well any ideas? If so, send them in.

I know I never thought about my own until the summer of eleventh grade when I was at the lake with my then girlfriend. She's putting lotion on my back and then moves to the front and her hands run over my nipples and it's like, "Woah now! What's that!" It was a jolt of lightening.

So maybe some guys don't know that their nipples are sensitive? Or maybe they don't have sensitive nipples? Or maybe they think only women's can be played with?

So we'll open that up.

Lucas e-mails wanting to know what I'm listening to. White Stripes nonstop when I can listen to music. Lucas says he's been going through an uncle's CDs and has gotten heavy into Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins.

I want to close with my buddy Ty from The Third Estate Sunday Review because he weighed in on Hillary over at The Common Ills today.

Ty: Anyone trying to clampdown on questions for Hillary Clinton better be prepared to stand with her and the DLC. Corporate welfare types like the DLC have repeatedly betrayed the public. As Paul Krugman has pointed out repeatedly, the slow slide for the working class begins in the 1960s. Having aligned herself with corporate cheats and war mongers like the DLC, Clinton's now raised issues that will have to be addressed. As for Al From, he's never spoken for me. As a black man, he's offered no program that speaks to me. The DLC's racist tactics include the shaming of Sister Souljah to prove Bill Clinton could "stand up" to blacks. I'll stand with Michael Moore and prepare for the battle the DLC has just launched on the people of America.

I think that about says it all but if you don't, get over to The Common Ills and read that post because there's a lot about the DLC in there. Hope everybody's surviving in this heat.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Lots of stuff including Military Freeze Zone and crotch rot advice from Ma

Good evening. Let's start off with Democracy Now!

Pentagon Refuses to Hand Over Abu Ghraib Photos
The Defense Department is refusing to cooperate with a judicial order to release photographs and videos taken by the military at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. In June, a federal judge ordered the Pentagon to hand over 87 photos and four videotapes to the American Civil Liberties Union because the group had filed a Freedom Of Information Act. Bush administration attorneys have said that the release of the photos would violate the Geneva Conventions by subjecting detainees to additional humiliation or embarrassment. The photos are expected to show widespread torture of Iraqi detainees and even incidents where Iraqis were raped and murdered inside the U.S. run jail. Last year Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, "There are other photos that depict incidents of physical violence towards prisoners, acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhumane -- it's going to get a good deal more terrible, I'm afraid."

This ties in with the editorial over at The Third Estate Sunday Review.

Editorial: The Gang That Couldn't Talk Straight

Jimmy Breslin wrote about The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. Plauging our nation today is The Gang That Couldn't Talk Straight. Whether it's "privatization" or "tort reform" or "Clean Skies" or "No Child Left Behind" everything's hidden behind a phrase that implies something directly opposite from the actual meaning. (And no, we don't find that "ironic.")

We've seen it play out since before the Bully Boy started occuyping the White House. "The votes have been counted and recounted!" (When in fact the majority had never been counted.) So maybe it shouldn't be shocking, for instance, that Bully Boy now says he'll fire whomever outed Plame in his administration only if they're found to have committed a crime.

Unless Bully Boy was seeking to establish a precedent, wasn't that always a given? Is he trying to tell us that's what he meant all along? "You go to prison, I'll fire you." That is where he draws the line?His concept of integrity baffles the mind. But we're seeing that and a lot worse play out. Over and over, they try to divert and obscure. The gang that couldn't talk straight fails to grasp that conviction or not, Rove and Libby have already done enough that demonstrates they need to go. Enough has also come out that a Congressional investigation is needed to find out who else helped and (just as important) who failed to do anything when news of the impending outing reached the administration (as early as July 7th, 2003, Valerie Plame was outed on January 14th, 2003).

From Watching the Watchers' "Child Abuse at Abu Ghraib" by A! of Watching the Watchers, we learn that:

Data is emerging, no matter how the administration attempts to hide it, that the new photos and video of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison include the torture of children.
Norway's Prime Minister's office says it plans to address the situation with the U.S. "in a very severe and direct way."
Could this mean losing yet another ally in the Iraq occupation? Amnesty International in Norway has said that Norway can no longer continue their occupation of Iraq, or their support of US policy in this matter.
And some countries, as Tom Tomorrow notes, actually listen to their activists.
While there isn't even an inkling of this in the US Mainstream media, all over the world people are beginning to read about the US abusing children at Abu Ghraib.

We weren't supposed to worry about that either, remember? Remember Operation Happy Talk of "a few bad apples" and that the photos just showed more of the same as the already released photos? Remember the GOP senators rushing to tell the public that releasing the photos could hurt us as a nation?

So they sat on them, after apparently lying about them, and a surprise only to the administration (which never seems to grasp that eventually the truth will come out), the photos haven't gone away.

Karl Rove and Karen Hughes may have instructed, "Clap your hands if you believe in Bully Boys." If so, not enough people clapped because not enough people believe. Operation Happy Talk goes into motion and at best disguises reality for a few weeks. Truth does come out.

And what's coming out is that this administration with all their talk of "integrity" and "honor" has been the least accountable administration in recent history. They've fixed reports. They've lied about PDBs. They've outed a CIA agent. They've tried to cover up abuse that we should have dealt with a long time ago.

If America is hurt by the release of the photos, the Happy Talkers have themselves to blame.

They should have owned up to what was happening when they saw the photos. Instead, they tried to obscure the issue. As if it weren't bad enough that the torture occurred, our administration is now seen as trying to cover it up.

That's not the way the United States is supposed to behave.

Make no mistake, Bully Boy and his Bullies Without Borders have had a lot of enablers. Including wishy-washy Democrats who didn't want to speak up or, when they did speak up, wanted to immediately cave, buckle, wimp out in the face of criticism.

The only apologies in the last five years have been coming from Democrats and, frequently, they're apologizing for things that don't require an apology. While the Dems bend over backwards to apologize for words, the administration demonstrates no accountability for its actions.

That needs to stop. The unwarrented apologies from Dems who try to speak the truth and the lack of accountability for the most mismanged administration that any of us can recall.

Congress better start excersizing their oversight because if they don't, accountability may come in the form of votes on election day in 2006. We need a truth movement in this country. Actually, we have it. You saw it on Saturday with people meeting to discuss and raise attention on the Downing Street Memo. As with Valerie Plame, the public's the one pushing for the truth.

Hopefully, the mainstream press will also take part. But they haven't driven this. One person who is asking questions that need to be asked is Robert Parry. From his "Rove-Bush Conspiracy Noose Tightens:"

The second new fact is what Rove did after his conversation with Cooper.Although supposedly in a rush to leave on vacation, Rove e-mailed Stephen J. Hadley, then Bush's deputy national security adviser (and now national security adviser). According to the Associated Press, Rove's e-mail said he "didn’t take the bait" when Cooper suggested that Wilson’s criticisms had hurt the administration.
While it’s not entirely clear what Rove meant in the e-mail, the significance is that Rove immediately reported to Hadley, an official who was in a position to know classified details about Plame’s job. In other words, the e-mail is evidence that the assault on Wilson was being coordinated at senior White House levels.
Cooper also told the grand jury that his second source on the allegations about the Niger trip and Wilson’s wife was Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a leading neoconservative advocate for invading Iraq. According to Cooper, Libby said on a not-for-attribution basis about Plame, "Yeah, I’ve heard that, too."

See last week's editorial and you'll know why we're glad he's raising it and surprised that everyone else (including Richard W. Stevenson in today's New York Times) isn't also on it.

As the public begins asking what Parry's asking, The Gang That Couldn't Talk Straight is going to find itself in even hotter water. What we've constantly seen is avoidance in the place of accountability. With consistently bad polling results, we like to hope the sheen is finally off the Bully Boy.

Speeches and phrases based upon coded antonyms and the refusal of others in place to hold the administration accountable (the press, the Congress) have resulted in our current state. But at a time when things could seem hopeless, what we're seeing is a public getting active and asking the questions and raising the issues that others won't. That's healthy for democracy. And having grown weary waiting for leadership, the public's now ready to set the agenda and lead on their own.
[This editorial was written by the following: The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ty, Jess, Dona, Jim and Ava, C.I. of The Common Ills, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner and Mike of Mikey Likes It!]

I want to say that working with The Third Estate Sunday Review on Saturday nights and Sunday morning is both a lot of fun and really a learning experience. Jim, Ty, Jess, Dona and Ava are really astute people and Betty and I were talking about that this time and how it was educational. And Betty and Kat and this time Cedric just add to it. What about C.I.?

They call C.I. an honorary member. So I'm not sure where to put C.I. but it's fun to work with C.I. too. It was weird not having Rebecca there this time. I hope she's enjoying her vacation though. We were hoping Elaine would join in but her attitude was that she barely managed to get through four days of substitute blogging for Rebecca's site. Maybe next time.

Now for e-mails. Becky wrote to say the phone call with her boyfriend actually went well. She said she appreciated that people weighed in. Her boyfriend gets back next week and she says that's when she'll find out if the talk went as well as she thought but that right now she feels real good about it.

I mentioned Ma in a thing at The Third Estate Sunday Review and she was happy about that. But she did have a problem about something else. The crotch rot topic. Ma said she was a little disappointed and it's because I didn't bring up a point. It never would be something I'd think about. I'm glad Ma did.

Okay, we live in a rush-rush world. And guys starting out doing their own laundry and living alone may be short on cash. So they use a washing machine at a laundry mat and then a dryer there. And they load everything up as much as they can to save a little money, right?
Well if the clothes aren't all the way dry, you can get a mildew smell. You might not even know it at the time because you use a fabric sheet or something. But when they sit for a bit, the smell will be there.

Ma says that if there's mildew in your drawers, you're causing the smell right there. She said this is an important point because if people are using coin dryers, the guys might stop when the machine stops. Some of the clothes might by dry but not all. If they're not dry, you're asking for mildew. You get mildew in your drawers, you end up with a smell on your crotch.

I'm not so lazy that I don't do my own laundry but we've got all that stuff here in the house so it would never be something I'd think about, how you might be out of quarters when the machine goes off and just pull the stuff out if it was dry or not.

So good point from my mother. She's a smart woman.

Okay, I got a web site for you. It's on my blogroll, just added. And thanks to C.I. for passing it on.It's and it's got lots of stuff up there so check it out. There's a lot of great stuff up there but I'd recommend "Debunking the Myth" which demonstrates the reality versus the hype of "a paid college education!" if you sign up with the military.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Told ya not so fast, army's going to miss recruiting goals for the year!

Good morning. We're all pulling together to help with The Third Estate Sunday Review and all grabbed a break to do a number of things. (Rest, install new software UK Computer Gurus recommended.) C.I. slid a story from this morning's New York Times over to me and said that if I was planning to blog today, it was an issue I talk about here and that if I did it on a break, that would be one less thing to do later today.

I appreciate that. The story's by Eric Schmitt and it's called "Army Likely to Fall Short in Recruiting, General Says:"

The Army's top personnel officer acknowledged this week that the service will probably miss its recruiting goal this year, the first public admission by a senior Army official and a stark reminder of the Iraq war's impact on enlistments.
The officer, Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck, said in testimony to the House Armed Services military personnel subcommittee on Tuesday that an improving economy, competition from private industry and an increasing number of parents who are less supportive of military service meant that the active-duty Army, as well as the Army Reserve and Army National Guard, would fall short of their annual quotas.
"We will likely miss recruiting missions for all three components," said General Hagenbeck, voicing publicly what many senior Army officials have said privately for weeks.

Schmitt goes on to note that this will be the first time since 1999 that the army has missed it's recruitment figures.

Remember when the army was trumpeting their monthly figures right after high school graduation? We talked about that in "Are the numbers for June really up? Not so fast."

Remember when we talked about the desire to raise the age level for recruitment? From 35 to 42? We talked about that in "Iraqi casualities continue to mount, recruiters want to raise age limit, spicing up foreplay and a song."

You need to be paying attention and thinking because besides destroying the economy, Bully Boy's got us in two wars presently (Afghanistan and Iraq) and he's on the bone for at least one more (probably Iran). We're short in recruits and it will only get worse. Maybe that will mean the draft, maybe it will mean something else. But we are over extended.

Time's up for the break so I got to get back to Third Estate Sunday Review. Hope everybody else is either asleep or about to get there. Shout out to C.I. for sliding the Schmitt story my way. Peace.