Friday, August 05, 2005

Learn to play defense

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

London Mayor Calls for Iraq Withdrawal, Galloway Praises Iraq Resistance
As Bush exchanges words with Zawahiri, two of the most vocal critics in Britain of the Iraq occupation are speaking out once again. Rebel Member of Parliament George Galloway has been on a tour of the Middle East where he said the resistance in Iraq was made up of ordinary Iraqis defending their country against "foreign invaders." Galloway said, "It can be said, truly said, that the Iraqi resistance is not just defending Iraq. They are defending all the Arabs and they are defending all the people of the world against American hegemony." Galloway was expelled from the Labour Party over his outspoken remarks about the Iraq war. Meanwhile, London Mayor Ken Livingstone on Thursday called on the British Government to withdraw troops from Iraq to prevent further attacks against Britain. In an op-Ed in The Guardian newspaper, Livingstone wrote "The London bombings demand clear thinking, not rhetoric. People's lives depend on the decisions made. These must be for every community to aid the police; to treat Britain's Muslim community with respect... And for Britain to withdraw from Iraq."

See what's happening there? England gets bombed but they don't all start running around screaming "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" Remember Pru's realistic response and how devoid it was of panic and "OH MY GOD!"s?

What happened to us was anytime somebody showed a spine and spoke out, they got attacked by the right, the center and some on the left. Even right now there was this dopey bull awhile back as people rushed to defend a blogger and kept saying, "See! He didn't quote Galloway! That was someone else!"

The point is you fight back. You don't try to back your way down the court, you charge down the court. But we don't get that here. We end up trying to defend ourselves and we don't know the first thing about defense.

"He didn't quote Galloway!" isn't defense. "It was someone else at his site!" isn't defense.

Defense is, "What of it? Wanna make something of it?"

But we all try to look so "reasonable."

And it's nonsense.

"They keep moving the line!" someone on the left whines about the right. Yeah, well who lets them do that?

You fight each play. You don't interrupt the ref to say, "Oh, they're right, give them the ball."
That's what you're doing when you make statements like, "He didn't quote Galloway!" That's how you end up with the list of undesirables that we're supposed to all stray away from.

The other side plays to win and we play like we're okay with being last in the league. And that's if we even show up for the game.

My prof stopped me on my way out of class today. I was thinking there was a problem with the paper I turned in. Turns out he just wanted to tell me that what Elaine and C.I. did really spoke to him. He said he's so sick of sites that don't defend or worry about who to mention because mentioning someone might mean they're not "reasonable." He pointed out that people like Joan Baez and others made a name for themselves because they spoke in a way that touched people. That's why the right attacks them. And when we back off a Jane Fonda or anyone else to be reasonable we're backing off our history and some of our strongest speakers.

It's like the people who have been strongest in the league are being blacklisted. We could brag about our championship season but that would mean noting them. So instead we have nothing to brag about.

We need to stop giving away our bragging rights.

I haven't heard from Lachelle yet but Bobbi did write in to say that the comments helped. She said she's especially thinking about what Lee Anne offered.

So that's great.

I want to make sure everyone's checking in with Betty. Kat e-mailed me "Can you hear Thomas Friedman?" It's hilarious. And check out Kat's review of Midnight Serenade because my parents are in love with that CD. My sister says it's kind of funny to watch them dancing in the living room when they play that CD on. And don't forget to check out my buddy Cedric. He's doing great work.

The weekend's upon us. I'll be working with Third Estate Sunday Review tomorrow night and may not post here. It'll probably be an all nighter but we're all hoping it won't be. It was so cool to get done early last time.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Reality's not looking so good

Good evening. We'll start again with two headlines from Democracy Now!

14 Marines Killed in Deadliest Roadside Bombing Of War
In Iraq, Pentagon officials have concluded it was a massive bomb that killed 14 Marines on Wednesday in the western city of Haditha. The Marines were driving in a 25-ton lightly-armored amphibious troop carrier that was not designed for coming under such attacks. It was the deadliest roadside bombing since the war began. In the past two weeks, at least 31 U.S. soldiers and Marines have died in roadside bombings. According to the Knight Ridder news agency, bombs killed more coalition troops in July than in any previous month of the war. U.S. officials admitted on Wednesday that troops are now being targeted with more powerful and more effective bombs.The 14 Marines were all members of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, based in Brook Park, Ohio. Six more Marines from that Batallion died on Monday.

Two Ex-Detainees Report Being Held in Secret U.S. Jails
Amnesty International is calling on the Bush administration to disclose the locations of the government’s secret jails that were set up around the world after the Sept. 11 attacks. This comes after two Yemini men publicly claimed that they were held in secret underground U.S. jails for more than 18 months. The two men were arrested separately but reported being held in almost identical conditions. One of the men was arrested in Jordan, the other in Indonesia. Both were jailed in Jordan where they were reportedly tortured. Each says he was then flown to an unnamed underground jail where he was held in solitary confinement for at least six months. Then they were taken to a second underground jail. Amnesty's Sharon Critoph said "To be 'disappeared' from the face of the earth without knowing why or for how long is a crime under international law and an experience no-one should have to go through. Critoph went on to say "We fear that what we have heard from these two men is just one small part of the much broader picture of US secret detentions around the world."

I'm so into Democracy Now! that it's hard for me to remember a time when I wasn't. The violence in Iraq continues. The invasion didn't change it or the occupation. The election, for all the talk of purple stained fingers, didn't change a thing. Makes you wonder how long a person can live in denial because there are people still living in denial. Still convinced that the roses we were promised would be thrown on our path are just waiting around the corner.

We are the cause of the unrest. We're occuyping another nation. We've been doing so for over two years now. The Iraqi soccer time, at the Olympics, spoke of wanting us to go home. Now you can believe the Bully Boy or the Operation Happy Talkers if you force yourself to but you're going to have to force yourself to.

And if you're ready for reality you should check out Elaine and C.I.'s posts from last night. Those two were on fire. Dad printed up their posts to take to work and Ma's been e-mailing them out to people. So please take the time to read Elaine's "Casualties continue to mount and the Democratic Party needs to find some ideas and a platform that's not 'more of the same'" and C.I.'s "Impunity leads to further silence" because they are powerful posts from powerful voices.
When I was no campus today, I got a lot of back slapping and thumbs up from buds just because I know C.I. and Elaine. Tony's been passing out print outs of both.

In a nation where too many play safe, Elaine & C.I. cut to the heart of the matter and that about says it all. We can't, in the face of the Downing St. Memos, continue to avoid asking the tough questions. Like Laura Flanders says, "Don't leave politics to the politicians." Politicians just want to tell us safe answers. The war is unjust. That may not be a safe answer, people ignored Pope John Paul when he said that, but it's reality.

A lot of the e-mails I was reading today were about the posts Elaine and C.I. did so I know most of you already caught them. But if you missed them, please read them.

Megan e-mailed to offer some advice to Lachelle. She says that if it's not something physical, then Lachelle needs to ask herself if there's a trust issue involved. Megan wonders if Lachelle's been wondering if her boyfriend's being faithful.

Beau wonders if Lachelle has some issues that she's avoided dealing with "like a trauma that she's avoided dealing with?"

Andy wonders if maybe it's over and that's what's going on "like maybe she knows it's over on like 1 level but hasn't owned up to that yet completely?"

Lee Anne writes that she went through something similar and it was part of "coming out of the closet for me." She wonders if Lachelle is dealing with similar issues?

Lawanda writes that sometimes "love just fades slow." She thinks that this is what is happening.

But everyone agreed that Lachelle needs to tell her boyfriend right away that she's not interested in sex right now. I hope that something up here helps, Lachelle. And maybe Bobbie will see something up here that helps her too.

Beau likes the Democracy Now! stuff but wonders why I use it. That came up in a thing with The Third Estate Sunday Review. We were talkinga bout the power we had and all and how we could use it in a responsible way or not.

So like I use it because what is "mainstream news?" Mainstream news is just mainstream because it is what everyone talks about. So I do this stuff from Democracy Now! to help raise awareness of a show I really believe in. And C.I. does a post on it each Monday through Friday.
And like Francisco, Maria or Miguel will pick some headlines at the end of the week, in Spanish and English, to try to raise awareness too. And Third Estate Sunday Review reruns that. And Elaine will note stuff and Rebecca has too. And I mean if a lot of people with their own blogs or sites were doing that, think of how popular Democracy Now! would be and how aware people would be of it?

Think how much better and smarter we'd be as a nation if when we were talking news, we weren't all going, "I was reading the Boston Globe today . . ." or "I was watching ABC's World News Tonight . . ." but instead were saying, "I saw this thing on Democracy Now! today . . ." and the other person was saying, "Oh I saw that too!" I mean we'd be more informed and more aware. So that's my part in trying to make sure people know and stuff.

And maybe somebody sees my link and visits the site or makes a point to listen to the show on radio or watch it on TV, that's really incredible. But like even if they don't, if they just come here and get the little taste of Democracy Now! they're getting informed and they're also aware of Democracy Now! and know it's out there.

Because there are people that don't watch news or listen. Maybe they don't have a dish or maybe there's no Democracy Now! on the airwaves in their area. And maybe they're like Charlie, who's a Common Ills member who's been really kind about my site in his e-mails to me, and they're computer access comes from a public library? Charlie actually listens to Democracy Now! on the radio. But if someone didn't have that option, and a lot of people don't, and they come here and they've got like 15 or 20 minutes of access time, they're getting a little bit of Democracy Now! here.

Or if you're a Common Ills member and you get the gina & krista round-robin, you know that members of The Common Ills community want to know what's going on. They're looking, when it comes to excerpts or highlights, for information they can digest quickly. Gina and Krista did the poll on that and did some follow up interviews and like Wally said, "I don't have time to read through The New York Times and visit every blog and every magazine so I go there to get the summary of what's important and what's happening and being discussed." (Wally's an e-mail bud so I think he'll be fine with being quoted. If he's not, I'll remove it tomorrow.) Like the outside the U.S. mainstream news posts that C.I. does on Sundays or the indymedia's ones on Thursday, those are seen by members as informative and giving them what they need without them having to surf all over.

If you've got your own computer and all the time in the world, great for you and you can check out everything you need but a lot of people don't have all the time in the world or their own computer. Or they don't like pop ups and they want summaries or excerpts for that reason or they have a really slow computer and it's not worth it to them to click on a link. And that's what was so great about Gina and Krista's poll because they also included that test and people scored really well on the issues even if they were respondents who said they never go to links.

So that's why I do it, Beau.

Now let's wind down by noting CounterRecruiter cause that's another site I really believe in.

Black Recruits Say No, Bucking Historical Trends
While African-Americans have traditionally made up a significant percentage of the US Armed Forces, the numbers of Black enlistees is on the decline, reports the Dallas Morning News.
In fiscal 2001, which ended 19 days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, nearly 23 percent of all new Army recruits were black – as in each of the previous five years. So far in fiscal 2005, which ends Sept. 30, only about 14 percent are. That's a decline of nearly 40 percent in the proportion of black recruits – when the Army never needed them more.
And the war in Iraq seems to have a lot to do with the drop in numbers - not just fear of dying in the war, but opposition to the war itself.

And maybe someone says

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Casualty count and interview with Ava

Good evening, we'll start out with Democracy Now!

21 Marines Die in Iraq OverTwo-Day Period
Fourteen Marines and a civilian interpreter were killed early today in western Iraq making it one of the deadliest days for U.S. forces in months. Seven more Marines died on Monday.

Coalition Death Toll in Iraq Tops 2,000
The overall U.S. military death toll in Iraq has now topped eighteen hundred and the total number of coalition troops killed has passed 2,000.

You read the two things above and you start wondering what planet the people saying, "Oh no, we're winning!" are living on. Yes, the deaths are hidden away and our lap dog press won't fight back on that, but what is the magic number we hit before we can start having a honest dialogue?
And what's Hillary Clinton's magic number?

Everyone here knows I love the book What's My Name Fool? If you haven't read it, look it up. But here's something C.I. passed on by the author of the book, Dave Zirin's latest at CounterPunch.

Rafael Palmeiro and the Politics of Distraction

A close compatriot of President Bush squats in a scandal so malodorous it led news shows from coast to coast. It's a scandal that some say is too hot for Bush to comment on. But there was the President, speaking without a stammer or stutter on this issue of pressing national concern.
There was only one curious twist. The scandalized bosom buddy was not the bosomy Karl Rove, but Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro. Yes, in an era of war and economic crisis, Bush took time to rush to the defense of a four-time All-Star who has become the highest profile casualty of Major League Baseball's steroid testing program.
Bush called Palmeiro a "friend" and said, "He's testified in public [to being clean], and I believe him.... Still do." Presidential lickspittle Scott McClellan also made clear at a White House press briefing that Palmeiro has the full support of the Oval Office. It no doubt will puzzle future generations (or present ones, for that matter) why the President felt compelled to comment on what a 40 year old ballplayer may or may not have ingested. But the reasons are clear enough. This is a case of how the Bush administration's Politics of Distraction have turned around to nip the President in the tush. It all began at the January 2003 State of the Union address when Bush inexplicably took time to talk tough on steroids. As New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady grinned next to the First Lady, Bush put the plague of steroids on the front burner of the national consciousness. This was Politics of Distraction 101, a classic ploy to give the public something to chew over instead of those two pesky countries the US armed forces happened to be occupying.

Now, I'm dropping the e-mail discussion tonight because I want to put up an interview that I did.

Last night, I gave you a heads up to a roundtable that would be going on at The Common Ills. I couldn't reach C.I. due to morning meetings but I did reach Ava. If you haven't read the roundtable you should. Here's my interview with Ava from this morning.

So I had talked to Gina and Krista and I think the roundtable was great but I thought there were going to be more topics?

Ava: That was a many hour discussion, every topic you can imagine was addressed. We were looking at it and thinking what hell is was going to be to type up all our notes and get it posted.
If you check the time signatures, you'll see that it's that there's a little over three hours between that post and the first one C.I. did this morning. We were up so late on that. There would have been no sleep at all if we'd included all the topics that came up. Dona was saying before the roundtable and during it that we needed to stick to the main topic. We went over everyone's statements with them and asked what they were fine with. People pulled some of their statements to help us out and in some cases because of other reasons.

Dona didn't pull a statement, did she?

Ava: No. How did you know?

She's always really precise and focused in the stuff at The Third Estate Sunday Review. What about C.I.?

Ava: C.I. was much more active than in the transcript but you know the fear of "dominating the discussion."

Right. Did you think anything should have stayed?

Ava: I thought everyone, except Dona, eliminated something that was worthwhile but in terms of the practical deadline we were up against, I'm grateful people were willing to part with a comment or comments. You know this from participating at The Third Estate Sunday Review but in case anyone else doesn't, nothing was "improved." What's up there is what was said. Things were taken out, things were not added.

I loved it but I did wish there was more C.I. and also more Ruth. Gina and Krista said told me they were nervous.

Ava: Gina & Krista had a great thing at the opening, a great back and forth but they both agreed to pull that and it will go into their round-robin Friday. They have my notes and C.I.'s notes and they've got permission to pull any other comments that were made but didn't make it up in the entry. Ruth actually only pulled one sentence. But she'd said beforehand that she was really wanting to listen so I wasn't surprised that much. When she spoke, this is Ruth's way, it was worth hearing. But as I'm remembering it, she only pulled one sentence.

And for all the Rebecca lovers like me, we got to hear from Rebecca.

Ava: Rebecca probably pulled the most of anyone. Her feelings were that even though her name would be next to the statements, it would be the usual attack C.I. and no one else. So she pulled a number of comments and said she'll probably address those topics when she gets back from vacation. But C.I. asked her to participate in some way and she said, "I'll be there for the full thing" and she was. She stayed on the phone while we were going over quotes and making sure that everyone could live with what they'd said or felt that they were important to the discussion. C.I. wanted Betty and Ruth off first because both had early, early mornings. Both ended up staying on the line though. But Rebecca kept saying to go over her's last.

I was really glad Gina and Krista and Ruth were brought in.

Ava: Dona was the one who said to make it a roundtable. C.I. had all these e-mails from members and knew it had to be addressed. Dona said roundtable and for a moment it was going to be a Third Estate Sunday Review type roundtable but Dona felt it would be more effective this way. At which point, C.I. wanted some voices to take part that might not take part on those roundtables. Three members were invited but had to decline. Two because they didn't feel they'd have anything to add and Keesha who really wanted to be a part of it but couldn't work it out for time reasons. I think we had a very strong mix and I think the point was to get Krista get out there and talking because the round-robin is private because she's hestitant since the earlier episode. You spoke to her, how is she today?

She's great. C.I. had spoken to her and Gina had spoken to her and she's not beating herself up for not catching that thing. She's taking C.I.'s attitude of "I could be wrong and often am." And feeling like you have to put it out there or do nothing. So I think it was really productive for her. I thought everyone came off well and Kat and Elaine included. But I was sort of surprised that C.I. really was like the moderator.

Ava: Well a great deal was taken out by C.I. You know, because you've talked about this, that at our roundtables, C.I.'s talking about topics that wouldn't make The Common Ills or going into more depth but at The Common Ills there's this sort of "voice of authority" that could come out and C.I. tries to avoid doing anything that could be read as "end of story." So a lot of things were pulled, by C.I., and many of them were to the point and a lot of them were funny.

I think it was very effective. I noticed that there wasn't a Daily Howler excerpted today.

Ava: My understanding on that, me speaking for me, is that C.I. wasn't in the mood for it. I think C.I. ended up getting two hours of sleep. This all came about because the members wanted it addressed. C.I.'s going through the day "dead tired" to use a popular expression and my understanding was that the last thing C.I. even wanted to do was look at The Daily Howler.
If a member sent it in, it would have gone up. But C.I. wasn't going to seek it out. It's an issue of time and too much time was wasted on Tuesday, even before the roundtable, on The Daily Howler.

Understood. So what did Jim think about being mentioned so much in the roundtable?

Ava: You know Jim, he loved it.

I like it when you or Jim or Jess talk about that sort of thing, the whole beginnings. Because all of you guys at The Third Estate Sunday Review work like this tight group, including C.I., and it's easy to just assume that's how it always was.

Ava: Well you know how it is, you spend time with people, you get to know them. Everyone knew everyone except for me and C.I. I include C.I. and that's me speaking for me. But everyone else had this whole history, even if it was a brief one. I knew Dona. But yeah, it was confusing and there's no need to act otherwise. I mean the whole DIY movement is about making connections and interacting and it would be dishonest for us to present ourselves as this group of people that just came together and instantly knew each other and what each other liked and thought. We're all friends now and we're a very tight group, no question. But that could be any group of people with a common purpose that worked together and that's Jim's point in terms of talking about this topic and mine as well.

Thank you for talking about this. You're my first interview I did myself.

Ava: Well I'm sure I was boring but anytime. And thank you for catching that Kat's final thoughts didn't make it up. If anyone read the roundtable last night, Kat did have final thoughts but C.I. and I were rushing to get that together, up and done.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Don't miss the roundtable at The Common Ills

Good evening, as usual I'll kick things off with Democracy Now!

U.S. Faced 68 Attacks Per Day in Iraq During July
In Iraq, the Associated Press is reporting that U.S. and coalition forces were attacked on average 68 times a day during the month of July. This marks a near 50 percent increase over the number of attacks that took place last July. Meanwhile the number of Iraqis killed since the new Iraqi government took power in April has now topped twenty one hundred.

UK Official Admits U.S. & UK "part of the problem" in Iraq
Meanwhile British foreign secretary Jack Straw has admitted that the presence of British and US troops in Iraq is fuelling the uprising there. Straw told the Financial Times QUOTE "although we are part of the security solution there, we are also part of the problem."

C.I. steered this my way:

Join CODEPINK and the national counter-recruitment movement in standing up to these warmongers and liars. Stop the next war now by stopping the next generation from becoming cannon fodder in this illegal and immoral war!
LATEST NEWS: National Education Association (NEA) Calls for the Withdrawal of Troops and the Protection of Student Privacy
As the support for the occupation in Iraq continues to diminish, the National Education Assocation sets a precedent by passing two items during their Representative Assembly calling for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and the support for student privacy from military recruiters.
Read more about the NEA's Legislative Actions.
***URGENT ALERT: Scrap the Pentagon's Illegal New Database***
It's recently come to light that if you're between the ages of 16 and 30, the Pentagon has been secretly collecting information about you since 2002. Data from various sources--such as your social security number, height, weight, ethnicity, email address, grade point average and cell phone number--have been merged into a giant database and outsourced to a private corporation (Be Now Inc.) with no published privacy policies or opt-out procedures.
Take action now by asking your Representative to investigate and shut down this database.

Speaking of C.I., let's note something that made it up at The Common Ills last night.
And is there a reason our big brave internet's not all over this story? Randi Rhodes was talking about the story. I'll give you a possible answer at the end so hang on to the ending.

From "One of them made cuts in my penis. I was in agony:"

They took the scalpel to my right chest. It was only a small cut. Maybe an inch. At first I just screamed ... I was just shocked, I wasn't expecting ... Then they cut my left chest. This time I didn't want to scream because I knew it was coming.
One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts. He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute, watching my reaction. I was in agony. They must have done this 20 to 30 times, in maybe two hours. There was blood all over. "I told you I was going to teach you who's the man," [one] eventually said.
They cut all over my private parts. One of them said it would be better just to cut it off, as I would only breed terrorists. I asked for a doctor.
Doctor No 1 carried a briefcase. "You're all right, aren't you? But I'm going to say a prayer for you." Doctor No 2 gave me an Alka-Seltzer for the pain. I told him about my penis. "I need to see it. How did this happen?" I told him. He looked like it was just another patient. "Put this cream on it two times a day. Morning and night." He gave me some kind of antibiotic.
I was in Morocco for 18 months. Once they began this, they would do it to me about once a month. One time I asked a guard: "What's the point of this? I've got nothing I can say to them. I've told them everything I possibly could."
"As far as I know, it's just to degrade you. So when you leave here, you'll have these scars and you'll never forget. So you'll always fear doing anything but what the US wants."

That's what we're accused of doing.

Here's a story on the speaker from the story above - Stephen Grey and Ian Cobain's "Suspect's tale of travel and torture: Alleged bomb plotter claims two and a half years of interrogation under US and UK supervision in 'ghost prisons' abroad:"

For two and a half years US authorities moved Benyam Mohammed around a series of prisons in Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan, before he was sent to Guantánamo Bay in September last year.
Mohammed, 26, who grew up in Notting Hill in west London, is alleged to be a key figure in terrorist plots intended to cause far greater loss of life than the suicide bombers of 7/7. One allegation, which he denies, is of planning to detonate a "dirty bomb" in a US city; another is that he and an accomplice planned to collapse a number of apartment blocks by renting ground-floor flats to seal, fill with gas from cooking appliances, and blow up with timed detonators.
In an statement given to his newly appointed lawyer, Mohammed has given an account of how he was tortured for more than two years after being questioned by US and British officials who he believes were from the FBI and MI6. As well as being beaten and subjected to loud music for long periods, he claims his genitals were sliced with scalpels.
He alleges that in Morocco he was shown photos of people he knew from a west London mosque, and was asked about information he was told was supplied by MI5. One interrogator, he says, was a woman who said she was Canadian.
Drawing on his notes, Mohammed's lawyer has compiled a 28-page diary of his torture. This has been declassified by the Pentagon, and extracts are published in the Guardian today.

No mailbag tonight because I'm running late. I called C.I. this morning and Jess had already called. Today's important issue was beat up on a woman who reports to a woman. At least online. Everyone got into the act. I haven't read the story but I doubt it's earth shattering. Still that's all the big brave internet wanted to talk about. But not a lot of talk of the two Guardian stories. There's a roundtable going on right now that will go up at The Common Ills tonight. How important is the roundtable? Rebecca's participating from St. Croix.

I'm out the door (date) but as soon as I get back, I'll be checking to see if it's up. Peace.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Jimmy Carter, Guantanamo, is the New York Times anti-Catholic and a favorite post from Rebecca

Good evening. We'll start out with two things from Democracy Now! today.

Jimmy Carter: Iraq War Was "Unnecessary and Unjust"
Former President Jimmy Carter has called the Iraq war "unnecessary and unjust" and criticized the Bush administration for its handling of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Speaking at an international Baptist convention in Britain, Carter said, "I think what's going on in Guantanamo Bay and other places is a disgrace to the U.S.A." He went on to say "I wouldn't say it's the cause of terrorism, but it has given impetus and excuses to potential terrorists to lash out at our country and justify their despicable acts."

Gov't Officials Claim Military Tribunals Were Rigged
In other news on Guantanamo, the New York Times is reporting that two government prosecutors complained last year that the military commissions being set up to try detainees were little more than kangaroo courts. The prosecutors complained that the trial system was being secretly arranged to improve the chance of conviction and to deprive defendants of material that could prove their innocence. According to the Times, the prosecutors alleged that the chief prosecutor had told his subordinates that the first four defendants members tried by the military commission would be "handpicked" to ensure that all would be convicted.

Now I want to note some news from CounterRecruiter:

With recruiters still struggling to meet their reduced monthly quotas in the Continental US, the New York Times reports that the Army is turning to United States Territories:
From Pago Pago in American Samoa to Yap in Micronesia, 4,000 miles to the west, Army recruiters are scouring the Pacific, looking for high school graduates to enlist at a time when the Iraq war is turning off many candidates in the States.
The Army has found fertile ground in the poverty pockets of the Pacific. The per capita income is $8,000 in American Samoa, $12,500 in the Northern Marianas and $21,000 in Guam, all United States territories. In the Marshalls and Micronesia, former trust territories, per capita incomes are about $2,000.

Dipping into the e-mails now.

First, Bobbie e-mailed to say it was nice of people to weigh in but she doesn't feel like anyone's really helped her. Which probably is because only Bobbie can help Bobbie. We can continue to toss around ideas, I got no problem with that, but I'm not sure we're going to be able to help to her.

Second, Lachelle e-mails that she's sick of sex. Maybe she'll have something that will help Bobbie? She's got a live in boyfriend of 2 years and she doesn't want to break up with him or move out but she's really not in the mood for sex. Lachelle writes "This isn't about a bad hair day or I feel fat. This isn't about I've got a headache. I just feel really removed from him when he wants to do it and I feel like there's just really no point at all. It's hot here in Georgia so maybe that's why. But I just don't want to do it and I've kept quiet about it for like a month now and just gone on through with it. Now I don't want to keep quiet and I need to figure out how to tell ****** what I'm feeling. Any suggestions?"

I think the first question is going to be why so you'll need to think about why. That's not me telling you to hold off until you know why. If this is what you're feeling you need to share it. You 2 are sharing a place and living together and you have every right to share what's going on inside.

But I do think at some point you're going to need to know for you what's making you feel this way. You may be tired and if so that's something he might be able to help you with. Or you may have some issues you're not addressing. Or you may just be tired of him and not know it yet. Or it could be anything else.

But you write that you can't talk to your friends about this because you don't want them to know and my feeling there is your friends know you a lot more than I do. Like maybe he's cheating or you think he is. It's not in your e-mail but your friends would know about that. Something like that could make you want to stop having sex.

There are dozens of things that could be going on and your friends would know about that stuff. So we'll open this up for input from readers but my advice to you besides tell your boyfriend immediately that you're not in the mood for sex is that you start talking to at least one friend.

I'm going to close with C.I. because I don't know what others think when they read the New York Times lately but in my Irish-Catholic house, we all think the paper's been biased over and over and it's not just our household either.

Editorial: NYT's Lavery, is he joking or unfit for the assignment?"
So the e-mails this morning revolve around three questions:

1) Is Brian Lavery an actual idiot?
2) Is he not an idiot but he thinks readers are?
3) Is he trying to have "fun" in his reporting?

Good questions all.

As the Times continues to wage what many see as it's war on Irish-Catholics, today's the day they finally, kind of, sort of, get around to addressing a tiny slice of issues that anyone even slightly informed on the area long ago noticed was conspicuously absent from their coverage. Lavery's fable, er article, is entitled "
As I.R.A. Backs Off, Loyalist Gangs Battle One Another."

Let's be real honest, in terms of news, there's no point to the Sunday paper. You might get a Shane Scott, Douglas Jehl, Felicity Barringer or Raymond Bonner piece the paper's sat on but that's prety much it. The highpoint (yes, there are a few) today is probably Amy Waldman (back on the front page with "
Seething Unease Shaped British Bombers' Newfound Zeal" after apparently being exiled for the strong writing she did during the immediate after effects of the tsunami). But most of the time, you're left with a lot of reports that don't pass the news test and features that don't belong in the hard news, main section.

But apparently since none of them focus on Britney Spears, we're all supposed to shut our mouths and pretend like they are stories that truly, truly matter and are executed in hard news style. The underscored message here is "Nobody wants to work weekends! And we have to get the Sunday paper to bed early!" What's the excuse going to be when the Times switches completely to an electronic medium? Right now they're able to justify the dead main section on Sundays (followed by the anorexic one on Monday) with the "excuse" of print deadlines. When they switch to 100% electronic will we see a stronger main section, possibly even one that's really newsworthy?

I wasn't expecting real news this morning, but I also wasn't expecting the "work" of Lavery on the issue of paramility Protestants.

While working all night and a good portion of the morning, Jim had a few suggestions on how we could all get some sleep for a change -- all being Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava (
Third Estate Sunday Review), Mike (Mikey Likes It!), Kat (Kat's Korner), Betty (Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man), Elaine (subbing for Rebecca at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) and myself. They included no breaks (we'd work straight through -- which we did for thirteen hours), killing any piece that none of us could think of a way to fix within fifteen minutes (which led to three being axed), inviting Jess' parents who are up late on Saturdays to determine what are the five biggest stories breaking by midnight, letting others assemble the transcriptions Ava and I took of the roundtable (that should really be "decipher") so Ava and I had some additional time to put in on the TV review, and things I've honestly forgotten. The result was we could all get some sleep.

My own selfish hopes were: Ava and I could have a solid TV review (we both hate, loathe and despise the one we did last week and hate it with such intensity that time will not change our minds on that), I could have a Sunday that consisted of more than two hours of sleep and going through the day dragging with a headache and watery eyes, and I could enjoy the Sunday paper by going through it rested. So little happens in the Sunday paper that any minor irritants could actually lead to a humorous entry (like "
Clubbing With the New York Times").

article, his clowning, apparently beats us to the humor.

In Ireland, is he really that closed off that he thinks his examples in the morning paper suffice?

Is he truly unaware of the acts of violence against Catholics that's been going on recently? Or does he, as we wondered last night, think they've attempted to bomb their own churches in the last few days as some sort of sympathy bid?

The high point of "humor" (or maybe it's just self-amusement in a jerking off style) is most likely this statement:

But loyalist groups, referred to by a bewildering array of three-letter abbreviations that are still daubed in spray paint across much of Belfast, are unlikely even to be able to respond in any formal way to the new I.R.A., in part because there is no one to speak for them.

There is so much that is wrong with that sentence but let's note the "bewildering array of three-letter abbreviations." Coming off like an old grump still complaining that Eritrea's independence meant redrawing the maps, Lavery (who's stationed in Ireland) can't make any sense of the "bewildering array of three-letter abbreviations." Is that something a Times reporter should be joking about (let alone admitting -- if true)? Can we next expect Sheryl Gay Stolberg to turn in a report where she notes, "Congressional committees are like confusing. I just can't keep track of them. And why do they use names like 'Ways and Means' anyway?"

Maybe he's truly bewildered. If so, the Times should consider his article today a cry for help (if not for reassingment).

Maybe that's how he missed
this news last week:

If they are openly and brazenly stating that that they are no longer engaged in moving away from paramilitarism and criminality and instead are intent on escalating their killing spree with the LVF, Peter Hain (Northern Ireland Secretary of State) is now under a moral obligation to declare their ceasefire to be at an end. If he fails to do so he jeopardises the basis of the entire political process.

That statement was made by the MLA's Naomi Long. ("MLA!" Yes, Lavery, more "three letter abbreviations.") And she made the statement in Belfast, the location from which so many of Lavery's pieces are filed. She even sits on the city council of Belfast. So she should be easily reachable by Lavery. But maybe phone directories, like "three letter abbreviations," also confuse Lavery?

(She graduated from Queen's University, which is in Lavery's rolodex or programmed on his speed dial since he quotes Adrian Guelke "a professor of comparitve politics at Queen's Univesity in Belfast.")

As he rushes to tell readers that "it almost seems the loyalists have already switched their focus, from fighting the I.R.A. to fighting one another" he somehow missed
the following:

The Associated Press reported that loyalist extremists planted a homemade grenade outside a Catholic family's home in Ballymena. The bomb detonated, causing minor damage. Arsonists badly damaged one Catholic-run pub in the village of Martinstown, and caused minor fire damage to the outside of another pub in nearby Rasharkin with two gasoline-filled bottles. In addition, two Catholic churches in Ballymena were vandalized with paint-filled balloons and painted-on anti-Catholic slogans. No injuries were reported.

That apparently ancient history was reported July 27th, Lavery's dateline for this article is July 30th, three days later.

As members blame the paper in total for the slanted coverage that's repeatedly presented the IRA as the only paramilitary force in Ireland and as the only one involved in any and all violence, maybe the fault actually lies with their "man in Ireland" Lavery? Maybe they're not running reports on the above incidents and many other similar ones because Lavery's not filing any? And maybe, if he's not joking, the reason is because LVF and other "three letter abbreviations" bewilder and confuse him? Maybe he just can't get it straight in his hand so he passes on reporting on their actions?

If so the brand name that is the IRA may account for Lavery's continued focus on them. Or as
Mike said when I called him this morning to get his take on Lavery's report, he's like someone trying to pass himself off as a sports fan who nods along while the talk is of the Lakers but gets a dazed, confused look when someone brings up the Cavaliers. (A sports analogy so surely the Times can grasp that.)

Is the joke not a joke? Is Lavery seriously owning up to not being up for the job? That would certainly explain the reporting. It would also read a little better for the Times since having done such a poor job reporting on the conflicts, Lavery's not earned the right to crack wise and the main section (with the exception of the floating op-ed by Bumiller) isn't supposed to be the pages from which someone auditions to be the next Dave Barry.

Maybe his reference to "bewildering array of three letter alphabet groups" is actually a confession that the bewilderment may be on the part of some Times readers (not all, Saturday's letter page demonstrated that many readers are more on top of the situation than is Lavery)?

Maybe he's confessing that since he's done so little in the past to report on those groups, introducing them into the discussion today would prompt head scratching on the part of the readers?

While the paper's come down hard on the IRA (and on Sinn Fien and on Catholics not willing to play good token and denounce Gerry Adams), it's left readers with the impression that violence comes from only one direction. Lavery's taken part in that so if "bewildering array" was his attempt at a joke, let me repeat, he hasn't earned the right to make jokes about an area he's done such a poor job of reporting on.

And while there's never been an innuendo Lavery hasn't been willing to pin on Adams, note the reassuring statement he offers for Ireland's own Jerry Falwell:

. . . Ian Paisley and his Democratic Unionsit Party, which has no criminal connections, . . .

As long as he's on the stand as a character witness for Paisley, would Lavery like to address whether or not Paisley in fact created the paramilitary group Third Force? And explain to the jury what happened to the imported arms from South African?

Wait, Lavery, we're not done yet. What of Paisely's repeated remarks, public ones, that Pope John Paul II was the anti-Christ? Now we realize you were too busy cracking wise to report on actual events, but maybe while sending hearts and flowers to Paisely, you might have thought twice about that considering his infamous public remarks? Then again, maybe thought's not Lavery's strong suit?

Could you explain also why some critics suggest that Paisely violent rhetoric has aided in the recrutiment of paramilitary Protestant organizations?

And, if we can drop back to 1968, since you're vouching for Paisley, could you interpret for us his cry at a rally of "I will kill all who get in my way" which seems to beg for a reporter to hold off on the hearts and flowers, don't you think?

David Ervine is quoted in
the article, is Lavery unaware of Ervine's 1997 allegation that the Democratic Unionist Party Lavery's vouching for attempted to prevent unionist paramilitaries from engaging in a 1994 ceasefire?

We could go on and on (the January 27, 1999 reading of names by Paisley which was seen by some as issuing death warrents, for instance). But maybe the sad truth came out in the paper today: Lavery's assigned to cover an area that he finds "bewildering" and it's all so over his head that he can't function?

Maybe the one-sided reporting has not resulted in bias but in ignorance? Maybe it's spread through the paper as everyone assumed that if anything were happening other than the IRA, Lavery would surely be reporting on it?

The imposed narrative at the Times has led to many questions (still unanswered is why they felt they could get away with no correction for their referring to Sinead O'Connor as "Mr. O'Connor") because it's come off petty and uninformed. Lavery's reporting, as he bends over backwards to vouch for questionable people (non-Catholics only get vouched for), has led to a great deal of anger. Before they next begin applying terms like "bullies," they might want to take a serious look at the coverage they've provided. There's been no rumor they haven't been willing to tar Adams or Sinn Fien with. Somehow actual facts don't stick to Paisley. It's interesting the way that's worked out. The Times might want to look into how that happened?

Last thing, Rebecca's thing on The Common Ills is getting a lot of positive e-mails. Remember she's on vacation and Elaine's subbing for her right now (and doing a great job).