Friday, November 11, 2005

Unintelligent in the Senate and on the 700 Club

Mike and are doing two items from Democracy Now! today because I'm pretty wiped out tonight. Be sure to check out Mikey Likes It! to read Mike's take on the two items.

Senate Votes To Remove Prisoners’ Right to Challenge Detentions (Democracy Now!):
On Capital Hill Thursday, the Senate voted to take away Guantanamo Bay prisoners’ right to challenge their detentions in United States courts. The measure, put forward by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, would override a Supreme Court decision last year. The New York Times reports the amendment would nullify legal challenges currently filed by nearly 200 of the 500 detainees currently held at Guantanamo. Five Democrats joined 44 Republicans to pass the measure by a vote of 49 to 42. However the New York Times reports the victory may be short-lived as nine senators were absent, and are pushing for a second vote as early as Monday.

C.I. names the five and I agree that they should be ashamed. I don't expect much from Republicans, to be honest. The reasonable ones have enough problems having allowed their party to be hijacked by the American Taliban. (Which didn't happen under Bully Boy. I've heard women complaining for years now, women who continue to identify as Republican.)
But I do expect the party of the people, the Democratic Party, to stand up for what is just fair.
Joe Lieberman should have declared himself a Republican years ago.

You hear a lot of "If Gore would have carried Tenn., then Florida wouldn't have been an issue." If Al Gore had chosen someone else for his running mate, then a lot of things would have been different. As I remember it, anytime I found myself thinking, "Okay, now Gore's coming alive!" I'd just have to wait a day or two for Joementum to show up on TV or in print saying, "Well that's not really what he meant." The two had nothing common politically. And, like C.I., I believe that the recount battle suffered a huge blow (possibly the deciding one) when Joementum went on Meet the Press and instead of being a fighter says, "Oh sure, we'll count any military ballot." Which is how ballots that arrived with postmarks after the election got counted and how ballots that were faxed in got counted and how ballots with no postmark or ballots or that weren't filled out properal were counted.

Joe Lieberman stabbed Al Gore in the back repeatedly. He undercut him constantly.

I voted for Al Gore. I did that in spite of detesting the psuedo Democrat Lieberman.

Robertson Warns Town Over Rejecting "Intelligent Design" Proponents (Democracy Now!):
Christian televangelist Pat Robertson is again drawing controversy for a statement made on his program "The 700 Club." On Thursday, Robertson was asked to comment on a vote in the Pennsylvania town of Dover that removed school board members who advocated "intelligent design". Robertson said: "I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city. And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there." In August, Robertson was forced to apologize after he called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

There's no "intelligent design" to Pat Robertson's mind. As he gives what reads like a threat, as usual, he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.

The school board members were removed in Tuesday's election. By a bi-partisan group of voters. Why? Dover was tired of looking like the nation's idiot. But even so, the votes were very close. At one point on Tuesday night, one of the candidates being removed was losing by only eight votes. I'm not sure whether that held or not but the races were close.

So there were, sadly, a significant amount of people in Dover who "believed" like Pat Robertson and apparently they're doomed to hell or an attack by an act of geography (ordained by Robertson).

The votes were close and his people turned out to show their support. They were a significant part of the voting pool but not enough to keep the members from being driven out of office.
Robertson can't see that or grasp it. So he condems not only his "enemies" but his fellow "believers."

Now my own personal opinion is that the board should have been voted out. I'm happy that they were. But I'm not foolish enough to ignore how close the vote was. But the "spiritual leader" is willing to condemn an entire area including the people who voted the way he wanted.

No peace quote tonight. Instead, I want to note a passage. Eli asked C.I. to note "Democrats and the War" which is an important editorial from The Nation:

Americans are well on their way to a full appreciation of the dimensions of this debacle. In an October CBS news poll, 59 percent of citizens surveyed and 73 percent of Democrats now want an end to US military involvement in Iraq. But this growing majority has made its judgment with virtually no help from our nation's leaders. Most shameful has been the Democratic Party's failure to oppose the war. Indeed, support for it has been bipartisan: A Republican President and Congress made the policy, and almost all of the leading Democrats--most of the honorable exceptions are members of the House of Representatives--supported it from the outset and continue to do so. To their credit, would-be presidential candidate Senator Russell Feingold and former Senator Gary Hart have recently made strong antiwar statements. More recently two other presidential contenders, Senator John Kerry and former Senator John Edwards, have begun to call for a shift in policy, though still in vague and reticent terms. More typical, however, are the other presidential hopefuls, Senators Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden and Evan Bayh, who continue to huddle for cover in "the center." They offer little alternative to Bush's refrain "We must stay the course!" Nor do the party's Congressional leaders and its head, Howard Dean, once a leader of antiwar sentiment. Can such politicians, who cannot even follow a majority--in the Democratic Party, a large majority--really be considered leaders?
The Nation therefore takes the following stand: We will not support any candidate for national office who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq a major issue of his or her campaign. We urge all voters to join us in adopting this position. Many worry that the aftermath of withdrawal will be ugly, but we can now see that the consequences of staying will be uglier still. Fear of facing the consequences of Bush's disaster should not be permitted to excuse the creation of a worse disaster by continuing the occupation.

I will absolutely join them. I hope you will as well. I think it's a stand we need to take. My excerpt is different from C.I.'s so if you're someone who doesn't go to links, hopefully you saw enough here and at The Common Ills to understand how important this editorial is. I'd also suggest that you make a point to read Cedric's "It's not just the young people" which addresses how the elderly in the nursing home he visits have turned against the war and the Bully Boy as well.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

". . . we have to keep marching together, because there are many more bridges to cross"

First, thank you to everyone for the kind e-mails about yesterday's post. Thank you also to C.I. who basically cross posted my post at The Common Ills this morning. (What was left out? The paragraph with references to C.I. C.I. feels that's "self-referential" -- quoting someone speaking of you.)

Secondly, remember to check out Mike's Mikey Likes It! where he's going to be tackling the second item below and also addressing the online Dylan.

UN Extends U.S.-led Foreign Troop Presence (DemocracyNow!)
In other Iraq news, the UN Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the mandate of U.S.-led military forces by one year. There are nearly 180,000 foreign troops currently in Iraq.

On this, I want to note that there's a review in June. That was part of the process to get everyone to vote in favor of the resolution -- an agreement that in June the status would be reviewed. I also want to note that the resolution recognizes the right of the Iraqis to ask the US to led provided that it's done by the Iraqi government. (A puppet government most likely won't ask the US to leave.)

Lott Suspects Fellow Republicans in Prison Disclosure (Democracy Now!)
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reports Republican Senator Trent Lott said senators from his own party might be responsible for the leak. Lott said the secret prison facilities were discussed at a Republican luncheon on Capitol Hill -- one day before the [Washington] Post published its report November 2nd. Vice President Cheney was among those in attendance. Lott said : "Information that was said in there, given out in there, did get into the newspaper. I don't know where else it came from…. It looked to me that at least one of those reports came right out of that room."

Mike's got a take on this so check out his site. My take on it carries it down a different road. Trent Lott's saying that the leak must have come out of the Republican luncheon. So what Trent Lott is saying is that the Republicans knew of these secret prisons. To me that says complicity and guilt as they turn against the democratic principles this country is supposed to stand for which does include, yes, innocent until proven guilty.

I was asked in several e-mails if I was still feeling depressed? I'm depressed about what the military did in Falluja and about the mainstream press' cover up of the slaughter. But I'm not in the dark mood I was in last night, no.

Susan asked me which of Stevie Nicks' CDs I put on, Bella Donna or Wild Heart? (And Susan was kind enough to correct me because I called "Bella Donna" "Belladonna" last night. Thank you, Susan.) I listened to both. I'd planned to fall asleep listening but I ended up grabbing the phone and calling C.I. (who was kind enough to listen to me in my depressed state) and both albums played through during our conversation. (Stopping to sing along with Stevie on some songs, such as "Wild Heart.")

Tonight's peace quote comes via Brenda whom I'll also say thank you to for her nice e-mail and for suggesting tonight's peace quote. It's a wonderful choice. It's also the perfect antidote for when you're feeling low like I was last night.

Peace Quote (Kim Gandy, NOW):
. . . we have to keep marching together, because there are many more bridges to cross.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Peace Never Comes To Those Who Refuse To Open Their Eyes

Two items from Democracy Now! that Mike and I are both noting.

Canadian Teen At Guantanamo to Face Military Tribunal (Democracy Now!)
The Pentagon filed war crimes charges against five more detainees at Guantanamo. Those charged include Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who has been held by the US since he was 15 years old. Khadr's attorney Muneer Ahmad protested Monday's decision saying "Through torture, abuse, and three years of illegal detention, this government has robbed Omar of his youth... The fact that this Administration has seen fit to designate a child for trial by military commission is abhorrent." The Bush administration has refused to provide assurances that they will not seek the death penalty against him. Khadr was detained in Afghanistan allegedly after throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier.

Chalabi Heads Back to D.C.; No Investigation Yet on Iran Spy Charges (Democracy Now!)
The Wall Street Journal reports 17 months have passed the Bush administration announced a full criminal inquiry into allegations that Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi leaked U.S. intelligence secrets to Iran. Since then FBI hasn't even interviewed Chalabi or any U.S. official connected to the matter. Chalabi is arriving in Washington today for his first official visit in two years. He is planning on speaking at the American Enterprise Institute on Wednesday and will be meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Treasury Secretary John Snow.

I'm not much into blogging tonight (which is why this is so late), sorry.

U.S. Broadcast Exclusive - "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre" on the U.S. Use of Napalm-Like White Phosphorus Bombs (Democracy Now!)
Democracy Now! airs an exclusive excerpt of "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre," featuring interviews with U.S. soldiers, Iraqi doctors and international journalists on the U.S. attack on Fallujah. Produced by Italian state broadcaster RAI TV, the documentary charges U.S. warplanes illegally dropped white phosphorous incendiary bombs on civilian populations, burning the skin off Iraqi victims. One U.S. soldier charges this amounts to the U.S. using chemical weapons against the Iraqi people.

Today was the one year anniversary of the massacre on Falluja and it's honestly depressing to me.

It disgusts me that a year later, we're still having trouble telling the truth about Falluja.

It disgusts me that a year later, so many Americans seem not very concerned with what went down in Falluja.

It disgusts me that a year later, propagandist Dexter Filkins still has an award and so few people will note that his reporting on Falluja was as bad as Judith Miller's lead up to the war reporting.

I'm sure I'll feel better after I wake up tomorrow but tonight it just disgusts me.

I'm not as cynical as Rebecca can be. (She's written about this. I'm not talking out of school.)
But I'm also not as optimistic as C.I. can be. I've been the middle attitude in our friendship over the year. Rebecca was the one who felt something was hopeless (which didn't mean she gave up fighting) and C.I. would always stress that "anything is possible" and I'd be in the middle between the two.

Tonight, I'm just depressed.

I'm thinking of a magazine, a left one, that issued a retraction for an article on Iraq when someone whined. I didn't think that was brave and the article wasn't wrong.

I feel like I was bringing Mike down earlier when we spoke. This may bring people down, this post, but I don't want anyone worrying (or accusing me of slacking off).

We had an amazing summer of activism and it continues. I saw that last week in New York at The World Can't Wait rally.

I also agree that there are wonderful websites, both within the community and outside of it, getting out the news.

I think Democracy Now! is doing important work and making a difference.

I will agree with Mike completely that the youth of the country have turned against the war.

But I think about the people I encounter. I'm not referring to patients. I avoid writing about patients here even in oblique terms. But I'm thinking of people I know, that I encounter due to my career and these "professionals" . . .

I'm not seeing a lot of growing concern.

I agree 100% that the youth is active and they are doing wonderful things. But I really am a little depressed that a year after the massacre, I encounter ho-hums on Falluja from "professionals." Medical professionals, no less.

Which makes me think of how disgusted I am that people who are supposed to be healers and are supposed to do no harm are perfectly willing to pass on information that should be private to military intell to help with investigations. I'm disgusted that members of my profession are okay with helping military intell devise techniques, they word play it as something other than torture, and the various medical societies are not screaming to protest this.

Doctors are not supposed to be assisting a government to "extract" information. Certainly not assisting those using techniques like "water boarding."

I think people have woken up. I think a lot of people who felt that they were the only ones disagreeing with the adminstration have learned that they are not alone. That's very powerful and I'm not trying to mitigate the importance of that.

But the truth that the youth of America, as a group, can see so easily seems to escape some of my peers. People trained to heal and to help should never need anyone pointing out that they have crossed a line; it should be quite obvious to them.

I knew I would be depressed when this anniversary rolled around; however, I didn't realize I would be as depressed as I am.

Talking about this with peers today, on the phone, didn't help because I encountered far too many justifications and far too much timidity that offered "wait a few months" and other nonsense.

Reporters aren't the only embeds helping this war continue and that depresses me because it seems so plain to me that an oath we took to help crumbles in the face of 9/11 as people who are supposed to be professional abandon their professional stance and their designated role as healers to assist in some misguided (and illegal) war on terror.

That's the mood I'm in tonight. I'll probably put on a Stevie Nicks CD and try to go to sleep (Wild Heart or Belladonna).

Peace Quote from me:
Peace never comes to those who refuse to open their eyes.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Si Kahn & Elizabeth Minnich

What Mike and I are doing right now is noting two things from Democracy Now! as our "news" and then writing about something on our minds. I hope that switch doesn't bother anyone. We're just trying it out. So be sure to check Mike's site Mikey Likes It!

Iraqi: "Americans Bombed Everything, Our Houses Are Destroyed" (Democracy Now!):
Most communication to the Sunni towns of Husaybah and Qaim has been cut off. An Iraqi journalist in Husaybah told Al-Jazeera "The city is suffering a complete lack of all of life's basic necessities. There is no fuel and winter is upon us. There is no food and there are no services whatsoever, not even health services." The journalist said that ambulances have been unable to respond to emergencies because no movement is allowed in the city. "They destroyed Qaim, Americans bombed everything, our houses are destroyed, our children are victims and we want a solution," one resident told Reuters. "What do we have to do? We need a solution." Residents have been forced to flee the town on foot. The Associated Press reported that the U.S.-led forces warned over loudspeakers that anyone leaving the town in vehicles would be shot. The U.S. said Operation Steel Curtain was needed to stop foreign fighters from crossing the Syrian border. Meanwhile Sunni politicians criticized the U.S.-led attack. The head of the moderate Iraqi Islamic Party Mohsen Abdul-Hamid said "We reject all military operations directed against civilian targets because such acts lead to the killing of innocent people and the destruction of towns and cities."

Once Disgraced Iraqi Exile, Ahmed Chalabi, Returns to DC (Democracy Now!)
The former head of the Iraqi National Congress Ahmed Chalabi is heading to Washington this week for his first official trip in over two years. He is planning on speaking at the American Enterprise Institute on Wednesday and will be meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Treasury Secretary John Snow. Before the invasion of Iraq, Chalabi had close ties to the Pentagon as well as some reporters including Judith Miller of the New York Times. He has been accused of feeding fabricated information about Iraq's weapons capabilities to US intelligence agencies and to journalists ahead of the Iraq invasion. Questions have also arisen over his close ties to Iran. Over the weekend Chalabi was in Tehran for closed-door meetings with high-ranking Iranian officials including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Last year the Defense Intelligence Agency concluded Iranian intelligence had used aides of Chalabi to pass disinformation to the United States.

Here's something else I felt was worth noting.

"The Fox In The Henhouse: How Privatization Threatens Democracy" (Democracy Now!):
AMY GOODMAN: Elizabeth Minnich, talk about why you think this undermines democracy and how the media deals with this, if people in this country are understanding the shift of the public commons to the private sphere.
ELIZABETH MINNICH: The most important thing to emphasize over and over again is precisely that shift from the public, that which belongs to us, services, goods, values that we have held dear, that we have government established to protect and to provide for us, being opened up to for-profit exploitation, in which case two things key happen. One is, goods that are supposed to be for the people, that we set aside, that we established as rights for the people, which is democratic to the core, being taken over by for-profit corporations for private pockets, dispersed away from the people most directly affected. This is anti-democratic in the extreme.
The whole notion of shrinking government that they talk about? That’s not -- it's about shrinking government that’s responsive to the people. It's not about shrinking the powers of government. With the media, we see -- you know this, of course, infinitely better than I do -- but the whole notion of public airwaves, analogous strictly to public lands and to rights, to the exercise of freedom of the multiple kinds of freedom. Hand that over to for-profit, and it is by definition not run democratically.
AMY GOODMAN: Si Kahn, Hurricane Katrina, and how this fits into your picture?
SI KAHN: Amy, part what I love is the common argument that, oh, the administration wasn't prepared. They were absolutely prepared for Katrina, but they were prepared for an agenda that they were prepared to move. Here's what I think is remarkable about the Bush administration and their cronies. They take every disaster, they take every national trauma as an opportunity to move forward on a privatization agenda, a centralization agenda, an authoritarian agenda.
So, in Katrina, the response that we're seeing is not a humanitarian response, it's not a humane response. It is: Let's see how much contracts, sole source contracts, can be given to Halliburton, to Lockheed Martin, to Wal-Mart, to Home Depot. And we just see the proposal to take $2.6 billion to create vouchers that would allow the children of the Gulf Coast to go to private schools all over the country. The Bush administration has been struggling to privatize education. Let's say that for what it is: to destroy public education and to put education in the hands of for-profit corporations. And they're taking advantage of this extraordinary disaster, this human tragedy, to move $2.6 billion into private corporations for education.

I think the interview that's from is an important one. There are other parts to it that might make a better excerpt, so if you haven't watched, listened or read, you can use the link.

You can't trust regulation and privatize health and safety. It doesn't work that way. As pointed out in the interview, a business' concern is turning a profit. That's what they're focused on. That might work, or might not, with a department store but it does not work with public services. C.I.'s talked about this over at The Common Ills, especially in terms of the nineties "bible" Reinventing Government. The "left" that supported that nonsense allowed us to get where we are today, a place where Bully Boy can give the "corporations are more efficient" nonsense speech and everyone nods their heads.

Corporations are not better at serving a people. They aren't even good about serving their employees. They're good about paying the people at the top, giving out golden parachutes, declaring bankruptcies and insider trading. They're good at cutting corners to "keep down costs" (and raise pay for the people at the top).

But they cannot do the work of government. Look at Iraq and realize that we've destroyed their safety net as much as we can (we haven't destroyed their food program but we're still trying on that). We had a tag sale on all their public goods and let American corporations bid on the rights.
The result? Electricity still isn't up to the levels it was at under Saddam.

An idiot in the Times Saturday wrote breathlessly over how Iraq is now filled with "consumers."
I wonder whose ass she was kissing? (You can click here to read C.I.'s comments on the idiot from the paper thrilled about shootings at traffic stops.)

It's time for us to stop looking at privatization as some sort of wonder cure and instead take a hard look at the results which have not benefitted us. People have a right to expect certain things from their government. Certainly people in New Orleans had a right to expect that government would have taken the needed steps to present the non-natural disaster that killed many and left many more homeless.

I'm backed up on reading, but I am going to make a point to pick up Kahn and Minnich's book entitled The Fox In The Henhouse.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
There is no time left for anything but to make peace work a dimension of our every waking activity.