Usually on Monday's, I offer a summary of radio program. I wasn't able to listen today. I did go into work (C.I.'s correct that to back out of sessions, I need a huge lead time in terms of a heads up). Friday, I had told Sunny to take the day off because she wanted to take part and there was no reason in both of us missing out. (Take part in the immigration rallies today, I'm starting mid-stream.) Though I wasn't able to "call off," I did avoid purchasing anything. Even when temptation was there -- I had packed a lunch and the yogurt had gone bad (or was bad when I purchased it last night) and it just contaminated the fruits (an orange and an apple) -- or I felt it did. I could smell the sour smell on them. Probably that was in my mind. I was going over some paperwork (billing paper work) and reached for the phone. I forgot until I'd dialed "no purchases." So I hung up.
Sunny does a huge job and that's clear when she's there but, when she's not, it's even more so. When she first started (a few years back), I'd walk through during the day, and she'd always jerk and hide her book or her magazine. When I realized that was what was going on (I'd thought she just startled easily), I told her, "If you can do your job and read at your desk or whatever, don't worry about it." She can do that and a great deal more. There are moments that I know must be deadly boring but there are also hectic times and she handles it all. So, Sunny, if you read this tomorrow in the office, again, "Thank you, for all you do."
I tried to pay attention to Democracy Now!, I did have it on, but there was just too much to do today. I got a better idea of the show, in fact, when Mike and I were reading over the headlines this evening to select what we'd highlight. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for his thoughts.
"Three Years Ago: Bush Declared Missions Accomplished in Iraq" (Democracy Now!):
In news on Iraq, it was three years ago today that President Bush declared mission accomplished and major combat operations over. Meanwhile the U.S. death toll in Iraq has topped 2,400. 70 soldiers died in April making it the deadliest month for U.S. troops so far this year.
I heard the 2,400 number from C.I. this weekend. I remember we all just sort of stared. What do you say to that? The war was an illegal one built upon lies. Remember when the 2000 mark was news? Or the 1000 mark? Or when we were at 700 and whatever and Nightline did the special noting the name of each American troop who had died in Iraq?
On the 70 in April, I'll wait a few days. I know the official count is "fudged" since you have to die while in Iraq. If you're transported out of the country and die while receiving medical treatment or die later from your wounds (and you're not in Iraq), you don't go into that total. But the administration also has a habit of a few days into a new month, after the total's been reported, suddenly releasing news of other deaths for the previous month.
On the issue of the dying itself, I don't know. A peace movement doesn't happen overnight. That I know. But there are times, with the mainstream media, that you have to wonder are they even living in the same world? (Probably not, press passes squeak a lot of wheels.) I think the alternative media has been good about getting the word out. Better than good, they've done an excellent job. Amy Goodman tops the list but everyone has done a wonderful job. The peace movement itself has done a wonderful job, especially when you consider what it's been up against. I'm a huge supporter of United for Peace and Justice. That said, I do think new life needs to be brought into the demonstrations.
Check "Music Roundtable" for thoughts on that. I'll also add that after the roundtable was done, Jayson reminded Wally and I of another comment we were hearing. I wished he'd spoken up in the roundtable. A lot of people we spoke to were bothered by the demonstration on Sunday. The peace rally was known for some time, the rallies going on today were announced ahead of time. I have no idea when the Darfur rally was announced but people we spoke to said it was put together quickly and that they were really offended that they would "split" the causes like that. If you were traveling to either demonstration Saturday or Sunday, more than likely, you had to make a choice. Will I go to DC? Will I go to NYC?
When Jayson brought that up, I think C.I. said it best: "If you've got the Monterey Pop Festival on Saturday and Woodstock on Monday, you don't try to squeeze in Live Aid on Sunday." Regardless of when it was planned, I think it hurt. I think it hurt it's own cause and I think it hurt the peace rally. In terms of hurting it's own cause, there were people Wally, Jayson and I spoke to who would have liked to have attended. "Why did it have to be this weekend?" was the question repeated on that. I would have tried to attend. (C.I. did.) If it was another day, I would have tried to attend. It hurt the peace event if there were people who made the choice to go to DC that would have been in NYC if the two events hadn't been one right after the other. It hurt both causes because they were weekend events which were not going to get much press attention (print) until Monday. So on Monday, they were competing with one another for limited press coverage. (Though Darfur got more because it had the political approval of some elected officials.) I hope they had more than the "tens of thousands" that was used. The peace rally had 350,000 people and some press reports were saying "tens of thousands" early on. (We checked for figures at the event and were told at least 300,000 so that's what we went with at The Third Estate Sunday Review, but the figure is over 350,000.)
It may not have hurt attendence in NYC. Jess called when I was leaving the office this evening and from the reports and photos the press has run, it was a different crowd. But there were people at the NYC event that would have liked to have attended the DC one if there had been more space between the two. Jess asked what I thought of a musical for The Third Estate Sunday Review this week? He's run the idea by Kat, Rebecca and C.I. and they're fine with it. (The four of them even have one song roughed out.) (That may seem off topic, but if the song is used, you'll see it isn't.) I'm all for it. I think it would be an interesting and creative way to address events and I think we sorely need to interject news elements into the movement. As I noted in "Music Roundtable," there was a feeling of burnout on the part of some who attended. That doesn't need to set in. (I am not insulting the demonstration. I give praise to everyone who organized it, worked on it and attended. It was a wonderful moment. But it needs to be built upon.)
"Report: Bush Claims Authority To Disobey Over 750 Laws" (Democracy Now!):
A major investigation by the Boston Globe has revealed President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office. In each case the president has issued a so-called "signing statement" that asserts that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution. According to the Globe, Bush has issued a signing statement to more than one of every 10 bills he has signed. Bush has said he can ignore Congress' ban on torture as well as Congressional oversight of the Patriot Act. Bush has also said he can ignore laws forbidding US troops from engaging in combat in Colombia and any attempt by Congress to oversee what happens in military prisons such as Abu Ghraib. NYU law professor David Golove has warned that Bush's actions threaten to overturn the existing structures of constitutional law. Golove said that having a president who ignores the court, backed by a Congress that is unwilling to challenge him can make the Constitution simply ''disappear."
Of course he does. Just as he bragged to Tom Brokaw that he seeks out a "higher" father than his own, he doesn't feel bound by laws. When you can talk to God, why bother with the Constitution? Does God speak back? Or does Bully Boy have to do both parts? (As Diane Keaton jokes in Love and Death.) We are in a very dangerous area right now. Those screaming for force regarding Darfur not only fail to grasp that there has been no real attempt at peaceful means from foreign countries, they also appear unaware of the damage an unbound Bully Boy can bring.
"Sarandon tells of Iraq death threat" (Anushka Asthana, The Observer):
But she said that every time anything happened the Republicans would 'try to play that card' and criticised the Democrats for failing to stand up to Bush. 'There was no reason for Hillary Clinton, for instance, to vote (for the war), for John Kerry to vote, they were protecting their reputations. They crumbled under the pressure and it was a very lonely, very scary time to ask a question. That's a horrible condition to exist in a democracy.'
That was almost the reality quote for the night. Susan Sarandon spoke up and suffered extreme attacks for it. Not just from "talk radio" in the traditional sense. She was trashed by sports radio, the United Way made a point to draw a line between her and themselves. (Thereby losing any support from me. I had contributed despite the corruption scandals. When they drew their line and she was uninvited from the Florida event, they lost my support.)
That's what discourages me actually. This is the media we're speaking of. Bully Boy can bluster and lie but the media failed to keep him in check and allowed a climate to build where someone speaking out (Sarandon, Tim Robbins, the Dixie Chicks, Linda Ronstadt, go down the list) could be attacked openly, vicisouly in ways that you'd never imagine. (On Linda, C.I. would point out that the media reports were largely wrong on what actually happened. That was true of the "reporting" on Pearl Jam as well.)
Let me talk Pearl Jam for a minute. There's a little __ that C.I. and I know. I think she's the most fake person in the world and have thought that for years. (I observed her, years ago, at a party going on repeatedly about how good she was. Someone who's actually trying to do good neither needs to give themselves so much p.r. or to obsess over it.) To this day, she mainstains she's a hippie. (I have no problems with hippies. Real ones.) But she drives her gas guzzling, V6, SUV that she really doesn't need. She was a huge Pearl Jam fan. But she voted Bully Boy. In 2000 and 2004. Her big "issue" was the death penalty. I am opposed to the death penalty. I am not someone, however, who acts as though no crime was committed. She got close to someone on death row who was guilty, admitted he was guilty (of multiple murders) and expressed no regret. It was one of those "I'm bored with my kids, bored with my husband and bored with the boards I sit on" projects. She tried to get his journal published but kept running into a problem because there was interest, in publishing it in full. But she wanted to censor the parts where he was talking about what he did. Not because he expressed no remorse. (He didn't express any remorse, I know because she shoved it off on me after the execution thinking I could find some psychological meaning that would demonstrate that, somewhere in the subtext, he had.)
So my point here is, she lies to herself (to this day) about his guilt. (It's in his journal and, as far as I know, he didn't attempt to deny it at any point prior to the journal -- which he started after he was on death row.) So when she was voting Bully Boy in 2000 (I found out before C.I. because C.I.'s more clever about avoiding contact with her), I said to her, "Your issue is the death penalty. How can you vote for him with his record as governor?" She knew nothing about it. She didn't know about Carla Fay Tucker or anyone. When I told her about Tucker, she said it wasn't true. When I sent her press clippings, she responded they were lies.
Her Bully Boy would never do that. She was a huge fan of Pearl Jam, or Eddie Vedder at least, whom she was always attempting to invent ways to meet. (She did manage to get backstage at a few concerts -- rather sad considering her age, intent and the fact that she was married.) But she wrote off Pearl Jam after the press reports on the Colorado concert. I think it was a few months after when I made the mistake of picking up the phone without checking the caller ID.
(Besides changing the unlisted phone numbers regularly, C.I. has a system -- number of rings and pattern -- otherwise the service picks up. I should do something similar.) So I brought up Pearl Jam on the phone to her. Our "hippie" says they need to be run out of the country.
What's so funny about intolerance, liars and the aging deluded?
She explained she's even tossed away her DVD of Dead Man Walking. (A big thing for her due to the nature of the film.) Because of what Susan Sarandon had said publicly.
That's the Bully Boy crowd, the ones still hanging with him. I know Republicans who broke with him long ago. They stopped supporting him, they think there's nothing conservative about him. But if you're wondering who those people are who still delude themselves, that's her. They go through a pot phase every few years so they can still be "free spirits." They sell out their beliefs because "9/11 changed everything" and they lie about their hero the way they lie about their own lives. (If her husband reads this and thinks, "That's my wife!" -- oh well. Why did you think she was going all over the country on that one Pearl Jam tour? They weren't the Grateful Dead.)
They've given up cigarettes and look down on smokers. But they take a toke or two or three or four or more. Sometimes it means that their kids don't see them until noon. (The "help" can take care of breakfast.) Mommy's a little too strung out from her latest pot binge to cope. They'd leave their husbands if it didn't mean a loss in status and a loss in lifestyle (money). Those tax breaks are real important to them because it really is all about the money.
At one point she was involved in a huge land development deal (meaning her husband was) and our "hippie" had no qualms about destroying all those trees. "If we don't do this, someone else will. We'll do it right." By making it friendly to the environment? No. By tossing out a few bills to Greenpeace afterwards to purge any guilt.
That's who continues to stick by and stick up for him. They're law and order folks, except when they're toking. They're believers in the abolition of the death penalty, except they don't blame anyone actually responsible for the executions. They're environmentalists, until money enters the picture. They're happily married, as they unsuccessfully travel across the country attempting to bed a rock star. They're parents, who have trouble remembering their children's birthdays. (Thank God for the "help!")
They're also your "friend" -- when they need something. She only calls when she's traveling east and needs something from me. In terms of physical distance, she's closer to C.I. and I'm still amazed at how C.I. successfully avoids her. That may have to do somewhat with her attempts to crash a big party in 2005. She was turned away by security. I heard about it after. (I was at the party.) I said to C.I., "Why didn't you let me know!" I really would have enjoyed seeing that, especially so soon after the 2004 election. At some point, our side has to win a few. But I did hear about it at least. A month later, from her. How mortified she was because she'd brought a "few" friends. She kept explaining that, no, she didn't have an invitation but surely she was on the list.
I've just gone on at the mouth, haven't I? It was a long day. (Again, Sunny, "Thank you, you do an amazing job.") During lunch, Sunny and I talk about various things while we've got Democracy Now! on. (But never about work.) I'm also usually able to make a few calls during work (personal ones). Until I was leaving and Jess phoned, I had been in listening mode all day. So, if this has been too much chatter for you, my apologies.
Two bits of reality and then I'll post.
"Iraq snapshot" ("Democracy Now: James Green looks at May Day -- what happened, how it was reported," The Common Ills):
As May Day is celebrated even in Iraq (national holiday) but not, apparently, today, the Associated Press reports that at least 200 Shi'ites demonstrated on the edges of the heavily Green Zone area of Baghdad "to demand that U.S. and Iraqi forces do more to stop insurgents attacks." This as China's People's Daily Online notes the United Kingdom's stated intent to draw down their troops in Iraq "to 800 next month" (from 8,000 currently). Meanwhile, FOCUS News Agency notes that Denmark's 539 troops may be reduced to 400 this month (May 18th). AFP reminds that it was three years today that Bully Boy stood in front of the "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln to state: "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."
Far from Bully Boy's dress up and pretend, chaos and violence continues. In Baghdad, Reuters reports that "[t]he wife and daughter of a former construction and houseing minister Omar al-Damluji were kidnapped" Sunday. Today, in Hawija, at least four were wounded when a roadside bomb went off near "an art college." The Associated Press notes that, in Haqlaniyah, a US military base was fired on ("two mortar shells"). Reuters reports that at least "[e]ight members of the Interior Ministry commandos" were wounded from a roadside bomb that went off in Samarra. Tikrit was also an area where roadside bombs exploded (no wounded or dead reported). In Iskandariya, at least one civilian was killed and two injured in a car bombing that also took the life of the person in the car.
In Baghdad today, the Associated Press reports three corpses were discovered, "handcuffed and blindfolded" and that a Shi'ite store owner has died as a result of a drive-by shooting. At least two have been wounded in the three roadside bombs that have gone off today in Baghdad.
In the latest news on Australian solider Jake Kovco, who died in Baghdad on April 21st, despite Australian Defense Minister Brendan Nelson's assertion (which is a bit of a twist on his past claims last week) that Kovco died from an "accidental firing of the weapon he was handling," reports on the autopsy do not, thus far, support that assertion. Reporting for the Sydney Morning Herald, Les Kennedy, Tom Allard and Cynthia Banham note: "THE forensic examination of Jacob Kovco's body revealed no evidence of burn marks near the wound, indicating the weapon that killed him was not fired close to his head. The finding appears to make it less likely that the young sniper -- Australia's first military fatality in Iraq -- committed suicide." Kennedy, Allard and Banham note that the bullet is missing and that, as the outrage over the death of Kovco, Australian's Prime Minister John Howard has announced that he will be attending the funeral. Jake Kovco is the first Australian soldier to die in Iraq.
Back in Iraq, the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the US army is concerned with "Chicago gang graffiti" popping up throughout Iraq. And in the United States, as Bully Boy, who, again, exactly three years go declared "major combat operations," used the anniversary of that shameful moment to delcare his "confidence" in Iraqi leadership (or "leadership"). His new faith-based remarks come as CNN reports on their latest poll which found that 44% of Americans surveyed (4.5% +/- margin of error) "said the United States would never accomplish its goals in Iraq" and 40% of optimistic souls selected the "someday" option (someday goals will be accomplished). Bully Boy's at 32% approval rating in the poll and 55% of Americans chose the option of "the United States made a mistake by invading Iraq."
I think everyone who slammed Susan Sarandon or anyone else should be forced to read that -- out loud. In front of people. They should have to read it and then think about the way they attacked those who were speaking out against the war, the ones who have turned out to be right.
No peace quote tonight. I'm not in a peaceful mood. (Can you tell?) (That parenthetical was a joke.) Instead a reality quote.
"Reality Check" (Cindy Sheehan, "Mission Accomplished," BuzzFlash):
Before we the people need to be subjected to another swaggering spectacle from George after he has bombed Iran back into the stone ages and has made we the people of the United States of America even more hated around the world, it is time to rein him in ourselves. Congress won't do it and the media is falling into lockstep behind the murder again.
It is time to fire the warniks whose bloodlust cannot be slated and hire people who will finally use their wisdom, integrity, and non-violence to solve problems, and won't create imaginary problems out of smoke and mirrors. We need a Congress that will hold George accountable not one that is complicit in the war crimes.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said: "We must live together as brothers, or perish together as fools." God protect us from the fools that we elected to protect us!