Friday, June 16, 2006

"The American people are demanding answers" (Barbara Lee)

Note: I didn't proof read this at all. I had trouble getting in for hours, when I finally got in, I added one paragraph and quickly posted. I'm trying to catch the errors now.

I started this post last night and had the worst time pulling it up today. Thanks to everyone who helped for their help. Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts and thank you to him and to Nina for listening at various stages to the item before the Iraq snapshot.

"Congress Debates Iraq War As US Death Toll Reaches 2500" (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced Thursday the US death toll in Iraq has now reached 2500. The milestone was reached on the same day the Iraq war was the subject of intense debate in both Houses of Congress. In the Senate, lawmakers voted ninety-three to six against a measure to withdraw US troops by the end of the year. The measure was introduced by Republicans who claimed to be acting upon a proposal by Senator John Kerry. Five Democrats -- Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Barbara Boxer of California, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Tom Harkin of Iowa and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts joined Kerry in voting for withdrawal. The House is expected to vote on its own Iraq resolution today. On Thursday, Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert urged lawmakers to support the measure.
House Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert: "They know their sacrifices on foreign shores are keeping the battle against terrorists out of our cities. They know by going in to harm's way, they are keeping Americans safe, and they know that they are helping a proud, but brutalised people to throw off tyranny and stand tall once again. They know that they are liberators, not occupiers. Our men and women in uniform know all this and they are proud of it. It's time for this House of Representatives to tell the world they we know it too - that we know our cause is right, and that we are proud of it. Stand up for freedom. Adopt this resolution."
Democrats have accused Republicans of constraining debate by focusing the measure on the so-called war on terror rather than the Iraq war. House rules also prevent Democrats from proposing amendments or alternative resolutions. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi voiced the Democrats' concerns.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: "The entire country is debating the war in Iraq, except the House of Representatives. So finally this debate was going to come to the floor, and then -- a little while, within the past week, well it's going to be about this and that and other things as well because they know the case against this war is so incriminating that they really shouldn't want to bring it to the floor, so they've now expanded what the debate will be about."

Nothing but a big show. There was no concern for the Iraqis in those voting for the ridiculous declaration that we will "win!" We won't, so when they don't, will Ann Coulter be allowed to prosecute returning soldiers in a manner similar to when she screamed at the Vietnam vet that he was the reason "we" -- apparently Ann was armed in the crib, which may not be that surprising -- lost? Who knows? I found Pelosi's comment interesting. It's true, this discussion is going on all around the country. But if you read Ruth's Public Radio Report from last Saturday, you know that Ruth Conniff didn't feel it was.

I'm kind of ticked off that Ruth Conniff was linked to (by me) this week. I enjoyed the column but I was on the phone with C.I. Wednesday and I pointed out that Matthew Rothschild hadn't been linked to once this week at The Common Ills. C.I. said no links to the site were happening until next week and gave the reason (I'll explain Monday). C.I. said Rothschild or Ruth Conniff could have had a link via Common Dreams but there was no way that a link was going to that site until Monday afternoon. When I found out why, I thought, "I can't believe I linked." I called Ruth (our Ruth) to warn her. (She could link and C.I. would post it. But, like me, she wouldn't want to link this week.) I didn't know that she even would have a reason to this report but I wanted to be sure to give her a heads up so she didn't feel like an idiot (the way I do -- I take my feminism very seriously). There was a program that Ruth was going to check out but avoided as a result of the heads up from me. But I could bang my head against the wall right now (for linking).

"Iraq VP Asks Bush For Withdrawal Timetable" (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile, a leading Iraqi official has asked the US for a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign troops. The government says Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi made the request during a meeting with President Bush Tuesday. In a statement, President Jalal Talabani said he supported Hashimi's demand. The Bush administration has firmly rejected calls for a timetable for withdrawal.

While Republicans postured in the House, look at the above item one more time and say that it's not a puppet government. The vice-president wants the US to set a timetable but in the US Congress today, it was "Who cares!"

"ACLU Sues Pentagon Over Peace Activist Spying" (Democracy Now!):
The American Civil Liberties Union has launched a lawsuit demanding the Pentagon turn over information it’s collected on anti-war groups. In December, NBC News revealed the existence of a secret Pentagon database to track intelligence gathered inside the United States including information on anti-war protests and rallies. The database included information on counter-military recruiting meetings held at a Quaker House in Florida and anti-nuclear protests staged in Nebraska. The ACLU has already filed suit against the FBI for spying on peace groups.

Read C.I.'s "On the Dangers of an Unchecked Bully Boy." I've just added it to the blogroll. (I have three pieces now that I feel are must reads and have linked to them individually. There are many others I could put up there but I think those three are must reads -- "Should this marriage be saved?" which is something Congress should have explored today instead of posturing; "Reading Press Releases Live From the Green Zone" -- which tells you all you need to know about supposedly 'brave' reporters; and now this one. Those are as important to me as Naomi Klein's "Baghdad Year Zero" is to C.I. Sunny pointed out that C.I. linked to it again *Friday* morning. That was the single most linked article at The Common Ills in 2005 and I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes the most linked to in 2006. (Though Beth tells me she thinks Elizabeth Holtzman's article on impeaching Bully Boy may give it a run for the money.)

I had several questions in e-mails today. First, Democracy Now!'s "Calls Grow Within American Psychological Association for Ban on Participation in Military Interrogations: A Debate" should be listened to (or watched or read) but I would've enjoyed it more if a stronger aspect *would have been explored:* who supports using psychologists in Guantanamo. This is a leadership issue. To back up, click here for a summary of Jane Mayer's article as well as links to a two-part interview that Amy Goodman did with her. But people involved in deciding whether or not psychologists should be participating in this include . . . those who are participating in it currently. I don't know that the issue could have been brought up with the panel today but I hope it will be followed up on because that's at the heart of the resistance to do anything.

When I wrote of this at length here (Christmas Eve), I noted Jonathan H. Marks' "The Silence of the Doctors" and the key statement (by me) was this:

Marks notes that the American Psychiatric Association, Physicians for Human Rights, and Physicians for Social Responsibility have spoken out against medical professional participating in programs that aid torture; however, the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have struggled (to put it mildly) to find their voice. As C.I. noted (no link because I'm rushing to finish this) at some point, Marks does as well, the American Psychological Association included on its task force to explore this issue "psychologists who work or have worked for the military -- in some cases at SERE schools."

Those already participating should not be allowed to serve on a task force that's making an ethical finding on the actions. They can be witnesses and provide testimony but there's an appearance of built in bias that should be avoided. Some would argue it is a bias. I would not shout anyone down making that point. But to get someone to admit their own bias is a difficult task, it's much easier to note the appearance of a conflict of interest and demand that they be excused from the task for that reason.

This website was provided to lobby the American Psychological Association to make a strong statement, an official position, regarding Guantanamo:

I had two e-mails regarding C.I.'s "Talking Post." Would I note Seth in the City if he blogged again? I'd like to say, "If it was something of value and I had time, yes." But the reality is probably not. There's too much bad history.

Both e-mails were from community members and they were glad C.I. wrote the entry. They also felt C.I. was "tough on him and he needed it." C.I. actually wasn't tough. That's not an insult to C.I. If you knew the full thing, you'd know why that wasn't tough. It was tough enough to get the message across but C.I. could have said a great deal more.

A lot of people felt screwed over and three examples were provided. C.I. really didn't talk about *it* from C.I.'s perspective. If that had happened, it would have been much tougher. How so?

I'll note some superficial examples and please know that if I'm noting these-- there are much stronger examples. Trina's Kitchen. That site starts up and there's no link on the blogger's blogroll for her. For several weeks. When Seth in the City went up, we all immediately linked. C.I. had to push and prod to get Trina linked. (Trina had linked to Seth in the City before she ever did her first post.) So there was a feeling of, "What's the struggle?" C.I. hates to go into the template at The Common Ills and will use any excuse to avoid doing so (I'm the same way), but if a site starts up from the community, C.I. immediately links to it and also sends out an e-mail to say, "Heads up, we all need to link . . ."

In the early days, when the blogger posted, if he posted anything, *even* three lines about how he was too busy to post and would post the next day (which never happened in most cases), everyone would link to it. It would get highlighted at The Third Estate Sunday Review by reposting. But there were sites that were noted once, if at all, at Seth in the City. I know Cedric was bothered and I know Cedric spoke to C.I. about it. Why? Cedric was working Seth in the City more than anyone except C.I. and wasn't just tossing out links, Cedric would build on something the blogger had blogged on and try to both create excitement for that site and to provide a kind of call-and-response between the two of them. If you go to *Cedric's site*, you'll see Cedric did seven links. (Rather amazing since Seth in the City never wrote more than three times a month.) Seth in the City provided zero links to Cedric in posts. Zero.

Cedric wondered what he had done to upset the blogger. Since for over six months, Cedric's name was also mispelled on the blogroll ("Cedirc's Big Mix"), he was bothered. Or take Wally who started The Daily Jot on October 15, 2005 and wasn't added to Seth in the City's blogroll until . . . November 23, 2005. That stuff adds up. Cedric, Trina, Wally. It was nothing for him to go 20 or so days without posting (again three posts in one month was considered heavy posting for that site) and he might argue, "Well, I wasn't blogging." Wrong, he blogged on November 4th, November 2nd, October 27th and October 18th. There was no reason not to add Wally to his blogroll (Wally had Seth in the City on his blogroll from day one). Me? I was in a tag once. Why? I have no idea. He never highlighted anything I wrote. But he did one post where he didn't write about me or provide a link to me but he tagged to me. I have no idea why.

I have no idea why he posted so irregularly. I think every third post was an apology for not posting (and a promise to post more). Betty posts at least once a week and she's raising three kids by herself, working full time, etc. but she can get a post up. She slaves over those and tears apart more than she ever posts. But she posts. Since he did not post daily, did not post week-daily, did not post weekly and had no sort of schedule at all, it was felt by a few that he was getting an audience, when he would post, because we all linked to him.

There were a lot of things that C.I. could have gone into (and there's much more than I've noted here) so I don't think it was C.I. being "tough" on him. I think C.I. said as little as necessary and only did that because Seth the community member finally gave permission for something to be said. *Seth the community member is not Seth in the City. For whatever reason, the blogger used "Seth" and it led to confusion for many members.*

Seth in the City came into the community, wanted to start a site, got it promoted at all the community sites and didn't do that much for the community. In April he posted four times. (At least one was "I'm too busy to post" for three lines.) Mike pointed out that he never highlighted one thing C.I. wrote that whole time. He did highlight newspaper stories, he did highlight sites outside the community.

We all note C.I. That's because C.I. posts more than any of us. That's because The Common Ills is the biggest site in the community. It helps to the community to keep it growing. (Which is why we always ignore C.I.'s request not to highlight The Common Ills.) That's because C.I. tackles strong issues when we may blow off the day (that's all of us, myself included). That's because none of us would have a site if The Common Ills hadn't come first.

What I saw was someone who wanted to be big in the blog world and was a little resentful of C.I.'s success. That really bothered a lot of people (Jim was the most vocal). There were some angry e-mails that several of us know of. (Yes, Ava and Jess work all the e-mail accounts for The Common Ills, public and private.) We took offense, everyone but C.I. who only takes offense when comments are made about someone else, at comments about the lack of e-mails *the blogger was receiving* in a competitive manner. As though the blogger was in competition with C.I.

I'm sorry, you can't come along after The Common Ills has been running for almost a year, after C.I.'s been posting three times a day minimum, and then you write three times a month or twice and expect to have C.I.'s audience. You can't expect for any reason. There was a downgrading of what C.I. does in the e-mails *the blogger sent to C.I. * and we all took offense to it. (All but C.I. but if C.I. took offense to everyone who's ever been jealous . . . I don't care for those people. I didn't care for them in college when they'd try to blame C.I. for the fact that they weren't as popular as C.I. or didn't ace the classes the way C.I. did, or whatever. If anyone ever told me that I was the reason they were having problems/failures, I would have responded, "Then don't hang around me." C.I., always the first to grab the blame, would immediately leap to the conclusion of self-blame instead of saying, "Grow up. You're responsible for your life, not me.")

Supposedly, the blogger will blog again. That was made very clear in an e-mail where C.I.'s writing was insulted, C.I.'s politics were insulted, and C.I. was insulted. If someone wrote an e-mail like that to me, it would be posted here and I would respond line by line. C.I. never even spoke of it and when it became obvious we all knew of it, C.I. said "I don't want to discuss it. End of story." That wasn't this month. That wasn't last month. That was back in April.

The two who wrote were glad that C.I. was tough. If anyone thinks C.I. was tough, they need to accept that C.I. wrote as little as possible.

That's not me slamming C.I. for doing that. That is me saying that if C.I. wanted to tear apart that blogger, it could have happened. The blogger thought he was smarter than C.I., thought he was going to demonstrate that and when it didn't happen, he got rude. Repeatedly. You don't get any of that from C.I.'s entry. What you get is: "I don't know when he's going to blog, but I'll note it if he does, if you have questions, ask him."

What C.I. did note was where people were specifically put out due to the blogger: Cedric, Dona and Mike. There is no good will there now. I've spoken to all three and I can tell you that. Dona was furious about contributions that never came or involvement that never showed up. That's why she closed the *process of turning out an edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review.* She exploded during one session when she had enough and said, "That's it, no more. Never again." People read that, without understanding who it was directed to, and some wrote her e-mails calling her a "bitch" and much worse. When C.I. found out about any of those e-mails, if they were from a community member, C.I. would write them and say, "You don't know what prompted that. It wasn't directed at the community. You need to apologize."

Those who realized something was wrong, those in the community, began noting that Cedric was never noted and that Betty was only noted once. (They, like me, were also tags in a post that never mentioned or linked to us.) It became a question of, "Is this an issue of racism?" Betty's doing a comic, online novel. She's working from an outline and it's very hard for her to work people in (especially if, like with Seth, she doesn't know them). But she worked Seth in. There was no sense of appreciation for that. (I'm a character in her novel and I appreciate that. I know she worked very hard to put me in and redid her outline as a result. My character will figure in with a plot twist coming up next month.) Whenever she can work in a party, she works in as many "characters" from community sites as she can. Ty and Jess are neighbors. Rebecca's the one Thomas Friedman drools over (or her breasts), go down the list. It's a lot of work. She links to Mike within posts. She tries very hard to never do a chapter that doesn't contain at least two links to the community.

Why? Because she knows the other sites are where the announcements go up: Betty's got a new chapter at Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man.

So this idea that everytime he wrote three or four lines, the whole community was supposed to note him did not go over well. Besides C.I., the only one who knew him was Rebecca and both knew him only slightly. (He popped up weeks before he started the site.) Rebecca was the one who felt it would go out ugly and she made a point of telling C.I. that in November with all of us present. She said she hoped she was wrong but that she felt the site would die quickly and that before it did, a lot of ugly e-mails would come in from the blogger where he blamed C.I. for everything that he didn't have: a ton of readers, a lot of posts, . . . All the things that were his fault, not C.I.'s. Rebecca called it in November and she was correct.

I've gone on too long but it was stressed to me by a number of people that I'm the only one who can write about it at length and "get away with it." C.I. won't be mad at me. I'm out of it enough that I'm not writing from one persective. Ava and Jess don't make a point to tell everyone about e-mails. In fact, they've not done so. They only did with regards to that blogger because he had already pissed off everyone at The Third Estate Sunday Review and because his e-mails were so filled with blame at C.I. -- where everything C.I. did was a personal insult to the blogger's life. It was an insult that C.I. posted regularly, it was an insult that C.I. has so many readers, it was . . .

I'm known for not caring if I'm linked to. I don't think I do anything special and only blogged to fill in for Rebecca while she was on vacation and then, started this site, because Mike spearheaded that petition drive. I don't think I offer anything wonderful or even okay here. I'm always surprised anyone bothers to read it.

But the community was very supportive when I filled in for Rebecca and I appreciated that so I'll string a few minor thoughts together four times a week. Meaning? I'm not upset that he didn't link to me. I didn't even notice. Jim was one the who pointed it out to me today. My reply was, "I don't think I've done anything worth linking to." Which isn't false modesty. I was, however, outraged when Jim told me the lack of links to The Common Ills. Call it the community flagship, call it whatever, but don't try to take a free ride on the community C.I. built.

C.I. built a community. There's not anyone blogging in this community that isn't aware of that or appreciative of it. Jim pointed out on the phone that they got 100 e-mails the day after C.I. noted the latest contents of the edition. That was Wednesday. C.I. notes and the community makes a point to go visit. They don't do that for sites outside the community. With those links, most people just read the excerpt and leave it at that. But if C.I. plugs you and you're a community site, you get 'traffic.' So to take traffic and not give anything back is just rude.

If you want to know why you don't have evening posts most evenings at The Common Ills, well, when someone whines/snarls that they had planned to blog but now they can't because C.I. covered it, C.I.'s attitude isn't, "Well write what you think, no one's stopping you." C.I.'s response is to think, "Oh my God, I'm preventing others from blogging." When there's blame offered, C.I. will go back for seconds.

That has to do with starting out with a number of . . . I'll say benefits (I'm talking off line and starting off means "from birth"). There was always a sense instilled in C.I. that you've got things that others will never have and you don't take those benefits for granted, they're a responsibility. That's why what most people (including me) would see as an attack is usually seen by C.I. as, "Okay, what have I done wrong? How can I fix this?"

In college, Rebecca and I saw it over and over. Someone would latch on and try to ease into our crowd. They's start off like C.I.'s new best friend and, within weeks, they'd be trashing C.I. They'd start it off as a joke, "I'm just being silly," and then it would become ugly. C.I. always would argue, when it was noted, that the person was just insecure and give a little space for the security, it will come. That never happened. People would turn against the person and then that was C.I.'s fault as well, in the person's mind and remarks.

It wasn't. C.I. never asked that someone be dropped from the circle, C.I. never insulted them behind their backs. C.I. would usually attempt to include them even after the rest of us had dropped them. I don't think that stems from a lack of self-worth, I think it stems from the lessons instilled that not everyone gets the same breaks.

A few years back (probably 2002 because C.I.'s sole focus has been the war since Feb. 2003 for the most part), C.I. helped a friend (I'd say "friend") with a script. It was a mess. It had no ending, it had no point. (I was present, as a house guest, for the reworking.) C.I. pulled that thing into order, taking a supporting character and making it a lead, creating plot developments, adding scenes, creating different voices for the characters, go down the list. The script was successful. Is the "friend" grateful?

No. Instead, the person showed up at Thanksgiving, while I was visiting C.I., griping about how if C.I. wasn't focusing on the war, the person wouldn't be struggling with a script. For three years now, struggling. C.I. didn't get any credit for reworking the successful script. Not a credit, not money, not even a decent "Thank you." But that person thinks he can bellow and scream (at Thanksgiving, mind you) and force C.I. into turning his bad writing into gold. (Again!) (This is not the person that C.I. helped last weekend. With the person last weekend, C.I. was a sounding board. With the cry baby, C.I. was co-writer. I was there, I heard every scene written as C.I. paced around becoming each character and giving them a voice. The 'writer' only had input by saying: "Wait! Wait, go back to that! I didn't get it down" as he scribbled down every scene C.I. created from scratch or took what was on the page and turned it completely around.)

So it was thought that only Rebecca or I could write of this because we've seen it play out so many times. Rebecca said she'd be glad to do it but she would end up with a very angry post. I'm not angry. I just don't see the need for the nonsenese the blogger pulled. He hurt a lot of feelings when he was blogging and he ended up lashing out at C.I. near the end. Outside of C.I., I don't know that anyone would link to him. He's brought that on himself.

"Iraq snapshot" ("Democracy Now: Rachel Meeropol and a debate on medical ethics re: Guantanamo," The Common Ills):
Iraq snapshot.
Though it garners no mention on the front page of the New York Times today (headline or text), the Pentagon announced yesterday that
the American troop fatality count in Iraq had reached 2500. That wasn't judged to be "news." 'Officials say . . .,' however, was. Congress can take a moment to observe the milestone but the paper of record?
Bombings, kidnappings, corpses discovered -- chaos and violence continues in Iraq.
Al Jazeera reports that Hasan Eskinutlu, a Turkish technical expert, and a translator have been kidnapped by the Imam Ali Brigade "demanding the withdrawal of Ankara's ambassador from Iraq." Reuters notes that the kidnappers are also demanding "the release of Iraqi prisoners in U.S. and Iraqi jails." That kidnapping took place Thursday and was announced today. The AFP reports that today nine people were kidnapped in villages south of Baghdad by "Gunmen."
Corpses? Pakistan's
Pak Tribune notes that three corpses were discovered ("signs of torture with bullets in the head and chest").
Bombings? In Baghdad, at least eleven are dead
according to the AFP as a result of a bombing in "inside a massive Shiite mosque" which also resulted in at least 25 people wounded. Also in Baghdad, home of the 'crackdown,' "Mortar rounds," Reuters reports, claimed three lives. Xinhua notes that at least sixteen were wounded.
In Basra,
Reuters details the death of Yusif al-Hassan, a Sunni cleric and member of the Muslim Scholars Association at the hands of "[u]nknown gunmen".
Meanwhile the
AFP is reporting on rumors in the Japanese press that an annoucement is due out shortly that Japan will be withdrawing their troops from Iraq. The BBC reports assertions that the area of Muthanna will be turned over to Iraqi forces which ""British, Australian and Japanese troops [currently] control". This as China's People's Daily reports that Rodolfo Biazon, Fillipino senator, has stated that Blackwater will be able to "recruite and train people in the city [Subic] to work as mercenaries in war-torn Iraq" based on a new agreement.
BBC reports that another investigation into an incident involving the death of three Iraqis in US military custody has been launched "triggered by soldiers who raised suspiscions about the deaths" which took place in May.
Finally, as noted by Sandra Lupien on
KPFA's The Morning Show, the Republicans postured a great deal in the House this morning as they passed their resolution that troops will not be withdrawn early and that the so-called war on terror would be "won" -- John Murtha noted that those saying "Stay" weren't the ones at any risk. The Associated Press quotes Nancy Pelosi saying, "Stay the course, I don't think so Mr. President. It's time to face the facts. The war in Iraq has been a mistake. I say, a grotesque mistake." We'll close with something noted on KPFA's The Morning Show this morning and on KFPA's Evening News yesterday, Barabra Lee's statement which more than sums it all up:
The president and the Republican majority really refuse to level with the American people about when our troops are coming home, also really if they're coming home. And while we're debating this very bogus resolution, the most substantive decison on Iraq policy in very recent days was taken out by the Republican majority behind closed doors. They stripped from the war suplemental an amendment we offered to prevent the establishment of permanent military bases in Iraq. The American people don't want an open-ended war and occupation. Quietly removing a measure that was approved by both the House and the Senate is a gross abuse of the democratic process and is further evidence that the Republicans are afraid to level with the American people about their real plans for Iraq. Let me tell you, there will be a day of reckoning. The American people are demanding answers they deserve a truthful accounting of how we got into this unnecessary war, how the billions of dollars have been misspent, and when our troops are coming home. And also they really deserve to know if our troops are coming home given recent reports that the administration is considering leaving a permanent force of 50,000 troops in Iraq and indications that establishing permanent miliary bases are not off the table.