Mike and I are trying to blog quickly tonight. I'm over at his house (with my boyfriend "of the moment," as Rebecca calls him) because Trina (Mike's mother) wanted to try out a recipe and he's got a wonderful family (and a wonderful girlfriend, Nina is here before any rumors get started). Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's thoughts. Also, please note there is a joint collaboration between "BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX" today so please read Cedric's "White House thumbs its nose at the Supreme Court (Bully Boy Press & Cedric's Big Mix)" or Wally's "THIS JUST IN! THE WHITE HOUSE THUMBS ITS NOSE AT THE SUPREME COURT!" (it's a joint entry, they're the same). We all enjoy doing joint entries -- it's more fun to work with someone else and it also makes the time go by faster.
"Senate Rejects Iraq Withdrawal" (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, the Senate rejected two separate measures calling for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist: "None of us know for sure exactly how the democratic reform in Iraq will turn out as we stay committed. But, we do know it will fail if it is abandoned prematurely by the United States. Withdrawal is not an option. Surrender is not a solution."Both measures were proposed by Democrats. A proposal calling for a withdrawal without a firm deadline was defeated 60 to 39. Another measure calling for a troop withdrawal by July of next year was defeated by an even wider margin -- 89 to 13. The measure was introduced by Massachusets Senator John Kerry. Speaking on the Senate floor, Kerry argued that a firm timetable is necessary.
Senator John Kerry: "Why on earth would senators come to the floor and argue 'Let's just stay the course and do the same old thing' when our own generals have told us the same old thing is part of the part of the problem? The same old thing is attracting terrorists. The same old thing is losing us allies. The same old thing is costing us unbelievable sums of money and lives unnecessarily."
I feel like C.I. here, noting this, but, as Donovan sang, "And the war drags on . . ." The War Hawks, of both parties, should be ashamed of themselves. Sunny showed me a photo online this afternoon of Hillary Clinton speaking to the DLC front group New Democrats or whatever they go by. The photo, Sunny hissed, "Look at her face!" It was as though she had wallnuts in her mouth, on the side, down low. Maybe we all do get the face we deserve after a certain age?
Her face looked like someone determined to hoard everything, in secret. Sadly, that reflects Hillary Clinton today more than anything else. It was as though a blonde wig had been plopped onto Madeline Albright's head. There was a time when I found Hillary Clinton inspiring but that time was long ago. Really it was the 1992 campaign. I thought she was someone who spoke her mind and stuck by her beliefs. ("What was I supposed to do? Stay home and bake cookies?" didn't enrage me. I thought it was an honest moment and respected her for it.) There's something really sad about seeing her today because this is an educated woman who has had breaks from society and made the most of them. Today, she could be as inspiring as Barbara Boxer if she wanted to be. Instead, she can't speak out against the war, she can't speak of abortion without treating it as something shameful.
That bothers me because abortion is the first thing the fundamental right has their eyes on. They hope to trash it and then move on to birth control. At which point, Hillary will probably give speeches saying, with a note of concern, how troubled she is by the use of birth control and what we need to do is move beyond support for birth control and work to make sure it's not needed.
She knows better and that's why she's so disappointing today.
"Secret Bush Admin Program Monitors International Bank Records" (Democracy Now!):
The Bush administration has been secretly monitoring thousands of international bank transactions without court-approval. The secret program was enacted shortly after the 9/11 attacks in what government officials say is a crucial weapon in tracking the financing of terrorist activity. The information has been obtained from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT. The organization helps direct trillions of dollars in daily international bank transfers. Officials told the Los Angeles Times the program has been "marginally successful" in tracking the financial activity of al Qaeda. SWIFT executives apparently tried to withdraw from the program after becoming concerned over its legality. The executives were persuaded to continue their cooperation only after the intervention of top government officials, including former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan.
It was just last weekend that I made C.I.'s "On the Dangers of an Unchecked Bully Boy" a link on my blogroll and was writing of how important it is to read that. I expected to go a month or two without having to note it again because I honestly thought nothing could disgust me again. I was wrong. Bully Boy's spying is bigger than we know and even with the disgusting revelation today, there's still more we don't know. Maybe we'll never know -- future generations will read of it and wonder, "How could they have not known?" Forgive me if I'm doubtful of their explanation. Sunny had KPFA on at work this morning (she usually has it or WBAI on at her computer) and I was between sessions (someone was running late) so I listened to The Morning Show. I don't know who the guests were. I know Andrea Lewis was doing the interview but I came in late on the segment and was gone before it was over (when my patient showed up, we went into my office). But one of the points being made was about Mexico's economy. What is the biggest income after oil? Apparently money that people in this country send back to their families to help them out. You want to tell me that's not being watched in this program?
You can't tell me that. Why? Because you can't prove it's not being watched. The program's "secret" so we, the citizens of the United States that our government is supposed to work for, can't be told what is going on -- or that's the Bully Boy's argument.
Amy Goodman noted in another headline that the White House tried to talk the press from covering the story. Since they knew it was breaking, I have to wonder about Alberto Gonzales' dog & pony show today. From all I've been able to read and hear, a terrorist cell that was a threat to America didn't get busted up, they just nabbed The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight.
The Feminist Daily News Wire has a story that I wanted to note, "Pentagon Document Classifies Homosexuality as a Mental Disorder." It's obviously not a mental disorder and the mental health care profession changed the classification on it decades ago. (After strong efforts by GLBT activists to raise awareness and confront bias -- I don't want it to appear that "it just happened" and strip people of the credit their hard worked earned them.) When I read the item, it didn't surprise me. The reason for that is while so many have buffed and shined Colin Powell's image, the truth is he was the holdover from Poppy Bush's administration fighting Bill Clinton's effort to open the military to all. Gays and lesbians (and transgendered people and bi-sexuals) serve in the military. They always have. They always will. Whether you think so or not, they are a part of every job, every profession. But the overly praised Powell had a hissy fit (He doesn't think he's attractive enough that he'd have to fend off all the fellows? If so does he fear that he might not be able to fend all off due to some unnamed temptation?)
The compromise that was worked out was "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." To his credit, Bill Clinton, in a farewell interview with Rolling Stone shortly before he left the White House (I believe the interview was done before the 2000 election and ran right after) admitted how offensive this 'workable' option was. You're asking someone to deny who they are and you're not asking that of everyone. Straights can parade around talking about their signifcant others, swapping stories, but for GLBT members of the military is either pretend to be straight or stay silent. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" only applies to those who have same-sex relations. But there's still no protection even if you live a lie or cut off a portion of your life because all it takes is someone finding out and you can, and many have been since Sept. 11th despite our supposed need for everyone the military can get to sign up, and you're out of the military.
Before, they had to live in the closet. The only thing the policy did was tell them to be silent and tell others not to ask directly. Our next president needs to address this issue immediately.
Sunday is LGBT Pride Day. (C.I. regularly scrambles the initals. I thought once that was just the dyslexia but C.I. corrected me recently and made the point that why should one always come first? Good point.) KPFA is doing some special programming on Sunday to mark the day (I heard Andrea Lewis, at another point today, the end of the show, making that point.)
One of the special programs will be:
Sunday, June 25th, 09:00a.m.
An LGBT Pride Day Special...
Hour 1: Elders in the Queer Community;
Hour 2: Coming out after 30
Sandra Lupien will be filling in on host duties for Larry Bensky. In the 90s, it seemed like everyone was making strides. Not economically. But, as a country, our awareness was being raised. Now I hear snickers and "punch lines" like, "That is so gay!" The tone is set at the top and Bully Boy's given the nation all the excuses they needed to release their inner Bully Boys.
If you're bothered by the attacks on women, the attacks upon TLGB people, the attacks upon immigrants, upon African-Americans (in this week where our Congress decided to shelve discussing the Voting Rights Act), please make a point to tune if you're able to. That's 9:00 am Pacific Time. It will be noon for me (I'm in the EST zone). If you're not able to listen, maybe there's an event going on in your area (or maybe you can do both). But, whether you're a Clintonista or not (I'm not), there's no denying that the nation seemed to be a lot more caring under Clinton. (It could have been and should have been even more caring. But I'm speaking of the huge reactionary mood the Bully Boy's inspired.) Whether you're LBGT, a person of color, a woman (or all three), take a moment in some way to realize that the attacks are on all of us. (If that's not clear, remember Pat Robertson's hate list he read from as the Twin Towers still burned.)
Please read Kat's "Bonnie interviewed Sanders Hicks Wednesday."
"Iraq snapshot" ("Democracy Now: Nadia McCaffrey, Julia Wright," The Common Ills):
Chaos and violence continue.The ten day old "crackdown" in Baghdad, which has had little measurable impact on stopping violence, sprouted a new development today: "State of emergency." As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted this morning, "Earlier today, insurgents set up roadblocks and opened fire on U.S. and Iraqi troops close to the US-run Green Zone." The Associated Press reports this was done as fighting forces seemed intent on breaching "the heavily fortified Green Zone." As Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show, amidst the violence, US troops "rushed to the area." Current prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has "ordered everyone off the streets" of Baghdad, provided "broader arrest powers" and placed "a ban on carrying weapons."
Iraq last declared a state of emergency (or martial law) in November of 2004 for the entire country (exempting only Kurdish areas in the north).Then prime minister Iyad Allawi declared it when violence broke out through much of the country as US forces geared up for their attack on/slaughter of Falluja. Current prime minister al-Maliki has declared a state of emergency for Baghdad only. A state of emergency was declared for the city of Basra in May of this year. Euronews notes that the Basra state of emergency "has not deterred militants." Omar al-Ibadi and Haider Salahaddin (Reuters) report that today in Basra a car bomb went off (police say ten killed, hospital says five).
Sam Knight (Times of London) reports that "the 5 million inhabitants of the Iraqi capital [were] given just two hours notice of a curfew" (started at 2:00 pm in Baghdad, as Knight notes, but it was set to end at 5:00 pm and not, as Knight reports, on Saturday -- since Knight filed, al-Maliki shortened the curfew). Knight notes the paper's Baghdad correspondent Ned Parker terming the "extended gun battle . . . just north of the fortified Green Zone" a "free-for-all." Along with gunfire and mortars, Reuters reports that two US troops died today "when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb southeast of Baghdad."
In Hibhib, the Associated Press notes the bombing of a Sunni mosque resulted in at least ten dead and fifteen wounded. Reuters notes two police officers shot to death in Hilla. The AFP reports that five corpses were found in Mishada.
In peace news, Will Hoover (The Honolulu Advertiser) reports on Ehren Watada's refusal to ship to Iraq when his unit left Fort Lewis, Washington yesterday (6:45 am), he refused to board. Ehren's father Bob Watada tells Hoover of the three officers that spent hours on Wednesday trying to convince Ehren to change his mind: "They put the full-court press on him. They were telling him, 'You know, you're facing 10 to 15 years in jail, and do you want to do all of that?'" The Army issued a statement saying that charges wouldn't be filed "until the commander has had a chance to review all of the facts of the case and consult with the Staff Judge Advocate." Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that the gag order placed on Watada has been "rescinded . . . allowing Watada to talk to anyone." As Alex Fryer (Seattle Times) notes, "Peace groups around the nation plan a day of protests and vigils in support of Watada on Tuesday." For more information, click here.
Elsewhere, Australia's ABC reports that the Australian government "is playing down reports" of a threat to future trade arrangments with Iraq as a result of Australian troops shooting bodyguards of Abdel Falah al-Sudany (Iraqi Trade Minister) -- one died "at least three others [were] injured." Despite John Howard (prime minister of Australia) continuing to downplay the issue (he won't apologize at present), ABC notes "reports [that] the Iraqi Trade Minister is threatening to ditch all trade deals".
The AFP reports that the United States Senate "unanimously approved a $707 billion defence bill for the next financial year that includes almost $70 billion in funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."
In news of future wars, Col. Dan Smith reports, for CounterPunch, on a little known development from June 20, 2006. As the 2007 Defense Department Appropriations bill was being addressed, Representative Maurice Hinchey attempted to attach the following amendment: "None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to initiate military operations against Iran except in accordance with Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States." Though the amendment was only underscoring the true powers of the U.S. Congress, it failed on a 215/47 vote. Unlike Michael R. Gordon, war pornographer and his "Iran Aiding Shiite Attacks Inside Iraq, General Says" (New York Times), the AFP notes of George W. Casey's allegations against Iran: "The White House and Pentagon have repeatedly accused elements in Tehran of arming Iraqi insurgent groups. But they concede they have no clear proof that the Iranian government is sponsoring the activities."
Did you make it this far? You are a dedicated reader or someone who practices self-harm. I was just about to post and I remembered two e-mails asking why I regretted linking to Ruth Conniff last week. It's been a long week, if I've forgotten anything else, please let me know. Progressive Radio, which I'm sure is a wonderful program, elected to interview professional woman hater Camile Paglia. That was on their main page all last week and why C.I. gave no links to The Progressive. If I'd known about it, I wouldn't have either. Matthew Rothschild can interview anyone he wants but I'm not doing anything to promote her. She's a non-academic academic who's launched one attack on feminism after another.
I didn't even read Ruth Conniff this week because I was still kicking myself over the link last week. He can interview whomever he wants. But I don't link to something that's promoting that interview. That's my right.
(Julie wondered if I hated Ruth Conniff? No. If I hated her, she wouldn't be on my blogroll. At another time, I'd read her and, if I disagreed, shrug my shoulders and forget about it. But there's too much playing, pretending and clowning from too many for me to stay silent.)