Thursday, January 12, 2006

"Peace Will Come" in spit of the Bully Boy

The above captures today's hearings completely. It's one of Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts and credit to Wally for noting it first. When the "strategy" was explained to us in last night's round-robin, you read our reactions. The "big plan" is apparently to plant seeds of doubt and hope that the people will swarm Senators with phone calls, e-mails, letters, faxes and visits.
If you read the New York Times editorial, you got a sense that this is the middle of the road's press' feeling too. (The link for the editorial takes you to Common Dreams, not to the Times. There's no registration required at Common Dreams.)

Thank you, by the way, to Gina and Krista as well as all participants in the roundtable for granting permission to talk about this topic. It was very nice of the two guests to sit in and explain the "strategy." But when you're "strategy" is the same as the tactic that the middle of the road newspaper takes on its own, that's no "strategy." That's not fighting. That's not providing an opposition.

I think it was a gross mistake that will result in Alito being confirmed. If I'm wrong, I'll be thrilled. But before the next elected Democrat sends out a mass e-mail asking for donations to the DNC so that they can "stand up and fight," the party might want to consider demonstrating that they know how to stand up and fight.

C.I. summed up today when the hearings broke for lunch:

So what has today been like? Not as lively as yesterday. "Enough of that. Let me move on." Who said that? Which Democrat? Does it matter? Doesn't that seem like those two sentences summed up much of what's gone on so far today? (Diane Feinstein said it today to Alito, for those who missed it.)

Thank you, by the way, to those e-mailing how displeased they are with Feinstein. If anyone missed it, Rebecca explained yesterday how Feinstien's being "cute" destroyed Ted Kennedy's soundbyte and Kat explained how Feinstein seems intent on playing "The Little Lady of The Senate." Feinstein was a waste. It's not that she couldn't ask a question like an adult (although there is that), it's that she was incapable of doing a follow up and felt the need to "girl" it up. Drag queens haven't felt the need to manufacture false feminity to that degree. For an indepth rundown of each day's key moments (highs and lows) visit Eleanor Smeal's The Smeal Report.

Be sure to check out Mike's site (Mikey Likes It!) for his comments on the hearings and for his comments on the headlines from Democracy Now! Also check out tomorrow's gina & krista round-robin for the wrap up roundtable of the hearings. There will be at least one special guest in the roundtable.

Pressure Builds On Iran Over Nuclear Activities (Democracy Now!):
This news on Iran – Russia, the US, the European Union and China will reportedly hold talks next week on Iran’s resumption of nuclear activities. The Iranian government has removed U.N. seals on its uranium enrichment equipment, sparking an outcry from the United States and Europe. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Iran's move did not violate international law, but may be brought before the UN Security Council. Meanwhile, Western leaders stepped up their rebukes of Iran.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair: “I don't think there is any point in people or us hiding our deep dismay at what Iran has decided to do and when taken in conjunction with their other comments about the state of Israel they cause real and serious alarm right across the world.” Iran insists it’s removed the seals to resume research activities, and has no plans for uranium enrichment.
Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani: "They will regret creating any problems for us. God willing, we will get out of it successfully."
This is disgusting and, sadly, not surprising. Bully Boy needs another war. Two weren't enough for him. How could it be enough when so many people have profitted so hugely from the wars? Sure a huge number of people have died but this is the son of Barbara Bush whose alleged "beautiful mind" couldn't be bothered with war casualities.

So here comes Bully Boy's third war.

C.I.'s spent a lot of time stressing CODEPINK's Stop The Next War Now book. There are two chapters that we both have no interest in (one speaks of Dexter Filkins as a reporter -- favorably speaks of). But there's also a time issue. There's just not enough time to do everything. So I'll try to note one chapter a week and help C.I. complete highlighting the book (minus the two chapters).

Pinochet Stripped of Legal Immunity (Democracy Now!):
In Chile, former military dictator Augusto Pinochet was stripped of his legal immunity Wednesday, clearing the way for him to face charges he murdered political opponents in the 1973 coup that brought him to power. Chilean courts have previously stripped Pinochet’s immunity for other cases, but he has avoided several trials by convincing judges he is medically unfit to stand trial. If the current case proceeds, it would reopen one of the most notorious human rights cases involving Pinochet's dictatorship -- the so-called Caravan of Death, in which 75 jailed dissidents were killed in the weeks immediately after the coup.

That's the news to restore your sense of fairness. Finally, the net is closing on Pinochet. Long overdue. Maybe justice will await the Bully Boy someday? We can hope.

Susan asked me if I could rerun a peace quote she enjoyed because she thinks we need to "restore our sensibilities." Susan's a member of The Common Ills community and someone I've enjoyed sharing e-mails with since at least February.

Peace Quote for 2005 (from a song by Melanie utilized in the editorial at The Third Estate Sunday Review):
Well sometimes when I am feeling so grand
And I become the world
And the world becomes a man
And my song becomes a part of the river
I cry out to keep me just the way I am
According to plan
According to man, according to plan
According to man, according to plan
Oh there's a chance peace will come
In your life, please buy one

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

"If we dont change our direction we are likely to end up where we are headed for"

What a day of hearings. Be sure to check out Mikey Likes It! to get Mike's views on the Democracy Now! items and, I'm sure, on the Alito hearings as well.

NSA Denies Whistleblower's Demand To Testify Before Congress (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile, ABC News is reporting the National Security Agency has denied the request of whistleblower Russell Tice to testify before Congress. Tice, a former intelligence agent at the NSA and Defense Intelligence Agency who has spoken out against the domestic spy program, was told he is not free to testify because staff members on Capitol Hill do not have high enough security clearance to hear the secrets he has to tell. Tice first spoke out on record on Democracy Now last week.

Amy Goodman's referring to the story below.

"National Security Agency Whistleblower Warns Domestic Spying Program Is Sign the U.S. is Decaying Into a 'Police State'" (Democracy Now!, January 3, 2006):
AMY GOODMAN: What made you decide to come forward? You worked for the top-secret agency of this government, one that is far larger and even more secret than the C.I.A.
RUSSELL TICE: Well, the main reason is, you know, I'm involved with some certain aspects of the intelligence community, which are very closely held, and I believe I have seen some things that are illegal. Ultimately it's Congress's responsibility to conduct oversight in these things. I don't see it happening. Another reason is there was a certain roadblock that was sort of lifted that allowed me to do this, and I can't explain, but I will to Congress if allowed to.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the letter you have written to Congress, your request to testify?
RUSSELL TICE: Well, it’s just a simple request under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, which is a legal means to contact Congress and tell them that you believe that something has gone wrong in the intelligence community.

That's an excerpt. You can watch, listen or read the transcript. My comment? So Tice applies to Congress for protection under the Whistleblower Protection Act and the NSA is able to overrule Congress? Is that's what's happening?
I'm failing to see where in the Constitution the NSA is given power over Congress. Does anyone else see it?

UN Admits July Cite Soleil Raid Killed Innocent Civilians (Democracy Now!):
The calls for crackdowns come as the UN has admitted for the first time it killed several innocent people in a July raid on the poor community of Cite Soleil. This according to an internal inquiry obtained by the London Independent. At the time, Democracy Now broadcast graphic footage of the raid. Peacekeepers killed at least twenty people, including two young children. Despite its admission, the UN maintained most of the dead were actually killed by other gang members, calling the video footage a "manifest example" of disinformation. But Kevin Pina, a Haiti-based American journalist said: "I personally handed a copy of that video to [the UN special envoy, Juan] Valdes at JFK airport. He described it as propaganda and lies without even looking at it. They are predisposed to saying this. They do not want to look at the evidence."

That report was, I believe, on July 11th and an excerpt of the introduction to it is below.

"Eyewitnesses Describe Massacre by UN Troops in Haitian Slum" (Democracy Now!, July 11, 2005):
On Saturday hundreds of Haitians gatherer for the funeral of Emmanuel "Dread" Wilme -- a popular community leader who lives in Cite Soleil, one of the most economically-depressed neighborhoods of Port au Prince. Wilme was killed last Wednesday when UN troops attacked the neighborhood in a pre-dawn raid.
Although the raid has received little attention, local residents say it might have been the deadliest attack carried out by UN troops since they were stationed in the country last year.
According to residents the UN troops entered the area at about three in the morning and opened fire. Eyewitnesses reported the UN troops used helicopters, tanks, machine guns and tear gas in the operation. The UN has admitted that its troops killed at least five people. UN military spokesman Colonel Elouafi Boulbars told Agence France Presse, "The bandits tried to fight our men. They suffered serious losses and we found five bodies in what was left of a house." Local residents put the figure at no less than 20. Some estimates are even higher. Witnesses said innocent civilians were among the victims.

So Alito.

Dick Durbin and Ted Kennedy did a fine job. Why is Diane Feinstein on the committee? Does she serve cookies? That's how she acts. Like some stereotype of femininity. Is she a Senator or is she Lily Tomlin's The Tasteful Lady?

I do not understand why she's on the committee. As a woman, I find it offensive when she doesn't correct someone raving about her looks. It's not a beauty contest, Diane.
Your peers on the committee may think you're sweet and pretty but that's not why you should be on the committee. Anyone who says, "I'll let that pass" when they're supposed to be questioning a prospective Supreme Court Justice, needs to step down from the committee.

And with a husband profitting from the war and Diane's own history after the assassination of Harvey Milk, "Genteel Diane" is a bit hard to buy.

Feinstein is especially disappointing because in 1991, Anita Hill stood before an all White, all male judiciary committee and was dismissed and savaged. As feminists, we said never again. Fifteen years later, and C.I. pointed this out last summer, all we have to show for it is one woman on the committee?

Diane's not up to the challenge. That's clear. I don't buy that she's a huggable, just out of the sorority and headed to the mixer, type "girl." But if that's how she wants to present herself, so be it. That behavior doesn't belong on the Judiciary Committee. She obviously enjoys providing the "boys" with entertainment and they obviously enjoy having a "girl" among them. But they need a woman on the committee. At least one. So it's time for Barbara Boxer or Maria Cantwell to be put on the committee or both.

Sunny taped highlights throughout the morning and during lunch we listened to them. She did the same for the afternoon and I listened to those on the way home.

What do I think of the hearings? Let me echo Mike -- what happens when Ted Kennedy decides he's tired of serving? You can always count on TK. Mike said Charles Schumer did a good job but by that time I was listening to the taped highlights from the afternoon.

Remember that you can hear them live on Pacifica. Show your support for independent media.
Also check out C.I.'s "NYT: 'Al Jazeera: From Network, to a Bush Target, to Courts' (Alan Cowell -- sleeping on the job)" to grasp how they try to sneak something known for over three years to you and act like it just happened.

"Mediaocracy 2006: Out With the Old, In With the New" (Danny Schechter, BuzzFlash):
The media consuming public seems to have an unlimited appetite for new media, but it is not just technologies that die but people's relationships to them. With more to watch and more to experience, attention spans shrink with more distractions designed to divert our attentions away from programming that asks us to care about our society in one way or another.
Increasingly, even as it gets slicker, the public that is supposed to like what they see, is turning it off and tuning it out. Our media is being confronted by a public that isn't very happy with its output. We know this from surveys that span the political spectrum that be reported but are rarely dwelt on. The last thing media outlets want to report is why the public is turning against them. In a media designed for "tune-in," tune-out seems to be the trend. Opinion surveys report wide spread dissatisfaction--see recent reports by the Pew Center in American Life--but other statistics are more compelling--the statistics that report fewer viewers watching network news programs and readers buying newspapers.
Match that up with the comparatively low voter turnout in The US and you find that in ours, the most media rich nation on earth, democratic participation is shrinking. Many critics have criticized the media for actually depoliticizing politics and in the process undermining democracy.
Media scandals seem to be erupting more frequently than political scandals, and the credibility of major media continues to decline. One Pew Center public opinion poll in one of those rare moments when members of the public were asked for their views -- found that as many as 70% of the people asked expressed dissatisfaction with the media.
Nearly 70 percent were angry, but for different reasons. Nearly half think the media is too left wing -not surprising after years of the Republican Party's punditocracy trashing the so-called "liberal media." The other half blames the right wing for souring them on media, pointing to Fox News and a tendency for big media to defer to big government.
In the general public, there is a growing consensus of complaint as media insiders puzzle over slipping ratings or more young people abandoning news networks for comedy channels for their news. There seems to be a growing anti-media consensus at the very time that media institutions seem to be more powerful than ever.

Tonight's peace quote goes out to the Senate Democrats.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
If we do not change our direction we are likely to end up where we are headed for.
Chinese Proverb

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

"War is an act of violence pushed to its utmost limits"

Mike and I have two items from Democracy Now! tonight that we're both noting so please be sure to check out his site Mikey Likes It!

US Reporter Kidnapped, Iraqi Interpreter Killed in Iraq (Democracy Now!):
In Iraq, an American journalist with the Christian Science Monitor has been kidnapped in an incident that left her Iraqi interpreter dead. Jill Carroll was seized Saturday outside the offices of a prominent Sunni politician in Baghdad. Caroll’s interpreter, Allan Enwiyah, was shot dead. He was 32 years old. The Christian Science Monitor is pleading for Carroll's safe return. Reporters Without Borders reports she is the 31st media worker to be kidnapped in Iraq since the start of the war in March 2003.

I heard about this on Sunday while I was on the phone with C.I. It's the seventh item in the roundup Sunday night at The Common Ills. No title for the entry because C.I. didn't give it one. I believe that's due to how tired C.I. was at the time and not intentional. But on Sunday, nothing was confirmed and the journalist's name wasn't being given or the publication she worked for. She was identified only as an American female journalist.

"Letter from Baghdad: What a Way to Make a Living" (Jill Carroll, American Journalism Review):
Some 200 foreigners, several freelance journalists among them, have been kidnapped in Iraq since insurgents adopted the tactic last April.
British freelancer Brandon was snatched from his hotel room in Basra in August in an elaborate operation involving at least a dozen gunmen. A week later documentary filmmaker Micah Garen was taken at gunpoint from the streets of Nasiriyah. Both were later freed unharmed. The old dangers of Iraq also continued to plague reporters. In June a ricocheting bullet hit Freeman in the rear end in Basra when someone at the Muqtada al-Sadr rally he was covering shot at the ground directly behind him. He fully recovered.
(See "Letter from Baghdad," August/September 2004.)
But most agree such attacks have more to do with bad luck than with freelancing. And they say they don't need to take extra chances to get stories that will sell.
"I've never felt the need or the pressure to take any risk to get stories into the paper," Freeman says. "I personally think that staffers, who have reputations to protect in the face of competition, are much more likely to come under pressure to take risks in terms of being 'the first into Fallujah' or whatever."
Last fall the kidnappings and beheadings increased, and Western reporters became virtual prisoners in their hotel rooms. When they did go out, they would travel with two cars: one up front with the reporter, and a "chase car" following in case the first vehicle was attacked. Khalil says given the current climate, he doubts he would come to Iraq without the backing of a major media organization. "I have been advising people not to," he says. "There is a prospect [journalists] will be specifically targeted. The infrastructure that is needed for security is just beyond the capabilities of freelancers."

Journalists are being targeted, it's not a "prospect," it's a reality.

Award-Winning Iraqi Journalist Arrested by US Troops (Democracy Now!):
In other Iraq news, US troops have raided and arrested award-winning Iraqi journalist Ali Fadhil. Soldiers reportedly entered his home and fired bullets into the bedroom where he and his wife and children were sleeping. Fadhil was hooded and questioned for several hours. He says US troops gave him $1500 dollars for damage to his home and then dropped him off alone in a dangerous Baghdad neighborhood. In November, Fadhil won the Foreign Press Association award for young journalist of the year. He's currently at work on a documentary about the US and British governments’ misuse of Iraqi funds.
Fadhil says US troops have not returned several videotapes they took from him. The director of the documentary, Callum Macrae, said: "The timing and nature of this raid is extremely disturbing. It is only a few days since we first approached the US authorities and told them Ali was doing this investigation, and asked them then to grant him an interview about our findings."

Mike and I both see the two as inter-related. As the occuyping power, the US has shown no respect for journalists. There are those who feel that during the invasion, and continuing into the occupation, there has been little respect for reporters. Victoria Clarke's remarks about unembeds being on their own, made ahead of the invasion, seem to be proven out.

Someone will be bothered and say, "In one instance, a journalist is in physical danger, in the other, a journalist is only held." Escalation. I do this, you do that. I hang up on you in the middle of a fight, you come to my house and bang on my front door.

Escalations and power struggles have been key hallmarks of the Bully Boy administration.

Did you listen to the hearings on Pacifica? My assistant had the hearings playing on her computer and between patients, I'd run to her desk and grab a minute or two while she filled me in at the same time. I'll get back to my assistant in a moment. But early this morning, there was a cancellation in the afternoon so we just listened. Feingold was about to start or had just started. I told her she could go home because it was time, past time when I noticed but she stayed and listened because it was the best moment of today's hearings. I don't doubt that. Listening to Russ Feingold beat through the spin and make Samuel Alito admit that there was no computer glitch that prevented his recusal from a case was powerful.

When Alito finally got honest, Feingold asked "Why didn't you just do that here instead of coming up with excuses, as you've done here?" Of course the Republicans rushed in to the rescue. I belive it was Hatch. I listened to about four minutes of that and then shut it off to head home.

My assistant does have a name and I do feel awkward typing "my assistant." Neil e-mailed asking what her name was? I didn't feel comfortable putting it in without her permission. I asked her today about that. She reads the site and knows that nothing personal will go up here.
Just if we listen to Democracy Now! or something like that. I offered her the option of creating a name and that's what she went for. She said she always wanted to be a blonde with a magnetic smile and that if she started life as Sunny that might have happened. So Sunny is the name she's picked. Sunny works very hard and I wouldn't have a practice without her. I can say that with no worries because she just got a raise. That was a joke (but she did just get a yearly raise, one that she's more than earned.) When she's on vacation and we use the temporary service, they always send someone nice and professional but Sunny knows the office better than I do so, at best, it's marking time until she gets back.

Be sure to check out Cedric's "Supreme Court, TV and Ty." Also don't forget to check your e-mail accounts for the gina & krista round-robin tomorrow morning.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
War is an act of violence pushed to its utmost limits.
Major General Carl von Clausewitz, 1832

Monday, January 09, 2006

"In every child who is born, no matter what circumstances, and of no matter what parents, the potentiality of the human race is born again"

"In every child who is born, no matter what circumstances, and of no matter what parents, the potentiality of the human race is born again . . ."

That's from this evening's peace quote and the full quote and attribution will appear at the end of this post; however, I want you to focus on those words for a moment. Here they are again:

"In every child who is born, no matter what circumstances, and of no matter what parents, the potentiality of the human race is born again . . ."

Remember it with regards to this first item.

Witnesses: US Bombing of Ramadi Neighborhood Kills 6 Teens (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile, witnesses in the western city of Ramadi say a US air strike killed six teenagers Saturday. The teenagers were reportedly gathered near their homes when their neighborhood was shelled by US military planes.
Unidentified Ramadi resident: "They were children, only 16 and 17 years old. They were playing here and cleaning the sewage near their houses. The planes hit them with rockets, we did not find their bodies but flesh and blood."

They were children . . . They were playing here . . . The planes hit them with rockets . . . we did not find their bodies . . . but flesh and blood.

These are the air strikes. Six teenagers are now dead.

They were playing here . . .

Next item.

Report: 95% of Illegal Weapons in Mexico Originate in US (Democracy Now!):
This news from Mexico -- the Los Angles Times is reporting an estimated 95% of weapons confiscated from suspected criminals in Mexico were first sold legally in the United States. Mexican officials interviewed by the Times blamed the US' lax gun laws, which are a stark contrast to Mexico's. There are fewer than 2,500 registered gun owners in Mexico, yet police say they confiscate more than 250 weapons a day.

This reminded me of another "Times." This item reminded me of the New York Times and, specifically, their foreign correspondent James McKinley Jnr.who seems quite to cover Mexio in a sort of bemused and beer soaked frat boy manner.

I have several friends who complain about his writing. I don't mean C.I. If C.I. reads it, the comments are up at The Common Ills. I do mean friends from Mexico who read McKinley's embarrassing coverage and wondering exactly where he's reporting from.
To read his writing, would you ever know that any thing he finds so amusing and "colorful" might have roots in the policies and actions of the United States? No.

When Mike and I were selecting these items, we picked that one because it's information that you don't generally hear. Be sure to visit Mike's site because he will have comments on the same two items at his site Mikey Likes It! and I'll also remind everyone to check their inboxes during the Alito hearings for the special editions of the gina & krista round-robin. Remember as well that Pacifica is broadcasting the hearings live. If you don't have a Pacifica radio station broadcasting in your area, you can listen online by visiting Pacifica and there is no charge for listening.

Trina, Mike's mother, started her own site, Trina's Kitchen , on Saturday. Trina's Kitchen is a once a week site (Saturdays) that will discuss cooking and politics. I am excited about this site. As I noted here at Christmas, I spent the holidays with Trina, Mike and the rest of their family. Trina is a great cook so I'm hoping to learn some hints at her site. She's also someone who sees the non-obvious. She's very smart and this should be a wonderful addition to the community.

Last week was a busy one for me and there were many things that I kept thinking I would find time to note. That didn't happen. But one item I wanted to note was noted by The Third Estate Sunday Review:

We love joint-entries. This one we love as well because we're big fans of Don McClean's song "American Pie" and because the new lyrics by Rebecca and C.I. are very funny. This appeared at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude as well as at The Common Ills.

If you're in the dark, use any of the links.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
In every child who is born, no matter what circumstances, and of no matter what parents, the potentiality of the human race is born again: and in him, too, once more, and of each of us, our terrific responsibility toward human life; toward the utmost idea of goodness, of the horror of terror, and of God.
James Agee