Friday, March 24, 2006

Tired to the point of staring into space

First, a big thank you to Kat for noting Ben Harper's new CD Both Sides of the Gun. I saw that earlier this week and knew I had to get it but there just hasn't been time this week. Tonight, I did get it. I was so tired, I was going up and down the aisles. Rebecca will laugh at that because we've always said the Clash's "Lost In The Supermarket" could have been written about C.I. That's exactly what it was like. Until you've spent a half hour or more with C.I. attempting to figure out whether to purchase something -- sometimes just a bag of chips, you don't know "Lost In The Supermarket." We both remember the night in college where C.I. spent an hour contemplating which of two chips to purchase before deciding . . . neither. I told myself I was going in for Ben Harper's CD and then leaving. Instead, I was wondering around and, every now and then, I'd remember that I wanted to leave but then I'd be distracted because I was tired and end up looking at something else. I've always understood those moments but never really lived in one myself until tonight.

"Iraq Death Toll Tops 80 Over Past Two Days" (Democracy Now!):
In other news from Iraq, at least 80 people have died over the past two days in a series of drive-by shootings, roadside bombings and executions. In one of the deadliest attacks, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the major crimes unit of the Interior Ministry killing 25.

Iraqis continue to die. Where's the body count? How are we "helping" with the vast number of Iraqis being killed? Kat and C.I. both guessestimate that we're almost at half a million by now, very close to it. I've been asking people what they think the number is at. Not "what's the number" but what they think the number is. The more informed the person, regardless of right or left position, the higher they thought the number was. There is a guy who does all the deliveries to the office. He is very attractive and Sunny thinks he's perfect. He guessed ten thousand. I asked, as I'm asking everyone, where he gets his news from and he said he usually doesn't watch the news. Which is why we should still have newsbreaks between shows on TV. Jessica Savitch did them on Saturday nights (including her on air meltdown). For some people, that may have been the only time they saw news. But you'd probably lose out on one or two commercials and better to have profits than an informed public.
(Then again, the way the corporate media works these days, it may be a good thing that they no longer provide news breaks during entertainment programming.) So he sometimes watches the TV news. (Not very often, he said.) He never reads a paper and he only listens to "classic rock" on the radio. What about magazines? Nope.

I'm not picking on him, by the way. (And I did tell him before he started answering that I'd probably be writing about it.) This was true of everyone who didn't follow the news in any form. Those who did, guessed much higher. The ones who followed it a little went with 30,000 because Bully Boy used that figure (some time ago). Most people were guessing a quarter of a million or a half-million if they followed the news from multiple sources.

But the ones who didn't, like the delivery guy, were inclined to make comments like, "Well the killings have stopped, right?" (Happy ending for the delivery guy story. Sunny was attempting to flirt and he wasn't noticing. She finally stopped playing coy and came right out with it. After she asked him out, he agreed immediately and I'll hear the details Monday. She was excited about it all day.)

"U.S. Rounds Up All Adult Males in Iraqi Village" (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile to the west of Baghdad, over 1,000 U.S. troops have surrounded a village near Abu Ghraib. After the town was cordoned off, U.S. soldiers conducted house-to-house searches and rounded up the entire adult male population of the town. Soldiers handcuffed and then interrogated every man in the village. After questioning, each man was marked with an X on the back of their necks. One U.S. colonel defended the operation saying "What we're doing is building a Michelin guide to the area."

After awhile, I start to think that it can't get anymore disgusting, the news coming out of Iraq, and then a report like this comes along. We're tagging them? Like they're cattle? This is the sort of behavior at the root of the inability to win "hearts & minds" four years after we invaded. That it's justified (and seen as normal) demonstrates just how much we've turned the Iraqis into the "other."

"Doctors Calls Could Have been Captured" (Katherine Shrader, Associated Press):
The National Security Agency would not have been barred from capturing communications between doctors and patients or attorneys and their clients during its controversial warrantless surveillance program, the Justice Department told Congress Friday.
Such communications normally receive special legal protections.
"Although the program does not specifically target the communications of attorneys or physicians, calls involving such persons would not be categorically excluded from interception," the department said in responses to questions from lawmakers.

The Center for Constitutional Rights filed their lawsuit because they had concerns that the government might be violating attorney-client privilege. It's looking like CCR was correct to be concerned.

Though I don't treat patients over the phone, there are some who will call and go into a number of details that I doubt they'd note over the phone if they knew the government could be listening in. Not because of some illegal activity, but they wouldn't note it because it's about their lives and deeply personal. Everything's out the window with the Bully Boy. We are all fair game when it comes to illegal spying.

By the way, please visit Some Historical Perspective. I'm pretty worn out tonight so I'll just note some posts worth reading:

"NYT: Edward Wong: fluffer or stand up comedian?"
"news roundup and grace (will & grace) socks it to the repubes"
"Iraq, Puerto Rico, Chalmers Johnson and Richard Pryor"
"Will Interview With The Vampire become the new Catcher in the Rye?"
"And the war drags on (Indymedia roundup)"

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's takes and thanks to Mike, Nina, C.I. and Rebecca for listening to my musings (later in this post) and insisting that they stay in.

"Bush Suggests Troops To Remain in Iraq Until At Least 2009" (Democracy Now!):
President Bush has indicated US troops are likely to stay in Iraq until at least 2009. Speaking at a White House press conference Tuesday -- his second this year -- Bush said whether US troops are withdrawn from Iraq will be up to future US presidents and Iraqi governments to decide. Bush also defended the job performance of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld amid growing calls for his resignation. But Bush left open the possibility for future changes, saying "I'm not going to announce it right now."

"I'm not going to announce it right now" generally means "I have nothing to say." Not, "I'm sitting on an announcement" but "there is no announcement." And why should there be? He's not going to get rid of Rumsfeld who's done his part to create chaos in Iraq. That's what he wanted.

"White House Steers Millions in Federal Grants to Conservative Groups" (Democracy Now!):
The Washington Post is reporting the Bush administration has funneled millions of dollars in federal grant money to conservative groups that support its social policies. Using faith-based programs and other government initiatives, the Bush administration has steered at least $157 million to groups that support the President's views on issues such as abortion and gay marriage. According to the Post, most of the funding came through government programs enacted after the Bush administration took office. In scores of cases, small antiabortion centers have received federal funding that doubled or tripled their operating budgets. Democratic Congressmember Chet Edwards of Texas called the grant funding one of the largest patronage programs in American history.

I'm thinking back to all the attacks on women's medical services over the years. Not just on abortion, but all medical services for women. The 'vangicals always scream, "I don't want my money going for that!" So why is America putting up with faith-based programs being funded?

I know Joe Lieberman loves it -- there's no bad program he's never loved -- well, maybe a few, he didn't love but still spent a wild weekend with.

Why is the government in the business of funding churches? And what about the church's who allow GREED to enter into the picture? A church's work is supposed to be funded by the congregation. But then a church's work isn't supposed to be about electing a president and churches tossed that out the window as well.

I was talking to C.I., on the phone, about the women in Iraq today. Did you catch KPFA's The Morning Show? Andrea Lewis interviewed Faiza Al-Araji about the changes in Iraq since the inception of the illegal war. If you missed it and would like to hear it, click here.
But what we were talking about was how quickly it changed, life for women in Iraq. Iraq wasn't Afghanistan, until we invaded. Women had rights and they participated in public life (without burkas). Thanks to Bully Boy, that's changed.

It (and the second item above from Democracy Now!) made it so clear that Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale is something we need to take seriously. You encourage unrest and chaos while allowing fundamentalists free reign and women's rights are a thing of the past. That's not unlikely in this country as 'vangicals are handed out millions and treated as though their thoughts are sacrosanct.

For centuries, people have grappled with faith, with the Bible specifically, but our modern day 'vangicals think they have all the answers and have figured out everything that people before them couldn't. That's perfectly in keeping with their ahistorical ignorance.

These 'vangicals and their beliefs that every word in the Bible is the word of the Lord and every word is literal.

And I started to think about 9/11 and how all we heard about were the "firemen" and the "policemen." Not fire fighters, not police officers. As though women were absent that day.

In chaos, were commentators own prejudices being displayed? In chaos, do they latch on to their stereotypical notions of "strength"?

Consider this "musings" and far from the shores of coherent thought but as I listened to the interview and thought about events in the United States, I realized that it's very easy to get comfy with the rights we've won. But it's been a long struggle to get to the point we're at now.

And I thought about how "strength" notions (stereotypical) caused many to line up behind Bully Boy after 9/11 (after he stopped running around the country and actually returned to DC).

These are things to ponder when you realize how quickly the rights and status of women have been destroyed in Iraq. I think we do have to be watchful.

Here's an item C.I. mentioned on the phone.

"Supreme Court Considers Requiring Abuse Victims to Appear in Court" (Feminist Wire Daily):
In a decision that could have severe ramifications for victims of domestic violence, the Supreme Court is considering whether plaintiffs in abuse cases are required by the Constitution to appear in court -- something that many are afraid to do. "[Requiring in-court testimony] would make it very difficult, if not impossible, to prosecute the vast majority of domestic violence cases," law professor Joan S. Meier told the Los Angeles Times.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"Since when did the government start relying on fear as a way to govern?"

Hopefully, this evening will have less computer hassles than last night. By the way, let me clear something up. Rebecca is a not just a friend or a good friend. She is a lifelong friend. So to the person who wrote her awhile back and asked a favor (which she was nice enough to grant) and then burned her -- you've got a lot of nerve asking me for a favor. Don't write me again.

Having done the favor for you and then not having heard from you, Rebecca wrongly assumed that you were busy. You weren't too busy to e-mail me and ask a favor of me. I'll let Rebecca know later this evening that you're alive, well and still asking favors.

That's as much as a response you'll receive of the favor you now want to ask me for. It's far more than you deserve.

Mike will probably beat me to posting again tonight. But if you haven't already read his post, please visit Mikey Likes It!

"Father of Slain Contractor Among 50 Arrested at Anti-War Protest" (Democracy Now!):
Back in the United States, anti-war protests continued to mark the third anniversary of the Iraq invasion. In Washington, hundreds of people marched on the Pentagon, carrying a mock coffin they intended to give to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The demonstrators were met with a steel barrier erected by police to bar their entry. About 50 people were arrested when they managed to cross the fence. Among them was Michael Berg, whose son Nicolas Berg was beheaded by Iraqi kidnappers in 2004. Before his arrest, Michael Berg said: "My son was killed out of revenge for the atrocities that Americans committed at the Abu Ghraib prison; murdering, raping, and torturing prisoners there. So for me to say look how horrible what they did to my son certainly I'm entitled to revenge well there are people who can say the same thing because there are people over there in Iraq who lost their sons and daughters in that prison and there are a 100,000 people in Iraq dead and think of all the families there that think they're entitled to revenge. I don't think revenge is justified under any circumstances. revenge is an endless cycle and it has to stop somewhere and it stops with me."

To lose a child and still be able to see beyond the loss is an amazing gift.
Cindy Sheehan possesses the same gift. We need more people like Sheehan and Mark Berg if we're going to remove ourselves from the tragedy that is the illegal occupation. If you missed it today, Bully Boy says we're staying in the quagmire. We're going to continue to inflame tensions and unrest. When might we leave? Not while he's president. (Yet another reason to impeach.)

"27 Killed in Attack on Iraq Jail" (Democracy Now!):
In the latest violence from Iraq, 17 police officers were killed today when gunmen stormed a prison north of Baghdad. Almost three dozen prisoners were freed in the attack, which also left 10 of the gunmen dead. The prison was left in flames. The assaults came one day after at least 39 people were killed in violence around the country.

With that sort of violence continuing, you might assume that as the fourth year of the illegal war is underweigh, your corporate press might tell you some of this. You would be wrong if you read the New York Times.

"'2 Years After Soldier's Death, Family's Battle Is With Army' (Monica Davey & Eric Schmitt)" (The Common Ills):
And that's it for Afghanistan in the paper. Iraq? The day after the third year anniversary?

Well if you want to read fluff about "terror insurance," the paper of record is the paper for you.
[. . .]
As the fourth year of the illegal war begins, the New York Timid wants to fluff about terror insurance --
a "isn't that cute" human interest story. 200 people have purchased it -- 200 out of millions -- so obviously, in the Timid's mind, it's a "trend" story. Too bad they have time for "trends" but not reality.

As Bully Boy declares that we're staying for the rest of his term, we need to really get active. The occupation must end. The occupation is the source of tension. Just as we cannot impose democracy, we cannot impose peace. It's past time to bring the troops home from a mission they never should have been sent on.

But we have to demand this and call for this repeatedly. One protest won't change things. Two protests won't change things. We have to be willing to speak out and do so repeatedly.

If we don't, the violence continues, the occupation continues and the deaths continue.

"Three Years After U.S. Invasion Two Wounded Iraqi Children and Their Fathers Tell Their Stories" (Democracy Now!):
AMY GOODMAN: Hesham, can you describe what happened? And then, if you would translate for Jabbar and Ahmad.
HESHAM EL-MELIGY: Sure. As you said, two-and-a-half years ago Ahmad was coming back from his school, accompanied by another student, his friend, walking to home. They live in Sadr City in Baghdad. In front of their house, there was an exchange of weapons for amnesty: If you give up your weapon, we are not going to charge you with anything. American troops were there. Iraqi troops were there, the new government. And Iyad Allawi was visiting this location to oversee the exchange. So a group of people -- I don't know what, insurgents, terrorists, whatever you want to call them -- came and started firing, wanting to assassinate Iyad Allawi. So American troops responded to the fire indiscriminately, just shooting everywhere.
So, Ahmad started running to hide somewhere with his friend, and when the firefight stopped, he started running home, which was close. Unfortunately, all of a sudden, a big boom happened. It turned out to be a tank shell fired from an American tank, hit Ahmad directly in his right arm and blew it off to the extent that some of the bones of this arm were glued to the body of the other child. But Ahmad kind of screened him, so he was fine from that accident. Also, what happened is a grave wound to Ahmad's face, as you can see, this is much better now, and also led to his being blind, severe detachment to the retinas beyond repair.

The victims aren't seen. Not just the hidden coffins coming back to the United States, but the Iraqi victims as well. If we were forced to see the destruction the illegal war has resulted in, we would have even more people demanding an end to the occupation.

"Letters from Fort Lewis" (Kevin Benderman, March 19, Kevin Benderman Defense Committee):
What has happened to the American spirit? It seems as though that has been relegated to a part in our history, and all we want now is to sit back, let the government dictate everything we do and provide the meager rations to us as they see fit.
Is this really the climate the American people want to live in? Wallowing in self-pity and self-imposed victimization is the antithesis of the American spirit. The future of freedom is indeed bleak if the people who epitomize the very sense of freedom and self rule roll over and bow down to overly strong central government. The very foundation of our country is in danger if we expect government to do everything for us.
Our country's founding fathers laid out specific limitations on the authority given to the federal government and we have been on a slippery slope allowing our government to usurp our rights as laid out by the United States Constitution. Since when did the government start relying on fear as the way to govern? Since September 11, 2001 this seems to be the only thing you see on the news and from elements of our government.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Short entry due to computer problems

Mike alread has his entry up for tonight at Mikey Likes It! I'm having to start over because I lost the whole thing while trying to post and "Recover post" does not provide me with anything I had written.

"Anti-War Protests Worldwide as Occupation Enters Fourth Year" (Democracy Now!):
As Iraq entered its fourth year under US occupation Sunday, anti-war protests were held around the world. Tens of thousands of people took the streets in cities across the US, Canada, Asia, Europe and Australia. In Iraq, protesters demonstrated in Basra and Baghdad to protest the ongoing U.S. occupation.

Kat phoned me at work and left a message (I was doing a session and when I tried to call back, she was already out for the day). She said that KPFA's The Morning Show had a good report in the news break at the start of the show about the protests. (Link takes you to the archived broadcast of Monday's show.)

If you took part in some way in marking the third anniversary of the illegal invasion, good for you. If you didn't, please considering making some sort of statement next time. You can't turn back the clocks, but you can help make the topic of Iraq be front and center in your own world.

"US Accused of Killing Iraqi Civilians Near Balad" (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile, Iraqi police have accused US troops of murdering 11 civilians in a raid just last week. According to an Iraqi police report obtained by the Knight Ridder news agency, the villagers were killed after US troops herded them into one room of a house near the city of Balad. The dead included two young children, a 6-month-old infant and an elderly woman. The report says the troops burned three vehicles, killed the villagers' animals and blew up the house. A local police commander said all the victims were found handcuffed with gunshot wounds to the head.

Here's the article they're talking about.

"Iraqi Police Report Details Civilians' Deaths at Hands of U.S. Troops " (Matthew Schofield, Knight Ridder):
Accusations that U.S. troops have killed civilians are commonplace in Iraq, though most are judged later to be unfounded or exaggerated. Navy investigators announced last week that they were looking into whether Marines intentionally killed 15 Iraqi civilians - four of them women and five of them children - during fighting last November.
But the report of the killings in the Abu Sifa area of Ishaqi, eight miles north of the city of Balad, is unusual because it originated with Iraqi police and because Iraqi police were willing to attach their names to it.
The report, which also contained brief descriptions of other events in the area, was compiled by the Joint Coordination Center in Tikrit, a regional security center set up with United States military assistance. An Iraqi police colonel signed the report, which was based on communications from local police.
Brig. Gen. Issa al-Juboori, who heads the center, said that his office assembled the report on Thursday and that it accurately reflects the direction of the current police investigation into the incident.
He also said he knows the officer heading the investigation. "He's a dedicated policeman, and a good cop," he said when reached by phone in Tikrit from Baghdad. "I trust him."

That's going to be it because my computer is acting very weird and keeps freezing up. I'm worried that if I try to write too much more, I'll lose an entry again.

Be sure to check out Ruth's lates "Ruth's Public Radio Report" and C.I.'s "NYT: Can't own up to mistakes, be it the paper or Michael Gordon."

I'm sorry that this is all I'm really doing tonight. I'll add links to the latest new features at The Third Estate Sunday Review:

"A Note to Our Readers"
"Editorial: 3rd Anniversary and what have you done?"
"TV Review: Don't call her Elaine"
"Why We March"
"Christian Parenti on KPFA's Sunday Salon this am and Air America's RadioNation with Laura" "Flanders this evening"
"One voice applauded, one not heard?"
"The ones who go missing, missing from the coverage"
"Camilo Mejia spoke with Laura Flanders about the 241 mile march"
"Miles Cameron can't figure out what news is"
"It should come in a brown wrapper"
"Who uses free speech?"