Saturday, April 01, 2006

"The first principle of non-violent action is that of non-cooperation"

I'm writing late. It's Saturday morning now, I'm on the laptop and I'm at Trina's (and Mike's). There was a play in Boston that Rebecca had wanted to see -- had wanted everyone to see. So she and her ex-husband (dubbed "Fly Boy" by Mike back during the World Can't Wait protests due to the fact that he flies his own small plane) had purchased tickets for Mike and Nina, Trina and her husband, Mike's youngest sister, myself and an extra one because Rebecca just knew I'd be in a relationship by now (she bought the tickets about six weeks ago).

I told her at the time that I wouldn't need two tickets but she was convinced that a new guy I'd started seeing then would blossom into an exclusive romance. That didn't happen. I enjoy an evening out, I enjoy sex. But there's really too much going on in my life these days for a relationship. Not later today, due to this weekend being planned so far ahead, but most Saturdays I do some volunteer work with a group of young women. I've got the group I do with veterans. I've got regular office hours five days a week. So my time is usually etched in (not penciled in) pretty heavy.

I've also grown very greedy about my own time. If I'm out having dinner or seeing a film, I often find myself thinking, "I could be home listening my music." That's always the first sign that, even a man is wonderful, this isn't going to go anywhere.

A perfect date would be attending a concert but most of the men I go out with assume that means a symphony. I don't mind classical music but I'd rather hear some jazz or go to a concert of, let me sound really old here, "today's music." However, most of the men I go with seem to be of the opinion that after age 28, unless it's the Rolling Stones, you don't go to concerts. I'll hear woes of the crowd or the parking or the age of the average ticket goer.

I'm not looking for "Mr. Right" -- nor even "Mr. Right for Right Now." Marriage and children have not ever been on my list of things to do. Trina has a wonderful marriage and great children but that's never been something that I've set as a goal for myself. That's probably a reaction to my parents early death and also to knowing, before I started college, what I wanted to do professionally.

This was a topic that we discussed tonight and that's one of the reasons I'm writing about it. Mike's sister Kelley ended up with the ticket Rebecca had hoped would be for my "relationship mate." So at dinner, the topic came up and I shared the way I am doing here. It seemed to surprise a few people at the table. So I thought I'd write about it because there is a cultural dictate that we think we must marry or must be involved in a long term relationship.

If that's something that someone wants or sees as a goal for themselves, that's wonderful and what they should pursue. But we don't all have to act as though we're about to board Noah's arc and must pair up. If it's for you, it's for you. If it's not, it's not.

I'm not opposed to exclusive relationships where you and someone else pair up but I don't think it's something that you have to focus on. I'm very happy with my life and I like my solitude. Mike's youngest sister seemed very surprised by that. (Trina thinks she was shocked by it.) Which led me to wonder if one of the many casualities of the ever present backlash was the notion that we could reject traditional roles and goals?

Trina spoke about how someone didn't need to try to find themselves by getting lost in a relationship and her youngest daughter said, and fully meant, that this was just something that people said and what they really meant was, "It's okay to be in between relationships."

I think a relationship (a good one) is something that can add to an existing life but I don't think a relationship "fixes" a life. So I wanted to go on the record with that because it was a surprise to Mike's youngest sister (I believe she's sixteen) and maybe it is to someone else or possibly someone else (male or female) has reached the same conclusions I have and might felt they are out of the cultural norm.

Mike's youngest sister (whose name is mentioned online never -- her orders) was really amazed that I'd be happy just going out with friends or coming home and putting on some music while I catch up on reading (work related or for my own pleasure). I really am happy with that. If a relationship comes along, that's fine but I'm not dedicating my life to pursuing one (or obsessing over the lack of one). As C.I. would say, "My plate is full." It really is right now. "But what if you end alone?" Mike's sister (youngest) wondered and I said, "Oh well." (A favorite response of Cedric's.)

So I just wanted to say a little bit about that because it is something I believe, that a relationship can add to your life but it's not something you need to have a life, and I know that there are cultural pressures (on both genders) to couple.

I'm not "worried" about ending up alone. (I think it's very likely for most of us whether or not we're zealots about finding a relationship.) Nor am I "bothered." I told Mike's sister that I was bothered by three things this week.

1) I've had to order Gene McDaniels' Headless Heroes online.

I really don't care for ordering online. I prefer to be able to go to a music store and find what I need. The online world is so overwhelming to me in that everything is availble (or often seems that way).

2) and 3) I'm probably going to have order online to get Noam Chomsky and Anthony Arnove's new books. I went to four bookstores including a "big chain" and the best they could do was tell me that I could go on the "reserve" list for Chomsky's book. Three of them also wanted to tell me that Arnove didn't have a new book on Iraq because it wasn't in their computers. (Store computers.)

Those three things bothered me. They bothered me because I'd made a point to make time to look and nothing came of it. Maybe that says something about my feelings regarding relationships?

I did purchase Etta James' All The Way which Rebecca had been talking up to me and then when I read "Kat's Korner: Etta James Takes It All The Way," I knew I had to get it. I honestly think that if there's a wonderful relationship (long term) in my future, that's how it will come out. I'll stumble across it. If I don't, I'm not looking online at Amazon (or via any dating service). All The Way is a wonderful CD and I'd urge you to listen to it in store. I believe most stores now have those devices where you scan the barcode and you can hear snippets of each tracks. My favorite music store just switched to that and I honestly wish they hadn't. I preferred the listening stations where they picked several CDs each month that you could listen to on headphones. Snippets really don't work. For instance, when trying to hunt down Gene McDaniels CD, I saw Judy Garland's live album. I forget the title, it's the famous one, the huge selling one. I remembered the vinyl version because my mother had it. So I picked up and read over the song titles -- one of which was "Moon River."

I love "Moon River." I love that song so much that I've enjoyed every version I've ever heard of it. So I scan the barcode. The music comes up. I hear the opening -- a very long opening. Then I hear Judy sing, "Moon Riv-" and that's it. Not even two words. I have no idea why these things are set up to play a snippet beginning with the opening. The opening isn't what most people remember about a song. Had I been able to hear "er" to the end of "Riv," I might have purchased the CD. I don't have any Judy Garland. I know the songs she's performed in movies and I think I used to enjoy this album when I was little and my mother would play it. But the "scan and hear a snippet" didn't help me decide one way or another that this was an album for me.

"Pentagon Bars Non-Issued Body Armor" (Democracy Now!):
In military news, the Pentagon has announced it will no longer allow soldiers to wear body armor other than what is given to them as part of their army service. Thousands of soldiers and their families have turned to purchasing extra armor amid complaints they have not been equipped with adequate protection. A secret Pentagon study last year concluded that up to 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from upper-body wounds could have survived had they been given extra body armor. The Pentagon says it is banning outside armor because of concerns soldiers are purchasing untested or insufficient gear.

I honestly believe that body armor should be furnished the civilians of Iraq. That noted, I think it's appaling that the same Pentagon that wouldn't provide all the troops with body armor (and still doesn't) is now saying that they can't provide their own. There was a story this week, and as with the Judy Garland album title, I'm too lazy to hunt it down online, about a man being billed for his own armor. Wait.

I just realized that I hadn't read the story, C.I. had told me about on the phone this week. It's in the new issue of The Progressive which I did pack so I've grabbed the magazine. This is from page eleven, the feature is "No Comment" and it's a variety of news items. The one I was referring to is the final item:

Insult to Injury
From The Week. "A soldier wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq was forced [in February[ to pay for his body armor, which was discarded because it was covered in blood. William Rebrook, twenty-five told Army officials in Fort Hood, Texas, that the last time he saw the armor it was being peeled off his twitching body. But the Army said it had no record of that, and Rebrook had to borrow $700 from friends. 'It was like, thank you for your service, now here's the bill for $700,' said Rebrook, who has lost the full use of his right arm."

You read that or the Democracy Now! item and, I don't know, maybe you're able to kid yourself that somehow this administration cares at all about the people they have sent into battle. I don't believe that they do. These stories are too prevalent. (They're also disgusting. A nation concerned with the troops, as opposed to propping up a false president, would have demanded accountability a long time ago.)

Carroll Criticized For Saying Captors Treated Her Well"
Meanwhile, Jill Carroll is already coming under attack for saying that she was treated well by her captors. Writing for the National Review, John Podhoretz wrote: "It's wonderful that she’s free, but after watching someone who was a hostage for three months say on television she was well-treated because she wasn’t beaten or killed -- while being dressed in the garb of a modest Muslim woman rather than the non-Muslim woman she actually is -- I expect there will be some Stockholm Syndrome talk in the coming days."

I spoke about the above nonsense to C.I. on Thursday night. I'd just gotten home and was checking my messages when I had one from a friend who had read an Associated Press article online that brought up this syndrome and did so via a therapist. C.I. was working on "And the war drags on ...(Indymedia Roundup)" and wasn't able to hunt down the article. (Also didn't have time and I didn't mean for time to be "made.") C.I. wrote about it Friday morning when the New York Times repeated this nonsense.

"Other Items (Noam Chomsky on Democracy Now! today)" (The Common Ills):
The above is from Dexter Filkins and Kirk Semple's "Reporter Freed in Iraq, 3 Months After Abduction" in this morning's New York Times. Dexy and Simple Semple. Well Dexy's not reading press releases live from the Green Zone for a change, end note notes that he is [in] "Kansas City, Mo." Maybe these cut and paste jobs are easy to do from there? Yes, Carroll did learn Arabic. A skill that would have come in handy for Filkins last Saturday when he was being fed information from a non-neutral organization.
Now Martha notes Ellen Knickmeyer's "'Like Falling Off a Cliff For 3 Months': Uncertainty of Captivity Ends for Reporter in Iraq" (Washington Post). Read her story and Dexy's and see what stands out. (Hint, we excerpted the problem with Dexy's above.)
Is Jill Carroll the new Patti Hearst? Dexy seems to think she is. Probably questions her sanity just because she didn't spit and polish for all the military officials he did. But let's talk reality here, the Times' so-called expert is a shame to his profession. He doesn't need to offer conjecture at this point. He's never met with Carroll. He has nothing to base a potential analysis on. He, in fact, has far less information than anything Bill Frist had when Frist was diagnosing by TV. It's embarrassing. (The Associated Press did the same thing yesterday, that doesn't lessen the Times' shame. Elaine pointed it out in a phone call last night and I'd hoped to note the AP in the indymedia entry but didn't have time.)
Dr. Alan can save the insta-analysis for a call-in show. But he can drop the "doctor" before his name if he's truly attempting to diagnose someone he's never spoken to, never personally observed and knows nothing about. If his quote's been carefully arranged by Dexy (no surprise if it has been), then it's Dexy shame alone. If not, Dr. Alan has a bit of explaining to do.
You don't tell anyone emerging from an experience what their experience was. You let them, especially in Dr. Alan's profession, process it. Insta-analysis, if practiced by Dr. Alan, is embarrassing. The the Times suggests that it has occurred is humiliating for the paper. Regardless, the dime store psyche doesn't belong in the article, it's an insult to Carroll and the paper should be ashamed. Congratulations to the Washington Post for avoiding falling into cliches and, in fact, potential medical malpractice.

Now I'm not surprised that the National Review runs with the nonsense. But for supposedly respectable news organizations like the Associated Press and the New York Times to do the same is just appling. There is no reason for that to appear in journalism unless the journalism is tabloid journalism. I will assume the doctor was asked to offer conditions under which the syndrome might occur. Possibly he thought he was providing background and insight into a possibility that a reporter might later use if he or she had some facts. However, Dexter Filkins has no facts. (Is anyone surprised by that?) This is just tabloid journalism. The press seems to have confused itself with Dr. Phil. It's not the purpose of the press to provide the quick fix analysis. I'm unfamiliar with the New York Times ever asking a therapist to weigh in on possibilities for the Bully Boy. So exactly why is it okay for them to speculate on the mental health of Jill Carroll?

That's what they've done. They've planted things against her that will stay in people's minds. Was Jill Carroll treated well? She says that's so. Until she says different, that's what you go on.
From a medical point of view, this is akin to telling a woman she's been raped. She may have been and she may not have been but it's not your job to put the prospect into her head. What happened to Carroll happened to her and she will need to process it, not the Times and not a doctor who has never treated her. Planting these seeds of doubt against her is not good press nor is it good medicine. I find it outrageous and offensive. I also have strong doubts that if it had been "Jeff Carroll," we would have seen this happen. In fact, we haven't seen that happen. No one's attempted to "diagnose" a male. Not the ABC reporter who was hurt in Iraq, not the three male Christian Peace Teammakers who left Iraq. But with a woman, we can "diagnose."

"Hysterical." "Penis envy." Take your pick. There are all these "conditions" that women have historically been found to have. It was bad press, it was bad medicine, and it was sexist.

From early on in the kidnapping, there were calls not to harm Carroll from Arab groups and Arab media. If the conditions she self-reports are true (and no one has any reason to doubt that they are at this point), that's probably one reason she was treated the way she was. Another reason is that she was familiar with the culture and could speak of it (to her captors) in an informed manner. That's not something Dexter Filkins could do, in all his time in the Green Zone, he apparently couldn't even bother to learn the language. (How he qualifies as a "foreign correspondent" is anyone's guess.)

Elements of the press are displeased with her statements. Not just that Carroll reports that she wasn't harmed but the reported statements regarding the occupation itself. Possibly this attack on Carroll (and "diagnosing" her in such a manner that suggests she's unable or unfit to offer credible testimony is an attack) results from the fact that a lot of fluffers have misled the public for some time now and they take offense to the fact that she's putting out a narrative counter to their own? (That's not a medical diagnosis. That's a critical observation of the press.)

Whatever it is, it's disgusting. I'm actually remembering that they did a similar thing with an Italian journalist. I'm sure it's just "luck" that the journalist was also female.

"EXCLUSIVE...Noam Chomsky on Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy"
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Professor Chomsky, in the early parts of the book, especially on the issue of the one characteristic of a failed state, which is its increasing failure to protect its own citizens, you lay out a pretty comprehensive look at what the, especially in the Bush years, the war on terrorism has meant in terms of protecting the American people. And you lay out clearly, especially since the war, the invasion of Iraq, that terrorist, major terrorist action and activity around the world has increased substantially. And also, you talk about the dangers of a possible nuclear -- nuclear weapons being used against the United States. Could you expand on that a little bit?
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, there has been a very serious threat of nuclear war. It's not -- unfortunately, it's not much discussed among the public. But if you look at the literature of strategic analysts and so on, they're extremely concerned. And they describe particularly the Bush administration aggressive militarism as carrying an "appreciable risk of ultimate doom," to quote one, "apocalypse soon," to quote Robert McNamara and many others. And there's good reasons for it, I mean, which could explain, and they explain. That's been expanded by the Bush administration consciously, not because they want nuclear war, but it's just not a high priority. So the rapid expansion of offensive U.S. military capacity, including the militarization of space, which is the U.S.'s pursuit alone. The world has been trying very hard to block it. 95% of the expenditures now are from the U.S., and they're expanding.
All of these measures bring about a completely predictable reaction on the part of the likely targets. They don't say, you know, 'Thank you. Here are our throats. Please cut them.' They react in the ways that they can. For some, it will mean responding with the threat or maybe use of terror. For others, more powerful ones, it's going to mean sharply increasing their own offensive military capacity. So Russian military expenditures have sharply increased in response to Bush programs. Chinese expansion of offensive military capacity is also beginning to increase for the same reasons. All of that threatens -- raises the already severe threat of even -- of just accidental nuclear war. These systems are on computer-controlled alert. And we know that our own systems have many errors, which are stopped by human intervention. Their systems are far less secure; the Russian case, deteriorated. These moves all sharply enhance the threat of nuclear war. That's serious nuclear war that I'm talking about.

I wasn't able to purchase Chomsky's book this week. (I also refuse to "reserve" it. Any book store in the business of selling books should have it stocked on their shelves.) When I'm able to take a copy from a book case or display and carry it to a checkout counter, I will get it. In the meantime, Mike and I are both highlighting the interview. This was part one of the interview. Amy Goodman noted that at the end. I'm not sure when part two will air. But if you missed it today, please check out the transcript or listen or watch online.

Friday was a historical figure's birthday and I thought his activism could be noted here by selecting a peace quote from him. I also think it speaks to the power of "no" that C.I.'s wrote of last night. (Wrote of again. C.I.'s always noted the power that we have with our use of "yes" and our use of "no.")

Before we get to that, I want to note "And the war drags on ...(Indymedia Roundup)" because on Wednesday (when I last blogged), I stated my feelings (my own feelings) regarding NPR. I also stated that C.I. was waiting for the community to come to its own conclusions before speaking. Bonnie e-mailed because C.I. spoke of NPR in "And the war drags on ...(Indymedia Roundup)" and Bonnie wanted to know if I'd known that was coming?

I hadn't know it would happen Thursday night. I did know from Gina and Krista that the polling for Friday's edition found 92% of members saying, basically, screw NPR, with 6% saying they still supported it and 2% saying they had no opinion. I knew that would be announced in Friday's round-robin. That was already prepared on Wednesday because Gina and Krista had already written the article that ran with the polling. But C.I. had not planned to make any comment until after the edition went out Friday morning. What changed that was that West found a highlight about Juan Williams (of NPR and PBS) sliming the students taking part in protests against the shameful legislation proposals on immigration. When we were on the phone Thursday night, C.I. was furious about Williams' remarks.

Unlike Juan Williams, who apparently feels no need to actually speak to people involved before summarizing/stereotyping them, C.I. had spent the week speaking to student participating (and assisting them with any support they requested). To see all the students slimed by Williams was not something C.I. was going to react to with silence. C.I. didn't note the polling results that would be going out hours later because that was Gina and Krista's story that they'd already worked on. But C.I. did clearly note, speaking for C.I. alone, that NPR was on their own.

That's a position I, like 92% of the other members of the community, support. If I hadn't already come to that conclusion, had I been on the fence still, Williams' remarks would have been the deciding factor. I think NPR and PBS need to fire him. I think he has so overstepped the lines of journalism that he's no longer credible on their organizations and needs to instead seek full time employment at Fox "News" (which is where he made his attack on the students).
I agree with C.I. that Williams will not be disciplined in any manner for his remarks. That demonstrates that public radio in the form of NPR is not public.

Let me also note that Betty has a new chapter entitled "Thomas Friedman's Frostings and Facials" and urge you also to please read Cedric's "Afghanistan the forgotten 'liberation'."

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
The first principle of non-violent action is that of non-cooperation with everything humiliating.
Cesar Chavez

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

"Peace comes from being able to contribute the best we have"

Rachel wrote that Rebecca added Law and Disorder to her links and wondered if I could add another Pacifica Radio program to mine. I'll add two and they're favorites of Rachel's but I'm also adding these two for Tracey and Ruth. I've added Law and Disorder, which is one of Ruth's favorites, and I've added Wakeup Call which is one of Tracey's favorites. Tracey is Ruth's granddaughter (I'll assume most of you already know that). Tracey's wonderful and she's got every bit of Ruth's strength and determination. So those are radio programs and they're independent radio. If you're unfamiliar with them, you must not be reading Ruth's Public Radio Report. Rachel also ranks them as among her favorites as well. While I'm talking about radio, not this Thursday, but next week's Thursday is the first Thursday of the month which means the new episode of the Christmas Coup Players. All three air on Pacifica's WBAI and you can listen online if you're not in their broadcasting area. This is public radio and they do not ask you to pay to listen. However, if you have the money to donate and "keep free speech alive" as Janet Coleman of the CCP would say, please consider doing so.

I'm one member of The Common Ills community. Unlike C.I., I don't have to speak for the community. So I can say this and if anyone's upset, be upset with me. NPR's not doing anything. It's not worth saving, in my opinion, because it's a monumental waste of time. There is nothing "public" in the so-called public radio of NPR. Pacifica Radio is public radio. They bring you live broadcasts of hearings because those are important events. They provide a range of voices because that's what public radio is supposed to do. They provide you with views that you do not get to hear on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, et al. You also don't get to hear them on NPR even though NPR is supposed to provide you with those voices. So if you're someone who has the money to donate, please consider donating to Pacifica Radio. One of the things I enjoy (one of many) about the gina & krista round-robin is reading members talk about how before Ruth's reports, they didn't even know about Pacifica Radio and now they've got a favorite program (or two, or three or . . .).

Which is the second thing I'll hit you up for. If you can't donate, you can't donate. That's just the way it is. You shouldn't feel guilty. But whether you can afford to give money or not, you can get the word out on Pacifica Radio. You can make sure that more people know about the network and its various websites. Shortly after the illegal invasion of Iraq, a survey was done to find out who was the most informed media consumers. Pacifica Radio wasn't on the list. Now maybe their listeners are too smart to participate in endless surveys or maybe the organization didn't want to survey them. But I'd argue that Pacifica Radio listeners were much more informed than NPR listeners (or any of the other media outlets that they noted). Why? Well do you get unembedded reporters on the big corporate media? No, you don't. You don't hear Dahr Jamail or David Enders (I hope I got his name correct). And in the lead up to the invasion when dissent couldn't be heard anywhere else, it could be heard on Pacifica Radio. So I'd argue that their listeners were better informed than anyone else.

I'll also add that The Pooper did an attack on Pacifica Radio where he was gleeful at the thought of the radio station being in a struggle. Don't let people like The Pooper win. Make a point to support independent radio. You can do that with money but that's really the easiest thing. Whether you are able to donate or not, the harder thing is to get the word out. Contributing takes about five minutes tops. Spreading the word never stops. So make a point to spread the word.

Again, these are my statements. Do not read them to be C.I.'s statements. I do know C.I.'s opinion on this but I also know that there's a balancing act that C.I. has to do because The Common Ills isn't just a blog where C.I. gets to write about whatever. I think the membership is moving towards a forget-NPR attitude. But C.I.'s not made a personal statement at the site and won't unless the membership is in agreement because C.I.'s role is to speak for a community.

I couldn't handle that. It's a heavy obligation. Today, C.I. had to deal with a book (I knew which one and I bet you did too even if you weren't one of the ones writing in about it) that the membership was disgusted by. My question, if anyone had written me, would have been, "Why did you read it to begin with?" You should have known going in that it was gas bag city. That's the sort of thing I would've written.

I have known C.I. forever. I will never cease to be amazed. But I couldn't speak for a community. I certainly couldn't keep track of all the members and their likes and dislikes the way C.I. does. Activism doesn't surprise me, from C.I. The level often does, but the activism itself doesn't. But I am surprised by how well C.I.'s handled the role of spokesperson because I am a member of the community and I know how diverse it is.

Now there was a question about Sunny that came in on Monday and I passed it on to her with the advice that she didn't have to say anything if she didn't want to. But someone was curious how her date with the delivery man had gone? Sunny said to pass on that it went very well and there have been two dates with a third one scheduled for this weekend. She said to say, "Thank you for asking." She also joked that her mother must have written the e-mail under a psuedonym.

Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Landmark Gitmo Case (Democracy Now!):
In Supreme Court news, oral arguments began Tuesday in a case that will decide whether the Bush administration can use military tribunals to try detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military prison. Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who worked as Osama bin Laden's driver in Afghanistan, is challenging the tribunals. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia took part in Tuesday's hearing despite growing calls for his recusal. In a recent speech, Scalia dismissed the idea detainees have rights under the U.S. Constitution or international conventions.

Mike and I are both impressed that in the above, Democracy Now! managed to cover so much. They did better than two corporate news organizations writing articles on the topic. Why do you suppose that was? If Scalia was voicing, from the bench, skepticism of the Guantanamo prisoner's appeal, wasn't it logical that this had to do with the comments he made in his speech? So why was it that two reporters for two big daily papers overlooked that speech when writing of Scalia's comments today? Did the speech not occur to them? Or was it something else?

By the way, please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's take on the above. We're choosing different second items (but both on the topic of activism).

British Workers Demonstrate Against Government Pension Measure (Democracy Now!):
In Britain, up to 1.5 million government workers went on strike across the country Tuesday over a government measure that would make it more difficult to retire at an earlier age. Eleven unions took part in the strike -- one of the biggest Britain has seen in 80 years.

Gareth, Polly, Pru and James in Brighton have been alternating in the gina & krista round-robin to cover this topic. (Yes, I have their permission to write of this and Gina and Krista's as well.)
If you're a community member who receives the round-robin, you know what's going on there.
If you're not, it's a complex issue. It has to do with the Labour Party and their decision to become "New Labour" as well as the "leadership" Tony Blair offers. (You're also aware that his chosen successor will bring no meaningful difference on this issue or any other.) New Labour is a great deal like the New Democrats of the nineties. They have sold out to corporate interests and abandoned the people. Tony Blair and Bill Clinton were very close, Tony Blair and Bully Boy are very close. There's a reason for that. Neoliberalism and Neoconservatism aren't that different. Which is why Tony Blair's had Rupert Murdoch's support in England. In England (and throughout Europe), the workers are under attack. I called Pru to ask what I should add for American audiences and she suggested that, when choosing whom to support for president in 2008, we look beyond "I care about poverty statements" and at the actual records of the politicians in the running. She also strongly suggested asking questions about anyone who's endorsing a presidential candidate this early in time.

After the Bully Boy, she noted, the "easist fix is an easy fix" and that's what we're likely to see promoted. Someone who will come along and offer up suggestions for a minor detail or two about the economy that will slightly elivate a few middle class Americans but leave the poverty figures largely untouched. So words of wisdom from Pru. Pay attention.

(I also complimented on her latest on-the-spot series. I miss the Alan Cowell series because he was so clueless. I also thought he looked clueless in the photos that would run with Pru's column but I am enjoying the new on-the-spot series. It would be better if he was as easy to stump as Alan Cowell. Pru said that I could note this series will run for at least three more months and then she'll select another American correspondent in England. Though her latest is more informed than Cowell, apparently not a very difficult feat to accomplish, there have been a few laugh out loud moments and Pru says this Friday's will include another. I told her she's providing a wonderful service to American audiences because we've seen how the pompous may strike informed poses but they really don't know the basics. I almost forgot this part, Pru says there's a hilarious photo to go with her column Friday so be prepared to laugh.)

Polly told me that I could pass on that her newsletter will have it's official name this weekend and that it will go out on Sundays from now on. She thinks that will let her start the week since Gina and Krista are really ending it with their Friday round-robin. She also asked me to "please, please" put in a thank you to C.I. from her. She said she wrote something for The Common Ills on that and C.I. shot it down because it was praise on C.I. If you been following it, C.I. now has a Friday column in the round-robins and is also doing another column for Polly's newsletter. All members have pitched in, whether they have websites or not, and Polly says thank you to everyone for their help. But she wanted to specifically note Gina and Krista (for their advice "and generosity of time and spirit") and C.I. for taking on the "obligation" of another weekly column. I told Polly that it wasn't seen as an obligation and that C.I.'s really proud of her for starting up her own newsletter. (We all are very proud of her.) She has a special report from DK on Germany this Sunday and Gina and Krista have a special report from Billie on student activism against the hideous Congressional proposals on immigration in Friday's round-robin. I'm not sure what DK's writing about but I know Billie has done a series of interviews including with some of the students who stormed a city council meeting. That's right, in Dallas, Texas students marched into a city council meeting and made themselves heard. Billie's got her own first-hand report on that as well as having interviewed some of the participants over the last few days. This wasn't one day of activism for them either or even just one school or one section of the city. Gina and Krista have read three early drafts so far and they say members better prepared for in depth reporting "like nothing you'll ever see in the New York Times." One young woman, taking part in the activism, apparently lost an arm. (She fell out of a vehicle downtown if I understood correctly.) Activism has been blazing in Dallas and the students have really put themselves on the line. Good for them and good for Dallas. I know the community has a huge number of members in that area. I think that's wonderful and amazing and that it proves that no matter what the mainstream media tells you about states being one color or another, there is passion, activism and compassion all across the United States. Cedric's also writing about student activism on the immigration issue in his area so look for that. (I'm mum on Cedric's because I'm not sure Cedric's location is "out." I know all members -- and outsiders -- know where Billie is located due to her contributions to The Common Ills. "Outsiders" because of the number of slams Billie has gotten from a few other websites. She offered to do this for The Common Ills and C.I. told her it would be wonderful but asked her if she wouldn't prefer to take it to the round-robin where she wouldn't have to deal with the petty minds of "psuedo liberals." Billie told me that when she thought about and how hard she's worked on this, she decided to take it to the round-robin. She's worked very hard on this and it will be the main feature of the round-robin, Gina and Krista say. Billie's busted her rear for this story and used vacation time to be present to report. She said C.I. read the first draft and told her it was "amazing." I know C.I. would love to run it at The Common Ills and I'm not surprised that the attacks on Billie made C.I. the one to suggest she run it in the round-robin.) Let me also note Billie's strength because a lot of people would read the psuedolibs' attacks and think, "Fine, I'll never share another thing again." Billie's not going to let those DLC-ers silence her.

In fact, I want to dedicate the quote tonight to Billie and everyone else who stays in the fight even when they're personally attacked (and distorted in Billie's case -- one blogger, in particular, had a great deal of "fun" knocking Billie). Billie lives up to this quote in every way.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contibute the best that they have and all that they are.
Hafsat Abiola

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

"Never . . . doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world"

Rebecca wrote about Roberta Flack last night. "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love" (her duet in the eighties with Peabo Bryson) is a great duet. Birdie wrote about that duet. I think both are wonderful but I do like the way the melody repeats in the accompaniment to "The Closer I Get To You." One song, Birdie wrote about a number of wonderful ones, that neither she, Rebecca or I mentioned was "Making Love" which is one I always forget. But it's a wonderful song as well. If you listened to Home Fries last night on WBAI, I hope you had a treat. I know I did. I had never heard of Gene McDaniels. He is a songwriter, performer, screenwriter and more. At one point, he mentioned that WBAI was one of the few to play his album at a time when he was blacklisted thanks to Richard Nixon.

I called C.I. to find out more (not to play "I'm going to stump you" -- that's a game you'll never win at) and Tricky Dick hated McDaniel's album Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse. He called up the head of Atlantic Records and put pressure on and McDaniels was dropped from the label. He's written many songs (over 2,000 is what I think he said) and the one I knew best was "Where Is The Love?"

If you listened for Roberta Flack, I'm sorry that you didn't hear her. Joyce Jones explained that something came up (scheduling wise). She should be on at a later date. I was crushed for a bit (she really is one of my favorite singers -- my music collection includes 45s and even when I already had the vinyl albums, I'd still buy the 45s -- please don't e-mail to ask what 45s are!). But I stayed with the program and really enjoyed it. I hope you did as well. It was a great mix of music and McDaniels was a wonderful guest. (I'm now looking for Headless Heroes on any format -- vinyl, CD, cassette.) I also thought Joyce Jones did a really great job. She was filling in and I hadn't listened to the show before. I'm sure it's wonderful show all the time but I thought Jones did a great job and had a really wonderful on air personality. Joyce Jones may be filling in next Monday as well and I'll be sure to listen. (No offense is intended to the regular host. I've never heard the program before last night and I just really enjoyed Jones' on air personality which went really well with the musical choices.)

Please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's views on the news today.

"Iraqi Accuses U.S. of Massacre At Shiite Mosque" (Democracy Now!):
Iraqi officials are accusing the U.S. military of massacring at least 16 Shiite worshippers during a raid on a Shiite mosque Sunday night. The Guardian newspaper reports the killings have opened the biggest rift yet between the United States and Iraqi Shiites. Shiite leaders have suspended talks over forming a new Iraqi government. Iraq’s Interior Minister called the U.S. raid unjustified and horrible. The leading Shiite governing alliance is urging the U.S. to return full control of security to Iraqis. The Baghdad provincial governor has suspended all cooperation with U.S. forces. "The occupiers should be bought to account for this despicable crime,” said Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Shwaili. “It is committed by the occupiers against unarmed worshippers and we urge the Iraqi government to take an honest and positive stand towards this vicious attack against Islam and the worshippers Despite the political outcry, the U.S. military defended the raid on Monday. One official described it as a "hugely successful" operation against an insurgent hideout. The U.S. has denied its troops killed any Iraqis and said the massacre was staged.

"And the war drags on" Doesn't it? Nothing seems to touch the administration. Nothing seems to worry them. Not the lives lost, not the continued violence. It is so disgusting and so sad. It's also criminal. We're occupying Iraq and doing so illegally.
You can take any issue but let's take the hospital issue which Dahr Jamail has documented in "Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation" and C.I. sums up Dahr's report here.

If you've never read Jamal's report, please take the time to. (It's in PDF and if that's a problem on your computer, at least read C.I.'s summary.) It's an indepth study of the reality of health care in Iraq under the occupation -- where ambulances are valid targets and doctors are told not to say anything about anything. Dahr's not writing about the hospitals under Saddam Hussein. He's writing about the way things are under the illegal occupation.

Here's one of the suggestions Dahr makes in his conclusion:

1. The fact that the US government has released so little of the $1 billion in reconstruction funds allegedly allocated to the Ministry of Health should be subject to an immediate congressional investigation to scrutinize the US government's expenditures and actions, as well as the expenditures and actions of western companies that have been awarded contracts in Iraq regarding the healthcare system. Investigators should be given the power to impose or seek punitive measures for contract violations and over-expenditures and to provide oversight, regulation and accountability of the work of these companies in regard to their individual contracts.

The occupation has never been about improving the lives of the Iraqis and what we are seeing now is the desire for chaos (on the part of the administration) really beginning to flow.

"New York Times Finally Reports On Secret UK Iraq Memo" (Democracy Now!):
In Washington the White House is denying reports that President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed in January 2003 to attack Iraq regardless of whether diplomatic efforts at the United Nations succeeded or whether inspectors found weapons of mass destruction. According to the contents of a once-secret British memo, Bush penciled in the start date of the invasion to be March 10. The contents of the memo first became public almost two months ago in the book "Lawless World" by British international law professor Philippe Sands. But the memo received little attention by mainstream media in this country until Monday when the New York Times ran a front-page article. Earlier this month, however, attorney Phillipe Sands appeared on Democracy Now in one of his first U.S. interviews to discuss the importance of the memo: "[I]t confirms the absence of evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Why would the British prime minister and the American president be talking about the possibility of provoking a material breach if they had clear and compelling evidence? But more importantly, it also confirms, as some have thought and some have said, that the road to a second resolution was a sham. The decision had already been taken that already, by the end of January, a start date for the war was penciled in and the decision was set in stone and that both Bush and Blair had agreed."

I think C.I. said it well:

Democracy Now! listeners (viewers and readers) won't be surprised by anything in this article. The surprise is only that the Times is reporting on it. Van Natta mentions Colin Powell's UN testimony that came five days after Bully Boy and Blair's meeting. Mentions in passing. Without noting that Powell's presentation (discredited in real time by those not belonging now to the We Were All Wrong club) didn't hold up. Since even Powell can minimize it now as a "blot" on his record, it's amazing that Van Natta doesn't chose to note the discrediting of Powell's testimony.

It's really true, if you're following Democracy Now! you are informed. Sunny asked me to put that in today. She has time to surf the net (and she can surf at work, she does her job well, better than well, and I don't butt into how she uses her time) which I don't but she feels that Monday's story got a great deal of attention online but not a lot of attention went to Democracy Now! She asked me why that was at lunch when we were listening today. (By the way, there was a question about that last week. I asked her if she was bothered by my answering it and she wasn't. She has a one hour lunch. She is not required to stay in the office during that hour. It's her hour and she can use it however she chooses. The only rule we have is that it's lunch and we're not talking work. I went over that when we started both staying in for lunch because I am aware of the issues that go into employer-employee relationships and I wanted to be sure that I didn't use her lunch to go over things that needed to be done. That's her time and it shouldn't be about the office.)

So her question was why blogs on the left or Democratic blogs didn't note Democracy Now! when writing that up and I told her I honestly had no idea. The people with sites that I know all note the program. I have no idea why others don't. Maybe they aren't aware of it?

I honestly hope that would be the case. I hope that if they know of mainstream choices and if they know of Democracy Now! that they would always go with the latter to promote independent media. In terms of track records, I'll go with Amy Goodman and company any day.

Brandon wrote to ask where the peace quotes were? Good question. I'll close with this highlight and you can consider the last two lines to be the peace quote.

"They Just Don't Get It" (Kim Gandy, Below the Belt, NOW):
Early this week, while most of us were beginning our days, exactly three years ticked by since the start of the war in Iraq. Given the global protests and letters to the editors I saw over this weekend, most people agree with me: It's been three years too long.
George W. Bush keeps uttering those three little words--"stay the course"--while more and more people out there (you and I always knew!) are figuring out there never was a course.
Leaders in Iraq say the country is now deep into a civil war, with 50-60 Iraqis dying daily, and our country's own heartbreaking losses mounting. And for what? So George Bush can reach some imaginary goal?
If you're as angry about this whole situation as I am, I hope you'll join me and tens of thousands of others on April 29 in New York City, and together we will
March for Peace, Justice and Democracy. NOW is mobilizing with the anti-war, environmental, civil rights and labor groups, and religious communities who have joined our call for peace.
Death counts are rising, support is dwindling, and our voices are growing louder every day. The war-mongers can't ignore us anymore. Join us to speak out against the insanity.
Anthropologist Margaret Mead told us never to doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Just think of what all of us, together, can accomplish.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Roberta Flack interviewed on WBAI tonight at nine p.m. on Home Fries

I think most of you know that I love music and prefer the stereo to the TV. So let me start off tonight by noting that you can hear an interview with Roberta Flack tonight. From C.I.:

Now Roberta Flack. Micah e-mailed that he wasn't sure of the WBAI program but Ruth says it's Home Fries which airs from nine to ten p.m. (Eastern Standard Time). Joyce Jones will be filling in as host and she will be speaking with Roberta Flack, fresh from the Apollo. So that's Roberta Flack on WBAI tonight (and you can listen online, remember) and that's Danny Schechter giving a presentation, a free presentation, in NYC Wednesday night.

Roberta Flack. If you're a fan (I am), make a point to listen. Of the older songs (from the seventies), I'd choose Flack's version of Janis Ian's "Jesse" which I really love. (I also love the Carly Simon song "Jesse" but this is not the same song.) It's a hard choice because there's so much to love. From the 80s? "Oasis." I love her voice (even on backing vocals, like on Carly Simon's "All I Want Is You"). This is part of the station's women's history month. Just by singing so wonderfully, Roberta Flack qualifies for a spotlight. However, she's also a songwriter herself and, in addition, she's a producer. She had to fight to get her sound. On her huge hit "Feel Like Makin' Love," she's credited with a psuedonym.

I have a lot of her albums (all of them if you count various formats) but the two I listen to most on CD are Killing Me Softly and Softly With These Songs: The Best of Roberta Flack. So I'm excited by the thought of hearing her tonight. If you're a music fan, you may be excited too.

Please visit Mikey Likes It! to get Mike's take on the news of today.

"Scalia: Guantanamo Detainees Have No Rights" (Democracy Now!):
Questions are now being raised as to whether Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia should recuse himself from an upcoming case about the U.S. military prison at Guantanano Bay. Newsweek is reporting Scalia recently gave a speech in Switzerland, where he dismissed the idea that the detainees have rights under the U.S. Constitution or international conventions. During the speech Scalia said he was "astounded" at the "hypocritical" reaction in Europe to Guantanamo. Scalia said "War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts." On Tuesday the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in a case that will decide whether the Bush administration can try Guantanamo detainees in special military tribunals. Two years ago Scalia recused himself from a case about the Pledge of Allegiance after he made public comments about the issue.

Whether a judge is or is not impartial, there is supposed to be the appearance of impartiality. He is hearing cases on the Guantanamo prisoners (one tomorrow) and the statements he's made call whether or not a Guantanamo prisoner's case will be heard objectively. Recusual is the only answer. His comments are not in the abstract, they are very concrete.

"Papers: Kissinger Ordered U.S. Support for Argentine Military Junta" (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile newly declassified documents reveal that then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger ordered immediate U.S. support for the military junta shortly after it seized power in Argentina 30 years ago. According to the minutes of one meeting, Kissinger said "I do want to encourage them. I don't want to give the sense that they’re harassed by the United States." Kissinger said this even though his own top deputy in Latin America was predicting Argentina would face "a fair amount of repression [and] probably a good deal of blood” under the new regime. In addition State Department cables show that U.S. officials had prior knowledge of coup plotting. More than a week before the coup, the commander of the Argentine Navy requested the U.S. embassy recommend public relations firms inside the United States which would work for the future military junta.

Henry Kissiner should have been tossed behind bars long ago. If, indeed, "Only the Good Die Young" (as Billy Joel sang), Henry Kissinger will have a very uncomfortable later-years life. This is the tip of the iceberg with Kissinger. He should have to answer for his crimes in a court of law.

Now tomorrow morning, the Senate Judiciary committee will hold another hearing (whitewash?) on the illegal NSA spying. If you're interested in that, you won't be able to hear it live on NPR; however, as Ruth noted, you can hear it on the radio or online:

Programming notes for next week. First, Larry Bensky and KPFA will be covering Tuesday's **NSA Hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee** I assume that other Pacficia stations will carry this or some coverage of it as well but I have only heard it noted on KPFA. [Dallas note: Houston's KPFT will air the coverage beginning at 8:30 a.m. Central Time.]

And that's it for tonight because I came home this evening and the lock on my door was scratched up as though someone were attempting to get in. I'm dealing with that tonight in several ways. (Such as having the locks changed and something new installed.) So I'm sorry that I'm not offering much. But listen to Roberta Flack. I hope to have everyone out of here by the time that starts so I can just listen and enjoy. As it is now, I keep stopping and walking over to check out the progress.