Saturday, September 10, 2005


We just did the topics for The Third Estate Sunday Review. Think of it as a bull session or a rap session. We're on our first break of the evening and since I didn't have time to do an entry last night, I'm grabbing the time now.

For the record (to be C.I. about it), I did attempt to. But Blogger was down. The notice said it would be down for an hour and, having plans for the evening, I'd be gone by the time it came back up.

Here are two items from Democracy Now!

"First Lady: Remarks Critical of President Are 'Disgusting'" (Democracy Now!)
First Lady Laura Bush has lashed out at hip hop artist Kanye West, Howard Dean and others for criticizing her husband's handling of Hurricane Katrina. Last week West said during a nationally televised telethon "George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People." On Wednesday, Dean said "We must ... come to terms with the ugly truth that skin color, age and economics played a deadly role in who survived and who did not." Laura Bush said "I think all of those remarks are disgusting, to be perfectly frank, because of course President Bush cares about everyone in our country."

". . . of course President Bush . . ." Are we in Maoist China? The woman's married to him. Even her mother-in-law would say "George" when speaking of her husband. Does she also walk behind him as well? How much propping up does the Bully Boy need?

This is the charm offensive you were warned of. It's failing but here's how it starts. It's all about Bully Boy. They parade out the First Lady to tell us how awful Hurricane Katrina has been . . . to the Bully Boy.

Can someone get the woman her own Gang of Four? She needs it. Does she have no one she can let her hair down with? I'm sure she's got a chili recipe or two that she'd love to share. Certainly there must be some people out there interested in hanging with her.

"Cheney Told "Go F**K Yourself" in Gulfport, MS" (Democracy Now!)
Meanwhile Vice President Dick Cheney visited the Gulf Coast region for the first time since the hurricane struck. He was on vacation most of last week in Wyoming. On Thursday he held a brief televised press conference in Gulfport Mississippi. He hailed the relief effort as "very impressive." During the press conference, one man screamed Go F Yourself Mr. Cheney. Last year Cheney made headlines himself when he approached Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy on the Senate floor and said "F Yourself."

File it under "what goes around comes around and then some." Cheney can't hide from the people when he emerges from his bunker. Did he see his shadow? Are we due for a hard winter?

I'll skip the peace quote tonight due to the briefness of this break. I will note that with all the talk of Jack Johnson from Jess and Rebecca, I finally went out and got the CD. C.I. told me my favorite song would be "Never Know" and it is. I could listen to that song over and over. (And just might when The Laura Flanders Show is over.)

Check Mike's site because Friday he was going to address the same two headlines from Democracy Now!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Mini post

Cedric and I've been exchanging e-mails today and he's very involved in his church so Wednesday blogging is pretty much impossible for him. (Tonight he's visiting his friends at the nursing home so I wouldn't expect a post from him tonight.) So since he's not able to blog most Wednesdays, I said I'd grab that day. I'm not going to be doing a blog every day. But I can grab Wednesday and make sure he doesn't have to feel bad about not having time for that day.

So barring an emergency, I will always blog on Wednesdays.

Federal Government Attempts to Block Press Access To New Orleans (Democracy Now!)
In New Orleans the federal government is being accused of trying to censor the images coming out of the devastated city. The Reuters news agency is reporting that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is now rejecting requests by journalists to accompany rescue boats searching for storm victims. In addition journalists are being asked not to photograph any dead bodies in the region. Critics of FEMA's request compared the policy to the Pentagon's policy that bars reporters from taking photographs of the caskets of soldiers killed in Iraq. NBC News Anchor Brian Williams is reporting that police officers have been seen aiming their weapons at members of the media. And a blogger named Bob Brigham has written a widely read dispatch that the National Guard in Jefferson County are under orders to turn all journalists away. Brigham writes QUOTE "Bush is now censoring all reporting from New Orleans Louisiana. The First Amendment sank with the city."

You know, if the press wanted to fight, this story would have made the front page of today's New York Times. But they didn't cover it. They didn't front page it. They don't seem to care about publicizing the deaths and attacks on reporters in Iraq.

NBC News, NBC NEWS!, is reporting the way the police are treating the media and yet on the same day we have a valentine to the same group from a lefty blogger (Clintonista) praising the police and slamming African-Americans. I think the damage of the Bully Boy is far greater than any of us realize.

FEMA Filled With Political Appointees, Not Disaster Experts (Democracy Now!)
Questions are also being raised as to why the Bush administration chose to appoint a number of other top officials at FEMA who had no experience handling disasters. FEMA's deputy director and chief of staff Patrick Rhode, was an advance man for the Bush-Cheney campaign and the White House. The agency's third-highest ranking official, Scott Morris, was a public relations expert who worked for a Texas company that produced TV and radio spots for the Bush-Cheney campaign.

The other night, Monday, C.I. quoted Ava and myself from a roundtable that never made it up to The Third Estate Sunday Review. Here's how C.I. concluded about the press and John Roberts, Jr.:

The press hasn't probed, they haven't wanted to. The Times has done their "memo summaries" with the excuses usually in the text of the articles that "this just got dumped." While the memo dumps do warrent coverage, the press isn't supposed to wait to be fed stories, they're supposed to hunt them down. In the case of Roberts, they haven't wanted to.Why?
Like Ken Starr, he's a product of D.C. Therefore, hands off. They're too close to what they cover and the sources of yester year become nominees of today. My opinion.
So a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land is treated as though they're trying to figure out who to crown for a summer festival. When the same press (I'm referring to daily papers here and not just the Times, by the way) wants to editorialize on down the line against one of his votes, hopefully readers will toss back in their faces that they failed to do their jobs when he was just a nominee.

This is the perfect example of them abandoning their oversight role. Bully Boy appointed them, but the press was silent. Reap what you sew.

Mike's going to do the same two items so be sure to check him out.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center)
When evil is allowed to compete with good, evil has an emotional populist appeal that wins out unless good men and women stand as a vanguard against abuse.
Hannah Arendt, 20th-century German political philosopher and author

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

f mass destructInterview with Mike this evening

C.I. told me today that it is so hard to keep quiet but Mike has been on me to start up a site and since the interview is this evening, it just made sense to let him break the news. I'll probably play with him a bit before telling him that I've started this site.

I don't know that I'm ever going to have much to offer. The feedback I got when I was filling in for Rebecca was usually from people who grabbed something here and carried it further. So maybe my approach is just to scatter seeds? The Johnny Appleseed of the net?

Did you catch Kat's review of Joan Baez's Bowery Songs CD over at The Common Ills? I think she captured the CD perfectly.

I'm going to note two items from Democracy Now! and then finish this. Mike's supposed to be calling in a moment for the interview.

Toxic Water Being Pumped Back Into River & Lake (Democracy Now!)
In environmental news -- officials are warning that it could take years to restore clean drinking water in New Orleans. Mayor Nagin's office said E coli bacteria had been found in the flood water, which is contaminated by sewage, dead bodies and toxic chemicals washed out of oil refineries, hospitals and other industrial plants. According to ABC News, flood water in the city's Ninth Ward contains 45,000 times as much bacteria as considered safe for swimming. To make matters worse, 530 of the city's sewage treatment plants remain inoperable. The Army Corps of Engineers has begun pumping the contaminated water into Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality told reporters Tuesday that there really isn't any alternative to pumping the water into the lake or river.

I'm curious as to why there is no alternative and, to be honest, not in agreement that there is no alternative. I think this will be one of the longterm problems that will last for years and, like so much else involved in this tragedy, it's man made.

New Orleans Police Accused of Beating/Detaining Reporters (Democracy Now!)
Reporters Without Borders has issued a warning about police violence against journalists working in New Orleans. According to the group, on Sept. 1 police threatened a reporter and photographer from the Toronto Daily Star at gunpoint because they were seen covering a clash between police and individuals identified by police as looters. When police realized the photographer had snapped photos, they threw him to the ground, grabbed his cameras and removed the memory cards containing about 350 photographs. His press card was also torn from him. When the photographer asked for his photographs back, police officers threatened to hit him. Police also detained a photographer from the New Orleans-based Times Picayune after he was seen covering a shoot-out involving the police. Police smashed all of his equipment on the ground.

When I heard that today, and I'm usually only able to catch the first twenty to thirty minutes on the radio and that's if I'm ordering lunch in, I thought about how this didn't just happen. It took five years of a climate for it to happen. The press isn't blameless. They've too often demonstrated that they will be cowed on any story, big or small. On another level, the Bully Boy's attacked them repeatedly. We've seen the deaths of so many journalists in Iraq and that adds into the climate. The press isn't respected today and that's largely their own fault. They should have been fighting for their rights the last five years. Instead, they took not only dictation but also orders from the White House. They let the administration determine what the nation saw. Whether it was not showing violent images or not airing a tape by Osama, they turned over their editorial duties to the Bully Boy.

Now everyone thinks they can push the press around. It is not solely their fault but they do share the blame for not fighting for the truth, for the people being lied about, and for themselves.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center)
No matter how big a nation is, it is no stronger that its weakest people, and as long as you keep a person down, some part of you has to be down there to hold him down, so it means you cannot soar as you might otherwise.
Marian Anderson

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Sh, I've got a secret


I've got a secret.

I'm doing this site and if you stumble upon it before I let on that I'm doing one, keep it a secret. I'm going to let Mike break the news tomorrow night at his site. The only ones who know right now are Jess & Ava who helped me set this site up. They think we made a mistake somewhere and I guess we'll see after the first post goes up. But there was a lot of information to fill out and they aren't sure we did right. Right or wrong, "It is what it is" to quote groovy Kat.

I thank Jess & Ava for their help. I also think my wonderful friend C.I. who knows I'm doing this site but agreed to keep quiet and let Mike get the news tomorrow. One of my best friends, Rebecca, is someone I'm keeping this from to surprise her. She, Mike, Ava, Jess and others have been asking me to do a site.

I'm Elaine, by the way. I spent a little over a month substituting at Rebecca's site while Rebecca took a much needed vacation.

Let me explain the title. "Like Maria Says Paz." Maria is a member of The Common Ills and one of my e-mail buddies. She and Eli were both really encouraging, Wally as well, when I was substituting for Rebecca. They were also pretty persuasive in the need for another site coming out of The Common Ills community. Maria, Miguel and Francisco alternate weekends doing entries for The Common Ills where they select headlines in Spanish and English from Democracy Now! to get the word out that Democracy Now! provides their headlines in Spanish (text and audio) and to make sure that there's something up at the site each week for members who speak Spanish or visitors who stumble upon the site. All three do a wonderful job but Maria always ends her own remarks with "paz" which is Spanish for "peace." I told Maria Sunday that I was thinking of doing a site and, if I did, I'd really like to call it "Like Maria Says Paz." She was really supportive of the idea and it's a way to twice honor the community. Maybe three times.
It's a way to note the impact of The Common Ills community, the way to note how one member's contributions can reach out and impact and a way to honor someone that really impresses me.

So what can you expect from this site?

Probably not a lot. I will be blogging tomorrow night. But like Kat and Cedric, I'll blog when time permits and when I have time. That was one of my biggest concerns, actually. I'm not like C.I. in that I'm not going to make that kind of time to blog. I admire C.I.'s endurance (online and off) but I don't have that. I also lack the creativity of Betty so I won't be able to weave this wonderful tapestry that pulls together various threads of critical thought to make some larger point.

I'll apologize for the blog roll right now. It could have gone on and been at least twice as long; however, that's a lot of work. Ava & Jess talked me through and kept things light and silly for which I say thank you but I was thinking the whole time, "I need to get an entry going because it's getting late."

So what I want to write about tonight is, believe it or not, rain. I had a session today and one of the topics was water in various forms. After that session, I kept thinking about rain.

I know we've screwed over the environment and that I have no idea what rain in its natural form is like but I was thinking of rain as I know it. That moment of stillness before it starts to come down. How the air gets thick. Then the first drops come down, during a light rain, and it is almost like the air is wringing those drops out. The smell? Have you ever noticed that smell when rain first begins falling?

I don't think I can identify it properly but here's my stab at it. It's a thick, smokey smell. It's almost like something's being burned. My sense of smell may be messed up but that's what rain smells like to me when it first begins to fall.

I feel like, and I may be wrong, that in terms of the mood of the country we're at that moment when the air gets heavy and thick and the drops are about to fall. I think what's going to pour is activism. I hope I'm right.

I've got a new e-mail address. Ava & Jess suggested that. If you want to write, the e-mail address is I did get Joan Baez's Bowery Songs today, for any community members who are reading, and it's an incredible CD. I know Kat will write one of her amazing reviews so I'll hold off on commenting until she's explained the beauty to us all but you should really consider purchasing it.

"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