Saturday, October 22, 2005

The brave voice of Ruth

I'm reposting this from The Common Ills. I'm sure it's okay with Ruth and with C.I. but if there is a problem, please let me know. As Ruth notes, we spoke on the phone Friday and I was very interested in how this Morning Edition Report would turn out.

Ruth, you are a brave voice who gives us all hope. Bless you.

"Ruth's Morning Edition Report" (The Common Ills)
Ruth: Pledge drives continue on
Pacifica. (On NPR as well.) A large number of e-mails resulted from my week off; therefore, I'm doing a Morning Edition Report.
During pledge drives, it's difficult for me to figure out what will air and what will not. Which does not mean that there are not special programs worth listening to. I heard strong documentaries this week. On
Wakeup Call on WBAI, Friday provided a hard hitting look at gentically modified foods. On KPFA, I heard a documentary about Michael Moore's campus appearance that had some up in arms. There was never a question of finding something worth listening to but it was difficult to follow the programming schedule.

An e-mail came in from Dallas suggesting I sample KPFA. Due to the fact that I could not get any of the streams for
KPFK to work, I did just that. Each morning, I would try to get KPFK to stream but with no luck. I hope that means that a huge number of people were listening which would make up for the fact that I missed two of my favorite programs, Sojourner Truth hosted by Margaret Prescod and Connect the Dots with Lila Garrett.

Dallas is very high on KPFA. In fact, he noted that he pledged and will be receiving a DVD set of the peace rallies in DC which sounds like a wonderful gift. (Tracey and I also made a pledge but I noted a member's endorsement and will avoid stating the one I made with my granddaughter because I know this is an issue for some members.)

On the Pacifica pledge drives, I will also note that Amy Goodman must never sleep. I could hear her at various times, on various stations and her dedication to public radio as a voice for the people is inspiring. Which some might read as an effort on the part of a sneaky old woman to suggest that you consider pledging to Pacifica, but I'll just see it as noting that Amy Goodman, a voice who speaks to the community, has been working very hard to encourage people to support Pacifica.

KPFA is my choice for evening news due to their outstanding KPFA Evening News. It's an hourly broadcast Monday through Friday nights, six p.m. in California and nine p.m. where I live, and a half hour broadcast on Saturday and Sunday nights. Brad and Kara both shared that they find the they find the KPFA's archives the easiest to utilize.

On Wednesday, I listened to a program that Carl has been urging me to sample. I did attempt to sample it last week but it wasn't aired due to the pledge drive. Guns & Butter is Carl's favorite of all the Pacifica programs he's listened to.

Guns & Butter devoted its hour primarily to a speech by Norman Finklestein. Mr. Finklestein addressed the issue of how some used the charge of "anti-Semitism" to shut down discussion and tar and feather opponents. Not surprisingly, Alan Dershowitz's name came up. Mr. Dershowitz has always struck me as a child who earned too much attention from his elders in synagogue and now he hungers for it the way one might hunger for kugel. That is my polite take on Mr. Dershowitz. My impolite take would be to say he's an oysvorf. Mr. Finklestein has a book coming out shortly and in it, among other things, he takes a look into Mr. Dershowitz's claims and research. In his speech, Mr. Finklestein spoke of Mr. Dershowitz's attempts to stop the book's publication. I will note that Mr. Dershowitz maintains that he was not attempting to stop publication or censor. So his call the Gropinator was apparently an effort to save trees?

I enjoyed hearing Mr. Finklestein's speech and hope it leads to some serious conversations, both within the American Jewish community and outside of it as well.

[Dallas notes that if anyone attempts to listen and has trouble with the link, they should try
this one because currently it appears that Bay Native Circle and Guns & Butter have been inverted.]

I enjoyed hearing Mr. Finklestein's speech and hope it leads to some serious converstations, both within the American Jewish community and outside of it.

David Gans is the host of KPFA's
Dead To The World, but I still haven't heard his voice that much. An e-mail from Roger alerted me to the fact that Wednesday's program would revolve around the Who whom Roger assumed, rightly, I was a fan of. Roger, two of my sons are as well, so we ended with a crowded living room Wednesday night. Along with wonderful performance by the band, we also were provided with various facts about it as well. Such as the fact that "rock opera" was a term their manager came up with and not Pete Townsend.

Roger, my family thanks you for the alert. They may have been less thankful the next morning since the program ends well after midnight where we live.

The Morning Show is a nice blend of news, current events and discussions. Tuesday one of the guests was Wavy Gravy and if you just asked "Who?" then you didn't live through the sixties. Mr. Gravy is both a comedian and an activist. He was also a delightful guest to listen to.

However, my favorite guests on
The Morning Show this week were Annie E. Bond, author of Home Enlightenment, and Lisa Harrow, author of What Can I Do?: An Alphabet For Living.

This discussion revolved around what you can do your own home to be more friendly to the environment and also what things, such as carpet, in your home might be unhealthy for you. I found
this to be one of the most enjoyable programs of the week partly due to the discussion in the second hour, as well as the first hour which featured the documentary Homeland narrated by Winona LaDuke. I will also add that the author Ms. Harrow is also an actress and, for anyone my age, married to Roger Payne. Pull out your vinyl copies of Judy Collins' Whales & Nightingales and listen to "Farewell To Tarwathie" to appreciate Mr. Payne's pioneering research on the songs of whales.

I also enjoyed Monday's
Out-FM on WBAI. The song "With God On Our Side" was utilized throughout, performed by Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, and that was due to their topic and guest Esther Kaplan who wrote With God On Their Side: How Christian Fundamentalists Trampled Science, Policy, and Democracy in George W. Bush's White House. The discussion revolved around topics such as the use of religious radio to smear John Kerry in the presidential election, spreading the rumor that he would "ban the Bible," the appointment of judges with former President Bill Clinton appointing moderates and the Bully Boy, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan attempting to appoint ultra-conservatives and the strategies that fundamentalists use to attack science and their fellow Americans.

In closing I'll address a topic coming up in e-mails at the end of the week. Mia was the first one to raise it; however, Tracey had already told me I'd better address it. When your granddaughter "tells" you something, you do take note.

Like many of those e-mailing, I heard quite enough of Scott Ritter this week. His comments about the DC protests were insulting. Was he there? He does not speak like he was and no one I spoke to remembered him being there as a speaker. After I shared his remarks (broadcast first on WBAI's Wakeup Call) with
Elaine, she offered that he does not grasp the point of people coming together or planting seeds. More importantly, she stated, he does not grasp what went on at the protests.

I quite agree with that. Listen to his sneering claims that we sang "Kumbaya" were insulting. "Kumbaya" is a great song but a number of men, usually stocky men of a certain age, love to trot out that nonsense to prove how manly they are. They only come off more stocky and less manly. I briefly attempted to listen to Unfiltered when the program was still airing on Air America; however, Mike Papantonio's constant sneers at the peace movement were more than enough to turn me off the "Pap Smear." As Elaine pointed out, Mr. Papantonio will find that insulting because when it was offered as a nickname, he went into a panic, probably fearing it following him around. Considering his constant insults to those in the peace movement, I am happy to include it here. If you know Joe Scarborough's former law partner, I assume former, feel free to address him as "the Pap Smear."

Scott Ritter did the Pap Smear one better with coded language that was not as coded as Mr. Ritter apparently thought or hoped. Those who e-mailed all got the line he was attempting to draw with regards to his trip to Iraq. Yes, Mr. Ritter, you are no Jane Fonda. Jane Fonda did not run to the FBI before and after for cover. She excercised her rights as American citizen and did not attempt to seek permission for or take cover from her rights. Nor did she feel the need to speak of violence constantly. Rest assured, Mr. Ritter, no one will mistake you for a dove. Nor will you be mistaken for anything but what you are, a disgrunted Republican. If a serious discussion is to take place on the actions of Sandy Berger and Madeline Albright under former President Bill Clinton, it will probably take place without you due to the way you present yourself.

In addition, those who had supported you or been sympathetic to you during the false allegations that you attempted to meet up with an underage female, for questionable purposes, now grasp that you are not interested in their support by your statements that the group that really matters is the undecideds. That faulty thinking explains why Mr. Ritter can dismiss the hundreds of thousands who turned out to protest in DC and it also echoes the Democratic Party's own problems with listening to their base. If more time was spent, by either, working with the base, the base would be better able to get the message out to others. But instead of grass roots, some are more concerned with leadership roles.

Message received, Mr. Ritter, we will waste no more time supporting you so that you may spend more time pursuing the group that really matters to you. Good luck with that, as Tracey would say.

Friday, October 21, 2005

"It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them"

Just a reminder, I won't be blogging on Thursdays through December due to group. I doubt I'll even blog on the Thursday that's Thanksgiving. I'll probably just try to kick back and relax that day. But there were two e-mails asking why I hadn't blogged Thursday.

Mike and I are doing the same headlines from Democracy Now! but before I get to that I want to note his interview with Wally of The Daily Jot. Wally's a sweetheart. At The Common Ills, members pick the blogs that are linked to. They do that by nominating them. The decision on the nominations is made by a committee of members. I've served on the committee twice. Including the one that lasted two months as we wrote the rules regarding linking and delinking of blogs. Wally served on those committees as well so I got to know him as we all debated whether to add this blog or that blog. He really is a sweet guy. As is Mike ("the puppy"). I think the interview they did is amazing.

"My Interview With Wally" (Mikey Likes It!):
[Mike:] Right, but Beth is the ombudsman. Back to The Daily Howler.

[Wally:] Well, it's like C.I. and I discussed in the round-robin interview. How do you miss Judy Miller? You're covering the press and you don't write one damn word on it. Until Wilson comes along and even then. How do you miss that? What's the biggest journalistic story of our time? Probably this decade will be Judith Miller and her WMD coverage but Bob Somerby's got nothing. That's his beat. That's what he's supposed to cover. Where the hell was he? That's a huge embarrassment. Now he wants to come along and piss all over the people raising issues and, me, I wonder how much of it has to do with the fact that he was sleeping on the job and missed the biggest story of the decade. Not just big because people talk about it but big because it was a stepping stone to war, not the only one, others played along too. But I mean, we're at war, Bob Somerby's f**king useless. He's a dottering old man saying, "Billy Kristol made a point the other day" or some other crap. He's useless. Take away his keys, he shouldn't be driving anymore. He's an old crank telling you the same old story for the 80th time and it's disgusting. "Bill Clinton in 1993 . . ." It's like, shine it on somewhere else you old fool. I mean, we are at war, people are dying and he wants to write about how nice his friend Mary Matilin is. It's like, "Shut up, go away." It's like the book by John Le Carre, The Russia House, where Katya tells Barley that she hopes he's not being frivilous because she only has time in her life for the truth. That's what a reader of Bob Somerby has to be thinking these days -- that he's just frivilous now and that in life right now, there just isn't time for that.Because?Because we have troops on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq and he's stuck jerking off on election 2000. And day after day, he's lecturing and making fun of all these people trying to say something like Atrios or Digby -- I don't even know Digby and never read him or her but I know I got sick of hearing Digby trashed -- when all he has to say is "My friend Al Gore" or "let's talk about test scores." I mean in his geezer circuit it's probably passing for news, the junk he's talking about. But where has he been on Judith Miller and where has been on Iraq period? That mattered in the last few years and matters right now. Not that Maureen Dowd told a joke he didn't like. And the roundtable, I read that thing and I started thinking, "Yeah, why is he trashing women all the damn time?" You can tell C.I.'s sick of him. That was obvious when C.I. pointed out that Katrina vanden Heuvel was right and that Bob was wrong. Bob's wrong a lot but what is it, one correction in a year?

It's a great interview. If you haven't read it, you're missing out.

FEMA Scandal Widens as Internal E-mails Are Made Public (Democracy Now!)
More details have emerged depicting the extent of the neglect and irresponsibility of former FEMA Director Michael Brown in his roll in the scandal of the government's handling of Hurricane Katrina. On Thursday, FEMA official Marty Bahamonde testified in front of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. He was the first official from the agency to arrive in New Orleans ahead of Katrina. In the midst of the chaos and horror of the hurricane's aftermath, Bahamonde sent a dire e-mail to Michael Brown saying victims had no food and were dying. No response came from Brown. Instead, less than three hours later, an aide to Brown sent an e-mail saying her boss wanted to go on a television program that night. But first, the aide said, Brown needed at least an hour to eat dinner at a Baton Rouge restaurant, writing, "He needs much more than 20 or 30 minutes." Some 19 pages of internal FEMA e-mails revealed Thursday show Bahamonde gave regular updates to people in contact with Brown as early as August 28, the day before Katrina hit. They appear to contradict Brown, who has said he was not fully aware of the conditions until days after the storm hit. Bahamonde arrived on Aug. 27 and was the only FEMA official at the scene until August 30. Subsequent e-mails told of an increasingly desperate situation at the New Orleans Superdome, where tens of thousands of evacuees were piled in. Bahamonde spent two nights there with the evacuees. On August 31, he e-mailed Brown saying, "estimates are many will die within hours." He described the situation as "past critical." It was just moments after that email that Michael Brown's press secretary, Sharon Worthy, wrote colleagues to complain that the FEMA director needed more time to eat dinner. Worthy wrote, "Restaurants are getting busy...We now have traffic to encounter to go to and from a location of his choise (sic), followed by wait service from the restaurant staff, eating, etc. Thank you."

Mike asked me I remembered The Daily Scold addressing Brown? Yes, I do. I remember him slamming Maureen Dowd and Chris Matthews because they used a line Brown had said. As opposed to putting in every line he ever uttered. He was defending Brown's behavior, ironically with regard to a self-report of having a Mexican meal. Things don't go well for The Daily Scold these days.

Wally writes about The Daily Scold today. I haven't spoken to C.I. yet so I'm not sure if C.I.'s read it. Wally has a nice take on it (and a funny one) but the issue, for C.I., goes a bit deeper.
It's not just that The Daily Scold now wastes everyone's time, it's that it does so with an undisclosed reason. Wally doesn't know that and I'm guessing Mike doesn't either. But to continue linking or to delink has been an issue with C.I. since Rebecca was on vacation when a remark was passed on to C.I. and C.I. followed up on it. This isn't an issue where you find out someone has feet of clay. By that I mean, it's not that Somerby's holding back out of cowardice. This is more along the lines of The Daily Scold has presented himself one way all this time and there's a reality that's not disclosed.

At any rate, as late as Sept. 19th, The Daily Scold was still in Brownie's corner and saying that Brownie was "unaware of the humanitarian disaster unfolding in the Superdome." If he was "unaware" it was no one's fault but his own. The e-mails prove he was given a heads up. But what did he do? He needed his hour for a meal. So The Daily Scold now looks twice as useless.

U.S. Marshals Interrogate Reporters at Saddam Trial (Democracy Now!)
A Fox News reporter has revealed that US Marshals are overseeing security at Saddam's trial in Baghdad and have conducted interrogations of journalists, asking them a bizarre series of questions. Among the questions correspondent Dana Lewis says he was asked: "Am I friends with insurgents?" "Have I ever experimented with drugs?" "What is my religion?" "Are my teeth real?" At the end of the interview, Lewis says the Marshals asked him if he would be willing to take a polygraph. He was then led to a room for an iris scan and fingerprints, which will be used as a physical identity check entering the courtroom for the trial.

This is what happens when Dexter Filkins & co cave in to military whims as though they're serving under the military and not actually reporters who are supposed to be independent of the military. There shouldn't be a litmus test for a reporter to have entry into Saddam Hussein's trial. They have press credentials. If there credentials are in order, let them in. If they're not, refuse them entry. But other conditions are added and the Filkins who've set the tone are responsible. Hidden in the Green Zone, allegedly calling off interviews when the military disapproves, they've created a situation that does have blow back consequences.

C.I. has a great editorial entitled "Reading press releases live from the Green Zone" that's a must read. If you're wondering how we ended up with such weak reporting coming out of Iraq, the answer can be found there.

Now let me note something that C.I. e-mailed me today.

"The Democrats' Abortion Hypocrisy" (David Lindorff, CounterPunch):
The pathetic pandering of various Democratic Party leaders, like Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton, to the anti-abortion fanatics represents the nadir of principle and integrity of a party that keeps demonstrating why it deserves to die.
I have nothing against a guy like Pennsylvania Democratic Senate hopeful Bob Casey, a Catholic, saying he is opposed to abortion. That alone should not disqualify him or anyone from being a Democrat or even a progressive. But he needs to go beyond that to explain how a sincere belief on his part will impact on his job as a legislator. Because anyone who would act to restrict a woman's access to a safe, legal abortion must concede that the result of such restriction will be a massive surge in unsafe, illegal, and even self-induced abortions. That is, the rates of abortions in societies where abortions are legal and in societies where they are illegal are almost identical, but in one case women live and in the other they die or are maimed for life.
The same can be said for such outrages as parental notification laws. It may sound logical to say that a minor girl should have to tell a parent before undergoing a medical procedure as risky as an abortion, but the reality is that many teenagers would rather die (and well might) before admitting to their parents that they had messed up and gotten pregnant. As well, all too many pregnant girls are victims of rape or even of incest, and are afraid to go to a parent who may even be the perpetrator or the spouse of the perpetrator, for permission. Parental notification laws won't stop abortions-they'll just drive girls to risk death getting them illegally.
That's what makes the new "anti-abortion-friendly" positions of weasels like Dean and Clinton so obscene. They know all this stuff, but don't have the courage to state the obvious and take a stand. It's also what makes Democratic candidates like Casey so flawed.

For laughs, check out Betty's latest chapter at Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man. It's called "Keeping Us Ill Informed" and it's funny and a wonderful commentary on the out of it New York Times.

Tonight's peace quote is dedicated to The Daily Scold. Don't worry he will grasp it.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them.
Alfred Adler

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Peace begins when the hungry are fed

Mike's interviewing Wally tonight at Mikey Likes It! so be sure to check later this evening or tomorrow for that. We did go over the two items but he'll be focusing on the interview so I'll attempt to run them down here. Remember also that Thursdays I won't be posting. That'll run through December.

Baltimore Tunnel Threat Turns Out to Be Hoax (Democracy Now!)
For the second time in as many weeks, the credibility of an intelligence threat that led to a terror scare in a major metropolitan city in the United States is being questioned. Two major car tunnels were closed in Baltimore Tuesday following information gleaned from an informant in FBI custody. But intelligence officials now say the informant's warning appears to have been an attempt to exact revenge on a Maryland resident he named as one of eight suspects for being involved with his girlfriend. All eight suspects were Egyptian-born Maryland residents. Last week, a terror scare led to a heightened alert and increased security presence on New York City's subways. Officials later conceded the intelligence that led to the threat warning was a hoax.

I'm not surprised that it was a hoax yesterday. I was on the phone with C.I. last night and we both had Mike Malloy in the background. He was talking about how Baltimore was a hoax that didn't scare the nation, the same way NYC was before. (Mike Malloy is radio show host and a really great one. I used to listen to his old show but honestly hadn't listened to his Air America Show which can't be called "new" because he started it around July 2004. It's a good show and a good resource so seek it out if you haven't already. C.I. is the reason I started listening again, so let me pass it on to you since it was shared with me.)

We're growing immune to the terror "alerts." In some ways, that's good. We're living in a world now that the rest of the world has been dealing with for some time. So we should be going about our lives and adjusting to this as a feature of our lives. Where it's bad is that the administration has manipulated the terror warnings so much (including Boston in July 2004) that we no longer take them seriously. It's a good thing to be able to go about your day if you are factoring in what may or may not be a threat. Paralysis will not help you or anyone else. But it's not good to for the administration to manufacture phoney warnings.

Are we adjusting to new realities or are we adjusting to the fact that we're repeatedly lied to?

Chertoff Pledges Crackdown on Undocumented Immigrants (Democracy Now!)
Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff is promising to immediately deport all undocumented immigrants caught in the United States. Chertoff vowed to end the so-called "catch and release" policy that has reportedly allowed 10,000 undocumented immigrants to remain in the country. Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Chertoff said : "If they think that they can come across the border and get released, they're going to keep coming... Return every single illegal entrant - no exceptions." Chertoff made the announcement shortly before President Bush signed the $32 billion homeland security bill. The Associated Press reports the bill includes a large increase in border patrol funding but less money for local emergency first responders and a freeze in transit security funding.

Michael Chertoff should never have been confirmed. Weak, spineless Democrats refused to fight the confirmation seriously. In fact, take out Chertoff's name and leave that space blank:

____ should never have been confirmed. Weak, spineless Democrats refused to fight this confirmation seriously.

Now you have an instant analysis to use at parties if someone should ask you what you think of the new ambassador, the new judge, the new whatever. Until Democrats find their spine, just write the slogan down, keep it in your purse, and pull it out at parties whenever anyone asks you what you think of a recent confirmation.

Michael Chertoff is doing what Republicans usually do. He's taking a problem and reducing it to an individual. As though people come here as individuals, without families. As though people come here just to get a job. Many people, especially coming through Mexico, have been fleeing for various reasons. Historically, our actions in Latin America being what they are, one could argue we have an obligation beyond basic humanity to take in those fleeing since we are often the ones who either created the abusive regimes or kept them propped up.

And the problem is always the individual, never the corporation employing them or locking them in a store overnight to clean it.

It's not that simple. Democrats used to realize that. That's why LBJ's administration pushed The Great Society and FDR's created the safety nets so important to us today via The New Deal.
Some Democrats still realize that. Let me alter that, some elected Democrats still realize that. Non-elected Democrats tends to believe it and endorse it, it's the politicians that want to "triangulate." We are not a gathering of individuals with no connections to one another, we are a society (though Iron Mags Thatcher would disagree).

If we want to increase as a society, we will work to address problems. Chertoff wants to tell you it's all about this person or that person coming across the border to get a job -- "take it away" from an American? It's not that simple.

But Bully Boys need black and white even when their right and wrong view is flat out wrong.

"From Chaos to Conscience to Peace" (Monica Benderman, CounterPunch)
On July 27, 2005, Sgt. Kevin Benderman was found guilty of Missing Movement and sentenced to 15 months confinement, loss of pay and dishonorable discharge. In actuality, Sgt. Benderman's crime was daring to tell the truth, and daring to challenge the very philosophy of the military machine in which he had volunteered to serve, by filing for Conscientious Objection for no longer wanting to participate in war, and for speaking out to end violence as a means of resolving our differences.
Conscientious Objection is not just objecting to war. It is objecting to chaos, to everything about life that keeps it from a peaceful path. War is chaos, but chaos is also war.
Each person is going to have to one day face the process of becoming conscientious objectors in their lives before we can achieve peace. You will not all face the combat zone of war to do this. You may face a war of your own, far from the battlefields that our soldiers now face in Iraq.
As Sgt. Benderman made every attempt to live by his beliefs, his command did everything possible to dissuade him. They went to great lengths to keep him from speaking his truth, and from talking about what he had come to believe about war versus peace.
What was it they were afraid of? Why were they so anxious to regain control of this soldier? Did his declaration of conscience make them think? When he spoke of what he saw, when he spoke of how it made him feel, did they look in the mirror and see the same questions in themselves? Was it their own conscience that made them afraid?
Sgt. Benderman didn't run. He stood his ground and faced down every wanton act of corruption it took from his commanding officers, as they scrambled to create a story that they could all keep track of, and put Sgt. Benderman in jail. He had done nothing wrong, except dare to point out actions that his principles would no longer allow him to be part of. Like little children who cover their ears and hum to avoid hearing that playtime is over, the command was desperate to find a way to imprison the truth to avoid having to look it in the eye.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
Peace begins when the hungry are fed.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Harry (Reid) and Harrie (Miers) the team from hell

Remember to check Mike because we're doing the same two items and also because I'm furious at the latest news on Harriet Miers.

Iraq Vote Results Questioned After "Unusually High" Returns (Democracy Now!)
Iraq's referendum on a draft constitution is being called into question after the country's electoral commission announced it will audit what it calls "unusually high" voting results. Sunni leaders, who mostly advocated a "no" vote in Saturday's nation-wide poll, have alleged widespread electoral fraud, citing allegations of ballot-stuffing and unlawful absentee voting. The New York Times reports "yes" votes in areas with large Shiite and Kurdish populations - groups known to support the draft - were reported to reach over 99 percent. An official with the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq told the Associated Press voting numbers seemed unusual in areas "all around the country", but it remained too early to draw conclusions. The referendum required a simple majority to be approved into law but can be rejected if two-thirds of the population in at least three provinces vote against it.

As Eunice used to say on The Carol Burnette Show, "Surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise." Only it isn't. But Eunice usually wasn't surprised when she said it, so it still works. C.I. made a great point about the New York Times lousy coverage of this today:

Dexter Filkins, reporting from the Green Zone, notes that the allegations of ballot stuffing couldn't be verified and tosses out the suggestion that there was no obvious reason for alleged ballot stuffing:
It is difficult to imagine why any Shiite or Kurdish political leaders would resort to fraud. Together the two groups make up about 80 percent of Iraq's population.
Apparently Filkins thought he was writing an op-ed. That's his statement (and Worth's according to the byline). I didn't know we were asking them their opinions? (But hey, it's not like they can give us first hand observations.)
For the uninformed Filkins (information is apparently in short supply in the Green Zone), here's one obvious reason, you stuff not to win in areas you assume to win, you stuff in those areas to give the impression of many voters (raising the total) thereby making the election appear "legitimate" since the total number rises.
Filkins has apparently not heard of Seymour Hersh's "
GET OUT THE VOTE: Did Washington try to manipulate Iraq’s election?" (apparently they don't get The New Yorker in the Green Zone). Possibly before venturing to offer his opinion, not labeled as such, he might want to bone up on the subject.

Miers: "No One Knows My Views on Abortion" (Democracy Now!)
Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers denied a published report saying two close friends had said she would vote against abortion rights. Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund wrote Monday on the day she was nominated October 3rd, the two friends spoke with the Arlington Group, a coalition of conservative Christian organizations, in a conference call organized by Karl Rove. During the conversation, Fund wrote, the friends assured Arlington members Miers would vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Democratic Senator Charles Schumer met with Miers yesterday. After the meeting, he said she told him: "No one knows how I would rule on Roe v. Wade."

Well things aren't as covered now. The Associated Press reported late today:

Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers pledged unflagging opposition to abortion as a candidate for the Dallas City Council in 1989, according to documents released Tuesday. She backed a constitutional amendment to ban the procedure in most cases and promised to appear at "pro-life rallies and special events."
Asked in a Texans United for Life questionnaire whether she would support legislation restricting abortions if the Supreme Court allowed it, Miers indicated she would. Her reply was the same when asked, "Will you oppose the use of city funds or facilities" to promote abortions?

So are we going to continue to put up with the hugs and kisses from Harry to Harrie? Why aren't people up in arms that Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate Minority Leader, has been providing cover for Harriet Miers from day one? They should be outraged.

They want to take my control over my body away from me, they better be prepared for a damn fight. "They" includes Democrats like Harry Reid. They better start fighting this nomination.
Disgust for Bully Boy alone isn't going to help them at the polls. They better start standing up and fighting. If Harry Reid continues to be weak and ineffectice, he needs to be replaced.

He's so damn busy proving how well he can "get along" and how he can "play nice" that he's putting women's rights at risk.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular.
Adlai Stevenson

Monday, October 17, 2005

Until lions have their historians . . .

I'm starting off with Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts from Sunday. It made me laugh and hopefully it will make you laugh as well.

Sunnis Contest Reports Iraqi Constitution Has Passed (Democracy Now!)
U.S. and Iraqi officials are predicting Iraq voters approved the country's new constitution during Saturday's nation-wide referendum. The constitution could have been rejected if two-thirds of voters in three or more of Iraq's 18 provinces voted against it. But reports indicate only two Sunni provinces voted no. Sunni Arabs are overwhelmingly opposed to the constitution, fearful it could ultimately lead to their exclusion from oil-rich Kurdish areas in the north and Shiite areas in the south. Authorities estimated a turnout of at least 60 percent. Sunni leaders contested the early predictions, saying independent monitors had concluded a sufficient amount of voters voted against the constitution. No foreign election observers were present to monitor Saturday's vote. Representatives of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq reported turnout to soldiers and officials at a command center located on a U.S. base. A U.S. Army Specialist told the Post: "We have to hold their hand to do everything around here."

What a patronizing attitude on the part of the Specialist. If they aren't cooperating, might it not be due to the fact that an occupying force is not prone to inspiring trust?
The "vote" was a joke. Mike and I are both discussing these items tonight and I'll be posting the thing Mike and I did on this from The Third Estate Sunday Review (Mike posted it yesterday). But you had areas where polling stations didn't even open. You had propaganda (on the pro-Constitution side and on the negative-Constitution side) going up in towns throughout Iraq. I'm not as bad as C.I. who really feels the need to totally immerse in something before commenting but between what Mike was finding, what Dona and Jim were finding, what Jess' parents were finding and what I found, we had a huge number of articles we were working off of. We didn't have Cedric's articles because there was no time. When Cedric was giving his report, Mike and I were working with Dona and Jim to determine what points were the strongest and what we wanted to emphasize. I'd already spoken to Isaiah on the phone Saturday and knew his upcoming comic. He was worried that people might miss the joke if the event wasn't covered heavily by Sunday morning. I told him I'd do my part to get it into a report and hopefully people had some idea of the "great" "success" the administration had with the capture of the al Qaeda barber.

U.S. Kills 70 in Ramadi Bombings (Democracy Now!)
Also in Iraq, the U.S. claims military strikes have killed 70 insurgents near the town of Ramadi yesterday. But witnesses say at least 39 of the dead are civilians. A local hospital official told the Washington Post U.S. warplanes attacked bystanders gathered around a burning U.S. vehicle on the side of a road, killing 25. In a separate incident, U.S. air strikes killed 50 people hiding in a building. Witnesses say at least 14 civilians were killed. The attacks occurred after five U.S. Marines were killed in a roadside bombing in the city on Saturday.

Forget the sides involved for just a minutes. Who will know better the casualities? Someone from on high dropping a bomb or someone on the ground? The planes were already circling Ramadi Saturday.

"The Third Estate Sunday News Review 10-16-05" (The Third Estate Sunday Review):
C.I.: Thank you, Cedric. And we'll note that on The Laura Flanders Show Saturday night, we were all reminded that the January elections featured a lot of photo ops of purple stained fingers and only after the spin was in place was it noted that all the photos came from the same polling stations. We now go to Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz and Mike of Mikey Likes It! for a joint report on Iraq. Elaine, I'm guessing, you have the fatalities figure, so how about we start with you?

Elaine: Yes, I do. For the month of October, the fatality count for US troops is 37, this on the 16th day of October. The 37 fatalities bring the total number of US troops who have died in Iraq, by the official count, to 1970. US troops wounded in action? Here's a shocking official number that the press isn't rushing into the headlines: 14,641. When Bully Boy trumpets the election as a "success" will he mention those numbers? It is doubtful. It's also doubtufl that he'll mention 26,521 which is the minimum number of Iraqis killed since the invasion/occupation as noted by Iraq Body Count. The AP estimates that in the last six months alone "at least 3,663 Iraqis have been killed." But good news for Bully Boy. They've yet to capture Osama bin Laden, some five years later, but when he faces the cameras next, he can trumpet the fact that they have allegedly caught the barber of Al Qaeda. Sleep easy, America, terrorists remain at large, but we've nailed the coiffeur! No one's on the run but senior al Qaeda militants will be looking pretty ragged.
C.I.: Indeed. Mike, you were looking into a number of things having to do with the polling places themselves?

Mike: Correct. In Haditha, a Sunni stronghold, they had a whopping two polling places! Two for a city that houses an estimated 60,000 people. Lee Keath of the Associated Press reports that turnout is high in some Sunni areas due to a healthy number of people wanting to vote "no" to the proposed Constitution. Vote counting in Baghdad, as Cedric noted they've had electricity problems throughout Saturday, was done by laterns. In Ramadi, Saturday's election began with gunfire.

C.I.: Not quite fitting the 'flowers in our path' picture that we were so long ago promised or the 'liberation' and 'peace' promised the Iraqis. The basics are that Iraq is divided into 18 provinces. If any three of those provinces have 2/3 of the voters saying no, three of the 18, then the constitution is defeated. Which would then mean that the constitution would be written by their parliment that's due to be elected in December.

Mike: Press reports say the al-Anbar province is likely to reach that 2/3 no vote. But a story not being picked up widely in the US media is that, from KUNA, "The Iraqi Independent Electoral Commission declared Saturday that about 70 ballot stations have not opened in Anbar, western Iraq for security reasons." No one knows what the ballot count's going to be and, though I'm Irish, I won't play Tim Russert and waste everyone's time with predictions.

C.I.: Thank you for that, Mike.

Elaine: Mike quoted "70 ballot stations" and that is what KUNA reports but they headline that story with "60." 60 is also the number Aljazeera's going with. Aljazeera also reports that:"Ten people working for the independent Iraqi electoral commission have been abducted during the constitutional referendum in the restive Sunni al-Anbar province, the commission said." Abducted apparently by armed gunmen.

C.I.: How many polling stations are there in al-Anbar?

Elaine: 207. So if you go with 60, that's a little less than a third of polling stations not open. Mike mentioned the gunfire in Ramadi and Aljazeera notes that people are staying away from the polls due to the violence while US war planes circle at a low altitude. In non-polling news, reports:

A United Nations human rights advocate accused US-led coalition forces in Iraq of breaching international law by cutting off food and water to civilians to force them to flee cities earmarked for attacks on insurgent strongholds.
Jean Ziegler, a UN expert on food rights, said that coalition forces had restricted food and water to civilians in Fallujah, Tal Afar and Samarra in an effort to encourage them to flee before attacks took place."This is a flagrant violation of international law," Ziegler told reporters.

Elaine (con't): Aljazeera also reports that Second Lieutenant Erick Anderson, who was cleared in the killing of an Iraqi teenager in January, is now facing charges again for the same death.

Mike: And I'll note that measures have been taken for the polling but that they are also increasing measures to get into the country. Brian Conley, of Boston Indymedia, reports at his site Alive In Baghdad that an American who'd entered the country many times, with CPT, was prevented from returning recently due to new form regulations.

C.I.: Christian Peacemaker Teams?

Mike: Correct. The man had already made four previous trips to Iraq since the occupation began but a few weeks ago, a new form was added on to the requirements for entering the country.

C.I.: Thank you, Mike and Elaine. One thing that should be remember, actually two. First, Dona's whispering "blue finger" and I'm guessing she means that in the western media it's usually referred to as "purple" ink fingers but in other areas it is referred to as "blue." Yes, that's what she meant. She's monitoring several Iraqi blogs and the bloggers in Iraq are using "blue." So that's something to remember. The other thing to note is that, according to Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker, the United States government used "off the book" techniques to influence the January elections. We now go to Ty who'll catch us up to speed with the antics at The New York Times. Ty of The Third Estate Sunday Review.

Election under gunfire and falling bombs. My how proud we must be.

Since Friday, the last time I blogged, Common Ills community member Wally has started The Daily Jot where he intends to offer a daily muse "at least five times a week, nothing heavy" and hopes to have it up each morning. I like the idea and like what I'm reading so far. I think you will too and, if you're ahead of me, you probably already do.

Mike talked a lot about how when Cedric started his site it was like a burden was lifted for Mike. I never really got that. Now with Seth in the City and The Daily Jot, I think I do. If I screw up an entry or if I miss a day, there's someone else who could have caught something so it's not all on me. If someone's furious with what I wrote, they've got other places, within the community, to go.

I really admire my friends C.I. and Rebecca. C.I. started it with The Common Ills and until Rebecca started up Sex and Politics and Screeds and Atttitude in January, it was just C.I.
Then along comes Third Estate Sunday Review and the now defunct A Winding Road, followed by Betty's Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man. The wonderful (and gorgeous haired) Kat started up her site Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills). Mike did Mikey Likes It!, Cedric did Cedric's Big Mix and I filled in for Rebecca while she was on vacation. And now we have this huge community with ten sites. Plus the gina & krista round-robin and the biweekly newsletter from the UK Computer Gurus so it's really kind of amazing.

Who knew, right? I can tell you C.I. didn't. I was not the only one telling C.I. to start a web site through all of 2004 and the end of 2003. But I was one of the people saying it. I didn't even know C.I. had started one until three days after the fact. I can tell you that C.I. couldn't have predicted that The Common Ills would turn out to be what it is.

But that's the community taking up the DIY call.

I'm listening to The Cowboy Junkies' Early 21st Century Blues right now and the link takes you to the review of it and Dolly Parton's Those Were The Days at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Kat did a post for C.I. Saturday on The Laura Flanders Show and in the process found out that Flanders would have TCJ on as guests. She started calling around to everyone saying, "If you get the CD we can review two CDs."

So I put back on my heels (I'd just come from an event for a friend), sighed and headed out the door. I love this CD. Thank you, Kat, for cracking the whip. This is just a beautiful CD.

I've used this quote before (though it may have been while I was filling in for Rebecca and not here) and it's one of my favorite quotes on peace.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters.
African Proverb