Friday, October 28, 2005

"Peace is the work of justice indirectly . . ."

Mike and I will be doing the same items from Democracy Now! so be sure to check out his commentary at Mikey Likes It!

Almost 70% of Iraq Deaths Under Age of 30 (Democracy Now!)
MTV has compiled some new statistics on the 2,000 US troops killed in Iraq. Nearly a third were between the ages of 20 and 22, with the highest fatality rate--about 12 percent--being among 21-year-olds. Nearly 70 percent of U.S. casualties are under the age of 30. Forty percent left behind spouses and 30 percent were survived by children.

Mike and I both thought this was important because when you're dealing with numbers, 2,000 in this case, it's easy to see it in the abstract. It can be very weightless. Hopefully the most basic statistic from above, 70% of troops who've died in Iraq are under 30, will have some sort of connection with people. We always send the youth off to wars.

With this war, why were the lives given (given by the Bully Boy)? No WMDs. In fact, any claim they made ahead of the invasion has been proven false.

Padilla Files New Appeal to Supreme Court (Democracy Now!)
Lawyers for Brooklyn-born Jose Padilla--the man accused of plotting to set off a dirty bomb inside the United States--have asked the US Supreme Court to limit the government's power to hold him and other U.S. terror suspects indefinitely and without charges. Padilla, who is a US citizen, has been held for over three years in solitary conferment on a Navy brig. No charges have ever been filed against him and he has never appeared before a judge. Justices refused on a 5-4 vote last year to review Padilla's rights, ruling that he contested his detention in the wrong court. One of Padilla's attorneys, Donna Newman, said the new case asks when and for how long the government can jail people in military prisons. She said the Bush administration's position "is not only can we do it, we can do it forever. In my opinion, that's very problematic and something we should all be very concerned about," she said. Justices will not decide until late this year whether to hear Padilla's appeal.

C.I.'s written some strong commentaries on Padilla and here's a brief one:

I'll add that Jose Padilla is an American citizen. He hasn't been given a trial after three years. We know that. We all know that (in this country). We can pretend we don't and we act like it's not happening but it is happening and, from Mackay's reporting, we know that some of the torture has been used to attempt to get information on Padilla. If after three years they've got no information that allows them to feel they have a winnable case, the government appears to have no case. Padilla should have been granted a trial years ago. The continued refusal to allow him to stand to trial is a shame on the country (United States).

I took a thirty minute break to find that and ended up reading through The Common Ills. C.I. is a best friend of mine and has been for years, but I really do love The Common Ills for far more than friendship. I was laughing at "the Dylan meter" and nodding along with social commentary.

I also read Beth's column and I had e-mails on that so let me make my only comments here. First, Beth wrote a wonderful column. It's funny and Beth has such a great voice. If you're not getting the gina & krista round-robin, you are missing a great deal and among the things you are missing is Beth's weekly ombudsman column. She's always funny and never afraid to admit she's frazzled by some of the e-mails or topics.

It was noted in Beth's column that Ava, C.I. and myself felt that the issue was the event and not the person and there was an e-mail that came in here saying that felt like a prepared comment that Ava, C.I. and myself had worked out ahead of time.

There was no working out ahead of time. The first I knew of Beth's column was when I returned Beth's call. I was between sessions and trying to make sense of an insurance form that my office doesn't usually deal with so I wasn't going to have a lot of time on the phone and told Beth that upfront. But that was the first call I had about Beth's column and it came from Beth. The second call on Beth's column was at the end of the day when Beth wanted to check my comments with her. She told me she'd be summarizing me since my remarks were brief unless there was a quote I wanted include. I told her a summary was fine.

While we were on the phone, and members can e-mail Beth about this and she'll back me up, she did not tell me, "Ava and C.I. said a similar thing." Ava and C.I. are very good friends and they work very well together on joint entries at The Common Ills or on their TV reviews at The Third Estate Sunday Review. They can, and often do, finish each other's sentences. (Check the roundtables at The Third Estate Sunday Review. They are always on the same page.) I doubt that Ava and C.I. prepared a joint statement. (I'll ask and if the answer is yes, I'll note it here Monday. Otherwise, my assumption is correct.) They don't have to, they're on the same page. That's why Ava was chosen to take over at The Common Ills if C.I. ever has to step down due to health reasons.

So that's why they were on the same page. As for me, I've known C.I. for years and years and years. We agree on a number of things and we've always stressed (check with Rebecca) the concept of it's the issue, not the person.

It wasn't a prepared statement. It didn't have to be. The three of us shared the same mindset on that.

The other issue that came up was where I declined to comment. I just finished reading Beth's column again and I'm only seeing that with regards to the issue of naming. I may be missing something. If it does pop up elsewhere, it's probably due to the fact that if I didn't catch everything, I wasn't going to comment.

Let's say that Dona and Jim were arguing over what the best jelly or jam was and I came in late as Dona was insisting strawberry and Jim was insisting plum. If I asked, "What happened? How did this topic come up?" and was told Mike had asked Cedric about it, that might be true. But I didn't hear Mike ask Cedric about it, I heard Dona and Jim arguing over it. So I wouldn't feel comfortable offering, "The whole thing started when Mike asked Cedric . . ."

Last weekend was a nightmare with regards to calls being disconnected and posts being lost. However, it was also a relief in that "the creep" (I think Beth coined that name for him) wasn't brought up. No one went there and so the problems were mechanical ones and not differences of opinion between us. That was a big relief because if it had degraded into one long rap session about "the creep," I think a lot of people would've felt that, since the topic had been gone over and gone over already, the weekend had been a waste of time.

Instead, it was a productive one. I cannot believe the time and care that was given to "Watchdog Daily." That is a first rate piece and if I didn't grasp that from reading it (I do), the feedback from friends would have sent the message home. There's hope right now that we'll have a piece like that (at least one) this weekend.

And if you've read "Watchdog Daily" already and need some fresh laughs, check out Betty's
"Thomas Friedman, Living on the Five Finger Discount" (Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man) and be prepared to laugh.

"In the Name of Justice" (Monica Benderman, CounterPunch):
Kevin Benderman sits in jail. An injustice. He did not want to go. He did not take his stand, break a law and dare the courts to put him in jail with a stiff sentence. Kevin Benderman put his principles on the line and dared to trust that his rights would be respected as the constitution he fought to defend demands.
Kevin Benderman did everything he could to demonstrate to the military, and to the world, that he did not want to go to jail, by consistently performing his required duties without letting the challenge he faced keep him from his responsibilities
Why would anyone want to go to jail? Why would anyone challenge the legal system to put them in jail? Kevin Benderman followed the rules and filed an application to be recognized as a Conscientious Objector to war. The military command broke the rules. They did not follow their own procedures, and through their failing of the law, Kevin Benderman is the one serving time. The legal system of our country failed and did not uphold our constitution.
Days and nights are spent working diligently on a plan of action for ensuring due process in Kevin's case. As he sits in abhorrent conditions, knowing in his heart that he has made the right choice and taken his stand with integrity, many good people work hard to find a way to bring his case to public awareness, and to show the world that justice has not been served.
Kevin is not alone. There are many, not all soldiers, who are wrongfully imprisoned for standing for their beliefs with integrity. They did not choose jail, they trusted that their ethical stand would be respected and treated with dignity by the legal system. They followed the rules, did things the right way and were persecuted for it.

Here's our closer.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
Peace is the work of justice indirectly, in so far as justice removes the obstacles to peace; but it is the work of charity (love) directly, since charity, according to its very notion, causes peace.
Thomas Aquinas


Mike and I picked the two items from Democracy Now! and I said that if I could grab time, I'd blog on them. Mike noted that at his site and since he did, I'm putting them up here but it's too late for me to offer commentary. Consider it things worth knowing about and check out Mike's commentary at Mikey Likes It!

Over 1500 Events Held To Mark 2,000 U.S. Deaths in Iraq (Democracy Now!)
The Village Voice is reporting over 1500 events took place across the country Wednesday to commemorate the death of 2,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq. In Washington, anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan and 25 others were arrested for demonstrating without a permit in front of the White House. The protesters lay on the ground in a “die-in” to symbolize the US soldiers killed in Iraq. In New York, several hundred flooded the Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Times Square with shouts of "Bush lied, 2,000 died."

Renewed Patriot Act to Alter Death Penalty Rules (Democracy Now!)
The Washington Post is reporting the House bill that would renew the USA Patriot Act includes little-noticed provisions that would dramatically alter the federal death penalty system. The bill allows for smaller juries to decide on executions and grants prosecutors the right to re-try suspects if a jury deadlocks on sentencing. The bill also triples the number of terrorism-related crimes eligible for the death penalty. The Justice Department has already endorsed the provisions. Jennifer Daskal of Human Rights Watch, told the Post : "These are radical changes in the way federal death penalty cases are litigated, and they were added virtually without any debate."

This next item is especially important and Mike and I both agreed that C.I. had covered it well this morning and, if I blogged, I'd note C.I.'s commentary.

Govt. Ordered to Notify Prison Lawyers on Force Feedings (Democracy Now!)
Lawyers for hunger-striking prisoners at Guantanamo Bay won a federal court order Wednesday mandating the government to provide them with clients' medical records and to notify them before their clients are subjected to involuntary force feedings. As Democracy Now reported last week, scores of hunger-striking detainees have been force-fed with tubes up their noses at the U.S. military prison.

NYT: 'Striking Guantanamo Detainees Gain in Ruling'" (Neil A. Lewis) [The Common Ills]
A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Bush administration and the military to provide information to defense lawyers about the condition of detainees at the Guantanamo military base in Cuba who are participating in a hunger strike.

The judge, Gladys Kessler of Federal District Court, acted on a petition brought by lawyers for a handful of detainees from Qatar, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan who say they have been forcibly and sometimes brutally fed by tubes placed through their noses.
[. . .]
Julia Tarver, a lawyer for three of the detainees, asserted in court papers that when she visited her clients she found them weak and sometimes able to speak only with difficulty because of throat lesions they said were caused by having the feeding tubes forced in. Ms. Tarver said one detainee, Yousef Al-Shehri, told her that a feeding tube had been roughly inserted through his nose into his throat, causing him to spit up blood.
The above is from Neil A. Lewis' "Striking Guantanamo Detainees Gain in Ruling" in this morning's New York Times.
As has been noted on Law & Disorder and Democracy Now!, you're talking about prisoners who've been held for years, with no trial and little hope of getting out. This is their way of protesting and taking action when no other action is left to them. We could do something about it (other than force feeding) but that would mean living by the prinicples our nation's supposed to stand for.
Instead, we lock people away without a trial and no hope of release. Then when they take one of the only stands left for them to take, we further the indignity by force feeding them. (After denying for months that a hunger strike was even going on.) What will future generations think when they look back on this?
America, the supposed nation of rule of law, detained, imprisoned people with no trials (including children under the age of eighteen) and left them there. Kept them there with no end in sight. Threw out the Constitution because, the administration argues, it doesn't apply to Guantanamo.
Nothing applies to Guantanamo, it's not part of the United States. If you buy that argument (I don't), what of the people working at Guantanamo? Are they not part of the United States? Are they not bound by the laws and principles of this country?
Let's note Amy Goodman's interview with Janis Kaprinski from yesterday's Democracy Now!:
JANIS KARPINSKI: The only person that I spoke to individually after General Miller's visit -- briefing, his in-brief, that initial briefing, I went to find the JAG officer, the legal officer, lawyer, who was with General Miller, and she was -- I believe she was a major and she had been working down at Guantanamo Bay. So, I asked her, I said, "What are you doing about releasing the prisoners down at Guantanamo Bay?" And she said, "Ma'am, we're not releasing prisoners. Most of those prisoners are going to spend every last day of their lives at Guantanamo Bay. They're terrorists. We're not releasing them." And I said, "Well, what are you going to do? Fly their family members over to visit them?" She said "No, these are terrorists, ma'am. They don't get visits from home." And that was -- that was absolutely shocking, thinking about the fate of these, what we believed was, several hundred prisoners down there, 680 prisoners spending every last day of their lives at Guantanamo Bay, and particularly important because that meant that military police would be guarding them for the foreseeable future.
There's a little truth that doesn't make the news, mainstream. "We're not releasing prisoners."
Are we really surprised that after several years with nothing, no trial, no end in sight, that people would decide that a hunger strike that could result in death was the last act open to them?
If you missed the interview, you can watch, read or listen to it online at Democracy Now!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

"The real miracle is . . . to walk on earth"

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is Janis Karpinski, the former commanding general of Abu Ghraib and the entire prison system in Iraq. She was demoted, the only general to be demoted in the prison torture scandal so far. Talk about prisoner Triple X.
JANIS KARPINSKI: He was a very unusual circumstance. He was captured as a high value detainee, and we believe that when he was captured, of course, you know, he's captured by another agency, but we believed that he was going to be another one of the so-called "deck of cards" detainees.
AMY GOODMAN: What does that mean?
JANIS KARPINSKI: Well, the deck of cards was Saddam and his high-ranking people, and they assigned each one of them to a card, a different card.
AMY GOODMAN: Playing card.
JANIS KARPINSKI: Playing cards. And they called them the “deck of cards” prisoners. And we believed he was going to be one of them, because we had such little information on him. But when he was turned over to my control, we were told specifically to not -- by memorandum, by order from Secretary Rumsfeld, to not enter his name on any database. He was to be referred to only --
AMY GOODMAN: Rumsfeld told you this?
JANIS KARPINSKI: Yes. He sent a memorandum specifically about this individual. He was to be referred to as "Triple X." He was to be held in a separate location apart from any other detainees or any other contact. So, the instructions were very clear, and I -- when I saw the memorandum, I was not in Baghdad when it came in. They were in compliance with that. They kept him at a facility separate and apart from any other contact with anybody. Specific M.P.s were giving him his meals. He had -- he was for all practical purposes isolated or in solitary confinement without being in a confinement cell.
So, when I returned to Baghdad and saw these instructions, I went right to Colonel Warren, who was the legal adviser, and I said, "This is a violation." And he said, "Well, we'll try to get clarification, but this is from Rumsfeld's office." And I said, "It's a violation. You have to put people on the database. And how much longer are we going to be held responsible for him? You take control of him. If you want to violate a Geneva Convention, that's up to you, but I don't want to keep him in one of our camps this way."

We're all opening with Democracy Now! tonight. C.I. and Rebecca put out phone calls this morning asking that everyone please note this interview. The interview is entitled "Col. Janis Karpinski, the Former Head of Abu Ghraib, Admits She Broke the Geneva Conventions But Says the Blame 'Goes All the Way to The Top'" (Democracy Now!) This interview today is so important that you really need to make time for it. I don't care if you watch it or listen to it or just read the transcript, but this is important.

We're reading Kaprinski's book for The Third Estate Sunday Review and maybe you're wondering if the book is out? It is out. The New York Times loves their book reports but they're strangely silent on news of ghost detainees. Now they love their official sources, but Kaprinski should qualify for that. So why isn't the Times all over this story?

You think at a time when they're being (rightly) slammed for Judith Miller, they'd be doing everything they could to prove they're a real paper and not just minutes of stenography dictated by the administration.

"Triple X" was a ghost detainee. Who authorized that status? Donald Rumsfeld did. In violation of the Geeneva Conventions, a prisoner was kept "off the books."

Before the election, lap dog Senator Pat Roberts swore there would be an investigation into the claims (false ones) that led us into war. After the election, Roberts has developed amnesia and suddenly has no interest in determing how we were lied into war.

Military: 2,000 Figure "Not a Milestone" (Democracy Now!)
The military has attempted to downplay the significance of the 2000th death. Military spokesperson Lt. Col. Steve Boylan called the 2,000 figure an "artificial mark on the wall… set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives." In an e-mail to reporters, Boylan wrote: "The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone."

Where's the accountability? It only comes if we demand it. Pat Roberts made a promise. He's not too concerned about it now. We need to make him concerned. We need to put pressure on all of our representatives to earn the money they make by representing the interests of the people and not being water carriers for the administration.

We can do that. The administration and Congress haven't done anything out of the goodness of their heart. Any response, however tiny, has resulted from our actions. The summer of protests is being dismissed by useless people like Scott Ritter who want to say that it didn't matter. It did matter. People came together and even with the press trying to dismiss it, the nation noticed and so did the elected officials. We can pressure for responses.

The 2006 elections are coming up and reps need to know that you are not happy. They need to hear from you.

The occupation continues but the work of people who care about justice has resulted in chipping away the Bully Boy's poll numbers, has forced the lapdog media to get a little more feisty, has begun the discussion about the war that should have taken place before the war.

Good people have been dissed and dismissed. Idiots have felt the need to distort Cindy Sheehan and offer up that it didn't matter what Cindy Sheehan thought about the occupation, that this was something better left to leaders (which apparently includes the out of the Senate John Edwards -- never has a one term senator had so much power with some).

While good people have struggled and fought, liars have told you that Cindy Sheehan didn't want the troops home. Liars have pushed John Edwards as the brave voice of the nation. John Edwards' position on Iraq is what?

Tell you what, when the one term senator figures out where he stands on Iraq, we'll all consider him as a potential candidate. Until then, he's a one term senator who's offering nothing but book clubs.

We reached the 2,000 mark. And the best useless liars who feel the need to make their lives all about getting John Edwards elected in 2008 (he might have to work on the lisp between now and then). If I seem harsh, read Cedric's post. I'm highly offended that on the day someone didn't even note the death of Rosa Parks, they're lamenting a death from three years ago while calling an African-American man "a credit" without realizing how "some of my best friends are black" racist that sounds.

I've had it with people like that. People who lied about Cindy Sheehan during Camp Casey and when called on it, couldn't correct their lies. It's a lie when you know better. It's not a mistake if it's pointed out to you. It's a lie. And to then try to mitigate your lie by stating that it's not really Cindy Sheehan's place to decide what we need to do about the war? It is her place. In a functioning democracy we don't turn over our right to decide. We don't abdicate our role.

Some can hide behind the body count and make lame statements like "we salute you" while they push for more troops on the ground in the illegal war. True support is getting the troops out of Iraq. Anything else is just phoney and fake.

That may be John Edwards' position. He seemed to confuse his own public life with John Kerry's at the Democratic Convention so who knows what flight of fancy he's off on now?

But there are people dying in an unjust war that the nation was lied into. Liars who compounded that lie by falsely claiming Cindy Sheehan was not for bringing the troops home now have demonstrated that they are in the field of public relations and not interested in honesty.

Apparently Rosa Parks wasn't a "hot" enough topic for the p.r. flacks posing as independent voices?

Before they lecture on morality, they might want to try looking at their own. Their immoral hedging on an immoral war didn't help anyone. Their immoral lying about Cindy Sheehan didn't help anyone. Their immoral covering for Jim Wallis' positions while they try to push the Party's latest talking point (and blur the line that is supposed to exist in this country) doesn't help anyone.

Here's my fear. In 2006, they cover and provide cover so even if the Democrats take back the House or Senate (or both) it doesn't matter. Why? They've covered and spun and no one's had to take a position or stake out where they stand.

To all those making themselves useless, tonight's peace quote is dedicated to you.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
The real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth.
Thich Nhat Hanh

That means walking with the people, not sucking up to whatever candidate for 2008 you're already supporting.

Check out Mike and Rebecca tonight. We're all on the phone making sure we covered something different in our quote from the interview. This isn't a time to be frivilous. But you'll note that just as some didn't feel Rosa Parks' passing was important, they also don't feel that the interview today on Democracy Now! is important. Maybe the Democratic Party, or the DLC wing of it?, didn't issue marching orders today?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

"As long as you keep a person down . . . it means you cannot soar"

Mike (Mikey Likes It!) and I are discussing the same three items so you can click here and check out his opinions on these items from Democracy Now!

Civil Rights Pioneer Rosa Parks 1913-2005 (Democracy Now!)
Civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks has died at the age of 92. It was 50 years ago this December that she refused to relinquish her seat to a white man aboard a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She was arrested and convicted of violating the state's segregation laws. Her act of resistance led to a 13-month boycott of the Montgomery bus system that would spark the civil rights movement. The boycott would also help transform a 26-year-old preacher named Martin Luther King Junior to national prominence. In 1958 King wrote "no one can understand the action of Mrs. Parks unless he realizes that eventually the cup of endurance runs over, and the human personality cries out, 'I can take it no longer.''' Parks had been involved in the fight for freedom since the 1940s. She was active in the NAACP, helped raise money to defend the Scottsboro rape case and attended trainings at the Highlander Folk School of Tennessee. The Rev. Jesse Jackson said yesterday ''She sat down in order that we might stand up. Paradoxically, her imprisonment opened the doors for our long journey to freedom.'' Henry Louis Gates Jr called her "the Harriet Tubman of our time." After he was freed from jail Nelson Mandela recalled how Parks had inspired him and others in the South African struggle against apartheid. We'll have more on Rosa Parks in a few minutes.

It's very rare for a woman to make the general history books. Our accomplishments are usually overlooked or minimized. Rosa Parks is a woman who was so fundamental to the civil rights struggle that there's no way for even the most general history text to completely overlook her. What happens instead is that they present her story as though it was an isolated incident that inspired a movement. While it did inspire movement, there were people who inspired Parks and a better history (certainly a truer narrative) would attempt to connect her to that struggle.

Maybe someday that will happen. But I know from a phone call with Cedric that apparently the death of Rosa Parks isn't a big enough thing for some bloggers. Apparently, they had to dig back three years to find something to write about today. That's very sad.

Rosa Parks is a story of a struggle for independence, repect and humanity. This isn't a story of one race. It's the story of America or should be. The story of how change can be effected and the story of why it must be. There was a time in this country when we cared about uplifting the boats of all. These days, taking our cues from leadership, we seem more interested in what is most superficially in it for us.

Rosa Park's will always represent the impact one person can have but her narrative also represents the power that people working together can have.

U.S. Death Toll Nears 2000 (Democracy Now!)
And the U.S. death toll in Iraq is creeping closer to 2,000. The military has announced a Marine died in Ramadi on Sunday bringing the death toll to 1997. Anti-war activists have organized over 300 protests to take place across the country on the day after the US announces the 2000th U.S. soldier killed. On Monday Cindy Sheehan announced she and other peace activists will begin holding a daily vigil each night this week outside the White House.

We're there.

Hurricane Wilma Wrecks Havoc in Florida, Cuba & Mexico (Democracy Now!)
Residents in southern Florida, Cuba and Mexico are all facing massive cleanups following the devastating Hurricane Wilma. In Florida at least six people have died and six million are without power. In Cuba parts of Havana flooded after a seawall broke Monday. In Cancun, 500,000 residents have lost nearly everything.

We're all glad that Wally, Beth and other members in Florida are safe. When C.I. gave the heads up to look for a special gina & krista round-robin, I started checking my e-mail almost every hour. Before the round-robin, C.I. would often say (or e-mail but due to us being friends of many, many years, for me it usually happened over the phone), "I think you and ____ would enjoy e-mailing" and if both parties were in agreement, C.I. would pass on e-mail addresses. Now with the round-robin, anytime a member shares something and wants to post their e-mail address it's up there. (All members who run sites have their e-mails posted in the round-robin as well.) It's amazing how close so many people have gotten. Pru e-mailed me wondering about Wally this morning and Gareth quickly followed. It wasn't that long ago that the community was worrying about them and other members in London. I think the community did an amazing job of showing support to Kara with Hurricane Katrina (and I checked with Kara to make sure it was okay to note that). (Kara said please do and to put up that she says thank you to everyone who helped her.)

Knowning that Florida community members were safe and accounted for, I started thinking about this:

Hurricane Wilma Hits Florida With 125 MPH Winds (Democracy Now!)
Here in this country, thousands have evacuated Southwestern Florida to escape Hurricane Wilma which made landfall this morning. The Category 3 storm battered Florida with winds 125 miles per hour . In Broward, the county's emergency management director said Hurricane Wilma may be the worst storm to hit the area in half a century. The storm has already devastated the Yucat√°n Coast in Mexico leaving 15,000 people homeless. Wilma marks the eighth hurricane to hit Florida over the past 14 months. Meanwhile Tropical Storm Alpha has hit Haiti and the Dominican Republic on Sunday. Alpha was the 22nd named system in the Atlantic Ocean this season making 2005 the most active hurricane season in 150 years. For the first time ever, weather officials had to turn to the Greek alphabet for a storm's name.

I know Kara and Wally and Beth get that something abnormal is happening this year with hurricanes. But I wonder how many people get it?

I got an e-mail from a visitor who's convinced that "you aren't all the happy family that you pretend to be." What's he talking about? He says that Rebecca and I don't get along. He says I rarely mention Rebecca here and she rarely mentions me at her site.

I read the e-mail to Rebecca over the phone and we both laughed. You're talking about two friends who go back to high school so, pulling a C.I., translation: you don't know what you're talking about.

I don't usually "plug" Rebecca here. That is true. There's a reason for that. She doesn't need the "plug." Rebecca's not approaching C.I. in terms of e-mails (no one in the community is) but she is second ranked. Rebecca actually asked that we focus more on the newer sites and on Betty. Betty because she's got such a juggling act balancing work, kids, family and blogging. She has very young children. She's such a perfectionist that she's never satisfied with something when it goes up. She also beats herself up over typos. We all love Betty very much and think she's an amazing voice so we try to note her as often as possible.

That was something Rebecca asked for. So you're seeing a problem that doesn't exist. As for my being noted at her site, I have been noted there. Plus, after six weeks of filling in for her, most of her readers know my voice and know of this site.

I'll "plug" C.I. shortly. We all do and there are probably two reasons for that. First, it is the site that started it all for the community and we're all aware of that and aware of the fact that when you speak truth to power, you don't always get the easy shout outs that pass for "acknowledgement" online. The second reason is that we're not noting C.I. as much as other members. C.I. usually has four entries a day. No one else does that every day. So I may note one of C.I.'s entries and a visitor may think, "She always 'plugs' C.I.!" but if you look at it in terms of the amount of posts versus the amount of mentions, it's not a case of C.I. gets "plugged" all the time.

C.I. actually turns down blog spotlights at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Each week, Jim has two or three items he wants spotlighted and C.I. will say that since people already know that the TV reviews are "by Ava and C.I." there's no reason for an additional spotlight. In terms of our own sites, it's also true that any excerpt by C.I. tends to result in a jump in the e-mails we receive. It's like bringing on a name guest star. So of course we do that.

And it's in the community's interest to "plug" The Common Ills because that's where it all started. Cedric and Mike are especially prone to "plug" because they're aware that when C.I. stuck up for a stranger that had just started visiting the site, it resulted in being pulled from a blog roll. C.I. knew that would happen but didn't think twice about doing it and announcing it (without naming) on the site. It's that kind of action, standing with the community, that results in members loyalty to The Common Ills and you can put me in on the loyalty list because I was offended when West was attacked. I'm also offended that others didn't stick up for West. The first time C.I. heard from West was when West e-mailed to C.I., Rebecca and two bloggers to apologize. Apologize for what? Liking their sites and advocating for them to an idiot who then threatened West with either West apologized for something that didn't require an apology or be banned and have the four sites plugged be banned. (West had said to the wants so bad to big blogger that if he was going to praise Michelle Malkin, as he'd done that day, he might want to step out of the GOP closet. The idiot tried to ban West on the pretext that the comments were "homophobic." They weren't homophobic. As a practicing psychologist, I will state loudly and firmly that they weren't homophobic. Since all e-mails were reprinted in the round-robin, I'll also offer the diagnosis that the idiot was on a power trip and couldn't take criticism despite trying desperately to get comments to his innane posts.)

C.I. could have stayed silent and protected the link on the blogroll. C.I. didn't. And from years of knowing C.I., I can tell you that will always be the case. C.I. doesn't approve of emotional blackmail and extortion is the only term that applies to the apology the idiot forced West into making. Idiot just wanted an apology to him but West thought it was an apology needed to everyone. That's what told the truth on idiot, when West e-mailed everyone involved.

C.I. didn't think twice. A kid, a high school kid, was beat up on emotionally by a supposed grown up who is supposedly on the left all because of a joking remark. (That the idiot knew wasn't homophobic but hid behind that to try to ban West and force an apology.) So C.I. stood with the kid, a kid C.I. didn't even know. C.I. will always root for the underdog and, in this instance, the underdog was a high school kid whom idiot not only attacked but spent the day prior to the attack trying to spy on by e-mailing to see if he could get dirt on the kid. The spying part only came out later and fortunately the round-robin could do the story on that ugly, otherwise unknown part of the story.

But in the blog world where links are everything, C.I. didn't think twice about blowing off a link on a blog roll to stand up for a kid that was bullied by grown ups (two actually, idiot's boss got in on the act). C.I. was delinked the day after the post went up. If you ask C.I. about it, you'll get laughter. And a speech on not wanting to be part of any supposed big name, top notch web site that would beat up on a kid. Now you'll also get the speech about the spying on the kid which wasn't known the night C.I. posted the comment to "Booger."

They proved who they were by beating up on a kid and no one in this community has any use for them. C.I. proved that silence couldn't be bought with a link. So if people are "plugging" The Common Ills it's because we all know that if it was needed, C.I. would stand with any of us.

When you're willing to walk away from a supposed big time link over a kid you never heard from before that day, it goes to character. Members note things like that. (I've seen C.I. walk away from much bigger, real opportunites for years so it wasn't surprising to me where C.I. came out on the issue. It was a matter of being true to yourself or staying silent to preserve a link. C.I. can't be bullied or intimidated into silence, trust me.)

Now, for my visitor, here's the plug: Don't miss C.I.'s editorial from last night.

"The not so brave Matthew Cooper" (The Common Ills):
Unless Chatty Cathy Cooper is sitting on something (not likely), he had no additional release from Rove. He breathlessly announced, on the day he would have been found in contempt (Miller was found in contempt that day), that he had contact with his source. Rove's lawyer denied it in real time and Cooper's been sketchy since which has allowed the press to circle the wagons and act like Cooper did have a new release.
No, that's not what it appears. What it appears is that faced with having to sit his butt in jail (which Miller had to do), Cooper suddenly didn't care so much about the legal strategy or the First Amendment.
Why does it matter?
Well he didn't conduct himself in any brave journalistic manner and that should be noted.
But if you want to draw a conclusion from the events, one conclusion is that Matthew Cooper was scared of Karl Rove. He wasn't scared of Libby. He named Libby almost immediately. His silence revolved around Rove.
He didn't want to testify against Rove. When Time turned over the documents, his argument was that they removed the need for him to testify. (From Cooper's account in Time, the notes fingered Rove.) He didn't want to protect a source, that's not what it looks like. If he had, and used the same standard, why did he roll over on Libby?
It appears he was either scared of Karl Rove or he had a special bond with him that made protecting Rove more important than protecting Libby.
So which is it? Either doesn't paint him as a good journalist, let alone a great one. Until he was about to be found in contempt, he was willing to push "protect my source" (Rove) as far as he could. So did Time have a reporter who had a special relationship with Rove? Or did they have one who was scared of Rove?
If it's a special relationship, it should have been disclosed considering Cooper's beat. If it was that he was scared of Rove, that says a great deal about the state of journalism.
Regardless, the point is that until he was going to go to jail, he was perfectly willing to stay silent on what Karl Rove did. That's not all that surprising considering that he stayed silent in July of 2003. Two years later, he can finally get honest.
What did his two years of silence buy? It bought Bully Boy another four years. It allowed Karl Rove the time (and luxury) of focusing on the election instead of worrying if he was going to prison. That's two things that Rove can thank Cooper for. I'm not sure America feels so "thankful" to Cooper for that.
Rove's lawyer has maintained there was no new release. Cooper's had an ever changing story on that. It appears that a release (the original one, the only one Rove's attorney says exists) that was good enough with regards to Libby wasn't good enough with regards to Rove. Was Cooper scared? Did they have a relationship that went beyond reporter and source? Those are questions "brave" Matt Cooper needs to answer.
In all the talk about Judith Miller, some time might need to be spent examing what happened with Cooper and why. Instead, he's given a pass and people rush to rewrite what happened.
Why was Cooper willing to fight (repeatedly) all attempts to compell him to testify against Rove until to continue fighting meant going to jail?
Why didn't he want to testify against Rove?

And in case the visitor's wondering, the easiest way to ensure that a post you do doesn't get plugged at The Common Ills is to mention C.I. Cedric's quoted today, a great entry by Cedric, but C.I.'s eliminated Cedric's shout out via this "[. . .]". Tonight's peace quote goes out to C.I. and West. A supposed left site, which wants real bad to be in the blogging business, attacked a kid, tried to "keep a person down . . . to hold him down." Didn't happen. West is embraced by the community now and an active member. The supposed left site? A joke among membership of the community.

"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

Monday, October 24, 2005

"When evil is allowed to compete with good . . ."

Mike and I selected the following two items from Democracy Now!'s Headlines today to note.

"Brent Scowcroft Slams Bush Administration" (Democracy Now!)
Last week, Colin Powell's former chief of staff Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson accused Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld of running a cabal that is undermining the country's democracy. And now former national security advisor Brent Scowcroft has slammed the Bush administration in an interview with the New Yorker magazine. He directed much of his criticism to the neoconservatives and their handling of Iraq. He said, "This was said to be part of the war on terror, but Iraq feeds terrorism." Scowcroft, who is close friends with George H.W. Bush, admitted it was difficult to criticize the sitting president. When New Yorker reporter Jeffrey Goldberg asked Scowcroft if the son was different from the father, he said, "I don't want to go there." When Goldberg asked him to name issues on which he agrees with the younger Bush, Scowcroft said, "Afghanistan." He then paused for twelve seconds. Finally, he said, "I think we're doing well on Europe." Scowcroft went on to say "The real anomaly in the Administration is Cheney. I consider Cheney a good friend - I've known him for thirty years. But Dick Cheney I don't know anymore."

This actually reminds me of an earlier item.

"Ex-Powell Aide: Cheney 'Cabal' Hijacked Foreign Policy" (Democracy Now!):
Colin Powell's former chief of staff publicly accused top-level officials in the Bush administration of hijacking the country's foreign policy in ways that have undermined American democracy. The official - Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson spoke Wednesday in Washington. Up until January he was chief of staff to then Secretary of State Powell. "What I saw was a cabal between the Vice President of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the Secretary of Defense... that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made," Wilkerson said. Wilkerson went on to accuse President Bush and Rumsfeld of condoning the abuse of detainees overseas. The Financial Times described Wilkerson's comments as the harshest attack on the administration by a former senior official since criticisms by Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill early last year. Wilkerson admitted Wednesday his decision to publicly criticize the administration has led to a falling out with Colin Powell, who he worked with for 16 years.

Now hold on for a minute because I want you to focus on a third item (and I'm stealing from Kyle and C.I. because the item was noted at The Common Ills this morning).

"Ideology Governed Post-war Iraq Policy: US Diplomat" (Islam Online):
A veteran US diplomat who served as a government adviser in Iraq has said that the US policy in the Arab country at the initial stage of the occupation was driven by neoconservative ideology rather than careful preparation and clear understanding of issues.
"What one needs to understand is that these decisions were ideologically based," said Ambassador Robin Raphel, who has been with the foreign service since 1977 and once served as assistant secretary of state.
The unusually candid remarks were made in a July 2004 interview for a relatively obscure history program at the US Institute of Peace, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP) Saturday, October 22.
The interview has remained unnoticed until now, when increasing numbers of Americans began to question the Bush administration's involvement in Iraq.Raphel, who served as a trade adviser to the Iraqi government from April to August 2003, took particular issue with decisions by then administrator Paul Bremer to launch debaathification of the country and disband the Iraqi military.
"They were not based on an analytical, historical understanding. They were based on ideology. You don't counter ideology with logic or experience or analysis very effectively," she said.
"The ideology was what has come to be called neoconservatism and the whole belief that this would be an easy war, that we would be welcomed with open arms."

Take all three together. Scowcroft says the war's been mismanaged (that's a mild take on his comments) and directs most of his wrath as the neocons which can be read as a slam against neocon ideology. Wilkerson says a 'cabal' hijacked foreign policy and distorted intelligence with their own beliefs (ideology). Raphel tells us that they rejected any knowledge of history or analysis and just operated out of ideology. The war on truth and the war on knowledge converge in this administration that's determined to have "their way" no matter what facts determine, no matter what history implies, no matter what the social sciences must tell them.
For most of us, that's not a surprise, we've been aware of that for some time. But are you noting the people that are now making statements similar to what those of us in the peace movement have been saying for some time?

Scowcroft's comments regarding Cheney strike me as especially interesting considering the timing. Note the next item.

"White House Prepares for Possible Indictments" (Democracy Now!)
Reuters is reporting White House officials will learn today whether special prosecutor Patrick FItzgerald will seek indictments over the Bush administration's outing of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. Reports indicate that the grand jury could indict both President Bush's chief advisor Karl Rove and VIce President Dick Cheney's chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby for perjury or conspiracy. Both Rove and Libby failed to disclose key information about their role in the leak to the grand jury. Late last week Fitzgerald launched a website prompting speculation that he set it up to post the indictments. Fitzgerald has already posted documents that reveal the Justice Department gave him authority two years ago to expand his inquiry to include any criminal attempts to interfere with the investigation.

Cheney looks burned. If only Libby is indicted, it's still a reflection on Cheney. Click here to visit Fitzgerald's web site. My hope for this week is that at least two indictments are handed out.

I have two e-mails asking why I didn't post my section of "The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review" yesterday? Saturday night, Sunday morning wiped me out. I didn't have the energy to blog yesterday. I did get online Saturday to note Ruth's amazing piece of writing.
But here's the news review, or Mike and my section of it:

C.I.: Cedric, thank you for that perspective piece. With more news on Iraq, we now go to Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz and Mike of Mikey Likes It! All week long, they pair up to select information from Democracy Now! to spotlight at their respective sites. Readers of The Third Estate Sunday Review prefer them paired up for the news review. We started with Elaine last week, so let's start with Mike.

Mike: C.I., despite the AP's best attempts at spinning, if milestones are coming out of Iraq, one may be the secret poll that England commissioned. Australia's Herald Sun reports that in the poll, "up to 65 per cent of Iraqi citizens support attacks and fewer than one percent think allied military involvement is helping to improve security in their country."

Elaine: The poll had several findings of interest. As reported by The Telgraph of London:

• 82 per cent are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops;
• less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security;
• 67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation;
• 43 per cent of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened;
• 72 per cent do not have confidence in the multi-national forces.
The opinion poll, carried out in August, also debunks claims by both the US and British governments that the general well-being of the average Iraqi is improving in post-Saddam Iraq.

Elaine (con't): Despite the fact that results on the full audit will not be known until Monday at the earliest, the Associated Press is already running a nothing-to-see-here-no-fraud-here-move-along story. As Aljazeera notes, this is a partial return and does not include two provinces with high Sunni population. Aljazeera also notes the death of four more US soldiers on Saturday.

Mike: Which would be another real milestone as we close in on the 2,000 figure, official figure, for US troops who have died on the ground in Iraq. As Democracy Now! noted Friday:

UFPJ Plans Day of Actions Over 2,000 Military Deaths in Iraq

The antiwar group United for Peace and Justice has announced that it is organizing a national day of action planned for the day after the US military death toll in Iraq reaches 2,000. As of October 20, the total was 1,988. UFPJ is calling the action "2000 Too Many." Demonstrations are already scheduled in cities around the country. Military family members and veterans will be at the forefront of many planned protests.

Mike (con't): Elaine and I both believe that the count was 1996 via Iraq Coalition Casualties but at present, the site is down. However, an Associated Press report places the total at 1996 and it was filed before the four deaths that Aljazeera has reported.

Elaine: As United for Peace & Justice has noted:

So far, more than 1950 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq, and more than 15,000 have been wounded. U.S. soldiers are at grave risk in Iraq, and continue to suffer even after they come home. Troops returning to the U.S. are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and are even turning up in homeless shelters in cities through the country. The risk for Iraqis is even more severe: Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed in the war, and hundreds of thousands of lives have been devastated, even according to the most conservative estimates.

Elaine (con't): Instead of dealing with that, the Associated Press wants to launch a new wave of Operation Happy Talk which isn't limited to what we've noted and Cedric's noted but also includes a "US troops' morale high!" piece. "US Troops Maintain High Morale" screams the headline which is a rather dubious claim if you read the actual article where one soliders airs his grievance that his tour of duty was extended by Donald Rumsfeld.

Mike: Half-way into the article you begin to hear from voices like the one Elaine noted. This occurs after the piece notes that: "Others say the toll of two and even three tours in Iraq in as many years has dwindled the number of those who will remain in the military and drained confidence that their work was making the United States safer." That's hardly "High Morale" so our best guess is that the Associated Press is counting on the fact that most people will read only the headline and the first few paragraphs.

C.I.: Thank you for that commentary, Elaine and Mike. We'll continue to attempt to access Iraq Coalition Count. For now we go to Betty, of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, with the news from the world of entertainment.

The entire news review is worth reading. Jim would like everyone to post their sections to get the word out on the news review. You've got Kat taking on Bono. After we finished it (and there were starts and stops throughout because we kept getting hung up on, collectively), I told Kat I enjoyed what she said and liked how she was making this a regular thing. She asked me what I was talking about? She honestly didn't realize this was her third time in a news review addressing Bono. It was. She asked if it was getting old? I don't think so. I think Bono needs to be held accountable. I read the Rolling Stone interview she was commenting on and Bono is just pathetic in it as he "explains" why he can't speak out against the war and as he attempts to defend Bully Buy. Bono got played, fine. To continue to play the fool after that is just pathetic.

I felt Kat's comments were very right on and hard hitting. He is trading sound science for appeasement and that will not help anyone. He truly should be ashamed. They reviewed a book by him at The Third Estate Sunday Review (the book is Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas).

"Five Books, Five Minutes" (The Third Estate Sunday Review):
Jim: What disappointing passage are we going with for the excerpt? When he speaks of his current coziness with politicians and notes that "as you get older, your idea of good guys and bad guys changes?"
Dona: How about the time he wastes discussing his weight loss and announcing that he's out of his "fat Elvis" period? Bono, meet Oprah.
Ava: I loved the fact that he saw no contradiction in decrying abusive economic systems that have harmed Africa, while he's setting up his own predatory practices.
Ty: We're going with his latest business venture because it perfectly captures the death of the artist and the emergence of the Bono today.

Excerpt from page 280-281, which is an excerpt of Robert A. Gurth's article for the Wall Street Journal:

Bono, lead singer for rock band U2 and antipoverty activist, is starting a new gig; media and entertainment investing. The 44-year-old rock star is joining Elevation Partners, a new Silicon Valley fund set up earlier this year by veteran technology investor Roger McNamee and John Riccitiello, who in April left his post as president of videogame maker Electronic Arts Inc. for Elevation. The participation of Bono should sharply raise the profile of Elevation, which people famaliar with the fund say initially will raise $1 billion for buyouts and investments in media and entertainment companies, seeking to profit from turmoil in those sectors. Elevation is expected to look for investment opportunities in media and entertainment companies disrupted by the advent of the Internet and other digital technologies.

Kat: And to think, it was Madonna who got dubbed with the "Material Girl" and "no heart" tags.

Kat just lets it flow. I think that's a) why she's often not aware that she's been covering an issue and b) why her coverage is so amazing to read. There's no struggle with Kat, it's "Here are my words the way I speak and that's that. It is what it is."

"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.