Saturday, April 01, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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