Friday, January 06, 2006

Listen to the Alito hearings on Pacifica Radio next week

Mike will have comments at his site Mikey Likes It! and, in fact, will probably have his posted before this goes up because I'm tired and would be getting into bed but I promised, in yesterday's entry, that I would post tonight. I didn't know that we'd be participating in a roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin (look for it to be e-mailed Monday morning and Mike's significant other Nina participated in the round-robin so that's a special treat).

Bush Meets Former Secretaries of Defense, State on Iraq (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile, President Bush met with a group of former secretaries of state and defense to discuss his Iraq policy. The group included Bush’s first Secretary of State, Colin Powell, whose former aides have recently gone public with scathing criticism of the Bush administration. Powell reportedly stayed silent throughout the meeting.

The remedial president? Bully Boy needs to be tutored . . . on the war he started.

"Powell reportedly stayed silent . . ." Well why should he speak up now? It's not like he took a chance to make a stand when the war was being hatched and the lies being told.

"Powell reportedly stayed silent throughout the meeting" needs an editorial tag at the end "which was perfectly in keeping with his I-don't-make-waves approach that's been his hallmark."

That link takes you to in depth analysis of Colin Powell at Consortium News and that takes us to, finally, my noting "The Common Ills Year in Review 2005" because Robert Parry (of Consortium News) is cited a voice that speaks to the community. That entry was a nightmare for C.I. to pull together. Last year, various members noted voices and sites that spoke to them and there were some nice lists, but this year, members didn't just select a voice, they provided an excerpt to something that was said (or written) that spoke to them.

It provided a strong overview of the year and also a strong example of what made a voice stand out. Illustrating "The Common Ills Year in Review 2005" was Isaiah's "Bully Boy Exposed" which made the point, in a humorous manner, that 2005 was the year Bully Boy was exposed for what he is. I'll post that comic next week when I've got more time and talk about it then. Hopefully, you've already seen it. There was a focus on peace, on activism, on war, on Hurricane Katrina (and Wilma), on reproductive rights . . . It was just a strong review and one that The Third Estate Sunday Review was toying with reposting until they learned how much trouble it had been to do. If you haven't read the entry, please make a point to. But brew some tea or coffee or hot chocolate first because it is a long read.

Robertson, Ahmadinejad Suggest Sharon Deserves Ailment (Democracy Now!):
Sharon's ill health has drawn a mixed reaction, with well-wishes from leaders from around the world including the Palestinian Authority. In Iran, state media reported Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said: "Hopefully, the news that the criminal of Sabra and Chatilla has joined his ancestors is final" -- a reference to the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon where over 1,000 Palestinians were killed in 1982. An Israeli commission on inquiry concluded Sharon bore "personal responsibility" for the incident. Meanwhile, Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson indicated Sharon’s condition was a consequence of his decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.
Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, on his program "The 700 Club" : "Ariel Sharon, who was again a very likeable person, a delightful person to be with. I prayed with him personally. But here he is at the point of death. He was dividing God's land, and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU, the United Nations or United States of America. God said, 'This land belongs to me, you better leave it alone.'"
The Guardian of London reported on Wednesday Robertson is heading a consortium in talks with the Israeli government over building a sprawling biblical theme park by the Sea of Galilee.

I've made it a point not to say anything about Sharon period. I don't care for him. I don't wish illness on anyone and I hope his health improves. That's my position until he gets better or doesn't. But it is interesting how Pat Robertson fancies himself God and rushes in with a judgement. I don't think God speaks to Pat Robertson. No, let me change that. I don't think Pat Robertson listens when God speaks to him. After 9-11, immediately after, he's blaming people for it. Not long ago he appeared to be calling for the death of Hugo Chavez. (I believe he was calling for that and I think most people would reach that conclusion as well.)

Let's deal with that for a moment. Let's say that Pat Robertson truly believes Hugo Chavez could do something awful. The way I understand it, he should be praying for God to reach to Hugo Chavez. I thought that was what salvation was about but apparently, for Pat Robertson, salvation comes via bullets. I am shocked that any of his followers could remain after he calls for the death of someone. He did a similar thing regarding the Supreme Court where he appeared to be imploring God to strike down sitting Justices.

I don't understand why he isn't called out on these remarks by his followers. The fact that he isn't leads me to believe that he's preached a perversion of the Gospels and, therefore, he's leading people astray.

Now Ruth's noted an important announcement from Pacifica:

Mon., Jan. 9 through Fri., Jan. 13
The Pacifica Radio Network is bringing you the Samuel Alito Senate Hearing for nomination to the United States Supreme Court live!
Verna Avery Brown teams with Mitch Jeserich from Free Speech Radio News and Pacifica National Affairs correspondent, Larry Bensky, to bring you the controversial nomination hearing of Samuel Alito for United States Supreme Court, live.
Anchors: Larry Bensky, KPFA; Verna Avery Brown, WPFW; Mitch Jesserich, FSRN.
The schedule of hearings includes a one hour pre-show on the opening day, and an half-hour wrap-up show each evening. Live analysts will join us in the booth and via telephone throughout the hearings.

You can listen to Pacifica online if there's not a Pacifica station that broadcasts over the airwaves in your area.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

"Peace is knowing when you need rest"

Mike and I both think that today's Democracy Now! is one you really shouldn't miss. Instead of sensationalism, they dealt with reality and a whole host of issues involving the mining disaster that aren't the ones anchors putting on the "sad face" are noting.

Remember to check out Mikey Likes It! to get Mike's take.

WV Paper: Mining Deaths Were "Preventable"; Says Bush Undercut Safety Regs (Democracy Now!):
In West Virginia, about 125 people gathered Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil in the town of Sago to mourn the 12 coal miners who died in what was the country's deadliest mining accident in four years. One miner survived and remains hospitalized. The town has been in a state of shock since Tuesday night when residents were initially informed that 12 of the 13 trapped miners had been found alive. But the report turned out to be false. The owner of the mine - the International Coal Group -- is coming under increasing criticism for its handling of the tragedy and its safety record. The company's president Ben Hatfield said he sincerely regretted the manner in which the families were falsely notified. The company waited over two hours to tell the celebrating family members that their loved ones were not in fact alive. The editors of the Charleston Gazette in West Virginia have published an editorial in today's paper titled "Preventable Deaths." The editorial reads "this tragedy was not a surprise - both because the mine had a disturbing safety record, and because the Bush administration in Washington has been undercutting mine safety." Last year, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration filed 200 alleged violations against the Sago mine. 46 citations were issued in the past three months - 18 of them were considered "serious and substantial" We'll go to West Virginia later in the show.

You can't cut ignore oversight without having consequences and if you don't enforce the laws, what happens isn't an "accident," it's negligence. That's exactly what Bully Boy's been to the country. We saw his neglect with the after effects of Hurricane Katrina. We see it in Iraq.

Bush Reserves Right To Order Torture of Prisoners (Democracy Now!):
This update on a story we have been tracking closely. Last week President Bush officially signed a bill outlawing torture of detainees. While the bill signing received significant press coverage, what Bush did following the signing has not. According to the Boston Globe, Bush quietly issued what is known as a signing statement in which he lays out his interpretation of the new law. In this document Bush declared that he will view the interrogation limits in the context of his broader powers to protect national security. Legal experts say this means Bush believes he can waive the anti-torture restrictions. New York University Law Professor David Golove criticized Bush's move. He said ''The signing statement is saying 'I will only comply with this law when I want to, and if something arises in the war on terrorism where I think it's important to torture or engage in cruel, inhuman, and degrading conduct, I have the authority to do so and nothing in this law is going to stop me.' "

Who knew Bully Boy was a fan of Starship and went around singing "Nothing's Going To Stop Me Now"? I'd say that's far less suprising than the fact that he once again thinks he's above the law and isn't answerable to anyone. In fact didn't he say that, that people needed to explain to him? He said that not to admit that he's functionally illiterate but because he's appears to believe that the country exists to glorify him as opposed to believing that he owes the country a huge debt. Gratitude doesn't appear to run in that family.

While the Bully Boy doesn't grasp the concept of oversight, CODEPINK does:

Women Say NO to War!
We at CODEPINK, together with 200 prominent women from around the globe, have written our own Urgent Peace Plan to end the war in Iraq. From now until March 8, International Women's Day, we will be gathering signatures to deliver to U.S. embassies worldwide. So join Alice Walker, Susan Sarandon, Margaret Cho, Dolores Huerta, Eve Ensler, Congresswomen Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, and Cynthia McKinney, Iraqi women from the Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq and Women Living Under Muslim Laws, and many more (see initial endorsers) by signing the call today at and passing it on to your friends.

I'm wiped out tonight so that's going to be it. I'll blog tomorrow night. (A promise.)

Peace is . . .
knowing when you need rest.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

"The soul of our country needs to be awakend"

Mike and I had an extremely difficult time selecting items from today's Democracy Now! headlines because there were so many to choose from.

We decided, finally, on two and that we could use one of C.I.'s entries to cover the a bit more than we usually do. Remember to visit Mikey Likes It! to get his perspective.

Top Republican Lobbyist Pleads Guilty To Fraud, Bribery (Democracy Now!):
In Washington Tuesday, the prominent Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to three felony counts. He admitted to defrauding at least four Native Americans tribes of tens of millions of dollars, bribing government officials and evading taxes.
_ Abramoff has reportedly agreed to testify against several members of Congress who received favors or donations from him or his clients.
_ The Wall Street Journal reports his testimony could implicate as many as 60 lawmakers.

Amy Goodman devoted the hour to exploring the details of this story and Mike and I both felt we should try to pull a point from the hour that we felt shouldn't be overlooked.

"Native American Tribes Attempt to Recover After Being Defrauded of Tens of Millions by Abramoff" (Democracy Now!):
AMY GOODMAN: Arturo Senclair and Ben Nighthorse Campbell, in 2002 alone, records show three Indian tribes donated $1.1 million to the Capital Athletic Foundation. That's Abramoff's foundation. But now Newsweek has learned investigators probing Abramoff's finances have found some of the money meant for inner city kids went, instead, to fight the Palestinian intifada. More than $140,000 of foundation funds were actually sent to the Israeli West Bank where they were used by a Jewish settler to mobilize against the Palestinian uprising. Among the expenditures, purchases of camouflage suits, sniper scopes, night vision binoculars, a thermal imager and other material described in foundation records as security equipment. The F.B.I. sources tell Newsweek it's now examining these payments as part of a larger investigation to determine if Abramoff defrauded his Indian tribe clients.
BEN NIGHTHORSE CAMPBELL: Well, he probably did. But, you know, there are already laws on the books that allow tribes to recover some of their losses. And, as I understand it, the Tiguas have already filed a lawsuit to try to recover some of the money that they gave him. I understand also, though, that he's now saying he's broke, that he did something with it, gave it away or some darn thing. So, who knows, they may never recover their losses, but they're certainly going to come out of this whole experience a heck of a lot wiser and be a lot more careful on the people that they ask to carry their voice to Washington.

There are so many angles to this story. You really should check out Democracy Now! broadcast on this.

"NYT: 'Agency First Acted on Its Own to Broaden Spying, Files Show' (Eric Lichtblau & Scott Shane)" (The Common Ills):
How did the NSA have the power to make the changes? According to administration spokespeople an executive order ( Executive Order 12333) Reagan signed allowed for it to happen. I know all presidents rely on those executive orders and think they override the Constitution, but they don't. At best, it's "an order" by its very nature, it's not a law. No president can declare a law. Congress is the law making body.
But that's today's spin from the White House: "Reagan signed an executive order and that gave us permission!" (Did Yoo discover that order at the time or did someone, Yoo?, think of it as the illegal activity continued to hound Bully Boy?)
[. . .]
But this administration has been filled with people (Colin Powell, for instance) who saw the Bully Boy as the nation. No president is the nation. The people are the nation and when the presidency turns against the people, it has turned against the nation.

The NSA spying began in 2001, according to today's reports. Nancy Pelosi objected in real time. Bully Boy didn't authorize it with his own executive order until 2002. C.I. and I were discussing this and here's a question we had, if Reagan's executive order gave "permission" (which we don't accept because the Constitution is the supreme law of the land), then why did Bully Boy need to sign his own executive order?

Justice Dept. Seeks Dismissal of Gitmo Cases (Democracy Now!):
In other news, the Justice Department has filed a request to dismiss more than 180 cases brought by Guantanamo Bay detainees to challenge their detentions. The detainees lost their right to habeus corpus in a Senate amendment attached to anti-torture legislation passed last month. Detainees are now only able to plead their case before an appeals court once they have gone through a military court process.

C.I. posted the following this morning:

Like Elaine, by the way, I think it's past time for a new term. "Detainee" doesn't really convey several years of imprisonment. I'm not sure that "inmates" is the proper term, and not sure that it isn't, but "detainee" makes it sound as though you've been stopped as you went through customs and forced to declare an item or two.

The terminology is something we have both been discussing and words do have meanings. "Detainee" gives a very ugly reality a pleasant sounding name. The fact that so many continue to be unconcerned may have something to do with the term. It provides you with a false impression. "They're just detainees, it's a temporary status."

Early on, we were led to believe that this was for information which may have allowed some people to have a false sense of security. "We're just getting information." The implication being that as soon as we had the information, certainly not a process that would take years, they'd be set free or stand trial (before a military tribunal, according to Bully Boy from the beginning). The "detention" has no end unless pressure comes from other countries. Those released who were British citizens aren't criminals. Now maybe some are or maybe we're just seeing the Bully Boy paint himself into a corner. It's considered known, and reported in The New Yorker, that many people in Afghanistan profitted by turning mentally challenged individuals. They were paid for the people they turned over. So anyone with a grudge could work out that grudge at the expense of someone else. If Gitmo was filled with guilty people, it seems like they would have been tried already. That hasn't happened and the administration and some JAG lawyers have been at war over the procedures.

We need to think about this because Bully Boy's not thinking about it.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
The soul of our country needs to be awakened . . .When leaders act contrary to conscience, we must act contrary to leaders.
Veterans Fast for Life

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

On a writer who speaks to me

I'm late in posting. Mike and I picked topics from Democracy Now!'s headlines today and we did that hours ago. I've been dragging all day and can't attest that anyone received strong therapy at the office today.

Then we got off the phone and Mike probably started his post immediately. I was hungry, so I went into the kitchen. I had a half loaf of bread. In the fridge I had mayonaise, some vegetables that had gone bad and a jar of peanut butter. Looks like a peanut butter sandwich, right? Wrong. It was empty. Except for a spoon. I'd snacked on it while we were pulling the whatever on the latest edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review. "Whatever" because I'm not sure what to call to it. We started early Saturday and were busy mainly with research for the essay before those of us on the east coast (most of us) broke away to begin our New Year's Eve festivities, we'd gotten a lot done but still needed to regroup to firm things up and finish some pieces that had been started. I was already in a foul mood because I'd bumped into an old lover at the party I went to and he expressed interest. Rebecca swears that it's for the best that I didn't join him at his condo but came back here to get on the phone and back to work on the edition. She's probably right. It did end on an unpleasant note and there's probably no point to starting off the year with remorse. But I was in a pity mood while I picked up the phone and grabbed the peanut butter to munch on. Jess sensed my mood and said for everyone to be quiet for a second. During the silence, he played Melanie's "Peace Will Come (According to Plan)" and not over the CD player, he picked up his guitar. I know it helped me focus but I believe it helped everyone.

However, I was talking to Dona on Monday and she thinks that "the crew" that worked on Christmas Eve should have taken New Year's Eve off and let the others put out the edition. She says that was asking a lot out of people and she knew from calling around that everyone was exhausted.

(Not everyone. Betty was home with two sick children and she actually enjoyed having that to do as opposed to, as she put it, "Staring at the walls and thinking, another New Year's alone.")

But it really did wipe everyone out. I don't think it was because we all partied hard (though most did). C.I. was planning on drinking and ended up not. It was too much trouble making sure everything was ready for the party and working on the edition. Then when guests started arriving, C.I. stated that it was "Enjoyment with one eye on the clock."

I really feel for C.I. because the rest of us have had a break from online stuff but C.I's had new stuff up at The Common Ills and no break. Pulling together "The Common Ills Year in Review 2005" did not take two, three or even four hours. It took over twelve. I calculate it at fourteen because I called Monday right as it was about to go up. But C.I. notes that there were three fifteen minute breaks "at least." It was fourteen hours. Which was partly due to problems with the screen freezing up and being slow.

I'll write about the year in review later this week. I'll toss in the two news items you should be aware of at the bottom of the post. Don't expect much from this post by the way.

The one thing I do want to talk about tonight is Kat's "Kat's Korner: 2005 in Music." She listed thirteen CDs all told. (Two reissues.) I think it was a strong list. I know last year she worked on something (I'll hunt down the link later in the week) noting some strong albums of the last forty or forty-one years. It was a huge list with some really important albums on it but there were people who were unhappy with it. I hope that's not the reaction this year.

If I made a list, I'd make a point to put Jack Johnson on it. But that's my taste. Kat was very clear that this was her selection and that there are probably other worthy CDs out there.

I think she highlighted some albums that really had something to say. Focus on the eleven albums of new recordings and you're seeing people who really made contributions this year.

I'm tired but I'll copy and paste the eleven (title and artist, no commentary):

Early 21st Century Blues. This Cowboy Junkies
Portrait of An American Girl. Judy Collins
The Beekeeper. Tori Amos
A Bigger Bang. The Rolling Stones
Monkey Business. The Black Eyed Peas
Those Were The Days. Dolly Parton
Motion Sickness: Live Recordings. Bright Eyes
A Time To Love. Stevie Wonder
Back To Bedlam. James Blunt
Get Behind Me Satan. The White Stripes
Bowery Songs. Joan Baez

Mike said on the phone tonight that he'd just heard the Judy Collins CD since Christmas. He knew the rest and had them. Why? Because he buys when Kat praises. I do as well and have those CDs and others she has noted in 2005. Ty noted a Diana Ross Christmas CD (which I'm too tired to go look up the title of now) and I purchased that as well as Eurythmics based on
Rebecca's word of mouth.

The point? There was music to get excited about in 2005 and for me the resource for that music was my friends. I can remember talking to C.I. about how disgusting music was not all that long ago. Looking back, I realize it was when "the Disney Kids" were taking over. As a thinking woman, I couldn't get behind that. I was honestly thinking, "Okay, Lainie, you've hit the wall everyone usually hits where you stop listening to anything new and just constantly put on your old favorites."

That really depressed me and I was probably depresed with regards to that for six months despite C.I. constantly noting some CD that wasn't on the radio or mailing me one that wasn't on the radio. Music is really important to me (I've got the Cowboy Junkies on right now) and it's a constant in my life. It can make me think or energize me when I'm tired or down.

I really can't imagine what life would be like without music.

Kat doesn't just list some CDs in "Kat's Korner: 2005 in Music," she also addresses the problems of coporate consolidation of radio. It's really an amazing piece of writing and she made me laugh when she commented on Billy Idol's "To Be A Lover" video. (I won't spoil your laughter so read her review/commentary/editorial if you remember the video.)

Music should matter to our lives. The excitement that someone I know has over a new CD is infectious. I rush out and purchase (unless they have hugely differing tastes). Thanks to C.I.'s intervention at the beginning of the reign of the Disney Kids, music crept back into my life. Thanks to people like Kat it's a key part of my life again.

In case it's not clear, I'm not really a TV watcher. I'm not like C.I. who doesn't watch out of disgust with the lame shows now on. I've just never been that much of a TV watcher. My entire life, it's been come home and turn on the radio or stereo. So music being such a part of my life in 2005 was a big thing to me.

Kat's an important voice to me personally. I think the attacks on her were nonsense for any number of reasons. That would include the fact that Kat doesn't have to "correct" her opinion just because a man doesn't like it. That also includes the fact that a woman claiming feminism should have told the man, "Deal with it." Instead, she chose to join in the attacks and attacked Kat in countless e-mails (including one to her reader that she was supposedly apologizing to).
The reality is that the man who couldn't take a passionate woman with thoughts and ideas of her own writes freeze-dried crap that's dead on arrival. Kat did a thing last year (again, I'm too tired and lazy to look up links tonight) where she wrote about how bad writing was killing music.
Bad writing wasn't a typo or a mistake in subject-verb agreement, bad writing was lifeless writing.

She went on to discuss how if you feel passionate about something, you should write about it in that manner. The man who attacked Kat is far too busy trying to appear reasonable and, as Kat noted of people like that a year ago, too busy attempting to impress you with his knowledge (which is limited and reads like he read two books on Bob Dylan before annointing himself an expert).

I read my local paper and several others. It is very rare that a music writer speaks to me anymore. I miss the days of Patti Smith and others who wrote with fire and passion. There was a review in Spin, years ago, of Fleetwood Mac's Tango In The Night. I wish I knew who wrote that. (It's not available online, I looked over a year ago.) But that was an amazing piece of music writing. The writer tied the album into memories of when Rumors hit, being at a baseball game with some children and the constant refrain of "DON'TSTOPTHINKINGABOUTTOMORROW" in such an amazing way that you felt like you were hearing Tango and Rumors just by reading the review.

The world does not need anymore writers saying, "Unlike on the last album . . ." "This is another benchmark . . ." Or any of the other nonsense that passes for "criticism." Music is an artform, a living one. If you can't create within your review, please don't sap the life out of music by boring us with your factoids.

Kat never writes in that passion-less, dull, plodding manner. She turns criticism into art as the finest music writers have. "Kat's Korner: 2005 in Music" went up this morning and I was in one session after another for most of the morning. At lunchtime, I picked up my messages and there were thirty friends who'd called asking that I pass on to Kat how much they enjoyed her writing.
I hadn't even had time to read "Kat's Korner: 2005 in Music" myself but I dialed Kat's number and passed on that she was a huge hit with my friends. She asked me what I thought and I had to tell her I'd read it while I listened to Democracy Now!, ate lunch and read it. The program was a strong one today but I kept raising my head and asking, "What was that?" because I was lost in Kat's strong writing.

Music can and should matter. If someone wants to write about it, that should be because they have something to offer which isn't repeating all the factoids you gleanded from a book or two.
Music writing today is too formulaic. Especially reviews which exist around:

1) Set up the album.
2) Now drop back to the last album.
3) Say this is good but note reservations.
4) Toss out two more song titles and give a phrase or two to describe each.
5) Concluding statement.

That kind of writing will kill the enthusiasm for music. So check out Kat's latest because she's picked some artists who made musical art (and statements) worth hearing in 2005. Especially if you're someone that thinks no artists weighed in one the war or the state of the world today in 2005, you should check out Kat's list. People are weighing in, they just aren't getting the attention of the Clear Channels (and are getting slammed by those who put out freeze-dried crap and want to prove how "reasonable" they are).

Now here are two pieces of news that you should know about.

Bush Support Dropping Among Armed Forces (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile, a new poll by the magazine group Military Times shows support for President Bush among US armed forces has fallen over ten percent in the last year. The survey found support for Bush's overall policies at 60 percent, down from 71 percent. Support for the Iraq war for is at 54 percent - down from 63 percent. The Times says the poll found "diminished optimism that US goals in Iraq can be accomplished, and a somewhat smaller drop in support for the decision to go to war in 2003."

US Air Strike Kills 14 Civilians in Iraq (Democracy Now!):
In Iraq, Reuters is reporting a U.S. air strike has killed 14 members of one Iraqi family in the northern town of Baiji. An Iraqi military spokesperson said the air raid damaged an additional four houses, injuring at least three other people.

I think the items speak for themselves and really only found inspiration today in Kat's musical commentary. Check out the list and support the artists who aren't afraid to make a statement beyond, "Baby, baby, I love you, baby, baby."

Sunday, January 01, 2006

"Peace Will Come"

So how is 2005 shaping up for you? I'm wiped out from celebrating and from helping out at
The Third Estate Sunday Review. Let me swipe from C.I. and note what's up there:

There you'll find a feature on movies with New Year's themes, a "feature on what we're thankful for in 2005 and what our hopes for 2006," an essay refuting the "we were all wrong" nonsense, an editorial (Susan and Julie will especially enjoy that) and Ava and my TV review which focuses on what's coming to your small screens shortly.

I think you'll find a lot worth reading so utilize the links.

There was too much in the headlines for Democracy Now! Friday. Mike and I could have selected two from any of the items because they are all worthy of highlighting. We hoped that the immigration bill would be covered by Maria (which it was) and decided we could select something else. We wanted to try to highlight two items that fit together and that helped us narrow down the selection some more. However, all of the items were things we could have weighed in on. Be sure to check out Mikey Likes It! to get his take on these items.

Gitmo Hunger Strike Jumps To 84 Detainees (Democracy Now!):
This news from Guantanamo Bay -- a five-month hunger strike at the US military prison now involves at least 84 detainees. The US military said 46 detainees joined the strike last Sunday, on Christmas Day. Only nine of over 500 detainees at the prison have been charged with any crime.

On Terry Schiavo, Bully Boy said, "It is wise to err on the side of life." When it comes to the prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, there's no similar concern on his part. I think we may need to stop using the term "detainees." The reason is that when you pass the one year mark, let alone several years (as is now the case), we're looking at prisoners.
We're looking at prisoners who've never had their day in court. They've just been tossed into prison at the whim of the Bully Boy. But we'll all avert our eyes and pretend this is what happens in a democracy.

Secret Prisons, Renditions Enacted Under Broad CIA Program (Democracy Now!):
The Washington Post is reporting new details of the covert CIA program enacted shortly after 9/11 by the Bush administration. The Post says the program, known by its initials GST, marks the largest CIA covert initiative since the height of the Cold War. It includes a range of controversial programs that have been recently uncovered or subjected to public scrutiny -- including the kidnapping of terror suspects abroad, the maintenance of secret prisons in at least eight foreign countries, the use of interrogation techniques considered illegal under international law, and the operation of a fleet of aircraft to move detainees around the globe.
Powers authorized by President Bush include permitting the CIA to create paramilitary teams to hunt and kill designated individuals anywhere in the world. The Post reports the CIA is working to establish procedures that would allow for the quick cremation of a detainee’s body in the event the detainee dies in custody.
A government official who has been briefed on the program said: "Everything is done in the name of self-defense, so they can do anything because nothing is forbidden in the war powers act. It's an amazing legal justification that allows them to do anything."

It's time for Congress to provide oversight, serious oversight. It's time for the Bully Boy to be brought into check. He is not a divine ruler. He is not the only authority in this country. The courts and, to a larger degree, the Congress have allowed Bully Boy to act as though the executive branch is the only branch of government, as though the legislative and judicial branches are mere handmaidens to the executive branch when, in fact, they are equal branches. Bully Boy cannot continue to operate outside the realm of checks and balances. If this continues, let's go ahead and hold a funeral because it is the death of democracy.

I'd hoped to post on those Saturday because Friday was out of the question due to personal obligations. Then we ended up starting early on The Third Estate Sunday Review. The essay required huge pre-work before a word was ever written. We were all going through our magazines for hours picking things worth noting. Due to time issues, only a very small sample of the research was used. We're hoping to pick it up at some point in the future.

If you missed it Friday, Democracy Now! aired part-one of their two-part look back at 2005:

2005 in Review: Power, Politics and Resistance
Today, part one of our special look back at 2005, including George W. Bush'sinaugeration and protests against election fraud, the occupation of Iraq, the conviction of attorney Lynne Stewart, the appointment of John Bolton tothe UN, the revelation of Deep Throat, the conviction of Edgar Ray Killenfor killing the three civil rights workers in 1964, and much more.
Featuring the voices of: Colin Powell, Allan Nairn, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Jessie Jackson Jr., George Bush, Ossie Davis, Maya Angelou, Harry Belafonte, Dahr Jamail, Robert Fisk, Ghazwaan Al-Mukhtar, George Galloway, Barbara Boxer, Condoleezza Rice, Robert Byrd, Peter Kornbluh, John Negroponte, Alberto Gonzales, Orrin Hatch, Ted Kennedy, Lynne Stewart, Bill Quigley, Tom DeLay, Ken Goodman, George Voinovich, John Bolton, Giuliana Sgrena, John Stauber, Tim Rieser, Ricardo Alarcon, Jose Pertierra, Scott McClellan, Bill Moyers, Timothy Karr, Jim Shultz, Carlos Mesa, Mike Gravel, Jennifer Dohrn, Donald Rumsfeld, Mike Honda, Amy Hagopian, Simbi Veke Mubako, Wellington Chibebe, Flash Sharrar, Michael Scherer, Magdalano Rose-Avila, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Cindy Sheehan, John Conyers, Claire Short, Chris Chafe, Linda Chavez-Thompson, Bernie Sanders, Carolyn Goodman, Steven Schwerner, Ben Chaney, and Keith Beauchamp.

If you missed it, you can access it online. Monday will bring part-two.

On the topic of year-in-reviews, C.I.'s pulling from printed e-mails to get the review up at The Common Ills. I was on the phone with C.I. a half-hour ago and the estimate is at least two more hours before that entry goes up.

Peace Quote for 2005 (from a song by Melanie utilized in the editorial at The Third Estate Sunday Review):
Well sometimes when I am feeling so grand
And I become the world
And the world becomes a man
And my song becomes a part of the river
I cry out to keep me just the way I am
According to plan
According to man, according to plan
According to man, according to plan
Oh there's a chance peace will come
In your life, please buy one

Let's all help peace out in 2006. Happy (belated) New Year.