Saturday, July 23, 2005

"Child Abuse at Abu Ghraib" (A! of Watching the Watchers) and Bob Somerby's latest Daily Howler

Data is emerging, no matter how the administration attempts to hide it, that the new photos and video of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison include the torture of children.
Norway's Prime Minister's office says it plans to address the situation with the U.S. "in a very severe and direct way."
Could this mean losing yet another ally in the Iraq occupation? Amnesty International in Norway has said that Norway can no longer continue their occupation of Iraq, or their support of US policy in this matter.
And some countries, as
Tom Tomorrow notes, actually listen to their activists.
While there isn't even an inkling of this in the US Mainstream media, all over the world people are beginning to read about the US abusing children at Abu Ghraib.

What's the above from? "Child Abuse at Abu Ghraib" by A! of Watching the Watchers. Remember this morning's post about Kate Zernike's "Government Defies an Order to Release Iraq Abuse Photos" in the Times? A!'s on that story.

What's Watching the Watchers? A new site added our to our permalinks. The panel approved that site, if I can digress for a moment (and when I can help myself from digressing). In addition there are two other sites that were added.

An e-mail came in from someone this week who was very upset. He'd recently started blogging.
He'd only picked a few sites to permalink to and The Common Ills was one of them. He felt that the entire internet ignored him.

I certainly have no control over the entire internet. But he is left and he was blogging about politics so if he'd dropped us a line before he deleted his blog, we would have mentioned him here. He felt that I was acting like an "A-list blogger" and making him jump through hoops and "hit a certain traffic volume" before I'd even "recognize" him.

I'm not a "blogger" because this isn't a "blog." I'm blog ignorant and we're a community with an online resource/review. We can be banned or be ignored or break this rule or take this stance because I'm blog ignorant (it's actually a blessing). I'm not sure how an "A-list blogger" acts (never got that memo) but I certainly wasn't trying to ignore someone starting out.

We're a resource/review so if someone's new, aboslutely we want to know about them. But I don't have the time to surf online. Nor do I have the time to visit blogs. I work long hours, I'm volunteering my personal time on issues that matter to me. At any given time, there are probably thousands of voices online that are making a difference. If a member sees one and e-mails to highlight it, it goes up. But as with Blogger A, a lot of people are going to be missed.

If someone wants to contact us at the public e-mail address* we're happy to highlight what they're doing.

No one should throw in the towel because we didn't notice them. To try to prevent that from happening, the panel's approved for links to left sites that are starting out. Shirley found two that are linking to us and they went up with Watching the Watchers (which, again, has panel approval). If you see any site that's starting out and they've linked to us, the panel said we'll operate under the belief that (if they're left) they must hold some (maybe all) of the beliefs we do so those sites can quickly be added. (For a complete list of guidelines on that, Eli, Keesha and Wally will be sending out an e-mail on behalf of the panel tomorrow.)

Blogger A mentioned two sites that went up on our permalinks and noted that we were catering to "the other big dogs." After I got over the, "Did he just call us a dog?" moment, I realized that handling that privately among members (via the gina & krista round-robin) may have left some people wondering about that. For any member or regular visitor that doesn't get the round-robin, we were pranked. Ron and another person's site were replaced with those two sites. (I've e-mailed Ron about this so I think it's okay to mention him here.) When it was first pointed out to me, I went and changed the links back. Then it appeared again (after the password had been changed). As with the corrections of some of my typos, this continued. I didn't have the time to deal with this once a week (or more). So the sites (which do good work) went up on the permalinks. It was the easiest way to address the situation.

That's the short story (as round-robin readers know). But we're not trying to be "A-list" because someone's idea of "A-list" and my idea of "A-list" would probably differ. For instance, Bruce Willis is considered an "A-list" star by film standards based on box office. Though effective in certain roles (especially ones that call for him to be damaged and not flashy), I don't consider him "A-list." If "traffic" is how Blogger A was determing "A-list," we've never cared about it here. There's no site meter announcing, "You are visitor ___." (No site meter I've put up. But as has been said in this space since December, I'm sure google has something up somewhere that counts visits. If so, I don't have access to it and don't care to.)

Rebecca who's become the most internet savy of all of the community members doing sites says that links matter. (More than traffic, according to her.) Certainly, we aren't trying here to be stingy or to avoid listing people because of any elitist rules. Whether you agree with everything someone on our permalinks writes, hopefully you can see that they are trying to address things that matter. That's always been the main criteria. And when I approved links to blogs in the old days, I based it on impassioned e-mails from members advocating for a site.

Unlike "the boogers of the blogs" (Gina and Krista's term), I never felt the need to scream and yell and bully someone in an e-mail for suggesting that we provide a link. Or to demand an apology from them via bullying them that their favorite site would never be mentioned here if they didn't pony up with an apology.

We aren't elitist here. The point (repeated over and over) is that we need more voices, not less.
So if a visitor sees this and knows of a site or does their own site, they're certainly able to e-mail to promote it. We've highlighted an essay that someone's e-mailed in on and needed votes for.
We highlighted a search engine that someone had developed and e-mailed in on. (Which we wouldn't do again due to member complaints of spy ware.) If you're running a site and you feel you're being ignored, we're the last ones to ignore you because we're set up as a resource/review.

We don't highlight neocons. That's been where I drew the line. A man e-mailed saying he was starting his own site around Memorial Day. He's probably a very nice person but we don't highlight neocons even if they say they're of the left.

Occasionally BuzzFlash (one of our first links on the permalinks, Democracy Now! was the other) will e-mail on an editorial. Usually at least one member has already e-mailed on that and it's already intended to go up but if a member hasn't e-mailed on it, it still goes up (usually with a "We'll note . . ." sentence). BuzzFlash does excellent work. In my mind, they're "A-list." So if they can do that, Blogger A should have considered doing that as well.

A! e-mailed on the Watching the Watchers story above. I farmed it out because I saw the e-mail at the end of a break from The Third Estate Sunday Review. (If I'd had the time, I would have gone myself. But Saturdays are not overflowing with time.) Dallas (thank you, Dallas, always) looked it up while hunting down links for The Third Estate Sunday Review to grab some text (otherwise it wouldn't have had an excerpt).

But people can do that. Especially with it being summer and a lot of members going on vacation, we'll miss things that might be of interest to members.

We are not elitist on my end. We're a resource/review and we're happy to note things of the left and things of note. (If anyone wanted to call The Common Ills elitist, it should be community members with their own sites because I'm really bad about doing entries on that. Usually because a member will e-mail in saying Rebecca or Mike or Betty or Cedric or Kat put up something amazing and but they won't provide text or link so I'll take the attitude of "Okay, tonight, I'll have time and go visit their site . . ." and reality is that there's never time.) (I've asked both Mike and Cedric, members who've recently started sites, to e-mail me their writing to try to prevent that.)

I'm "old school" as Cedric will tell you. I'm going by what I read in print for what I'm steering members to. The computer screen usually make my eyes water. And I like to be more mobile than in front of a screen. I can get on the treadmill or the stepper with a book or magazine. I can take a book or magazine with me and read it during the day at various intervals. Members are the one finding things online. And they're the ones who deserve credit.

But they're not going to find everything by themselves. So if someone written something that's important or that they're trying to get out there, we can note it here. When I say "blog ignorant," take me at my word.

I'm really sad that Blogger A felt that the entire internet ignored the work he was doing. There's no series of hoops that someone has to jump through here. You need to be of the left.
That's really all it takes to get mentioned in an entry.

Though there's no "elitist" attitude on my part, there is a luxury of not giving a damn. I don't have to worry that "booger of the blogs" unlinked from us (after we did first if I can "nah-nah-nah" it for a moment). I'm not trying to sell the content of others. (If I can "nah-nah-nah" it one more time.) And we're not dependent upon traffic or ad revenues. We were built up peer to peer and that gives us a luxury that others don't have. And this isn't something I make money off of so I'm able to not worry about demands others have. (And I'm comfortable enough finacially which is another luxury.)

But some people have demands on them and they have to take things very seriously. There was a piece, a parody fairy tale, about advice for blogging at The Third Estate Sunday Review (and there are only five minutes left in the break I'm on so look it up yourself) and the advice in that is something I stand behind. If you're speaking in your own voice, and fate's kind, you will be noticed. Fate was kind for us. And mistakes I made were actually nonmistakes and actually increased word of mouth. (Such as song lyrics and posts titled after them. I obviously care a great deal about music. As Shirley pointed out, it made it hard to find a post on a topic if the topic was the first line of lyric, so we stopped that. But there were people coming to this site blind because Carly or someone else's lyric was in a title.) (The Joni Mitchell "Christmas is sparkling . . ." especially added people to the mix.) So we got lucky and we had members (and visitors, think of West who was banished by "booger" due to calling attention to our site and four others) getting the word out.

But we're not elitist and I have no desire to shut down new voices. But "blog ignorant" means what it implies. I hope Blogger A starts back up and, if so, e-mails to call attention to his work.
On a good day, I'm able to go to BuzzFlash, The Daily Howler and Danny Schecheter's site. That's a good day for me. Most days I don't even have the time for that. So if a visitor stumbles onto this post and feels like there's no one paying attention to her or his work, s/he should e-mail and let us know about it.

To me the "elitist" are the gatekeepers. And that means, for someone who doesn't have the time to surf the net, the Cokie Roberts, et al. To a lot of people, Cokie Roberts is "A-list." To me, Amy Goodman is "A-list" because she's speaking in her own voice and not going for the obvious. I hope that's clear.

*Note: As members voted on in Gina & Krista's poll, there are now two e-mail addresses for this site. There is the public one ( and there's a private e-mail address. Members should use the private e-mail address. I'll check that daily (several times). If I'm not in the mood for drive bys and flamers, I may skip a day on the public address. The private address is for members only. If you're a member who doesn't subscribe to the gina & krista round-robin, please e-mail at and as soon as I can, I'll e-mail you the private address. I'm thinking that was Jess or Jim's suggestion (of The Third Estate Sunday Review). (And in too much of a hurry to check that out with them.) Whoever had the suggestion, it was a great suggestion and the account was created almost as soon as they came up with the idea. When Krista & Gina's poll results came back Wednesday, members agreed it was a great idea. So that's how we're doing it now.

I'm pushing the clock here but there's a Saturday Howler that Billie's e-mailed to note so let me note it. Somerby's dealing with a number of issues but we'll focus on Senator Overblown, McCain:

IMAGINE ALL THE SHILLING: Senator Straight-Talk couldn't grasp what the whole thing was about. He spoke with Imus Wednesday morning. Frankly, he was bollixed:
IMUS (7/20/05): I think [John Kerry] said Karl Rove ought to resign over this whole CIA leak thing. What's your view of what’s going on over there at the White House?
MCCAIN: Well, I think one thing is obvious. Karl Rove were--and others--were attempting to set the record straight with reporters that Vice President Cheney did not send Mr. Wilson, that it was done by the CIA and at the recommendation of Mr. Wilson's wife; that there were several other factual errors in Mr. Wilson's depiction of events. Now what happened after that, I don't know. I don't understand it, and I don't think you do either, that a journalist who didn't write a word is now in jail.
And so—
IMUS: Judith Miller of the New York Times.
MCCAIN: So I don’t know.

Poor Straight-Talk! The straight-shooting solon couldn't understand something an eight—year-old schoolkid could grasp! Why was Judith Miller in jail? Duh! She'd been ordered to testify in a criminal probe, and had refused to do so. Whatever you think of the wisdom of her jailing, there's nothing complex or confusing about it, but Straight-Talk was pandering hard to the press--and pretending that this whole affair really doesn't make any sense. (He had a perfect rube to work with, of course. The hapless Imus says every day that he can't understand why Miller is in jail, since she never wrote a story.) But Straight-Talk did think one thing was "obvious;" he thought it was "obvious" that Rove was just trying to set the record straight when he spoke to reporters like Time's Matt Cooper. We don't know what makes Rove's motive so "obvious"--and Straight-Talk has the facts fuzzed-up himself; too lazy to read Wilson's column himself, he keeps saying and implying that Wilson claimed that Dick Cheney sent him to Niger (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/22/05). Could it be that Straight-Talk was spinning us blue? Could it be that "Straight" was talking it crooked? We were amazed when Straight-Talk said that Rove's motives were so "obvious"--but then, along came David Brooks to show what a Full Pander looks like.

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