Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Other Items

Rest easy, America, Lynndie England's going to the big house. The last of the "few bad apples" goes down on six of seven counts and could be looking at nine years of imprisonment, we learn from David S. Cloud's "Private Found Guilty in Abu Ghraib Abuse" in this morning's New York Times. The fact that Lynndie England never reported for duty at Gitmo isn't dealt with (in the popular narrative). A "few bad apples" plotted everything themselves. That's the story. Not what were they told before they left the tree? No questions will take us to the top of the tree. Donald Rumsfeld slept easy, I'm sure. Bully Boy probably dusted off his Karla Faye imitation and tries to pass it off as a Lynndie England one.

The policies that allowed England and her co-horts to do what they did, the approval and encouragement of their actions, isn't going to be addressed. Today England's sentenced and the policies still remain. John McCain, a tiny item in the paper yesterday -- really tiny, a single paragraph -- is concerned with reports of abuse for fun coming out of Iraq. He should be concerned. He should be concerned with where the impression that behavior of that kind was acceptable and okay came from. It didn't come from England or Graner. It came from higher than them. But England's off to serve time so we can all apparently pretend that the "evil doers" have been dealt with and justice served.

Cloud, to his credit, steps away from the popular narrative to note:

After the photographs came to light last year, senior Pentagon officials initially sought to characterize the scandal as an aberration carried out by rogue military police soldiers on the prison's night shift. Since then, the Army has opened more than 400 inquiries into detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan, and punished 230 enlisted soldiers and officers.
Also in November 2003, in a separate incident, another Iraqi detainee, Manadel al-Jamadi, was found dead in a shower at Abu Ghraib after being turned over to the Central Intelligence Agency for interrogation. A photograph of his body, wrapped in plastic and packed in ice, has been made public. No one has been charged in the death.

David D. Kirkpatrick gives you the run down on the latest from Senator Meow-Meow (italics are my emphasis):

A spokesman for Mr. Frist, the majority leader and brother of HCA's chairman emeritus, disclosed last week that he had received inquiries from the Securities and Exchange Commission and federal prosecutors about the sale, which was completed five days before the company announced disappointing results that sent the stock price down about 10 percent.

Biggest laughs of the day come in "To Conserve Gas, President Calls for Less Driving." Let's see if Bully Boy and his staff cut back on the fundraisers. He's finally decided he wants to be a conservationist so he has" issued a directive for all federal agencies to cut their own energy use and to encourage employees to use public transportation. I'm sure those in need of help from the hurricanes will appreciate that Bully Boy's asked federal agencies to do less driving. But the laughs don't end there. The Times wants a few of their own. The authors of this piece are "David Leonhardt, Jad Mouawad and David E. Sanger " and you know that they're the authors because instead of a byline, the Times runs this statement under the headline:

This article is by David Leonhardt, Jad Mouawad and David E. Sanger.

Online, it's even more silly -- it reads:

"To Conserve Gas, President Calls for Less Driving"
[today's date]
This article is by David Leonhardt, Jad Mouawad and David E. Sanger.

It's a double decker byline and then some. Which is strange because the story ends with this statement:

Carl Hulse, in Washington, contributed reporting for this article.

Does the Times need to spend a little less time focusing on the bylines and end credits and lot more time focusing on events?

So the protests came and went and the Times filed one sorry story on them. Some e-mails ask, "Why are you surprised?" And they have a point. Here's another point. Think to yourself when was the last time the Times followed an academic conference? Before you say Lawrence Summers, the fact there is they only jumped on the story after the Boston Globe and they didn't follow the conference, they followed the controversy.

But, and maybe this is one of those things that around this time last year Daniel Okrent was telling us how lucky we were not to have in the paper anymore, that wasn't always the case. Forty years ago, in the paper, you could hear about academic conferences. I've found articles on the American Historical Association, the American Political Science Association and the American Sociological Association. When's the last time you heard about anything like that? When's the last time you read a story that went by what someone observed and not what they were told over the phone from a designated "official source"?

Forty years ago, we could get reports from conferences. These days? We're lucky if some idiot makes a sexist remark because otherwise you wouldn't even know anyone was meeting.

The Times was never the paper of the people (nor did it want to be) but there was a time when they did more than call around and ask official sources, "What have you got!" True, sometimes, as Ruth noted, in bathroom slippers and robes, they park it on a couch in front of the TV to catch the Sunday Chat & Chews and write what they see there. (Yesterday, they reduced that to a brief item. Must have been an old Flipper running opposite the chat & chews.)

But the paper of record (yes, they used it to promote themselves, yes, Daniel Okrent was wrong) used to record some things with their own eyes. Somewhere along the way, they lost a sense. (Some would argue they lost all sense.) Now they're down to running on the auditory sense. And apparently 100,000 (or 300,000 or a number in between) Americans gathering in DC, doing the first march in front of the White House in years, was just too much for them. When you've only got one sense left, you have to protect it. All the sounds from all those people might have overwhelmed the only sense they had left. Then what would they do? Pass notes back and forth to Andy Card?

Walk on. Walkon.org as the Times kills not only investigative journalism, but also observational journalism as well.

So let's turn to Norman Solomon's "The Media and the Antiwar Movement" (CounterPunch), e-mailed by Brenda:

To a notable degree, reporters seem to await signals from politicians and high-level appointees to widen the range of discourse. "They need confirmation that this issue is part of the mainstream political discussion in the U.S.," Hallin commented. "Journalists are very keyed into what their sources are talking about. Political reporters define news worthiness in part by what's going to affect American politics in the sense of who gets elected the next time around. But it isn't absolutely only elites. I think it also makes a difference that polls show the public divided, and that there are problems of morale among soldiers in Iraq. But the first thing that the journalists look to is: 'What are the elites debating in Washington?' That's what really sets the news agenda."
So, with the autumn of 2005 underway, what are the elites debating in Washington? With rare exceptions, they're debating how to continue the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
High-profile Democrats and even some Republicans like to bemoan "mistakes" and bad planning and the absence of an "exit strategy." The prevailing version of Washington's debate over Iraq still amounts to disputes over how to proceed with the U.S. war effort in Iraq. Top officials and politicians in Washington won't change that. The journalists echoing them won't change that. The antiwar movement must.

This weekend Lloyd e-mailed a heads up to the public account (which I said I wasn't checking over the weekend), Matthew Rothschild's "The Protests Escalate" (This Just In, The Progressive):

But even the Saudi government recognizes that the situation is approaching hopeless. "There is no dynamic now pulling the nation together," Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told The New York Times the very next day. "All the dynamics are pulling the country apart."
The United States isn't winning the war. It won't. And it can't. So far, Bush has managed to keep waging the war even as he has lost the support of a majority of the American people. But he may not be able to do so much longer.
When quiet and passive opposition becomes vocal and active, as it is this weekend, even an out of touch President may eventually have to respond.
Johnson did, and Nixon did. And so must Bush.
This is our task, not only in Washington this weekend, but in our hometowns across the country, every weekend: by our voices, by our presence, by our creative nonviolence, to make this war impossible to wage any longer.

Brady gives us a heads up to the latest from Dahr Jamail, "More Dissent, More Censorship" (Iraq Dispatches):

At least 1,917 US soldiers have died in Iraq now, 16 just in the last week. At least 10 times that number have been wounded for life, both physically and psychologically.
Thus, it shouldn't come as a surprise that so many people marched in the capital this weekend, nor that so many of them are veterans and family members who have simply had enough of this. The people I spoke with at the demonstration expressed feelings of anger and impatience towards this so-called administration.
So it shouldn't have been a surprise, either, to have seen a sign in the demo with a little pretzel drawn on it which read, "Give the pretzel another chance!"
The recent news of a few brave soldiers from the 82nd Airborne speaking out (on condition of anonymity in a Human Rights Watch report) about how they "vented their frustration by systematically torturing Iraqi detainees from 2003 into 2004, hitting them with baseball bats and dousing them with chemicals" may have shocked some people here in the US. However, it isn't news to soldiers in Iraq, of course, or for Iraqis for that matter.
A soldier currently in Iraq who works as a medic wrote me a few days ago:
"I do sick-call for the detainees. Right now, I think they have mechanics guarding the detainees. I've talked to them a couple of times and they've made comments like 'if they were detained, they are probably bad...' A couple of times I've pointed out that: 1) they might very well be innocent and 2) that they are still human. The guards seemed to really acknowledge that. But it's almost like everyone knows the emperor is naked, but are trying to cling to the idea that he is wearing new clothes. When someone points out that he might be naked, it gives them the freedom to acknowledge that as well. The real travesty, I think, is the American people. With no exposure to Iraqis, all they see on the news is that we are killing the bad guys, and they don't see the refugee camps, or how we trash cities (collateral damage seems a nice phrase, because it's not their homes which are being destroyed. Not the sons and daughters of their friends who are being killed.) They don't see the casual way most soldiers feel about destroying property. All they see is what they are told, and unless it's stamped with a corporations seal, it lacks legitimacy in their eyes and it gets relegated to an 'extremist position.'"

Dana e-mails to note Liza Featherstone's "Make Levees, Not War" (The Nation):

There was no laundry list of grievances; rather, protesters expressed unified, clear and eloquent opposition to the war on the Iraqi people, and its toll on domestic priorities, especially as exemplified by the tragedy in the Gulf Coast. Speakers like Jesse Jackson, George Galloway and Cindy Sheehan were inspiring and succinct.
"Not one person should have died, and not one more person should die," Sheehan said. New Orleans was on everyone's lips, as a clear example of the Bush Administration's callous indifference toward people on its very own shores. The most-uttered slogan of the day was "Make Levees, Not War."
Marching toward the White House, students from Manhattan's Vanguard High School chanted, "Bush is a terrorist!" Of the money spent on the war, in contrast to the slow response to Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Irene Martes, a tenth grader, said, "It's discrimination." Mostly students of color, the Vanguard teens were also angry that military recruiters were coming to schools like theirs. Said Thays Barcelos, another tenth grader, "We're not going [to Iraq], and you can't make us."
After the march, protesters gathered for a free outdoor concert near the Washington Monument. Singer Steve Earle said from the stage, "I think what we're seeing is the beginning of a mainstream antiwar movement."
Let's hope he's right.

Susan e-mails to note some DC photos at The Writings of Greg Palast.

Due to Blogger problems, The Third Estate Sunday Review's "'Why Are You Here' and 'What's Changed'" went up bit by bit (after being lost early Sunday morning). It was completed early Monday morning so you can find voices from the protests there. Here's one voice:

Ida, 71, "retired from the work force, but mentally active": I'm here with my grandson who told me I wasn't hopping on any bus, that he'd drive me. I heard that the young people weren't interested and that the only turnout would be from the the Vietnam era. I wasn't going to not show up if they needed bodies. Turns out there are young people here. I'm glad of that and proud of them. We need more young people showing up but we got some now. I've never seen the media act so cravenly in my entire life. The way they cater to that man [Bush] and act like he's a king. They have disgraced themselves and ought to be ashamed.

That's one voice. (There's one in the previous entry as well.) I'll try to spotlight them throughout the week. (If you see one that stands out to you, e-mail and we'll make that the spotlight.)

Rod e-mails to note today's scheduled topic for Democracy Now!:

Tuesday, September 27: We'll look at what happened in the jails of New Orleans as the hurricane hit. Were some prisoners left to die?

Lastly for the Sheryl Crow freak still offended by yesterday morning's entry and now by last night's who asks "exactly what is okay to buy in your [censored] world because I'm getting new music today! As soon as the [censored] doors open at [censored] Best Buy!"

First off, in yesterday's e-mail you said that was your first visit and that you'd never be coming back to this site. I really think you need to keep your word.

But, since you asked -- to be Judy Collins about it, if you're looking for the authentic version of the plastic nonsense that Crow is putting out today, I'd suggest you try Ryan Adams & The Cardinals' Jacksonville City Nights. You feel that I don't "listen to country often - if ever!" If that's the sound you're going for, check out Adams & The Cardinals. Track four ("Dear John") and track fourteen ("Don't Fail Me Now") will be the places to start. You could always go with something else that doesn't come out today. But if you're determined to get something that's going on the shelves this morning and brand new, grab that. As for "often" or "ever," I've been listening to Jacksonville City Nights, when I've had time, for about five days now. I think it holds up unlike the plastic nonsense you argue will be the "best [censored] CD since Justified!" (Is that Timberlake?) But in the future, if you have musical questions, you can direct them to Kat since she's the community expert on music. If indeed Justified is from the Disney Kid, I must say it was surprising to read such far from safe for Mickey's ears words in your e-mail. Pick up Jacksonville City Nights and you'll find a better way to channel that passion.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.