Saturday, January 15, 2005

Zernike continues covering the Graner trial -- where are the other reporters for the Times?

Worth reading on today's New York Times front page is Kate Zernike's "U.S. Soldier Found Guilty in Iraq Prison Abuse Case" which deals with the conviction yesterday of "Charles A. Graner Jr., of assault, conspiracy, maltreatment of detainees, committing indecent acts, and dereliction of duty, as well as one battery count that the jury reduced from assault."

Graner is not, however, a period. This lower level person didn't change policies and guidelines or import techniques from Guantanamo Bay all by himself. Zernike's captured the events of the trial throughout the week (today is the sentencing and reports are that Graner will make some statements). A number of you have e-mailed that you were "outraged" by the comments made in court. (And one of you is sure that Graner's attorney deliberately set out to do a bad job defending Graner -- that he intended to outrage so that Graner would become the sole focus of our attention and we wouldn't engage in any type of connect-the-dots thought.)

Yes, what went on was outrageous. Yes, Graner is responsible for his actions. But again, there shouldn't be a period after his name. This goes up the chain and it should be followed up on. That's not a slam at Zernike's reporting. Her task was to cover the trial. (I think she did an outstanding job of that.)

But with her article, you may note a brief Associated Press story. It's brief in the Times, but it is longer in Florida's South Sentinel.

"U.S. soldier guilty in alleged mercy killing of Iraqi" notes the conviction yesterday of Staff Sgt. Jonathan J. Alban-Cardenas in Baghdad for the murder of a "wounded 16-year-old." Johnny M. Horne Jr. had already pleaded guilty to participation in the same crime. He'll face three years in prison, Alban-Cardenas has been sentenced to one year.

The sixteen-year-old was in burning truck and Alban-Cardenas and Horne's group felt he was burned so badly that there was no hope and a "mercy killing" was required.

The Times brief AP story notes the above. The longer version notes:

Separately, Army Capt. Rogelio Maynulet, of Chicago, faces a Feb. 22 court-martial in Germany for allegedly shooting and killing a man who was gravely wounded when U.S. fighters opened fire on his vehicle in May south of Baghdad.

as well as this:

And in a third case, a military court hearing in San Diego has ended for a Navy SEAL lieutenant accused of abuse and posing in degrading photos with a handcuffed and hooded prisoner who died a later in Abu Ghraib prison. [Note: "who died a later in Abu . . ." is the wording in the article and not a typo on my part.]
The five-day Article 32 hearing -- the military equivalent of a civilian grand jury -- ended Wednesday. The lieutenant, who was not identified, was accused of assault, maltreatment and conduct unbecoming an officer for his handling of detainees. The Navy officer who heard the evidence, Lt. Cmdr. William Boland, will recommend to the Navy's top SEAL whether the lieutenant should face a court-martial.

Zernike's been in Fort Hood, Texas (and presumably still is for the sentencing). She's covered the trial and, my opinion, done a good job of it. But where are the other writers at the Times with regard to these other stories? And where's the attempt by the Times to put this into some perspective? Possibly, at this point, that's an op-ed, Sunday Magazine or Week in Review feature. But there is a cultural element going on that's not getting commented on. The period shouldn't come after Graner, others were involved (at a much higher level). (The early "few bad apples" never flew if you stopped to count the number of non-prisoners revealed in the various photos in the torture photos from Abu Ghraib.)

But the spotlight currently shined on Graner also risks allowing others who are currently charged to remain in the shadows. Zernike's done her job, it's up to the Times to illuminate the other two stories.

Opinion: A guide for picking through the trash can that is Nagourney's writing in this morning's New York Times

As a reporter, Adam Nagourney is pretty much useless this morning with his random musings entitled "Ideology, Sure, but the Democrats Want a Winner, Too."

If that seems harsh, we don't applaud bad reporting here.

Nagourney repeatedly undercuts Howard Dean in recent articles (no surprise there considering his past writing). That a "senior" poltical correspondent for the Times repeatedly fails to grasp Dean's record is embarrassing. (In fairness, Nagourney may feel Dean's changed so much in the last two years that his public record, while in office, no longer is an accurate reflection.)

Dean's not a flaming liberal. (If he were, that wouldn't be a bad thing.) I've offered my opinion that he came alive and internalized the speeches he gave during his primary campaign. The supporters (and their feedback) made him a better candidate and Dean was transformed. I compared it to an actor who internalizes the role and becomes the character. That's not intended as an insult or to imply that Dean is "acting." Many great actors have internalized a role and carried characteristics and attributes of the role into their lives. Another way to word it would be to say Dean had an awakening.

When Sam Seder offered a critique of Dean on The Majority Report, a number of you felt he got it wrong. He didn't. It was his opinion based upon Dean's record in office. You can disagree with his opinion (as many of you did) but Seder was informed re: Dean's record. Nagourney shows no indication of knowing anything other than "water cooler talk."

Other journalists might be embarrassed by their lack of knowledge, Nagourney sports it like a merit badge today.

At one point, Nagourney writes:

Even Dr. Dean is spending his time on the bread-and-butter issues, promising that the Democratic National Committee will pick up the salaries of executive directors of state parties and, for the most part, steering clear of ideology.

"Even?" You have to be pretty lazy (and pretty uniformed) to think this is something new for Howard Dean.

But you can pull useful information from Nagourney's article. Understand that, intentionally or not, Nagourney's advocating a rightward-move. Whether he cares one way or another where the Democratic party goes is debatable; however, he's clearly interested in maintaining his network of sources and, judging by their quotes, they are advocating a move to the right.

He writes about Martin Frost with no understanding of Frost. Frost is credited, without question by Nagourney, with "his success electing Democrats when he headed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee." I don't know that "success" there has anything to do with Frost. (That's like saying Democrats were successful in electing Congressional members in 1992 due to their own efforts when the gender quake at play clearly had a lot to do with the treatment of Anita Hill.)

Frost's failures have been outlined at this site by Common Ill members from his district. He wouldn't declare himself a Democrat in his advertising for his 2004 race (a race he lost, by the way); in a televised debate with Pete Sessions (who won), Frost attempted to come off as closer to Bush than Sessions; etc.

But let's cut to the basics. Will his whiney tone of voice fly? No. And he's got none of the regional quality of Jim Hightower or Molly Ivins. By that I mean, he's got no amusing way to tell an anecdote. So you've got his monotone and his lack of getting points across. This is someone who should be on TV speaking as DNC chair?

Let's also note his obvious physical flaw -- he's Phil Gramm before his hair turned grey. When Frost speaks, it's snooze-fest time. (Even when he briefly had his spat with Nancy Pelosi, Frost came off more like someone irritated by the wait in line at the grocery store than someone with passion.)

When Frost speaks of expanding the base, those Common Ill members from his district feel that he means "pulling from the fundamentalists in the right wing" (to use Billie's term).

If you're not Howard Dean, you apparently can say whatever and that's fine because you're not a big enough name to have hit the "water cooler" set; therefore, Nagourney's not interested in weighing in on you.

A Winding Road has dealt with Tim Roemer:

Someone, perhaps, like the newest candidate, former Congressman Tim Roemer, who like Reid is Anti-Choice. No doubt he's right up Reid's alley when it comes to someone who doesn't 'just' appeal to the Progressive wing of the party.Since when were Progressives a 'wing' of the Democratic party? That's the problem right there, actually. Democrat and Progressive should go hand in hand, but the party has been hijacked since the Clinton era by people who just do not get it. People who rush to jump into bed with Corporate American and pay what is increasingly just lip service to Working Class America.And now, in the year 2005, there is actually a real debate about whether the Democratic party should support Abortion Rights in its platform!

A head's up to Monday's Unfiltered on Air America Radio. Lizz Winstead and Rachel Maddow will have Kate Michelman ( on to address the push by some Democrats to move the party away from reproductive rights. I'd encourage everyone who's able to listen, to do so. You can listen online at

But let's break it down for those wobbly Dems who feel we're either rushing to an abortion at every lunch break or else rushing someone to one. Many people who support reproductive rights do so for a number of reasons. Some do so because they feel it's not the government's business. The Court's decision in Roe v. Wade was based on privacy rights. So to those who want to curry favor with the anti-choice crowd, they might consider (and the anti-choice crowd should consider this as well) that once reproductive rights is not a privacy matter but one the government has a say in, it always has a say in it. What does that mean? Ask China about family planning. Once you surrender a privacy right, the government can make whatever decision they choose to. That might mean, at some point, the government making a decision re: overpopulation that we need to start imposing a one child rule. There are people who are personally opposed to abortion but support reproductive choice and if the Dems want to go "big tent" they might try acknowledging those people instead of attempting to water down their support for a privacy right that repeatedly demonstrates (in polls) continued strong support in this country.

Roemer's hardly setting the country on fire (despite 'support' from Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi -- 'support' defined as their urging him to run). And he won't. To his anti-choice stance add in the weight of the 9-11 commission (which Roemer served on) and the problems with that commission. (Letting the Bully Boy practice same-sex testimony because he refused to speak to the commission without Cheney at his side, refusing to raise the issues Sibel Edmonds brought to the commission's attention; apparent conflicts of interest; etc.).

When you add together his anti-choice stance, the 9-11 Committee and his work as "a key spokesperson for Mercatus Center's Capitol Hill outreach and education program" ( -- an organization that's worked toward deregulation on various guidelines -- including environmental ones -- you've got someone who's not going to please the base. The usual e-mail to this site on Roemer can be summed up as "Spineless, anti-choice and enemy of the environement."

Somehow Nagourney misses all of that. (It's not "water cooler talk" if no one's talking about it in print or on TV apparently.) Simon Rosenberg is "water cool talk" (not informed talk, his record remains an unknown to many).


So it is that one candidate, Simon Rosenberg, the head of the moderate New Democratic Network, has been collecting endorsements by pointing to his experience running his own organization. "I think right now, the pragmatic people of the D.N.C. really know they need someone who can run the party," Mr. Rosenberg said.

Pragmatic people (love the alliteration, Rosenberg) might want to examine NDN's success or lack of it. There's a reason Rosenberg was first out of the gate attacking John Kerry after the election, Rosenberg apparently hadn't delivered the Latino vote if the polls were accurate. They weren't. But he's yet to pull the knife out of Kerry's back.

As we noted on December 9, 2004:

Mr. Rosenberg, you said, "John Kerry did not compete adequately for Hispanic votes, period." Do you feel the need to retract or modify any of the statements you made on this topic back when you believed Bush had 44% of the Hispanic vote? Would you consider retracting the "period?"

Self-serving doesn't translate as "serves the party." Rosenberg lacks vision and experience. As noted in a prior post, not having one quality might be something Rosenberg could overcome, lacking both he's not up to the job.

Joe Trippi has endorsed him and possibly Trippi's using some of the "web techniques" he used in Dean's primary campaign. (That could explain the preponderance of astroturf floating around the web under various "names" 'informing' us why Rosenberg is so qualifed to be the DNC chair. None of which accurately represents Rosenberg's record but it's good to know so many have mastered copying and pasting.)

Interesting Times weighed in with speculation on why Trippi was endorsing Rosenberg:

Similarly, Trippi's endorsement of Rosenberg could sour a lot of reform Democrats on Rosenberg's candidacy precisely at the moment he most needed to be rising up. Why? Because the endorsement was similarly ham-handed (bad timing, implicit dissing of Dean by Trippi's silence about his former boss, etc.)Just a quick thought.(

It's a valid theory. Having read Trippi's book, I'd offer another one, Trippi's trapped in his moment of glory. (One he does deserve. But time does move on. Within you, without you -- to steal from George Harrison.) His utopian web world was under threat when he came along, it's only become more so. That Trippi doesn't seriously address that fact in his book may inspire some readers to join with Mama Cass in singing "New World Coming" but it hardly instills faith in his ability to read the tea leaves.


If history is any guide, the decisions about what the party should say and where it will go will be driven by leaders in Congress over the next two years and presumably by the candidates running for president immediately after that. "Let Hillary Clinton and Evan Bayh and Howard Dean and John Kerry fight over what the message is going to be," said Joe Trippi, who managed Dr. Dean's presidential bid but is supporting Mr. Rosenberg for chairman.

When Trippi feeds that quote to Nagourney (who swallows happily), one is reminded of how out of touch Trippi (the utopian come-on-boys-and-girls-we-can-put-a-show-on-in-the-barn-like-Judy-and-Mickey-only-we'll-change-the-world!) has become in so short a time. The message will be fought over by the grass roots. That Trippi, of all people, can't see that this is already happening speaks to his inability to read the realities on the ground -- something he might want to worry about unless he's attempting to become the Miss Havisham of the 21st century.

In previous times, the DNC chair was whomever the party powers wanted and installed with little objection. Any infighting that went down, took place beyond the reach and impact of the grass roots. The mobilization of 2004 didn't fade away after the election. And what we're seeing is a grass roots that's not going to just say, "Whatever you think is best!" (Grass roots have always been vocal. The thing that's different now is our vast number. Groups such as deserve tremendous credit for keeping the base active.)

There truly is surprise on the part of the party structure over the amount of input on this subject coming from the grass roots. That Trippi, of all people, doesn't note that (perhaps Nagourney got his quote wrong, wouldn't surprise me) suggests Trippi's spent far too much time pouring over his scrapbooks and way too little time noting what is going on.

Nagourney writes:

For all the talk about abortion, gay marriage and national security, the 447 Democratic committee members who will choose the next chairman on Feb. 12 seem more concerned now over how Republicans outgunned them in November, despite the efforts of Terry McAuliffe, the departing chairman, which were widely applauded by Democrats.

That's the perfect example of Nagourney's journalism. Directly useful? Explaining the basic process of how the chair will be chosen. Useful via extraction? The fact that the concern is not what the grassroots wants (the power players are acting as though it's 1996 and people will blindly go along). Completely inane? That Terry McAuliffe's "efforts . . . were widely applauded by Democrats." That's the sort of statement (as fact, Nagourney doesn't attribute it to a source) that probably keeps his sources happy but it doesn't resemble reality. I'm sure there are people who are "widely" applauding Terry McAuliffe's efforts. A lot of Republicans among those applauders. But on the Democratic side, there's not a lot of applause.

Nagourney has wasted a lot of ink since the election trying to build the impression that McAuliffe is this widely admired person. Not as a Democratic chair. Not in most Democratic circles (grassroots or power circles). There is a move (in the power circles) to beef up McAuliffe's image a little out of what one person described to me as "a reluctance to kick someone when they're down on the ground bleeding profusely." But there's no admiration for McAuliffe's efforts. (Possibly masochists admire McAuliffe's efforts?) Nor should there be. His 2002 and 2004 strategies were among the worst in recent times. Even Martin Frost can boast of more applause than McAuliffe.

Nagourney writes:

For the most part, the dominant dynamic is one of the other candidates presenting themselves as the alternative to Dr. Dean. Mr. Frost, Mr. Rosenberg and Mr. Fowler were described as having made the most success on that front to date.

Let's realize that this is the sort of "strategy" that didn't result in the left being happy the day after the election. "I'm the alternative to George W. Bush!" John Kerry was so much more than that (and a better run campaign would have pointed that out repeatedly). Frost, Rosenberg and Donnie Fowler are wrong if they think that's a campaign: "I'm the alternative to Dean!"

What do you stand for? "I'm the alternative to Dean!" What does that mean? "I'm the alternative to Dean!" What are you for? "I'm the alternative to Dean!"

If this how they think you campaign for DNC chair, people should be worried as to what sort of "strategy" they'd embrace if they actually got the post. [This presumes that Nagourney is accurate in his opinion stated as fact. Frost and Rosenberg fall into that category. Fowler has actually offered up a few strategy elements. Nagourney -- or his sources -- may be unaware of that.]

Nagourney's last paragraph names "Wellington Webb, the former mayor of Denver, and David Leland, a former Ohio Democratic chairman" before quickly dismissing both (all in a single sentence) and moving on to cite Mike McCurry who's supporting Rosenberg. It's interesting that so many in Nagourney's story (and rolodex?) are supporting Rosenberg. That does, however, reflect the power players' opinions. (Including on the current prospects of either Webb or Leland winning the chair.)

The fact that Howard Dean's remained in play speaks to the power of the grass roots. Never underestimate the party structure's (power players) ability to ignore the grass roots. Translation, grass roots might want to remember the taste of defeat from November.

In a just world, Dean would win because he has vision and experience. He knows what needs to be done and, despite Nagourney's mistaken belief that this is something Dean's just now addressing, he's been speaking of the need to reinvest in the infrastructure for some time.

Some people feel it truly doesn't matter who is appointed DNC chair. Obviously, Democrats will have to work with whomever. (Third party members of our community, let me know if there are any events going on with your party's selection of chair.) However, to say that it doesn't matter overlooks the passion among the base. When "reporters" like Nagounrey reduce the issue solely to what the people in power want, it's hardly surprising. But I would hope that others would recognize that the base is far more important than the power players even if their opinions and desires rarely get any ink in the pages of the New York Times.

Disclosure: I've encountered the following: Donnie Fowler, Martin Frost, Tim Roemer and Joe Trippi. Fowler is someone that I found knowledgable. Trippi is someone I've defended and will continue to do so but when I feel he's wrong, I say so.
I do not believe that I've encountered Simon Rosenberg. A number of you have e-mailed wanting to know the story that my friend swears is true. Here is her version (which I question).
At a party, Rosenberg was annoying her (flirting technique based on self-boasts) and he was wearing a cheap suit that badly needing cleaning. (The odor was what she deems "Crackatoa" and, if you think about it, you should be able to deconstruct that term yourself.) According to her, I walked over to tell her something and in the middle of my speaking, Rosenberg interrupted with some inane remark and I glared at him and made a rude comment. (Right away, I say that draws her recollection into question because I'm far more prone to issue a non-stop string of rude comments.) At which point, I turned back to her and asked loudly, "What is that smell?"
Then, according to her, Rosenberg huffed off. I question pretty much every point in her story but I've been wrong before. (As has she. And her recollection fits no memory I have. I've tried to figure out who she could be confusing him with but I can't remember any such party.) (The behavior, except for a single rude remark, is perfectly in keeping with any story of me. But I honestly do not believe this incident took place with Rosenberg. Again, I could be wrong.)

Friday, January 14, 2005

Democracy Now!: "Military Crackdown in Aceh Continues"; Daily Howler on Bumiller; NOW on Wal-Mart; The Progressive: Bring the Troops Home

Democracy Now! (always worth watching, as Marcia points out):

Headlines for January 14, 2005
- CIA: Iraq Becoming New Haven For Terrorists
- Bush Says War in Iraq "Absolutely" Worth It
- War Resister: "You Just Don't Know How Bad It Is [in Iraq]"
- 16 House Dems Call for U.S. Out of Iraq
- U.S. Accused of 'Eroding' Human Rights Around the World
- Bush Official Defends Paying Off News Commentators
- ACLU Backs Sibel Edmonds Lawsuit Against Justice Dept.

Supreme Court Overturns Federal Sentencing Guidelines
The Supreme Court ruled that federal sentencing guidelines put in place two decades ago were unconstitutional because they violated a defendant's Sixth Amendment right to be tried by a jury. The court ruled judges cannot increase sentences beyond the maximum that the jury's findings alone would support. [includes rush transcript]

Leaked GOP Memo: Privatizing Social Security Would Be "One of the Most Significant Conservative Governing Achievements Ever"
Vice President Dick Cheney gives a major address calling for radical overhaul of social security. We speak with Roger Hickey, co-director of the Campaign for America's Future and a leader of a coalition to protect social security. [includes rush transcript]

With Tsunami Death Toll in Indonesia Possibly Rising Over 200,000, Military Crackdown In Aceh Continues
The government has imposed restrictions on the movement of aid workers and journalists. Aid workers have been told to inform the government of their travel plans or face expulsion and to take army escorts to most areas outside of Banda Aceh. [includes rush transcript]

Those e-mailing re: Elisabeth Bumiller's front page story (New York Times) should check out The Daily Howler where Bob Somerby covers a great deal of ground (as always) but saves the final word for Bumiller:

And inevitably, the latest disaster in Gotham! The utterly hapless New York Times assigned Elisabeth Bumiller to this story, and the trembling typist seemed to find it too "frightening" to deal with Bush's misstatements. Here is her hapless attempt to report on Bush's huge howlers:

BUMILLER (1/12/05): Many Democrats and economists say that Mr. Bush is exaggerating the problem, and that Social Security could be fixed with modest tax increases and a cut in benefits. Even without changes, Mr. Bush's critics say, the system would be able to pay three-quarters of promised benefits four decades from now, when baby boomers have long retired.

Incredible! According to this hapless scribe, "Bush's critics" say SS will be able to pay three-quarters of benefits! But in fact, that's what the SS trustees say, in their official report on the subject -- and the CBO says something rosier! Amazing, isn't it? Bumiller takes an official report and treats it like a screed from Bush critics! Question: Why is this hapless, inept, frightened tool still typing for this weak, hopeless newspaper?

And check out NOW for "take action" suggestions re: Wal-Mart:

The National Organization for Women declared Wal-Mart a "Merchant of Shame" in July 2002 because we want consumers to hear about the largest employer in the United States and the widespread allegations that it denies equal wages and promotions to women employees in addition to engaging in unfair labor practices, such as punitive measures against employees who advocate for union representation. Wal-Mart faces today the largest class action suit in history, which was brought by current and former employees (about 1.6 million people) for gender discrimination in pay and promotion across all of their stores.
Here are a few facts:
Women are about 2/3 of the lower-paid "associates" in Wal-Mart stores, yet are only about 1/3 of store managers.
And when women reach for management jobs, male trainees earn an average of $23,175 a year, compared with $22,371 for female trainees.
Even in top management positions, held mostly by men, the average male senior vice-president earns $419,435 per year, while women earn $279,772 in the same position.

Lastly, please check out The Progressive's web site for "Bring the Troops Home":

The United States should pull out of Iraq. Already, the United States has lost more than 1,350 soldiers. Already, about 10,000 U.S. soldiers have been wounded, at a rate now of almost 1,000 a month.
That is too high a price for us to pay in American blood.
Then there are the Iraqi civilians who have died. According to, as of January 5, Bush’s war has killed between 15,080 to 17,285 civilians. But that organization compiles statistics only from published reports. According to a study done by public health officials from Johns Hopkins University, the actual total is much higher. Their study, published in the British medical journal the Lancet, says at least 100,000 civilians have died, the majority falling victim to U.S. attacks.
Then there is the cost in American dollars. The United States has spent about $160 billion so far on this war, and the yearly price tag is rising toward $100 billion. This is draining our Treasury of much-needed revenue. For instance, the Administration says it can’t afford $300 million more for Pell grants—less than 0.5 percent of what it is spending on this war. Poor students can’t go to college because Bush went off half-cocked.
The situation in Iraq shows no signs of stabilizing. Quite the contrary. The morbid pace of chaos is increasing. The last six months of 2004 were the deadliest for U.S. troops since Bush launched the war, with 503 U.S. soldiers perishing. And the attacks keep mounting. “The number of attacks on U.S. and allied troops grew from an estimated 1,400 attacks in September to 1,600 in October and 1,950 in November,” Robert Burns of AP reported. In November 2003, by contrast, the number of attacks was 864.

[Note: This post has been corrected for fonts.]

Community Members spotlight two articles from today's New York Times and Brad offers a critique on page A9's two main stories

Elaine e-mailed asking that we highlight this story from today's New York Times (A18)
Kin of Marine Who Shot Policemen Ask if He Is a Casualty of War by Dean Murphy:

A marine on weekend leave from Camp Pendleton on Sunday night instructed a clerk in George's Liquor Store to call the police. When patrol cars arrived, the marine pulled an assault rifle from beneath his poncho and began firing. Both Sgt. Howard Stevenson and Officer Sam Ryno were hit.
"He walked over to where Sergeant Stevenson laid suffering from several gunshot wounds and shot him in the back of the head," said Lt. Bill Heyne, the lead investigator on the case for the Stanislaus County sheriff. "It was an execution of that officer."
The marine, Lance Cpl. Andres Raya, 19, who spent seven months in Iraq last year as a motor transportation operator, then walked to a muddy alley around the corner, a place where he used to pick oranges as a student on his way to Ceres High School. He slipped from one backyard to the next, telling some residents they were "innocent civilians" and would not be harmed.
Before the evening ended, as police officers from across the region responded to the shootings, more than 200 rounds had been fired, both Sergeant Stevenson and Corporal Raya were dead, and "small town America," as the police and fire chief here (he has to do both jobs) called Ceres, was desperately debating whether the young marine had deliberately gotten himself killed to escape possible return to Iraq.
"It is going to take a great deal of work to sort out what happened," Lieutenant Heyne said.
Some here blame the violence on Corporal Raya's wartime experience, which friends and relatives say was so traumatic that he cried during his home leave at Christmas about having to report back to Camp Pendleton. They suggest Corporal Raya, whose wish throughout high school was to be a marine and then a Ceres firefighter, might have invited the confrontation with the intention of erasing forever the awful images in his head.
But others say they see a vicious criminal who authorities say had a past association with gangs. They see drugs or alcohol as the more likely spark of his deadly rage, and they question how he was able to get the outlawed assault rifle used in the shooting spree.

Shirley e-mails asking that we highlight this from today's paper Spencer Dryden, 66, Drummer of Jefferson Airplane's Heyday, Dies -- the Jefferson Airplane made the album
list Kat's Korner worked on (Volunteers & Surrealistic Pillow are two I remember being on the list, but there was at least one more). (I remember those two because I have them on CD and, like most people, I was reading through the list to see which albums I had made the list.)

Brad e-mails regarding page A9 in the paper: "So a spoiled twenty-year-old goes to a costume party wearing a swastika? Foolish, idiotic and anti-Semetic, no question. But why does that story get more inches of space than the one right below it about Margaret Thatcher's 51 year-old son pleading 'guilty in coup plot?' The spoiled twenty-year-old prince even gets a photo in the paper. Thatcher's son pled guilty and that's a smaller story than the boorish behavior of a young adult? Now Mark Thatcher will be returning to US, believe he lives in Texas. Which is the bigger story? I think the paper lost its sense of perspective today which would also explain why Bumillie's vanity piece made the front page."

New York Times is back to pushing steroid abuse on the front page

Today's front page is pretty much worthless.
Ian Fisher's Once a Village, Now Nothing: Even the Bodies Are Gone is probably worthy of the front page.
F.B.I. May Scrap Vital Overhaul of Its Outdated Computer System (Eric Lichtblau) and
A Push in States to Curb Malpractice Costs (James Dao) can be seen as topics worth addressing -- one has implications for national security, the other is a national story.

But those three have to share space with:

a) "Steroid use!" The paper just can't let go of the idea that baseball and steroids is the story of the 21st century. Maybe it's that Ken Burns documentary from a few years back, maybe its the fact that, as Maggie feels, "a lot of little boys who played on the YMCA teams as little boys with they were still playing t-ball instead of doing the 'girly' thing and writing for a paper."
Someone's decided this overlabored "issue" (one seven e-mailers call "boring" this morning) is changing the world as we know we it. It's not worthy of the front page, the Times has wasted far too much space and ink on this non-issue that belongs in the sports pages.
Now maybe if you own a baseball team, this new, "stricter policy" is "news." The rest of us appear to be yawning and wondering when the men who write about it, edit these stories and put them on the front page will realize that they're men now with real issues to face and that if they want to fantasize about "what if," they need to do so on their own time because readers are sick of the Times continued obsession with this non-issue. The front page should focus on real issues.
And heads up for the Times, Ken Burns is focusing on boxing lately.

b) "Reform Effort at Businesses Feel Pressure" would make a nice magazine feature. It's not a front page story and attempting to "name check" in the first paragraph doesn't make it newsworthy -- it reads like a gossip column.

c) "Elisabeth Bumiller. What else can you say?" wonders Ben.
That does pretty much sum it all up, sadly. "For President and Close Friend, Forget Politics" reads like some sort of "male bonding" tales from the pages of Reader's Digest.
How this piece of fluff passes for front page news is beyond me. It's badly written, the topic is not of any importance, and there are a few real stories inside the paper.
Bumiller's obsessed with this "male bonding" theme. Or as Keesha writes, "Bumiller's turning out another one of her star-crossed lovers theme."
Two over privileged males go to college together and stay close. Yawn. If she's thinking this is material Hollywood will lap up, they did. In 1973, as a subplot to The Way We Were. Leave it Bumiller to get lost on a subplot. Leave it to the Times to hawk it on the front page.

Inside the paper, there are stronger stories with topics that are worthy of the front page:

Douglas Jehl's U.S. Panel Sees Iraq as Terror Training Area

Eric Lichtblau's Justice Dept. Opens Inquiry Into Abuse of U.S. Detainees

Christine Hauser's Shiite Cleric's Representative Killed in Iraq After Prayers

Kate Zernike's Army Reservist's Defense Rests in Abu Ghraib Abuse Case

Michael Wines' Thatcher's Son Pleads Guilty in Coup Plot, Avoiding Prison

an Associated Press article entitled Colombia Admits It Hired Agents to Abduct Rebel in Venezuela

On the subject of Thatcher's son, here's the Morning Edition story link (from yesterday morning):

Thatcher Pleads Guilty in Africa Coup Plot
Sir Mark Thatcher, son of famed former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, pleads guilty to inadvertently bankrolling an alleged coup plot in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea. Thatcher will pay a $563,000 fine in a deal that lets him leave South Africa to rejoin his family in the United States. NPR's Jason Beaubien and NPR's Steve Inskeep discuss the case.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Not One Damn Dime Day

We're going to highlight the second part of A Winding Road's blog entry Wednesday. We cited it in the AW Review (Alternative Weekly) that just went up. But maybe you didn't get the e-mail?
I didn't get it. And maybe you want to pass it on but aren't sure that it will register among the alternative weekly links?
For that reason, we're going to highlight it as a stand alone. Here's Folding Star of A Winding Road on "Not One Damn Dime Day."

The second thing I wanted to note for you all was forwarded to me by a dear friend. It's a boycott of all consumer spending on January 20th, the day on which Bush will be sworn in for a second term. It's a silent form of protest for those who will be unable to be there in person to protest the idea of four more years of hell. I'll let the forward speak for itself:

>> Subject: Don't spend on Jan. 20th
>>>> Inauguration Day, Silent Protest
>>>>>>>>> Since our religious leaders will not speak out against the war in
>>> Iraq, since our political leaders don't have the moral courage to
>>> oppose it, Inauguration Day, Thursday, January 20th, 2005 is "Not
>>> One Damn
>>> Dime Day" in America.
>>>>> On "Not One Damn Dime Day," those who oppose what is happening in
>>> our name in Iraq can speak up with a 24-hour national boycott of
>>> all forms of consumer spending.
>>>>>> During "Not One Damn Dime Day" please don't spend money. Not one
>>> damn dime for gasoline. Not one damn dime for necessities or for
>>> impulse
>>> purchases. Not one damn dime for anything for 24 hours.
>>>>>>>>> On "Not One Damn Dime Day," please boycott Walmart, KMart and
>>> Target. Please don't go to the mall or the local convenience store.
>>> Please don't buy any fast food (or any groceries at all for that
>>> matter).
>>>>>>>>> For 24 hours, please do what you can to shut the retail economy
>>> down.
>>>>> The object is simple. Remind the people in power that the war in
>>> Iraq is immoral and illegal; that they are responsible for starting
>>> it and
>>> that it is their responsibility to stop it.
>>>>>> "Not One Damn Dime Day" is to remind them, too, that they work for
>>> the people of the United States of America, not for the international
>>> corporations and K Street lobbyists who represent the corporations
>>> and funnel cash into American politics.
>>>>>> "Not One Damn Dime Day" is about supporting the troops. The
>>> politicians put the troops in harm's way. Now 1,200 brave young
>>> Americans and (some estimate) 100,000 Iraqis have died. The
>>> politicians owe our troops a plan -- a way to come home.
>>>>>> There's no rally to attend. No marching to do. No left or right
>>> wing
>>> agenda to rant about. On "Not One Damn Dime Day" you take action by
>>> doing nothing.
>>>>>> You open your mouth by keeping your wallet closed. For 24 hours
>>> nothing gets spent, not one damn dime, to remind our religious
>>> leaders and our politicians of their moral responsibility to end
>>> the war in Iraq and give America back to the people.

Considering that Bush urged people, in the days after 9/11, to go out and spend money, I think it's safe to say that hitting them in the economy is hitting them where it hurts.
Please consider joining this boycott.

Remember what Erika says about the power of "yes" and the power of "no?" This is a very simple way to register your "no." Please consider joining this boycott this coming Thursday, January 20, 2005.

If you have any ideas of ways to boycott, rallies or other peaceful means to register your protest on January 20, 2005, please e-mail and we'll note them. We already have one member who has. If there are enough ideas, we'll try to highlight one each day in the lead up to four more years of Bullies Without Borders.

AW: My cousin Herman struggled to take his next breath. The man known for his strong tenor voice lay helpless in a hospital bed, barely able to speak.

My cousin Herman struggled to take his next breath. The man known for his strong tenor voice lay helpless in a hospital bed, barely able to speak. The scars on his body bore evidence of the drain of living with AIDS. It was time for him to die.
Everyone in the room knew there was nothing that could be done to resurrect his battered body. Most of the family stayed away. For them, Herman made a choice long ago when he informed the family he was gay. They turned their backs on him, leaving him to contend with the devastation of lost vitality on his own.
When they walked away, so did all that comes with being reared in a family of highly religious people. Lost was access to his place of worship and the people who claim to be people of faith. They wouldn't make those much needed visits to the hospital bedside to pray over his bruised body and spirit.
Herman was alone. His death was, for me, a reminder of the great disconnect caused as a consequence of theological confusion.
Herman cried that day. For all those years since being asked not to return to the church, he had wished for one last chance to worship with those he once called family. One last time to sing in front of the people. One last time to hear a prayer. He never got his chance. He died alone drenched in tears.
He was among the rejected, yet his faith in God never died. Herman's death opened my eyes to the massive contradictions found among those who call the black church their home. Historically, it has been a place of refuge for those rejected by the larger society. It has been a home when there was no other home. Those who gather there for worship cling to the contention that hope can be found. That somehow, some way, God would answer their prayers. No sin is too big for God to forgive. There is nothing too hard for God. That is, unless you are gay or lesbian.
When Herman died, alone, in that New York hospital bed, a part of me died with him. It was the part that made assumptions about those who are gay and lesbians. Like those in the church who kicked Herman out, I too had been guilty of burning the bridge that would have allowed them to share in the life of the church. I assumed they were sinners, and that repentance was needed before they could hear from God and participate in the work of the church.

That's "A Conversation that can't be heard: Gays and the Black Church" by Rev. Carl Kenney and it's from The Raleigh-Durham Independent.

If you're in the Eugene Oregon area, Eugene Weekly has some suggestions for next week:

UO students, faculty, and community members will gather at several locations on Thursday, Jan. 20, to mark President-elect George W. Bush's inauguration day with a series of events that will encourage individuals to help inaugurate an alternative, more just and peaceful vision for the U.S., according to Michael Carrigan, one of the organizers. In addition, participants will use the occasion to "celebrate the dawning of a new era in Eugene with the election of Kitty Piercy as mayor," Carrigan says.
Events at UO begin at noon at the EMU with talks by Sandy Morgen, Garrett Epps, Shaul Cohen, Sharon Schuman and Brian Bogart. Related student events with music and more speakers run from 2 to 4 pm.
At 4 pm, students and faculty will march from the EMU to the Federal Building at 7th and Pearl to join the events there.


Scroll down to the third item on the page, "Countering Inauguration" and I'm guessing it's by Alan Pittman who's listed for the fourth item. (The third item has no listed author.)

Moving to the international scene and the international press, Scoop:

The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) today urged Congress and the Bush administration to maintain restrictions on U.S. military assistance to Indonesia. Congress has limited U.S. weapons and training support for the Indonesian military (TNI) for more than a decade because of human rights violations and other atrocities committed by Indonesia's armed forces.
"The tsunami must not be used as an excuse to sweep away U.S. military restrictions on Indonesia," said John M. Miller, spokesperson for ETAN. "The Indonesian military's behavior during the current crisis in Aceh shows it hasn't reformed. Brutal operations also continue in West Papua."


Read more of John Miller's " Tsunami Must Not Sweep Away Restrictions on Indonesian Military" by clicking on the link above.

Wanting to protest the inauguration but you're not sure anything is going on in your area? Check out this from North Bay Bohemian:

Inaugural Bollocks
Barring divine intervention--highly unlikely, considering God is on his side--President George W. Bush will be sworn in for his second term on Thursday, Jan. 20. But there's no reason to take it lying down, except of course for those who join the Not One Damn Dime Day protest on Jan. 20. Organized anonymously over the Internet, the protest urges citizens to spend "not one damn dime for anything for 24 hours" to demonstrate against the Bush administration and the Iraq war. Are such boycotts effective? "Probably not," concludes the debunking squad at "[I]n this case, our opinion is that someone has taken the futile concept of slacktivism to a new extreme." At least it's cheap.


This is an issue that A Winding Road has also touched on:

The second thing I wanted to note for you all was forwarded to me by a dear friend. It's a boycott of all consumer spending on January 20th, the day on which Bush will be sworn in for a second term. It's a silent form of protest for those who will be unable to be there in person to protest the idea of four more years of hell. I'll let the forward speak for itself:
>> Subject: Don't spend on Jan. 20th
>>>> Inauguration Day, Silent Protest
>>>>>>>>> Since our religious leaders will not speak out against the war in
>>> Iraq, since our political leaders don't have the moral courage to
>>> oppose it, Inauguration Day, Thursday, January 20th, 2005 is "Not
>>> One Damn
>>> Dime Day" in America.
>>>>> On "Not One Damn Dime Day," those who oppose what is happening in
>>> our name in Iraq can speak up with a 24-hour national boycott of
>>> all forms of consumer spending.
>>>>>> During "Not One Damn Dime Day" please don't spend money. Not one
>>> damn dime for gasoline. Not one damn dime for necessities or for
>>> impulse>>>
purchases. Not one damn dime for anything for 24 hours.

Wondering how D.C is reacting to the inauguration? Check out this editorial from The Common Denominator, "Washington's Independent Hometown Newspaper:"

For Americans who cherish the Bill of Rights, it is difficult to rationalize the extreme measures being contemplated in the name of "security" that will be imposed upon citizens and visitors in coming days as parts of the nation's capital are locked down to facilitate events associated with the presidential inauguration.
In this case, it is especially important to distinguish between the official swearing-in of the president and vice president on Jan. 20 – a legally required element of U.S. government structure – and the celebratory activities that precede or follow the ceremony.
We have heard no objections raised to what has become fairly routine security when the president visits the U.S. Capitol, where the oaths of office will be administered, as tradition dictates.
It is the security measures being planned for the latter events – i.e., the "official" parties, but parties nonetheless – that many are questioning. One locally elected official, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Alex Padro, has aptly described the planned barricading of the neighborhood adjacent to the Washington Convention Center as imposition of "martial law."
Thousands of residents and business owners, especially in Shaw but also in areas abutting the location of other inaugural festivities that the president plans to attend, have been informed unilaterally that Secret Service requirements for protecting the president will restrict access to and use of their property.
. . .
Freedom of movement? Freedom of association? Security within citizens' own homes? Sorry. If you are not among the elite invited to party with the president to celebrate America's democratic institutions, you will be out of luck.

Dan Frosch charts a disturbing tale in "Soldier's Heart: Thousands of Iraq War Veterans Will Come Home to Face Serious Psychological Problemns And A System that May Not Be REady To help Them" (Baltimore City Paper):

The first time Kristin Peterson's husband hit her, she was asleep in their bed.
She awoke that night a split second after Joshua's fist smashed into her face and ran, terrified and crying, to the bathroom to wipe the blood spurting from her nose.
When she stuck her head back into the bedroom, there he was -- punching at the air, muttering how she was coming after him and how he was going to kill her. Kristin started yelling, but Joshua's eyes were closed. He was still asleep.
The next morning Joshua saw the dried blood on his wife. "'Oh God,'" she recalls him saying. "'I did that.'"
Peterson doesn't remember the night or the nightmares. He also can't remember punching his wife again in his sleep a few weeks later, this time driving her front tooth through her lip, all the while murmuring how he'd never go back.
For six months last year, Peterson helped build an oil pipeline across Iraq as a specialist in the Army's 110th Quartermaster Company. On the same highway where Pvt. Jessica Lynch was ambushed, he saw Iraqi soldiers, dead and rotting, dangling out of their tanks. One time Peterson's truck broke down and he was surrounded by a group of Iraqi children, some throwing rocks, others toting AK-47s."'I kept thinking, God, I can’t handle this," the 24-year-old says with a hollow laugh.

In the LA Weekly, check out Doug Ireland's "The Bush TheocracyRighteous homophobe Claude Allen brings his agenda to the White House:"

President Bush’s appointment of his new chief domestic-policy adviser, Claude Allen — a notorious homophobe, a ferocious enemy of abortion and an opponent of safe-sex education who for years has been one of the AIDS community’s principal enemies — is a huge victory for the social reactionaries of the Christian right.
Allen, who was named to his new position in the White House last week, had previously been a top aide at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He was placed there by Karl Rove as a watchdog on then–HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, who had an exaggerated reputation as a "moderate" and who wasn’t entirely trusted by Rove to carry out — by administrative order — the social agenda of the Christian right, a key part of Rove’s successful plan to mobilize millions of Christer voters for Bush’s re-election.
Known as Rove’s enforcer, Allen wielded a heavy, censorious and punitive hand at HHS. In November 2001, Thompson loyally toed the Rove-Bush line when he put Allen in charge of supervising HHS’s audit of HIV-prevention spending. Allen led an HHS witch-hunt that investigated all of the AIDS service organizations (ASOs) receiving any federal funding (like New York City’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis) whose staff members had disrupted Tommy Thompson’s speech to the 14th Annual International AIDS Conference in Barcelona; they were there to protest Bush’s lethal do-nothingism about the AIDS pandemic. These audits were designed to intimidate ASOs into abandoning AIDS advocacy. A number of ASOs, like San Francisco’s Stop AIDS Project and half a dozen other California AIDS-fighting groups, were ultimately purged from receiving U.S. funding by the Allen-led witch-hunt because Allen didn’t like their science-based sex-education programs. Allen ordered Advocates for Youth, the leading national coalition for safe-sex ed, audited half a dozen times.

We honor MLK on Monday. Does your city have a street named after him? Philadelphia doesn't:

Five years ago, a journalist named Jonathan Tilove set out to visit all of the Martin Luther King boulevards, avenues, drives, and streets in America. There are more than 500 of them, and over the course of two years, Tilove walked along each one, discovering in them a profound continuity. He was traveling, he wrote, along a "black Main Street" that ran through nearly every African-American neighborhood in the country.
His journey did not bring him to Philadelphia.
It's hard to believe that there's no MLK street in Philly. Tilove didn't; he called up the Streets Department, where a spokesperson, thinking of Cecil B. Moore, told him that there is one. There's not. There's an MLK High School (on Stenton) and a recreation center (on Cecil B. Moore), but no street.
Several years ago, a movement to dedicate an MLK began. It has made little headway. Some cities identified their MLK immediately after the civil rights leader's assassination. Others fought battles that were proud extensions of the civil rights movement itself. Philly's effort comes down to this: one man sitting in a cluttered office in North Philadelphia with a box full of signatures, lost in the maze of city bureaucracy.

That's from "Why Philly doesn't have a street named after Martin Luther King Jr." by Doron Taussig in The Philadelphia City Paper.

Trying to figure out the January 30th elections in Iraq? Check out The Lone Star Iconoclast's
"Iraq Election Primer: Iraq Government Structure To Be Based On Parliament" by
Jonmichael Swetnam and Anson McCarty:

Voters across Iraq will gather on Jan. 30 to replace the Coalition-appointed Interim Authority with a 275-member popularly elected assembly. The assembly will develop a new constitution defining the future government of Iraq, as well as serve the interim government as a legislative body.
Once the new government is appointed, the assembly will be dissolved.
“Iraq has had a parliament under Saddam Hussein, so this structure is not new. However, Hussein was absolutely brutal in maintaining power. So the objective here is to set up a government that represents the people’s choice,” Dr. Mark Long of Baylor University’s Middle Eastern Studies Department, Waco, said.
The elections are a milestone in that they are the first free elections Iraq has enjoyed in its history, Dr. Avraham Zilkha of the University of Texas’ Department of Middle Eastern Studies, Austin, said.
“The elections will lend the new government legitimacy, because the current administration is seen to a large extent as an American puppet,” Zilkha said.
The polls are open to any Iraqi 18 years of age or older as of Jan. 1, 2005. Voters will select candidates from lists presented by over 80 parties. Iraqi citizens living abroad may vote Jan. 28-30 provided they can demonstrate their citizenship and were born before Dec. 31, 1986. Seats in the new government will be awarded based on proportional representation. That is, parties will be awarded a percentage of the available seats based on the number of votes it received in the elections. So a party that receives 10% of the vote will get 27 seats.

Finally, in the "Less Talk, Show Us the Proof" category, check out Joe Hagan's New York Observer article about 'changes' coming to CNN -- "CNN’s Midlife Midwife:"

"We report the news," he said. "Fox talks about the news."
On Sunday, Jan. 9, Mr. Klein received the blessing of The New York Times, which, in its third editorial, hoped "this"—Mr. Klein’s return to values—"could be the start of something big."
When the Thornburgh report left a smoking crater where CBS News’ Tiffany reputation used to be—along with all the memories of Murrow, Collingswood, Severeid, Cronkite and Moyers—CBS chairman Leslie Moonves promised to steer his ship back to glory by keeping Mr. Heyward in office to overhaul the news division.
But Mr. Klein had already gone to work on his end. He said that CNN already had the slogan it wanted—"The Most Trusted Name in News"—and now it had to live up to its own ad campaign."There was a time when CNN was essential viewing. That’s what we’re getting back to," he said. "We have to be one of those must-view experiences. To do that, we have to provide more real information, more ‘I didn’t know that’ moments. Because the world, post-9/11, is just more complicated and … scary. And people need as much information as they can get. Real information.
And I’m counting on them knowing the difference.

Thanks to Dona, Jim, Elaine, Natalie, Jimmy and Martha for sending in six stories (their suggestions were linked to).
[Note: This post has been corrected to deal with font issues. Hopefully, all were caught.]

Democracy Now! Higlight on Bolivia (as requested by Brad)

Brad asked that we highlight this story from today's Democracy Now! headlines.

Bolivian Protests Force Gov't To Cancel Water Contract
In Bolivia, massive protests in the city of El Alto has forced the government to announce it will cancel a contract with a French utility company that provides water to the city. The protesters accused the French company of charging excessive rates. The water protests comes almost exactly five years after similar protests began in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba. In that city, the popular revolt led to the ouster of Bechtel as the provider of the city's water utilities. As the water protests have been taking place in El Alto, hundreds of thousands of Bolivians elsewhere in the country have taken to the streets to protest a government plan to raise gasoline prices.

I'm also going to highlight a message on the Democracy Now! web site. Not to guilt anyone. If you don't have the money, you don't have it. Maybe you'll have it later, maybe you'll never have it (we are in the Bully Boy economy). But if you do have anything to spare and you would like to donate:

The corporate media got it wrong on Iraq.

Support the show that got it right: Democracy Now!

Think about the stories you rarely see on the nightly news or in the major papers:
The human toll of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The November election once again raising serious questions about the legitimacy of the democratic process in this country.
The US-backed coup in Haiti and its aftermath continuing to terrorize tens of thousands.
Hundreds still languishing without charge at Guantanamo Bay and in prisons in Iraq.
Civil liberties under attack from the USA PATRIOT Act and other “counter-terrorism” measures.
Ongoing illegal detentions in the US and the export of prisoners to countries that permit torture.
Racial and religious persecution on the rise.
Continuing environmental destruction by governments and corporations.
Democracy Now!, breaks the silence every day. But we cannot do it without your support.

Donate to Democracy Now!

Eight years ago, we began airing on Pacifica Radio. Since then, Democracy Now! has become the largest public media collaboration in the country broadcasting on more than 300 radio and TV stations — on Pacifica and NPR radio stations, public access TV and PBS stations, as well as both satellite TV networks, DishNetwork (Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV and Ch. 9410 Link TV) and Direct TV (Ch. 375 Link TV). Every week, two to three new stations pick us up. Our broadcasts are closed captioned, bringing independent news to millions of deaf and hearing-impaired viewers around the country.

We are listener and viewer-sponsored. We need your help to support this phenomenal growth.

Donate to Democracy Now!

Your contribution to Democracy Now! will allow us to maintain our independence. Your support helps us get the news out every day. We are also creating a center of media learning for students and interns, a vibrant newsroom and an investigative journalism center. With your support we can continue to grow and ensure our success as the largest public media collaboration in the country.

Donate to Democracy Now!

If you're a big donor, there are gifts available, but it's not about gifts, is it? It's about donating if you can spare something. Even five dollars. If you can't, you can't. And I'm not trying to guilt trip anyone. But I know e-mails are always noting something they heard, saw or read on Democracy Now! so if you're able to, please do so. And if you aren't comfortable with donating online, an address is provided for mail in donations which I'll go ahead and copy & paste her but you can also find it on the web page (

Democracy Now!
P.O. Box 693
New York, New York10013

I'm not trying to guilt you, Democracy Now! isn't trying to guilt you. This isn't one of NPR's dopey pledge chats where they say something idiotic like, "For $30 dollars you can get ___. And everyone has $30 dollars, just lift the cushions on your couch." I actually heard that on my NPR station. I also heard, "You spend more than that each month going to Starbucks."

No, NPR, everyone doesn't blow $30 bucks or more at Starbucks each month. No, NPR, everyone can't just life the sofa cushions and find $30 bucks.

I doubt anyone on Democracy Now! wants you living on bread & water for a month so that you can donate something. But if you are fortunate enough to have the money to donate, remember Democracy Now! brings you stories you don't see elsewhere. And with the inauguration next week, where do you think you'll see the protests? The mainstream media locked down on broadcasting them in 2001. That won't happen on Democracy Now! and that's why we're lucky to have it. And if you're not able to donate, that doesn't mean you're not welcome to watch, listen or read. Democracy Now! is for everyone. It serves all of us.

If you have no money to give, keep watching, listening or reading Democracy Now! and don't worry about it. But if those who are able to donate anything (even five dollars) will donate, it will help keep Democracy Now! alive.

End of pitch. (I do not work for Democracy Now! and have not been asked to write anything on donating. Of the names listed on each episode, I know none of them. As far as I know, my ties to Democracy Now! include only enjoying watching it on the web.)

Martha: "I'm going crazy. I saw a post right below the Times entry this morning and now it's gone. Later I saw one above the Times entry that was full of characters and garbage and now it's gone."

You're not crazy. Those are things I attempted to repeatedly post by e-mail on Monday and Tuesday. Apparently, they finally made the blog.

They post and then they disappear. I have no idea why.

It's Thursday, which means AW -- Alternative Weekly round up. Dona, Jim, Elaine, Natalie, Jimmy and Martha have sent items in so we'll be using those and I'll also be looking for additional items.

Democracy Now!: Jesselyn Radak, Climate Change, Third World Debt; Richard Cohen, Forbes & Frank in Orlando on CBS's four firings

Democracy Now! (always worth watching, as Marcia notes):
Headlines for January 13, 2005

- White House Admits No WMD In Iraq
- U.S. Downplays Importance of Iraqi Voter Turnout
- White House Pressed Congress Not To Restrict Interrogation Methods
- Supreme Court Overturns Federal Sentencing Guidelines
- Bolivian Protests Force Gov't To Cancel Water Contract
- CARICOM Refuses to Recognize U.S.-backed Haiti Gov't
- Kennedy: "We Cannot Become Republican Clones"
- Bob Marley's Body to Be Reburied in Ethiopia

George Monbiot: "Climate Change Is a Far Greater Threat To Human Well-Being Than Terrorism"

Landslides and flooding following days of heavy rain in California have left some 20 people dead in the state, including 10 in La Conchita following a devastating mudslide. We take a look at extreme weather and global warming with author and columnist George Monbiot. 

The Debt Threat: How Debt is Destroying the Developing World

As a group of the world's richest countries agree to temporarily freeze debt repayments of Asian countries hit by last month's tsunami, we speak with globalization expert Noreena Hertz, author of The Debt Threat: How Debt is Destroying the World.





Susan, Ben, Brad and Trina have already written in wanting to know about Jesselyn Radack. 
The good news is she's interviewed on the third segment of Democracy Now! today:
Whistleblower Charges Justice Dept. with Misconduct in Chertoff's Prosecution of John Walker Lindh

We speak with former Justice Department attorney, Jesselyn Radack, who charges that department officials under Michael Chertoff improperly questioned John Waker Lindh and that her memos raising ethical concerns about his interrogation were purged and not turned over to a criminal court.
On this thirteenth day of January, BuzzFlash runs their thirteenth daily editorial (they're doing a total of twenty to lead up to the inauguration of the Bully Boy):

Antonin Scalia believes that America is officially a Christian nation.

John Ashcroft has declared that God is our King. George W. Bush believes that a Christian God chose him to become President and lead the nation in killing tens of thousands of people.

The Bush right wing religious base firmly believes, with few exceptions, that America was founded as a Christian country.

This is not hair splitting about "moral values." This gets to the heart of whether America was created, as Jefferson pronounced, with "a wall of separation between church and state" or whether we have an official state religion.

The Scalias, Ashcrofts, Bushes, Falwells and Robertsons are not just talking about a Christian nation; they are talking about THEIR vision of what a Christian nation should be. And a vengeful one it is.

There are many Christian denominations and interpretations of the Bible, and most of them are not radically extremist like the Bush hard core base. The Methodist Church, for example, to which Bush nominally belongs, opposed the War in Iraq, as did, it appeared, most of the major Christian groups in the United States. So the Bush religious contingent is a splinter group of fundamentalists (

To read the twelve prior, go to and select by a title or read in order.

Frank in Orlando sends this in from Forbes (

Here is a news flash: Very few reporters have "sufficient time" to learn these "fundamentals." The supposed fundamentals are laid out in a seven-page appendix, which reads like a manual for trial lawyers. The plain fact is that few reporters have the time to "authenticate" documents in any systematic way--though these reporters made an honest effort.

Every reporter, for instance, will rely on statements, whether from government officials or from companies, that are not authenticated in the legal sense. Reporters rely on documents written by people they don't know all the time, and no one suggests there is something wrong with the practice. When the author of the document is dead, as was the case with the 60 Minutes report, legal authentication is often impossible, which is why lawyers have a big problem when witnesses die.

Most historical documents are not subject to formal authentication. Reporters of today's news or yesterday's events must do their best. To cite one example close at hand, I am relying on the report issued by CBS that I found on the Web, even though I never spoke to Thornburgh. I failed to authenticate. Of course, I had no reason to doubt that the document I was reading was the Thornburg Report. If a reporter has reason to believe a document has been forged, he should check it out. But the fired CBS reporters did that.

Frank in Orlando:  "This is the point you were driving home in the vanished post about how CBS was doing a legal review and not a journalistic one."

Right, because it's a valid point and one that I first became aware of when the fired CNN producers began speaking out to the press (1999). [Which is the wrong year, it should be 1998.  My mistake.] I certainly didn't invent that point and I certainly don't own it.  It was a criticism (a valid one and one I agreed with) over the CNN report.  And I think the CBS "panel" reflects the same mentality/mind set.  So toss it around and, if it's one you agree with or think's worth discussing, toss it out there to people you're interacting with. 

The press, my opinion, should have stood as one against the CBS panel.  Instead, for various reasons, a number have remained silent or chosen to accept the panel as valid.  I don't think either's an option for a press that's under attack.

In the missing post, I highlighted two segments of Democracy Now! (and wrongly stated that you could listen or watch them, you can only listen to them online -- now I'm doing corrections for posts that have vanished!):

CNN/Time Vs. Reporters  (July 10, 1998)

We've heard a lot over the past few weeks about the retraction, the reprimands, the firings and the resignation stemming from the CNN/Time Magazine piece charging the U.S. military used sarin gas on its own troops during the Vietnam War. But what about the substance of the piece? What about the serious charges that the military used sarin gas during its covert war in Laos and that it used the gas on its own troops? We are joined now by the two former CNN producers fired under pressure from the military after their piece -- "Valley of Death" -- aired on CNN.


  • April Oliver was a CNN Producer for four and a half years and was previously a Producer at McNeil Lehrer for five years.
  • Jack Smith, was a Senior Producer at CNN and before that worked for 23 years at CBS as the Washington Bureau Chief and the Chicago Bureau Chief.

CNN Journalists Fire Back (July 27, 1998):

Two fired producers of a report alleging the U.S. military used sarin nerve gas charged last week that the investigation that led CNN to retract that story was itself biased and designed to protect the network's top management.

While both producers have spoken in various interviews since they were fired July 9, last week's response was the most forceful and detailed rebuttal to date. They said it was aimed at restoring their reputations and reaffirming that the story, titled "Valley of Death," was accurate. That story, shown July 7 on CNN, charged that sarin gas was used in Operation Tailwind, a U.S. raid into Laos in 1970, to find and kill American defectors.

In a 77-page document that was released over the Internet, as well as at a press conference last Wednesday, April Oliver and Jack Smith vigorously disputed the findings of First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, who concluded their allegations couldn't be proven and that they overlooked contradictory evidence because of their strong belief in the story.

The producers wrote in their rebuttal, "We were tried, convicted, and sentenced in a closed proceeding that failed any test of fairness or due process." They say the Abrams report virtually ignores much of the most important information and attempts to discredit the many important sources that supported the story. . . . [no transcript is available online, but there is a longer written introduction to this segment]

April Oliver and Jack Smith press conference moderated by Alex Jones, a former media critic for the New York Times. The press conference was sponsored by the Freedom Forum, and presented at the Newseum in New York.

Additional resources on this issue can be found at:

CNN's 'Tailwind' and Selective Media Retractions, by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon (8/98) (from Fair's Extra!)

a transcript of the "Valley of Death" broadcast

via Media Channel: Ten Tips For Controversial Journalism
Award-winning journalists have seen their careers crushed over controversial investigations. April Oliver offers survival tips from her experience with the disastrous CNN/Tailwind story.

Richard Cohen, Washington Post, is weighing in with his thoughts on the CBS firings so I'll note his op-ed today "Hollow Accountability" (

Those who paid at CBS happen to be some of that network's best people. They made a mistake, no doubt about it. They had professional lapses. Again, no doubt about it. But most of them had long and distinguished careers. One of them, in fact, helped break the story about abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. They deserved to be reprimanded for putting an apparently bogus (at least the documents were) report on the air. They did not deserve to be fired.

Liars get fired. None of the CBS four lied. Plagiarists get fired. None of the four plagiarized. Incompetents get fired -- and one mistake over the course of an entire career is not proof of incompetence. All these people deserved another chance. Bush would understand that. He always gets another chance.

. . .

Later, "60 Minutes" killed a report about whether the Bush administration had relied on false documents in making the case that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger. A CBS spokesman said it would have been "inappropriate to air the report so close to the presidential election" -- a statement just plain stunning in its implications. First of all, it was late September -- a full month before the election -- and, second, isn't affecting elections what can happen when journalists do their jobs? I mean, are we supposed to withhold the truth because, in addition to making you free, it might make you change your vote? This was a dark day for CBS and for all journalism.

Now it is even darker. The capitulation to Bush and the GOP is nearly complete. After the firings, the White House voiced its approval. So did Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, who, keeping a firm grip on his emotions, did not suggest President Bush take note and do some firings himself. All over this great country, wherever right-wing pundits pund and bloggers blog, a chorus of gleeful approval was raised to the heavens. But in praising accountability, they were unaccountably silent about -- and here let me quote from the CBS report about what went wrong -- the "myopic zeal" of administration figures who got everything wrong, still do and have never been called to account for it. They had everything wrong but the target. It wasn't Iraq that was the pushover; it was CBS.

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CIA and torture on the front page of this morning's New York Times

Douglas Jehl and David Johnston's White House Fought New Curbs on Interrogations, Officials Say is a front page must read on this morning's New York Times.

In December, acting on a recommendation from the 9-11 commission, Congress attempted to deal with "extreme interrogation measures by American intelligence officers."

The Senate had approved the new restrictions, by a 96-to-2 vote, as part of the intelligence reform legislation. They would have explicitly extended to intelligence officers a prohibition against torture or inhumane treatment, and would have required the C.I.A. as well as the Pentagon to report to Congress about the methods they were using.
But in intense closed-door negotiations, Congressional officials said, four senior members from the House and Senate deleted the restrictions from the final bill after the White House expressed opposition.
In a letter to members of Congress, sent in October and made available by the White House on Wednesday in response to inquiries, Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, expressed opposition to the measure on the grounds that it "provides legal protections to foreign prisoners to which they are not now entitled under applicable law and policy."

Condi Rice. The one who wants to run the State Department which deals with . . . other countries. She's obviously going to continue the charm-free offensive she's pursued for the last four years. Kara recently e-mailed: "If she wants to be the face of the United States when it comes to other countries could someone please ask her to stop scowling everytime Bush isn't around? And could someone suggest that she lose that bulky shoulder purse she's often photographed with, one that never goes with the outfit she's wearing?" Mismatched purses may be the least of her problems when it comes to interacting with representatives of other countries, but it's noted and agreed with. (I believe it's a bulky black purse, if I'm remembering it correctly.)

Ben: "So Bullies Without Borders wanted a loophole and our Congress was happy to give it to them? I see Joe Lieberman's name in this morning's story. Old Useless Joe's happy to talk about his faith and values when he wants to declare war on Hollywood but it sure is strange that his faith never appears to pop up when the issue is torture. It's a selective kind of faith apparently. Congress wouldn't have backed off without bipartisan support for the administration so I just want to ask that everyone spread the blame around equally to both sides of the aisle [in Congress]."

Agreed. And we should also note this from the article:

An August 2002 legal opinion by the Justice Department said that interrogation methods just short of those that might cause pain comparable to "organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death" could be allowable without being considered torture. The administration disavowed that opinion last summer after the classified legal opinion was publicly disclosed.
A new opinion made public late last month, signed by James B. Comey, the deputy attorney general, explicitly rejected torture and adopted more restrictive standards to define it.
But a cryptic footnote to the new document about the "treatment of detainees" referred to what the officials said were other still-classified opinions. The footnote meant, the officials said, that coercive techniques approved by the Justice Department under the looser interpretation of the torture statutes were still lawful even under the new, more restrictive interpretation.
Current and former government officials said specific interrogation methods were addressed in a series of still-secret documents, including an August 2002 one by the Justice Department that authorized the C.I.A.'s use of some 20 interrogation practices. The legal opinion was sent to the C.I.A. via the National Security Council at the White House.

NPR's Morning Edition is reporting this:
Mark Thatcher has pleaded guilty to criminal charges. That would be Margret Thatcher's son. He's gotten a suspended prison sentence. "He was facing 15 years if he was convicted of all the charges he was facing." I wonder how this will play out elsewhere. The Times has run a few items on this (small items), all inside the paper. "He's going to get his passport back and get away with just paying a fine." When Morning Edition's stories are available online later today, I'll try to post a link to it. [I was typing as quickly as I could and also trying to sort through what was being said, so consider the quotes paraphrases and listen to the story yourself later today if you're interested in it.]

Linda Greenhouse's Supreme Court Transforms Use of Sentence Guidelines is a long article and one I'm still weighing so I'll just suggest that you read it.

If you're interested in the issue, please also see this story from inside the paper by Carl Hulse and Adam Liptak: New Fight Over Controlling Punishments Is Widely Seen.

This was noted late last night in "Snapshots
Snapshots: Chertoff and it's an ugly picture" ( but it's now in this morning's paper and everyone should read Eric Lichtblau's Nomination May Revisit Case of Citizen Seized in Afghanistan on Chertoff:

But Ms. [ Jesselyn] Radack, the former lawyer in the ethics office who advised in 2001 that questioning Mr. Lindh would be improper, said she was troubled by Mr. Chertoff's statements to Congress.
Ms. Radack has admitted giving internal e-mail messages on the dispute to Newsweek magazine after leaving the department in 2002, and her actions led to investigations and bar referrals by the Justice Department over accusations that she had violated the attorney-client privilege. Ms. Radack maintains that her disclosure of the messages was protected by whistle-blower rules. She is suing the department.
Ms. Radack said she did not believe that Mr. Chertoff was forthcoming with senators on Mr. Lindh's case.
"It's incredible to me that we would want someone leading the Department of Homeland Security who gives equivocal and misleading statements to Congress and avoids answering the tough questions," she said.

For more on Jesselyn Radack please see:

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Snapshots: Chertoff and it's an ugly picture

Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive):

Bush's latest appointment to head the Department of Homeland Security at least does not appear to have a skeleton in every closet as Bernard Kerik did. But Michael Chertoff is not the person for the job.
First off, he has no experience managing a huge department with 180,000 employees.
Secondly, and more importantly, his record on civil rights gives pause.
As Assistant Attorney General under Ashcroft, Chertoff was the guy who came up with the tawdry tactic of misusing the "material witness" law. Passed in 1984, it allows prosecutors to hold a witness if they fear that witness may flee. Before 9/11, it was used almost exclusively in Mob cases.
But Chertoff saw that law as a way to grab anyone potentially connected to a terrorist case, especially when there was insufficient evidence to charge that person with a crime.

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!):
As an Assistant Attorney General in the months after the 9/11 attacks, Chertoff helped oversee the detention of hundreds of Muslims and Arab men without pressing charges, by using the material witness statute. A subsequent report by the Justice Department's Inspector General determined immigrants were rounded up in a, quote, “indiscriminant and haphazard manner.” Held for months while denied access to attorneys and sometimes mistreated behind bars. The American Civil Liberties Union said yesterday, quote, “We're troubled that Chertoff's public record suggests that he sees the Bill Of Rights as an obstacle to national security, rather than a guidebook for how to do security properly.”

John Mintz (Washington Post):
As an assistant attorney general in the months after the attacks, Chertoff helped oversee the detention of 762 foreign nationals for immigration violations; none of them was charged with terrorism-related crimes. A subsequent report by the Justice Department's inspector general determined that Justice's "no bond" policy for the detainees -- a tactic whose legality was questioned at the time by immigration officials -- led to lengthy delays in releasing them from prison, where some faced "a pattern of physical and verbal abuse."
"We're very concerned that Judge Chertoff views immigration solely through the lens of national security and counterterrorism, and that his record on counterterrorism needs to be closely examined," said Kate Martin, director of the Center for National Security Studies, a civil liberties group.


Campaign Extra:
Chartoff's actions during this period would later be roundly criticized in a report from the Justice Department's own Inspector General. It found that immigrants were rounded up in an "indiscriminate and haphazard manner," held for months while denied access to attorneys and sometimes mistreated behind bars.
The report noted that Chertoff "urged immigration officials to 'hold these people until we find out what's going on,' despite the fact that many had been swept up and detained on minor immigration charges."
Chertoff also pushed prosecutors and the FBI into greatly expanded use of domestic surveillance. In November 2002, according to this report, he "defended the need for government agencies to aggregate large amounts of personal information in computer databases for both law enforcement and national security purposes."

He was instrumental in revising the internal "Attorney General Guidelines" to allow the FBI to infiltrate religious and political gatherings with undercover agents, and he was apparently the catalyst behind the federal Bureau of Prisons rule change permitting agents to eavesdrop on previously confidential attorney-client conversations in federal prisons. And, he directed the initial "voluntary" dragnet interviews of thousands of Arabs and Muslims.

Eric Lichtblau (New York Times):

The conviction in 2002 of Mr. Lindh, an American who admitted joining the Taliban in Afghanistan, represented one of Mr. Chertoff's biggest triumphs as head of the criminal division in the department. But the case resurfaced in Senate confirmation hearings after Mr. Chertoff was nominated to be a federal appellate judge in 2003.
At that time, Senate Democrats questioned him extensively about concerns in the department that the F.B.I. might have improperly questioned Mr. Lindh in Afghanistan even though his family had hired a lawyer for him. The questioning yielded potentially damaging admissions from Mr. Lindh that factored into his decision in July 2002 to plead guilty to felony charges, resulting in his 20-year prison sentence.

. . .
At his confirmation hearing in 2003, Mr. Chertoff said he and his deputies in the criminal division did not have an active role in discussions about ethics warnings in the case from lawyers elsewhere in the department.
But in previously undisclosed department documents, provided to The New York Times by a person involved in the case who insisted on anonymity, a longtime lawyer in the division who worked under Mr. Chertoff detailed numerous contacts he had with lawyers inside and outside the division on Mr. Lindh's questioning.
. . .

A supervisor in the counterterrorism section of the criminal division who expressed the division's displeasure "did not use Chertoff's name, but I certainly inferred from what he said that the unhappiness was coming from Chertoff" and his top deputy, Mr. De Pue said.
At his confirmation hearing for the appellate judgeship, Mr. Chertoff said he was not aware of the dissent among department lawyers on the case, including an opinion from an ethics lawyer, Jesselyn Radack, saying an F.B.I. interview of Mr. Lindh would not be authorized under the law.
Mr. Chertoff said, "I was not consulted with respect to this matter," and he said he was unaware that the office that handled ethics issues had given an official opinion on interviewing Mr. Lindh without his lawyer.
"I do not recall anyone expressing the opinion that the F.B.I. should be stopped from interviewing John Walker Lindh because of professional ethics rules about contacts with represented persons," he said in a written response to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts. Mr. Chertoff defended the propriety of the interview, saying at his hearing it was highly unlikely "that a lawyer was going to be flown into the battlefield in Afghanistan."


Doug Ireland (on Democracy Now!):
Well, Amy, the real agenda of Mike Chertoff, according to sources in New Jersey who know Chertoff well, whom I spoke to yesterday, is he wants eventually to become Attorney General, and then grab a seat on the Supreme Court. That's why he's decided to take this job at Department of Homeland Security and give up a lifetime appointment on the federal bench.

Elaine Cassel (2003):
Chertoff's goal, I believe, and the goal of Ashcroft and Bush in supporting this prosecution in federal court, is to subject federal trials, as they see fit, to ad hoc exemptions of whatever laws (be they constitutional, criminal code, or rules of procedure) that will suit their purposes. Their grand scheme is to ultimately cripple and dismantle the federal courts as we know them, one brick at a time.

Liang (Common Ills member):
I read this( in the NYT article you linked to and it made my blood chill:
"Mike was a true agent of change after 9/11, and he took us into a mindset of prevention," said Viet Dinh, a former senior Justice Department official who also worked with Judge Chertoff on the Whitewater case. "He can do the same thing with homeland security, develop a vision and a consensus and build toward that, moving from disparate components with different interests into a common mission. That will be his first order of business, not to consolidate but to coordinate."
My family came from Vietnam. I see three types of Vietnemese in this country. There's the type that's so weary of the war torn country they left behind that they just want to withdraw from the world around them. There's the type who are so grateful to have come here and value what this country is and what it stands for. And there's the type who never felt secure in Vietnam and tend to overreact to every situation and are perfectly willing to sacrifice sanity and liberty for security. Dinh is someone I've never met but since he is of my community (Vietanmese-American), he is someone I often read of. Dinh strikes me as someone who will give up anything out of fear if he thinks it will bring him security. I am not questioning his patriotism but I am saying his response to any perceived danger will always be one of over-reaction and I think he may end up creating the very chaos he was lucky enough to leave. So when I read his endorsement of Chertoff, I am not comforted."

According to the New York Daily News, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton " when he was appointed to the Justice Department and the federal bench" (
Hopefully, she'll stand strong against him again. And hopefully, unlike with Senator Barbara Boxer's lonely stand for justice in the Senate last week, this time other Democratic senators won't be so quick to let someone stand alone.