Saturday, March 05, 2005

Tori Highlights Matilda Joslyn Gage for Women's History Month

Tori: There are a lot of strong and worthy women who make up the first wave of feminism in this country. Of all of them, I've always felt the closest to Matilda Joslyn Gage because in many ways we know what we know about that period thanks to her.
She was the publisher and editor of The National Citizen and Ballot Box. This was kind of like Rolling Stone covering music, because The National Citizen and Ballot Box was the paper of record for the feminist movement.
She also explored (and remember this is the 1800s) the older religions, the ones revolving around the goddess. She questioned authority and was someone who found joy in research and learning which may be the reason I admire her so much. So I'd like to salute Matilad Joslyn Gage, her thirst for knowledge and her refusal to accept easy answers.

Who's on the Sunday Chat & Chews? (Krugman on Meet the Press; Kennedy on This Week)

The Sunday Chat & Chews for those who can stomach them.

Meet the Press (Sunday mornings, NBC):

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY) Assistant Majority Leader, Republican Whip
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL)Assistant Minority Leader, Democratic Whip
MIKE ALLEN Washington Post
JOE KLEIN Time Magazine
KATE O'BEIRNE National Review

"Please Note: This Sunday, March 6th, Meet the Press will air early in Los Angeles, due to the L.A. Marathon. The show will air on KNBC Los Angeles at 6 a.m. PST. Meet the Press will air at normal time in all other markets."

ABC's This Week (Sundays) offers:

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
Treasury Secretary John Snow

For their "round" table:

Kweisi Mfume, former president of the NAACP; John Tierney, the newest columnist to join the New York Times' Op-Ed page; and George Will.

As always, watch only if you can stomach. (I won't be watching.) For those who are curious about what happens but don't have the time or the stomach to watch, remember Bill Scher does
a review of the Sunday chat & chews each Monday at Liberal Oasis.

And because Grant asked for it (he must have a strong stomach), I attempted to find out who Blinky would be chatting up on CBS' Face the Nation (Sundays). But like their host Blinky, the CBS page for Face the Nation is way behind the times. "Who's next on Face?" promises info. And apparently it is information if you like old information -- the guests listed are for the Feb. 27th show. (Meet the Press and This Week announce, via e-mails, who their guests will be on Friday. Face the Nation apparently likes to spring the guests on the viewers to provide them with some sense of "revelations" as the same over-televised faces sit across from Blinky, rehashing every bit of conventional wisdom you've heard for months.)

So my apologies to Grant, but we just don't know how Face the Nation intends to waste a half hour this Sunday as yet.

Call the cops: Jeff Gannon's trying to solicit Maureen Dowd! BuzzFlash awards Bill Keller 'The Hypocrite of the Week' and Kara reports from backstage

Jeff Gannon, alleged male escort to other men and alleged reporter, appears to be branching out judging from Ms. Musing's recent report:

At 3:50 p.m. on March 2, Jeff Gannon -- a man on a mission no one quite gets -- wrote the following on his blog:
Tom Bevan has an great piece at Real Clear Politics, PLAYING HARDBALL WITH MAUREEN DOWD, in which he makes some good points about this gal who probably needs a bit of the old Jeff Gannon to relieve some of that pent up whatever.

Not having checked out his online nudies, maybe I'm missing some point here. But Dowd needs
the services of an allegedly gay male escort?

Now we realize times are hard for everyone but especially for those who've lost their paycheck and run the risk of a vice raid at any minute, so we do admire Gannon's efforts to build on his apparent sole source of income by branching out from strictly male-on-male to male-on-female
(hey, Jeff, we think a certain senator might pay for some male-on-dog). However, we do have to wonder if so public an attempt at solicitation isn't pushing the envelope a little far even for someone who's reportedly flashed . . . well everything that is flashable.

Maybe our friend Ron at Why Are We Back in Iraq can help us out, but we're not aware of Gannon living in Nevada or any region where prostitution is legal. And maybe someone who's visited the alleged online solicitation sites of Gannon's can tell us if he's a "safety boy." If he isn't practicing safe sex, shouldn't the CDC be shutting his presumably thriving business down?

Let's hope Dowd has a worthy response to Gannon's attempt to cast himself as Vivian in Pretty Woman. We'd prefer something along the lines of Dowd's response to Zell Miller's challenge to a duel: "Senator, pistols or swords."

In other Times news, BuzzFlash has chosen executive editor Bill Keller for their GOP Hypocrite of the Week. As a site that so often notes the Times, we'd be remiss not to note Keller's award.
The competition was, as always, intense. But Keller's performance convinced the BuzzFlash academy that he had the goods.

We turn now to Common Ills community member Kara who reports from backstage at the awards ceremony. Kara?

Kara: Billy Keller was beaming broader than Hillary Swank and tearing up more mechanically than Jamie Fox! This was his moment and he knew he'd earned it. Thankfully, he was smart enough to avoid the lemon merangue colors that sunk Cate Blanchett's big moment last Sunday!
His acceptance speech brought to mind Hillary Swank as he listed so many "friends" who'd helped and supported him. After listing the names of Dexter Filkins, Karl Rove, Elisabeth Bumiller ("or as I like to call her, Mrs. Rove!"), Juan Forero, "Danny my main dude" Okrent and "little Davey Sanger" -- loved the personalized touches, Bill! -- Keller wiped away yet another tear, grinned and shook that head proudly.
He was wearing his hair upswept which was a good choice considering his lack of bone structure! Whomever got him ready for this big night knew what they were doing. His diamond jewelry was reportedly on loan from one of Pat Roberston's diamond mines in the Congo!
He also wisely wore an outfit that was vintage Joan Crawford -- with his hips, he really needed extended shoulder pads to balance him out.
As Keller profusely thanked the Bully Boy ("couldn't have done it without my buddy George!") the audience grew restless and the orchestra began playing. Throwing his head back and his hands into the air, Keller gushed, "Wait! Wait! Let me finish! I haven't yet thanked Judy Miller!"
Such an omission would have been a travesty because despite her constant shilling, Miller has been repeatedly snubbed by the adcademy. Keller's three minutes on Miller (highlighting just a few of her more noted moments) now lays the ground work for the Times to potentially sweep the BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week Awards two weeks running!
Backstage, Miller tossed down her cigarette, ground it out on the floor repeatedly with the stilleto heel of her Jimmy Choos and began working on an acceptance speech. As Judy paced back and forth, she toyed with lines like "You hate me, you really hate me!" and "I was proved f**king right!"
Miller, like Keller, wore a USA flag over her right breast and a minature bust of the Bully Boy over her left. Around one wrist she wore a yellow braclet enscribed with the words: "F**k the people, piss on the readers, we're the godd*mn Times!"
Keller wore a similar braclet, but his had hearts dotting the "i"s.
After he'd posed for photographers with his award for five minutes, this reporter pulled him aside.
Kara: Congratulation, Billy! You really earned this award!

Keller: I still can't believe it! You like to think someone will recognize all your efforts, all your hard work, but you never really expect it! It's a honor just to be nominated, of course, but at the Times we're whores for any prize!

Kara: What does the award mean for you personally?

Keller: (chuckling) It means come Monday morning, I kick down Artie's door [Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger] and tell him it's time to pony up with the big bucks! And I've got a list of riders that he better go along with. I've already got a free subscription to The Weekly Standard, but now I want The National Review, The American Spectator and an autographed copy of Bill O'Reilly's -- hey, is that US Weekly? (calling out) Guys, guys, I'm over here!

Kara: The braclet, you and Judy are both wearing it tonight?

Keller: Yes, this is put out by Rupert Murdoch's Limitations on the First Amendment Committee, formerly United Press Liars. Each braclet purchased provides monies that will be used to round up the sillys who insist upon attempting to inform the public and send them to Guantanamo Bay. Last week alone, we raised enough money to ship off Sy Hersh and Amy Goodman! There aren't a lot of causes I have time to get behind because, obviously, I'm so busy doing public relations for the administration. But this cause was one that was near and dear to my heart so I told myself, "Hey, girl, Sharon Stone and Liz Taylor do charity work, you should too!" It meant passing on the opportunity to go in the studio with John Ashcroft and work on a duet album, but I really believe in the cause.

Kara: You've got your own fragrance coming out next month.

Keller: Yes, it's called Piss on the People.

onlookers: (calling out) Open the shoulders, Billy! Open the shoulders!

Keller: (posing for photographers) Piss on the People boils down the essence of what I think the press should be: Piss on the People, repeat the administration's version of events and always trade truth for access. You can call it "pee pee" for short. And be sure to tell your readers that I sniffed each sample before putting my name on it.

Kara: There you have it. Back to you.

That was Kara reporting from the awards ceremony of the BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week Awards. Though we'll continue to pull for Judith Miller, we really won't quibble about the voters picking Bill Keller. He's earned his moment in the spotlight.

Edward Wong, Jason Horowitz and the New York Times are either glossing or working for "The Clampdown"

So the New York Times covers the release (and shooting at) of "a kidnapped Italian journalist."
They put two reporters on it (Edward Wong & Jason Horowitz's front page "Italian Hostage Released In Iraq, Is Shot By G.I.'s"). In paragraph two, we get "Italian journalist"'s name: Giuliana Sgrena.

Ah yes, Sgrena. Let's hop in the time machine and dart back to February 17th for "The Gatekeeper of Record can't find Giuliana Sgrenea's full remarks, Beale tells us "US Gloss Masks Nerves over Iraq," and bungling the PBS story." Remember that? Where Giuliana Sgrenea's taped statements were severely reduced by the Gatekeeper of Record?

Here's a reminder:

"People are dying every day, thousands of people are in prison, children, the elderly, women are raped, people die because they have nothing to eat, no electricity, no water," she said. "I beg everyone, all those who have voted with me against the war, against the occupation, please help me, these people should not suffer any more . . . Please help me, nobody should come to Iraq any more . . . not even journalists."

If you read that, you weren't reading the Times Feb. 17th since the reporters (James Glanz & Dexter Filkins) 'glossed' over that part. The gloss goes on.

There's outrage being expressed over this but you won't find it in the Times. You won't find reference to Reporters Without Borders eithers. But you will get this gem of bad reporting:

Political analysts doubted that the shooting would strain the relationship between Italy and the United States, or threaten the mission of Italy's roughly 3,000 troops in Iraq.

Political analysts? Robert Novak's in the Green Zone? What the hell?

You've got Wong reporting largely from the Green Zone, Horowitz from Rome, James Glanz tossing in from Baghdad, Kirk Semple from London and Steven R. Weisman and Thom Shanker from D.C. Who spoke to "political analysts?" Who are these political analysts?

They serve the purpose to allay concerns and tell the reader "Nothing to see here, move along." That may be the reason they are included. But what political analysts from what countries? There's no need for anony-mice to sneak into this story to provide that irrelevant bit of info.

Ben: I thought the NYT was supposed to have struck these anonymous sources? I also find it very interesting that the reporters tell us that these check points shootings "of innocent vehicles . . . have taken place in recent months, and have been documented by reporters and photographers." Exactly where in NYT have these photos been shown? I'm not remembering any "Photographs . . . showed the surviving children covered in their parents' blood" in NYT. I am remembering tons of unnamed sources rushing in to tell us "everything's cool, everything's fine, stay the course! stay the course!" repeatedly. I'll assume these anonymous sources are from the State Department and that they and the paper are attempting to minimize the ugly truth before it can break out.

Considering the way the story of Giuliana Sgrena's kidnapping has played out in Italy, who indeed are these 'wise' political analysts that say there will be no impact from this? Who are these big smarties, these anony-mice, so quick to rush in with words the Bully Boy administration no doubt finds reassuring? The coverage of the kidnapping has been strong in the Italian press but our 'wise analysts' shake their Magic 8 Ball and deliver instant 'wisdom' to us via the Times.

Look Giuliana Sgrena is already speaking and the reaction, as reported elsewhere, suggests anony-mice need to scurry for cover right about now.

Robin Pomeroy reporting for Reuters:

The incident could rekindle anti-war sentiment in Italy, where public opinion opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

From the BBC:

Her left-wing newspaper Il Manifesto says a peace rally will be held in Rome later on Saturday.
The death of one of Italy's most senior intelligence officers in the shooting cast a pall of gloom over what should have been a joyous occasion, says our Rome correspondent.
Mr Calipari is being portrayed as a national hero in Saturday's Italian press for his courage in saving Ms Sgrena's life.

The BBC has an audio & video report (no transcript) "Italy demands US take responsibility ."

From Rory Carroll, John Hooper and and Sam Jones in The Guardian, we learn that:

"This news, which should have be a moment of celebration, has been ruined by this fire fight," Mr [Gabriele] Polo told Italian television. "An Italian agent has been killed by an American bullet. A tragic demonstration which we never wanted that everything that's happening in Iraq is completely senseless and mad."

[Note, the Times today reduces Polo's statement to "everything that's happening in Iraq is completely senseless and mad." Apparently Polo's remarks must have gone through Bill Keller's beloved "filter" before making it into print. Remember the "filter" that Bill Keller was whining about last week -- the one that those darn bloggers refuse to respect!]

From AFP:

Meanwhile, about 100 anti-globalization protesters gathered outside the US embassy here and called for a withdrawal of the 3,000 Italian troops from Iraq, Berlusconi's resignation and support for Calipari's family.
They carried a banner reading: "Bush has changed: now he even kills Italians".

From the BBC (again):

This is a serious diplomatic incident between the US and Italy, says the BBC's David Willey in Rome.

From (Robin Pomeroy) Reuters:

"I don't believe a word of the American version," said Oliviero Diliberto, head of the Italian Communist party, part of the main left-wing block led by former premier Romano Prodi.
"The Americans deliberately fired on Italians. This is huge. All of the center-left must vote in parliament for the withdrawal of our troops."

From AFP, we learn:

A tempest was brewing over the tragic mishap on the road to the Baghdad airport late Friday when US soldiers opened fire on Sgrena's speeding convoy, leaving an Italian secret service agent dead who shielded the female journalist from the bullets.
Italian newspapers warned the government against a cover-up given Berlusconi's cozy relationship with Washington. The US ambassador to Rome was summoned to the PM's office to explain the friendly fire incident.

Adhering to their lust for "official sources" (nameless), the Times rushes in to assure readers in this country that there's nothing to worry about, nothing to be concerned about, "political analysts" who are unnamed and apparently country-less "doubted that the shooting would strain the relationship between Italy and the United States," the New York Timid rushes to tell us.

And did you catch that? "Convoy." It's not a part of the story in the Times.

From Reporters Without Borders:

In yesterday's incident, the convoy of cars taking Sgrena back to Baghdad following her release from captivity was fired on by US military at a checkpoint near the airport. One of the Italian military officers protecting her was killed and at least one other was wounded. Sgrena was wounded in the shoulder.

The Times doesn't tell you word one about a "convoy of cars," so let's fill in some of the pieces that can't get past this morning's gloss.

Reuters (Robin Pomeroy):

But in comments reported by ANSA news agency, Sgrena told Rome investigating magistrates during a debriefing that the car was not going fast and there was no real checkpoint.
"The firing was not justified by the speed of our car," she reportedly said, adding it was traveling at a "regular" speed.
"It wasn't a checkpoint, but a patrol which shot as soon as it had lit us up with a spotlight. We had no idea where the shots were coming from."

Over at Daily Kos, gilgamesh is covering details emerging from other reports:

The Americans shut down the cell phones of our agents who were with Giuliana. They shut them off while they [the agents] were speaking with Silvio Berlusconi, they prevented the emergency medical technicians from approaching the wounded," Scolari recounts, basing himself on the eyewitness testimony of the Italian secret service agents at the scene. But how is it possible that all this was allowed to happen?" In that moment I shouted at the premier [Berlusconi] that your war is to blame for this. This war is madness and these are the results that it produces.

From AFP:

Her companion, who traveled with her from Baghdad, leveled serious accusations at the US troops involved in the incident, saying the shooting had been deliberate. "The Americans and Italians knew about (her) car coming," Pier Scolari said on leaving Celio hospital.
"They were 700 meters (yards) from the airport, which means that they had passed all checkpoints."
Friday's shooting was heard by Berlusconi's aides who were on the phone with one of the intelligence officers, said Scolari. "Then the US military silenced the cellphones," he charged.
"Giuliana had information, and the US military did not want her to survive," he added.

At another time, one where reporting was valued, the Times might be making noises about the potential of this international incident for tremendous fallout across the board. Instead, Keller's beloved filter drains the story of any sense of tragedy and any sense of repurcussions.

You grow up and you calm down
You're working for the clampdown
You start wearing the blue and brown
You're working for the clampdown
So you got someone to boss around
It makes you feel big now
You drift until you brutalize
You made your first kill now
In these days of evil presidentes
Working for the clampdown
But lately one or two has fully paid their due
For working for the clampdown

-- "The Clampdown" by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones (a song by The Clash which can be found on The Clash on Broadway). Susan e-mailed that in regarding this morning's story. "It pretty much says it all," she notes. We'll be doing an entry on members comments regarding the way this story is playing out tonight. If you'd like to weigh in, the e-mail address is

[Note: Five members have e-mailed that Jack Shafer -- please let me have spelled thatlast name correctly -- of Slate used the term anonymice on Friday. I wasn't aware of that. Friday I was more concerned with the treatment of someone and wasn't online except to blog. If Shafer used it Friday, he's probably used it before. So give him credit for coining the term unless he directs people to someone else being responsible for the term. I first heard the term from a community member who's with the working press, first heard it in an e-mail back in January. Whomever coined it, and it wasn't me, it's a clever word and should be used freely. Praise to Jack Shafer for popularizing it and, presumbably, for coining it as well.]

Friday, March 04, 2005

NOW on Social Security

We don't really do talking points here, but NOW's "Talking Points About Women, Social Security and Privatization" is more of a fact sheet and worthy of highlighting. Here's an excerpt (but please read the full piece if you have time):

Social Security is Guaranteed Retirement Income -- Social Security is a bare-bones retirement benefit, providing about $190,000 to retired women workers throughout their retirement years. This social insurance program is risk-free, with monthly payments absolutely guaranteed unless changed by an act of Congress. Risky private investment accounts would not guarantee benefits.
Over 60 million women work in jobs covered by Social Security and have 6.2% of their earnings withheld as payroll taxes. An equal amount is contributed to the trust fund by the employer on behalf of the worker.
Social Security Provides Monthly Survival Benefits -- Social Security payments make a significant improvement in low-earning retirees' family income. These benefits prevent tens of millions individuals and their families from living in poverty.
In 2005, the average monthly benefit paid to women as retired workers was nearly $827.40. For a retired married couple, the average is $1,574. For disabled workers, the average monthly benefit is $1,497 and for surviving spouses and children who have lost a working parent, the average monthly benefit is $1,979.
Almost 30 million women receive Social Security benefits, either as retirees, spouses of retirees, survivors, or disabled workers.
Social Security Provides Valuable Life and Disability Insurance -- Social Security includes life and disability insurance as well as retirement benefits. Similar insurance policies would not be affordable to the average worker if purchased in the open market. The value of life insurance provided to survivors of an average deceased worker is over $400,000, and the value of disability protection for a young disabled worker with a spouse and two children is $350,000. A retirement program based on investments in the stock market would not provide life and disability insurance coverage -- leaving millions of workers, their spouses and children at serious risk.
Social Security is Important to Women -- Social Security makes up 55% of older women's income, compared to just 39% for senior men. For many elderly unmarried women, it is their only source of retirement income! Private accounts and the discriminatory annuities we would be required to purchase would not guarantee the steady source of income so important to elderly women.
Women are 58% of all Social Security beneficiaries 65 and older, and 71% of all beneficiaries 85 and older.

Democracy Now!: For-profit health care in jails and prisons, Syria; Ruth Conniff and Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive

Headlines for March 4, 2005
- Syria Set to Announce 'Partial Pullout'
- Bush to Increase Dissident Funding in Iran
- Chertoff Sworn in, Bush Remembers bin Laden
- U.S. Used Banned Weapons in Fallujah
- Iraq Prisons Bursting at Seams
- Marine Suicides Up 30%
- London Mayor Calls Sharon "War Criminal"
- Cuban Cardinal Questioned By Homeland Security

Harsh Medicine: New York Times Exposes How Private Health Care in Jails Can Be a "Death Sentence" for Prisoners
We take an in-depth look at the for-profit health care in prison and jails in this country. The New York Times published a series titled "Harsh Medicine" based on a yearlong investigation of Prison Health Services, the nation's largest for-profit provider of prisoner medical care, that exposes how inadequate care has resulted in death and suicides by prisoners. [includes rush transcript - partial]

Once-Jailed Syrian Father and Son Warn U.S. Attack Would Destroy "Not Only the Regime But the Country Itself"
We continue our coverage of Syria with two Syrians who were once jailed in Damascus: a father and son. Leading human rights lawyer, Haythem al-Maleh, joins us from Syria and his son Iyas joins us from Dallas.

Ruth Conniff has a wonderful column in The Progressive entitled "Standing Their Ground."
I've corrected a post from Wednesday that quoted from the column but didn't link to it. (I was using the print version and hadn't noticed it was available online. That doesn't, however, excuse my ignorance in not noting that it was from The Progressive since although many members know Ruth Conniff, not everyone does.) So let's highlight it again to make up for my error and to make sure everyone knows it's available online:

As the Bush Administration pushes forward with its aggressive plans to tear up the Constitution and launch its liberty jihad, Senator Barbara Boxer has stepped forward as the voice of Democratic opposition.
In her celebrated clash with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during the confirmation hearings, Boxer quoted Martin Luther King Jr., in what ought to be the Democrats' new motto: "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
The life began draining out of the Democratic Party the day it decided to take a pass on opposing the most aggressively rightwing Administration in history. Fortunately, Boxer and a handful of colleagues decided to reverse the trend by publicly repudiating Bush in what was expected to be a noncontentious confirmation process. In taking a principled stand against Rice and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a few Democrats became the party's backbone.
The counterpoint to this position, Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, took to the floor to endorse Rice and to caution fellow Democrats against giving aid and comfort to America's enemies by opposing Bush's nominees, or his policies. The criticisms of Rice, particularly her dissembling on Iraq, Lieberman said, "are all about the past."
"I don't hear any criticisms about where we are now or where we should go in the future," he said. (Memo to Joe: The war in Iraq rages on. Thirty-one Marines died in a single incident on the highest-casualty day of the conflict for the United States, the same day you were making your let-bygones-be-bygones remarks.)

When I noted Christopher Hitchens' article on the Ohio vote, I apologized for linking to it (due to the author). However, as many pointed out, I didn't link to it! I'd screwed up and forgotten to put in the link. But it had been stated it was from Vanity Fair and a link was provided to Vanity Fair so anyone interested in the article could find it by visiting the magazine's web site. With Conniff's article, not only did I forget to provide the link, I also hadn't mentioned it was from The Progressive. So I want to take the time to highlight it again and my apology to anyone who wasn't aware (due to my error) that Ruth Conniff wrote for The Progressive.

We'll highlight her blog as well. (She blogs each Monday at The Progressive web site.) Monday's entry was entitled "Wal-Mart Wins:"

The story about the failed organizing drive at the Loveland, Colorado, Wal-Mart lube shop is almost tragic.
The felicitously named Joshua Noble, the snowboarder who took on the world's largest private employer, managed to create a major stir with his campaign for a union. But in the end, he was no match for Wal-Mart, which has a team of corporate "human resources" employees whose job is to fly around the country in corporate jets, intimidating low-wage employees wherever there is the slightest whisper of labor-union activity.
It's the story of the little guy who lost. Noble, who has epilepsy, had a seizure on the day of the vote and couldn't fulfill his role as election observer. The company refused to let anyone take his place. It was the denouement of a long fight, in which Wal-Mart transferred six anti-union workers into the Loveland shop, and bombarded the workers there with anti-union propaganda. The employees who voted against unionization got the message. Not that they agreed with Wal-Mart's depiction of unions as greedy, feckless organizations that just take workers' dues, or felt the company was giving them a fair deal. They told the New York Times ( they were unhappy with their wages, benefits, and working conditions. But as Alicia Sylvia, who makes less than $9 an hour and can't afford the company's health insurance, put it, "The message we got was, 'you're a small bunch of guys, and you can stand out there and strike, and we're going to replace you.'"

Let's highlight Matthew Rothschild as well while we're at The Progressive. This is from his latest "This Just In" entitled "Fifteen Hundred:"

Fifteen hundred U.S. soldiers have now given their lives for George Bush's misbegotten war in Iraq.
Fifteen hundred families devastated, a pain that will never fully go away, a void now never to be filled.
Fifteen hundred soldiers, who leave mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, husbands or wives, sons and daughters, all to grieve in their own personal ways for a tragedy born of a national disgrace.
And then there are the Iraqi civilians who have died as a result of Bush's war. At least ten times as many, maybe 70 times as many.
And our men and women are now dying at a rate of almost 100 a month, and are now being wounded at a rate of about 1,000 a month.

In his "McCarthyism Watch," Matthew Rothschild addresses "The Tragedy of Ward Churchill:"

The school’s chancellor, Jack Miller, showed real backbone.
"It is still my belief that the academy is at its best when it functions as a place for the free exchange of ideas," he said on stage before Churchill spoke. "I do not share the fear of words apparently becoming more prevalent in our society."
Churchill spoke for more than an hour, and at the end, he got a partial standing ovation.
And that’s pretty much how I felt. Half of what he said I wholeheartedly supported, and the other half I vehemently opposed.
His critique of U.S. foreign policy and of the bloodied roots of this country -- slavery and the genocide of Native Americans -- was right on target.
His insistence that every person, whether a U.S. citizen or someone in the Third World, deserves equal treatment and respect was obviously unassailable, as was his claim that the United States should not be able to kill with impunity.
He shook people up and made them look at the world from a different perspective, and that’s all to the good.
But the tragedy of Ward Churchill is that he tarnished his message with inflammatory language, shoddy arguments, and slippery prescriptions.
And so he makes an easy target for those in this country who want to attack the left, and who disdain free speech, and who disrespect academic freedom.

Breaking News Sally Struthers to co-host Unfiltered (This is PARODY, PEOPLE)

Breaking News!
Sally Struthers will be the new co-host of Unifltered!

Just as Sally was brought on to deal with the understated, droll delivery of another short person prior, she will be on hand to do the same for Rachel Maddow!
Air America is very thrilled with the new direction of the show!
They feel like ABC in the seventies, they have made a smart decision!
Look for the revamped Unfiltered to be as successful as The Sonny Comedy Revue!
Sonny Bono's Cher-less show aired on ABC from September 22, 1974 to December 29th of the same year!
Air America hopes to match that record!
The above is parody. Sally Struthers is not (at present) joining Unfiltered. (And she wasn't a regular on The Sonny Comedy Revue. She was, however, the female guest on the first episode.
Howard Cosell and The Jackson Five were the other guests on that first episode.)

However, there is something truly sad about Air America's refusal to address the reality of what has gone down.

I'm looking at eighty e-mails, angry ones, about Lizz Winstead being "disappered" from the show with no explanation and being "scrubbed" from the official web site.

Some people say they like Rachel, but all eighty say they are done with the show.

If anyone wants to be quoted, note it and we'll mention it.

Grant noted he wanted to be quoted.

Grant: Rachel Maddow threw in the towel during the election night coverage and cut off Randi [Rhodes] who was trying to talk (on election night before the returns were streaming in) about the problems she was seeing. Rachel just cut her off. Rachel's boring and she thinks she's smart but for someone so supposedly smart, she makes mistakes repeatedly on everything from when an article appeared in print, to knowing what a writer wrote. I won't be staying with the show without Lizz Winstead. Lizz was the reason to listen. Rachel needs to go back to her progressive music radio roots and quit droning on and on about nothing. She has no grasp on what people think or do. And always preaches when she should talk. There was a hilarious thing right after the new year that they played constantly as a commercial, Rachel going on and on about how the mainstream news doesn't tell you what happened, something that came out over Christmas, but she does tell you. It was funny because the week after Christmas, Unfiltered was repeats. I don't remember The Evening News [CBS] airing a week of repeats, do you? Rachel's a pompous bore. Lizz humanized her and made her bearable.

You can share any opinion you have (e-mail address is I don't dislike Rachel but you can't have The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour without Cher. Rachel can be insightful but Lizz was integral to the show. And what appears to have bothered so many is the fact that there has been no explanation offered by Unfiltered or Air America for why Lizz is gone.

If any member would like to highlight future episodes of Unfiltered, please feel free to do so. However, I won't be highlighting the show until they go public with an explanation. Marcia e-mailed, "This is so insulting to the listener. Even NPR gave an explanation for Bob Edwards' departure."

I understand that people feel insulted and I'm not going to try for an Oprah moment here (Gina's no doubt filled with joy). They've made their mess. They can address it on their own.
Unless they do, there's really no reason for me to insult the feelings of members by plugging the show. (Again, if a member ever wants the show highlighted, we will do so. But I don't intend to bring it up when they have so angered listeners and have not addressed this.)

[Note: "On hand." Not "on had." Thanks to Martha for catching that.]

Grant Salutes Lily Tomlin for Women's History Month

Grant: Lily Tomlin is one of the funniest people doing comedy today. If the networks knew what was what, they would have built a sitcom or variety series around her long ago.

Tomlin broke through on Laugh In with characters like Edith Ann and Ernestine. She went on to record hilarious comedy albums and do some outstanding comedy specials. Every now and then a network would offer up a special often intended as a pilot. But no series was forthcoming.

When she finally did turn up on network TV in a sitcom, it was only years after she'd been Oscar nominated (Nashville) and delivered knock out performances in films like Nine to Five and All of Me. Well after in fact. 1996 to be precise. That's when she began playing the role of Kay Carter-Sheply on Murphy Brown. In 1998, Murphy Brown ended it's run and Tomlin didn't show up again until 2002 on the drama West Wing.

Tomlin's "not funny." That was said at a lot in 2002 to me when Comedy Central was highlighting some comedians. Or "she's funny for an actress." (Whoopi Goldberg was also judged to be an actress and not a comedian.) Makes you wonder what it is that people see as funny in a woman?

If Tomlin were bitchy a la Joan Rivers, would that let them see how funny she is? If she was doing an entire routine about her looks or weight, would that demonstrate that she was funny?

Pressing the "judges" I worked with delivered the following insight, "Well she's so observational." Huh? Like Jerry Seinfeld or Bob Newhart? "Oh those are comedians!"

It's an interesting world she's had to navigate. Put her onstage or in front of a camera and the laughs are pretty much guaranteed. But she's "not funny."

Before Tomlin, a woman pretty much had to degrade herself to find mainstream acclaim as a comedian. She had to be the wife no one wanted or the slob who couldn't pull it together or the ultimate bitch.

Tomlin rejected those traditional roles and did something far more challenging and far more edgy. Instead of making fat jokes about celebs or doing bad imitations, she chose to base her characters and humor on what she observed. And not what she observed going on at a soundstage, but what she saw in life.

She carved out a space for other women who would come later. And it's funny because I'm old enough to remember when Lily Tomlin and Richard Pryor were both considered the funniest comedians in the country. But today, Pryor's still considered a comedian and some don't consider Tomlin to be one.

She challenges some people's ideas of what a woman can do and what a woman can say. And that seems to scare some people.

With her partner Jane Wagner, she's built a foundation that demonstrates women can be funny without resorting to a male imposed stereotype. And even the nay sayers have to admit she's built a career like no female stand up comedian before her.

She's brought dignity and compassion to the stage and maybe in a world of a dick jokes and take my wife please jokes that's just too upsetting. If it is, I say keep upsetting them Lily Tomlin because you're altering their perception and our world for the better.

Things to note in this morning's New York Times

Is the CIA about to be shut down?

In this morning's New York Times, there's an article by Elisabeth Bumiller entitled "Bush Offers Reassurance to C.I.A. Over Role of Intelligence Chief." The CIA is strong, it is vital, blah blah blah. Now when the Bully Boy makes a speech like that at a business, it's usually right before the business has massive lay offs.

The Bully Boy vows the CIA is still vital. Of course, he also vows that we're hot on the trail of Osama bin Laden. As Janeane Garofalo (among others) has pointed out, with the Bully Boy nose diving in the polls (were this American Idol, he would have been sent home already), it appears it's time to trot out the scare tactics again. Suddenly bin Laden is on the prowl again!

Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. Maybe he should have been caught long ago? Maybe we should have been provided with the clear and overwhelming evidence long ago? Remember that? When Afghanistan said, "Show us some evidence and we'll turn him over," we said, "No, take our word for it! We've got evidence! We've got plenty of evidence! Hand him over, then we'll show you our evidence!" Having bombed the hell out of Afghanistan and now moved on to Iraq, are we ever going to see all that evidence? Or is the Bully Boy still pouting that Afghanistan had the temerity to insist on being shown proof?

We hear bin Laden's important, that Bully Boy doesn't spend much time thinking about him . . .
Bully Boy's kind of fair weather on bin Laden. And if there is another attack here (as the Bully Boy is rumbling about), he might want to consider the fact that he won't get the easy pass he got before. He said "wanted dead or alive" when he apparently meant "if I still give a damn." Which he apparently didn't.

Edmund L. Andrews' "Fed's Chief Gives Consumption Tax Cautious Backing" takes the time to inform us that our Lord, Alan Greenspan can apparently still walk on water. False gods are all the rage in these days of the Bully Boy. And you have to suffer from a sort of blind faith to report on Greenspan's latest crap (consumption tax) without noting the long advocacy of this by Greenspan. (Hint, what exactly do you think he and Ayn Rand used to chat about on those long weekends?) It's a flat tax. But the Times is just so enthralled with Greenspan's ability to turn the economy into sh*t, that they apparently can't do any work to inform themselves of this long held goal of Greenspan's. While other nation's papers are highly critical of Greenspan, the news section of the Times is still playing teeny bopper.

"Ooooh! Consumption tax!" coos the paper of record (by the way, Okrent forgot to tell you that the pharse "paper of record" was in fact popularized by the paper when he ranted and raved about the slogan not being anything the Times had ever put forward -- no surprise, Okrent was wrong on that too). Wide-eyed wonder really doesn't suit the Times. Yet still the gush.

Jodi Wilgoren continues her strong streak of late with "Man in Plot to Kill Judge Says Slayings Are 'Heinous.'" Trevor feels that we're overpraising Wilgoren. I can understand his reservations and concerns. But we'll turn into Tiger Beat with full page pix of Wilgoren and flattering copy if she continues to do real reporting. In my opinion, she's earning the praise she's receiving.

From her article:

Two members of Congress called on Thursday for increased financing to protect federal judges and their families. Judge Lefkow had an extra security detail during Mr. Hale's trial last year, but it was disbanded after a couple of weeks.
"This is an urgent homeland security matter," Representative Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat whose district includes part of Chicago, wrote in a letter to President Bush, saying the $485.9 million allotted for judicial protection in his proposed budget was insufficient. "Federal judges all over the country are in need of protection from terrorism, both foreign and domestic."
Senator Richard J. Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who nominated Judge Lefkow in 2000, said in a letter to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, "These cruel and cold-blooded killings are attacks not only on two innocent individuals, but on our criminal justice system as well."

Salman Masood also has a strong article. It's entitled "Village Gang-Rape Sentences Are Upset by Court in Pakistan." From the article:

Five men sentenced to death in 2002 for their role in a gang rape that was approved by a council in a remote Pakistani village had their convictions overturned Thursday. A sixth man convicted in the case, which set off worldwide outrage, had his death sentence commuted to life in prison, lawyers in the case said.
The circumstances of the rape, in June 2002 in Meerwala, in southern Punjab Province, brought demands for justice, and the government moved fast to bring the case to trial.
According to the prosecution, the Meerwala council ordered the gang rape of Mukhtar Mai, then 30, as punishment for the alleged illicit sexual relations of her brother Shakoor with a woman from the rival Mastoi tribe.
It was later revealed that he had been molested by Mastoi men who tried to conceal it by accusing him of illicit relations with a Mastoi woman. The Mastoi demanded revenge. That was delivered when the council approved the rape of Ms. Mukhtar.

Lloyd wants to draw everyone's attention to Edward Wong's "American Jails in Iraq Are Bursting With Detainees." From that article, Lloyd highlights these sections:

The military swept up many Iraqis before the Jan. 30 elections in an attempt to curb violence and halted all releases before the vote. Other detainees have been captured in ambitious recent offensives across the Sunni Triangle, from Samarra to Falluja to the Euphrates River valley south of Baghdad.
[. . .]

As of this week, the military is holding at least 8,900 detainees in the three major prisons, 1,000 more than in late January. Here in Abu Ghraib, where eight American soldiers were charged last year with abusing detainees, 3,160 people are being kept, well above the 2,500 level considered ideal, said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a spokesman for the detainee system. The largest center, Camp Bucca in the south, has at least 5,640 detainees.
[. . .]

"We're very close to capacity now," Colonel Johnson said.
The surging numbers of prisoners pose important challenges for the military. The Abu Ghraib scandal revealed that the military was using poorly trained interrogators even as more detainees were swept into prison in the fall of 2003.
The military must hire enough effective interrogators and military intelligence officers to process detainees quickly, said Bruce Hoffman, an analyst at the RAND Corporation who has worked in Iraq with American policy makers. Otherwise, innocent people will languish in the prisons, a fertile recruiting ground for the insurgents, and could take up arms when they are freed.

Ben wants us to pay attention to Garndiner Harris' "Drug Makers Are Still Giving Gifts to Doctors, F.D.A. Official Says:"

Three years after the drug industry said it would stop showering doctors with expensive gifts, a top federal drug official told a Senate panel on Thursday that such marketing efforts continued.
The official, Dr. Janet Woodcock, acting deputy commissioner for operations of the Food and Drug Administration, said during a break in the hearing that drug companies still invited doctors on cruises and to resorts in exotic places, all free.

And Marcia wants us to note Eric Schmitt's "Army Officials Voice Concern Over Shortfall in Recruitment:"

The Army is so short of new recruits that for first time in nearly five years it failed in February to fill its monthly quota of volunteers sent to boot camp. Army officials called it the latest ominous sign of the Iraq war's impact on the military's ability to enlist fresh troops.
"We're very concerned about it," Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday when asked about recruiting shortfalls in the active-duty Army and Army Reserve. "When people ask you what you worry about the most, I say there's just two words: people and money."

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Highlighting Amy Goodman for Women's History Month

We're living history right now. And one of the few people trying to report it accurately is Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and author of the book (with her brother, David Goodman) The Exception to the Rulers.

Goodman just got a Springsteen. By that I'm referring to the time when Bruce Springsteen made the covers of Newsweek and Time the same week in the seventies. A trip to the magazine rack will find Amy Goodman gracing the covers of both Yes! and Clamor.

We could run down Goodman's history (including East Timor) and maybe note her place of birth or some other factoids. But the reason people respond to Amy Goodman is that she's someone trying to do her job and trying to do it well at a time when so many other reporters are perfectly happy to work from a list of talking points (or possibly two opposing lists of talking points -- "balance," if not truth).

So let's note her spirit -- a desire to speak truth to power, a recognition that just because official sources say something doesn't mean you swallow it or run with it.

This hasn't been a great period for the media, but Amy Goodman is among the people who (my opinion) history will remember. Andrea Mitchell may be a footnote as "the wife of Alan Greenspan." Those cut-ups at Fox "News" may end up a paragraph or two in a history of journalism (maybe even a chapter: "Kids, here's what not to do!"). Cokie Roberts may get a shrine at mulitple Wal-Marts dotting the land (and possibly a mention of her brother's strong lobbying efforts for Wal-Mart) but no one's going to take her breathless (and brainless) reporting seriously. A lot of people are building up huge bank accounts, but they aren't providing any news content. Famous hacks get attention, no question about it, in their time period. But history doesn't applaud them or note their accomplishments.

Izzy Stone isn't still known because he pushed the "official line."

These days aren't high-level marks for journalism between infotainment and timid reporters
who cower at the thought of questioning administration spin. In Amy Goodman's work, we find the true spirit of journalism.

As she and others (Dahr Jamail, Christian Parenti, etc.) garner well deserved attention, there's hope that others may catch the spirit or be forced to pretend to.

If you wanted to see something other than pagentry from the day the Bully Boy was sworn in last January, you watched Democracy Now! If you wanted to hear from unembedded reporters (like Robert Fisk), you listened to Democracy Now! A debate on social security that went beyond spin? Democracy Now!

Goodman (and her co-host Juan Gonzalez) have fought to preserve standards in broadcast journalism at a time when many others felt integrity, information and perspective were outmoded concepts to be sold (quickly) in a tag sale.

At a time when we've seen a number of powerful voices lost (and sadly watched as Bill Moyers stepped down from NOW with Bill Moyers), we need voices pursuing truth. And Goodman doesn't fluff.

In selecting her as "Best Progressive Radio Host," Clamor noted:

This unflagging journalist and independent media activist, may be the predictable winner for this category, and will likely earn similar titles for years to come. But Amy Goodman's recognition is well deserved, for her dedication to social justice issues, for continuing to ask tough questions, and for exposing some of the most important, under-reported stories of the last two decades.

In the preface to her interview with Goodman in Yes!, Carolyn McConnell notes:

President Bush's plans to partially privatize Social Security have blanketed the media in recent months. A top headline on NPR's Morning Edition, for example, on December 16, was "Bush's plan to reform Social Security." The show aired a clip of Bush claiming that Social Security is in crisis and that our record budget deficits are caused by shortfalls in the program. Cut to next story -- we heard no follow-up, no checking on whether there's any truth to the claim (in fact, the reverse is true -- the Social Security trust fund is subsidizing the rest of the federal budget). It's as if there are no facts beyond what the president says. You'd never know by listening to Morning Edition's segment that there is a controversy over whether Social Security is really in crisis.
Contrast that with the December 15 radio and television broadcast of the independent news program Democracy Now! After listening to guests debating the merits of privatizing Social Security, the host, Amy Goodman, asks a question that shows she's done her homework:
"... Every leading Republican proposal acknowledges that private accounts by themselves do little to solve the system's projected shortfall ... Instead, these proposals rely on deep cuts in benefits to future retirees. ... The controller general of the Government Accountability Office ... said that the creation of private accounts for Social Security will not deal with the solvency and sustainability of the Social Security fund. Your response to that?"
It's a straightforward question, but it's the kind that sets Goodman's work apart day after day. It assumes there's a world of facts that listeners have a right to know and that her guests need to respond to. Spotlighting competitive spins on a controversial issue does not constitute good journalism. Facts coupled with a wide range of perspectives on those facts does. This simple journalistic premise underlies all of Goodman's work and has made her both the darling of the alternative media world and a recipient of mainstream journalism's highest honors, including the Robert F. Kennedy Prize for International Reporting, the George Polk Award, and the Alfred duPont-Columbia Journalism Award.

History is being made and Goodman is covering it. We highlight her for Women's History Month because she's not fluffing, she's not spinning, and she's a journalist who makes a difference. There are some who still care about conveying the news and informing the public. (And we highlight those people as voices who speak to us regularly.) Let's hope Goodman's spirit is
contagious and manages to infect the mainstream but with or without them, Amy Goodman's bringing us the news in a voice that speaks to us.

British anti-war activists occupied the Irish Embassy in London . . .

British anti-war activists occupied the Irish Embassy in London today to protest the possible ten year jail sentence facing Ireland's Pitstop Ploughshares defendants when they go on trial in an Irish court on March 7th.
The criminal charges facing the Irish peace activists (Deirdre Clancy, Nuin Dunlop, Karen Fallon, Damien Moran & Ciaron O'Reilly) arise out of their non-violently disarming a US Navy Plane at Shannon Airport on Feb 3rd 2003.
This highly popular action had an immediate positive effect in reducing Ireland's complicity in war crimes as it led to a withdrawal (at that time) from Ireland of three of the four companies contracted to freight US troops and weapons through Shannon airport.The Irish Government continues to facilitate the US Military at Shannon Airport with thousands of US troops transiting through Shannon to and from Iraq each month. From the newswire:
Just after the embassy opened for business, the protestors peacefully chained themselves together inside of the building in Grosvenor Place, whilst others have hung a banner reading, “PITSTOP PLOUGHSHARES: NOT GUILTY” outside.

So begins the excellent "Irish Embassy In London Occupied By Anti-War Protestors" by Karen Fallon at Indymedia Ireland. Click the link to continue reading and, yes, we're doing the Indy Media round up.

Another excellent article is by nickleberry (UK Indymedia) who writes "Iraq-pillagers continue to be targetted:"

Thanks to the Coalition Provisional Authority's Order 39 the occupation of Iraq has coincided with a mass selling-off of Iraq's public assets. Here in the UK there has been an ongoing campaign opposing this process; a process which amounts in international law to the illegal pillage of Iraq.

This week four activists had charges pressed against them for an action in December against Windrush Communications Ltd. The four were charged with `aggravated trespass.' [
action photos action reports 1, 2]. The activists were seeking to provide Windrush Communications with a legal briefing outlining how Windrush's role in organising the Iraq Procurement Conferences is (and continues to be) illegal; when the people in the Windrush offices refused to receive the briefing, the building was occupied.
The Iraq Procurement Conferences are contract-signing events where company and corporation executives get together with other officials to organise the privatisation of Iraq. This is the blurb on their
web site: "Iraq Procurement is a global initiative focused on realising the enormous trade and investment potential of Iraq. Now established as the premier business summit for Iraq, the project brings together the key business leaders and decision makers devoted to the future development of the country."

NYC IMC has " NYC Activists Debate Anti-War Movement Direction, 2 Years On:"

Two years after it began, the War in Iraq grinds on with no end in sight. Following the re-election of George Bush, NYC IMC readers are debating the direction of United For Peace and Justice, the leading NYC anti-war umbrella group, and the future of the anti-war movement.
"Bring the troops home now!” was the urgent demand to the Bush administration from representatives of hundreds of peace and justice organizations who gathered here for the United for Peace and Justice National Assembly, Feb. 19-21."
[Read More]
But stop the war writes: "UFPJ needs to be exposed; it is not a legitimate progressive or antiwar organization. It is an organization founded to dilute and divert the antiwar movement, and to make sure it stays within the boundaries of corporate politics."
[Read More]
And xxx asks "Will there be a radical contingent on March 19? Are there any other demonstrations or open actions happening that weekend?" [Read More]

At the Melbourne Indymedia, andenator has "Who Profits? Who Pays? Corporate Australia in Iraq."

Australian corporations have been well rewarded for their governments' participation in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. A host of companies have received contracts related to oil infrastructures, communications technology, transport, food distribution and much, much more. Whilst relatively small compared to the major projects given to US and UK businesses, Australia's corporate participation is by no means insignificant and Australia's role in general has helped give legitimacy to the "coalition of the willing" and its brutal occupation. As the Government prepares to send another 450 troops to the region it's crucial to deconstruct the reasons behind their eagerness to participate in the US led war. Whilst the war profiteering of Australian companies is the focus here it is certainly not the only reason for Australia's involvement, in fact larger geo-political considerations that tie Australia to the strategic interests of US power may weigh more heavily.
The war, declared over in April 2003, still rages despite the election and shows no sign of abating with the US and its allies refusing to leave and the insurgency continuing to maintain popular support. As the occupation terrorises ever wider sections of the populace, the US and allies seem unable to contain the revolt. Attempts to disrupt the elections are presented as proof that Iraqis are unable to govern themselves, justifying outside intervention to show them the path of democracy; which means a neo-liberal, market economy. Apologists for the occupation that might have initially opposed the war now say that we need to stay and "get the job done"

so as not to leave chaos in the wake of a withdrawal.
This opinion however is based on the premise that the job that the US is attempting is going to benefit the Iraqi people as a whole and lets the occupation off the hook as the chief cause of misery. How much worse could it get really? How much order and peace has the occupation brought?
100 000 people have died according to the British medical journal The Lancet, millions have been displaced and the New York Times conservatively estimates that unemployment rate is at 34% as of February. Others put the figure at 50-70%. Could ending the occupation be worse than this?

While we're "in" Australia, let's note our friend Luke of wotisitgood4 and his post today "winds of chains:"

* btw - how is iraq going, now that they are free not to have to vote again for a while...?
* there was a really cool interview on hardtalk (beeb) last thurs with the amgrunt who threatened to kill fellow amgrunts in an attempt to stop my lai. it was fascinating, and then i got dragged away and missed the rest of it. grrrrr. its not on their website unfortunately.
* Ray McGovern on attacking iran. read ray, as usual.
* speaking of iran, i think one of the posts that i lost t'other day was the one about a new swiftie book - by corsi i think - which makes the case that the moolahs have bought off all the dems. from what i gather, the book is finished, but they arent releasing it for a month. so just when 'we' are building up for the iranian war (june?), and protest by the dems will be positioned as 'the dems need to keep on the tehran tit'. nice.
* "'You get your troops and your secret services out of Lebanon so *that* good democracy has a chance to flourish," Bush said" blinky is such a f**king idiot. the *that* bit was like saying 'that good fellow', not 'so that...'. stupid f**king blinky.
* "How much oil is squandered in the struggle to secure it ?"
* "The war’s legality was an issue for the Blair government not due to any respect for international law, but because it feared future prosecution."

Billie notes that Las Vegas City Life contains another strong column from Saab Lofton:

If I'm constantly expected to absolve the pigs for their many crimes against the black community, then the suburbs can match my Christian forgiveness by leaving the so-called Third World alone for a change. I don't need to exact vengeance upon Metro for what it did to me in 2001 and y'all don't need to feel safe that damn bad. Hell, you people would feel safer if our military-industrial complex would stop conducting foreign policy the way a Mobster would.
Iran, 1953: Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh -- Iran's legitimately elected prime minister -- was a nationalist who merely wanted his country to control its own oil. Mossadegh was replaced with the CIA-backed Shah of Iran after a nine-hour tank battle costing hundreds of lives. In 1976, Amnesty International declared that the Shah's CIA-trained torturers were the worst on Earth. And the Islamic fundamentalism that replaced the Shah in 1979 -- the very fundamentalism that white folks can't stop going on about -- never would've gained prominence if we left Iran alone.
Iraq, 1963: After failing to assassinate General Abdel Karim Qassim, the founder of OPEC, a minor officer in the Ba'ath Party named Saddam Hussein hid in Egypt while keeping in touch with Cairo's U.S. embassy. When he returned to Iraq from exile, Saddam used CIA hit lists to purge 700 Iraqi left-wingers, and continued to purge his way up the ranks until he ran Iraq.
The bottom line is we haven't had any moral ground to stand on in the Middle East for at least the past 50 years. So don't expect any thanks for capturing Saddam Hussein or for that so-called election.

Lori sends "A tale of two mayors: Newsom and Brown share a stage but not a spotlight"
by Matthew Hirsch from The San Francisco Bay Guardian:

With Newsom's popularity soaring, he seemed to upstage Brown, even in downtown Oakland and in the midst of Brown's early campaign for state attorney general. Such is the fickle nature of the local press, which seized on a minor development in the labor negotiations at San Francisco's luxury hotels to pepper Newsom with the same questions he's been hearing for months.
Most interesting about the event, a rare public appearance featuring both Newsom and Brown, was that it brought together two big-city mayors who are crossing paths on the political spectrum. Brown has moderated his early staunch liberal approach since becoming mayor, while Newsom, elected as a business-backed centrist, has made a few bold moves to his left.
And their intertwining narratives extend back even further. The two share a deep family connection – dating to when William Newsom Sr., Gavin's grandfather, managed Jerry's father Pat Brown's campaign for San Francisco district attorney in 1943.
In those days, the Browns were regular guests at the Newsoms' Marina District home, which gave them a youthful glimpse of Jerry Brown the politician. "[Jerry] would come around and shoot hoops with the boys on the block, telling them to tell their fathers to vote Pat Brown for D.A.," William Newsom Jr., Gavin's father, told the Bay Guardian.
Later, after Pat Brown was elected governor of California, he and Newsom Sr. had a falling out over the controversial 1960 execution of Caryl Chessman, who was convicted in a series of kidnapping and rape cases in Los Angeles. "My father was furious with Brown," said Newsom Jr., a retired appellate court judge who, like his father (and son), is an ardent opponent of capital punishment.
The dispute over the Chessman execution, for which Pat Brown said he was unable to commute the death sentence, ruined the friends' relationship. But the bond between families endured.

Brad e-mails this from the Seattle Stranger, Sandkeep Kaushik's "OLYMPIAN IGNORANCE: Alleged Homophobic Outburst by Rental Housing Association Board VP Causes Furor in State Capitol." From the article:

A handful of advocates were exiting the main legislative building when they say they passed a man who loudly offered his troglodytic opinion of their activities. The leader of the contingent, Susie Saxton, executive director of CareBearers, a hospice organization in Yakima, was wearing a red "AIDS Awareness Day" T-shirt. She was accompanied by two other adults, as well as a 13-year-old girl and a 16-year-old who had contracted HIV from his mother, who had herself become infected through a blood transfusion during kidney surgery in the late 1980s.
"Looks like its anal sex week," the man said as they passed him, according to Saxton. After the two young people repeated what the man had said, Saxton decided she could not let the incident pass. "I needed the kids to know that these things are not acceptable," Saxton says. She says she was particularly upset because the 16-year-old in her charge had already been victimized by discrimination: His family, after their AIDS status had become know, had been forced to relocate to Yakima from another rural community to escape harassment.
Saxton engaged the man, pointing out that the group was there to advocate for public health funding and asking him if he might not be ashamed of making such a derogatory comment, particularly in front of children. The man said he was not ashamed, Saxton recalls, and repeated his "anal sex week" comment.
"That was the statement, it was a killer, and he repeated it twice," Saxton says. When the man refused to give his name, Saxton, who hoped to identify him later, says he gave her the finger as she took his photograph.
The incident ended after Capitol security was called to the scene by a lobbyist accompanying the man. Security officials are compiling an incident report about the encounter, but that document had not yet been released publicly as of Monday evening. However, a draft version of the report confirmed the basic outlines of Saxton's account, according to several Olympia sources, who said it also named Novak as the man in question.
Because Novak is the first vice-president of the board of the Rental Housing Association of Puget Sound, a landlords advocacy group, the incident could have significant political repercussions. Word of the incident quickly spread among legislators. "This sort of behavior from anyone who comes to Olympia is a tragedy not only for the individual but for the institution. It's a black eye for us all," says Representative Ed Murray (D-Capitol Hill), who is sponsoring, for the tenth consecutive year, a bill outlawing discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing and other matters.

Mary Mapes is working on book about the CBS firings and the documentation of the memos (good for her). Mentioning that because Joe Hagan has a very important article in The New York Observer entitled "CBS News Producer Fired In Memogate Will Shop Her Book." Read the article yourself because it's pretty important. I can't pull quote because pretty much the entire thing is worthy of a pull quote. Basic breakdown. CBS didn't just have the idiotic panel (my term, not Hagan's -- but a sentiment shared by a number of people at CBS) trying to attempt to prove some legal issue (that had little to do with journalism -- even should a libel case have arisen), they also had an investigation into who gave the memos to Burkett.

To complete the investigation, they had to draw up a letter (which they did) and sign it for Burkett. They refused (even though what was in the letter wasn't controversial -- the non-illustrious panel's findings and execs at CBS agreed with the contents) and as such, Burkett would not help them determine the identity of the unknown man who passed him the memos (this little known investigation had narrowed down the possible suspects to six people).

That's not Hagan's full article. Again, I'd urge you to read it. I'm not doing it justice here.

[Note: Corrected on 3-8-05. "Winds of Chains" is the title of Luke's entry, not "Winds of Change." My mistake, my apologies.]

Amy Goodman's Exception to the Rulers tour (Friday in Arvada, CO, Saturday in Madison, WI)

Lynda asks that we post the latest dates for Amy Goodman's Exception to the Rulers tour.

3/4: Arvada, CO
3/5: Madison, WI
3/5: Madison, WI
3/10: Ann Arbor, MI
3/13: Miami, FL
3/14: New York, NY
3/17: New York, NY
3/21: New York, NY
3/23: New York, NY

The first three are this weekend.

Arvada, CO:
Friday, March 4, 6pm
Creating Peace and Democracy
Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
6901 Wadsworth Blvd.
Arvada, CO 80002
Advance tickets: $18/$16 for students
Call 303-455-2099
At the door: $20/$18 for students
For more information, go to

Madison, WI:
Saturday, March 5, 12:30 pm
Strategies for Social and Legal Change
Keynote Speech
Univ. of Wisconson Law School
975 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI
Conference Fees
Students, Legal Workers, Community Members: $10
NLG Attorneys: $30
Other Attorneys: $40
For more information, go to

Madison, WI:
Saturday, March 5, 7pm
The Barrymore Theater
2090 Atwood Ave.
Madison, WI 53704
Tickets: $5, available at the door
Sponsored by WYOU Community Television, WORT-FM Community Radio, and the Madison Campaign for Free Speech on Cable TV. The event will also include a selection of films from Free Speech TV.
For more information, go to

I know most members are aware of Exception to the Rulers but for anyone who hasn't yet read it, an excerpt can be found here. (And thanks to Lucy in England for pointing that out.)

BuzzFlash is offering Danny Schechter's excellent film as a BuzzFlash premium

Dallas: Monday, Danny Schechter's WMD was highlighted and I appreciate that because I was meaning to buy it when you first mentioned it but paychecks . . . There might be another member who was thinking about buying it. And Danny's a voice that really speaks to me so I was wondering if you could highlight the DVD of WMD one more time?

No problem, WMD as a BuzzFlash premium -- what does that mean?

That means by buying it at BuzzFlash, you're not just showing your support for WMD, you're also supporting independent media.

Our first two links here were Democracy Now! and BuzzFlash, so obviously, I'm a big supporter of BuzzFlash and have many things that I've purchased from them. WMD is a great movie as any member who's seen it can attest.

We'll also highlight BuzzFlash's interview with Danny Schechter again:

BuzzFlash: One of the grossest examples was the twisted logic in the buildup to the war when Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, Cheney, and Bush were asked how Iraq could be considered a threat since the U.N. inspectors couldn't find any WMDs. And the administration's response was, "Well, the fact that we can't find the WMDs proves Iraq has them, and that they're hiding them." It was so transparent and yet the media swallowed this ridiculous line of reasoning.

Danny Schechter: And the logic was even more bizarre -- Osama bin Laden speaks Arabic, hates America. Saddam Hussein speaks Arabic, hates America. Therefore, Saddam Hussein is Osama bin Laden. If they share ideology, then they also might share weapons to destroy America. This hysteria and litany of "what ifs" was just a simplistic message point: you're either with us or you're against us. These are the evildoers and we're the good guys in the world.
Our news system used to rely on information and informing people. There would be facts that would be debated. These guys today have moved into a storytelling mode -- a Hollywood narrative technique has invaded the realm of news and information. So what we're presenting now is not necessarily information designed to inform people or deepen their understanding of how institutions work or what the choices are in the world, but rather to convey a story line.
And that story line is the Jessica Lynch story -- damsel in distress. The idea of the war being presented like a sporting event -- a sports metaphor -- where generals are diagramming how we marched into Baghdad so it looked like a Super Bowl play.
These techniques of the merger of show biz and news biz reduced the war to an entertainment event, and everybody played their part in it. And there was a lot of high drama. What's going to happen? Are we at risk? Our boys are in the field. And so, you basically shift the public's identification from thinking about the reasons that we're there -- whether or not we should be there -- to what’s happening to our soldiers in the field. Your loyalties go to the soldiers and you forget about the politics and the policies that led to the war. That's why I felt we had two issues here that were in tandem with each other. One was the weapons of mass destruction and the other was "Weapons of Mass Deception" -- the way in which our media became a weapons systems targeted at us. Usually in war propaganda you try and confuse the enemy. In our case, this propaganda infiltrated very skillfully back into American and global public opinion, and it was done with the help of Hollywood producers, and corporate PR people brought in to help out at the Pentagon.

BuzzFlash: Many Americans may find this shocking, but good journalism -- professional journalism -- means that reporters shouldn't be rooting for your side to win a war. It's not a journalist's job to support the troops, it's the journalist's job to tell the story truthfully and accurately.

Danny Schechter: When journalists start talking about "we" -- expressing an identification with the policy or with the invasion, even with the soldiers, they’ve lost critical distance, which is essential to journalism. Secondly, jingoism and a lot of flag waving is not journalism, and we saw this after 9/11, with all the anchormen wearing American flags on their lapels rallying the country.

Amy Goodman on Hardball tonight

Amy Goodman was on Hardball tonight (I'm working my way through the latest e-mails; by the way the address is

If you missed it, you can catch the repeat tonight. Trisha passed on the head's up via a Democracy Now! e-mail (you can sign up for those at the Democracy Now! website). From that e-mail:

Catch Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! as she steps up to the plate tonight on Hardball with Chris Matthews.MSNBC, 7 p.m. EST, repeats at 11 p.m. EST(check you local listings)

Again, the original airing has been missed. But since members say they check in regularly, we'll note it here with the hopes that maybe some members will see it in time to catch the rebroadcast.

[Hardball airs on the MSNBC cable network.]

Nightline alert: Vermont's town meetings are one of the topics tonight

Brad wants everyone to have a heads up that tonight (Thursday) on Nightline, one of the topics will be what's going on in Vermont. From Nightline's e-mail:

For those of us who don't live in Vermont, there's that picture-perfect image that comes to mind. The sweeping, snow-covered hills, pine trees with a fresh sprinkle of powder and a log cabin with a roaring fireplace. You can't get more American than that. But that's just a postcard. There is real pain underneath that veneer. Vermont is losing its young men and women to the war in Iraq like every other state in the nation. The difference is that per capita, they've lost the most. Their National Guard units have been hit very hard and tonight, you'll watch an exercise in democracy as Vermonters decide to try to do something about it.

Democracy is the big buzzword these days. [. . .] Vermont's annual town meetings this week are the perfect example. Citizens hold them across the state to discuss everything from potholes to this year's hottest topic: The war in Iraq and the soldiers they've lost. Correspondent Mike Cerre was at a few of the meetings and came away with a really interesting slice of American democracy at work.

[Nightline airs on ABC, after prime time programming, so check your local listings for time.]

Helen Caldicott on C-Span II's In Depth Sunday

Marcia passes on this e-mail she received:

Helen Caldicott Live on In Depth
This Sunday on In Depth, our guest is Dr. Helen Caldicott. Dr. Caldicott is the president of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute and works to educate the public worldwide about the medical and environmental dangers of the nuclear age. She has written five books, including The New Nuclear Danger: George Bush's Military Industrial Complex (2001). Caldicott was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling, and she was named one of the most influential women of the 20th century by the Smithsonian Institute. She has been the subject of several films, including Eight Minutes to Midnight and If You Love This Planet, which won the Academy Award for best documentary in 1982. In Depth will be live, taking your calls for Helen Caldicott on C-SPAN2 this Sunday, noon - 3 pm ET.

Democracy Now: Dilip Hiro, Nawal El Saadawi, Haythem al-Maleh, Liberal Oasis, Editor's Cut, Gretchen Morgenson, Daily Howler, A Winding Road

Unlike the New York Times, Democracy Now! provides no yawns:

Headlines for March 2, 2005
- U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Reaches 1,500
- Law Proposed to Protect Students From Military Recruiters
- Military Launches New Marketing Efforts Toward Populations of Color
- Gov't Tests Placing Monitoring Bracelets on Immigrants
- Militia Leader in Sudan Says Gov't Behind Killings in Darfur
- UN Troops Kill 50 Militia Members in Congo
- Chicago Tribune Pulls Boondocks Over Bush Drug Reference

Iranian Labyrinth: Author Dilip Hiro Talks About the U.S. Threats Towards Tehran
The Bush administration has adopted a hard-line stance against Iran, repeatedly accusing President Khatami's government of trying to develop nuclear weapons and refusing to hold direct talks. We speak with veteran journalist Dilip Hiro, author of the forthcoming book, "Iranian Labyrinth," about the U.S. threats towards Tehran.

Egyptian Feminist Nawal El Saadawi on Bush's 'Democratization' of Middle East: "We Were Fighting For Years...They Deprive Us of Our Struggle"
Amid growing street protests, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has called on parliament to change the constitution to allow opposition candidates to run for president. We speak with famed Egyptian feminist, psychiatrist and author, Nawal El Saadawi. She has been jailed, threatened with death and now plans to run for president.

Leading Syrian Human Rights Lawyer Blasts U.S. Foreign Policy of "Empire" in the Middle East
As Washington's rhetoric towards Syria grows more hostile, we turn to a perspective seldom heard in corporate media: the perspective of Syrians who are not government officials. We go to Damascus to speak with Haythem al-Maleh, one of Syria's leading human rights lawyers.

Let's note Bill Scher's entry today at Liberal Oasis:

Last week, possible prez candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton signaled she could support permanent military bases in Iraq.
This week, possible prez candidatae Gov. Bill Richardson told the Moonie Times that Dems should embrace “sensible tax cuts”.
Is this the way it’s going to be through 2008?
Will the whole crop of potential candidates coming up with ways to sacrifice principle, tack Right, and become complicit in the conservative agenda?
[. . .]
But we can’t presume that anyone will run with the intention of offering a revitalized liberal vision.
We should not sit on our hands and wait for a savior.
And we should not rave when scraps are condescendingly tossed at the base.

Pretty powerful so check it out. Also check out Katrina vanden Heuvel's Editor's Cut which opens with this:

In a series of extraordinary speeches, Senator Robert Byrd, a longtime historian of the Senate, has persistently sounded the alarm about imperial executive power. He has unflinchingly exposed the grave danger we face from an Administration that routinely abuses power and tramples democracy without batting an eye.
Yesterday, Byrd delivered another wakeup call. Taking aim at the Republicans' threat to use the "nuclear option"--a change to the rules of the Senate that would effectively bar Democrats from filibustering judicial nominations--he assailed those who would aim "an arrow straight at the heart of the Senate's long tradition of unlimited debate." He didn't stop there. "Many times in our history," Byrd said--perhaps speaking to the hypocrites in power who prefer to lecture the world about democracy rather than protect it at home-- "we have taken up arms to protect a minority against the tyrannical majority in other lands. We, unlike Nazi Germany or Mussolini's Italy, have never stopped being a nation of laws, not men."

She goes on to provide the text to Byrd's powerful speech.

Brad points out that we were supposed to highlight Gretchen Morgenson (business reporter for the New York Times) because she's a voice that speaks to members. Yesterday, she had "Proposed Law on Bankruptcy Has Loophole." Brad selects the following from the article to highlight:

The loophole involves the use of so-called asset protection trusts. For years, wealthy people looking to keep their money out of the reach of domestic creditors have set up these trusts offshore. But since 1997, lawmakers in five states - Alaska, Delaware, Nevada, Rhode Island and Utah - have passed legislation exempting assets held domestically in such trusts from the federal bankruptcy code. People who want to establish trusts do not have to reside the five states; they need only set their trust up through an institution in one of them.
"If the bankruptcy legislation currently being rushed through the Senate gets enacted, debtors won't need to buy houses in Florida or Texas to keep their millions," said Elena Marty-Nelson, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., referring to generous homestead exemptions in those states. "The millionaire's loophole that is the result of these trusts needs to be closed."
Yesterday in Washington, Republicans in the Senate beat back the first in a series of Democratic amendments aimed at softening the effects of the bankruptcy bill on military personnel, and the majority leader of the House vowed to get quick approval of the bill if the Senate did not significantly alter it.
[. . .]
The Senate bill is favored by banks, credit card companies and retailers, who say it is now too easy for consumers to erase their debts through bankruptcy.
[. . .]
"This is just a way for rich folks to be able to slip through the noose on bankruptcy, and, of course, the double irony here is that the proponents of this bill keep pressing it as designed to eliminate abuse," said Elizabeth Warren, a law professor at Harvard Law School. "Yet when provisions that permit real abuse by rich people are pointed out, the bill's proponents look the other way."

As always, don't miss Bob Somerby's The Daily Howler:

It's hard to find appropriate words to describe the Democrats' endless malfeasance -- to describe the lazy indifference that led to Biden's statement, and apparently to the statement by Rangel. But as we've shown you for the past several weeks, Big Dems routinely go on the air and use the fake data that Bush wants them using. Lazy; indifferent; uncaring; unprepared -- how many words can we find for these people? And by the way, let's ask the obvious question: If Rangel is willing to pimp Bush’s numbers, why shouldn't Bob Schieffer pimp them too?

Another shameful day for some in the Senate.

What's that from? A Winding Road. Are you following the discussion on the bankruptcy bill?
From Tuesday:

Senator Sessions' successful amendment exempts some low income veterans as well as active duty military personnel from the shameful changes to the Bankruptcy laws that they'll soon be passing into law. No word on exempting single mothers, the elderly, or low income citizens who've had their jobs sent overseas and can't find work. Guess they'll have to suffer because of those 'wealthy people' who are using the current laws to get out of debts they can actually pay, the people Senator Frist warned us of yesterday. The whole thing is an outrage, made all the worse by Democratic support of the bill.
The vote on Senator Session's Amendment was split, 63-32, with 31 Democrats and Senator Jeffords opposing the Amendment in favor of Senator Durbin's, which offered greater protections to veterans and current members of the Military.
Not surprisingly, the Republicans weren't willing to extend extra protections to those that they've sent into an illegal war.

From Wednesday:

What we saw today, then, is living proof that this is NOT a bill about protecting anyone from 'wealthy' people who abuse the system. If that were the case, then these amendments, written specifically to provide protections for the decidedly UNwealthy, would have passed.
What this Bankruptcy Bill is really about is protecting Credit Card companies and hurting average American people. Every single Senator who voted No on any one of these amendments has signaled their commitment to monied interests over working class interests. Those 'Democrats' who voted no on ALL of them deserve special recognition in our DINO Hall of Shame. Two of these Senators are already there- Senator Nelson of Nebraska and Senator Carper of Delaware.
The third, Delaware Senator Joseph Biden, is our newest Inductee. For today's votes and for his disgraceful performance at the beginning of the week in the Judiciary Committee hearing on this Bill, Biden joins our Hall of Shame. He's signaled that he supports a billion dollar Industry, the Credit industry, over you, over me, and over all of the voters in Delaware.

Another DINO. Hope you're following A Winding Road.