Saturday, May 14, 2005

Bob Somerby's Saturday Daily Howler, Dahr Jamail's latest Iraq Dispatches post, BuzzFlash's GOP Hypocrite of the Week

There was a Saturday Daily Howler (thanks to Joy for e-mailing a heads up). From Bob Somerby's Howler today:

QUINDLEN GETS IT RIGHT: Joining Peter Beinart's effort (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/9/05), Anna Quindlen gets it right in her current column in Newsweek. She discusses the way Hillary Clinton has been trashed-and-spun for the past dozen years. And for once, a major mainstream pundit discusses this process in the way it deserves. And so: Three cheers for Quindlen, for speaking directly about what has occurred!
Yes, let's offer three big cheers for Quindlen's direct, cutting language! "After years of free-floating propaganda," she writes, "[p]eople are finally seeing past the...fabrications" about Senator Clinton. The fabrications have come from something Quindlen correctly describes as a "smear machine"--a smear machined that "suckered" voters as it "demonized" the former first lady. Fabrications? Smears? And propaganda? Over the past decade, mainstream journalists have been reluctant to speak so frankly about this smear machine--perhaps because so much of its effort has come from within their own ranks.

So let's hope that this scribe will continue to fight, even against her own cohort. In her column, Quindlen singles out a conservative, Gary Bauer, for making phony attacks against Clinton. But over the course of the past dozen years, mainstream and "liberal" scribes have played a huge role in this free-floating propaganda campaign against Clinton. Which brings us to the latest disgraceful outing by Chris Matthews and his "liberal" colleague, Margaret Carlson.

There's much more including Carlson and Matthews. I'm pulling from the top of the entry because it's hard to pick one part to highlight (translation, it all deserves reading).

Dahr Jamail has a new post at Iraq Dispatches. Here's an excerpt:

Abu Talat phoned his family today in Baghdad. They've had no electricity for four days. They told him (unconfirmed) that all of Iraq has had no electricity for several days. As Abu Talat says, "Baghdad is running on the generator."
Of course the gas crisis persists augmented by the lack of electricity, along with constantly increasing attacks.
We were in a taxi earlier, driving across the orderly streets of Amman and talking about the situation in Iraq. "Now I feel ashamed to tell people I am Iraq," says Abu Talat after he told the taxi driver he is from Baghdad, "Because my country has been totally destroyed."
I look out the window, not knowing what to say. I think to say, "But it isn't your fault, habibi," but instead sit quietly, feeling that any words would be inadequate.
The situation around Al-Qaim where "Operation Matador" is ongoing, appears to be a micro-version of Fallujah. The military and corporate media continue to portray the situation as if "foreign fighters" have taken control of Qaim and surrounding villages (as was said about Fallujah) when reports from the ground state that interviews with the fighters have them all saying they are Iraqi.
Of course it behooves the military to claim they are battling "foreign fighters," because as in Fallujah and elsewhere, it doesn't look good in the press to admit that they are fighting Iraqis who are fighting for their independence from the occupiers of their country. Even the marines in Fallujah admitted they had killed a grand total of 35 foreign fighters there. That kind of debunks the myth of a foreign terrorist group taking over the city and terrorizing the citizens.

Who is Jim West? For starters, he's BuzzFlash's pick for GOP Hypocrite of the Week:

Welcome back to the GOP Hypocrite of the Week.
This was a tough week for BuzzFlash, what with all the GOP Hypocrites in the news. There's the GOP Congressman from Pennsylvania
accused of choking his mistress, the GOP anti-gay mayor accused of molesting boys when he was a scout master, and the prominent GOP appointee who is accused of forcibly sodomizing his ex-wife?
It can give you an ulcer keeping up with the moral depravity of the "holier-than-thou" Republicans.
But, like choosing from a row of port-o-lets, we had to pick one. This week's GOP Hypocrite is non-other than the anti-gay Mayor of Spokane, Republican Jim West.

But who is Jim West besides "the anti-gay Mayor of Spokane?" So much more. To steal from Jacqueline Susan*, you've got to slither to the bottom of the gutter to become the BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week. Click the link to read or listen how West achieved the dishonor.

The e-mail address for this site is

*Jaqueline Susan's opening lines (in verse) of Valley of the Dolls are:
You've got to climb to the top of Mount Everest
to reach the Valley of the Dolls.

Sunday night on The Laura Flanders Show

Sunday night on The Laura Flanders Show (Air America radio show):

Sunday 7-10pm est
They lied to us and we've got proof.
Hear Molly Ivins rip on the Downing St. Memo on fixed facts for war. That and more thoughts about the political animals running amok in Washington. Molly is the author of "Who Let the Dogs In? Incredible Political Animals I Have Known". Scott Parkin, member of the group Houston Global Awareness tells Laura how his group hopes to "blow the whistle" on Halliburton later this week. Then, a movie on the personal costs of war - to soldiers. Director Patricia Foulkrod of "The Ground Truth: The Human Cost of War" plays excerpts and joins a discussion about revelations from the latest conscientious objector cases.
And check out this great
Social Security benefits calculator: see what W's reforms will do for you!

For anyone wondering about her upcoming event schedule, I've checked her web site, Laura and see nothing up yet (the most recent is yesterday, Friday the 13th).

The e-mail address for this site is

Green Cities Expo in June

From an e-mail announcement forwarded to me by Marci:

Green Cities Expo Friday, June 3 Presented by San Francisco Department of the Environment and the UnitedNations Environment Programme (UNEP)

This event is the premier showcase for World Environment Day featuring greenbusinesses committed to environmental sustainability and socialresponsibility.

Climate Change presentation by Al Gore on the afternoon ofJune 3rd.

Location: Fort Mason Festival Pavilion,
Entrance at the intersection of Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street,
San Francisco, 94123
10:00 A.M. – 7:00 P.M.
(Closes at 5:00 P.M., Sunday)

As a courtesy, we ask that you RSVP the host; (800) 821-5760

All events are subject to change. Seating may be limited. We recommend you confirm availability and directions or other concerns you may have with thehost.

Gore to participate in UN Energy & Climate Change Leadership Summit

The Energy and Climate Change Summit Saturday, June 4

Presented by Mitsubishi International Corporation Foundation, Mitsubishi Corporation, Sound Energy Systems The Energy and Climate Change Leadership Summit is a special program specifically designed for mayors, environmental directors and business leaders on developing environmentally and financially sound energy portfolios for their cities. The Summit program includes presentations on how to finance your city's energy scheme, and how to maximize economic and environmental benefits by using a comprehensive approach to dealing with energy, pollution and climate change issues. Emphasis also includes the importance of integrating conservation, efficiency and renewable in energy and climate policies. One session will be a dialogue among mayors about the successes, goals and needs in their cities. The program also features a lunch hosted by Mayor Gavin Newsom, and dinner with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore who will talk about climate change.

Please see the following list for times and locations:
Pacific Energy Center,
9:00 A.M. - 10:00 A.M.;
Sony Metreon,
11:00 A.M. - 5:00 P.M.;
Ferry Building,
6:00 P.M. - 9:00 P.M..
Location: Metreon,
101 Fourth Street,
San Francisco, 94103
9:00 A.M. - 9:00 P.M.

Breaking: Latest Gore speech centerpiece of MoveOn PAC campaign
GNN -- Al Gore's April 27th speech denouncing the GOP's threatened "nuclear option" to pack the courts with radical right wing judicial nominees will be the basis of MoveOn PAC's latest ad campaign.

In an email to MoveOn PAC members nationwide, the advocacy group announced that the ad, titled "AbsolutePower Corrupts Absolutely/The Attack On Our Courts", will run in the New YorkTimes.

Click on the link below to see MoveOn PAC's latest ad featuring Al Gore

Take the next step: volunteer with Al
Follow the link below to sign up:

Please note, that's not an endorsement of Al Gore for president in 2008. Nor is it not an endorsement. It's information. I'll avoid endorsing anyone at this site. Members are free to endorse whomever they desire. But Green Party, or other third party members, don't need to worry that they'll be coming here, provided the site is still up and I'm still involved, during that election (or 2006) to be hectored by me as to whom they should vote.

In any election cycle, if third party members feel their candidate isn't getting enough attention, they'll be right. The mainstream media isn't overly interested in third party candidates. So when we enter into an election cycle, if you ever feel that your candidate is being ignored, send a link, write something to share with the community (noting that you want to be quoted) and it will go up.

But I'm going to attempt to avoid endorsements. (I think I'll be able to do that. I decided on John Kerry in March of 2003 but didn't share that with most people around me. Many were Dean supporters or undecided. With the undecided, I printed up information on the various candidates in the Dem primary as well as anything I could find on the Green Party.)

People need to make up their own minds and we exist as a community having a dialogue. If in an election cycle, I seem to be slipping into endorsement, e-mail the site to keep me on my toes.
That doesn't mean if someone makes a remark saying back off choice or step away from support for gay rights or labor doesn't matter . . . that I won't make comments. But I'm going to try to avoid being a cheerleader for anyone candidate. (I think that's possible during the primaries. I'm less certain of that during a general election so I'm counting on third party members to keep me on my toes.)

The e-mail address for this site is

Ethical Humanist Aware to go to David Kaczynski Monday the 15th in NYC

From an e-mail sent out to all who sign up for them at The Nation:

Please join our friends at the New York Society for Ethical Culture as they present the Ethical Humanist Award to David Kaczynski in recognition of his courage in recognizing and identifying his brother, Ted Kaczynski, to the authorities as the Unabomber, and for his continuing activism against the death penalty in New York State.

The ceremony will take place on
Monday, May 15
in New York City
at the NYSEC
(2 West 64th Street at Central Park West).

The event is free and open to the public.
For more information on the death penalty, please check out these articles from The Nation:

Finally, as you've probably noticed, we've re-done our website with a redesign of our homepage and the addition of new features like a news-wire updated twice each day, a Sites We Like section, RSS feeds, the pod-casting of RadioNation and the ability to log on and post comments to any of our blogs (such as Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel's response to Ann Coulter - ).

Take the opportunity to take part--or start--a debate with Nation writers and readers. All at

The e-mail address for this site is

A Winding Road, Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat's Korner, Ruth's Morning Edition Report . . .

Just a reminder for things I would have called the community's attention to if I'd been posting yesterday afternoon, evening or night.

Over at A Winding Road, Folding Star addressed "An Uprising in Uzbekistan:"

If you hadn't heard, thousands of Uzbek citizens rose up in protest against the authoritarian rule in their country and stormed a prison, releasing many of the prisoners inside, whom they regard as political prisoners. Troops attacked the protesters, resulting in a violent, bloody scene.

Like many people, I read the news of an uprising in Uzbekistan and I really don't have the first clue as to the history of it. The articles all give you a quick sketch- former Soviet Republic, bordering Afghanistan, same man in power since 1991, etc. Only hints at why people might be moved to protest in the first place, let alone storm a prison.

Many also mention what a key ally the country and its President- Islam Karimov- have been to the United States, offering the use of bases immediately after the attacks of September 11th, bases that obviously came in handy, and no doubt continue to do so, in the US's invasion of Afghanistan.

I've taken a crash course in Uzbekistan today, and what I've learned is that the articles don't stress that those bases are being offered by dictator in a country that, for all it's Democratic trappings, is essentially a brutal police state. Moving beyond the press reports, it quickly becomes all too apparent that the protesters have quite a lot to protest against.Karimov has set himself up in a way that Saddam Hussein would find all too familiar. Yet while the United States went to great lengths to remove one dictator, they're frightfully cozy with another when it suits their purposes. What a shock!

Karimov has held on to power since 1991 through two referendums that are widely viewed to have been fraudulent. Though the country has the trappings of Democracy- division of powers, the right to freedom of speech-, it's all just on paper. It reality, the President holds all the power, with a nearly powerless Judiciary and a Legislative branch that only meets a few times a year, with no real power to effect changes in the law.

Karimov has cracked down on political dissent, sending some opponents fleeing the country and imprisoning many others. Many are also imprisoned for religious beliefs, since only state sponsored Islam is allowed to be practiced. Much of this cracking down on dissent is done under the guise of fighting Islamic extremism.The country is a Human Rights nightmare. Just last year, the British Ambassador, Craig Murray, came forward with the allegation that dissidents and political prisoners were being subjected to extreme torture. What's more, Murray alleged that countries like the United States and Britain, far from opposing these methods, were taking advantage of them by benefiting from the information gained during these torture sessions, even moving prisoners there specifically for that purpose.

The picture in Uzbekistan is bleak. Trials that are no more than public farces sentence anyone who dares oppose the country's President to torture, imprisonment, and death.

In the face of all of that, the protestors who stormed the prison yesterday clearly knew they were taking their own lives in their hands, in more sense than one.

Over at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Rebecca offered a mini-review of Monster-in-Law:

jane fonda is hilarious in monster-in-law. i saw it this afternoon with some friends and will be see it again this evening with some more friends. don't believe the bullsh**ters, it's f**king funny. you'll laugh your ass off. the theater this afternoon was packed and everyone was laughing like crazy. there's not a bad performance in the entire cast.
jennifer lopez has never been better. jane fonda and wanda sykes make a hilarious team riffing off 1 another.
[. . .]
see the movie. it's hilarious. jane fonda is amazing. and i'm seeing now why ava and c.i. highlighted things in their reviews of 9 to 5 and their reviews of the electric horseman. they had bulls**t critics nailed and they prepared you for the bulls**t that was coming down the pike out of the droll mouths of idiots who review movies for the new yorker and entertainment weekly.

I'm still going through the e-mails playing catch up (and apologies to Luke, all of your e-mails this week went into the bulk e-mail folder for some reason and I've just checked that this morning). But Ava said that a number of e-mails have noted what Rebecca does so we may or may not work on something for The Third Estate Sunday Review about that.

Speaking of The Third Estate Sunday Review, before their next edition goes up, let me note that there's a great article on Ruth from this past Sunday. Members who haven't yet checked out that edition would probably also be interested in their editorial regarding PBS & NPR.

I think everyone saw Ruth's latest Ruth's Morning Edition Report (but I'll provide the link just in case anyone missed it). There were two questions regarding Ruth's contributions. The first was about it's appearence. I once posted her commentary at night and there were complaints from some that they'd prefer it go up in the morning which we've done. (It will not go the morning the segment airs because there would be no links for it.) The second question was regarding a translation of the Yiddish words. When Francisco adds some Spanish words to his comments posted here or Ruth adds Yiddish (or any member adds anything), if you don't know them but are curious, look them up. I'm glad members are comfortable speaking in the way they naturally speak when they offer something to the community and I'm not going to request that they footnote. If you don't know the word and can determine the meaning via a contextual analysis, look it up.

Kat's Kat's Korner last night was the last post for the night so I'm assuming most people saw it but I love Judy Collins Portrait of an American Girl and we all love Kat, so I'll note the link to it.
I'll also say thank you to Kat who wrote an early version of the review earlier in the week but agreed to hold it until Friday (and pretty much reworked it) so that the community would have something while I was out of pocket. As always, Kat's contributions are appreciated and enjoyed.

For those wondering, Isaiah will have a new illustration for the community that will go up this Sunday. (And the last I heard, I was out of pocket for almost all of yesterday, The Third Estate Sunday Review intends to do an article on him in their upcoming edition.) Whether it's a stand alone drawing or part of his series The World Today: Just Nuts, members (including myself) are greatly enjoying his contributions so thank you to Isaiah.

And we'll close by noting Betty has new post up at her site Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man that's entitled "8 Days on the road to hell and heartland." Due to one of her kids getting sick, Betty's not been able to post for eight days. Instead of playing catch up, she's explained the absence by having "Betinna" travel with her "husband" Thomas Friedman on his book tour during the last eight days. We'll note the first two paragraphs of Betty's latest (and hopefully won't spoil anything in doing so):

For the last eight days, I've been in every flea ridden, cheap motel room you can imagine. The kind of rooms where the glasses, plastic, in the bathroom have spots on them even before you take them out of the plastic. My husband Thomas Friedman's latest book isn't doing as well as it should be doing or as well as he expected it to be doing. So we've gone from one city to another, with him doing multiple signings in each city. The crowds have been rather sparse. In fact, only my husband Thomas Friedman refers to them as "crowds."
I refer them to as "couples" and the occasional "threesome." Or rather I did until I noticed how the latter got Thomas Friedman's bushy eyebrows wagging. As if his libido needs any more excitement right now. Most night's it's like he's snorting or mainlining Viagra. I don't mind all that much, the five to six minutes give me a period to reflect and organize my plans for the next day. Right about the time that he's crying out, "Gut check time!" I've finished my personal inventory.

The plan is for additional posts throughout the day but, as John Lennon once sang, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."*

The e-mail address for this site is

*"Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)," word and music by John Lennon, originally appeared on John Lennon & Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy. It's been on many collections since including The John Lennon Collection.

Topics and guests for The Laura Flanders Show and Ring of Fire

From the Air America homepage:

The Laura Flanders Show
Laura is back from the National Media Reform Conference in St. Louis and will tell us all about it. Then, what will W. do with Luis Posada Carriles? The confessed anti-Castro terrorist and long-time friend of the Bush family has surfaced in Miami and expects political asylum. Is there one law for our terrorists and another for the other guys? Journalist and author of "Cuba Confidential: Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana", Ann Louise Bardach interviewed Posada for the New York Times in 1998 and knows all 856 terrorists and the skeletons in the Bush family closet. Then Kelda, a young singer-songwriter from Los Angeles starts her East Coast tour on our show.

Ring of Fire
Hundreds of American lawyers working pro bono to represent the detainees at Guantanamo Bay are finding themselves frustrated at every turn by the Bush Justice Department, despite last year's Supreme Court ruling that the detainees are entitled to habeus corpus hearings. Mike talks with Carlyn Kolker, who covered the so-called Guantanamo Bay Bar Association in her article "Justice at Bay" in the current issue of American Lawyer magazine.
The melding of religion and politics, curtailment of civil rights, flag-waving, fear, corporate control. Sound familiar? Bobby talks with Dr. Fritz Stern, an eminent European historian who sees ominous parallels between the United States under Bush and the Germany he fled in the 1930's. Dr. Stern is a Professor Emeritus at Columbia University who is widely respected across the political spectrum.
If it seems too easy to borrow money to build or buy a home, you're right. The hard part comes later, when they foreclose on your house. Mike talks with Richard Lord, author of
"American Nightmare: Predatory Lending and the Foreclosure of the American Dream". Once again, the money trail goes right to the Oval Office, where the guilty parties are protected by their fat campaign contributions to the GOP.

I would gladly post who will be on Marty Kaplan's So What Else Is News? and on Kyle Jason's The Kyle Jason Show but they aren't mentioned on the home page and on their own pages at Air America, today's shows aren't mentioned. Kaplin's show airs from three to five (eastern time), followed by Ring of Fire from five to seven (eastern time), followed by Laura Flanders from seven to ten (eastern time) followed by The Kyle Jason Show which airs ten to midnight (eastern time). There is also nothing posted regarding Sunday morning's Eco-Talk or Sunday night's The Revolution Starts Now.

Bridget has a suggestion for Air America's weekday schedule that goes beyond repeating The Rachel Maddow Show after Mike Malloy each night:

I've suggested that her show be repeated immediately after Morning Sedition, cutting Jerry Springer to 2 hours. Springer may have good liberal credentials and intentions, but his show is so boring. I used to listen to AAR in the mornings, but have been switching to WAMU and RadioPower instead. Yes, Rachel Maddow's show, plus segments of it, should be repeated all day. She's terrific!

Maddow's show is a strong one and I'm sure many members will agree with her that the show should be on later in the morning. (Many of you are going to Air America Place and downloading the show later in the day.) Members are seeking out the show and Bridget's suggestion makes a great deal of sense. (Some members would argue, and I'd agree, pull Springer from that time slot and give the three hours back to Unfiltered with Maddow, Lizz Winstead and Chuck D.)

Rod writes in to say that Janeane Garofalo did an incredible job last night (on The Majority Report) discussing a number of topics and interviewing a variety of guests. He wondered why I didn't comment on it. Janeane Garofalo has done an incredible job (my opinion) all week but usually does that. As for last night, I didn't hear the show. I usually never miss an episode of The Majority Report if Garofalo's on but yesterday I had too much on my plate and did miss it. I'll try to make time (try, not a promise, weekends are always crazy) to check out the show at Air America Place and I see that they already have the broadcast in their archives.

Rod says it was a great show and I'm sure it was. Anyone who missed it, might want to check it out via Air America Place. And yes, we provide the link to that because a) it was supportive of Unfiltered and b) it allows listeners to choose which shows to listen and which ones to skip. (To answer Boyd and Oliver's questions/hunches.) They provide a real service at Air America Place.

The e-mail address for this site is

Sunday Chat & Chews

We'll start with CBS's Face the Nation:

The Filibuster Fight; Bolton Nomination
Immigration, Iraq
Sen. Edward Kennedy
Democrat - Massachusetts
Elisabeth Bumiller
The New York Times
Colbert King
The Washington Post

Over at ABC's This Week:

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee

The partisan politics of Washington threatens to sink to a new level in the coming days. The Democrats are threatening to filibuster President Bush's judicial nominees and the Senate leader could invoke the so-called nuclear option. As the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman laments, extremists on both sides seem to be itching for a showdown. It's just a warm-up before the expected battle over the White House nomination of a Supreme Court justice or two later this spring or summer. And add to that mix the partisan sniping over John Bolton, the president's pick to be U.N. ambassador. We'll discuss all of it, along with the flare-up of violence in Iraq, the growing problem of military recruitment, Social Security and immigration reform, with the man who's still in the thick of conversation about a 2008 presidential run, Sen. John McCain.

Partisan nature? The down the toilet This Week wants to talk about partisan nature when the positions of the Senate will be explained by one senator who is a Republican? And the only other politician on the show is also a Republican? While "partisan politics threaten to sink to a new level," This Week's flying their fright wing flag. As if that's not bad enough Cokie Roberts returns for the roundtable. Why does ABC hate America!!!!

Joining her, as always, will be the mincing George Will. Paul Begela tags along.

Finally NBC's Meet the Press:

Egyptian Prime Minister
Washington Post
Wall Street Journal
British Broadcasting Corporation
Washington Post

Which one would I watch? I'll weigh in yet again with Face the Nation. Elite Fluff Patrol squad leader Bumiller will be on! Besides, there are rumors that seeing the face of Paul Gigot can induce madness. (Possibly Bumiller gazed upon it!) (And yes, both of the last two statements were jokes.)

All shows air on Sundays (hence "Sunday Chat & Chews"). Check your local listings for airtimes.

The e-mail address for this site is

The Times front page has a theme that's not spelled out: actions have consequences

The front page of the New York Times carries a number of stories. The most emphasized (by columns and photo) is the base closings stories, Pam Belluck "For Shipyard and Region, Shock and Vow to Fight" by Pam Belluck and "Pentagon Urges Closing of Bases, Cutting 26,000 Jobs" by Eric Schmitt. People are shocked. I'm shocked that people are shocked. Has no one been paying attention to the Bully Boy the last four years?

This isn't a new plan that just popped into someone's head. The Bully Boy and others in the administration have been speaking of this for some time. It's been outlined and discussed. Maybe it's only now hitting home? Maybe only now are people who've thought they were the exception, that the Bully Boy would never do to them -- only to to others, are having to face the hard truth that the "exception" principle doesn't really apply.

The Air Force Association was addressing this in 2002 (from "First Skirmishes in the Battle of the Bases" by George Cahlink:

However, a few days later, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld actually endorsed the possibility of moving the command when he told reporters, "The European Command is in Europe, the Pacific Command's in the Pacific, and the Central Command is in Tampa." He then asked rhetorically, "Why is that?"
Those words set off alarm bells in the state capital in Tallahassee.
The Florida governor quickly fired off a letter to Rumsfeld that said Central Command "personnel are an integral part of our community." Bush said he understood the need for having military commanders in the region to oversee the war on terrorism but wanted to emphasize the importance of the command to the state. He added that about 84 percent of the 1,300 military and civilian personnel employed at Central Command live in the Tampa Bay area and generate $387 million annually for the state's economy.
Florida's rapid response put Rumsfeld on notice that it will not allow the uncontested removal of military facilities and employees from the state. Florida's actions reflect a growing trend across the nation, as states and local communities become increasingly aggressive in fighting to keep jobs at their bases.
With another round of military base closings set for 2005, communities with military facilities are spending millions of dollars on upgrades to infrastructure surrounding military bases, hiring lobbyists in Washington, D.C., to determine if their bases are vulnerable, forming partnerships with the military, and touting the value of their installations every chance they get.
The Pentagon had a tough job convincing Congress to allow more base closures. An even harder job could be fighting states and local communities over what bases can be closed.

Robert Burns was covering it for the Associated Press in 2001. Now granted our news media does a lousy job of tracking stories of late. And more often than not something that really effects you will be buried inside the paper or mentioned in passing on a broadcast. But this isn't new and the shock seems to be of a I-can't-believe-he-did-it-to-me! nature.

You can also read Ralph Blumenthal's "College Libraries Set Aside Books In a Digital Age" and feel the "invisible hands" not of the "free market," but of the Bully Boy. Letting books go free into the wild (University of Texas library system which includes satellite schools throughout Texas) isn't a new concept but one that's been pushed by various appointees over the years. Appointed by? Then Governor Bully Boy. In the short term, it's actually a good thing for the UT library systems because they've been funded so poorly for so long that "it's as though we're getting new books." That's from a librarian in the UT system I spoke to on the phone this morning. Prior to the Bully Boy, there were never "flowing" with money. But in the late eighties they did switch over to a computerized system ("finally") ("bar coding" was the term she used). With the arrival of the Bully Boy, it was "as though a war was delcared on reading." (Which made me wonder if our First Lady of Literacy and Libraries was as ineffective as First Lady of Texas as she currently is as First Lady of the nation?) The librarian I spoke to was an "RFK Democrat" and a "Ann Richards supporter" but basically self-described as apolitical. She provided with contact info on another librarian who self-described as a "Reagan Republican" but echoed the same beliefs and criticisms while also noting that the delivery system is so slow and the inventory of holdings so inadequate that it's far easier to borrow from one of the libraries housed in a major city in Texas than to get a book from the UT library system. Both also wondered what this would do to the periodicals? (Fred Heath, quoted in the Times, had declared in March of this year that funds would still be available for them though book purchase would be put on hold.)

So the point here is that Bully Boy had one full term as governor and a partial term. This is the damage he's created in Texas, be ready as it goes national long after 2008. Blumenthal doesn't seem all that concerned by it. (Maybe he's been reading Thomas Friedman's columns?) But it bothered me enough to get out some phone lists and search out the number of the first librarian.
(I have two more calls I'm still waiting to be returned.) Call Le Monde, we're all Texans now. And we'll all, apparently, be attending vocational schools from now on.

Robert F. Worth turns in what appears to be an unrelated article entitled "Tragicomedy of Life in Baghdad Is Brought Home in a TV Series." Love and War is a wacky comedy, as described by Blumenthal, featuring an "everyman" lead. If Worth hadn't used the term "everyman," I would have sailed right past that nonsense. I love these 'universal' entertainment products that focus on an "everyman." (Yes, that's sarcasm.) Love it when, for instance, film reviewers praise the 99th million coming of age story of a young boy as "universal." Guess it depends on your set-point? But keep telling yourself that it's "universal" even while the term "everyman" applies, based on gender alone, to less than half the world's population.

Monster-in-Law's been bashed by some "feminist" critics who are neither feminist nor really movie critics. (Though they're paid for the latter.) Reading some reviews Folding Star e-mailed earlier this week, I was struck by the fact that these nonfeminist had taken up the cause of feminism rather suddenly. After years and years of praising crap that sidelined women, suddenly reviewers for Entertainment Weekly (she's a Queen Bee who thinks she's an exception) and The New Yorker (they haven't had a real film critic at The New Yorker since Pauline Kael stepped down -- instead they rotate between film ignorant and someone attempting to crib from "Libby Gelman Waxner") are all ready to send in membership dues to NOW. Ignore them (as most people do -- which is one reason the review section of Entertainment Weekly has lost so much space in the last ten years and will continue to do so), Monster-in-Law is a funny movie.

But Worth had to use the term "everyman" and that was enough to irritate this morning.
He tells us that the sitcom "is produced by Al Sharqiya satellite television network, founded last year by a Dubai-based Iraqi." And that's all he tells us about that.

How strange.

The Al-Sharqiya network's chairman and chief bankroller is Saad al-Bazzaz, an Iraqi expatriate who made a name for himself in the newspaper business during the 1990s and recently returned to become a local media mogul, a kind of Iraqi Rupert Murdoch (head of News Corp) or Conrad Black, (the disgraced former chairman of Hollinger International). The Iraqi edition of his London-based Azzaman newspaper has become one of post-war Iraq's best-selling dailies. With Al-Sharqiya, the Dubai-based businessman takes aim at Iraq's airwaves.

The above is from Borzou Daragahi's "From soap operas to bottle-blonde newscasters to music videosAl-Sharqiya brings Iraqis entertainment TV" (The Daily Star). We're not done. Let's go The Guardian, to David Pallister's "Media mogul accused of running Saudi-funded propaganda campaign:"

Iraq's first independent media mogul has been running his empire with millions of pounds secretly provided by the Saudi regime, according to allegations made in the high court in London.
Based on documents lodged with the court, Saad Al-Bazzaz - dubbed the Rupert Murdoch of Iraq - was alleged to have received the money for the launch of his newspaper Azzaman, which is now the most widely read daily in Iraq. Mr Bazzaz also controls Iraq's first private satellite TV channel.

[. . .]
In public hearings and judgments in the high court last October, bank records were produced which showed transfers totalling £2.5m from Riyad Bank in Saudi Arabia to Azzaman's NatWest account in Ealing.
Other documents and letters, which Mr Bazzaz's lawyers say are of dubious provenance, suggest the money and political direction of the newspaper was covertly directed by senior officials in Saudi intelligence, which was then run by Prince Turki al-Faisal, the current ambassador in London.

Funny how such an 'interesting' character is so left out Worth's story. So "Love and War" is show not unlike half the crap churned out by the Fox Network (non-news division) ? The show's plot/theme appears to have been thought up by little Donnie Rumsfeld: "Stuff happens." So it's not all that surprising that Bill Berkowitz would report (in August of last year) "Iraq's Prime Minister suppresses media: New media regulations may help feed Iraqis 'reality TV' instead of actual reality:"

"Reality-based" television may become a popular staple in a country that continues to be beset by suicide bombings, outlaws in the streets, and a U.S. occupation force. While Al Sharqiya curries favor with the Allawi government, it will do little to keep the people of Iraq informed. The Committee to Protect Journalists is calling upon the Allawi government "to publicly clarify the role and function of the Higher Media Commission and to ensure that any official regulation of the media conforms with international standards for a free press."

There's a little more going on than a crappy TV show but the Times can't find the story. (We'll be kind and not addressed what passed for election coverage on Al Sharqiya's network.)

Which brings us to Ken Belson's "In Cities Facing Budget Deficits, Cellphone Becomes a Tax Payer." Bully Boy's give aways to the extremely wealthy have meant the tax burdens had to be absorbed in other ways. Why is anyone surprised? As the federal government has starved the states, municipalities have had to find other sources of tax income. Rummy might say, "Stuff happens." Bully Boy might mangle the old bromide, "There's no such thing as a free lunch."

But if there's a theme to this morning's front page, one that's not spelled out because far too much is left out, it's that actions have consequences.

The e-mail address for this site is And yes, for anyone wondering, I omitted the "Church bulletin" that makes the front page from this discussion.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Kat's Korner Judy Collins' Portrait of an American Girl raises the stakes for everyone else in 2005

A little background. Last Friday night we went to one of those parties that start off great and end with people screaming at strangers and a couple of guys fist fighting. It was time to pile in the Jeep and get the hell out of there. We get back to my place and you got Maggie through the kitchen looking for something stronger than wine, Toni smoking while Dak Ho complained that his clothes already smelled like an ashtray, Sumner trying to get everyone to chill but even he was on edge. Me, I was pissed because the box of Shanthimalai incense was empty. How did I go through forty sticks in less than three days?

Sumner's had enough of attempting to be designated peacemaker and sits cross legged, in a corner, facing the wall. Toni and Dak Ho continue bickering and Maggie lets out a load woop from the kitchen before rushing in with a bottle of gin. Now that Maggie's set for the night, she's focusing on the negativity in the room. Her eyes are darting around as she pours herself a glass of gin and I'm not sure whether she was worried she wouldn't be able to finish the glass with the current mood of the room or whether she was once again donning the robes of the Happy Idiot but she starts ushering us to the futon or the bean bags or the chairs. We go along, going through the motions, even Sumner.

Maggie's looking like she's on the verge of accomplishing something. She runs over to a pile of discs by the stereo and starts rummaging.

"You haven't taken the plastic off this one," she says to me.

She's holding Judy Collins' latest, Portrait of an American Girl.

No, I haven't. Confession, I love Collins' voice. I think few ever achieve what she has. But last fall she released Judy Collins Sings Leonard Cohen which was the worst album of 2004. The worst album of Judy Collins.

I'm not a big fan of Cohen to begin with. Too much fire and brimstone, too much old testament for my taste. I can take Collins' doing "Suzanne," I can take Jeff Buckley doing "Grace." But an album full of Cohen songs isn't my idea of a good time. And that's before "Democracy" is even addressed. That's one of the four new songs on the collection. It's Cohen trying to be Bob Dylan and failing worse than any Dylan imitator ever has before. It's a long laundry list. Collins could have carried it off if she'd done it on guitar and brought in other voices for the chorus, turned it into a camp fire sing along. Instead, it's heavy on "programming" and light on inspiration. Did I mention that I hated Judy Collins Sings Leonard Cohen?

Maggie's ripping the plastic off and I'm begging her to be a friend, a buddy, a pal and please, please, please don't put that CD on. The night's been bad enough without having to hear another bad album from one of my heroes, okay?

Waving me away, Maggie suggests I dig through her purse for some incense. Her purse? It's this huge black thing that could double as luggage. It's always overstuffed, beyond filled to the brim. To the point that if you're ever hurrying down a sidewalk with Maggie, you have to remember not to break into a run, no matter how late you are. If you break into a run, and Maggie mimics you, stuff starts falling out of the purse. You have to stop and wait for her to pick it up so running only creates more delays. Better to walk quickly with Maggie, no matter how late you are.

But Dak Ho's happy to dig in because, as he reminds Maggie, she owes him still for those breakfast tacos the weekend prior.

"I'm pretty sure I paid you," Maggie's bluffing.

"Uh, I'm pretty sure you didn't," Dak Ho mocks.

He finds the incense and is lighting it just as Maggie finally gets the plastic off. A slow process, but an amazing one if you stop to think of how much alcohol she's already put away. I'm doing deep breathing with my eyes closed and trying to chill. I'm guessing Toni has just lit one cigarette off the remains of a previous one because Dak Ho's delivering the second hand smoke speech yet again.

And then these repeating piano chords come gently flowing out of the speakers. It's "Singing Lessons," a brave song that was included as a bonus disc in the brave book by Collins of the same name. I'm just focusing on her voice and her piano player and breathing is coming a little easier. Then the next track comes on, "That Song About the Midway." That's a Joni Mitchell song. It's a great song and I'm listening to it and wondering why Judy Collins has now recorded an album of Dylan songs and an album of Cohen songs but no album of Joni Mitchell songs? Imagine what she could do with "The Three Great Stimulants" or "Hejira?" Right now, she's nailing down "That Song About the Midway" and making it her own.

As the song continues, I'm brave enough to open my eyes. Maggie's claimed the bottle of gin as her own. Dak Ho's gotten five bucks out of Maggie's purse and is pocketing it. Sumner's sprawled out on the red bean bag looking the picture of relaxation. Toni waves her cigarette to catch my attention, almost singed Dak Ho's sweater in the process and don't think he didn't notice.

"This is really good," Toni says ignoring Dak Ho's glare.

And you know something? It is. As the album plays on, it's obvious it's one of the strongest albums Judy Collins has ever recorded. I'd rank it up there with Wildflowers and In My Life because it's that good.

It's as though every song's been carefully selected to fit the mood.

I'm gonna live my life
Like everyday is the last
Without a simple goodbye
It all goes by so fast
And now that you're gone
I can't cry hard enough
I can't cry hard enough
For you to hear me now.

Collins sings "I Can't Cry Hard Enough" (written by David Williams and Marvin Etzoni) without melodrama. She sings it so straightforward it just makes you gasp. Someone's crying. Thinking the booze has finally kicked in, I look over at Maggie but she's happily lost in another world bobbing her head to the rhythm of the song. I look over at Sumner who's lost in the song but not crying. Toni? No.

Wiping his eyes, Dak Ho swears his eyes teared up due to Toni's cigarettes but I don't think so.
The mood picks up a little when the Collins penned "You Can't Buy Love" comes on. By "Sally Go 'Round the Roses," Maggie's spinning around the room. Toni and Dak Ho join her. Me, I just sit back and listen.

Through the album, the portrait, of this woman who's seen her country, the world, in better times and mediates on the losses great and small. This is an amazing album. It might seem that the Collins voice needs no further praise at this late date. While it's true that her range and timbre have been noted, what strikes me is not just the beauty of the voice, but the feelings it expresses. Collins conveys a haunting quality with her delivery.

It's most obvious on Aaron Copland's "Lincoln Portait," true, but it's there throughout. This is an adult woman with something on her mind -- an appreciation for the moments of joy ["Wedding Song (Song for Louis)"] because they are dots of bright color on an otherwise muted canvas. You're not required to know the story of her son Clark to enjoy "Checkmate," but if you do know the story, it makes the song, written by Collins, all the more amazing.

There you are in my dreams
Darling boy, I see you
In among all the faces of strangers

Heaven help us she knows
Heaven took you from me
Now I hear your sweet voice
Calling mother

Calling out to me
From another world
From another place
I would save you if I could

To hear the voice singing those words is to be struck by the level Collins has reached in her art.
Time and again, she provides (through her own songs or those written by others) the sort of level we'd like to expect from the (male) lions of her peer group. We've largely lowered our expectations of them and will settle for just an even album, something listenable.

In the midst of all this, Collins strides on to stage to offer something that goes beyond listenable (though it is that), that goes beyond hummable (though it is that as well). She offers this deeply textured portrait in song. When "How Can I Keep From Singing" went off, Sumner was already grabbing the remote to start the CD over. There has to be something in the popular music world to compare it to but I can't think of anything worthy. If you know are, and you know Monet, I'd compare it to the Sea at Fecamp. But in terms of music, I'm lost for a comparison.

I didn't expect this from Collins. I'd left the CD in its plastic wrap for well over a week. But I don't think we expect this sort of mastery from many artists. It's a benchmark that only a lover of art like Collins would even attempt. As much as I love her voice, I'm still amazed by what she's created. Utilizing the world around her and the richness of experience, she's created a true work of art and raised the stakes for her peer group and anyone else who attempts to release an album in 2005. Through repeated listens early into the morning, she kept the five of us spellbound. It's hard not to get goosebumps even now when I listen to the album.

I can't imagine anyone topping this but lets hope her accomplishment here is recognized and that it spurs others to try. I also can't believe I'm about to do this, before the year is even half way over, but short of anyone taking up her challenge and pulling it off, I don't think 2005 will offer a finer album -- Portrait of American Girl is that strong.

Reminder (as requested by Shirley), Jane Fonda's Monster-in-Law opened today. It stars Fonda, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Vartan, Wanda Sykes and Elaine Stritch. Community member Isaiah did the drawing of Fonda. Posted by Hello

Democracy Now!: War Resister Pablo Paredes Wins Surprise Victory: Military Judges Orders No Jail Time For Refusing Deployment Orders

On Democracy Now! this morning, Amy Goodman interviewed Pablo Paredes for the segment
"War Resister Pablo Paredes Wins Surprise Victory: Military Judges Orders No Jail Time For Refusing Deployment Orders:"

AMY GOODMAN: Pablo Paredes, reading the statement he read in the military court. The judge had a very unusual statement in response during your sentencing, Pablo Paredes. Could you share with us what he said?
PABLO PAREDES: I don't have exactly in front of me what he said, and it wasn't during sentencing. I believe the statement you are talking about, and I won't put it in quotes because I don't have it exactly as it was stated, but after the government or the prosecution -- it’s called the government in military court, but it's the prosecution -- after they questioned Marjorie Cohn on the stand for a while, and it turned to almost an open debate, they weren't very successful. Marjorie Cohn was able to express quite clearly why she felt that the wars in Yugoslavia, in Afghanistan and Iraq were, in fact, illegal, and the judge said something to the extent: I believe the government has just proved that any service member would have reasonable cause to believe that the wars of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq were illegal. So, I mean, it was a pretty impressive thing to hear from a military judge.
AMY GOODMAN: The judge said this?
PABLO PAREDES: Yeah, something to that effect.
AMY GOODMAN: That a soldier would have reason to believe that the wars in Afghanistan, Yugoslavia and Iraq were illegal. Pablo Paredes, we are joined by Marjorie Cohn for just the last minute. She testified, as you said, during your court martial, Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego and Executive Vice President of the National Lawyers Guild. Marjorie Cohn, can you talk about the significance of what the judge said, and this is after you had testified?

The above is an excerpt, please go to the segment to listen, watch or read the transcript.

Democracy Now: Pablo Paredes, Sascha Meinrath; Katrina vanden Heuvel; Margeret Kimberly; Ann Schneider

Democracy Now! (Marcia: "always worth watching")

Headlines for May 13, 2005
- 21 Killed in Latest Wave of Iraq Violence
- UN Says 24,000 Iraqis Died From War in a Year
- Suicide Bombings on the Rise in Iraq
- CARICOM Calls for Yvon Neptune's Release
- Bolton Moves to Full Senate With No Backing
- Bush Rode Bike While Capitol/White House Evacuated
- War Resister Paredes Gets 3 Months Hard labor
- New Charges Against War Resister Kevin Benderman
- Connecticut Carries Out First Execution in 45 Years

John Bolton Suffers Setback In Bid to Become UN Ambassador
In a rare move, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has sent the nomination of John Bolton as UN ambassador to the full Senate without an endorsement.

War Resister Pablo Paredes Wins Surprise Victory: Military Judges Orders No Jail Time For Refusing Deployment Orders
Paredes was convicted in a court-martial on Wednesday. However a judge decided Thursday not to sentence him to jail - instead he will face three months of hard labor.

Ousted Haitian PM Yvon Neptune Enters 25th Day of Hunger Strike
The Caribbean Community, known as CARICOM, has officially called on the provisional Haitian government to release Neptune immediately. Neptune is now reported to be very near death with a top UN official saying he can barely walk or talk and is in and out of consciousness.

Affordable Wireless Internet For All: How Media Activists Are Making Champaign-Urbana Illinois A Model For Community Wi-Fi
We speak with Sascha Meinrath, project coordinator of the Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network. Meinrath also volunteers with the Champaign-Urbana Indymedia Center which just bought a 30,000 square foot post office. [includes rush transcript]

It's hard to be Ann Coulter facing down the years, living a life that's so against everything's she's preached. After the shock of her own appearance on the cover of Time, she's apparently decided to attempt to take the head off herself by fire bombing someone else.
As with all of Coulter's firebombs, that means going after anyone who's told the truth and then distorting what they actually said. Fright Wing Annie turns her attention to Katrina vanden Heuvel but, as Liang notes, "KvH can handle herself:"

In her latest column, Ann Coulter honors me by announcing me the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Most Wrong Predictions. I proudly accept this award for in Coulter's tangled, fictional world right is always wrong, and what liberals say is always wrong even when they are right.
To be more specific, Coulter accuses me of wrongly predicting that invading Iraq would lead to more terrorist retaliation. According to the recent US government report, the number of terrorist attacks has increased significantly since the Iraq war. The overwhelming majority of those incidents have been aimed at US personnel in Iraq.
She also says I was wrong when I said that invading would undermine the fight against Al Qaeda. But this is the view of many officials in the Bush Administration itself, including such distinguished departing officials as Richard Clarke. What she did not tell you is that I also predicted that the war would cause a spawning of new bin Laden-inspired groups, as most terrorist experts readily now confirm.

Tick-tick-tick, the sound of the white stockinged, mistakenly dubbed "sex bomb" Coulter imploding.

Via BuzzFlash, KeShawn saw a new article at The Black Commentator, Margaret Kimberly's "Gwen Ifell and Hack Journalism:"

Of course her credentials have been questioned by racist white people who are always unhappy when black people rise further than they think is proper. Don Imus has called Ifill "the cleaning lady." A New York Times columnist mused about her "substantial salary" and wondered how much PBS was paying her and her colleague Ray Suarez. Salaries tend not to be an issue where white people are concerned.
No matter what black people accomplish we are considered undeserving of accolades, money or decent treatment. Gwen Ifill is no exception. She is also no exception in contributing to the hack journalism that is now the rule rather than the exception in this country.
Like her buddy Condi Rice, she can't be let off the hook. Media insiders like Gwen Ifill who call themselves journalists, but act like anything but, are making life easier for the powerful evildoers. Regardless of anything Imus has to say, they must be called to account.
Journalists are supposed to be objective, ask tough questions, give the public information they can't access, and use that information to minimize lying by the powers that be. They are not supposed to get cozy with the subjects of their coverage. Gwen Ifill is unfamiliar with all of those do's and don'ts.

This is a must read article and an excerpt doesn't do it justice.

Lastly, Joan e-mails that NYC IndyMedia has the latest issue of the Indypendent (newspaper) posted at their site. And she notes Ann Schneider's "Busted!" Here's the opening:

The patient work of videographer Eileen Clancy of I-Witness Video, led last month to proof that someone in the District Attorney's office edited a video ofAlexander Dunlop, who was arrested as he was going to get sushi. Dunlop was charged with pushing his bicycle into a line of cops and resisting arrest. Portions of the video that contradicted these charges were deleted from the video that the DA turned over to defense lawyers.
This followed proof in a December trial that Officer Matthew Wohl manufactured testimony when he claimed to have arrested a squirming, screaming Dennis Kyne at the RNC. Actual video of the arrest showed Kyne was cooperative with his arresting officer, who, incidentally, was not Wohl.
A 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case, Brady v. Maryland, requires the prosecution to turn over exculpatory material in its possession to the defendant. If a failure to do so is somehow discovered later, the conviction must be overturned. But what are the consequences for an officer or assistant district attorney who is caught testifying or thwarting Brady's mandates?
The incidents made national news, thanks to reporter Jim Dwyer, who broke the story in the New York Times on April 12th. The disclosures seemed to have immediate and dramatic effect, specifically upon DA Robert Morgenthau's office.

The e-mail address for this site is

Magazine report: Rolling Stone

Barbarella is back. that's right, Jane Fonda, whose nudie romp in that 1968 sci-fi sex saga is still a rouser on DVD, has returned to movies for the first time in fifteen years. She doesn't hide the lines on her strong, patrician face. She doesn't need to -- class and beauty will always win out. Fonda, 67, plays a mother. And what a mother. Viola Fields is a talk-show star of Barbara Walters wattage. She is about to be replaced by a bimbo. Her sassy assistant (Wanda Sykes) remembers Viola passing out when The View won an Emmy. On her last TV stint, Viola strangles a Britney Spears clone who proudly says she's never read a newspaper.
Viola is having a meltdown. And this is when her only son, Kevin (Michael Vartan), announces that he -- a doctor -- is about to marry Charlotte (Jennifer Lopez), a Latina temp. The film, directed by Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde), from a script by Anya Kochoff, is hardly classic farce. Fonda, like Robert De Niro -- her co-star in her previous film, 1990's Stanley and Iris -- is on the low-comic road to a Meet the Fockers pot of gold. Snobs be damned. It's a hoot to watch Fonda cut loose and mix it up with J. Lo, even when the laughs turn mean-spirited. Broadway legend Elaine Stritch is killer funny as Viola's own monster-in-law. Fonda, be it as Hanoi Jane or workout queen, keeps springing surprises. Knockabout comic is just the latest incarnation in Fonda's life so far. Let her rip.

That's from Peter Travers' review of Monster-in-Law in the latest Rolling Stone. Remember Monster-in-Law is now playing. Brady e-mailed to ask why I didn't add Rolling Stone to the links on the left? It was an oversight, Brady. Yesterday, if I'd been thinking, would have been the perfect time to have added Rolling Stone. We'll add it when we do the next round of links.
But the current issue arrived yesterday so what we can do is a magazine spotlight.

Let's start with Robert Dreyfuss' "The Quagmire: As the Iraq war drags on, it's beginning to look a lot like Vietnam" (which BuzzFlash highlighted last Saturday):

The news from Iraq is bad and getting worse with each passing day. Iraqi insurgents are stepping up the pace of their attacks, unleashing eleven deadly bombings on April 29th alone. Many of the 150,000 Iraqi police and soldiers hastily trained by U.S. troops have deserted or joined the insurgents. The cost of the war now tops $192 billion, rising by $1 billion a week, and the corpses are piling up: Nearly 1,600 American soldiers and up to 100,000 Iraqi civilians are dead, as well as 177 allied troops and 229 private contractors. Other nations are abandoning the international coalition assembled to support the U.S., and the new Iraqi government, which announced its new cabinet to great fanfare on April 27th, remains sharply split along ethnic and religious lines.
But to hear President Bush tell it, the war in Iraq is going very, very well. In mid-April, appearing before 25,000 U.S. soldiers at sun-drenched Fort Hood, in Texas, Bush declared that America has succeeded in planting democracy in Iraq, creating a model that will soon spread throughout the Middle East. "That success is sending a message from Beirut to Tehran," the president boasted to chants of "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" from the troops. "The establishment of a free Iraq is a watershed event in the global democratic revolution." Staying on message, aides to Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, later suggested that U.S. forces could be reduced from 142,000 to 105,000 within a year.
In private, however, senior military advisers and intelligence specialists on Iraq offer a starkly different picture. Two years after the U.S. invasion, Iraq is perched on the brink of civil war. Months after the election, the new Iraqi government remains hunkered down inside the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, surviving only because it is defended by thousands of U.S. troops. Iraqi officials hold meetings and press conferences in Alamo-like settings, often punctuated by the sounds of nearby explosions. Outside the Green Zone, party offices and government buildings are surrounded by tank traps, blast walls made from concrete slabs eighteen feet high, and private militias wielding machine guns and AK-47s. Even minor government officials travel from fort to fort in heavily armed convoys of Humvees.

That's an excerpt, use the link to read more. While we're in the political section, we'll note
Bob Moser's "The Crusaders: Christian evangelicals are plotting to remake America in their own image." Here's an excerpt:

Meet the Dominionists -- biblical literalists who believe God has called them to take over the U.S. government. As the far-right wing of the evangelical movement, Dominionists are pressing an agenda that makes Newt Gingrich's Contract With America look like the Communist Manifesto. They want to rewrite schoolbooks to reflect a Christian version of American history, pack the nation's courts with judges who follow Old Testament law, post the Ten Commandments in every courthouse and make it a felony for gay men to have sex and women to have abortions. In Florida, when the courts ordered Terri Schiavo's feeding tube removed, it was the Dominionists who organized round-the-clock protests and issued a fiery call for Gov. Jeb Bush to defy the law and take Schiavo into state custody. Their ultimate goal is to plant the seeds of a "faith-based" government that will endure far longer than Bush's presidency -- all the way until Jesus comes back.
"Most people hear them talk about a 'Christian nation' and think, 'Well, that sounds like a good, moral thing,' says the Rev. Mel White, who ghostwrote Jerry Falwell's autobiography before breaking with the evangelical movement. "What they don't know -- what even most conservative Christians who voted for Bush don't know -- is that 'Christian nation' means something else entirely to these Dominionist leaders. This movement is no more about following the example of Christ than Bush's Clean Water Act is about clean water."
The godfather of the Dominionists is D. James Kennedy, the most influential evangelical you've never heard of. A former Arthur Murray dance instructor, he launched his Florida ministry in 1959, when most evangelicals still followed Billy Graham's gospel of nonpartisan soul-saving. Kennedy built Coral Ridge Ministries into a $37-million-a-year empire, with a TV-and-radio audience of 3 million, by preaching that it was time to save America -- not soul by soul but election by election. After helping found the Moral Majority in 1979, Kennedy became a five-star general in the Christian army. Bush sought his blessing before running for president -- and continues to consult top Dominionists on matters of federal policy.
"Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost," Kennedy says. "As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors -- in short, over every aspect and institution of human society."

I see that Rolling Stone has a blog online. I wasn't aware of that. We'll add it when we add the link to the magazine next in the next round of links but for now click here.

Moving on, we'll note Peter Bergen's "The Shadow Warrior: How did Jack Idema, a convicted con man and former Special Forces soldier, end up in an Afghanistan prison?" with this excerpt:

Kabul's pleasantly edgy vibe has attracted its fair share of war junkies and mysterious guys in dark shades who aren't about to tell you what they do for a living. Ground zero for this crowd is the Mustafa hotel, a dingy joint where drinks are served by giggling Thai women from the massage parlor conveniently located inside the hotel. The king of the Mustafa scene, until his arrest last July, was Jack Idema, who first arrived in Kabul in fall 2001, shortly after the defeat of the Taliban.
Idema told those who were curious that he was doing humanitarian work or that he was a security consultant for journalists covering the war against the Taliban or that he was a special adviser to the Northern Alliance. If he really wanted to impress you, he might also tell you what his ultimate goal was: to be the guy who captured Osama bin Laden. Before his arrest, Idema was regarded around Kabul as something of a blowhard. It was only after he was detained that Idema's criminal history and chronic litigiousness, which included abetting wire fraud and unsuccessfully suing film director Steven Spielberg, became widely known, as did his penchant for threatening journalists and, on one occasion, shooting in their vicinity. It was perhaps inevitable that Idema, a convicted felon, was going to get into some kind of trouble in Afghanistan. And so he did, in a story that has unfolded like a movie written by a twenty-first-century Graham Greene, powered by a dark Middle-Eastern techno soundtrack by Deep Dish.
Idema straddled the civilian and military worlds in Afghanistan, a balancing act that attracted little comment until his arrest. That's because in today's U.S. military, functions that were once handled by the uniformed services have increasingly been taken over by civilians. In Afghanistan, American contractors do everything from guarding local bigwigs, including President Hamid Karzai, to conducting Al Qaeda interrogations.

[CJR magazine has also reported on Jack Idema: "Tin Soldier: An American Vigilante In Afghanistan, Using the Press for Profit and Glory" by Mariah Blake.]

In the front section of the magazine ("Rock & Roll"), Coldplay's new album gets notices (X&Y to be released June 7, 2005). Sting on tour, a college campus tour, and he's performing both solo songs and songs from the Police. Lollapalooza will play again, July 23 and 24 in Chicago with guests such as "Weezer, the Pixies, the Killers, Widespread Panice, Billy Idol, the Arcade Fire and Dinosaur Jr. Tickets cost fifty dollars a day . . ." Garbage's latest CD had the highest chart debut of any of their CDs thus far (Bartcop is a huge fan of Shirley Manson's -- lead singer for Garbage and the new album is one Jim of Third Estate Sunday Review is listening to). Audioslave is performing not just the songs from their first album and their forthcoming album on the current tour (they'll be touring Europe this summer and begin touring in the U.S. "in August or September"), they'll also be performing some songs from Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine. (Audioslave's new album is due out May 24, 2005.)

There's an article by Brian Hiatt entitled "Radio From Outerspace" about satellite radio. (I'm not finding it online.) In it, we learn that XM and Sirius currently reach a little over five million listeners. Traditional radio (non-satellite, non-internet, non-iPod) listening is "down thirteen percent from a decade ago."

There's a Q&A with Robert Plant (by Austin Scaggs, for those not familiar with the "Q&A" section of Rolling Stone, this isn't The Rolling Stone Interview. This is a one pagge Q&A.)
In Random Notes, we learn that Wilco will begin recording their follow up to A Ghost Is Born (Kat reviewed this album in a Kat's Korner) in August and that their Chicago shows (Vic Theater in May) will be recorded "for a live DVD."

Matt Taibbi (who also writes for New York Press) has an article entitled "God and Man In Kentucky" (not available online). Here's an excerpt:

Justice Sunday would be an evening affair; the Highview Baptist mega-church in Louisville, Kentucky, was to be converted into a political arena for a controversial national telecast on April 24th, during which Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist would join a parade of prominent evangecials to denounce Democrats as being "against people of faight."
America would be watching that night but I went to services in the morning, just to listen. You need time to get into the peculiar spirit of an evangical event. Enter the church quietly; sing along to the hymns; follow the words on the four giant telescreens. Surely no one will notice me, a godless East Coast journalist, here in this 2,000-strong crowd of advanced orthodonics, perfect haircuts and discount sweaters.
When services were over, I darted to the exit. But before I could get out, an old man with gold-rimmed glasses dropped his hand on my neck with an audible slap!
"You must be from the ACLU," he said.
"Must I?" I asked. "Why?"
"Because you don't look happy," he said.
"A person from the ACLU can't be happy?" I asked.
"No," he said. "He can't."

Chris Rock has a Q&A as well (much shorter than Robert Plant's, it's less than half a page). And Rob Sheffield address "Ill Poppa" in his "Pop Life:"

Ratzinger was the top Vatican commando under Pope John Paul II, where
he earned a reputation as a hatchet man, smacking down any hint of disobedience like Freddie Mercury using a riding crop on the new Moroccan
pool boy.

The "Picture of the Week" is Bully Boy strolling with (and holding hands with) Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.

Then you have the cover story on Orlando Bloom. And in answer to Marci's question about a story in Monday's New York Times, box office health judged by a week when the big premiere was Kingdom of Heaven aren't exactly reliable medical records. Bloom is popular. So is/was Heath Ledger. Neither had crossed the point where they could pull in general audiences. (Think of Keanu Reeves before Speed.) Ridley Scott's reluctance to work with established stars hurt the box office of Kingdom of Heaven before the film ever opened. Bloom's not at the point where he can carry a film by himself (and period dramas are always hard sells). Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson, though fine actors, don't fill the seats. Bloom may prove to be someone who can open a film but not this one.

(And yes, Marci, it did appear this week that, in the Ray Stark art collection article, the Times was kissing David Geffen's ass. Whether they did so in time to help the paper's attempts at becoming a player in Los Angeles is anyone's guess.)

Young Hollywood of '05 is a picture spread with brief bio sketches. Among those pictured are Cillian Murphy (the Scarecrow in Batman Begins -- Christian Bale plays Batman), Jessica Biel (of TV fame who'll star in the thriller Stealth), Jason Ritter (son of John Ritter, who'll appear in Don Roos' Happy Ending), Khadijah & Malika (twins who'll be seen in Sky High), Emile Hirsch (stars in Lords of Dogtown), Chad Michael Murray (of TV fame who's on screens now in the underperforming House of Wax -- bad trailer and pedestrian remake), Amber Tamblyn (Joan of Arcadia star -- never watched but she was a strong guest on Air America Radio one weekend -- Ring of Fire?; and one of the stars of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants which has strong buzz), Evan Rachel Wood (held her own opposite Holly Hunter in Thirteen, stars with Ron Livingston in the upcoming Pretty Persuasion).

Which brings us to the review section. Dave Matthes Band gets three and a half stars. (I didn't read the review because I haven't picked up the CD yet.) Weezer, Van Morrison, Mike Jones, Lucinda Williams and Amerie get brief reviews. Rob Scheffield has a very funny, very brief review of a Shock and Jawer, country poser. (And you probably know whom we mean just by that description.)

Movie section. Which I'd only read the Monster-in-Law review of until just now. Kingdom of Heaven gets three stars, House of Wax one star, Monster-in-Law gets three stars as does The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Bruce Springsteen's concert in Detroit gets four stars, Bob Dylan's in New York gets four and a half stars, Lenny Kravitz's concert in Boston gets three and a half stars.

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Ruth's Morning Edition Report

Ruth: Thursday on NPR's Morning Edition, a "commentary" was provided. Now when NPR brings on someone to do a commentary, you might think they'd need to be knowledgable in the area they are speaking of? You would be incorrect. NPR has their own version of George Will but, instead of a bow tie, he wears a cowboy hat.

Cowboy Poet
By Baxter Black
Nationalizing Professions
Morning Edition, May 12, 2005 · Commentator Baxter Black says some people would like to have nationalized health care. He says if that's the case, other professions should be nationalized as well.

Are times tough in the large animal vet practice? That would explain Black's anger but can anything explain his ongepotchket commentaries?

My granddaughter Tracey loves the TV show Jack and Bobby. She thinks the oldest brother is a "hottie." (I believe Jack is the older brother's name.) And every now and then, she'll come over on Wednesday nights to get me to watch with her. Christine Lati plays the mother and the program actually deals with issues so it's no bother to watch it with her. Gore Vidal had a guest spot this week. My biggest surprise was that my teenage granddaughter not only knew who Gore Vidal was but also knew his writing. Surprised in a good way, mind you. I enjoy Gore Vidal's writing and would rank 1876 as my favorite novel by Mr. Vidal. Tracey and her friends read his essay collections, like Dreaming War, and it's good to know that good writers are being read by our young people.

The reason I bring up Jack and Bobby in the first place is that Baxter Black seems to have a case of the Jack and Bobbys. Addressing the issue of universal health care, terminology he never utters, Black seeks out the "wisdom" of his brother who's right up there with "Solomon" in Baxter's eyes.

While it's good for families to be close, perhaps next time Mr. Black could seek out someone who is actually versed in the topic? Mr. Black clearly lacks knowledge on the issue of health care.

As he intones "socialized medicine" repeatedly, you grasp that he's against it. Myself, I'm for it. I think we need it and that it would benefit both employees and employers as well as the vast number of unemployed adults and children everywhere.

So Mr. Black and I disagree. Fortunately for him, I neither own a large animal or buy the verse of Cowboy Poets, so he doesn't have to worry that he lost a customer.

But Morning Edition should have worried about putting him on air. They should worry not because of his opinion, he can be opposed to universal health care, but because he either doesn't know the facts or doesn't care about them.

"Doctors say socialized medicine reduces the quality of health care available to most, does not pay doctors adequately or reward them for the responsibilty they bear."

That's the view of some doctors and he sums it fine; however, he's far from even handed.

"Those promoting socialized medicine believe good health care is a right for all regardless of income, citizenship, or personal responsibility."

I'm bothered by the "or personal responsibility." I wonder exactly how would be Judge Black rules on that issue? Is someone with cancer, resulting from environmental pollution, personally responsible? What of those who become sick due to lead paint that a landlord doesn't deal with?

But before I can get a grip as to where he stands and whether or not he's just being snide, Mr. Black is back to telling us about his brother and his brother's suggestion to "nationalize the legal profession" if we create universal health care.


"Skyrocketing malpractice insurance is a direct result of doctors being sued by lawyers for the pawn in the middle: us."

But malpractice insurance is not a result of law suits. That is the myth that Bully Boy puts out and certainly GE owned NBC's Nightly News never misses a chance to spin the story in that direction but most educated people are aware that the rising insurance rates have more to do with poor return on stock market investments which created losses that the insurance companies have passed on to their customers.

When GE's companies spin the truth, it's not that surprising. When National Public Radio, which is supposed to be for the public, does, it is very sad.

Mr. Black continues and advises that "the litigous atmosphere has tarnished the image of everyone, it's made the doctors become aloof from their patients, the patients seem greedy and the lawyers look like opportunists." Mr. Black lives in the state of Arizona and, I'm guessing, the state of Denial as well. Doctors looking aloof from the patients due to the "litigious atmosphere?" As the mother of two doctors, I wonder what "research" Mr. Black has to back that up? If he asked my sons, they'd tell him that it had more to do with the medical programs and the grinding schedules. But large animal vets and their brothers apparently know better than doctors themselves.

As someone old enough to remember a time before Republicans had so demonized class action suits, I can tell you that my own experiences with doctors, including one uncle, have almost always been best described as their being "aloof." My mother, God rest her soul, could speak of a time when doctors gave individual care and actually spent time with you. I doubt Mr. Black is old enough to remember those days; however, if he is old enough, then he's old enough to realize that appearing "aloof" has little to do with rising malpractice insurance and that it predates that talking point.

Mr. Black wants so badly to scream "Commie!" that he almost can't get through his uninformed commentary. Quickly he, and his brother, propose that if health care is nationalized, we do the same with the legal profession. But we don't stop their, according to NPR's Jack and Bobby, we go on to set up "tribunals" to hear medical malpractice suits.

And according to Mr. Black, this would force us to "face reality" at which point he returns to "personal responbility" as he castigates the overweight (as though the food being served at most fast food places is anything like the actual food he or I grew up on), smokers, and those "who engage in risky pursuits" which he leaves undefined but I'm sure most listeners could fill in the blanks.

Like a mentally cracked, conservative Supereme Court Justice, Mr. Black is all about the slippery slope and sees it everywhere. When he was eight, my son David once had a nasty accident on a Slip 'n Slide. He lept onto it and slid off it across the half lawn stopping only when he went head on into my rose bushes. Did Mr. Black have a similar experience?

Is that what leads his mind to jump to the idea that universal health care would lead to people being "appointed to office" and "voting" being "abolished?"

He never gets to scream the word he so dearly wants to, "Commie." But he does get a little red-bating in with his concluding statements:

Wait a minute you say, "Who would be in charge? I guess we'd have to ask FEE-Dell how that works."

Yes, he means Castro and that's truly how he mispronounces Fidel. How this kochleffl's uninformed commentary made it to air is a question that might only be answered by the current ideology struggle going on at NPR and PBS. Bringing him on to speak against universal health care wasn't the problem because all voices should be welcomed on NPR. Allowing him to distort reality with no clarification on the part of Steve [Inskeep], who seemd quite amused, was a problem. If NPR is going to abandon the facts, there's little point in fighting to keep it around.
That's something the producers of Morning Edition might want to seriously consider.

Magazine report: In These Times

The latest In These Times arrived via mail Tuesday. We've already noted Naomi Klein's "How to End the War" a few days ago. So let's note the cover story, By Nicolas Bérubé and Benoit Aquin's "Chiquita's Children:"

Carlos Alberto Rodriguez sits prostrate in his rocking chair all day, from dawn to dusk. At first view it looks like this ex-plantation worker--young to be retired, at the age of 55--is giving his body a much-deserved rest after a lifetime of hard work, in which 14-hour days and six-day weeks were the norm. But when he took his retirement nine years ago, Rodriguez's health quickly deteriorated. First he lost his memory, then his ability to speak, and finally, his capacity to engage in any way with the people around him.
Today, Rodriguez, reputed to have been a jovial bon vivant, is unable to walk or take care of himself. His wife Membreño stopped working in order to care for him. She spoon feeds him and washes him daily; she addresses him like one would a newborn.
For 23 years, Rodriguez irrigated the fields of the Chinandega area, the most important banana region in Nicaragua. His job was to ensure that the pesticide used at the time, Nemagon, was distributed uniformly over the entire surface of the fields. It was a meticulous assignment that he performed dutifully, without thinking for one minute that the fine whitish mist that fell atop the banana plants every dawn was in fact one of the most dangerous poisons ever created. A pesticide so toxic that it was banned from use in its country of conception, the United States, where today those responsible for public health believe it should never have been put into circulation.

We'll note the second part of Salim Muwakkil's look into the African-American clergy. This installment is entitled "Black Clergy Rebuff Bush:"

During the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Rev. Al Sampson helped to organize Chicago’s Black Mobilization Committee Against the War and regularly opened his church to anti-war rallies and other progressive actions. His Fernwood United Methodist Church, on Chicago’s far South Side, showed films like Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism and Fahrenheit 9/11.
And Sampson's church is just one of many in Chicago that aggressively confronts the Bush administration’s cynical attempt to capture black mind share with its focus on God, gays and vouchers.
As I noted in my last column, the GOP is trying to hitch a ride on Christian piety into the black community. But that ride is getting rather bumpy. In January, an unprecedented gathering of the nation’s four largest black Baptist groups issued a joint statement that basically repudiated the thrust of the GOP's outreach efforts. The group gave short shrift to issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, heavily pushed by Bush's evangelical supporters.

Ben Terrall's "Democracy’s Death: Haitian dissidents find themselves the targets of massive repression" is worth noting:

In sync with its grandiose claims about building democracy in the Middle East, the Bush administration is promoting new elections in Haiti in October and November as the great hope for the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Yet, while Washington provides diplomatic, political and military support for the Haitian government of Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, hooded police and death squads are systematically repressing political supporters of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Aristide's Lavalas Party is still the Haitian political organization with the most popular support by a large margin. Months after the February 29, 2004, coup that drove Aristide from office, Conrad Tribble of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince conceded, "If there were an election held today, Lavalas would win." But today, Lavalas partisans can barely go outdoors safely, while the right-wing paramilitary leader Guy Philippe, who was trained by U.S. Special Forces in Ecuador in the '90s, has launched his own political party, the Front for National Reconstruction.
In the beginning of February 2004, Philippe led U.S.-trained paramilitaries across the border from the Dominican Republic in attacks on Haiti's second largest city, Cap-Haitien. Also directing the paramilitary attacks was Louis-Jodel Chamblain, former second-in-command of the Revolutionary Front for Haitian Advancement and Progress, an anti-Lavalas death squad that the CIA helped create in 1993. In the following two weeks, these forces emptied Haiti's prisons; among those set free were anti-Aristide death squad veterans from the 1991–1994 coup period. The new regime has now filled the jails with government officials, teachers and Lavalas supporters.

Lastly, we'll note House Rep. Bernie Sanders' "Remote Control:"

In recent years, the Republican leadership has used unprecedented measures to crush dissent in Congress. During the recent passage of the Bankruptcy Bill, for example, no opposition amendments were allowed on the floor of the House--effectively silencing public debate of the bill.
Perhaps the most blatant example of intolerance for dissenting viewpoints, however, comes from Bush himself, who is currently traveling the country holding "town meetings" on his Social Security privatization plan. Despite the fact that these ostensibly public meetings are paid for by taxpayers, American citizens who disagree with Bush are not allowed to attend.
It is in this context of an overall attack on dissenting opinions that the effort to censor cable and satellite TV becomes truly frightening. This is not simply about cleaning up offensive content; it is about the extreme right wing pushing to limit the free exchange of ideas. The time has come for all Americans who love freedom to let the government know that they don’t want Uncle Sam turning into Big Brother.

There are many other articles and columns worth reading so remember these were highlights.

We'll also note the following as soon as it's available:

Light and Solidarity
By Erin Mosely
Susan Plum is challenging the Mexican government’s massive failure to effectively investigate and halt the killing spree in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, which has taken the lives of more than 370… This article will be available soon.

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