Sunday, July 03, 2005

A note to our readers

We were all prepared to execute a humorous theme this weekend. We'd tossed around a few ideas. We'd even written some paragraphs. Then came the Friday when everything changed -- Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement was announced.

In the midst of the shock we knew a funny issue wasn't the way to go this weekend. Besides, our laughter was lost for most of Friday. (We agreed with Martha that a laugh was needed by Friday evening, needed really bad.)

So what you've got on your screens (or some of you in your hands because we do distribute this on recycled paper) isn't anything we can say we planned or intended.

We think our message gets across more often from the strength of our convictions than our actual words this edition. Originally, our goal was to give you an editiorial to think about and one hard hitting story. Along with that, we'd offer up amusements on topics like reading, music and TV.

We moved away from that because "Karla" was the first to share her story with us. And it was a very big thing for her. And she figured, it's online, it will help people. To be quite honest, nobody really noticed it online. We got a few e-mails on it and that was about all. The print edition we put out on campus did get attention. But Karla shared her story hoping that it could help someone. It wasn't easy for her to share the story. (And Jim nearly scared her off.) We never forgot that and have always felt like somehow we let her down. We didn't know what we were doing blog wise. It was our first edition. Maybe we should have e-mailed it around. But we do feel to this day that we let her down.

Proving that nothing dies online, C.I. highlighted it on Friday in full. C.I. called Ava to make sure and we were more than happy to share anything with C.I. (It works both ways.) We also thought maybe a few more people would see it.

Never underestimate the power of The Common Ills community as Rebecca will tell you.

By that evening we'd had fifty e-mails on it. They continue to come in and Dona's count is that we're at slightly over 500 now. Knowing how difficult it was for Karla to share it and knowing that what sold her on sharing was that her story would get out, we're really thrilled that almost six months later people finally know what she went through.

We haven't seen Karla since May. We don't have her e-mail. But maybe she saw her story at The Common Ills. Or maybe she'll check in here this week since she knows we are firmly pro-choice and wonders what we've got to say about the issue of Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement.
If she reads this, Karla, we thanked you in January when you were brave enough to share your story and we thank you for it now. But there are a lot of e-mails that have come in that are thanking you too. You kept saying that it wasn't something you wanted to discuss but you'd do it because it might help someone. If you were reading the e-mails, you'd see that you have helped a lot of people. We're sorry that we didn't know what we were doing and that we let you down. But finally, people know of your story and it's moved them or helped them relate to something in their own lives. Your goal was achieved and, again, we thank you.

We had talked about how if time was really tight this summer we'd rerun some articles we were proud of. Karla's story was one we all agreed we'd rerun. Our readership has increased since then and we figured that it was an important story and one worth trying to get out one more time. Due to the announcement of O'Connor's retirement, we're rerunning it this week.

We're also spotlighting our very wise and kind friend/mentor/colleague Kat who's made a point to go on the record that she's had an abortion. We thank her for allowing us to reprint her entry.

We also share Folding Star's thoughts on O'Connor's announcement (thank you, Folding Star).

Our blog spotlight goes to Mike of Mikey Likes It! As promised last week, we have an interview with Mike this issue. We think we freaked him out with our Chinese zodiac talk! But Mike's a great guy and a welcome addition to the community of Common Ills members who have started their own sites.

Our editorial is on Karl Rove. Read it and you'll see why.

We did a roundtable at the last minute. We weren't sure where it would go but C.I. was working on an entry for The Common Ills and felt there was too much anger to write it. C.I. suggested a round table and it seemed a great way for all of us to go on the record as supporting reproductive rights. That includes abortion. A lot of times things are dressed in fancy language or pretty phrases that convey all that they mean. So let us be clear that we are pro-choice and that means we support legalized abortion.

We didn't think we could do an editorial on it (because we're so angry). So instead we did an essay as we do from time to time.

So where is the TV review, you all ask. It is the most popular feature week in and week out. Ava's off helping C.I. over at The Common Ills so we'll say thank you to them and we'll say we're sorry to them.

We place tremendous demands on them each week. Their piece is our calling card. Week in, week out, readers come here just for that and don't hesitate to let us know (as when one edition didn't contain a review by them). Most of the time readers will go on check out the editorial and at least one other feature. ("Five Books, Five Minutes" is becoming a popular feature and will return next week.) But we know that a lot of readers come here (or read the print edition) just for that review. We hear about it in e-mails, we hear about it from our friends and family. "I laughed so hard!" "I couldn't belive they said that!" "I'd forgotten all about ___ until they brought it up in their review!"

So that puts a lot of pressure on them. And we sometimes add to the pressure like when we spring a theme (humor issue! 60's edition!) on them at the last or near the last minute. We all tend to expect them to write on demand. This week, we were really wanting them to address Bully Boy's press conference. They wanted to address Summerland. But they taped the press conference and said they'd think about it. We didn't hear another word on it until C.I. posted at The Common Ills that they might, might, review it. We made a case for it and all but demanded/ordered that they do it.

They're not really thrilled with what's up here. We think that has to do with being forced into writing something at a time when they both didn't see anything humorous in the Bully Boy. (O'Connor's retirement changed a lot of things.) We read it and we laughed off asses off. Normally, we post it and then read it right before we get this note to the readers completed. Here we read it first it. They were very down on it.

We were thinking, "Okay, we forced them into this. We owe it to them to fix it." It doesn't need fixing. It's perfect (and perfectly funny and perfectly to the point) as it is. And Ty reminded us that they tend to hate everything after they finish it anyway. It's only a few days later or a week later that they'll agree there was "one" funny part. So although great writers and great TV critics, we don't think they're that good at evaluating their own TV reviews!

Rebecca's shared her opinions on how the two of them got together and they coincide with the way we remember it. They were the ones from the start off to the side making jokes while we were being serious about the TV reviews. We would laugh, if we were paying attention, but we'd think, "Funny, now let's get back to work." And as Ty's saying right now, it was honestly a little shocking because we'd never heard Ava cut up like up that. Team her up with C.I. and the two of them can't stop cracking jokes unless it's time to make a political point (and if they combine a political point with a joke . . .). At the end of the spring semester, and Ava may be embarrassed by this if she reads it, one of our favorite professors made a point of telling Ava how alive her writing was now. We agree and wish we could claim credit for that but that's through her and C.I. As Rebecca's noted, C.I. gave Ava the encouragement that we didn't make time for. Probably because we expect things to be good and probably because we're all a little competative. Ava's not competative. And to her, it probably seemed like she wasn't appreciated so let us say "for the record" that we always appreciated you Ava, we just didn't realize how much we appreciated you.

People ask, when they see the profile, why "Ava." That's how she's listed. When Mike started blogging, C.I. referred to him as "Michael" repeatedly. And when asked why, C.I. explained in a post that there was already a member who'd been quoted as "Mike." (The member has decided to go with Michael and let Mike take Mike which is no doubt going to cause a little confusion for anyone who's on holiday and comes back without reading about that.) Ava was a Common Ills member (still is) and there was already someone with her first name. To avoid confusion, she went by her middle name. Her family does call her that (and they call her "Ave Maria" as well) but it's her middle name. At some point, we'll get off our lazy butts and take out the quotation marks because to anyone who comes here, she's Ava.

I explained the whole Ava and C.I. teaming (I being Jim) at The Common Ills on Friday but we all wanted to make a point to say that we didn't realize how strong and talented Ava was. And that we didn't give the encouragement we should have. Before anyone writes in, "Is Ava leaving!" No, she's not leaving. (But she will take over The Common Ills if C.I. steps down for health reasons. And C.I.'s noted that at The Common Ills so we don't feel like we're talking out of school.) (And if anyone could carry it on the spirit, it's Ava. But naturally, we don't want to see that day come not just because we like working with Ava here.)

So we think there's something of value in this edition and we hope you find something that makes you laugh or makes you angry. We'd e-mailed Colin that we would do a "Dear Third Estate Sunday Review" this edition. We e-mailed that on Tuesday. Obviously everything changed Friday. We'll try to get one in the next edition.

We thank Rebecca for all her help (editorial, roundtable, interview with Mike, essay), we thank Betty for all her help (the same minus the interview) and Kat (the same minus interview). We thank Mike for agreeing to be interviewed and for his help with the editorial, roundtable and essay. Honorary Third Estate Sunday Reviewer C.I. helped with everything but this note and the interview. (And of course co-wrote the TV review with Ava.)

We thank Dallas for, as always, hunting down links. Dallas, we'd love for you to be a participant in a roundtable. And we thank Ruth for words of encouragement this week when we told her we weren't sure (on Friday afternoon) that we could even put together an edition this week because we were so angry and mad. We'll also thank Bill Scher just because he's a good guy.

-- Jim, Dona, Jess, Ty and Ava (here in spirit although off co-writing with C.I.)

P.S. And we thank Maria and C.I. for allowing us to repost her Democracy Now! post. Get the word out that Democracy Now! is offering Headlines in Spanish.

Editorial: Karl Got Fingered

Where do you go to the get news? BuzzFlash is a one stop source. Go there and you'll find all the links to what's going on and what's going down. Did The Times bury it on A16? Never fear, BuzzFlash will put it up where you can't miss it.

So when word broke that Karl Rove was being fingered as the source for the outing of Valerie Plame and that news would break this weekend, we knew we'd be going to be BuzzFlash and that the topic of Karl Got Fingered would be our editorial.

Via Buzzflash, here's what known.

Greg Mitchell's "MSNBC Analyst Says Cooper Documents Reveal Karl Rove as Source in Plame Case:"

Now that Time Inc. has turned over documents to federal court, presumably revealing who its reporter, Matt Cooper, identified as his source in the Valerie Plame/CIA case, speculation runs rampant on the name of that source, and what might happen to him or her. Friday night, on the syndicated McLaughlin Group political talk show, Lawrence O'Donnell, senior MSNBC political analyst, claimed to know that name--and it is, according to him, top White House mastermind Karl Rove.
Today, O'Donnell went further, writing a brief entry at the Huffington Post blog:"I revealed in yesterday's taping of the McLaughlin Group that Time magazine's e-mails will reveal that Karl Rove was Matt Cooper's source. I have known this for months but didn't want to say it at a time that would risk me getting dragged into the grand jury.

Richard B. Schmit's "Rove says he didn't reveal secrets to reporters:"

Karl Rove, one of President Bush's closest advisers, spoke with a Time magazine reporter days before the name of a CIA operative surfaced in the media, but did not leak the confidential information, a lawyer for Rove said today in a new admission in the case.
Rove spoke to Time reporter Matthew Cooper in July 2003, during the week before published reports revealed the identity of operative Valerie Plame, the wife of Bush administration critic and former U.S. envoy Joseph C. Wilson IV.

Michael Isikoff's "The Rove Factor? Time magazine talked to Bush's guru for Plame story:"

At issue is the story of a CIA-sponsored trip taken by former ambassador (and White House critic) Joseph Wilson to investigate reports that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium from the African country of Niger. "Some government officials have noted to Time in interviews... that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," said Cooper's July 2003 Time online article.
Now the story may be about to take another turn. The e-mails surrendered by Time Inc., which are largely between Cooper and his editors, show that one of Cooper's sources was White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, according to two lawyers who asked not to be identified because they are representing witnesses sympathetic to the White House. Cooper and a Time spokeswoman declined to comment. But in an interview with NEWSWEEK, Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, confirmed that Rove had been interviewed by Cooper for the article. It is unclear, however, what passed between Cooper and Rove.

[. . .]
Initially, Fitzgerald's focus was on Novak's sourcing, since Novak was the first to out Plame. But according to Luskin, Rove's lawyer, Rove spoke to Cooper three or four days before Novak's column appeared. Luskin told NEWSWEEK that Rove "never knowingly disclosed classified information" and that "he did not tell any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA." Luskin declined, however, to discuss any other details. He did say that Rove himself had testified before the grand jury "two or three times" and signed a waiver authorizing reporters to testify about their conversations with him. "He has answered every question that has been put to him about his conversations with Cooper and anybody else," Luskin said. But one of the two lawyers representing a witness sympathetic to the White House told NEWSWEEK that there was growing "concern" in the White House that the prosecutor is interested in Rove. Fitzgerald declined to comment.
In early October 2003, NEWSWEEK reported that immediately after Novak's column appeared in July, Rove called MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews and told him that Wilson's wife was "fair game." But White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters at the time that any suggestion that Rove had played a role in outing Plame was "totally ridiculous." On Oct. 10, McClellan was asked directly if Rove and two other White House aides had ever discussed Valerie Plame with any reporters. McClellan said he had spoken with all three, and "those individuals assured me they were not involved in this."

What else did McClellan say? John of AMERICAblog's "McClellan said leaker should be fired:", September 29, 2003:
McClellan said that if anyone at the White House leaked Plame's identity, he should be fired, and pursued to the "fullest extent."

"No one was authorized to do this. That is simply not the way this White House operates and if someone leaked classified information it is a very serious matter," he said.

It's all such high drama. What's a person to do but cite the soundtrack of Evita?

Where do we go from here?
This isn't where we intended to be
We had it all, you believed in me
I believed in you
Certainties disappear
What do we do for our dream to survive?
How do we keep all our passions alive,
As we used to do?

Karl, you're breaking our hearts, honest, you are. But might we suggest you try another tune besides "You Must Love Me" with your Bully Boy? (Lyrics by Tim Rice, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, sung by Madonna.)

You're the hired help. You knew that when you first got your "big break" of driving around the Bully when Bully wasn't nationwide. You knew that when Karen Hughes was outranking you in 1999. Scraping and bowing didn't hurt, but it didn't keep you in the Bully Boy's good graces. No, what kept you there was you could deliver.

And Karl, you're finally historically famous. Bully's Brain just became a footnote to history. Guilty or innocent, you'll always be mentioned as someone who ran a presidential campaign and was called before a grand jury to testify on outing a CIA agent. Kind of hard to wrap the flag around that, isn't it?

Us, we're hoping you'll soon be "Going down the Perp Walk Road/ You never wanted to go/ Down the perp walk road . . ." (play on "Stoney End" written by Laura Nyro and off her album The First Songs). Won't you look quite fetching in an orange jump suit?

We're trying to figure how it will play out now that you're a liability? Will it be like a scene from The Godfather and you'll be told "You're dead to me." Or will it be like Goodfellas when Paulie shoves some bills in Henry's pocket and tells him he's cutting off all contact?

It's The Odd Couple in reverse. Can one man and his brain live apart without driving each other crazy? That's right, there's a chance that Bully and his Brain might have to be pulled apart from this.

How you holding up, Karl? We're sure you've got a couple of backup plans. Who knows, maybe one of them will work for you? How does it feel though to know you've been implicated and that, no matter what else you do, that is now your historical legacy?

Hey, maybe you can make it work for you. G. Gordon Liddy's been able to rant and rave on AM radio. And even write about ethics (!) for Murdoch's TV Guide. (Check it, it's true.) So you can probably still make a living. You're a historical footnote now. Your credibility is shot.

How does it feel? McClellan says it's a very serious matter, says anyone who leaked it should be fired. Maybe he's just trash talking and you can still run his mother's campaign? What do you think?

Us, we think things are getting very interesting as they heat up. The body can't even scare the public anymore and the "brain" is somehow involved with the leaking of Valerie Plame's name.
And as this story unfolds, don't you think that already on the record "fair game" comment is going to haunt you? "Fair game?" From the flag waving administration? How's that going to play, Karl? We're sure you've already polled on that.

We're wondering if the next announcement will be that you've left the administration to "spend more time with my family."

But it doesn't matter. You're a historical footnote now. This is how you'll be known: the "brain" forced to testify before the grand jury in an investigation to the leaking of the name of a CIA agent. Doesn't play very patriotic, does it, Karl?

TV Review: Make Room for Bully

After two weeks of body wash operettas, it was like a spray of Axe on our skins to watch something where thirty-year-olds didn't pretend to be high schoolers. And we were so excited to discover that Tuesday night would feature a brave programming choice in a nation grown timid -- Make Room for Bully!

That's what we dubbed it because, honestly, we must have missed the opening credits. Our apologies to our loyal readers for that but, believe us, no one regrets that more than we do. We've tried to imagine the theme song that played over those opening credits:

He's screwed up Afghanistan
Turned Iraq into the killing land
Make Room for Bully
Make Room for Bully
Bully Boy is on his way.

We pictured that theme playing while he wonders around the oval office, shaking hands, flipping the bird and choking on pretzels. We especially liked the choking on the pretzel because it would be kind of like when Dick Van Dyke would trip during the opening credits of The Dick Van Dyke Show.

Tuesday was innovative television like we haven't seen since Julia Louis Dreyfuss tried to do her show in real time. Make Room for Bully appeared to run in real time as well. And no laugh track! It takes a brave spirit to put on a sitcom without the canned laughter. You're never sure if the folks watching at home will get it if you don't have laughs-a-plenty blasting through their speakers.

The star, fortunately, is a natural born comedian. We were confused early on but finally figured out it was Timothy Bottoms in the lead. (Again, we missed the opening credits.) He's gifted. He didn't break character once.

Our biggest laugh early on was when he said this line:

The troops here and across the world are fighting a global war on terror.

The troops here are fighting! We were rolling! Only someone parodying the Bully Boy could make such an idiotic comment with a straight face! What? We're under martial law?

It got better. He followed that with:

The war reached our shores on September the 11th, 2001.

See, there Timothy Bottoms and the writers were sending up the real Bully Boy's incessant attempts to make a connection between 9-11 and Iraq. That seemed a little unfair, maybe even a cheap shot, because, in real life, Bully Boy did admit there was no connection so even he wouldn't dare try to trick the people again. Would he?

Regardless, this was really strong, social commentary comedy. And we started wondering if Larry Gelbart had returned to television? Take, for example, this moment when Bottoms said, "After September the 11th, I made a commitment to the American people: This nation will not wait to be attacked again." We can imagine the protests letters from the fright wing on that. I mean Bottoms (as Bully) is admitting that he did nothing before the attacks of 9-11. (Well, he "waited.") Bottoms (as Bully) is admitting that only after the attacks did he make a committment to national security. That was pointed commentary.

We're sure lines like that scared off the sponsors (the program aired commercial free).
We're sorry that the emperor has no clothes but don't blame the comedy writers for sending up the obvious.

And to those watching tonight who are considering a military career, there is no higher calling than service in our armed forces.

No higher calling? A line like that only works because in real life the Bully Boy has made statements like that about teachers and mothers and assorted other groups before. It's completley meaningless and for the writers to put it in the part where Bottoms is talking about the lives lost (and saying he's seen "the pictures" -- not of coffins!) makes it especially biting and strong.

Bottoms is giving empty lip service (he captured that perfectly!) when reciting the lines on "sacrifice." The character he's playing is infamous not just for "Bring it on" but also for the "brave" sacrifice of giving up sweets when Operation Enduring Falsehood began. Judging by the size of the Bully's gut during the 2004 campaign, that's just one more promise he broke.

Here are the words of Osama bin Laden.

That line may have crossed the line since in real life Bully Boy's gone from "Wanted Dead or Alive" to "Who cares?" But we think with brave writing, you give a little leeway to the ones willing to go out on limb since so many people just recycle the obvious. Here were writers trying to send up the Bully Boy and coming up with things that even he would never say.

Yes, we're focusing a great deal on the writing -- that's because there really wasn't much action. Bottoms basically stood at the podium for about an hour. The extras they got to play the crowd were perfection. If only the real Bully Boy's speech could be greeted with such silence, huh? Would that not say once and for all that the tide has turned, hit the lights and go home because Bully Boy is so out of here?

Bottoms deserves an Emmy. He not only had the mannerisms down (from the idiotic blank expression to that smug smile), he also demonstrated the core of the character: a man completely divorced from reality, willing to resort to any lie to fool the people.

We do have some concerns about future episodes. The real-time thing has never really worked (even with the drama 24, you're talking about a specialized audience -- read "small"). It was a bravo performance from Bottoms. Okay, we saw it, we know he can do it. Now stick to rounding out the supporting cast.

Obviously Bully's the madcap one, so he needs a sidekick who's a little more serious and a lot more prissy. We think they should create a character named Cheney who goes around hiding maps of the Middle East and stroking his stuffed cat that he calls Boo-Boo Kitty WMD. We think Jonathan Winters would be perfection in the role.

Yeah, it's a steal from Laverne & Shirley but imagine the opening credits as they skip down Pennsylvania Avenue singing "Give us any treaty we'll break it . . ."

And think of how humorous it would be if Bottoms had a big "B" on all his outfits. Especially if they dressed him up in military garb! The AWOL Bully in military garb would bring the house down. It would be "high-larious" to use a word none of the kids are saying but What I Like About You tries to convince us they are.

The biggest obstacle we can see is the lack of sex appeal. We're sure Bottoms tickled everyone's funny bone Tuesday night but with that squat figure and the hair that screams "I Remember Mama!" we're just not sure that people would tune in each Tuesday. There's got to be some eye candy and, frankly, what we saw on our screens Tuesday night was physically repugnant, if not repulsive.

So we started wondering who they could bring on to up the sex quotient?

Then we remembered that Nick Lachey. He truly has no career beyond serving as a display model for Jessica Simpson. So what about Lachey?

He's already guested on Hope & Faith this year as well as Charmed. We suggest that they bring him on. (Bring Him On! We even amuse ourselves!) Granted, with his fading teen-throb looks and stiff mannerism, there's not much he'd be believable as. Then we remembered how a certain hairball was all the rage in the nineties until he became All Too Human and now hosts a chat & chew. Maybe a character who had something to do with the press would work for Lachey?

We were just brain storming and trying to come up with the wildest premise, high concept comedy, when we thought, "What if he regularly attends press conferences and asks really stupid questions?" Okay, it could work (and wouldn't require Lachey to stretch as an "actor"), but what's the back story?

Here's the high concept part, he's not really a reporter! No, he's not. He's a male porn star. Maybe a male prostitute!

Now we know that seems unbelievable and could never happen -- a male prostitute/porn star in a White House press conference! -- but comedy is about inflating reality. So suspend your disbelief and just picture Lachey in that role. We even have a name for the character: Jeff Guckert! "Guckert!" It's got yucks all over it (at least we hope those are yucks) -- just saying it makes you laugh.

So we've got the sidekick Cheney (Winters) and we've got the sex appeal factor with Guckert (Lachey). But we needed a strong first season storyline to make sure that the show gets picked up for the fall. What could the story arc be? We thought of a coming out episode for the Bully but Ellen's already 'been there, done that, shocked the Baptists.' So what's left? We finally had to put the storyline arc on hold and focus on something else. But that was okay because our brainstorming had underscored how Bottoms would be playing a character who repeatedly screws up. That means we need a catch phrase!

Fonzie had "Aaaay." Arnold had, "What you talking 'bout Willis?" Dee had "I'm telling!" What could be Bully's catch phrase?

We had trouble with this one. Maybe when ever things lagged, this was one idea, Bully could start nosing around the basement apartment he shares with Cheney and saying dopey things like, "Those weapons of mass destruction have to be around here somewhere." But then we thought, "Surely no one would be stupid enough to laugh at that." Not after all the lives lost, right? No one would, right? They'd be embarrassed to show their face if they laughed at that, right?

So what about, if every time the show lagged, Bottoms turned to the camera (a la Norman Fell) and asked, "What Downing Street Memo?" We think it would bring the house down, show after show.

Bottoms proved Tuesday night that he's perfectly captured the Bully Boy's essence (aggressive posturing and little activity in the brain). But we worry that if the show isn't fleshed out with other characters and other sets, it's a one trick pony. We hope that Gelbart, or whomever was behind the hilarity on Tuesday, we'll give serious consideration to bringing on a supporting cast. Maybe a someone who worships the boss and always almost calls him her "husband" while sporting a hair cut that appears to be a homage to Peanut's Lucy?

We finally did figure out the season one arc that would make the network pick up the show for this fall: impeachment!

All season long, Bottoms would play the bumbling fool and all around him people would be revealed to be liars (and worse) as we worked up to the season ending cliffhanger where Bottoms gets told the House has just voted to impeach him. As the shot tightens, Bottoms turns to the camera and says "What Downing Street Memo?" Freeze frame, stamp on production credit and then a dissolve.

Roundtable V: abortion, control, our bodies

Ava: The roundtable this edition is on choice. Participating are Ty, Jess, Jim and Dona of The Third Estate Sunday Review, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Kat of Kat's Korner and C.I. of The Common Ills. Open question, what's the biggest surprise to you about Sandra Day O'Connor's announced retirement?

Jim: That we're surprised. I was surprised but I shouldn't have been. This is the justice who had a fit when the predicition on election night 2000 was that Gore had won.

C.I.: I'm jumping in because I'm pissed off, mad and unable to do an entry which is why I suggested a roundtable. In 1991, Anita Hill testified before the Senate Judiciary Committeee. It is fourteen years later. In 1991, the committee was composed of all white males. Fourteen years later, the best we can do is one female? That's unacceptable.

Dona: Who's the one female?

C.I.: Diane Feinstein.

Kat: And Biden still sits on the committee.

C.I.: Exactly. He was chair of the committee in 1991. The committee that refused to call supporting witnesses for Hill. What he's still doing on the committee is anyone's guess.

Betty: I saw the note on the Sunday Chat & Chews and how all the guests who could offer opinions were male.

Jess: Yeah, wasn't that disgusting?

Rebecca: What's more disgusting is the way that vote went. And it should be noted that Democrats controlled the senate in 1991.

C.I.: Correct. And one of the strongest voices for Hill was Paul Simon who's now deceased. There's something really clear if you read those statements from the Senate floor. The issue, and Bob Somerby could do a strong critique of this, wasn't Hill's statements. Republicans and some Democrats made the issue, "How did the press get ahold of this! I'm outraged!" And on the Democrat side, you had senators more concerned with making sure everyone knew it wasn't them that leaked than fighting the battle.

Ty: You're saying they, the Republicans, made a charge and made the battle about that.

C.I.: Yeah, you can't go back and read the statements without that coming through loud and clear. Of course Thomas tried to set it up as "If you don't vote for me you're lynching me!" And that's commented on a great deal. But there's another thing going on, the constant attacks on the leaker and the constant refrains of "It wasn't me." The nomination should have never left the committee. And all the two faced [John] Breauxs who felt the need to not just vote in favor of Thomas but to endorse him from the Senate floor --

Ty: Okay, I'm sorry but Democrats controlled the Senate? I'll be the one to say, "I'm too young to remember."

C.I.: Yes, they did. And the chair of the committee was Joe Biden and they couldn't stop Thomas.

Betty: Who got away with claiming he'd never given any thought to Roe v. Wade.

Ty: So if they couldn't stop Thomas who was clearly anti-choice even with Anita Hill stepping forward to talk about the sexual harrassment, what does that mean today when the Democrats don't have the majority in the Senate?

Dona: And when they've been good lap dogs and allowed themselves to be painted into a corner on the filibuster.

Kat: It means this is war. Kim Gandy [President of NOW] and others aren't just making rhetorical statements. You've had appointees since Thomas but they've came from Clinton. If Rehnie had stepped down it didn't mean shit. He's not a Roe vote. O'Connor was one, not a strong one, but Roe wouldn't be overturned by her vote. Now we're in a position where Roe may very well be overturned. And if you've forgotten some of the male Dems have made public statements about how that wasn't a reality in the recent past. They've made charges of fear mongering on the part of feminist groups. This isn't fear mongering, this is reality.

Dona: Look, I've never not voted Democrat. We lose Roe, I'm Green. I'm not kidding.

Jim: Which is a good point because if the Democrats do not get behind Roe they can't hold it over anyone's heads ever again. They've often played the Roe card. Vote for us if you want to preserve Roe. Then they've fulfilled that aspect to a degree but gone off and trashed other issues that we believe in. If they let O'Connor be replaced by an anti-choice judge, they've lost a huge number of voters.

Kat: Amen to that. I do vote Green locally. But on national offices, I have voted Democratic. They give away Roe they lose my vote.

Betty: I'm honestly shocked that we're sitting around talking about this because a week ago I wouldn't have even thought it was possible. I mean this is really, really frightening.

Jess: And people need to realize that Roe is just the most obvious right to privacy case.

C.I.: Right. Toss out Roe and then you go after Loving, Griswold, Lawrence . . . Just go down the list. These assholes aren't concerned with your right to privacy, they want to destroy your right to privacy.

Rebecca: Perfect example, the hideous John Cornyn.

C.I.: John Corny, famous, infamous, to community members for replying to a constituent's concerns over J-Ass's destruction of civil liberties with a letter saying, "I've forwarded your letter to John Ashcroft."

Betty: What a man, what a man, what a sorry, sorry, sorry man.

Jim: What's the easiest way for Bully Boy to get an anti-choice nominee confirmed.

Rebecca: Little to no paper trail on the nominee.

Ty: Person of color.

Kat: I don't think the Dems have it in them to filibuster. I hope I'm wrong, I'll gladly be wrong, but I don't see it happening. By the way, let me go on record here, I had an abortion.

Dona: You talked about that in the gina & krista round-robin. I was just reading that this morning.

Kat: I posted on it. I didn't go into it in my post. I just said I had one. I also linked to Mike's post this morning.

Ava: Which is Mike of Mikey Likes It! A community member of The Common Ills who just started a site recently and is joining us for his first round-table.

Jess: Be prepared to jump in Mike.

Mike: Well I was just listening. C.I.'s really angry.

C.I.: I am. The treatment of Anita Hill enraged me in 1991 and for many years after. Going through the transcripts today, it brought it all back and when I look to the members currently on the judiciary committee and see that after Anita Hill we're apparently supposed to be thrilled that one woman, one woman, sits on the commmittee . . .

Dona: That is nonsense. The Republicans have no respect for women, but Democrats are supposed to be different.

Rebecca: Which is what we'll see by the way they handle the nominee. Can the committee bury it?

C.I.: A nominee? As I understand it, any member of the committee can put a one week hold on any nomination without providing a reason for the hold.

Kat: If it leaves committee, it's war. Dems will have to filibuster.

Mike: I got a nasty e-mail today already on being pro-choice. Not from a right winger. Guy says that it's destroying the party and something about Casey somebody.

Betty: Little Junior Casey who's anti-choice and set to run against mad dog Santorum.

Jim: Casey Junior polls well early on but that's early on. The biggest mistake the Democratic party made was getting behind that jerk.

Dona: It's the big tent bullshit. "We don't have to agree on all issues, come into the tent."

Ty: And the issues the big tenters always trash are the rights of women and minorities.

Kat: John Kerry, and I'll say it, made a huge mistake by being silent on choice.

Dona: Oh, I agree! And that's what you heard on campus. "Is he for abortion?" If he'd come out strongly in favor of choice, he would have had more votes.

Betty: Because this effects women's lives. I've never had an abortion but I have the right to that option. It's nobody's damn business.

Kat: I made that point in my post. Maggie, a friend of mine, was making the point Betty's making. She is pro-choice. She's not had an abortion but damned if anyone's going to determine her rights for her.

Betty: Exactly. Who do they think they are? It's my damn body, keep your leglislation off it. It's my business and no one else's.

Rebecca: Until privacy rights are chipped away and then you have no right to expect anyone to stay out of your business.

Mike: It's been surreal at my house since yesterday. My parents are both firmly pro-choice and they can't believe how in one day so much has changed.

Ty: It really has changed. You woke up on Friday and it seemed like your average day, who knew how it would go. You wake up Saturday and you're living in a different world where suddenly you and everyone you know is at risk. I don't want to make O'Connor out into a hero, she gave us Bully Boy after all, but compared to the other zealots, she was someone you maybe had a chance with. Maybe affirmative-action had a chance, maybe abortion had a chance, maybe gay rights had a chance, just go down the list. Now we're living in a completely different landscape. I called home this morning and talked to my mother and was asking her if people back there get what it at stake. She said she was surprised but that everyone in the neighborhood got it.

Ava: Is it a multi-racially neighborhood?

Ty: No, it's all black. And we get what's at stake. We know what Bully Boy thinks of us. We know, in my neighborhood, that after they dismantle Roe the next step will be to go after other rights and to destroy any hope of an even playing field.

Rebecca: Roe is the first line of attack for the fright wing. And once they topple it, everyone is in danger.

Betty: I don't, I've never gotten, the opposition. You don't want an abortion, don't have one.

Ava: They would say "it's murder." For readers, I'm firmly pro-choice, but stuck playing moderator.

Betty: Well let God decide that. What kind of churches did these freaks go to because the stuff that spills out of their lunatic mouths isn't like anything I've ever heard in my life and, I mean, my family is huge on church, I'm from the south, and I've probably missed a Sunday five days in my entire life. Everyone of those times I was sick except for once when I was in labor. But then my church has a long history of social activism. We're not all about building the bowling alley to supposedly glorify God. Their statements are disgusting and their mistaking a place of worship for a mini-mall is disgusting.

Jess: Well --

Betty: To me! I better add that. Sorry, Jess.

Jess: No problem. But the thing is, the movement to legalize abortion included churches. We don't know our own history because we're not told of it and all the networks want to do is put on some money grabber with some mill school divinity degree claiming to speak for Jesus while he fleeces the flock. If you're living it up, got the high life and the big house, there's no excuse for anyone in your congregation to go wanting but the reality is a lot of these assholes are rich beyond belief and the people scrapping together pennies to send in will continue to struggle.

C.I.: "Oh come let us adore . . . me." Joni Mitchell, "Tax Free" off the Dog Eat Dog album.

Jim: We're doing a Joni Mitchell thing this issue. I don't know what's going to happen. But, and I could be wrong, I think Democrats in the Senate get how important this is. I'm not arguing that they care one way or another. I am saying that they must realize that this is the card they play and if they let Roe be overturned, they've got little else to play.

Mike: C.I. had a thing that I loved, so did my mother, about reactions on the news. There was a thing in there about framing choice right out of the picture.

C.I. Right, Katha Pollitt. Writing for The Nation. "If the Frame Fits . . ."

Ava: Which I grabbed from the print edition. I wanted to read the second to last paragraph from that:

There's a word that doesn't show up much in the new abortion frames: women. Maybe it doesn't poll well. "Reframing" abortion is actually a kind of deframing, a way of taking it out of its real-life context, which is the experience of women, their bodies, their healthcare, their struggles, the caring work our society expects them to do for free. Lynn Paltrow, the brilliant lawyer who runs National Advocates for Pregnant Women, thinks the way to win grassroots support for abortion rights is to connect it to the whole range of reproductive and maternal rights: the right to have a home birth, to refuse a Caesarean section, to know that a miscarriage or stillbirth--or simply taking a drink--will not land you in jail. The same ideology of fetal protection that anti-choicers wield against abortion is used against women with wanted pregnancies. More broadly, Paltrow argues that the right to abortion would have more support if it were presented as just one of the things women need to care for their families, along with paid maternity leave, childcare, quality healthcare for all, economic and social support for mothers and children, strong environmental policies that protect fetuses and children.

Kat: Which goes to the core of it. We've got male leadership that's uncomfortable around the topic. But what aren't they squeamish on when it comes to women's medical procedures? They may not think that the female body is dirty, they may though, but I know men who will go on and on about their prostate exam, but turn squeamish if you discuss a pap smear.

Rebecca: Exactly. Or, for all their love of breasts, and obviously, Kat and I are speaking of straight men here, if you talk about your breast exam.

Kat: But put a woman in stirrups and suddenly they're wanting you to describe that or wondering if the gynocolist would let them watch.

C.I.: For no other reason then to toss something out, Michelle Phillips doctor did let Warren Beatty watch when they were an item.

Rebecca: Woah. And I felt sorry for him when Madonna was walking all over him. Anyway. I have a hard time believing that it's not because in that scenario, a woman is "restrained." But Kat's exactly right. They'll give lip service to motherhood but they are truly squeamish about anything having to do with women's bodies.

Betty: Which applies historically to the medical establishment as well which historically has focused studies on white males.

Ty: Which leavs you out twice.

Betty: Right. As a black woman, I'm left out twice. And I think Kat and Rebecca are right, it does go to a hang up with women's bodies. There are men I grew up with, for example, who will never eat pasta unless it's cooked by their wife.

Jess: What? Why?

Betty: Because of some idiotic superstition that women will use menstrual blood in the sauce to snare a man. This is, this is . . . This is the kind of fear and hatred that's out there about women's bodies. A man will go piss in the snow with his buddies. They'll write their names in the snow. But, and I'm serious about this, they'll refuse a tomato sauce for pasta because of this idiotic superstition. And a word on those men that I know who are like that, they are no prizes and they are kidding themselves if they think that any woman who could trap them would want them.

Ava: We're all kind of silent. I don't think anyone had ever heard of that before.

Betty: It's true. About the superstition being believed.

Kat: I believe you but I'm just shocked. So, I'm guessing, if they'll eat their wife's pasta, they're either not concerned with the blood itself or feel that their wives aren't interested in catching them?

Betty: I guess. It makes no sense to me.

Ty: I actually had heard that before. From my cousin but I thought he was joking. He grew up and lives just outside of Shreveport so I'm guessing it's a southern black thing. I'm surprised Ludacris or Killer Mike haven't already done a rap called "What's That in the Pot!"

Betty: But it's the "curse." Menstruation. I feel like I'm harping on that word.

Ava: Feel free to use it as much as you want. It's a natural body function.

Betty: There was an episode of Roseanne where Becky or Darlene got their period and that meant so much to me because it wasn't "Oh, this nasty thing has happened to you!" That attitude really is still out there.

Kat: It is. It's a fear of the female body. It's why people want to take power over it, men want to take power over it. It leads to terms like "unclean" and to things like wearing burkas.

Rebecca: I'm going to go completely off topic here but when Ava and C.I. reviewed One Tree Hill they were making jokes about Chad Michael Murray's nipples. Am I the only one who finds male nipples sexy? I bring it up because it goes to "cover the woman's body!" A lot of guys, and these are the kinds of topics that put the "sex" in Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, seem to think when they're parading down the street shirtless that anyone looking is checking out their pecs and thinking, "Ooooh, muscles." I'm checking out the nipples. I'm fascinated by male nipples.

Kat: We're so hung up on the female form in this country. It has to be this size and not that size, it has to be covered to this degree or you're a slut. Mike had a thing about his father popping his brother on the back of the head and I was really glad you put that in there, Mike. Because while I'm sure your brother was just mouthing off and being the smart ass you said he was, that attitude does exist.

Mike: Really? My mother read it and asked, "Why did you have to put that in?"

Kat: And I can understand where she's coming from. Mike's father has sat him down for a birds and bees discussion and his older brother --

Mike: Jack.

Kat: Jack is there and Jack's piping off throughout. And when his father explains about abortion and that their family is pro-choice, Jack pipes off that it means "If you knock up a slut, don't worry." I don't know Mike's brother and he may have just been going for a cheap laugh but that attitude is out there and I'm glad it was in Mike's entry and I was really glad that Mike's father pops Jack in the back of the head when he makes that idiotic remark.

Dona: Which gets us to another topic which is the whole slut thing. You had sex, you should suffer the consequences whatever they are.

Kat: Right the whole "you got what you deserve libertine now live with it."

Dona: Pregnancy as punishment and that's something I will never understand. On the one hand they're making these fluff remarks about how wonderful motherhood is and on the other this "noble" feat is punishment to be handed out as well.

Ava: Which is something that comes up in a lot of e-mails. People get really uncomfortable when we talk about sex.

Rebecca: Yes, they do. I get so many e-mails telling me that I should basically be a good girl and not talk about sex. I'm really glad Mike's started blogging because I enjoy what he writes but I'm also glad that I'm not the only one in the community discussing sex. And this need to keep sex hidden goes straight the fear of the female. They're hand in hand in my opinion.

Jim: And it's interesting because Mike's getting e-mails and his mother gets a little uncomfortable when he talks about sex but otherwise it's really just one person complaining.

Mike: Ma didn't want me to be smutty. She's okay with it but likes it best when it's funny.
And I'm not using "penis" and words like that. And that probably is more adult but I don't know anyone my age, of either sex, that uses "penis" except to get a laugh. And I've never heard a guy say, "Oh, my testicles hurt." It's my nuts, my balls.

Rebecca: I love what Mike's doing. But I do think that if he's talking about the heat and how it's making his cock stick to his balls, it's received in a manner that anything I could write about wouldn't be. Even if I were writing about the same thing. I could write "It was hot, the sun was beating down. Christian Parenti grabbed his package through his pants because his cock was sticking to his balls" and the e-mails would come in from all the freaks who keep complaining about the sex talk but keep, apparently, coming back.

Kat: Because you're a woman. I think Mike's cute as hell and he makes me laugh like crazy. But Rebecca makes me laugh as well and I know that a lot of people don't look at it the same way, as bookends. They think, "Oh Rebecca, don't be naughty." But with Mike, it's "He's such a guy." I don't mean that as an insult to Mike. He's doing a great job. But I do mean it as an insult to the people who gripe about Rebecca but chuckle when Mike's written something. It's more palatable for them if it comes from Mike because he's a male. He can talk about a vagina and probably not raise an eye brow because he's a male. But if a woman does the same thing, and think about Eve Ensler's play and all the uproar and protests over it, it's "For shame!" and "How dare you!" Because we aren't supposed to talk about our bodies. That's what a lot of people think. It's uncomfortable to them. And from their discomfort comes the desire for control.

Dona: And the control manifests itself as an attack on what they fear. Sex-ed, to offer an example, the objections to it, that's not about concern that little Johnny --

Rebecca: Little Mikey!

Dona: Little Mikey's going to go out and have sex with a girl. It's expected that he will. If he doesn't, then there must be something wrong with his physically -- get him to the doctor -- or else he must be gay. This isn't new, this is the double standard that's been around for years. So attacks on sex-ed aren't about the males, they're about not wanting women to be informed. Because if they're informed they might have some, key word again, control over their own bodies. Or, like Rebecca, they might talk about sex. And I love what Rebecca does for so many reasons including the fact that it says "I'm a woman and I think about sex." And it's not in a "come complete me way." Or in a "I will lay back and be proper." I also love that she talks about [Christian] Parenti or Dahr Jamail or any other guy on the left in terms of sex because I can remember being a young girl watching Family Ties with an aunt who was a teenager and she was going on and on about how sexy Alex was. Not how sexy Michael J. Fox was, but how sexy his character Alex was. The uptight prig. And I mean that's not how I see the world. Or you'll hear what a wonderful baby face William Pryor has, I had a professor who made that statement, and I'm thinking, "What the hell? Do you need glasses?" Rebecca is like other women I know. Whether they are straight or lesbian, they talk about sex. That was probably Jim's biggest surprise when we got together. I don't think he'd ever been with a woman who told him he had a great ass.

Ty: Feed his ego!

Dona: Right. I'll leave it at his ass to avoid feeding his huge ego but Jim's sexy and the first time it came up was when you [Ty] and Jess were ragging on him about that hideous pair of pants and that eye sore shirt he used to wear. He asked my opinion and I listed off his hot qualities, I won't feed his ego here, and explained how everyone of those except his eyes were destroyed with that outfit.

Rebecca: Were you surprised, Jim?

Jim: Well . . . yeah. Dona was graphic which didn't surprise me because of the language but I was kind of surprised that she knew every piece of my body the way she did let alone had an opinion on parts. Let's say it was a consciousness raising experience.

Ty: And ego lifting! Dona, you should have heard him come back to me and Jess with talk of how you thought this and you thought that.

Dona: I can picture it. I can picture him sitting in a chair and holding court on the topic. His lack of modesty is frequently his least attractive quality.

Rebecca: But no woman had ever said anything like that to you?

Jim: No. I guess I kind of thought they look and they think "nice" or "ugh" or whatever. But it was a surprise to find out how studied my body had been.

Rebecca: And that's because women are used to being picked apart. Your ass, your thighs, your breasts, your ankles, every part of the body. But men seem to think that if they are rated, it's in a pass or fail type of way. And I'm willing to bet that Jim had an opinion on every part of Dona's body and any other woman he was with before Dona. And, I'm not picking on Jim here and great that Dona could open him up to reality, that's because the male gaze can linger but the female gaze if it exists at all has to be fleeting. It's a denial of our sexuality. My ex-husband had the most amazing wrists. I just found them fascinating and sexy and he never got that.

Betty: Because, we're used to being picked apart, because we're expected to be used to the male gaze. In high school, I was with this guy on the track team. He was really good at track and I went to all the track meets and he was just surprised that I was there not because I was so proud to be with the star runner but because I thought he looked really hot in those shorts. He told me, "You're not supposed to talk like that."

Kat: Because God forbid a woman think of anything other than "some day my prince will come --"

Rebecca: "and give me a shiny kitchen!"

Kat: Right. It's a refusal to admit that women have desires. And by outlawing abortion, the hope would be that the wanton women would either curb their behavior or suffer the consequences. "Maybe I can't control your behaviro but I can make you suffer!"

Ty: I think, my theory, the reason abortion is supported by African-American women I know is because they grasp the control issue. They're well aware of how women who were brought over as slaves were bred by slave owners. It was about control over a woman's body and they can connect it to today and the attacks on reproductive freedom.

Betty: And I've got your back on that, Ty, because that's a point I've heard so many of my pro-choice female friends make. And we're not about to surrender the rights of our bodies to anyone. My grandmother's the perfect example of that. She shocked me once by saying she could never have had an abortion under any circumstance and I said, "But Granny, you're pro-choice." And she replied that she made her personal decision but no one else was going to make it for her.
The issue of "breeding" hasn't been forgotten by any of the women I know.

Ava: Jess is quiet.

Jess: I was just thinking that about C.I.

C.I.: Sorry, I was listening. And thinking about an article I read. In LiP magazine.

Rebecca: What is that?

C.I.: A magazine a member recommended. Wally in fact.

Mike: Wally is so cool. He should blog.

C.I.: He should. But he recommended it and I'm always looking for additional resources. There's this really great article by Susan Faludi entitled "Porn, Dignity & the Masculine Mantle."
I was listening and thinking about that.

Rebecca: Are you going to write up something on the article?

C.I.: Probably. If I don't, I'll pass it on over to you.

Rebecca: Pass it on over regardless. The title's intriguing and I loved Backlash.

Ava: A book that sadly never goes out of style. Sadly because it's still describing too many things that exist today.

Joni Mitchell as prophet?

Singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell has long been thought a poet due to her lyrics. But a prophet?

While madmen sitting up building bombs
And making laws and bars
They'd like to slam free choic behind us.

The news of Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement had us all thinking of Mitchell's song "The Three Great Stimulants" (off Dog Eat Dog). It's an astonishingly clear eyed critque of the Reagan era but proving that nothing much changes.

Everything comes and goes
Pleasure moves on too early
And trouble leaves too slow
Just when you're thinking
You've finally got it made
Bad news comes knocking
At your garden gate
Knocking for you

Ain't it still true? Don't it still come "Down to You" (Court & Spark)? And didn't Joni warn us in "Tax Free" (Dog Eat Dog):

Lord, there's danger in this land
You get witch-hunts and wars
When church and state hold hands.

So in a lot of ways, after the initial shock, it's really not surprising to learn that we're back at square one with choice and have to be prepared to battle if we want to keep it. But we are prepared for that fight. We hoped we'd never have to wage it but now that it's upon us, we're ready to fight.

Friday was a time of grief, anger and shock. Disbelief quickly transformed into determination. NOW held the first march Saturday. There will be many more. People will not sit back and let the Bully Boy destroy their rights. He's gotten cocky, little Bully. He's so used to intoning "9-11" and having all criticism cease.

"Not the church! Not the state! Women must choose their fate!" Get used to hearing that. And get used to hearing it from women of all ages and from men too. Right wing fanatics have been able to set the terms of this debate. A lot of people shrugged it off with little concern. Roe v. Wade was safe, so let the nut jobs have their say.

But it wasn't safe. It won't ever be safe. It took hard work to get to the point where abortion was legal. And due to fanatics, it will always take hard work to keep it legal. In our first edition, we did an article ("Abortion: Why It Still Matters") because the topic is important to us and because we know what's stake. And we, in this case, meant "Karla" who shared her story and Ty, Jess, Dona, Jim, Ava and C.I. who wrote the article. There was no other issue we could imagine addressing in our first issue because Bully Boy had just been inaugruated and reprodutive freedom is not a "side issue." Nor, as we noted in that first article, is it on the table for debate.

A lot of "friends" of abortion got to slide over the last few years. They got comfy. As long as they didn't tamper with Roe specifically, they could modify a bit here or there and we'd be angry but they could (and did) get away with it. Any "friend" who's thinking what's now at stake is something they can navigate with "moderation" is going to learn a hard lesson. We won't accept compromise on this. Roe will be protected and it will be maintained or there will be hell to pay.

All weekend we heard determined voices ready to fight this battle all out. Historically in this country, you can take something illegal and make it legal. People grow wiser, they progress. But, think of prohibition, Americans do not look fondly on attempt to take what is legal and make it illegal. That's what the Bully Boy doesn't get yet. Women who would never have an abortion, men who obviously can't, are outraged by this.

To put it in popular parlance, it's on.

[Note: All songs quoted above were written by Joni Mitchell.]

Everybody Likes Mike: the man behind Mikey Likes It!

It started in November with The Common Ills. Other sites by community members quickly followed. You're reading one. There's also Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Folding Star's A Winding Road, Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Kat's Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills) and now make way for Mikey Likes It!

At 19, Mike is the youngest member of the community thus far to start a site. He just finished his second week of blogging and we sat down with him to discuss how things are going and where he's headed.

You had a great line about blogging. You said it was like losing your cherry with the whole world watching. The following week, we felt someone attempted to steal that and did so badly. But your line was not only funny, it was very true.

Mike: Well thank you. I mean, I felt like I was fumbling around with no clue of what to do or how to do it and the comparison just seemed obvious to the first time I had sex.

Which is something, sex, you talk about a lot. You've said, "Ask me a question and I'll try to answer it" and readers have held you to do that.

Yeah, it's kind of weird. I don't mind and see it like I'm just talking with someone but every now and then, like when a friend says, "Hey, I read what you wrote" it will hit me that it's up there and anyone can read it.

And a lot of people are reading it. We got about forty e-mails this week asking us why were dissing you?

Dissing me?

We were working like crazy last weekend to get the edition up and done with and forgot, until we were doing our note to the readers about your site. We hadn't added it to our blog roll. And even with the note that gave the link to your site and noted that we would be interviewing you this week, we still got e-mails on how we were dissing you.

I was hoping to be able to help out last week but had a family reunion. We've got one this weekend too, on my mother's side this time, but it's not involving people having to fly in from all over so it's a little more low key.

The basics, as we understand them, are you're nineteen, you're Irish-American, you work part-time and are a full-time student, you're six feet and one inch, you played sports in high school, come from a large Catholic family. Did we get that right?

Yeah. That's me. Pretty boring.

And you're year of the ox, as Kat pointed out.

What's that?

You're Chinese Zodiac sign. It shows up on your profile.

Really? What's that mean?

We looked it up:

The Ox works hard, patiently, and methodically, with original intelligence and reflective thought. These people enjoy helping others. Behind this tenacious, laboring, and self- sacrificing exterior lies an active mind. While their balance and strength inspire confidence, Oxen can seem rigid, obstinate, and slow. They impress others as leaders, fearing neither responsibility nor risk. However, sometimes they must labor long hours to accomplish little. As a result, the Ox can find life's journey laborious and the rewards uncertain.

(Laughing) Now it starts off like a compliment and then it just slaps me upside the head.

There's more:

Oxen make solid, steady, reliable partners and good providers. It is better for them to be pursued than to be the hunter in selecting a mate. They can be tender, devoted, sensual even -- but they are never romantic. Very affectionate to those close to their hearts, they are cool and distant to anyone outside their emotional circle. Getting close to an Ox is a very difficult thing to do, for they hold all but their chosen few at arm's length. However, once they have committed themselves, they make loyal, steadfast lovers and are the least likely of all the signs to possess a roving eye. Casual love affairs are definitely not the Ox's style. Although they may not show it, their emotions are deep and passionate. If their love is spurned or if they should suffer a broken heart, they will retreat inside themselves and channel all their emotions into their work. Generally, they make no mistakes in their judgment of others, successfully merging their romantic and family lives. Happily settled in a contented relationship, an Ox will make a supportive and faithful partner, someone whose love grows stronger by the year and whose sterling qualities are worth his or her weight in gold.

I'm going to have to think about that. Chinese Zodiac?

Yes. You mention Fight Club as one of your favorite films on your profile and when we saw that, we thoght "Ox."

(Laughing) In a good way, right? Not like, "You dumb ox!" I like movies that are about something. I mean, I might see the Vince Vaugn thing coming out --

Wedding Crashers.

Yeah because it looks funny but I really like something that makes me think. I really liked The Jacket. And films like that.

Coming Home?

Yeah. I'm not for sure that's my favorite film with Jane Fonda. It's one of my favorites and it's what came to mind. We have all her films on videotape, or I think all of them. My parents are big fans so I grew up laughing with Nine to Five and Fun With Dick & Jane and Cat Ballou and all. And I saw the serious stuff like Julia and Coming Home and Klute and The Morning After and The Dollmaker.

You've seen a lot of her films.

My parents have almost all of them if they don't have all of them. I didn't watch a lot of cartoons growing up because I was second from the youngest so usually my older brothers and sisters were controlling the TV and it was watch what they watched or don't watch. And I saw Monster-in-Law and thought she was most excellent in that. I want to note something here that I've been meaning to talk about at my site because I had three e-mails about it. There's this thing, this talk, being put out that Monster-in-Law is a bomb. It'll crack 80 million this weekend, watch and see on Monday. Now Jennifer Lopez has really only had one film that ever made more than that, Maid In Manhattan. She had Antz but she wasn't the lead and it was a cartoon. But both of those tapped out around ninety million. If you don't count Antz, Monster-in-Law is her second highest grossing film. So I'm not getting how anyone can call Monster-in-Law a bomb. It's a hit. It might not be a blockbuster hit, but it's a hit. But there are a lot of people on the right who really want Jane Fonda to fail at whatever she does because of what she's stood for so I think it's really important to point out that Fonda's film is a hit.

Agreed. And this summer has been a very bad summer for movies. No one has any money.

I hear that. I was at the video store last night because my sister didn't want to go alone and we were looking and looking. I told her I'd treat because she kept picking up stuff and putting it back down but she said there really wasn't anything that tempted her.

Did you end up getting anything?

Yeah. Finally, we decided on this documentary on the Mamas and the Papas because that's a group that it seems like you are always talking about here. It was pretty good. Ended up dreaming that night that I was in a sixties group!

You are a big fan of the White Stripes.

Yeah, I love them. Kat's review rocked. And let me clear something else up because Kat is short for Kaitlen. I mentioned that I had a sister named Kathleen and I got like 15 e-mails asking me if Kat was my sister. She's really cool and great but we aren't related.

Kat really is cool, agreed. On our campus, peole think you're pretty cool yourself.


Yeah. When you're writing about adjustments or wet spots, we hear about it. People will come up and say, "Who is that wild guy?"

Mikey the Ox.

You're still thinking about that.

Yeah. Some of it may be true but some of it bothers me.

Well, let's talk about it. Do you pursue or are you pursued?

I've pursued but that usually bombs after a few dates. Usually, a woman comes on to me. I always feel a little dense cause my buds are all "She's so into you, Mike" and I'm all, no she's not. Then it will turn out she is.

Well that's a happy ending, no complaint on that, right?


So what bothers you?

Like the part about not ever being able to be romantic.

But your sign is affectionate.

But if oxen aren't romantic, then that means your partner might end up straying.

It actually said that, we just didn't read that part.

No shit?

It said it. It said the childhood was normal and the troubles began in marriage, that because oxen weren't romantic often there parenters would end up going outside the marriage for romance.

See, now that bothers me. I guess I can work on it. If it's true!

When you answered the first e-mail question, did you have any idea what you were going to be getting into?

About sex? No. I mean I talk about sex, we all talk about sex. But I didn't realize it was going to be like my thing.

But you answered a question, on your profile, here's the question: "If you were a cannibal, what would you wear to dinner?" Here's your answer: "Just the bone, just the bone. Munch on that."

Yeah, but it doesn't even make sense, you know? I mean it would if I was having dinner with cannibals. I was just trying to think of something that would make people laugh. And C.I. was talking me through the whole thing and we'd been on the phone forever so I felt awful about that. I kept changing my template and I know C.I. probably wanted to yell, "It's fine! Stick with one choice!" I must have changed it eight or nine times. And when I was on my profile, same thing. I didn't like any of the questions. You guys got a cool question. So I was looking and looking and realized C.I. was waiting on my slow ass so I went with that question. But, yeah, you're right. That probably accounts for some of the sex questions. (Laughing) "Munch on that."

Your mother reads your site.

Yeah, she's really cool. I tease her and she teases back. She was worried, I think, that I was going to be really smutty when some of those questions popped up. But, and this is how my mother is, as long as I can make her laugh, she's cool with it. She loves to laugh and we all try to make her laugh. We always knew, when we were little, make her laugh and whatever the punishment is, it'll be that much easier. Like if you were going to be grounded for two weeks, make her laugh and it might just be a couple of days. And they've always been pretty cool about answering any question we had about sex. Not just with the "this is what sex is" talk but after that. They really wanted us to come to them when we had a question and we pretty much did.
Dad was saying that's probably why I was comfortable answering those kind of questions and he's probably right.

There are other issues you address besides sex and probably the biggest one is recruiters.

Yeah because I saw friends fall for that. And I saw friends fight it. And those guys would come to school or follow you around the mall parking lot or whatever and they really try to do a number on you and get you in this back and forth where you're challenged so you'll sign up to say "Oh yeah, what do you know!" It's a little game they play but the stakes are too high for it to be a game to somebody signing up. But I saw it and it bothers me and I know people do get tricked and think, "Well the recruiters telling me this so it must be true." They're like used car salesmen, they'll tell you anything to get you to sign up. So that's something that really bothers me.

And you're a fan of Democracy Now!

Right. That's a great show. I usually listen to it. It comes on WBZC at noon and if I know I'm going to miss it, I may tape it. But I can also catch it on TV because we have dish. They tell the truth on that show.

Agreed. Do you want to talk about why you started blogging?

Yeah, I will. I was pretty damn angry that a lot of stuff wasn't get out there. Like at The Common Ills, C.I. did this thing on the "Night Letter." We had to listen to the mainstream press wring their hands and the Bully Boy's people slam Newsweek for weeks saying they caused the rioting in Afghanistan. But they didn't. It was the "Night Letter" that called for the riots and it had to do with the people behind the letter not having any faith in their government. It's a lot easier to blame Newsweek then to be honest about the fact that our "success" in Afghanistan wasn't too damn successful. And I think we've seen that this week. And there may be people asking "What the hell?" but if they'd known about the Night Letter and all, they'd have been prepared to expect this news. And there were people trying to get the word out on that and all.
Trying to get this site or that site to note it but it didn't happen. And I'm reading all these people talking about that in the gina & krista round-robin and I was just getting sick of it. So I used the e-mails I had from the round-robin and said, "Boycott." And I got a lot of signatures on that petition.

Which C.I. didn't agree with. We should probably note that this interview is being conducted by Dona, Jim, Ty, Jess and Rebecca. Ava and C.I. are doing their TV review. And we should note that the author of the piece on the "Night Letter" in The New Yorker is someone Laura Flanders is trying to book on her show. So this is something that some people are paying attention to and haven't moved on from just because the Bully Boy's created some new spin.

Right, C.I. didn't agree and Rebecca had told me that would be the case and why. And I can respect that. C.I. feels the issues are always more important than the credit and that The Common Ills isn't a blog, it's a resource. So you don't boycott but there are a lot of sites that come along, and I'm not even talking about a blogger here, a week or two weeks later telling people "Oh this happened" and I'll read it and think, "No shit, it happened. C.I. told us about it when it was happening." And that's when Jim and Rebecca and C.I. and Kat and even Ruth contacted me and said basically, "Look, you can do something about it or you can ask for boycotts." And it's true. And I'm a lot calmer about it most of the time now, like Jim said I would be.

We understood exactly where you were coming from. We spent months asking that this be highlighted or that be highlighted and getting really frustrated when it wasn't. Like the "red" states thing. Everything C.I. was talking about last year has come to haunt us. When that "conventional wisdom" got accepted as fact suddenly it did mean, "Oh push the party to the right." And let's note that Bill Scher did link to it and that's why we should probably add him to our blog roll. He was one of the few, he was the only one, that we contacted who was receptive. And honestly, we should probably apoloize to him, or I should -- I is Jim -- because I wasn't very nice in my e-mail. I was pissed off and tired of stuff that was important not getting noticed.
He even wrote back and he was really nice about it.

And you told me that story and told me that if I linked to one blog it should be Scher's because of that and that's why I linked to that.

We're going to link to it too. We need to go in and add your blog anyway and we should have linked to him a long time ago. He does good work and he was there when he didn't have to be.
He's a stand up guy.

But not everyone is. And we aren't supposed to talk about that.

No, C.I.'s asked us to all avoid talking about, this is Rebecca, I got a laugh-fest note, I'm being sarcastic about it, that I would have ripped the person about for but C.I.'s said that the whole thing is really sickening and not helping and of course anytime one of us says something, it's C.I. that gets attacked online or in an e-mail. So we're leaving it alone.

And this is Ty, but Mike has never gone on record about this so if he has a thought he wants to express in general terms, he's welcome to. In general terms.

General terms, huh? I'd say it's disgusting that anyone thought it was okay to mock C.I. for having cancer. The lies told were bad enough but to mock the fact that C.I. has cancer is beyond disgusting and that has to come from a really sick and disgusting and perverted mind. And for anyone to think it is okay is saying a lot about them. I'll leave it at that because C.I.'s got enough to deal with without me making it worse. But it's disgusting and it's shameful.

This is Dona changing the topic really quick before we get into specifics. How has having your own site changed your feelings? Jim had offered that having on your own site would help. It helped us. We were so angry when we started and pretty much angry at everyone. And we had some who fed into that anger with a lot of false rumors. We'd do a piece and C.I. would say, "Are you sure you want to do that?" That's in several pieces. We'd note that. The anger was counter-productive and it was helped with this nonsense that someone was spreading.

Well I don't talk to anyone like the person you're talking about and I wouldn't. But I was pretty nervous the first day and after that, I was just relieved to have done it and I had e-mails and all because C.I. did a post just on "Michael's starting a site" and Rebecca and Kat and everyone just helped get the word out. So I was able to see that what C.I. was stressing about how "you have a voice and you can use it" made sense. It probably helps that I'm not trying to be famous or trying to make money off of it or sell some thing I wrote or set up a career at the Boston Globe or New York Times. And when I checked the e-mail the first morning after I blogged, I expected that C.I. would have written and there was an e-mail waiting. But there were other people who'd written to and I got that I could share and it wasn't raging in a tea cup or something because people would visit and weigh in. But to this day, when C.I. gets attacked or mocked for having cancer, it pisses me off and I'm respecting C.I.'s wishes but if I'm pushed on this, I will come out swinging. But, it's like everyone says, there's so much to write about that is worthy that this nonsense doesn't need to be rehashed over and over. The community gets it. They know what went down. And like I have e-mails coming in with questions and I see something I think I want to write about so there really is a lot of other things worth writing about.

What's something you want to write about that you haven't written about yet?

That would take an hour to list. I'm 19 years old, I don't know everything. I'm learning stuff all the time. I'll see something and think, "Cool." And want to share that. But it's like Jim was telling me, if I started blogging, I'd find there was so much to write about that I really didn't have time to get caught up in drama that others were trying to create. I can tell the same thing with you guys. The Third Estate Sunday Review has really kicked ass lately. I wish I could have helped with the short stories last week but I was reading them and just really blown away. That took a lot of imagination and work.

Well, some editions are better than others. That's a given and we have no idea how this will go because honestly, all our plans went into the toilet when Sandra Day O'Connor made her announcement.

Ava and C.I. are writing about the Bully Boy's speech, right?

Yeah, we begged and begged them to do that. They say it won't be very funny and they're not really into it but however it turns out, it's there, it's on the record.

I love the TV reviews.

Everybody does. Ava and C.I. really cut loose on those things and that's part of what's helped us get to where we are. They've gone off into various things, experimenting, with those and that's given us the encouragement to push and try to be more than we might be otherwise. But for anyone reading this edition, Sandra Day O'Connor's announcement was a bombshell and we're not really sure how this edition will turn out.

I thought the roundtable went pretty good. It went pretty fast too.

It did. So let's close this out and get to work on the editorial because Betty and Kat are about ten minutes from rejoining us. Here's the question: "We don't know you, we've never read you. We bump into you at a party and someone says, 'This is Mike, he blogs.' How do you explain your site to us?"

Hmm. I guess . . . Hmm. Well it's against the war. And it's about what people who write in are asking. I'll make goofs and mistakes. Hang in there and maybe you'll see something you like or maybe you'll get an idea of what young people are thinking. You know, like Jim told me to, I'm just trying to tell my truth. If you can hang with that, cool. Check it out.

Encuesta: 57% siente que Bush "engañó intencionalmente" al país sobre Irak

Encuesta: 57% siente que Bush "engañó intencionalmente" al país sobre Irak

Maria: Hola. De parte de "Democracy Now!" doce cosas que vale hacer notar este fin de semana.

Encuesta: 57% siente que Bush "engañó intencionalmente" al país sobre Irak
Según una nueva encuesta realizada por el Washington Post y ABC News, por primera vez la mayoría de los estadounidenses, un 57%, considera que el gobierno de Bush, "engañó intencionalmente" a la población sobre la guerra de Irak.

Encuesta: 42% cree que el Congreso debería interpelar a Bush si mintió acerca de Irak
Una nueva encuesta de Zogby demuestra que el 42 por ciento de los votantes creen que el Congreso debería interpelar al presidente Bush si se descubriera que no dijo la verdad acerca de las razones para ir entrar en guerra con Irak. Mientras que los demócratas en su amplia mayoría estuvieron a favor de la interpelación, la encuesta encontró que el veinticinco por ciento de los republicanos apoyaría la medida, si se determinara que Bush mintió acerca de Irak.

Italia ordenó arresto de 13 agentes de la CIA por secuestro
Un juez italiano ordenó el arresto de 13 agentes de la CIA por el secuestro ilegal de un clérigo musulmán en 2003 en Milán y por luego trasladarlo a Egipto, donde se informa que fue torturado. Según el juez, los agentes de la CIA secuestraron a Hassan Osama Nasr, mientras se dirigía a la mezquita del lugar y luego fue llevado en una camioneta blanca a una base ítalo-estadounidense. Posteriormente fue trasladado en avión a una base estadounidense en Alemania y de allí a El Cairo. El clérigo, también conocido como Abu Omar, nunca fue acusado por ningún delito y jamás tuvo que comparecer ante un tribunal. Al llegar a Egipto, denunció haber sido golpeado y recibir la aplicación de electroshock en los genitales. El secuestro tuvo lugar, supuestamente, sin el conocimiento del gobierno italiano, que también buscaba a Abu Omar con la ayuda de Estados Unidos. Funcionarios italianos se quejaron de que el secuestro afectaba los esfuerzos de investigación por terrorismo en Europa. Es la primera vez que un gobierno extranjero presenta acusaciones contra agentes estadounidenses implicados en la lucha contra el terrorismo en el exterior. En Alemania y en Suecia también se investigan casos en que agentes estadounidenses secuestraron hombres buscados por la justicia. Estados Unidos describió la práctica de secuestrar extrajudicialmente individuos buscados y luego transferirlos a otros países como "arrestos extraordinarios". Reed Brody, de la organización Human Rights Watch, describió la emisión de órdenes de arresto como un avance y agregó que, "finalmente alguien, en alguna parte podría ser responsabilizado por este sospechoso programa de "arrestos". Por fin esta orden de arresto demuestra que nadie está por encima de la ley, ni siquiera los agentes de la CIA".

Rumsfeld: Resistencia iraquí podría durar una década
El Secretario de Defensa Donald Rumsfeld admitió que podrían tardar una década en sofocar la resistencia en Irak. Rumsfeld afirmó el domingo que "la insurgencia podría continuar por varios años. Las insurgencias tienden a prolongarse por cinco, seis, ocho, 10, 12 años". Rumsfeld confirmó además los datos de un informe publicado en el Sunday Times de Londres, donde señalan que funcionarios estadounidenses se han reunido en forma secreta con la resistencia sunnita, en un intento por negociar el fin del combate.

Se solicitó a Rumsfeld el lanzamiento de lista para evitar el reclutamiento
Esta noticia está relacionada con el reclutamiento militar. Un grupo de padres pertenecientes a la coalición Leave My Child Alone (Deja a Mi Hijo Tranquilo) solicitaron hoy al Secretario de Defensa Donald Rumsfeld que establezca una Lista Nacional para evitar el Reclutamiento para proteger la privacidad familiar del reclutamiento militar no deseado. La solicitud tiene lugar una semana después de que se revelara que el Pentágono trabaja con una empresa de marketing privada llamada BeNOW, para crear una base de datos de estudiantes del liceo y la universidad, con fines de reclutamiento. El New York Times informa que la base de datos ya cuenta con 30 millones de nombres. Megan Matson de la coalición Leave My Child Alone dijo, "millones aplaudieron cuando la Comisión Federal de Comunicaciones (FCC) creó una lista para evitar el reclutamiento de consumidores. Ahora necesitamos que las fuerzas armadas hagan una lista para proteger la privacidad de nuestros hijos".

Zapatistas anunciaron plan para formar alianza política
Estas noticias provienen de México, donde el ejército rebelde Zapatista prometió el jueves que formará una alianza política de la izquierda. Planean enviar a una delegación en una gira nacional para generar apoyo antes de las elecciones presidenciales del año próximo. Sin embargo, los Zapatistas dijeron que se mantendrían fuera de la política electoral porque "ya sabemos que todos los candidatos son neoliberales". El grupo dijo que impulsarían una nueva constitución que "reconozca los derechos y libertades de las personas, y que defienda a los débiles de los poderosos." El anuncio fue realizado una semana después de que los rebeldes declararan la "alerta roja" para mantener discusiones internas de alto nivel acerca del futuro de su movimiento, y tres días después de que dijeran que procurarían acercarse más la política y abandonar el conflicto armado.

Bush ordenó cambios en el FBI, la ACLU advierte creación de "Fuerza de Policía Secreta"
El presidente Bush ordenó una serie de cambios drásticos en los servicios de inteligencia del país, provocando que los grupos de defensa de las libertades civiles se mobilizaran para advertir que el país está avanzando en la creación de una fuerza de policía secreta. Como parte de la reorganización, el FBI formará un nuevo Departamento de Seguridad Nacional que incluirá contrainteligencia, contraterrorismo y divisiones de inteligencia. Asimismo se otorgará mayor poder de supervisión del FBI a John Negroponte, el jefe de espionaje del país. Negroponte, el primer director de inteligencia nacional del país, tendrá autoridad para aprobar la contratación del máximo funcionario de seguridad del FBI, y estará facultado para comunicarse con agentes y analistas del FBI en temas relacionados con la inteligencia. Los cambios también pretenden derribar las antiguas barreras existentes entre las actividades de inteligencia exterior e interna. Los grupos de libertades civiles advierten que los cambios significan una medida radical hacia la creación de una fuerza de policía secreta en Estados Unidos. Timothy Edgar de la Unión Estadounidense de Libertades Civiles (ACLU, por su sigla en inglés) le dijo al Washington Post, “Los espías y los policías desempeñan diferentes funciones y proceden en virtud de diferentes reglas por una razón. El FBI está efectivamente siendo controlado por un espía experto que debe rendir cuentas directamente a la Casa Blanca”. Edgar continuó diciendo que, “Es alarmante que la misma persona que supervisa el espionaje en el exterior, ahora supervisará el espionaje interno”. Los cambios implementados por Bush se basaron en recomendaciones realizadas por una comisión especial de inteligencia dirigida por el juez de apelaciones Laurence Silberman y el ex senador Charles Robb.

Estados Unidos acusado por muerte de tres periodistas iraquíes
En Irak, tropas estadounidenses mataron la semana pasada a tres periodistas iraquíes. Reporteros Sin Fronteras ha solicitado una investigación por la muerte del director de programación de la televisión al-Sharqiya, quien murió el martes de un disparo mientras conducía cerca de un convoy estadounidense. El domingo, tropas estadounidenses mataron a un editor de noticias de un canal de televisión local de Bagdad. Y el viernes, un reportero iraquí que trabaja para una agencia de noticias estadounidense murió de un disparo en Bagdad, se cree que por tropas estadounidenses. Las fuerzas militares de Estados Unidos aún no confirmaron las muertes. Según el Comité para la Protección de los Periodistas, al menos 45 periodistas y 20 trabajadores de los medios murieron mientras cubrían la guerra en Irak.

Por otra parte, la policía iraquí abrió fuego el martes contra un grupo de 2.000 manifestantes en la localidad de Samawa.
Un hombre murió de un disparo en la cabeza, y otros siete resultaron heridos. La manifestación fue organizada por trabajadores desempleados y algunos de los participantes lanzaron piedras a la policía.

Informe: Italia solicitará extradición de 13 agentes de CIA
Un funcionario de un tribunal italiano informó que Italia se prepara para solicitar la extradición de 13 funcionarios de la CIA acusados de secuestrar a un clérigo musulmán en las calles de Milán hace tres años. Los fiscales también solicitaron la colaboración de Interpol en la búsqueda de sospechosos, todos identificados como ciudadanos estadounidenses. Uno de los sospechosos mencionados es Robert Seldon Lady, ex jefe de la sección de la CIA en Milán.

España aprueba matrimonio homosexual
En España, el parlamento nacional aprobó un proyecto de ley para permitir que las parejas del mismo sexo se casen y adopten hijos. La votación tuvo lugar un día después de que los legisladores canadienses aprobaran una ley similar. Hasta el momento Holanda y Bélgica eran los únicos países del mundo que habían legalizado el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo.

Castro se reunió con Chávez y discutieron tratado de petróleo
El líder cubano Fidel Castro viajó a Venezuela, en lo que es su primer viaje al exterior desde 2003. Castro se reunió con el presidente venezolano Hugo Chávez en una cumbre para discutir la creación de una alianza regional de petróleo que distribuya combustible más barato en el Caribe. Los mandatarios de Trinidad y Tobago, República Dominicana, Granada, Dominica y San Vicente y las Granadinas también asistieron a la cumbre. Chávez señaló que "es una cumbre histórica y como potencia petrolera mundial estamos extendiendo una mano".

Maria: Hello. In English, here are twelve headlines from Democracy Now! Read the headlines in English below and ask yourself "Is there anyone I can pass this on to?" Again, NBC owns Telumundo. What message is getting out to Spanish speaking people in this country and is there anyone you can alert to the fact that Democracy Now! is providing their headlines each day in Spanish and English for reading and listening to. Please get the word out.

Poll: 57% Feel Bush "Intentionally Misled" Nation on Iraq
Meanwhile a new Washington Post/ABC News poll has found that for the first time most Americans - - 57 percent - - believe the Bush administration "intentionally misled" the public in going to war in Iraq.

Poll: 42% Back Impeaching Bush If He Lied Over Iraq
A new Zogby polls shows that 42 percent of voters believe Congress should impeach President Bush if it is found that he did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq. While Democrats disproportionately favored impeachment, the poll found twenty-five percent of Republicans would back the measure if it were determined that Bush lied about Iraq. Calls for impeachment have increased since the Sunday Times of London published what is now known as the Downing Street Memo. The memo from the summer of 2002 outlined the Bush administration's position on Iraq. It said that the invasion of Iraq was inevitable and that "the intelligence and facts were being fixed."

Italy Orders Arrest of 13 CIA Agents Over Kidnapping
An Italian judge has ordered the arrest of 13 CIA agents for illegally kidnapping a Muslim cleric off the streets of Milan in 2003 and then transferring him to Egypt where he was reportedly tortured. According to the Italian judge, the U.S. agents seized the man -- Hassan Osama Nasr -- as he walked from his home to a local mosque. He was then taken away in a white van to a joint U.S.-Italian base, then flown to a U.S. base in Germany and then onto Cairo. The cleric - who is also known as Abu Omar -- was never charged with a crime and has never appeared in a court of law. Once in Egypt, the cleric said he was beaten and given electrical shocks on his genitals. The kidnapping in Milan was reportedly done without the knowledge of the Italian government which had also been tracking Abu Omar with U.S. assistance. Italian officials complained that the kidnapping damaged ongoing efforts into terrorism investigations around Europe. This marks the first time a foreign government has filed criminal charges against US agents involved in counter-terrorism work abroad. Officials in Germany and Sweeden are also investigating similar cases where U.S. agents kidnapped wanted men. The U.S. describes the practice of seizing wanted individuals and then transferring them to third countries as extraordinary rendition. Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch described the issuing of the arrest warrants as a breakthrough. He said "Finally someone, somewhere may be held accountable for this shadowy program of 'renditions.' ... At long last, this warrant shows that no one is above the law, not even CIA agents."

Rumsfeld: Iraqi Resistance Could Last A Decade
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has admitted it could take another decade to quell the resistance in Iraq. Rumsfeld said Sunday, ''That insurgency could go on for any number of years. Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years." Rumsfeld also confirmed a report in the Sunday Times of London that U.S. officials have been secretly meeting with leaders of the Sunni resistance in an attempt to negotiate an end to the fighting.

Rumsfeld Urged to Launch Do Not Call List Over Recruiting
This new on military recruiting: A group of parents from the Leave My Child Alone coalition are calling on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today to establish a National Do Not Call List to safeguard family privacy from unwanted military recruitment. The request comes a week after it was disclosed that the Pentagon has teamed with a private marketing firm called BeNOW to form a massive database of high school and college students to target for recruitment purposes. The New York Times reports there are already 30 million names in the database. Megan Matson of the Leave My Child Alone coalition said, "Millions applauded when the FCC formed a Do Not Call List for consumers. Now we need the armed forces to create one to protect our children's privacy."
Zapatistas Announce Plan to Build Political Alliance
And this news from Mexico -- the Zapatista rebel army pledged Thursday to build a political alliance of the left. They plan send a delegation on a nationwide tour to drum up support ahead of next year's presidential race. The Zapatistas however said they would stay out of electoral politics because "we already know all candidates are neo-liberals." The group said they would push for a new constitution that "recognizes the rights and liberties of the people, and defends the weak against the powerful." The announcement came a week after the rebels declared a "red alert" to hold high-level internal discussions about the future of their movement, and three days after they said they would seek to move toward politics and away from armed conflict.

Bush Orders FBI Changes; ACLU Warns of "Secret Police Force"
President Bush has ordered a number of sweeping changes to the nation's intelligence services prompting civil liberties groups to warn that the country is moving closer to establishing a secret police force. Under the reorganization, the FBI will form a new National Security Service that will include counterintelligence, counterterrorism and intelligence divisions. In addition the country's spy chief John Negroponte will be given greater oversight power of the FBI. Negroponte -- who is the country's first director of national intelligence -- will have the authority to approve the hiring of the FBI's top national security official and will have the power to communicate with FBI agents and analysts in the field on intelligence matters. The changes are also intended to break down old walls between foreign and domestic intelligence activities. Civil liberties groups are warning the changes represent a radical step toward the creation of a secret police force in the United States. Timothy Edgar of the American Civil Liberties Union told the Washington Post, "Spies and cops play different roles and operate under different rules for a reason. The FBI is effectively being taken over by a spymaster who reports directly to the White House." Edgar went on to say, "It's alarming that the same person who oversees foreign spying will now oversee domestic spying." The changes put in place by Bush were based on recommendations made by a special intelligence commission headed by senior appellate judge Laurence Silberman and former senator Charles Robb.

U.S. Accused of Killing Three Iraqi Journalists
In Iraq, U.S. troops have killed as many as three Iraqi journalists over the past week. Reporters Without Borders have called for an investigation into the shooting death of the program director for al-Sharqiya television. He was shot dead on Tuesday while driving near a U.S. convoy. On Sunday, a news editor with a local Baghdad TV channel was shot dead by U.S. troops in the capital. And on Friday, an Iraqi reporter working for an American news organization was shot and killed in Baghdad, allegedly by U.S. troops. The U.S. military has not confirmed any of the killings. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 45 journalists and 20 media support workers have been killed while covering the war in Iraq.

Iraqi Police Open Fire On Protesters
Meanwhile on Tuesday Iraqi police opened fire on a group of 2,000 demonstrators in the town of Samawa. One man was shot in the head. Seven others were wounded. The demonstration was organized by unemployed workers. Some of the protesters threw rocks at the police.

Report: Italy to Seek Extradition of 13 CIA Agents
An Italian court official has said that Italy is preparing to request the extradition of 13 CIA officers accused of kidnapping a Muslim cleric from the streets of Milan three years ago. Prosecutors also have asked the help of Interpol in tracking down the suspects, all identified as U.S. citizens. One of the suspects named was Robert Seldon Lady -- the former CIA station chief in Milan.

Spain Oks Same Sex Marriage
In Spain, the nation's parliament has approved a bill to allow same sex couples to marry and adopt children. The vote came just one day after Canadian legislators approved a similar law. Up until now the Netherlands and Belgium were the world's only nations that had legalized same sex marriage.

Castro Meets With Chavez; Discuss Oil Deal
And Cuban leader Fidel Castro has flown to Venezuela in his first trip abroad since 2003. Castro met with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at a summit to discuss creating a regional oil alliance that would help distribute fuel more cheaply to the Caribbean. Also attending the summit were leaders of Trinidad and Tobago, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Dominica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Chavez said, "It's a historic summit. As a world power in oil, we are extending them a hand."

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