Sunday, April 09, 2006
Sunday, Sunday, it's always that way. In this case, computer problems return in full force.
But we're doing the note to the readers so the marathon session is almost completed.
First, let's note highlights:
Ruth's Public Radio Report Pt. I
Ruth's Public Radio Report Pt. II
Ruth's Public Radio Report Pt. III
Bush acusado de autorizar filtracion de informacion clasificada
Blog Spotlight: Rebecca on the nineties
Blog Spotlight: Elaine critiques the advocates of semi-stoppage of war
NYT Critique: C.I. on NYT's Linda Lavin
Blog Spotlight: Rebecca notes Flashpoints
NYT critique: C.I. on NYT's "balance"
Humor Spotlight: Wally on Bully Boy's leaks
Blog Spotlight: Kat recapping KPFA's Guns and Butter and noting the reaction of some
Blog Spotlight: Cedric (and others) steer you to Pacifica programming
Blog Spotlight: Mike on Ireland
Blog Spotlight: Kat on the protests
We thank everyone for their permission to repost. We also thank everyone who helped on this edition:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and me;
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
and Wally of The Daily Jot
That list also includes Dallas who helps week in and week out. Now let's go over new content.
"Editorial: Bully Boy's leaking but who will tell the fan club?" our editorial on the Plamegate news. Who's still buying the Bully Boy's fantasies? A few.
"TV Review: Mid-Sixties Men" Ava and C.I. swear this review may be a little too inside baseball. We disagree. We enjoyed it as a review even though we were frequently thinking, "Who?" Ava and C.I. wrote the review and only they wrote it. On the other pieces, everyone participated.
"Book Discussion: 2 Books, Don't Count the Minutes" -- to the delight of many readers -- the book discussion returns.
"Bully Boy Itches for Another War" provides you with more reading via excerpts and the question of can the war march be stopped this time?
"Tom Hayden on Sunday's RadioNation with Laura Flanders-Larry Benksy looks at the death penalty Sunday am-WBAI broadcast Waiting for Godot Monday night " advises you of three radio programs worth listening to.
"About the naming" answers a question regarding Scooter.
"What I Didn't Find In Iraq" by Bully Boy -- with the revelations about the leaks, we wrote this on Friday night. What would Bully Boy say if he wrote a counter-reply to Joe Wilson? We think it would read like this.
"A few thoughs on music" not an essay, more of a riff.
PJ's thoughts on "The Washington Post leaves us still Waiting for Lefty" attempts to give PJ a chance to air his feelings and to make sure the record has been set straight in terms of crediting/bylines.
And that's it. We'll see you next week.
-- Jim, Dona, Ava, Jess, Ty and C.I.
Ah, look, Condi put Bully Boy in a diaper to try to stop the leaks. "But it ain't no accident when you mean to leak," Bully Boy points out. True that.
And the administration meant to leak. This morning's New York Times quotes an unnamed White House Official who states that the issue is being confused. This wasn't a rebuttal against Joe Wilson, this wasn't a war on him and by proxy his wife Valerie Plame, this was just an intramural game between the White House and the CIA over who was to blame for the faulty information passed on to the press.
We're not sure what division they're used to playing in (though we are aware Bully Boy must have made the most awkward male cheerleader at his all boys school) but let's take a look at the game. The game was who was going to take the fall: White House v. CIA!
On the White House side you had Scoots Libby, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and who knows who else. On the CIA side? George Tenat.
Now which side would you put Wilson and Plame on? Wilson was sent to Niger by the CIA. Valerie Plame was a CIA agent.
So someone called a play (we doubt it was the cheerleader though we're sure he hollered "Give me a D-I-C-K! DICK!") and the play included taking out to Wilson and Plame. The two of them were not caught in the crossfire, they were the targets.
But just as the spazzes at NOFactCheck.org love to twist the night away in attempts to exhonorate the Bully Boy, the paper of misrecord loves their official sources (named and unnamed). Twisting . . . twisting . . . Twisting the night away. We're worried for the spazzes, afraid they might break a hip.
For instance, in The Sunday Times of London, Michael Smith has the latest on the forgeries. But let's keep maintaining that the wrong information got to the Bully Boy, let's act as though the Downing Street Memo didn't note the fixing of intelligence and let's just pretend like there was no newly created intelligence agency running out of the White House. We need to do that and a lot more to, as spazzes did, insist that Bully Boy didn't lie! He was misled!
When some see Bully Boy, possibly his infantile state makes them look upon him as their own child? So they clutch to him and the lies of the administration that led us into war and reject the facts?
NOFactCheck.org isn't overly concerned with the fatalities in Iraq, they just want everyone to join them in cooing for their little Bully Boy.
Back in the real world, the story that never died just keeps heating up. From Democracy Now!:
Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff has testified that President Bush authorized him to leak a highly classified intelligence document on Iraq to the press in an effort to defend the administration's decision to go to war. This marks the first time Bush has been linked to the leaking of classified information and raises new questions if Bush was directly tied to the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's grand jury testimony was cited in court papers filed by prosecutors late Wednesday. Libby was indicted in October on charges that he lied to investigators about his role in the outing of Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson who was a vocal critic of the war. On Sept. 30, 2003, President Bush warned against anyone in his administration leaking classified information. "Let me just say something about leaks in Washington. There are too many leaks of classified information in Washington," Bush said. "There's leaks at the executive branch; there's leaks in the legislative branch. There's just too many leaks. And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is." On Capitol Hill, Bush was widely criticized by Democrats on Thursday. This is Senator Charles Schumer of New York. "It is increasingly clear that this case goes far beyond Scooter Libby. At the very least, President Bush and Vice President Cheney should fully inform the American people of any role they played in allowing classified information to be leaked," said Schumer. "Did they believe they have the right to do this and if so, in what circumstances? Or is this just something that may have been done to accommodate the president's momentary political needs? According to court documents today, Scooter Libby said that the president authorized the vice president to direct him to disclose classified information to reporters in order to bolster support for the war in Iraq."
But some will continue to look the other way. As Stevie Wonder notes in "Skeletons:"It's getting ready to drop
Its getting ready to shock
Somebody done turned up the heater
An'a it's getting ready to pop
We're sure that some supposedly "objective" persons had to be defending Richard Nixon right to the bitter end. We're sure some will hang with Bully Boy right up to the bitter end. But as more details emerge we wonder how many will jump ship? We're guessing quite a few.
Bully Boy maintained he knew nothing. Nothing! Like Sgt. Schultz in Hogan's Heroes. That doesn't appear true but we're sure some loyalists will offer that "nothing" doesn't really mean that he knew not-a-thing. In fact, in days of yore, nothing often meant . . .
But on planet earth, all signs indicate that things are about to get a little bit hotter (than July?) for the administration. There was always a reason Bully Boy never demanded to know "Who let the leak out! Who! Who! Who! Who let the leak . . ."
Illustration is from Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts.
Or you can just sit back and watch the show. We wouldn't recommend that. It's not that funny and our calendars bear the date 2006. Point? There's nothing "modern" about Modern Men. What it appears to be is Jerry Bruckheimer attempting to recreate a high point of his career, when he and Don Simpson had yet to roll on down the Days of Thunder, when nightmares like Pearl Harbor could only come via dreams and not box office returns.
Now they weren't in their twenties then. You'd have to go back quite a bit for their twenties. Which is why we think Modern Men is more aptly entitled Mid-Sixties Men. That's what you've got onscreen in front of you if you make the mistake of watching.
The premise is that buddies Tim (Braaten), Kyle (Greenfield) and Doug (Lively) are so hopeless with women that a life coach is required. That would be Dawn Steel, er, Dr. Stangel played by Seymour. In a show that's one boneheaded move after another, hiring Seymour was an exception. She's actually quite good in the role and the big laughs come only from the scenes she's in.
The scenes with the least laughs revolve around George Wendt playing Tug -- father of Tim and Molly and, we're assuming, a stand in for Barry Diller. (Those were heady days, weren't they?) Here's the biggest problem with Wendt as an actor, he's not funny when trying to connect with other actors. He never has been. On Cheers he usually stared straight ahead and made commentary. On The Naked Truth, they tried to make him more "interactive" and it was difficult to watch. Wendt had one good moment in Friday's show. Lively comes in to moan about his ex-wife and Wendt doesn't listen to him or look at him. He reads his paper and makes generic responses. It was funny. The rest of the time, Wendt was attempting to interact with other characters (chiefly Braaten's character) and it didn't work. It wasn't funny. The lines weren't funny but Wednt's never needed funny lines to get a laugh when he's played the commentator. He can comment wonderfully and hilariously but he's never been an interactive actor. He tends to get a look of panic in his eyes when he's looking at another actor speaking and it's not pretty.
It's also not pretty when he spouts cliches about feminists -- cliches that may have seemed fresh to sexists back in the mid-sixties. The lines fall flat but, again, not because they're not funny -- though they aren't. They fall flat because Wednt's speaking to someone and not shooting out of the side of his mouth.
Most of what goes on isn't pretty and it isn't funny. The premise might have made for an interesting show (it's the topic of a number of movies due out shortly) but by setting this retro show in modern times, you just scratch your head and wonder how the three leading males could live more than a week in the real world present?
There's a moment where Kyle and Doug are speaking of a piece of fiction (story) that they read. In Maxim? Not likely. The bit makes no sense at all unless you transplant to the sixties and remember the boys who used to bond over the fiction Playboy ran (or possibly Esquire -- though these three are the Playboy magazine types). There's no present day equivalent for these three men. They aren't The New Yorker types. The only way they'd read is if they thought it made them look suave and those days are no longer upon us. Their references are also hopelessly outdated -- and what's a WB show without a plethora of pop cultural refs? "High def" is used at one point for high definition screen TV and that's really about all they can manage. A minor, one show character references a favorite film: Rio Bravo. Rio Bravo. Let's say that again, "Rio Bravo."
Only someone as out of touch as Bruckheimer could imagine the WB's intended teen audience (largely female) reacting with whoops of joy and "OH MY GOD!"s to that pop cultural ref. There's not even a tired joke about Lifetime, so stuck in the past are they. There's a visual joke (and some verbal ones) about a women's self-defense class which was a popular topic around the time Bruckheimer, Simpson, Steel, Katzenberg and Obst were making names for themselves but we'd argue Mary Jo's trip to a self-defense class on Designing Women was the last straw for that as humor. (Annie Potts didn't kill the humor, the writing of that episode did.)
So as you watch, you're in a constant state of flux -- time wise. The attitudes of the males are all mid-sixties (and those attitudes were carried by Simpson and Bruckheimer long past the eighties). The events going on around them (including hiring a life coach) are late seventies and early eighties. But you're supposed to see it all as the present day. It's just one more aspect of the show likely to induce nausea.
Lively's character tends to talk like a Goodfella ("frikin'" being only one example) and Greenfield's character comes off like a Goodfella. Then there's Braaten who doesn't appear to have anything in common with the other two except for the fact that fate has tossed the three of them together. (See it is, Simpson, Bruckheimer and Katzenberg!)
Mostly nothing happens. You can note that this is another show about men who want to have sex but can't. Think of it as Jake in Progress to the third.
Sokoloff's lost none of the appeal she demonstrated as the receptionist Lucy in The Practice and we were glad to see she'd graduated to the role of law student Molly. But her storyline, like the male characters' mid-sixties attitudes, defied disbelief. Short version, she's having money problems and her car is on its final legs. She doesn't want money from brother, Tim, she just wants him to listen. He wants to help. So he deposits nine hundred plus in her bank account without telling her. We could get lost in the fact that those sort of transactions are hard to secretly pull off in "Modern" times but, remember, we're dealing with Mid-Sixties Men. Tim's hoping that Molly will believe that the bank made an error. She does believe that. She states that the money isn't her money. We can go along with that. It's believable.
What's not believable is her then deciding that since the money doesn't belong to her, she'll donate it to charity. Someone must have thought it would be a yuck-fest (it wasn't) and believable (ditto). When the bank makes an error, that's not "free money." The bank usually catches its error and expects to get its money back. Today the only "bank error in your favor" that pays off is in a game of Monopoly. But everyone's so convinced the gag is a yuck-fest that they ignore reality. We had a difficult time believing that a law student would.
It's hard to believe this show ever made it on air. There's so little going for it. Outside of the home movie aspect, it has no appeal. Hopefully, it will remind everyone that Jane Seymour can do comedy and she'll have other offers.
Here's what we think we know, Seymour's doctor is written as Steel and, if Bruckheimer wants to base female characters on women he knows/knew, he could do a lot worse than Steel and Obst. But home movies, outside of sex tapes, have a highly limited audience. When you hire writers, they should be able to write without the constant imposition of "elements." We absolutely know that taking men in their thirties and forties and using their experiences from the sixties does not make for a template of "Modern Men." It does make for confusion and, quite frankly, boredom.
If we've offered less of a critique and more of a dissection of this non-laugh getting hole in the WB's schedule, consider it our homage to a TV franchise. And note that all the finger prints lifted from the crime scene bear out that the sole culprit was Bruckheimer.
Ty: We'd previously included Arundhati Roy's War Talk in a book discussion so this is the second book of her's that we're noting. This book on empire is a collection of speeches Roy has given and the excerpt comes from the chapter "Peace Is War." From page 17:
The only way to make democracy real is to begin a process of constant questioning, permanent provocation, and continuos public conversation between citizens and the State. That conversation is quite different from the conversation between political parties. (Representing the views of rival political parties is what the mass media thinks of as "balance" reporting.) Patrolling the borders of our liberty is the only way we can guard against the snatching away of our freedoms. All over the world today, freedoms are being curbed in the name of protecting freedom. Once freedoms are surrendered by civil society, they cannot be retrieved without a struggle. It is so much easier to relinquish them than to recover them.
Dona: Great points, great passage and, before we go any further, I'd like to put that in light of what we've seen in the last weeks with regards to people, and primarily Latino students, standing up against the -- well, the Congress. That's what's going on.
Kat: Exactly. This wasn't wait until legislation is passed or until one of the many evil proposals has strong backing. This was take to the streets and say "No!" -- scream "No!" -- immediately. Some of the biggest protests the nation has ever seen including a protest made up of a half a million people. That's not a movement figure, that's the figure that the press reported. And that's amazing.
Dona: Not waiting until after something's decided but taking action immediately was amazing and inspiring but I'm thinking of the point that C.I. noted this week where you've got the creeps crawling out saying, "Oh but they shouldn't do this." I loved the "Soccer Momma Outreach" comments and the Midget and everything but what stood out strongest to me was this section:
I'm not in the mood for nonsense today. That includes the gatekeepers who want to gripe at the young adults who bring flags of Mexico to a protest -- exactly where do they think many of the immigrants targeted are coming from? Ohio?
In some areas, we've seen the largest protests ever. And some want to fret over flags?
"It sends the wrong message," they want to whine.
Again, whom do they think the immigration law is aimed at?
Instead of clucking about a totem, they might want to utilize that time attempting to increase the turnout or focusing on the issues. Instead that will, yet again, be the soundbyte on much of the media coverage.
Dona (con't): The people, the "helpful" ones, and they did make the news, whining about the Mexican flag, where were they? What were they doing? To me these protests embodied everything that Roy is writing about in An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire. Here are people speaking out, speaking out in their voices, in their manner and getting attention for it. Which is rare. I think the media attention was less than was called for considering the number of areas and the number of people but, for demonstrations in this country, there was media attention. They didn't do that by being mealy mouthed or attempting to figure out what would "poll" best.
Jess: And what it is, the "helpful," is a bunch of outsiders trying to elbow in and control a mass movement. I know we agree on that and that you're setting up Wally's points here so I'll add the "helpful" are The New Republican types who never can do anything but condemn people and condemn movements. They sell out to appear "reasoned."
Wally: Which is what they do and they attack. They attacked Arundhati Roy. I knew Roy from Democracy Now! and from some things highlighted at The Common Ills. So it was shocking to stumble across Dave Zirin's article on The New Rag's attacks on her. It's more shocking now that I've read these two books, I'd already read The God Of Small Things. They, the magazine or rag, is just more disgusting when you read Arundhati Roy. This is the woman they advocated using a "bunker buster" on. They are so disgusting. Roy's talking about, in this book, the victims of empire and how they are labeld the "attackers" if they're using the land they've always used, but land's that corporations want to control. Her analysis here is on the costs of empire that get paid by everybody. They cost liberties, they cost the environment, they cost lives. And The New Rag can only respond to that by trying to silence her.
Jess: They want her to disappear. That's what would make them happy. She's a threat to their neo-liberal message. They'd never advocate that a "bunker buster" be used on the administration but that's their buddies and they're perfectly happy attacking Roy. I wondered what Elaine thought of the book in terms of a recent radio appearance?
Elaine: You're referring to what I wrote about Gary Hart's Wednesday appearance on KPFA's The Morning Show. Just to nutshell the point Jess wants addressed, during the interview, which Andrea Lewis conducted, they took phone calls. One phone call ticked him off and he didn't bother to hide it. The caller was asking about the illegal occupation of Iraq and noting the imperial efforts in the past by the United States. He also had problems with two other callers who raised the issue, less so with a woman who was the third to comment on it. I don't know. This was a re-read for me and I think for several of us, An Ordinary Person's Guide To Empire.
I think there's . . . If you're unfamiliar with this line of thought, which is also expressed by Howard Zinn to name another noted critic, I think you have a very violent reaction to it. I have no idea that this was Hart's first exposure to it, I know someone here could probably answer that but I won't put anyone on the spot, but his reaction was . . . unusual. I found it very unusual from someone who had served in the Senate and presumably had heard the argument before, whether they supported or agreed with the view, someone who had heard it before.
Rebecca: Am I the only one here who missed that interview?
Jess: Ava, C.I., Ty and I missed it. We weren't by a radio or a computer because we were busy with the immigration issue.
Rebecca: T listened to it after Elaine's thing went up and she'd read it. So I've heard her report on it and read Elaine's. I think the antidote to those type of reactions is reading. People need to read Arundhati Roy's books and Howard Zinns, of course, but I also wondered if it were a generational thing? Gary Hart's been a critic of many aspects of the government's actions, regardless of which party was in control, and that may be as far as he's willing to step into the road. He may have an inner Boy Scout that will critique incidents but not the structure itself.
Betty: Which is what Roy's doing. It's not, "Here's a bad thing! My, this is a surprise. These things pop up but it's just a trick of fate." Roy's analyzing the realities of empire. Empire is a system and it has many characteristics and consequences. It's very easy to say "Too much salt"
in a dish. Roy's critiquing a full meal and the process that led to it being cooked.
C.I.: The difference between a micro and macro view or critique.
Betty: Right. It's saying, "Okay, this is a bad war and we can stop it by doing this." But it sets aside the bigger problem of how to stop other ones. It's a very splintered view that offers no comprehensive solutions. I personally think that we gather more perspective from the criticisms of Roy or Zinn or Norman Solomon than from this "Okay, let's take one war at a time" view. I think Rebecca's point about generational and "inner Boy Scout" are good ones. There's only so far some people are willing to go in their critiques. Some are happy to tell you that you have a disease and need to do this but not happy dwelling on how the disease was caught. The current war is a disease, how did we get there goes beyond Bully Boy lied. He did lies us into war. But you've got the media participating and you've got interested parties and how many decades of war in various forms on Iraq? There's a pattern here and you can see it at other times as well, in other locations. By all means, let's get out of Iraq and allow them self-rule but if we're just going to find a new Iraq, I'm not sure how much was accomplished other than "treating" one outbreak.
Elaine: I love what you just said.
Betty: Thank you.
Jim: Mike, you had a point you wanted to make.
Mike: Yeah, on page 111, I felt she made one of the strongest points for people who aren't going to read the book or are going to put it off. "When victims refuse to be victims, they are called terrorists and are dealt with as such." She offers a specific example in India but, like she talks about, this applies worldwide.
Kat: "To the people who finally can take anymore/ So they pick up a gun or a brick or a stone."
Mike: Jackson Browne! That's from "Lives in the Balance." People should read An Ordinary Person's Guide To Empire but we know some people just read the book discussions and mean to read the books but don't. Or don't have interest in picking up a book.
Dona: But some do. Just to avoid e-mails. We have a number of readers who have missed the book discussions and have written at many other times to say that they'd already read that book and agreed or that they weren't aware of a book but picked up because of the discussions and enjoyed it.
Mike: Right. But for the ones who are just going to read the discussion, if you've heard Jackson Browne's song that Kat was quoting, you should think about that. And when I read that part in Roy's book about how the victims are labeled, I was nodding my head and marked it up in the book because it is an important point about how the global economy, with its goals and aims, expects you to either go along or be an enemy of the state.
Jim: Dona's indicating that we're almost out of the set time we had and we want to discuss our second book as well so is there another point anyone wants to make?
C.I.: I did. There was a passage in the book that I missed the first time around or it didn't click. Roy's noting, and I believe it's page 27, the image issues, how it's okay to show the tools of war, the bombs, the bombers, but not the victims and she notes that American P.O.W.'s were considered off limits and out of bounds by the US government that had shown Guantanamo prisoners. Maybe because I've had the worst cases of swimmer's ear in the past few months, something stood out this read. She's talking about how they're displayed in the images and notes that kneeling, have goggles over their eyes to prevent sight and "earphones clamped on their ears." Ruth's noted that Law and Disorder is doing a multi-part series on the use of music at high volumes to torture Guantanamo prisoners. In one instance, they noted that you'd have to turn the volume up very loud to really get an idea of how awful it was. And it is. But if you're doing that, and I don't know that they are [doing the next part], to people you're also preventing from hearing normal sounds, it's even worse. When I've got swimmer's ear really bad, I'll put in ear plugs. When I take them out, normal sounds can be annoying. If I was hearing louder decibals it would be even worse. So I wanted to note that because I am curious if at some point we'll find out that this was part of the hearing torture -- that they'd first use the earphones to prevent any sound and then blast the ones tortured. If that is being done, it's even more of a shock to the listening system because you're going from no sounds to these huge levels that would be disturbing enough if you were going to them naturally.
Elaine: I wish I had caught that. That's a good point. The sound torture is used to confuse and disorient. It would do that even more if the victims were hearing nothing and then being put into torture situations where they were exposed to ear splitting levels. The torture is already disgusting but that would add a new level of disgust to it.
Jim: So that was Arundhati Roy's An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire and it's a book that we all recommend. Our next book is Angela Y. Davis' Abolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Prisons and Torture. Cedric's got the highlight and he and Ava will need to speak up in this section or we'll get e-mails asking where they were?
Cedric: Angela Davis is a hero to many and she felt the full force of the FBI come down upon her when she was, at one point, the most wanted person in America. She was acquitted of the charges against her but not before she had become a prisoner. Her interest in prisons was in place before her own incarceration; however, it did increase her understanding and her interest.
The excerpt is from page 89:
One of our main challenges is to reconceptualize that notion of "security." How can we help to make the world secure from the ravages of global capitalism? This broader sense of of security might involve debt relief for Africa; it would mean an end to the juggernaut of privatization that threatens the new society people in South Africa have been trying to build. It would also involve the shifting of priorities from the prison-industrial-complex to education, housing, health care. Bush was reelected -- or elected, since he was appointed into his first term rather than elected -- precisely because of the moral panic that diverted people's attention away from the more complicated questions about our future. Bush was elected because of the fear not only of another "terrorist" attack, but because of the fear that American global superiority may be on the wane.
Cedric (con't): What is security and who is secure are the points of this book, which is a collection of interviews.
Betty: And she notes the historical roots of prisons. And how, in this country, slaves weren't put in prison, they were beaten, tortured or killed. After the civil war, you have a new raft of behaviors that are criminalized just in time to coincide with newly liberated Black men.
Cedric: Right. And the "prison-industrial-complex" is a term she uses to get people to grasp that prisons are big business. We have the largest prison population in the world and a lot of people make money off that. And African-Americans are over-represented in prison. So I wanted to toss this question out to Ty and Betty since they are African-Americans, is there someone in your family, immediate or extended, who is in prison. I can count a second cousin that is.
Ty: Do you want to go first, Betty?
Betty: No go ahead, I feel like I've been hogging time.
Ty: Well, not currently. But I do have an uncle who was in prison during his twenties. And there are, I think, four guys from my high school graduating class currently serving sentences.
Betty: Yeah, it's not a unique thing or unique experience. If it's not something that someone in your family has experience, at least in my area, Georgia, it's something that a friend or acquaintance has. It's so common that you hear the kids joke about. My nieces were making jokes to one another that their boyfriends were going to end up in prison. That's not to treat the issue as a joke but it is so common an experience that, to deal with it, you do often resort to humor.
Ty: And it goes to economics and perceived social status as well because if you've got money for a good attorney and you're from a "good family" then the way you'll be sentenced -- or not sentenced at all -- will be very different from the way someone else will be.
Cedric: Exactly because there will be an assumption or presumption that this "good family" member just went astray and that generosity of judgement isn't spread out to all. I'm going to pass to Ava to be sure she gets a chance to speak.
Ava: Thank you, Cedric. I'll start off by noting that C.I. and are the ones who take notes so in a discussion, we'll always make less statements than we might in another feature. I'll focus in on a point that Jess' father would make, prison is his issue, and that's the fact that Davis isn't a reformer and is honestly and rightly concerned that some reforms, regardless of good or bad consequences, only reinforce the system itself. As though "We fixed it!" means that the system itself, the prison-industrial-complex, is now justified and justifiable.
Jim: Just to cut in, I know Jess' father's work in this area and I'm curious why you're covering these points, or bringing them up, instead of Jess?
Ava: When it's the focus of a parent there's always the concern that you'll make a statement that you think will be applauded but instead will be greeted with, "You know, I really wish you'd have pointed out" whatever.
Mike: Like today I wrote about the Vietnam conflict and spoke of how that was how we were taught to refer to it because it was an illegal war and my father is very big on the fact that it was illegal. (Laughing) I thought I covered it pretty well and then I hear from it, "Great post, but you should have . . ." When it's someone's big issue, or one of the big issues, there can be a sense of no winning possible no matter what you do.
Ava: Right. And I know in the "world o' Wolfe" we live in where everyone's spouting off about "law and order" there's a tendency to think, "Oh well, they wouldn't be behind bars if there wasn't a reason for it." That's not a belief that anyone here holds but if some reader does, I'd point out that the book's arguments can be applied elsewhere. For instance, think of something we object to. The Patriot Act. And we're all supposed to be impressed that a cowardly Congress added a few minor protections? That "reform" is endorsing the Act itself.
Cedric: Right because it's saying, "We did something. Now it's improved." But we don't need it and it goes against the principles of freedom so applauding these minor changes have a way of making people accept "victory" which is nothing but accepting the Act itself.
Rebecca: And for those turned off by the topic, wait, I want to stop here a moment to tie in a point from earlier. If your "exposure" to this issue is built upon crime dramas and the nightly count down on the local news that's intended to scare you, this is an issue you should expose yourself to by reading this book. As with the concept of empire, if you're not familiar with the prison-industrial-complex, you should reach for this book. But there are also other topics tied into it, as Cedric pointed out. One of the ones that I noticed was Davis' point about an attitude on the part of some Western feminists of "We will rescue you!" Some, not all. But that does exist and it certainly exists in the writings of non-feminist Nicholas Kristof. On the part of people like that, there's an inability to listen. I'm not sure if that results from a active choice that a person makes or from the fact that so little is exposed/acknowledged in our mainstream media?
Kat: That's a good point and one I've been thinking about as I've read the gina & krista round-robin where people have shared why a Pacifica Radio program is their favorite one. Regardless of the show, the point is usually made that they are hearing something that they feel can hear no where else. In my state, California, abolition of the death penalty is a big issue. Angela Davis is a strong advocate for the abolition of the death penalty, by the way, and remarks upon it in the interviews in this book. But I wondered about KPFA and KPFT and how they enhance those discussions? They do enhance them and my point is that in many areas there is no Pacifia radio station. So you're left with a very limited view. So Rebecca's point about exposure to ideas that she made on the previous book and here as well is a good one. I'm sure that Pacifica has helped keep the issue of the death penalty alive and in people's minds. I feel like I have about four points going off at once and none of them are being made clearly. So I'll just say that media shapes our notions of the world around us and, for too many people, the media available is, regardless of the channel, station or network, putting out the same message and offering no discussion or debate.
Rebecca: I get what you're saying and it's a good point. To take it to Nicholas Kristof, people with limited exposure of the sort Kat's talking about, would read his column and think, "Wow, what great things he does!" Those with a little more opportunities to hear reality would think, "Is he not the biggest self-promoting prig whose 'efforts' really help no one but himself." I'm thinking specifically of his "purchasing" of women to "save" them. And we can't listen to what we can't hear, Kat's point, so we're left with assumptions and pass them off as fact.
Ty: Which is one point Davis makes about some Western feminists. That they're accepting that they are the smart ones because they come from the West and they must teach these lesser beings.
Dona: Which isn't a different attitude, as Davis points out in Abolition Democracy, from Bully Boy and Laura Bush selling their war on Afghanistan as liberation for the women there. And I think it's good to tie in a gas bag like Nicholas Kristof into this.
Wally: Cause he's always talking about his own greatness. "No one but me cares!" Whatever the issue. After awhile, you start to wonder if he even can grasp a situtation in front of him since all he's seeing his own greatness.
Mike: And I know C.I. and Ava are scribbling away furiously to get all this down so I'll note a point they made to me which is that Davis has always spoken about nationalism and how blinding it can be. Something I think Roy does as well. But to bring up an example from Davis, she notes the shock over the behaviors and torture at Abu Ghraib and, along with noting that these occur in the United States' prisons, she notes that this "I am so much more developed" attitude allows people to say things like, "You don't understand how repulsive this is for Muslim men to have a tampon tossed at them" or whatever. And her point is that anyone in that situation, any prisoner, would be repulsed by it. So when we act like, "Oh but this is so against the culture," we're falling into an argument of how much better we are.
Jim: Okay Dona's noting three minutes left. We haven't heard in this half from Jess, Elaine or C.I. and I'll note, since Ava already did, that Ava and C.I. get stuck taking the notes. But I'll toss to Jess and if anyone else wants to make a point, jump on in.
Jess: "Sister, there's a wind that never dies/ Sister, we're breathing together/ Sister, our love and hope forever keep on moving oh so slowly in the world." That's from John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "Angela" on Sometime in New York City and it's a song about Angela Davis written while she was a political prisoner.
Kat: And the Rolling Stones wrote and recorded "Sweet Black Angel" on Exile On Main St.
C.I.: And the point to make there, with both songs, is that they were part of a larger awareness. Davis speaks about that in this book. Jess or Elaine grab that.
Elaine: When Davis was imprisoned, the movement, the global movement, calling for her release was important, as it's important for people to pull together at all times, and she credits it.
Jess: And notes that it's a moment in time, touchstone, for many people and she realizes that when she meets them. More movements like that are needed to address the prison-industrial-comoplex.
Elaine: Because when the world is watching, the oppressors are less likely to expose themselves for what they are. With Angela Davis, you had people all over the world speaking out and pressing the issue. If that same sort of energy was applied to the issue of the prison-industrial-complex, "reforms" wouldn't be the end result.
Jim: So that's our discussion of Angela Y. Davis' Abolition Democracy which is a book we all highly recommend as we do Arundhati Roy's An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire. Read both and raise your awareness. The plan currently is to have another book discussion in two weeks but that's not a promise.
Well how did he shore up the 2002 elections?
Ah, yes. The rollout for war. For illegal war.
And cheerleaders love their costumes and love playing dress up so he's probably eager to get back into that flight suit and pretend like he's a fighter pilot. (Pretend a stone's throw from the California coastline only.)
From Seymour M. Hersh's "THE IRAN PLANS" (The New Yorker):
The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups. The officials say that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium.
American and European intelligence agencies, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.), agree that Iran is intent on developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons. But there are widely differing estimates of how long that will take, and whether diplomacy, sanctions, or military action is the best way to prevent it. Iran insists that its research is for peaceful use only, in keeping with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that it will not be delayed or deterred.
There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change. Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has challenged the reality of the Holocaust and said that Israel must be "wiped off the map." Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. "That's the name they're using. They say, 'Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?' "
A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was "absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb" if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do "what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do," and "that saving Iran is going to be his legacy."
One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that "a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government." He added, "I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, 'What are they smoking?' "
Smoking? What are they snorting!
We'll note that the statement re: Israel attributed to the Iranian minister has disputed meanings.
But is Bully Boy really so scared that he's about to play his only card -- "War time president" -- and so stupid that he doesn't grasp that he has neither the international nor domestic support to launch his third war while the other two are still playing out (badly)?
So how would such a scheme play out? We don't mean militarily. (Like Laura Nyro we're shouting, "In my mind I can't study war no more/ Save the people/ Save the country/ Now!")
How would the corporate media handle such a prospect? Would they speak out against an invasion?
From Susan Sontag's Regarding the Pain of Others, page 65:
During the Vietnam era, war photography became, normatively, a criticism of the war. This was bound to have consequences: mainstream media are not in the business of making people feel queasy about the struggles for which they are mobilized, much less of disseminating propaganda against waging war.
So will the press follow pattern and sit the truth out again? What about the people? Writing in October 2001, Naomi Klein noted (Fences and Windows, pp. 166-167):
Americans still don't get regular coverage on CNN of the ongoing bombings in Iraq, nor are they treated to human interest stories on the devestating effects of economic sanctions on that country's children. After the 1998 bombing of a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan (mistaken for a chemical weapons facility), there weren't too many follow up reports about what the loss of vaccine manufacturing did to disease prevention in the region.
And when NATO bombed civilian targets in Kosovo -- including markets, hospitals, refugee convoys, passenger trains -- NBC didn't do "streeter" interviews with survivors about how shocked they were by the indiscriminate destruction.
What has come to be called "video-game war coverage" is merely a reflection of the idea that has guided American foreign policy since the Gulf War: that it's possible to intervene in conflicts around the world -- in Iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan -- while suffering only minimal U.S. casualites. The United States government has come to believe in the ultimate oxymoron: a safe war.
Remember the lies that led to war? Media sold them and a public not willing to question bought them. From page 54 of the Center for Constitutional Rights' Articles Of Impeachment Against George W. Bush:
Shortly thereafer, and despite the administration's recognition that it had no legal support to declare war, Secretary of State Colin Powell went before the UN on February 5, 2003, and made what many thought was a powerful case justifying such war. However, every key contention in his speech was without support. On March 8, ten days prior to the official start of the war, President Bush in a radio address to the American people falsely claimed that he was trying to avoid war: "We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq. But if Saddam Hussein does not disarm peacefully, he will be disarmed by force."
On March 17, three days before the war began, President Bush again lied to the American people. "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised. And it [Iraq] has aided, trained and harbored terroists including operatives of al Qaeda."
"Could it happen again?" you ask. Why the hell not?
Daniel Ellsberg on Vietnam but it applies today:
As I saw it then, the war needed not only to be resisted; it remained to be understood. Thirty years later, I still believe that is true. . . .
(Via Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's Voice of a People's History of the United States, page 451.)
Yes, the people have turned against the war, yes, we want the troops out of Iraq. But what's really changed in the way things are dicussed in and by the corporate media?
The war pornographers want to get off on strategies while refusing to examine the realities -- in the lead up and currently. They want to talk about "troops on the ground" and "numbers" (never fatality numbers) while they attempt to con you into believing that better strategy would have made for a better war. One we could, apparently, all be proud of.
As Angela Y. Davis noted, "Bush was reelected -- or elected, since he was appointed into his first term rather than elected -- precisely because of the moral panic that diverted people's attention away from the more complicated questions about our future" (Abolition Democracy, page 89).
It's his only card to play. If he plays it will we act smarter this time? He's hoping we won't. He's hoping that the corporate media is still willing to cheerlead his wars. Maybe they are. But on the ground across the country, people have been saying "no" to war and maybe, just maybe, that he's so tarnished his own image with one scandal after another, that he won't be able to lie us into war again -- with or without the help of the corporate media.
Tom Hayden on Sunday's RadioNation with Laura Flanders-Larry Benksy looks at the death penalty Sunday am-WBAI broadcast Waiting for Godot Monday night
Radio notes, come and get your radio notes!
As Kat noted yesterday an interview Laura Flanders did with Tom Hayden (March 31st) will air for the first time tonight on RadioNation with Laura Flanders (you can listen by utilizing the link; this Air America Radio program also broadcasts over the airwaves from seven p.m. to ten pm. Eastern Standard Time).
We got more!
As Ruth noted:
Today on KPFA at nine a.m. Pacific time, eleven a.m. Central and noon Eastern, Larry Bensky's Sunday Salon will be exploring these topics:
In our first hour...
The Three "Rs"... No, not THOSE three... Revenge. Retribution. Rectification. The story we've passed down from generation to generation about these values fools us into believing our nation's penal system, including capital punishment, is legitimate. That's according to our guest, Judith Kay, author of "Murdering Myths: The Story Behind the Death Penalty."
In our second hour...
Who or Whom? That or Which? She or Her? Which is right? When? And how much does it really matter? Brush up on your grammar, or challenge your beliefs about it with Los Angeles Times columnist, June Casagrande, author of the new book "Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun & Spite," and Geoffrey Nunberg, professor at the UC Berkeley School of Information and the author of a the upcoming book "Talking Right: How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show."
And Rachel e-mailed to note this Monday night program (air time is Eastern Standard Time) on WBAI:
SAMUEL BECKETT 100: A Special Presentation
Monday, April 10, from 9:00-11:00 pm:
Commemorate Beckett's centenary and the 50th anniversary of the American premiere of his masterpiece, Waiting for Godot, by listening to a special broadcast of the play featuring the original Broadway cast: Burt Lahr, E.G. Marshall, Alvin Epstein and Kurt Kasner. Hosted and with an introduction by Simon Loekle.
In true Jeopardy form, give us the question to that answer!
The answer is a line from Chinatown (written by Robert Towne). The question? It came from Iwana.
She wondered why does the press call Scooter Libby "I. Lewis Libby"?
They love their officials and when an official is in trouble, it reminds them all (especially at The New York Times and Time magazine) how easily it could have been them. So they class him up a little by referring to him as "I. Lewis Libby" -- the man who went through public life demanding to be known as "Scooter." Scooter was he then and Scooter is he now in our books.
He don't look like no old building. We'll leave it to readers to decide whether politician or whore?
What I Didn't Find In Iraq
By Bully Boy
What I didn't find in Iraq.
I did not find the twins drunk and topless and that was a big relief to me & Laura.
I did not find Osama bin Laden but you can't find what you ain't looking for so no harm-no foul, you feel me?
I did not find roses strewn in my path. I kept going "Strewn? What's that mean, Condi? You paid attention in school?" She told me to think of it like "thrown." Those Iraqabs speak really funny. Me and John-Boy Cornyn been talking about an English Only amendment to the Iraqi Constitution. If they're going to be Americans, they need to learn to talk the language.
I did not find my mama even though Daddy will sometimes tell her, "Barbara, you are as ugly as Saddam's ass." Ha-ha-ha. That always cracks me up. It's like they're Frank & Marie and I'm Ray. I'm so cool. Family values rock!!!! Mama gives as good as she gets. Like sometimes she'll go, "George, how would you know what Saddam's ass looks like? Is there something you need to tell me? Is there anyone you didn't cheat on me with, you g**damn, c**k sucking, ass f**king, d**k licking, mother f**ker!" Mama cracks me up. I like how she and Daddy can joke with each other. Real wholesome. Sometimes she'll let loose like that on the front pew and everybody in church will stare. We're so awesome!
I did not find Waldo. But I looked real hard.
I did not find a road map. Condi & Donnie kept telling me, "You'll find the road map to the middle east in Iraq, sir." I kept asking, "Couldn't we just stop at a Texaco?" They'd go, "No, sir." I never got it but kept asking coz it's fun to say "Texaco." Tex-uh-co. It's kinda like Texas, ain't it? Say it with me: Tex-uh-co. Cool. I also kept asking coz I like to hear them call me "sir."
Laura kept asking me "Did you find close-your?" I kept asking, "Close your what? I know you don't mean my mouth coz I ain't even eating right now!" I never did get that. She'd roll her eyes, light another Pall Mall and spend all night pacing and muttering "What am I going to do about that fool?" I wish she'd tell me his name. I'd take care of him for her. I'd totally white phosphorus his ass. Couples should be able to talk.
I did find oil! I finally found oil, like I told Daddy, I finally found me some oil. They were calling me "Dry Well Bully" and that was really starting to hurt especially when Jeb was going on and on about how he had three kids and I only had two kids and his wife with the funny name has had three pregnanices and Laura's only had one . . . I go, "Jeb, I don't know. Forty people got on the bus at the third stop? Math is hard, you're frying my brain, dude." I was just happy that no one could call me no Dry Well no more. Jeb goes something about "That's like slant oil drilling" and I go "I ain't no slant oil and if I was, we got the same mama, mister, so then you're one too!" He goes, "How did this idiot get in charge?" and I go, "Who? Somebody getting on your nerves, bra? Point him out and I'll take care of him." Jeb's such a joker. He points at me and I laughed 'til I peed my pants. Even off the booze, my bro still cracks me up.
I found out that war is hard work. Somedays I only got a half-hour nap and boy was my butt dragging for the rest of the day.
I found out this country needs something like unlisted addresses. You know, like unlisted phone numbers? Everytime I went down to my ranch to get a little rest that Cindy Sheehan would be out there. I asked Dick if I could have his undisclosed location and he got all hard ass and goes, "It's not a time-share."
I did not find relief. That's cause Ari Fleishel kept going, "You have to wear it, sir!" And I was like, "What's a cod-piece? Sounds like a piece of fish." But I put it on for when we landed and I gave my speech in front of the pretty banner. Damn thing was so itchy, I couldn't wait to get it off. But it's real popular coz not only did Chris Matthews drool over it, Condi and Scotty were fighting over who got to keep it. I go, "Hey now, let me get out of it before you put your hands on it." They arm wrestled and Condi won so Scotty's been real mopey ever since. I was angry coz it was itchy when it was on and I had a bad rash when I got it off. I had to put cream on my junk for 6 weeks and it was a mess. Condi helped me out by shaving my man hairs down there. I go, "Should you be doing this?" and she goes "Sir, I am quite sure Alexendar Haig used to do it for Ronald Regan." She put all the hairs in a plastic sandwish bag and goes that she was giving it to Clarence Thomas "as a joke."
I did found out about mistakes. Here was a big doozy of a mistake I made: right at the start, I said that I was going to sacrifice too. I said I'd stop eating desserts. That's the main reason I declared "End of major combat operations." It was killing me to go without sweets. People don't know how hard that is. It was a huge sacrifice, way huge, and so tough. War is hell. That's why I declared it over in May of 2003. Back to the sweets!
So it's been a crazy up & down ride, learning experience for all of us.
Oh. Despite all the pre-war claims, I didn't find weapons of mass destruction. But, like with Osama, but you can't find what you knew was never there. You feel me?
_______________Bully Boy is a twice unelected war criminal.
Dona proposed this feature because she wanted Carly Simon's Hotcakes noted. Like many people, she knew "Haven't Got Time For The Pain" and "Mockingbird" but this was her first exposure to the entire album. Dona noted the power, force and softness Simon used throughout on the songs and wanted to note the lyrics specifically of "Just Not True:"
You're in my blood a Holy Ghost
I scream but it's a hollow plea
The thoughts I swallow leave me thirsty
You do a very fine imitation of me
And I say I'm not turned on by the way you laugh
I'm not turned on by the way you smile
I'm not turned on when you tell me that you love me
But sometimes, just sometimes
You can see the softness in my eyes
And you know, it's just not true.
Ty is a huge fan of Jeff Buckley's Grace CD and was thrilled to hear Goodbye And Hello. He knew the song "Once I Was" but nothing else from the album. He especially enjoyed the first track "No Man Can Find The War:"
Tape recorders echo scream
Orders fly like bullets stream
Drums and cannons laugh aloud
Whistles come from ashen shroud
Leaders damn the world and roar
But no man can find the war
Jim's revelation was from an album he'd never heard, Joni Mitchell's Song To A Seagull. And he's been singing "Night In The City" (to the annoyance of many) repeatedly ever since. The lyrics we'll note (picked by Jess and Wally) are from "The Dawntreader:"
Seabird I have seen you fly above the pilings
I am smiling at your circles in the air
I will come and sit by you while he lies sleeping
Fold your fleet wings I have brought some dreams to share
A dream that you love someone
A dream that the wars are done
A dream that you tell no one but the grey sea
They'll say that you're crazy
And a dream of a baby
Like a promise to be free
Children laughing out to sea
All his seadreams come to me
Many of us got to discover Aretha Franklin's cover of "Border Song (Holy Moses)" off Young, Gifted and Black:
Holy Moses, let us live in peace
Let us strive to find a way to make all hatred cease
There's a man over there,
What's his colour I don't care
He's my brother let us live in peace
He's my brother let us live in peace
He's my brother let us live in peace
When we started up The Third Estate Sunday Review, we frequently noted how few artists today were bothering to comment on anything in song. It wasn't that long that a certain well known artist who had made peace "statements" prior to the invasion of Iraq decided to turn out a sappy album about a happy "THIS IS IT!" relationship -- one that ended shortly after the album came out. Apparently denial of the world around wasn't the only denial going on when that album was recorded.
There were a group of artists we knew we could count on, like Ani DiFranco and Billy Bragg. Patti Smith, Prince and John Fogerty had stepped up to the plate before our site began. But in the early days, each new release would be a disappointment as the chroniclers of our times refused to write about the world around them. Green Day seems to have prodded many. We've also seen Bright Eyes, the Rolling Stones, Dolly Parton, Etta James, Joan Baez and others release albums in the time we've existed that took the time to comment on the world around them.
Cowboy Junkies' Early 21st Blues remains a favorite. And we're thrilled to listen to Ben Harper's Both Sides Of The Gun.
But what we noticed this weekend, as we pulled out various CDs from various periods, is that James Blunt is correct, there is "No Bravery." But we mean on the music scene. That's the rule. There are exceptions -- some of which we noted above. But compared to past periods, especially during Vietnam but also during the wars on Central America, artists weren't skittish.
They didn't hide behind love songs or "I'm so hot, look at me, I want to have sex but I won't so the Mommys and Daddys will let you listen to my music."
We're thrilled by the ones who've noticed that the world's more than a bed but we're less thrilled now that we grasp that it wasn't just John Lennon and a few others making statements in the late sixties and early seventies. We're glad Green Day stepped up but we have to wonder where the others are who made their name on the alternative scene? (Pearl Jam and Tori Amos made musical statements before this site was created.) Thought you were the big, bad, not scared of anything crowd? Where are you today?
It's not just the Disney Kids (or Paul McCartney) wasting everyone's time with drivel.
We're glad the numbers have grown but we're aware of how few they still are. We're also sure we've forgotten to mention some names. E-mail us if we didn't include someone making statements about the world today on their albums and we'll note them. (Cedric adds, "Bling-bling ain't no statement about the world around us. And the watering down of rap is a tragedy so don't bore us with any of that.")
But if two things stand out about this edition, it will be the stories people shared with us about why they are fighting the immigration "fix." (We agree with The Nation's editorial "Immigrants and Us:" "At this writing, in fact, the best outcome for now appears to be no resolution at all." ) and the wonderful music. Most of the time, we'll hear something over the phone and one of us we'll say, "Quiet everybody! What's that song?" So it was a real treat to be able to just sit around discussing the issue and listen to music together (and to do so while writing this edition). Readers always e-mail asking that we work in music more often and we agree that it's an important part of our lives. We just wish that more artists of today were releasing music that spoke to the times.
If through all the madness
We can stick together
We're safe and sound
The world's just inside out and upside down
The world's just inside out and upside down
When Carly Simon sings that on Hotcakes, it gives the love songs more meaning because there's a context for them beyond lust and money. Artists of today should take note.
"Safe and Sound" written by Carly Simon and Jacob Brackman
"The Dawntreader" written by Joni Mitchell
"Just Not True" written by Carly Simon
"No Man Can Find The War" written by Tim Buckley
"Border Song (Holy Moses)" written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin
While C.I. phoned community member PJ to see if there was any comment he wanted to make. He had quite a few and we were comfortable with them going up at The Common Ills. However, to aid us in having the spine for at least one entry (if not the structure) C.I. offered it to this edition.
The feature was "The Washington Post leaves us still Waiting For Lefty" and that edition didn't come with "A note to our readers" where we usually discuss what was written and note credit. Ava and C.I. did not want to participate in that entry at all. Only because the hour was late (actually around five in the morning) and things still had to be done along with the promise that we would do the features they wanted (one on the protests in France the other on Puerto Rico and the targeting of independence activists) did they agree to work on it focusing solely on the issue of the blogger. In that article evaluations of the paper were made by others participating:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, and Jim;
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
and Wally of The Daily Jot
Ava and C.I. did not participate in those evaluations (though Waiting for Lefty did come from C.I.). Had "A note to our readers" gone up, we would have noted that. C.I. wasn't aware that there was no note for that edition until calls started coming in from friends at the Washington Post. C.I. referred them to Jim and stated to call back after Jim had responded.
The gist of the calls (to Jim) can be summarized as expressing anger and then stating basically, "Well you're entitled to your opinion." Jim clarified that neither Ava nor C.I. wrote the evaluations, that they confined themselves to the issue of the blogger being fired. On C.I.'s end? The calls aren't discussed so who knows?
But C.I. avoids critiquing The Washington Post or highlighting it at The Common Ills due to potential conflicts of interest. (An online chat was noted and that chat was with a reporter that C.I. does not know.) Due to the efforts made at The Common Ills to avoid bringing up The Post (Martha and other members can highlight and it do -- C.I.'s comments on those highlights are only in terms of a wrap around statement contrasting it to a Times' report), we should have noted the fact that Ava and C.I. did not participate in evaluations of the paper or the reporters.
The phone calls (to Jim) took care of it in our mind. We don't retract our opinion. (C.I. and Ava don't retract their opinion of the treatment of the blogger.)
When C.I. was on the phone with PJ Saturday morning, it was obvious that it was an issue still. We do not care in terms of the paper but PJ is a member of the community and due to that and the fact that C.I. made the case for this being noted here (where the feature appeared), we are going to note it.
As C.I. noted in the draft version Saturday morning:
My contributions to that were confined solely to the issue of the way the blogger was disowned by the paper without any completed investigation on the part of the paper and for alleged errors that were not made either by the blogger in writing for the paper's website or while the blogger was employed by the paper and writing elsewhere. Both Ava and I did not want to take part in writing that commentary and our input was minimal. We agreed to participate at a minimal level to hurry the night along and with the promise that two topics we wanted covered would be (the protests in France and Puerto Rico). Due to time issues, those two ran in the print edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review and not online because there was no time to shape them into anything but scraps. This was supposed to be noted in the edition's "A Note To Our Readers" which is where Jim comments on the edition and notes who is responsible for what. Due to the fact that this was the never-ending edition (I think it took around thirty hours straight but check with someone else because I just know I wanted it to end), there was no "A Note To Our Readers."
When Jess has criticized The Washington Post's coverage of the peace movement in past news round ups, C.I. did not comment on the paper. That was intentional.
PJ's reaction, intended to go up Saturday morning at The Common Ills, was that he disagreed still with the commentary. His judgement was that the allegations against the blogger were an issue and that whether or not the blogger had plagiarized in the past or while at The Post did not matter because the issue was the reputation of the paper. Since the hiring had resulted in much attention and since the allegations had already resulted in an investigation, previous work did impact upon the reputation of the paper. PJ feels that C.I. and Ava wrongly see it from the angle of the public humiliation the blogger went through and not from the angle of the damage that was caused to the institution of the paper. (PJ confined his remarks to C.I. and Ava.)
PJ feels that the paper made the correct decision and wanted it noted that the blogger did not appear in print but only at the paper's website.
PJ's opinions are similar to those expressed to Jim. Most people complaining stated that not to address the issue as it was would allow "the situation" to be an ongoing controversy where each post by the blogger would become the "news of the day online" as everyone rushed to see if they could catch him borrowing material. As long as the situation was not addressed, any story the paper broke would be eclipsed by the continued attention placed on the blogger.
I will open this report with CounterSpin and start, as CounterSpin does, by noting "recent press."
Peter Hart: Former Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger's death on March 28th was followed by glowing obituaries that mostly played down the messier episodes in his career. Time Magazine dismissed Weinberger's 1992 indictment in the Iran-Contra scandal as a QUOTE "Late rare blemish" CLOSED QUOTE on a long career. In fact the indictment was for
activities occurring in the mid and late 1980s and Weinberger was at the pinnacle of his career. A lengthy Los Angeles Times obituary covered Weinberger's indictment to the Iran-Contra scandal to a few short paragraphs explaining that he was a QUOTE "complex figure" CLOSED QUOTE. Weinberg was indicted for concealing evidence. It was widely believed that his trial would have proved Ronald Reagan's and George H. W. Bush's roles in the scandal.
Two weeks before the trial in 1992, Weinberger received a pardon from Bush. Dana Milbank's Washington Post piece, headlined "A Warm Farewell for a Cold War Warrior" was just as sentimental as that headline. Reporting about how current Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld choked up at how fondly Weinberger was remembered. Milbank added a little sentimentality of his own by inaccurately setting Weinberger's career in QUOTE "a simpler time, before the binary logic of mutually assured destruction gave way to the messy nuances of asymmetrical warfare" CLOSED QUOTE. But asymmetrical warfare, loosely defined as warfare targeting civilians, was no stranger to the Reagan era and the preceding years. Milbank's distinction ignores forty years of cold war history when the U.S. played a central role in killing millions of civilians in countries including Vietnam, Laos, Angola, Congo, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and many more. That those deaths could be summarily erased in the service of fuzzy feelings about a figure like Weinberger is a commentary on the state of watchdog press.
While Peter Hart critiqued the coverage of Casper Weinberger's passing, Janine Jackson critiqued the coverage of Hugh Chavez.
Janine Jackson: Last month the Los Angeles Times reported that the White House would soon be stepping up its efforts against Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Well the New York Times seems to be following the same playbook. On March 31st, the paper ran a long piece detailing allegations against the Chavez government made by members of the country's increasingly marginalized opposition. The piece was one-sided by design with the majority of the quotes coming from those seeking to unseat Chavez. The Times did its part by offering up a very typical explanation of Chavez's popularity. QUOTE "Chavez remains hugely popular with a fifty-five percent approval rating in opinion polls for having funneled billions of dollars in oil revenue to the poor." CLOSED QUOTE. Most polls actually put Chavez's approval ratings at about fifteen or twenty percent higher. As to the second point, Venezuela has a state-owned oil company so the fact that those revenues would be spent on the country's people, many of whom are poor, was not exactly a surprise. Why the Times calls that funneling is unclear. A few days later, the Times was on the Venezuela beat again with an April 4th report headlined
"Chavez seeking foreign ally spends billions." The sourcing in this story was also lopsided in favor of Chavez's critics so readers weren't able to hear much that would counter the ideal that Chavez's pushing what the paper called pet projects to enhance his his regional power
or, in the New York Times' construction, QUOTE "provocatively building a bulwark against what he has called American imperialist aims." CLOSED QUOTE. Dissenting opinions were available on the letter pages of the Times with one reader wondering why one country's foreign aid was derided as pet projects by the paper especially since U.S. efforts to spend money abroad were termed, in the very same piece, development programs.
Following two more critiques, Peter Hart interviewed PR Watch's Daniel Price about the fake news that makes it onto the airwaves. The fake news in this case comes via something called "Video news releases." I am assuming that this is some sort of industry term but since it is not not news, I am unclear why coverage on this repeats the term "Video news release"? Would a better term be "Video press release"? That is what they are and the term I will use because I feel including "news" in the term may lead some casual observers to question what the problem is since they are "news." They are corporate advertisements.
If you have missed the news coverage of this topic, corporations are creating their own press releases. That is something that they have always done; however, decades ago they would present this in text form and, from time to time, newspapers would run the press releases an actual news article. The same thing is occurring today and the newer feature is that the press releases are in video form. Local stations have been airing the video press releases as "news."
There has been little disclaimer and, as Mr. Price noted, efforts have been made to pass the p.r. spokespersons off as the press and as reporters for the local stations by saying, "Now here's ___ with that story." In 92% of incidents where stations aired these Video press releases, no original reporting was added by the station. Mr. Price stated that it might seem like this would be an issue for smaller stations since they would have lower budgets but, in fact, their study found that the Video press releases could be found in "Every major city, we got big market stations." More information and ways to make your voice heard on this issue can be found at PR Watch.
Ms. Jackson interviewed Jeff Faux who was the president of Economic Policy Institute and is the author of The Global Class War. Their discussion revolved around the global economy with an emphasis on the coverage of the French protests over proposed changes to the labor laws. Even when Ms. Jackson is left panning for gold with a guest, I always enjoy her own work in the interview but it is always twice as enjoyable to hear her interview someone who does not minimalize the obligations or actions of the press. Mr. Faux was such a guest and I strongly recommend the interview. Ms. Jackson noted in her opening that the coverage of the French protests took a point of view that the efforts the protesters opposed were a historical march and a norm which led to a ridiculing of those opposed to the proposals. This was one of the many of the points that Mr. Faux was able to elaborate on. "News you can use," as Ms. Jackson noted, might allow for questioning of different situations but instead the mind set was that there is only one way and those with other ways must be brought up to date, up to speed. Mr. Faux spoke of this and offered additional examples of past coverage including NAFTA.
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The latest on the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame is that court papers indicate that the Bully Boy authorized Scooter Libby to leak classified information to the press. On what exactly was authorized, the White House is not saying. Ms. Welch and her guests addressed this topic Friday. Truthout.org's Jason Leopold suspects that this is "an explosive revelation because for the first time it places the President . . . at the center of this campaign to discredit Joe Wilson. If in fact, he did authorize Libby to leak the National Intelligence Estimate to a reporter it was simply done to undercut Joe Wilson." Mr. Leopold felt that the court papers indicate that there are multiple White House participants who were involved in attempts to discredit Mr. Wilson whose "What I Didn't Find In Africa" ran in the New York Times and countered claims by the administration regarding "yellow cake." Mr. Leopold noted that Scooter Libby met with Bob Woodward on June 27, 2003 and discussed the National Intelligence Estimate, "three weeks before the National Intelligence Estimate was declassified." I will mention that Mr. Leopold has a forthcoming book entitled News Junkie.
Another guest, Larry Johnson, former CIA intelligence analyst and member of Veteran Professionals for Sanity, feels that we have a "rogue president." The blaming the misinformation the administration put out in the lead up to the war on the intelligence community is "a lie," Mr. Johnson explained. There was no consensus of opinion among the intelligence community and, in fact, there were segments that were quite vocal about the fact that the assertions about Iraq's weapons systems were inflated. "What is clear out of that," Mr. Johnson stated, "is that there was no consensus among the intelligence community."
Robert Parry was the third guest. Ms. Welch and Mr. Parry addressed how the latest revelations effected the Bully Boy at a time when he is already polling poorly. Ms. Welch wondered how much or how little the issue of Valerie Plame might be effecting perceptions of the Bully Boy? Mr. Parry felt that effect from this and the other scandals was forcing illusions to be shed. He noted that past press coverage of the Bully Boy had quite frequently included the description of the Bully Boy as "a straight shooter" but that this was not currently the case.
Two areas or wrinkles interested Mr. Parry. The first was the interview Mr. Fitzgerald had with the Bully Boy on June 24, 2004. At that seventy minute interview, Bully Boy was accompanied by a criminal attorney. What did the Bully Boy testify to? He was not under oath but "what was discussed" and it is a crime to lie during a federal investigation. The second wrinkle was something noted in the New York Times. On the day that Mr. Fitzgerald announced the indictment of Scooter Libby, prior to that announcement, Mr. Fitzgerald met with the Bully Boy's criminal attorney James Sharp. What was the purpose of that meeting and what was discussed."
The fourth guest was Tom Devine, of the Government Accountability Project. Mr. Devine addressed developments in the Congress. He is advocating the passage of legislation to provide intelligence agency whistleblowers with more protections including the right to jury trials when they feel that they have been retaliated against for whistleblowing and to challenge the removal of a security clearance which can result in a failure to find other employment. The bills, there are two that are supposed to be merged, should go to a floor vote but there are efforts to prevent that from taking place. Calling (202) 224-3121, asking to be connected to the Speaker of the House's office and demanding a vote on the whistle blowing legislation could force a floor vote. The two bills, not yet merged, are HR 5112 and HR 1317. The first addresses the rights of the national security employees and the second addresses whistleblowers in other departments of the government.
As part of an update on the case of Salim Ahmed Hamden, WBAI's Law and Disorder played a sample of the Supreme Court's hearing on March 28th. Mr. Hamden's right to habeas corpus is in question, as is true of all the Guantanamo prisoners, thanks to the Detainee Trainee Detention Act. The government is arguing that the Congress intentionally stripped the prisoners of habeas corpus and removed judicial oversight. This led to an interesting exchange between the government attorney and the Justices. Justice David Souter questioned the lines of argument that Congress intended to strip the prisoners of the writ of habeas corpus and that, even if they did not mean to, they had done so inadvertently so, the government maintains, it is gone now. From his questioning, he did not appear to buy that line of argument and at one point stated, "You are leaving us with the position of the United States that the Congress may validly suspend it inadvertently. The writ is the writ. Now wait a minute, the writ is the writ."
Another segment dealt with the break in at the Brecht Forum on March 16, 2006. The executive director of the Brecht Forum, Liz Mestres, discussed the break in noting that "[t]hey came in through one of the office windows and stole two computers, a boom box and a shopping cart." Other valuable items and equipment was left untouched. Who broke in? Quite often, these type of break ins have been done by the government or its proxies. Michael Smith and Michael Ratner were quite clear, as was Ms. Mestres and Margaret Ratner Kunstler, that this may not have been governmental or governmental sponsored but that with the past history, it was worth considering the possibility that it was. The break in means that whomever did it now has access to the Brecht Forum's mailing list.
Ms. Ratner Kunstler discussed breaks in during the eighties when she was assisting with the solidarity movement for victims in Central America and found her offices broken into "over a hundred times."
"We suspected though that it was Salvadorans, contras ....," Ms. Ratner Kunstler stated. "The reason that we thought that was that given the history . . ."
She further noted that "after Felt & Miller, the FBI utilized surrogates except for cases when they lose a piece of equipment. There's something macho about losing your gun. . . . Michael and I had that experience where a client had a bumper beeper on his car."
Ms. Mestres stated that, "We have to not be intimated by these things. The Patriot Act itself is a forum of intimidation." Ms. Ratner Kunstler noted that when these were occurring previously, publicity was an important tool.
"Publicity made people more aware of what happened and made them more prepared when they did happen," Ms. Ratner Kunstler stated. "We felt that if we kept publicizing, we could maybe stop it. If we couldn't stop it, we could at least make people more comfortable about working" in an environment which was the repeated target of government sponsored break ins.
Michael Smith noted that at his office in Detroit, during the sixties, they had a burglar alarm that went off constantly and they could not figure out why. They thought possibly it was a mouse. Years later, due to another case, it was revealed that the police were entering the office illegally to rifle through the files.
I was speaking with C.I. about this segment and the one thing C.I. asked me to stress was that the databases were of interest, that this is what the snooping on libraries has to do with and to note Matthew Rothschild's McCarthyism Watch article entitled "Spying On Peace Activists at Drake University." This, along with the spying on peace activists by the Pentagon, are being noted because, if it was a governmental sponsored break in, some people may wonder, "Who needs a copy of a database?"
The government's actions in other instances indicate that someone in or some arm of the government feels they do need databases. For people who have followed events of the last few years, lived through the earlier episode of governmental spying or both will hear about the break in at the Brecht Forum and nod but for those who may not have followed events as closely, this may need to be tied together. That was the purpose of the segment on Law and Disorder. If you heard the show or are able to listen, you grasped that but if you are following merely by these reports, you may wonder about a "list of names." Tricky Dick Nixon had a list of names, it was called an "Enemies List." Prior to that, a blacklist existed under McCarthyism. Names and addresses may appear in the white pages if someone has a listed phone number. They might be considered public information. The reasons for the government obtaining a database would be to compile a watchlist.
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