Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
Sunday. We've got a new edition.

First, thank you to Dallas for always hunting down links, being a sound board and more. C.I. pointed out that we forgot to thank Dallas last week. Apologies to Dallas for that.


Humor Spotlight: Wally on Pete Coors' arrest (he was arrested)
Blog Spotlight: Mike noting the start of the weekend and more
NYT criticque via The Common Ills
Humor Spotlight: Betty on Thomas Friedman's War Paint Council
Cooking Spotlight: Deviled Eggs in the Kitchen
Cooking Spotlight: Rosemary Roasted Potatoes in the Kitchen
Blog Spotlight: Cedric on war breeding war
Blog Spotlight: Elaine on summer and summer reading
Blog Spotlight: Kat pointing out something many missed

We thank everyone for their permission to repost. Those working on new content this edition:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and me, Jim;
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

New content:

Redistricting right up to the election? -- our election focus.

It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Boring) -- and boring he is.

The rush to grab that linked article! -- a reader, Tamara, e-mailed already this morning asking if we could add a link to that feature, Phyllis Bennis' "The Gaza/Lebanon Crises: Escalating Occupation & Danger of New Border Fighting." Worth reading.

All He Is Saying Is Act Like M15 Doesn't Exist -- how does it end up that non-British people know more about M15 spying on John Lennon than a writer in England? Or does he just not think it was worth noting?

William Lash III -- is dead.

Tour de Drip -- Lovely Lance. Friend of Bully Boy.

The long and winding edition -- the thing that delayed this entry like crazy. Four hours debating on how to touch on this topic. C.I. did not want to in any form. We finally decided to just make it a summary and to only include the six of us (Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.). Where there are disagreements, they are noted.

Editorial: House of Cards Collapses -- Bully Boy's left standing with his pants around his ankles. (Cover your eyes! For God's sake, cover your eyes!)

TV: 4 Days in 7th Hell -- Ty says one e-mail already came in asking when the episode would air? Never. This is Ava and C.I.'s TV commentary, by the way. Written solely by them. In the spirit of facing your fears, they ignored their repulsion, suppressed their urge to vomit and watched episodes of 7th Heaven. At the start of the edition, they told us they had no review for this edition. "It's just too boring," they told us. Then, we missed Laura Flanders (we did have her on in the background but the arguments re: "The long and . . ." were so intense that no one was following the program) and that was two holes in our edition. (And we're fully aware that for the majority of our readers we can do anything provided we have a TV commentary.) We didn't put pressure on them to rethink that decision. What happened was Ava said, "I can't take another minute of this discussion." She and C.I. broke off from the group and attempted to figure out which was worse, rejoining the discussion or writing a commentary? They decided to get creative with the commentary (we all love it) and spent longer on it than they usually do. (We're sure they were avoiding the rest of us and hoping the matter would be over before they rejoined.)

So that's what we're offering this week. Hopefully, there's something that gets you excited and gets you active.

-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: House of Cards Collapses

The AP reports that a trash bag bomb killed at least four and wounded at least 21 in Baghdad today. Reuters notes the death of four in al-Rasool (with at least ten wounded) from mortar rounds. A British soldier has died and another wounded in actions in Basra, according to the BBC. The AFP brings the news that two US troops died on Saturday.

Reuters informs that three people were shot dead near Tikrit; a father & son and a woman were killed in Muqdadiya; while, near Kirkuk, two truck drivers were killed and a third kidnapped. Corpses? Two today in Balad ("signs of torture"); three female corpses discovered in Mosul, the corpse of a police officer discovered in Diwaniya (he was kidnapped Saturday along with three other police officers); while four corpses were found on Saturday (Reuters).

The AFP notes the comments of Spain's prime minister (Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero):

The war in Iraq had been a "disaster" which had led to "radicalisation, fanaticism, conflict and instability in the region," he said.

How bad are things? The LA Times reports that when asked "Is the U.S. winning?" the Army chief of staff, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, replied to Congress: "I think I would answer that by telling you I don't think we're losing."

Peter W. Galbraith, in The Times of London, offers suggestions and concludes with the following:

Theoretically, the United States has the power to provide some level of security in Baghdad. This would require many more troops and result in many more casualties. And it might not work. It is hard to imagine that there is any support for this role in America.
The alternative is to recognise that there is not much that America is able and willing to do to stop the bloodshed in Baghdad. Once they get started, modern civil wars develop a momentum of their own. In Baghdad and other mixed Sunni-Shi’ite areas, America cannot contribute to the solution because there is no solution, at least not in the foreseeable future.
It is a tragedy and it is unsatisfying to admit that there is little that can be done about it. But it is so. No purpose is served by a prolonged American presence anywhere in Arab Iraq.

Three years after the illegal invasion started this illegal war, with the American people favoring a withdrawal, we've got a Congress that still won't tackle reality. (And instead of making that their rallying cry for the November elections Democrats show their 'bravery' by saying, "Americans, you're worth 2 dollars and ten cents more an hour!")

Until people get serious about this war (CODEPINK is serious) this war will continue to drag on. The last (uninformed) argument appears to be lost -- "What will happen if we leave?" All but the self-deniers seem to be grasping that our presence continues to make the situation worse. More than that, we may be able to connect the actions of the Israeli government with Bully Boy's actions. Bully Boys breed Bully Boys. (Bad news for the US in the long term as the government's actions come back to haunt the citizens.)

All the lies have revealed. Bully Boy's bluffing flipped over like cards in a poker game. WMD? Nope. Never were any. "Democracy"? Didn't Rumsfeld's announcement that the Iraqi people weren't in a position to decide about US withdrawal expose that lie? The war would pay for itself? (Seems like everyone over there's paying with blood.) And the US Congressional Budget Office states: "The Iraq war could cost U.S. taxpayers between $202 billion and $406 billion more over the next 10 years". Wasn't the last lie left that somehow our presence over there was necessary to keep things stable? Have they been following the events?

It's time to bring the troops home.

TV: 4 Days in 7th Hell

Ava and C.I. Camden here. At least that's what our agent told us to tell people. We just landed the gig and ay-yi-yi.

Simon and Ruthie are out!

That's the word.

And 7th Heaven needed two new young characters quick. Could we pass for fourteen-year-old cousins just moved to Glenoak? Catherine Hicks took one look at us and laughed out loud. What fun she must have been on Tucker's Witch opposite the world's oldest college student (31 when he was on screens as Otter; 37 when on screens as Bob McGraw).

We avoided Stephen Collins for most of the week because he was on one of his "I could have been Tom Selleck" kicks. (Let it go, let it go. Doesn't TM offer any peace?)

Our big concern, frankly, was us.

We wanted to stand out and thought we could give the show a goose by showing a little flesh. That led to the day one dressing down.

As punishment, drill sergeant, er series creator, Brenda Hampton forced us to watch a few episodes, "So you can understand the 7th Heaven family."

We're not sure, but we think it was the last episode, the one about wedding rings -- where Pop Camden lost his like twenty-something years prior and they were only talking about it now, where the minute-rice hottie lost his and where Simon was having trouble paying for one -- that left us feeling all nasty and wasted like we were tricked out on 'ludes.

There was a beaming Hampton, glowing in front of us, asking, "So you get it now?"

"Yeah, it's about a family in Amish country," one of us cracked.

As an attempted brainwashing, Hampton forced us to watch the episode about Sam & David's birth.

"Get it now?" Hampton asked in sterner tones.

Hey, we've been through the airports, we're familiar with Moonies. We smiled vacantly and said, "It's about life and love and puppy dog tails."

She embraced us warmly, gave us gift bags of Nabisco Oreo Cookies and we think we heard her say something about pamphlet literature that we'd be passing out on the weekend.

We were too busy working up our first big scene.

The script had C.I. Camden saying, "I don't know Ava, I hope everyone likes us." Ava Camden responds, "Me too. They seem really nice and, when I look at them, I just feel the love." C.I. was supposed to respond, "I think I have an idea of how we can get them to like us." Then our characters rush out of the room and the next scene (to be filmed on Friday) would have us making Duncan Hines brownies for everyone in the kitchen.

We filmed the bedroom scene on our second day. We didn't understand the big problem on the set. Look, we know writers are married to every word, comma and period. We weren't going to mess with the lines. We were playing two troublemakers from the Camden side who'd been sent to live with the Rev for awhile (thirteen episodes) so that the love of a good American family could show us the error of our ways. We were spitballing and brainstorming how to make the scene come alive. No one, not one person, told us we couldn't provide our own props.

We think the scene went wonderfully. (And we'll note no one called for a reshoot. In fact, they were so stunned by our creativity, the director forgot to yell "cut.")

We were upstairs in Mary's old room (apparently the designated room for trouble makers) and they'd set some suitcases around to make it look like we'd just arrived. One was open, on the bed and we put a prop in there. The director called, "Action."

Here's how it played. Ava Camden, 14, looks around the room, scared of the newness but in awe of the love that breathes from the wall like lead paint. C.I., 14, knelt before the bed, reached into the suitcase and pulled out a bag.

Beginning to roll a joint, C.I. said, "I don't know Ava" dramatic pause to light up "I hope everyone likes us." Walking over, Ava took the joint and a deep drag before saying, "Me too" and then exhaling to give the scene a visual before adding, "They seem really nice and, when I look at them, I just feel the love," Ava passed the joint back to C.I. Studying it for a moment, then waving it in the air, C.I. shouted, "I think I have an idea of how we can get them to like us!"

Excitedly, we rushed out of the room.

We thought we'd really created something and read the stunned silence that followed the end of the scene to be a testament to that. Only after one of us called, "Cut!" did we realize there was a problem.

We were in Hampton's office, surrounded by Oreos, Campbell soup cans and, we swear, a Dodge Grand Caravan. Hampton was t-ed off.

What did we think we were doing?

Well, the script said we were "trouble makers," right?

"In the 7th Heaven universe," Hampton explained, "that means you've been borderline C-students, who forget to brush after every meal -- you have received your complimentary Crest tubes, right -- and who've dated dangerously."

"Oh, we're sex addicts," one of us said while the other shrugged and added, "Our bad. Wrong addiction. Live and learn."

"S-s-s-e-x!" Hampton stammered. "No one used that word! You 'dated dangerously.' That means you missed your curfews, didn't introduce your dates to your parents and have taken to liberally using swear words like 'darn.'"

She really bore down on the word 'liberally.' We let it pass. So we were playing two losers? Well why didn't she just say that?

"That's right. Social losers," Hampton said firmly.

"So we should be in wardrobe getting some glasses and ugly outfits," one of us said attempting to end the discussion.

"What? No!" Hampton answered. "These are not dorks, these are dangerous characters. We went with you two because we were told you could bring 'gritty realism' to the show. That you'd be convincing as dangerous characters, as --"

We exchanged a look, rolled our eyes and feared she was about to say it, yep, she was.

"darn dangerous characters. We have created a whole arc of growth storyline for them where, by the end of this episode, they go to church to hear Lucy's sermon and by the beginning of the second episode they've repented and recanted their old ways."

She thought that was realism? She obviously never saw Kids or read Drew's Little Girl Lost -- let alone visited the real world.

We just wanted out of there before she ordered us to clean the latrines or, worse, palmed off some more Kraft samples on us.

"Got it," we said nodding.

Day three was a scene where we were supposed to talk to Kevin about feeling like an outsider while he took care of his daughter. Our big lines were "That is just amazing" and "What a sweet baby."

Our big mistake? Saying them when Kevin bends over to change Savannah's diaper.

We thought that was real. Come on, it's only a matter of time before George Stults does a multi-year vanishing act and then reappears playing a creepy character with a creepy hairline on a soap opera. Those looks are transitory, why not enjoy them while they last? Or are we the only ones who remember "Merle the Pearl"?

So we exchanged a look, stared at Stults blue jean clad butt and stated, "That is just amazing" followed by a whistle and "What a sweet baby."

You'd have thought we said, "Break me off a piece of that, Sister Slut!" the way Brenda Hampton came storming up to us.

Back her in office, smoke was pouring out of her ears as she reamed us out (which seemed to be the day-to-day thing she got the most kicks from, obviously Aaron's death has left her feeling "empowered" -- we'll tell Tori).

"That is just about it!" she screamed. "We have already discussed the s-word. For you to do that scene and do it that way was just . . ."

She paused before spitting out the word "suggestive."

But weren't we 'dangerous dating' 14-year-olds? If we wouldn't have sex, wouldn't we at least notice the bods around us? (And did anyone really have a bod on that show other than Stults?)

"This is a family show!" she hissed. "Maybe in three years, when your characters hit 17, we'll do a show revolving around the s-word, giving one of you a pregnancy or STD scare. Other than that, Camdens save it for marriage!"

We shuddered as we remembered the glorification of marriage in the ring episode, where Lucy and Kevin go dreamy eyed at the thought of her parents about to have sex as soon as everyone leaves the room. Creepy.

Hampton insisted that was "reality!" and that married people continue to have sex. We countered we weren't doubting that they did but we don't know many children who get excited about the thought of their parents having . . . We paused, smiled politely and ended with 'the s-word.'

She told us they do that in a religious family, they do it all the time, they get very excited when the parents have the s-word. Not wanting to be questioned on that, she warned us against screwing up tomorrow's big church scene and told us to get out.

We were nervous until we called our agent who set us straight: "Reality is that you're characters won't see 17 -- the show's only got 13 episodes and then it's over. Reality is that Spelling was a franchise but Hampton is Fat Actress. The CW won't kiss her ass. A show that had it's highest rating in 1999 should have been cancelled in 2001."

That calmed our nerves. But we really did want to do a good job -- or, at least, avoid another ass chewing. So we gave a lot of thought to the church scene. We had six lines between us. These little generic statements that never even mentioned the Son of the God. So this time, we decided to tamper with the text.

Hampton didn't hit the roof. She'd blown the roof off days ago. She shot to the moon on this one. Grabbing us roughly, each by an upper arm, (and did she take a moment to compliment our delt tone? No.) she hauled us off to the side.

"What is all that 'Praise Jesus' crap! This ain't no revival!" she snarled.

But it's a family show, a religious family show.

"We do not stress 'Jesus.'"

"How do you do a religious family show, where two characters are pastors, and never talk about 'Jesus'?" wondered one of us.

"Very carefully," Hampton insisted. "Our appeal is splintered among various denominations. You two acted like you were about to start speaking in tongues. Do you know what that would do to our ratings?"

We started to ask, "What ratings?" -- but she looked like Pat Robertson calling for the murder of Hugo Chavez, so we just eased away slowly.

We hit our marks, the director called action and we reshot the scene, which for some reason included Campbell's chicken noodle soup being passed around with the offering plate. We uttered our lines in a mechanical drone -- with all the believability of Condi Rice testifying before the 9-11 Commission.

Hampton pronounced it 'perfection' and before we could break for lunch we had to shoot the next scene with Catherine Hicks. This was the scene where we thank Annie for taking us into her home especially since we're from her husband's side of the family. Hicks is mainly supposed to listen to us then say "We are family, we are" while offering us Oreos.

Pouring all the anger over the way her career turned out into that one line, we felt like she was flashbacking to Chuckie as she nearly crammed two cookies down our throats. This was sincerity torn from the Book of Tammy Faye. We couldn't help but giggle, blowing the take.

Hick was furious and screaming for Hampton, screaming for her agent, screaming for makeup and screaming for her career being in a public toilet.

Hey, don't blame us, we didn't force her to disgrace herself for an eleventh season of bad TV. And it's not like we'd been taunting her with, "Oh yeah, well Bess Armstrong didn't bastardize her craft!" We hadn't brought up any of her contemporaries from the days when Hicks' name conjured a promising, exciting career.

But that was it for us, Hampton told us, we weren't 7th Heaven people. (Gee, you think?) They'd piece together what they could in editing (like they don't do that already) and we wouldn't be needed for the second episode.

She'd had a brainstorm: our characters salvation hadn't taken. We'd gone back to 'dangerous dating' and snuck out, on a Sunday night (a sure sign of our sinful ways -- even the Lord rested on Sunday!), then ditched our dates (who just wanted to share an ice cream soda with us) for the mysteries of the road as promised by an old man offering us a ride to La Jolla (if Hampton was attempting to suggest a portal to hell, couldn't she have just had us head off for the Richard Nixon Museum in San Clemente?).

It would all happen off screen (like most of the action does on that show) and lead to a lot of pondering and soul searching on the part of the Camdens over Oreos and cups of Campbell's tomato soup.

"It'll be another award winning episode!" she exclaimed and we just knew she didn't mean Emmys but some right-wing group applauding the show for tackling the perils of hitchhiking and 'dangerous dating.'

At this point, we didn't care -- our agent had nailed down a pay-or-play for all thirteen episodes. We packed up our stuff and headed out, passing the soundstage where Hampton had gathered in a circle with the cast and profit participants to pray for what really mattered: "residuals," "brand integration" and "end-of-season renewal."

Can a show about nothing last twelve seasons?

We'd be non-believers like our agent but cloaking itself in the guise of faux-morality had pulled it up to the eleventh season. Appealing to the gods of commerce (the true religion practiced on the product placement heavy show) and the gods of false piety had clearly worked for it thus far.

Redistricting right up to the election?

Want an election news scandal?

Here's one you may not have heard about, Rick Lyman covered it on the back of Saturday's New York Times (A26, "Texas Rivals Offer Competing Redistricting Plan"). Background, Texas redrew their Congressional districts after the census. (The legislature couldn't come up with a plan so the court did.) Due to the GOP doing quite well in state elections, the state legislature later decided they'd take up the redistricting issue. (Traditionally, you redistrict every ten years based on the census results.)

This led to many conflicts. Just the proposal of redrawing. The Texas House saw some Democrats walk out and the state's Senate followed. (One group went to Oklahoma -- and Tom DeLay, the prime force behind the redistricting plan, and others thought it would be 'fun' to divert resources and have Homeland Security try to locate them; while the second group went to New Mexico.) The attempts to postpone it didn't help. The districts were redrawn to give Republicans a majority. The issue finally ended up in the Supreme Court where they elected to focus on only one district, the 23rd. They felt it under-represented Latino voters and needed to be redrawn to meet the Voting Rights Act.

Did you follow all of that?

Well, remembering that Congressional elections take place this November, follow this: to redraw that district, other districts -- surrounding districts -- would have to be changed. The Republicans (apparently without Tom DeLay's help this time -- but who knows?) have a plan that would, Lyman writes, remove one US Congress member from his own district (Democrat Lloyd Doggett), and split Travis County into three districts while taking some of district Henry Bognilla (Republican) currently represents and giving it to the district that Henry Cuellar (Democrat) now represents. The Democrats plan would reduce the the geographical size of the 25th district (which Molly Ivins once compared to Picasso-like for the creative manner in which Republicans drew it out). (That's the extent of Lyman's coverage of the Democrat's plan.) (There are other plans drawn up by other groups, Lyman doesn't review them.)

But here's the thing to focus on, the Supreme Court turned over the issue of the validity of the newly drawn 23rd district "to a three-judge panel of the Federal District Court." The plans have been submitted to the three-judge panel. Arguments will begin on August 3rd. As the Associated Press pointed out: "The high court did not set a deadline for a new map, but changes would have to be made soon to be effective in the November general election." That may lead some people to respond to the question of "Who are you going to vote for?" with "I'm waiting to find out where I live."

The same AP story notes that Texas Governor Rick Perry states this is really a legislature issue and, after he sees the court's verdict, he may call a special session of the legislature to redraw the 23rd district (that would mean if he's unhappy with the judges' call). The AP fails to warn readers this isn't idle talk from the man Ivins has dubbed "Governor Good Hair." Perry called two special sessions on this issue already. (The first led to the walk out to Oklahoma, the second to the walkout to New Mexico.) Assuming he's unhappy with the judges' decision, this might mean that it's September before the voters of the 23rd district (and those surrounding them) know exactly which candidates they'll be able to choose from.

It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Boring)

Well forget that wars are waging across the globe, forget that the economy is tanking, Bob Dylan's selling nostalgia and that's apparently going to save the world! Possibly cure cancer as well.

Tom Palaima tells you, if you were born between 1925 and 1955, Bobby's pulling a Wilco -- trying to break your heart! He's peddling nostalgia which will teach about our commonalities in a disconnected nation:

With hundreds of cable stations, we no longer share a common experience at the one communal hearth we used to have: television. Remember three national networks, Huntley and Brinkley and Uncle Walter Cronkite?

Hundreds of cable stations preventing us from sharing a common experience? We won't argue pro or con on that, but we'll wonder how Palaima finds the salvation to that in a program airing on XM radio which offers over 150 channels to its subscribers?

We'll also note that he underplays one key development -- Dylan's splicing in commercials. On XM radio -- where the selling point is no commercials! Give up free radio and come to XM which is commercial free!

That change actually happened earlier. Some of the music channels began featuring commercials earlier -- the ones run by Clear Channel. Yeah, you read that right, XM's in business with Clear Channel, a company that's done more to destroy the local feel of radio than nearly anyone else and it's not mentioned in this . . . What is it?

Yet another hommage to Dylan? As he continues to age, we assume we'll next be applauding his bowel movements. (Actually, we'll next be applauding his 'hipness' with his 'shout out' to Alicia Keys on his upcoming album.) Or, as Richard Goldstein noted, "As Dylan's original fans age, some feel a need to make the icon of their youth into an eternal object of worship."

Which explains how a column about a show selling a form of nostalgia (topics include "Mothers" and "Fathers") that would make Oprah's ratings tank is being hailed as some sort of political act.
Probably helps, when noting all the tunes Bobby's spinning, to over look the fact that the long list of names includes only one woman (Kitty Wells). We're sure some keen mind can find that revolutionary and good for our commonalities as well.

Joni Mitchell once told Cameron Crowe about being on the Queen Mary with Dylan. Since they were both painters, he asked her how she'd capture the Paul McCartney party they were both attending? Mitchell's response showed up in her song "Paprika Plains:"

The rain retreats
Like troops to fall on other fields and streets
Meanwhile they're sweet talking and name calling
And brawling on the fringes of the floor
I spot you through the smoke
With your eyes on fire
From J&B and coke
As I'm coming through the door
I'm coming back for more!
The band plugs in again
You see that mirrored ball begin to sputter lights
And spin
Dizzy on the dancers
Geared to changing rhythms
No matter what you do
I'm floating back
I'm floating baack to you!

Dylan's own solution was to ignore the events around him and focus on a cup of coffee and, later, to write "One More Cup of Coffee" where he needs that java joe between listing (again) all the faults of a woman. It's been a long decline and a steady retreat from the world around. Now he's styling himself as a more sedate Wolfman Jack and the usual suspects rush in to hail it as "revolutionary!" (The applauding of his retreats can be traced back to some misguided praise for New Morning.)

It's as though he lifts a pinkie and the aging crowd hollers, "Look at that movement! He's the new Twyla Tharp!" For those who didn't drink the Kool Aid, the reaction is more along the lines of Jane Fonda's character in Cat Ballou, upon meeting the infamous gunslingers many years after their prime, "You got old."

Considering the early deaths of Phil Ochs, Richard Farina, Cass Elliot, Brian Jones, the Holy J trinity (Janis, Jim and Jimi) and assorted others, just being around and breathing may be something. We're don't think, however, it qualifies as the second coming of Art.

In the end, we think Goldstein nailed the (then unaired) program and its target audience quite well:

And now there's DJ coming to the XM pay-radio network. Starting May 3 he'll go head to cred with Howard Stern, chatting up guests, answering e-mails and spinning platters of his eccentric choosing around selected themes (e.g., weather, dancing, whiskey). Those who knew him as the most inspirational voice of the 1960s can tune in to reconnect with their memories through this show. Those who fell away when he found God can hear what's most admirable about Dylan now: his musical erudition and his bond with what critic Greil Marcus calls "the old, weird America," the land of dusty 78s and desperate dreams. XM is betting that Theme Time Radio Hour With Your Host Bob Dylan will draw a very desirable demographic: haute boomers who are used to paying for premium channels and premium everything.

The rush to grab that linked article!

One of the most laughable headlines currently online is this one: "Just Remember, Hamas and Hezbollah are No Boy Scouts. What is Happening is a Tragedy, but Israel Didn't Start This One."
First off, not knowing Hamas or Hizbullah's policy on gays, we'd never think to compare them to Boy Scouts. Second of all, the armed aggression in Gaza isn't dealt with in the article linked to. Guess you have to ignore Gaza and a lot of other things to argue "Israel Didn't Start This One"?
As Juan Cole has noted: " Besides, there wouldn't be any Hizbullah if Israel had not invaded Lebanon in 1982 and occupied the south for 18 years."

The rush to grab an article to link to and write a headline appears to have taken a one-sided, simplified article and strained it down to even more simplifications. Let's not the linked article, Kenneth R. Bazinet's "An Act Of War" (New York Daily News).

Israel sent tanks into Lebanon and bombed roads, bridges and Beirut's airport after Hezbollah militants killed eight Israeli soldiers and captured two more, dramatically raising tensions in the region.

In an article that starts off with civilian targets (airport) and infrastructure of a war torn country, probably not the best thing to link to while singing "Don't Blame Israel." Even if the 'journalist' won't make the connection, some readers will. Some readers will be aware of what qualifies for a target (under Geeneva) and what doesn't.

Don't blame the government of Israel? Did Palestinians attack themselves for the last several weeks?

Oh, the official mainstream narrative, can't forget that. The article offers this bit of sophistry:

Much as Hamas drew Israeli troops back into Gaza 11 months after they withdrew, the Hezbollah attack sent them back into Lebanon, six years after they ended a 22-year occupation.

Poor little right-wing, Bully-Boy like, Israeli leader, drawn into this, forced to order these actions. Just like Bully Boy had no choice but to declare war on Iraq. (Remember, he tells us no leader likes to go to war.)

Lot of people giving a lot of cover for bullies while civilians die. Whether it's in Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon, what have you -- stuff just happens. Apparently.

ADDED: A reader asked if we could link to a set of point Phyllis Bennis had made on the current events: "The Gaza/Lebanon Crises: Escalating Occupation & Danger of New Border Fighting." We're also adding that to our note which will go up shortly (in case any early readers miss it here).

All He Is Saying Is Act Like M15 Doesn't Exist

The Lennon movie, which opens in US cinemas in September, will embarrass the agencies which unsuccessfully tried to block his stay. Not only does it portray the full extent of the plotting against him, it also exposes the amateurish incompetence with which it was conducted. At one stage, secret FBI files compiled to demonstrate the threat he represented did not even record his correct address, despite the claim that he had been under "constant surveillance".
The film-makers say the movie, The US vs John Lennon, "will also show that this was not just an isolated episode in American history, but that the issues and struggles of that era remain relevant today".
Lennon had long been outspoken during his days with the Beatles, but never a radical. His views about peace and pacifism developed after he met Yoko Ono in 1968, and he became a focus for dissent as he held his "bed-ins" and recorded anthems such as "Give Peace a Chance".

The above is from Anthony Barnes' "The US vs John Lennon" and we have to ask, what's up with that wacky Independent of London these days? As C.I. noted, they gave Bono so much coverage to hide under that they were practically spooning him. Now they write of the upcoming documentary The US vs. John Lennon (again, to be released in September) and seem completely unaware of several basic facts.

We could walk you through what's wrong with what made it into print but what really caused our jaws to drop was what didn't.

How do you write of government spying on John Lennon, write for a British publication, and not note that M15 spied on him? Or that Tony Blair who came into office promising greater openess (yeah, that's funny today) and claimed to be a Lennon fan allowed pages to be shredded and, when FIOA requests to the American FBI meant turning over M15 papers on Lennon that were in the FBI's custody, the Blair government nixed their release?

How much does Barnes know of the subject he's writing on because everyone participating in this is American and we appear to know a great deal more about British spying than Barnes.

William Lash III

William Lash III has served as assistant secretary of commerce for market access and compliance since July 2001. Lash works to enforce international compliance with intellectual property rights, along with other international trade policy issues.
-- Paige Orr, "International trade, piracy issues discussed" (Nashville's The City Paper)

We're giving you a little perspective on Lash who left the administration in 2005..

William Lash III on Iraq:

It's easily the largest emerging market of our time, said William Lash III, chairman of the Iraq and Afghanistan reconstruction task forces and assistant secretary of commerce for market access compliance for the U.S. Dept. of Commerce.

It's about the markets.

Lash claiming the US to be cowboys:

I've heard many Europeans say that we are cowboys. If they are right depends upon what exactly they mean! If they mean that we fight for what we believe in, that we keep to our contracts, that we look after our friends - then, yes, we are cowboys. If they mean because we show leadership at times of difficulty, then, yes, they are right. No matter what the subject is (security or trade), we do what we believe is right. We have explained our standpoint to our friends. We can’t run our country based solely on international opinion polls.

If you missed the news, William Lash III is dead. He apparently killed himself, after apparently killing his 12-year-old son (who had autism).

Prior to that:

He has served as Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of American Business at Washington University, on the Board of Advisors for the CATO Institute for Trade Policy Studies, and as an Adjunct Fellow at Citizens for a Sound Economy. In addition, he has served on the board of directors of publicly traded and privately held corporations. Mr. Lash has been the director of several nonprofit corporations and has served as a Legal Analyst for several television networks including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX NEWS, FOX, CNN, CNN/FN, PBS, MSNBC, CNBC, and ESPN.

Legal analyst? PBS had him on their NewsHour where he either revealed he was highly ignorant or demonstrated he was willing to lie in any manner to stop the recount in Florida. He also took the time to dismiss those who were disenfranchised (he seemed to feel the idea was 'put in their heads') and stated: "I can't feel sorry for people who throw away their rights."

William Lash III, part of the Bully Boy administration, father, apparent killer, notoriously unsympathetic.

Tour de Drip

"All their players (France) tested positive ... for being a** holes."

The swift-footed Friend of Bully Boy Lance Armstrong practicing his own brand of Bully Boy 'diplomacy.' This from the same person who, re: the Iraq war, only publicly say he's not sure the illegal war was 'a good idea.' Keep using the tongue Lance.

The long and winding edition

The long and winding edition.

This is the last thing we're writing for this edition. (Already written pieces will post shortly after.) This is written solely by the core six (Jim, Ty, Dona, Ava, Jess and C.I.).

Should we write about this or not. C.I. thought enough ("more than enough") on the subject had already been said. But we know from the e-mails that readers are expecting something about the topic.

With the exception of Trina, all I have weighed in last week. With the exception of C.I. all have delinked from the site. (Jess points out Kat never linked to it.)

There are a number of points that have been raised. Rebecca even stopped her vacation long enough to address the topic. It's a topic that's on the minds of most community members.

C.I. wrote on it and the rest of us think it was nicely put. We don't, however, share the feelings. We think the show has made errors, yes. The rest of us don't, however, think it's just a down slide or, if it is that, that it's going to turn around shortly. The guest list has been opened up and that could be a good thing if the guest were challenged but that's not been happening. Thomas Friedman got to say whatever he wanted and Amy Goodman's concern seemed to be not with the misinformation he was broadcasting but in noting that she'd had a former member of the Israeli government on the show. We still can't believe that, later, she had said guest on the show and when he was offended with the way a topic was being explored (the other two guests weren't offended) she apologized (on air). We're aware that there are future guests (or they think they will be guests) gearing up to pull a page from the Michael R. Gordon and Thomas Friedman play book which is where you speak dismissively to Goodman and just keep blathering on and you can get away with it.

We were also upset to learn that the show had been contacted about Nancy A. Youssef's article breaking the news that the US government was keeping a body count of Iraqis (despite the oft repeated claim of "We don't do body counts"). We think it should have been noted the second the story broke. We think the fact that it wasn't and that it still wasn't even after it was brought to their attention is pretty embarrassing.

(We also wonder why the show asks for input to begin with if, when a story breaks from a news source they often cite and by a reporter they have had on their show, they're not interested in the news -- it was NEWS.)

The Gaza coverage was a huge let down. The 'roundtable' on Mexico was disappointing.

Maybe C.I.'s correct and it's just a down cycle that will reverse shortly?

That could be. But three of us (Ty, Dona and Jim) reached the point of no return with the show when it used last week's e-mail summary of the program to promote a website that we a) find objectionable, b) find questionable considering all the rumors, c) do not consider it indymedia (nor does that site consider itself that judging by the site owner's essay in The Nation), and d) is a very partisan site. We don't think the show needs to be promoting Democratic sites or Republican sites. It's supposed to be above that fray.

All six of us agree that what we were being steered to wasn't worth reading on any level. C.I. has called it the equivalent of a yearbook post ("2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten") and Ava goes further likening it to a bathroom stall scribble ("For a good time call . . .").

Why promote something so vaccuous and worthless?

The only conclusion the six of us could theorize was an attempt to get in with the site in question in some manner. We find that even more embarrassing.

That site was offensive to Ty. It was irritating to Jim and Dona who've despised it since before this site started.

We agree with Kat's post that a better time could have been chosen to demand that The Common Ills stop promoting the show. ("Could and should have," Jess adds.) But we firmly believe that immediate action was needed. If we promote a site and they're promoting a site we don't believe in, then we're aiding the site we've made a point to avoid.

The show seems to have rested its future success (continued success) with that site. Good luck to the show. But that was the final straw.

A non-inclusive site that's seen as unwelcoming to many African-Americans, that's been dismissive of reprodutive issues as well as to women (even driving off huge numbers last summer) is a problem in and of itself before you get to the whole 'remaking the Party' issues.

We won't promote that site. Now that the show, which was supposed to be non-partisan and providing an independent look, wants to, it will have to go on without our support. We have no use for it now.

The promotion of the site only made it necessary that the break be done when it was done. However, we (and this is true of the community as a whole) were growing disenchanted for awhile as Iraq was treated, to steal from Mike's well received column and speech, "as an After Thought." C.I. is opposed to the way this sentence is going to end but the rest of us want it noted because we agree with Mike, it's a long road from brave voice for East Timor to link whore.

We weren't aware that the show was hurting an audience. Getting the word out on the show is one thing, repeatedly promoting an objectionable site is quite another. We're not sure what dyed in the wool Democrats will make of the program but should they start listening or watching, possibly content can be watered down to their liking?

We feel it has been watered down. We feel it was with Gaza and we're still wondering what the softballs thrown to Bill Richardson were all about?

Bad days are one thing. We were bothered by them and that's what started the reassessment. When bad went to really bad, we had serious issues. The show's decision to promote that website was the final straw. We didn't even want to include the headlines last week but C.I. pointed out that Francisco had compiled them (as a favor to C.I.) and out of respect for Francisco (and the topics he selected) we included it.

But we don't promote things we don't believe in. We can't promote a show that's promoting a website we find vile and repugnant.

Over four hours was spent debating how to handle this topic. We finally decided to handle it with the six of us that are responsible for this website. There are varying degrees of disappointment and C.I. has hopes for the show. The other five don't share those hopes. We think it's moving towards something we don't support and can support.

So we're not promoting it here anymore. Were it an Air America Radio show, the promotion of the website wouldn't be so hard to fathom, but this is supposed to be an independent show, not a partisan one. Continued actions could effect its funding (they might be required to promote a partisan, Republican site now since it's not just a Pacifica show but also one that airs on NPR and PBS). We have no idea but we're not in the business of promoting things that give 'shout outs' and 'traffic' to that which disgusts us.

Humor Spotlight: Wally on Pete Coors' arrest (he was arrested)

Wally covers a lot of topics each week with his humorous look at the news.  This made us laugh but we were surprised by how many people thought Wally had made up Pete Coor's arrest.  It happened.  Use the links.



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Blog Spotlight: Mike noting the start of the weekend and more

Mike's post that we enjoyed.


It's Friday!!!!!! :D Did you think it would ever get here? Me neither! But it's here. And for me, that means the Friday group later tonight where we talk about Iraq. That's really cool and I know Beau's trying to get his own group started on that. I hope everyone tries because the war drags on until we say "no!" Until we shout: "NO!" Let me hear you: "NO!" Let's kick things off with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

The Operation Happy Talk goes on.
Sean McFarland becomes the biggest doofus outside the administration by delcaring, "I think we have turned a corner her in Ramadi." MacFarland is both an Army Col. and a Happy Talker.
In news that's a little harder to Happy Talk,
Antonio Castaneda (AP) reports that of the 1000 Sunni soldiers who made up the May 2006 graduating class "only about 300 of them have reported for duty".
In other news from the real world,
Reuters reports that the US Congressional Budget Office predicts: "The Iraq war could cost U.S. taxpayers between $202 billion and $406 billion more over the next 10 years".
These projections come at a time when, as
Martha Burk has pointed out (Ms.), the US government has cut "[d]omestic-violence prevention by $35 million, Medicaid by $17 billion over five years and child care programs by 1.03 billion over five years."
In other costs paid,
Reuters reports 12 corpses were discovered in Tal Afar. CBS and the AP note a corpse ("shot in the chest . . . signs of torture") discovered in Azizyah".
noted earlier this morning, seven people were killed ("after Friday prayers") when a Sunni mosque in Baghdad was bombed. Meanwhile Reuters reports that a mosque in Balad Ruz was hit by mortar rounds leaving at least two dead and four wounded while a car bomber in Mosul who killed himself and five others. The AFP covers a mortar attack in Baghdad that left one person dead and nine wounded.
Shooting deaths?
Reuters notes that two policeman were killed by a sniper in Tal Afar while a minibus near Kut was attacked "with machine gun fire" resulting in five dead ("including a wwoman and a child"). Meanwhile, the AFP reports attacks in two cities: a car was "ambushed" in Tikrit by assailants who shot the father dead and wounded the son; and, in Mosul, two different attacks left a police officer dead as well as the bodyguard of a judge. And the Associated Press reports a drive-by in Baghdad that killed a taxi driver.
BBC noted the death of several Iraqi soldiers (12 at that point) in Kirkuk when they were attacked with "rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns". AFX raised the number dead to 13 (citing "colonel Mahmud Abdulla").
following yesterday's kidnapping attempt that left wrestling coach Mohammed Karim Abid Sahib dead, the AP reports that: "Iraq's national wrestling team [has] pulled out of a tournament in the United Arab Emirates".
In the United States,
Saturday July 15th is a day of action calling for Suzanne Swift to receive an honorable discharge including a protest, "at the gates of Ft. Lewis (exit 119) beginning at 12 pm with a press converence at 3 pm" in Washington state -- while in Eugen, Oregon there will be a demonstration outside the Federal Building at noon.
In DC (and across the globe -- over 22 countries), the fast led by
CODEPINK and others continues. As Thursday's The KPFA Evening News reported some Congressional members, including Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney and Lynne Woolsey took part in a one-day fast on Thursday. Ann Wright, who ressigned from the State Department on May 19, 2003 and is taking part in the actions stated: "The only reason we fast is to force us to remember what's going on here. That innocent Iraqis are dying every day, Americans are dying every day. We need to get this war ended. So, yeah, we're going to up the ante".
Wednesday July 19th, San Antonio, TX will be the location for a "public hearing held by the the independent Commission on the National Guard and Reserves" -- "in the Iberia Ballroom of the La Mansion Del Rio Hotel, 112 College Street, San Antonio."
There will be two panels with the first lasting from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and focused on "
roles and missions to funding requirements" and the second, lasting from 2:00 pm to 4 pm, focusing on how reserves were "involuntarily mobilized after September 11, 2001".

I used the Ms. link to the Martha Burk story and it's like a paragraph and a half. I called C.I. and C.I. didn't go to it and was using the print edition. Ma gets the magazine so I'll check with her later. (Not now. We're having the meeting here tonight and me and Dad already sat out the chairs and she's fixing snacks. I asked if I could do anything and she said if I'd go out for ice in about an hour that's all she needed. So I'll do that. I'd be happy to do more but I know she's rushing around and with this many people and so little time, she's probably thinking, "Just get out of my kitchen and I can do this!") But do you get how much money is going into the war and that because it's going to get into the war, things are being cut here. Programs are being cut and taxes are being cut (for the wealthy) so we're all suffering. The other thing that stood out was the thing coming up in Texas. I didn't know one word about that. If I was near Texas, I'd go to it for the second panel (it's a public meeting, that means anyone can go) because I'd want to hear
what the reserves think about the "involuntarily mobilized" stuff. They sign up to defend their states and stuff and end up over in Iraq and not just for a few weeks but months and months. So I'd be real interested in hearing what was said during that panel discussion.

Katrina vanden Heuvel gave a speech (at what I think was a bad convention) but I liked her speech. I saw it online and agreed with a lot of it and thought these were points community members would appreciate because we've heard similar stuff for awhile now. So this is from her "A Politics of the Common Good:"

In another vital area, I would argue that we have the intellectual upper hand, if not yet the political one. I think that its now commonly recognized that neoliberal internationalization was vastly oversold as a panacea for the world's poor, and an opportunity for workers in the North. I think most recognize now that for internationalization to proceed, workers in the richer north need much better insurance against the risks that it entails. And I think that a lot of good work in local organizing, to stop or reverse the worst effects of the "low road" that employers long thought they could pursue without resistance, is beginning to show us what the "high road" path of national reconstruction might look like--high wage, low waste, democratically accountable--and be compatible with sustainable development in the south.
And we have a public that has finally grown tired of George W. Bush, whose approval ratings are now in the toilet, and tired of the broader Republican message of the past 30 years of what Jared Bernstein has called 'yoyo politics'--"you're on your own, and anybody who tells you different is a liar!"--and the destructive policies needed to achieve the truth of that: division, inequality, ruined public goods, weakened popular organization, constraints on democracy itself. We need to counter that "Yoyo" message at its core. We need to say clearly to all that "whether you like it or not, we're in this together." ...if we don't hang together, we're going to hang separately. And that leads me to a final take on what a renewed and real politics of the common good might look like.
Some have argued, recently and rightly, that progressives and Democrats should return to their tradition of "civic republicanism." That we're all in this together and that together we can build a more perfect union. Who's against building a more perfect union? But I'd argue that some of these advocating this path are wrong to suggest the problem Democrats have had with putting a forth a clear governing philosophy is grounded in the success of movements of the 1960s--the antiwar, civil rights or women's movement, or of interest-group pluralism focused on rights. With less venom, our friends and allies are echoing arguments of the Democratic Leadership Council...and this misdiagnosis leads them to a 2006 Sister Souljah moment --that is, a kind of calculated, if symbolic, straight-arming of own own base to demonstrate independence. Wrong. These are times to tap into the passions and energy of our core constituencies, of movements on the ground. Times to learn from our base...the working poor, the disenfranchised, Latino community, African-Americans, single women, the young, labor, the religious left--and inspire them and be inspired by them.
I worry that this appeal to the common good will turn out to be a cover to disempower important groups. To ignore their legitimate issues. Furthermore, and in light of what has happened to the country under this administration, the notion of common good seems somewhat too innocent and not attentive enough to the scale of corruption, abuse of power, public disinvestment and inequality that now characterizes American society. Yes, common good but only if it means economic dignity and social justice and the ending of corruption and the special privileges that have allowed the very richest to amass great fortunes while the vast majority of Americans struggle to make ends meet without any of the security of affordable health care, good jobs and a quality education. Common good if it means making the government more responsive to the needs of the majority of Americans. Common good, if it means public investment in our people, in our infrastructure, in research and development that serves human needs. Common good, if it means political reform and making every person's vote count. Common good, if it means being a good neighbor to the world and a force for building common security and common prosperity.

I just really enjoyed some parts of the speech and I'm glad it's online. There's a lot of stuff online. (C.I. and I talked about this speech today, this is the thing I mentioned I'd link to in my post yesterday, by the way, and C.I. asked if I was going to link to the thing on Dan Rather? I really liked this best. C.I.'s not linking to the Dan Rather piece because of friends with 60 Minutes who are really upset that people keep saying "60 Minutes" when the segment that Rather did with the documents was broadcast on 60 Minutes II. They think, C.I.'s friends with the show, that everytime people just say "60 Minutes," it hurts the Sunday show which did not broadcast that segment. It's a good piece and we both think so but there's no way C.I. can't note it at The Common Ills without some friends getting upset because they take this very seriously, that it wasn't the Sunday show that broadcast that segment that had so much criticism. That was the Tuesday show and they weren't the same show and didn't have the same people working on each show. The Sunday show, and I didn't know this, maybe you do, didn't even want the Tuesday show to be called "60 Minutes II" when it first started because it really didn't have anything to do with the Sunday show and they were worried it would do something that would end up backfiring on the real 60 Minutes. You could say they were right about that because everyone just says "60 Minutes" now. CBS cancelled the Tuesday show.) But back to the speech, I think it had some important stuff in it.

Okay, I just got the call for ice, so let me stop here but be sure to go Like to Maria Said Paz and check out Elaine's post tonight. And check out Wally's "THIS JUST IN! DON'T TAKE YOUR WORK HOME WITH YOU!," C.I's : "NYT: Trying to give out that peaceful, easy feeling (someone break it to them -- they're a paper, not a rock group)" and Betty's "The War Paint Council."

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NYT criticque via The Common Ills

NYT: The continued decline of Dexy

The sob-sister's back and the New York Times has him. This morning, Dexy Filkins offers up
"Stubborn Man Tries to Govern in Violent Iraq." A stubborn kind of fellow, you understand. Dexy's relating . . . if not reporting.

Which is why half-way into the article, in a single sentence, he tells you that the govenor of the Anbar province, Mamoon Sami Rashid who is the topic of Dexy's word picture, has two wives. Then he drops it. Because no one ever bothered to educate Dexy. So let's take a moment, just a brief one, to educate about the war on women and how polygamy came to Iraq which was once had a very advanced policy on women's rights. It took Gulf War I to start turning back the clocks, followed by the sanctions Mad Maddie can't live down (though she tries, though she tries). Following the first Gulf War, polygamy began resurfacing. It's apparently so accepted today that Dexy doesn't even find it strange -- or maybe it's just another sign of how little he cares?

Mamoon Sami Rashid been a subject he's been toying with for a bit now. Such as in a July 4th article that was so bad even the Times didn't want to run it so they farmed it out to The International Herald Tribune. It was one of Dexy's sob-sister pieces and they were trying to pimp him, still, as a war correspondent filing from Ramadi.

All of the sob-sister's latest quirks are on display in today's piece of "reporting" the eye-struck wonder, the take it all at face value, and his whole ahistorical approach that's been quite helpful when covering a war sold on lies. We're all used to that and have come to expect it from the non-reporting reporter.

"Sniper area -- run!" he shouted, and those leaving the meeting ran, indeed.

What's that? It's the way Dexy ends his story.

Is it an end to the story? No. It is good writing? No. Does it really convey anything? No.

But it's got 'drama' and the sob-sister really needs that. Actually, it's got melodrama and the issue's no longer just the fact that Dexy doesn't report what happens (he sometimes allows reality to slip out when he's trying to prove he can drink with the "boys" or when he's on PBS' NewsHour so he does grasp reality in some manner) it is that he's become such a bad writer.

There's a saying that after thirty, you get the face you deserve. Dexy's beginning to get the prose he deserves. It may do more to kill his career than any of the many bits of news he 'forgot' to include in his reporting. It's so laughable that my phone hasn't stopped ringing this morning as everyone rushes to share their own so-bad-you-have-to-love-it moment from the article.

The Go-Go Boy of the Green Zone Goes Camp is what one reporter dubbed it. (I'd love to claim that one as my own but fairness prevents me from doing so.) It's bad. It's really, really bad.

Someone could pan for gold if they wanted to. They won't find anything well written, not even one sentence. They will find a few details, such as the fact that the day before Dexy tagged along with US marines for this story (xenophobes take heart, the story's not really about the governor, Dexy has more quotes from various military spokespeople than usual -- just to make sure if his readers are as bored with Iraq as he is, they can hang through the end of his story) the equivalent of seven million dollars was stolen from Al Rafidain Bank ("next door to an American command post"). That money is uninsured. That's noted in passing.

It's not developed -- not the theft, not the effect it will have on the lives of people who just lost everything. It's as though the Times sent him to Houston in 2001 and he was too busy spit shining medals on various officers to manage more than a "Enron has crashed" statement.

Besides, as he puts it, Sniper Area Run!

This is really bad and you get the feeling that Thelma & Louise have gone over the cliff and Louise (Burnsie) isn't even bothering to show an interest in Dexy's copy these days. (Fortunately for Dexy, the US military doesn't need to vet his copy for bias the way they're currently doing with other embeds. They know Dexy is the ultimate embed and they can just sit back and laugh with the rest of us.)

What does the thing read like? An In Style profile. Though that might be giving it too much depth. Dexy apparently got five minutes to 'interview' his supposed subject and some travel time with the military. He tosses it out all together and the Times doesn't have the good sense to farm it out to IHT again.

On the phone, one reporter did a whole riff about how Dexy's imprisoned by the embed process and trying to send out an S.O.S. It was quite funny. What's really not funny is that he's been in Iraq over three years and he's offered such bad writing, such lousy reporting for so long.

(All agreed that many more like this morning and he'll find himself state side again. Which made the S.O.S. jokes even funnier.)

So what we find out, if we must pan for gold, is that the governor can't get al-Maliki (the puppet of the occupation with the designated title "prime minister until he really pisses off the American government") to send the promised money, construction's stopped on an elementary school and Rashid can't even get his lackeys to show up for meetings .

Dexy writes: "Only 6 of 39 senior officials showed up -- and those largely because Mr. Rashid threatened to fire anyone who did not. When the meeting finally began at the Government Center marines far outnumbered Iraqis. " So you know the paper's own Adela Quested felt much more at home and comfortable -- stay out of the caves, Dexy, stay out of the caves!

Sometimes, when we're dissecting Dexy, we wonder how a real reporter could have written the story? As one said this morning, "Forget real, even a bad reporter could have done better." It was thought that, having spent so much time covering Americans and America (while reporting from Iraq), Dexy might have seen this as his first attempt at a 'Meet the new face of Iraq' report. If so, he still gives more time to what US 'officials' say and think then he does to Rashid or any other Iraqi. What emerges, unintentionally, is the story of US forces propping up a government and Dexy still propping up the occupation.

Martha notes Ellen Knickmeyer and Joshua Partlow's "Capital Charges Filed In Rape-Slaying Case: U.S. Details Allegations Against GIs in Iraq" (Washington Post):

Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, Spec. James P. Barker and Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman are charged with rape, murder, housebreaking, arson and drinking alcohol against military rules, the U.S. military said in a statement. Another soldier, Pfc. Bryan L. Howard, was charged with premeditated murder, rape and obstruction of justice. The four soldiers could face the death penalty if convicted.
The fifth active-duty soldier, Sgt. Anthony W. Yribe, is charged with dereliction of duty and making a false statement for allegedly failing to report the incident. Yribe was not directly involved in the attack, U.S. military spokesmen in Baghdad said.
The incident is one of the gravest of a series being investigated by the U.S. military in which Americans are accused of killing Iraqi civilians.
"Again, these are alleged offenses," Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, told reporters. "They're presumed innocent until proven guilty."
A sixth man, Steven D. Green, a former private, was discharged from the military for a "personality disorder" after the Mahmudiyah killings but before fellow soldiers identified American soldiers as the alleged culprits, sparking the criminal investigation. Green pleaded not guilty last week in Louisville to federal charges of rape and murder.
A federal affidavit in Green's case and accounts given to The Washington Post by neighbors, an uncle of the 15-year-old, the local mayor and medical authorities allege that at least four of the soldiers came to the home of Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi after noticing her from their post at a U.S. Army checkpoint near her home.
The assailants allegedly shot and killed Abeer's father, mother and 7-year-old sister, then raped and killed Abeer in another room. Abeer's body and part of the room were set on fire, apparently in an attempt to conceal the crime, U.S. investigators and Iraqi officials said.

The Post calls the incident "one of the gravest" -- we'll note the Times' version in the next entry.

Randy notes Liza Featherstone weighing in on Bono, the war 'gamer' in "Bono's Anti-Chavez Video Game" (The Notion, The Nation):

Bono gets much humanitarian cred for campaigning for Third World debt relief. But it is disgusting to make a game out of the Bush Administration's effort to undermine Hugo Chavez, a democratically elected leader, and one of the few living politicians today who are actually working to improve the lot of the world's poor -- the poor, whom the sanctimonious Bono claims to care so much about. If Bono is serious in his commitment, and not, as one frequently suspects, a vapid celebrity poser, he should immediately use his financial muscle to deep-six this horrible video game.

For more on that, see Kat's "Bono, he makes even Sonny look cool" (we're not providing a link to the New York Post).

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Humor Spotlight: Betty on Thomas Friedman's War Paint Council

Betty's been doing wonderful work substituting for Rebecca (at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) and we're all arguing over what pick to make from there.  One thing we can agree on is her latest chapter at her own site.

The War Paint Council

My life is hell. Sheer hell.

Gail Collins demanded to see Thomas Friedman's airline tickets and travel receipts.

One too many "creative" columns about Peru and even Gail gets suspicious.

Of course Thomas Friedman blames me. He insists I tipped off Gail.

Did she need that much tipping?

When you're supposed to be in Peru and you keep dashing to the office thinking you might have left a "Saved By the Bell" videotape there, maybe even Gail can clue in on the fact that you're not, in fact, in Peru?

So he got "benched" Wednesday. The nation's gain was my loss.

I was cutting class in an attempt to clean up. Since the week before, no matter what I've tried, I've been unable to get make up stains off the couch, off the carpet, off the walls, even on the glasses and cups. Don't the "ladies" grasp that part of dress up should be to look like a lady?

Thomas Friedman shrieked at the Fourth when a big glop of ketchup slid from his burger to his white dress.

I will never forget Simon Rosenberg (who actually does make a very convincing Cheryl Ladd) consoling him and saying that he bet Marilyn Monroe had many "women's moments" that marred her white outfits.

That's when I packed it in and headed to bed. It was eleven-thirty in the morning. I left ASAP for college the next morning. When I got home, I surveyed the damage and it was a nightmare that Comet, Windex and assorted other cleansers have been no use on.

So I'd decided this Wednesday, I'd cut class and just bleach everything.

Little did I realize that Gail had benched Thomas Friedman and that the "Lady" War Hawk Auxilary was having their "War Paint Council."

There was Armstrong Williams, still small-talking up No Child Left Behind even though they stopped cutting him a check on that long ago, dressed as Leona Helmsley. There was Simon Rosenberg trying on the Kate Jackson look. (That may have been his own natural look. But since he'd gone from Farrah to Cheryl, I assumed he was working his way through "Charlie's Angels.")

And there was Thomas Friedman, wrapped in our pink shower curtain. He really pigged out on the Fourth and none of his clothes fit him. He was insisting to everyone that it was like Marilyn's dress in "Gentleman Prefer Blondes" but I saw Robert Novack snickering.

I explained that I was there to clean and he tore me apart for running to Gail (whom I haven't spoken to in ages) and announced that they had an already scheduled meeting so my cleaning was on hold but since he'd talked Novak into updating his look ("finally"), if I wanted to stay, I could play Beulah to Novak's Mae West. I passed.

From the kitchen I could hear him bad mouthing me and saying Gail was buying all the sentences like "What is so striking about the rain forest, when viewed up close, is what an incredibly violent place it is -- with trees, plants and vines all struggling with each other for sunlight, and animals, insects and birds doing the same for food" -- before I snitched. Uh, Thomas Friedman, I believe The Discovery Channel is on Gail's approved viewing list.

I could hear Robert Novak pouting that he'd dropped Picford and no one would help him out by being his maid. He attempted to rope in Armstrong Williams. Armstrong said he wasn't playing a Black maid and that Novak needed to ask someone Black. Novak reminded Armstrong that he was Black which seemed to come as a shock to Armstrong.

"I don't belive it!" he howled. "Get me a mirror!"

Immediately, I heard the sound of thousands of compacts opening.

I heard two squirts and then smelled Chanel No. 5 -- Thomas Friedman was calling the meeting to the order.

First they took care of old business which mainly revolved around themselves. (Robert Novak was convinced that he'd finally cleared his name -- of course, he was convinced he looked like Mae West in that outfit as well.) Thomas Friedman being Thomas Friedman, he spoke the longest about himself, cursing me because he just knew I was secretly destroying his wig and pleading for everyone to be on the lookout for a really good Monroe wig.

Then the issue moved to how to silence the left. Simon, ever the flatterer, even in that hideous orange poncho, asked Thomas Friedman to explain again how to deal with pesky reporters?

"Talk over them!" Thomas Friedman howled. "Just talk over them!"

There was loud agreement with that which ended with Novak crying out, "'CrossFire' lives on!"

"That's how you take care of the Left," Thomas Friedman said firmly.

"What about others?" wondered Simon nervously. "Like that . . . is the word 'Afro-American' now? Bob Herbert. He's gotten rather . . . uppity in print lately."

"I agree," insisted Armstrong Williams. "Ever since they got 'The Jeffersons' on TV, those people have never been satisfied."

"Well, they really don't get on TV," Robert Novak said. "I'll tell you who we have to worry about -- Nicky K."

Thomas Friedman shrieked with laughter.

"Nicky K! He can't decide if he's more concerned about Darfur or North Korea from one moment to the next! He's like a chicken with his head cut off!"

Thomas Friedman was having a coughing fit, from laughing too hard.

Simon agreed that the left lacked focus but pointed out Nicky K's recent "strong" column which seemed to have "emboldened certain elements."

"'Don't Turn Us Into Poodles'?" Thomas Friedman asked his voice dripping with contempt.

He imitated a dog whimpering.

"Please," Thomas Friedman sighed, "he couldn't even go with something as strong as 'We Aren't Poodles,' instead it's a plea: 'Don't Turn Us Into Poodles' and did you see the way the left lapped up that weak-ass sop online?"

They all chuckled at that and agreed that the 'shout outs' for that silly nonsense was a sign of how truly weak the left was.

"Now is our time," Thomas Friedman declared. "We need to talk 'democracy' up. If we can continue to do that on the Middle East, the Marines will be landing on the shores of Venezuela in no time!"

"But can we really do that?" wondered Armstrong. "I don't know that most people buy into that 'democracy' scam anymore."

I sensed that Armstrong would shortly be off the "Ladies Who Lunch" list -- even if he didn't.

Thomas Friedman said of course they could and whenever someone was unsure how to portray another nation, just think about what the US does and then accuse the other country of that.

With that, the meeting was called to an end. They had matinee tickets to "Mama Mia" and Novak offered that Armstrong should go on down to the lobby and hail a taxi since he looked the most "matronly" dressed as Leona. Armstrong whined that at least he had dressed up in what, I'm sure, was a dig at the poncho and styleless dark wig Simon was wearing. But he left.

As soon as he did, the War Paint Council got down to the serious business: dishing.

"He's gone softer than Dexy!" exclaimed Thomas Friedman.

"Maybe we should wave some cash at him? That tends to stiffen his spine," suggested Simon.

"Wave cash at him? Does he look like a stripper in that Helmsley get up? I would have been more impressed if he'd come us Sherman Helmsley but then, he doesn't seem to get that he is Black," sneered Novak.

"All I know," said Thomas Friedman, "is that a 12-year-old girl couldn't pull off that flowery scent he's wearing. There are standards."

Everyone agreed and agreed it was time to kick Armstrong out of the club.

Thomas Friedman called, "Betinna, my wrap!"

And then they were off.

Reading over a draft of his column for tomorrow, I see that he's doing just as he said he would, repeating the lies of 'democracy.' He may convince people. I don't know how many. Probably more than the crowd at "Mama Mia" who must have laughed at him because he came home in a bad mood. Of course, by Thursday, he was rewriting it, saying he was the hit of the audience, that more people were watching him than the show, that everyone wanted his autograph.

I gave him a look.

"It really happened, Betinna," he said rather crossly.

"And where was that? Peru?" I asked ducking from the thrown coffee cup I, rightly, expected.


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Cooking Spotlight: Deviled Eggs in the Kitchen

This remains one of Kat's favorite posts of last weekTrina's offering a recipe for deviled eggs and a bit more.

Deviled Eggs in the Kitchen

I had several e-mails. Annie said she was hoping for another potato recipe. Matt said he hoped I was just taking last weekend off because he'd bought a "big bag of potatoes." I'll do a potato recipe this weekend. I'm posting this tonight because Tommy wrote. Tommy is sixteen and they are having a family picnic this weekend. He said his mother works very hard and he wanted to try to help out by making something. He wants it to be a surprise for her.

As a mother, when I read an e-mail like that, I make the time to post. I've already e-mailed the recipe to Tommy and told him to let me know if he has any questions but I'll put it up here as well. He wrote that he could microwave "anything" and that he knows how to boil a potato and an egg "and that's it except how to make toast in the toaster." If you can boil an egg, you can make deviled eggs.

Deviled Eggs
12 hard-boiled eggs
4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons of mustard
Salt and pepper

I'm going with 12 eggs for a reason. You need fresh eggs. Don't use eggs that may have been the fridge for a week. If you're making this for yourself, that might be fine. But if you're making it for others, you need to go to the store and buy a carton of eggs.

The first step is boiling the eggs. You can boil the water and add the eggs. I do that and use tongs to put the eggs in. If you boil first, and then add eggs, do not drop them in. They can crack and the egg white can bleed out through the crack.

If you're not used to boiling, put the eggs in the pan first then add water until you've got enough water to provide at least an inch of water over the highest egg. (If you're not good with measurements, look at your finger. From tip to the first joint below the finger nail is a good standard.) Put the pan on the stove, turn the burner up to medium-high heat and allow the water to come to a slow boil.

You'll need to let them cook under the slow boil for about 15 minutes. When they've reached that mark, turn off the heat, bring the pan to the sink and run cold water into the pan for three to four minutes. The water will run over the brim of the pan and that's fine. You're replacing the hot water with the cold to cool the eggs.

I've said it before on other recipes, but, again, do not freeze the eggs in an attempt to cool them faster.

You can set them aside, in the cool to cold water, for a half hour or you can peel them under cold water. After you've peeled them, you need to slice them lengthwise or widthwise. I go for lengthwise because they don't tend to fall over after they're done but some people like 'deep dish' deviled eggs so that's your choice.

Using a spoon, remove the yolks and place the yolks in a small bowl. Put the egg yolks on a plate. If you sliced lengthwise, lay them out in any manner you please (they won't tip over). If you've sliced them widthwise, you'll need to keep each egg white shell close together so that they don't roll over.

You'll need to add the ingredients above to the yolk. Think of this as the topping and the egg whites as your pizza crust.

I like to to use a fork to mash the yolks before I add any ingredients. That's up to you.
Add the mayonnaise and mustard (and you can use spicy mustard for more flavor) as well as a dash of pepper and a dash of salt (or salt substitute). Mix the ingredients in the bowl well, stirring with the fork until you have a smooth mixture.

Spoon the mixture into each egg white shell. (Note: This is not egg shells. Egg shells go in the trash as or after you peel the egg. "Shell" is what I'm calling the cooked halves of egg white.) If this is your first time doing this, you may not be sure how much to use. Start off trying to fill almost the top and then, after all are filled this way, go back and add the remains to each egg white shell.

Once you've finished that, you're almost done. If this is just for you, you can eat now. (Though I wouldn't recommend making 12 eggs for yourself due to cholestrol.) If this is something you'll be serving to others, I like to serve them on a tray (if you don't have a tray, you can use a plate) with a bed of lettuce under it. The green lettuce isn't to be eaten, it just gives it a professional look. (Though I have been known to nibble on the lettuce after the deviled eggs are gone if I'm sitting at a table with the tray on it and engaged in a conversation.)

You can also use parsley if you like.

Put the lettuce or parsley on the serving tray, serving platter or plate.

Whether you're doing that step or not, this is where you sprinkle the eggs with paprika.

If you're transferring them, sprinkle them before you transfer.

How much? Paprkia's red. You don't want a layer of red on top of the egg yolk. What you're hoping for is just a few sprinkles.

If you're transfering them to another plate, a platter or tray, you do that now. If you cut the hardboiled eggs length-wise, spread them out. If you cut them width-wise, you'll need to keep them close together with egg whites touching to prevent them from falling over. Cover them with plastic and place in the fridge to chill. These can be made the night before but I wouldn't recommend making them more than a day before. You want them fresh for your guests.

A number wondered why I didn't blog on Saturday? I said I would probably only blog three times a week. But the reason I took Saturday off was because of my son Mike. Friday nights, he and his friends have organized a group that gets together and discusses Iraq. It is now a huge group and keeps growing. My husband and I both attend the discussions.

Friday night, he gave an amazing speech entitled "War As An After Thought" about his impressions of the media coverage of Iraq and of the general reaction to the illegal war itself.
It was amazing. Nina told him he should write it up. (Nina is Mike's girlfriend.) We all agreed with that. It ran in Polly's Brew (which is a newsletter for The Common Ills community) that goes out on Sunday.

I was afraid I'd spoil his column by posting here because I was so impressed with his speech and also that I'd end up making no sense, as you'll see shortly. (His dad was too. As were the people applauding.) My children always had to help out so I can't say, "This is the guy who I have to tell to pick up his socks from the floor." But even though he and all his brothers and sisters are responsible, Mike being the second to the youngest, I still have a hard time sometimes accepting the fact that he's an adult.

He doesn't act childish. But when I see him, with his brush cut, I just still see the kid whose hair I used to cut and wish he'd grow it a little longer so it would curl like it did when he was a little boy. He's got an adult hair cut because he's an adult.

And Friday night drove home what an adult he was becoming. I'm proud of all my children and I've certainly been proud of Mike before but that was just an amazing moment. He was nervous before the speech but you couldn't tell that when he was giving it.

That night, when I was in bed, I started to tear up a little (okay, a lot) and my husband asked me what was wrong? Nothing was really wrong. I was proud of him and really realized that he was a young man now. I started thinking how he's in college now and he'll be moving out soon like his brothers and sisters did. (My youngest, his sister has announced she's "out the door the minute I turn 18.") I was proud of him and kind of sad because the older six have already moved out. I don't know what I'm writing tonight.

Let me put in C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today so you have something that makes sense:

Iraq snapshot.
Violence and chaos continue.
Bombings, shootings, corpses, kidnappings -- characteristics of daily life in Iraq -- continue while the miliary releases the name of the five US troops charged this weekend in the Mahmoudiya incident and Iraq attempts to overturn the immunity law that exempts suspects from being charged in and by Iraq (foreign troops and contractors).
The AFP notes that a car bomb in Baghdad killed at least ten and left at least fifty-one wounded. The Associated Press notes that this car bomb happened "near a repair shop on the edge of . . . Sadr City". Al Jazeera notes the second bombing which occurred "outside a restaurant near the central bank in central Baghdad" resulting in at least six dead and at least 28 wounded. A third bomb, roadside, resulted in the wounding of five police officers according to Reuters.
Also in Baghdad, CBS and AP note that a bus was "ambushed" with the seven people on it killed (six passengers and the driver) and the bus set on fire.
As Brian Edwards-Tiekert noted today on KPFA's The Morning Show, "violence came despite a security crackdown in the capital raising new questions about the effectiveness of the police and Iraqi army."
Outside of Baghdad, Al Jazeera notes a roadside bomb in Hillah killed one police officer and wounded four while, in Kirkuk, "a sucide truck bomb struck an office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan" leaving five dead and twelve wounded. Reuters reports a roadside bomb in Yusifya that took the life of one person and left two more wounded; and a car bomb in Baquba that left eleven wounded. CBS and the AP note a bomb in Mahmoudiya that left ten wounded and a car bomb in Ramadi that wounded four US troops.
The BBC notes that Adnan Iskandar al-Mahdawi ("member of the provincial council in Diyala province") is dead as a result of a drive-by. CBS and AP report that, in Baghdad, a doctor was "forced . . . out of his car . . . and killed in front of his family."
Reuters notes two attacks in Baghdad -- one which left three police officers dead and wounded another and a second where two "bodyguards of a judge" were killed and three were wounded.
Reuters reports five corpses were found in Suwayra, one in Kut ("shotgun wounds") and one near Dugail ("gunshot wounds . . . signs of torture") while CBS and AP note the discovery of "two bullet-riddled" corpses in Baghdad and notes five corpses, not one, discovered in Kut.
Reuters notes that "an agriculture official" was kidnapped in Dujail.
The Associated Press reports that the latest five charged in the incident involving the alleged rape of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza as well as her murder, and that of three members of her family, are Paul E. Cortez, Anthony W. Yribe, James P. Barker, Jesse V. Spielman, and Bryan L. Howard. Yribe is identified as the one who, as Amy Goodman noted on Democracy Now!, is "charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report the crime." The AP notes that "[t]he others face more serious charges as participants" as well as the fact that two of the five charged are sergeants (Cortez and Yribe). The five join Steven D. Green who was charged on June 30th.
The names of the five are released as Mariam Karouny (Reuters) reports that the US crafted laws for Iraq are facing a challenge according to Wigdan Michael (human rights minister in Iraq) who states "We're very serious about" requesting the "United Nations . . . end immunity from local law for U.S. troops". Michael tells Karouny: "One of the reasons for this is the U.N. resolution, which gives the multinational force soldiers immunity. Without punishment, you get violations. This happens when there is no punishment."
In peace news, Amy Goodman and Medea Benjamin discussed the Troops Home Fast today. Benjamin stated: ". . . we think this fast is one way that they can do it. We've had people who have read about the fast in the paper, and they're in West Palm Beach, for example, and just jumped on a plane and came and joined us. We have a woman from Vancouver, in Washington state, who heard about the fast and decided that she had to do something more, came and joined us for this week. People who thought they were going to fast for one day have ended up fasting for the entire week and are going into their second week. This can really be a catalyst if people join. Every day we have hundreds more signing up on the website and saying they want to participate."
In other peace news, Ehren Watada's mother Carolyn Ho has stated, of her son's refusal to deploy to Iraq for the illegal war, "He is sending that message to all the armed forces, the message that they need to examine carefully the war they are choosing to fight." Ehren's father, Bob Watada, is comparing the fight against the charges the military has brought against his son to a competition and tells Alyssa S. Navares (Honolulu Star Bulletin), "I have always been one of those dads at every game and practice . . . Although I whip him in a singles match, together we pravail on the court. And trust me, we're going to do it again when we fight these charges."
Finally, Reuters is reporting that 200 ex-police officers ("fired . . . for forgery and bribery") stormed the Muthanna governor's office "demanding they be reinstated in their jobs in the southern city of Samawa, the capital of Muthanna province."

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