Thursday, May 11, 2006

Different stuff

Thursdays, so I'm blogging. (If you're new, I try to blog Tuesdays and Thursdays.)

"Telecom Companies Helped NSA Spy on Millions of US Citizens" (Democracy Now):
Three of the country's largest telecom companies have provided the National Security Agency with the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. This according to a report in USA Today. One source with direct knowledge of the program called it "the largest database ever assembled in the world" whose goal is to collect a record of "every call ever made" within the United States. The Bush administration has insisted its spy program focuses solely on international calls. The companies -- AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth -- have been under contract since after the 9/11 attacks. Only one major telecom company declined to participate in the program. The company, Qwest, reportedly asked the NSA to get FISA-court approval before it would hand over the records. The NSA refused. Although the program does not involve the direct monitoring of phone conservations, it amasses detailed records on who people have called and when they've called them. At least one company had already been implicated in the program. In a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation earlier this year, former AT&T technician Mark Klein said AT&T has been working with the National Security Agency to spy on Americans. In addition to raising new questions about the extent of the NSA spy program and the companies involved, the disclosure also raises new questions about CIA Director-nominee Michael Hayden. Hayden headed the National Security Agency at the time the spy program was implemented. He declined USA Today's request for comment.

If you're thinking, "What's going on?" Well, Elaine's off on Thursdays and I called to check on Mike and he suggested that we both cover the same items. I can't turn down my sick friend. (He said the fever's gone and the chicken pox is going down. I kidded him about having a kid's disease.) So remember how Bully Boy keeps covering up? Remember how Alberto Gonzales told the Judiciary Committee in the Senate that he couldn't talk about all the programs that were going on? This is just one more that we didn't know of. Just one more. There's a lot more going on and if more of it starts coming out, you're going to see the Bully Boy (who has a 31% approval rating right now) look more and more like the crook he is.

"UK Attorney General Calls For Guantanamo Closure" (Democracy Now):
Britain's Attorney General has called for the closure of the US prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In a speech in London, Lord Peter Goldsmith said: "The existence of Guantanamo remains unacceptable."

Here's my problem, if we close Guantanamo, where are we going to send the Bush Crime Family after the war crimes tribunal? I'm only half-way joking. I think Bully Boy is in real danger of being tried for war crimes. Not just because he's committed them. But because so many people are outraged by them. I think this is like Anita Hill where people tried to dismiss her and act as though her charges weren't a big deal or weren't true. And that worked during the confirmation hearing for Clarence Thomas, but a year later, there was this huge number of people who believed she told the truth. I think we're going to see something similar when Bully Boy leaves office. All these people who've been silent because they didn't know what they thought or felt that they couldn't think that way about our leader or whatever. When he's out of office, there will be so much disgust expressed openly by people you'd never expect to hear it from.

Go check out Mikey Likes It! to hear Mike's take from his sick bed in the children's ward. (I'm joking with him.)

I listened to KPFA's The Morning Show today and they had an interesting discussion on race issues (they had a great one last week too that C.I., Kat and I were trying to make part of "Where do you get your information?" but everyone was tired. I'm going to push for that topic this weekend. So I'll talk instead about this Canadian documentary they broadcast. It was about the harmful things in the environment -- and the environment is your home. Philip Malderi said in the introduction that it was in a kind of Leave It To Beaver form and it was. I think they named the toddler Sam and I forget the mother, father and older sister's name. But it was a family, and they had a dog, and it addressed the stuff that was in their home without them ever realizing it. Like the dust mites and the dust in the carpet but also things that get tracked in. They used the dog there. He'd been having a blast in the next door neighbor's yard and when he comes back into the house, he's tracking in all the chemicals that they were using in their garden to try to get rid of weeds. And did you know that some of the most pollution you're exposed to is in your car? Sick building disease was talked about too. It was really informative and I'm trying to think of a comment Andrea Lewis made because when I was listening, I thought, "I need to put that in." Now I'm forgetting it. It wasn't about the dust mites. She made some comments on that but it was on something else.

They also talked about how many chemicals children were exposed to. Oh, Andrea Lewis made the point that the air outside was cleaner than the air in many homes. Which also reminds me of Andrea and Philip talking about this one section on air freshners. When people use those, the products usually either just mask the odor or they deaden the nerves (I think it was nerves) in your nose that allow you to smell.

So that was pretty interesting. If you missed it and are interested in hearing it you can go to
KPFA and check out the archives for Thursday or click on The Morning Show and pull up Thursday's show.

Philip almost didn't get mentioned when we were writing "Where do you get your information?" because people were going, "How do you spell it?" (Watch, I'll have mispelled it in this.) "Is it two 'L's?" (C.I. and Kat knew how to spell it.)

Speaking of Kat, I hope everyone's read her four reviews in the last few days:

"Kat's Korner: Pink's not dead or silent"
"Kat's Korner: Neil Young's Living With War -- key word 'Living'"
"Kat's Korner: Richie Havens: The Economical Collection"
"Kat's Korner: Need deeper? Check out Josh Ritter's The Animal Years."

She's done that since Saturday. (She'll have a new review this Saturday.) I've always been a been a big fan of Kat's writing. If you go through the old entries at The Common Ills, you'll see that from before I had my own site. As early as December 2004, I'm praising her because she's a really incredible reviewer. She's doing all these reviews lately for two stated reasons. 1) Ruth is on vacation and music reviews can't replace Ruth but they can provide us with some really interesting things to read. 2) There's so much coming out now that so many have stopped playing "War Got Your Tongue?" (I saw a dopey thing about Bob Dylan and how he performed "Masters of War" in concert -- yeah, and he didn't say one word about the current war. He performed a moldy, golden oldy. He does that on all of his tours because no one's coming to hear the new stuff -- and by "new" I mean anything from the 90s, 80s or 70s. It wasn't a "statement." It was more cowardly acts from the King of Cowards.)

I think there's a third reason. Remember when Kat got attacked by the idiot that she hadn't even written about? And how he e-mailed her with what she needed to put up at her site, only to act like she was saying it and not him? I think she's more than over the All Puff No Politics crowd. They really had a lot of nerve attacking Kat. But that's really the sort of thing they can do -- attack people who speak out against the war while they hide in silence. Grown ups, acting like 12 year-olds addicted to their TVs and putting out puff on really bad TV shows while acting like they're a political site.

They're just a joke. (And a nasty two people, there was this idiotic, screaming rant that one of them sent Ava that could best be summed up as the writer needs therapy.)

So while the Puff crowd have made themselves useless, here's Kat still keeping it real, doing her thing, contributing and refusing to be made useless. Two more things to check out are Betty's "The hopping mad Thomas Friedman" and Wally's "THIS JUST IN! HILLARY CLINTON LOVES THE BOYZ WHO CHEAT ON HER!" That's it for me tonight.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Rove about to be indicted?

"Rove Indictment in Leak Case Remains A Possibility" (Democracy Now):
This update on the CIA leak case -- a reporter from MSNBC has publicly said he is convinced Karl Rove will be indicted in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. The reporter, David Shuster, made the comment last night, a week after Rove made his fifth appearance before the grand jury investigating the outing of Plame, the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Shuster is the same reporter who revealed on MSNBC that Plame was working undercover investigating Iran’s nuclear program at the time of her outing. On Monday the Washington Post reported that Rove had advised his colleagues at the White House on the importance of defending prewar intelligence and countering Wilson's critique of the war.

Rebecca told me that Mike's sick (chicken pox -- Mike, are you ten-years-old, dude!) so for my sick friend, I'll include something from his favorite show at the top of this post and wish him a speedy recovery.

That'd be great if Rove had to do a perp walk.

On a similar/different note, a new family left our church. They moved to the area and started attending about six Sundays ago. It's a Black Church (mainly African-American but we do have other races). The family was nice enough in many ways but they kept making these offensive remarks about Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. With the immigration issue in the news, that might have been part of it. But people were telling them they were offensive and they'd just blow it off. (Comments about how Mexican-Americans couldn't drive, were thieves, etc.)

Our pastor went to talk to them -- for the second time -- and this Sunday, they didn't show up at church. They had really offended Three Cool Old Guys because they felt that after all our race went through to get as far as we have (which still isn't equality), there was no justification for any African-American to "traffic in stereotypes and slurs."

I agree with that. Unless we delude ourselves, we know what is still said about us and it's not as bad as it once was, but it's still bad. There's no reason for us to join in attacks on others.

We have one family that is Mexican-American as well as a woman who comes to church by herself who is Cuban-American. Anybody wanting in the church better realize that everyone who's a member is family and there's no room for new members to bring their hate in.

Three Cool Old Guys are going to make this the topic of their column for Friday's gina and krista round-robin and they've got a lot to say on the topic. Be sure to read it.

What else is going on?

Jim's asked if I would jot some stuff down about the latest edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review? I told him I would but I would note why. He said that was cool.

Why? Ava and C.I. were right. If they wrote the piece he wanted them to write, it would overwhelm everything in the edition -- and it has. But here's what's in the latest edition:

"Radio highlights for Sunday (and one for Monday)" -- if you missed any of the programs highlighted, you can catch archived broadcasts of them (for free) so look at the highlights.

"Why He Took On Rumsfeld: Ray McGovern Talks to Democracy Now!" -- this is about something that really angered a bunch of us. Ray McGovern was on a number of shows, including Democracy Now!, talking about what he did last Thursday -- confronted Donald Rumsfeld -- but if you surfed online, it was all CNN, MSNBC and corporate outlets. If you don't support independent media, who are you helping?

"TV commentary takes a back seat this week to Colbert" -- is the piece everyone's e-mailing about. This is the piece Ava and C.I. didn't want to write but Jim and Ty say it's getting a huge positive reception (and overshadowing everything else in the edition) as well as 20 of the nastiest e-mails (at least half include physical threats) that site's ever received. For the record, I agree with every word in that commentary. I also (and Jim knows this) do not think it was fair or appropriate in what was supposed to be an easy week to tell them the day before, "Oh, we're going to need you to weigh in the whole Colbert thing." They'd already planned their commentary for the week, viewed a show, called friends who worked on it, and roughed out their main points. Ava and C.I. are both hugely involved in about three thousand issues at once and they did all their work for their commentary early in the week in the hopes that they could actually get some sleep. Didn't happen. What did happen, as they suspected, was that they'd end up with the attention getting piece for the edition.

"Book: Anthony Arnove's IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal" -- we were tired but we needed to note this book. It's a great book and one you should read and pass on to your friends.

"Shame of the Week (Musical)" -- three mothers saw a commercial and lobbied us to write about it. It is pretty shameful, this shame of the week. If you haven't read it, go read it to find out what offended three mothers. (And those of us writing were offended by it as well.)

"Where do you get your information?" -- this is getting the word out. KPFA has a show called The Morning Show and this is giving you a rundown of that as well as noting Guantanamo. This was actually the start of two pieces but, due to lack of time, it got blended into one piece.

"Head on Home (a musical in four scenes)" -- this is pretty good. More than pretty good. This is one of the things I'm most proud of and point to and say, "Yes, I helped with that." You expect the extreme right wing to call for military solutions to any problem. You don't expect the same from groups like Working Assets. This is a look at the peace movement and quite a bit more. There were actually melodies to the lyrics. Jess, Kat, Rebecca and C.I. came up with this idea and lobbied for it. It had my support right away and I hope we try something similar again. (It doesn't have to be a musical or a play, but just something out of the norm for what we usually do.) Three Cool Old Guys made me sing it to them tonight because they wanted to hear it. Need more music? Check out Kat's "Kat's Korner: Richie Havens: The Economical Collection."

"Darfur" -- is the place that Working Assets and others on the left are calling to be turned over to NATO. With regards to Africa, I get a little bothered anytime the "answer" is to send in troops from the "developed" (read: White) nations. If genocide is going on, what's a way to address that without matching bullets for bullets and turning it even more into a war zone? This proposes one possible means of addressing the conflict and it's one I support strongly. I doubt most people will. Like we say, it's easier to send guns and bullets then to welcome anyone to your country. I think Wally's "THIS JUST IN! IT TAKES A COWARD --- SOMETIMES TWO!"
goes with the piece, so check it out.

"TV: The Urine Stains of David Mamet" -- is the review that Ava and C.I. had roughed out, made calls on, etc. They almost didn't write this. But there were a number of technical problems with posting so they ended up grabbing a few minutes (I think 15) and wrote it up.
It made me laugh. It made my cousin laugh. He's seen the show (because he skips church on Wednesdays) and he said they captured it "to a t."

"Editorial: Bully Boy Thinking?" -- we had another topic for the editorial but no one was in the mood and just wanted to get done. So Dona came up with the idea for this which is pulling together a point that was made in the edition and around the community websites all week: the need for perspective.

"A Note to Our Readers" -- is where Jim gets to offer his thoughts each week.

Except for Ava and C.I.'s two commentaries and Jim's notes, the rest of it was worked on by the following:

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

So that's about it for me tonight. I'll probably have pleasant dreams tonight, thinking about Karl Rove getting indicted.