Friday, November 25, 2005

Headlines found in the paper

Found in the paper:

We've composed the following twelve headlines dealing with , , , , , , , the , the , and other topics.

1) From Dahr Jamail's MidEast Wire (Iraq Dispatches):
Monday in Iraq, US troops fired on a car in Ba'qubah, killing five, two adults and three children. The US military states that they feared the car "booby-trapped." The family had been returning from visiting relatives when a US convoy approached. The car was fired on from the front and the back. One Iraqi was quoted as saying, "The ones who brought in the Americans are at fault. Those who support them are at fault. All of them are at fault. Look at these. They are all children. All of them of are children. They killed them. They killed my entire family."

2) In the United States the Associated Press reports that Cindy Sheehan returned to Crawford, Texas Thursday and joined what some estimates say were 100 protestors and other estimates say as many as 200.
Cindy Sheehan stated, "I feel happy to be back here with all my friends ... but I'm heartbroken that we have to be here again," said Sheehan, who hoped to arrive earlier in the week, but was delayed by a family emergency. "We will keep pressing and we won't give up until our troops are brought home."

3) Since Sheehan and others last gathered at Camp Casey I and Camp Casey II, laws have been passed to prevent further gatherings in Crawford -- "local bans on roadside camping and parking." As protestors returned this week, they were advised they could be arrested. Among those arrested Wednesday were Daniel Ellsberg and US diplomat Ann Wright. Democratic Underground has a report from Carl who was also arrested Wendesday. Carl reports that "The entire [arrest & booking] process took 3.5 hours." Carl advises that the vigils will also take place on Christmas and New Year's Eve as well as that "Donations to the Crawford Veterans For Peace can be mailed to P. O. Box 252, Crawford, Texas, 76638-9998."

4) As the participation of psychologists and psychiatrists in the "BISQUIT" program and other 'interrogation' work raises ethical and professional questions today, CounterPunch is reporting that in WWII, United States anthropologists participated with the Office of Strategic Services in attempts to determine means to destroy the Japanese. David Price reports, in what is a clear betrayal of the profession, anthropologists were instructed "to try to conceive ways that any detectable differences could be used in the development of weapons, but they were cautioned to consider this issue 'in a-moral and non-ethical terms'." Price notes "Ralph Linton and Harry Shapiro, objected to even considering the OSS' request ­ but they were the exceptions."

5) In legal news, as the prison industry has switched to a profit making business, prisoners have found themselves located far from relatives. The distance has proved profitable for long distance companies. The Center for Constitutional Rights argued in court Monday on behalf of "New York family members who pay a grossly inflated rate to receive a phone call from their loved ones in state prisons." CCR notes:

The lawsuit, Walton v. NYSDOCS and MCI, seeks an order prohibiting the State and MCI from charging exorbitant rates to the family members of prisoners to finance a 57.5% kickback to the State. MCI charges these family members a 630% markup over regular consumer rates to receive a collect call from their loved ones, the only way possible to speak with them. Judge George Ceresia of the Supreme Court of New York, Albany County, dismissed the suit last fall, citing issues of timeliness.

6) In other legal news, Cynthia L. Cooper reports for Women's enews that November 30th the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. At issue in this case, is whether or not bans on reproductive freedom enacted by state legislatures must take effect before they can be legally challenged or whether they can be challenged as soon as they are passed. The standard up to now has been that laws can be challenged as soon as they are passed. Cooper notes:

By changing the legal standard for when an abortion restriction can be challenged in court, anti-abortion laws could quickly entangle women across the country, without directly overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that held that states could not criminalize abortion in all circumstances.

7) The Guardian of London reports on a Rutgers University study that has found "[g]lobal warming is doubling the rate of sea level rise around the world, but attempts to stop it by cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions are likely to be futile." Professor Kenneth Miller tells The Guardian's Ashraf Khalil, "This is going to cause more beach erosion. Beaches are going to move back and houses will be destroyed." This comes as the Climate Conference is gearing up to take place in Montreal from November 28th to December 9th. United for Peace and Justiceis issuing a call for action:

This fall let's mobilize a nationwide, grassroots education and action campaign leading up to mass demonstrations in Montreal and throughout the U.S. on Saturday, December 3rd. Help gather signatures for the Peoples Ratification of the Kyoto Global Warming Treaty (, which will be presented in Montreal. Join Climate Crisis: USA Join the World! ( as we call for:
USA Join the World by Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol
Support and Export Clean, Safe, Non-Nuclear Energy Alternatives
End Government Subsidies for Oil and Coal Corporations
Dramatically Strengthen Energy Conservation and Fuel Efficiency Standards
A Just Transition for Workers, Indigenous and Other Communities Affected by a Change to Clean Energy
Defend the World's Forests; Support Community-Run Tree Planting Campaigns

8) With Congress out of session due to the holidays, a number of organizations are attempting to inform the public of pending legislation. The Bill of Rights Defense Center warns to "[e]xpect a vote [on the renewal of the Patriot Act]after Congress returns on December 12th." Of the bill, Lisa Graves of the ACLU states:

The Patriot Act was bad in 2001, and despite bipartisan calls for reform, it's still bad in 2005. Instead of addressing the real concerns that millions of Americans have about the Patriot Act, the Republican majority in Congress buckled to White House pressure, stripping the bill of modest yet meaningful reforms. Congress must reject this bill.

Both the ACLU and the Bill of Rights of Defense Center are calling for grass roots action.
Also asking for action is NOW. Congress failed to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.You can make your voice heard via NOW's take action page. On their page, you have the option of e-mailing your representatives and/or signing a petition that NOW will present to Congress on December 5th.

9) Meanwhile, as November winds down, American military fatalities have reached 76 for the month, with the Department of Defense reporting 50 Americans wounded thus far this month. The total number of American military killed in Iraq, official count, has reached 2105. Scripps Howard News Service reports that, "U.S. commanders on the ground have already launched plans to close bases and withdraw troops in the coming year, according to two congressmen who returned from Iraq this week." The two congress members are John Kline and Mark Kennedy (Republicans, Minn.).

10) In other Congressional news, Ari Berman reports for The Nation that John McCain is in the midst of makeover. Meeting with The Arizona Republican Assembly in August, McCain slapped some new war paint on as McCain supported the teaching of so-called "intelligent design" side by side with evolution, the state's "ban on gay marriage that denies government benefits to any unmarried couple," hailed Ronald Reagan as "my hero" and was observed "strenuously defending . . . Bush's Iraq policy."

For those who have forgotten, McCain attended Mark Bingham's funeral. Bingham was one of the passengers of Flight 93 on 9/11 in immediate media reports. As the days wore on, Bingham appeared to disappear from many reports. Mark Bingham was gay. Whether that resulted in a "downgrading" by some in the media has been a source of speculation for some time.

11) Focusing on the media, at The Black Commentator, Margaret Kimberly addresses the issue of Bob Woodward, tying him and his editor to the journalistic behaviors of Judith Miller and her editors:

Miller, Sulzberger, Woodward and Bradlee are at the top of the corporate media food chain, and their behavior tells us why Americans aren't being told anything they ought to be told. Woodward uses his access to make a fortune writing about the Supreme Court or various presidential administrations. If a journalist's priority is writing best selling books based on the amount of access gained with the powerful, then truth telling goes out the window.

12) Also addressing the very similar behaviors of Miller and Woodward are Steven C. Day at Pop Politics, Ron Brynaert at Why Are We Back In Iraq?, and Arianna Huffington at The Huffington Post. Though still vocal on Judith Miller and weighing in with the "latest," CJR Daily still can't find a connection between the "journalistic" styles of Judith Miller and Bob Woodward. In their most recent 'Judy report', CJR Daily ponders the question of why did Miller go to jail when Scooter Libby and his people maintain that they released her from confidentiality claims. Covering old news and working themselves into another lather over Miller, CJR Daily wonders"Why did Ms. Miller go to jail?" and maintains the question "has never been fully answered." The question has indeed been answered.

Whether CJR Daily approves of or believes the argument of Miller, Floyd Abrams, et al, is beside the point. For the record, the answer has been given many times. The argument was that Miller needed more than a form signed possibly under duress. Abrams and others have long been on the record explaining that they sought a release other than the form. In the front page report, Sunday October 16, 2005, Don Van Natta Jr., Adam Liptak and Clifford J. Levy reported:

She said she began thinking about whether she should reach out to Mr. Libby for "a personal, voluntary waiver."
[. . .]
While she mulled over over her options, Mr. Bennett was urging her to allow him to approach Mr. Tate, Mr. Libby's lawyer, to try to negotiate a deal that would get her out of jail. Mr. Bennet wanted to revive the question of the waivers that Mr. Libby and other administration officials signed the previous year authorizing reporters to disclose their confidential discussions.
The other reporters subpoenaed in the case said such waivers were coerced. They said administration officials signed them only because they feared retribution from the prosecutor or the White House. Reporters for at least three news organizations had then gone back to their sources and obtained additional assurances that convinced them the waivers were genunie.

But Ms. Miller said she had not gotten an assurance that shefelt would allow her to testify.

Again, from the front page New York Times story on . . . October 16, 2005. Though this was not the first reporting on Miller's position, this front page story of the Times was commented in great detail including at CJR Daily here and here. The latter time by the same writer who now wonders "Why did Ms. Miller go to jail?" Repeatedly hitting the designated pinata with articles focusing on her conduct while reducing the conduct of Bob Woodward to asides (whispered asides?) doesn't appear to make for brave "watchdoggery."

Democracy Now! has a special presentation today. The headlines above were composed by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Betty Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, Wally of The Daily Jot and Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix. Thanks to Dallas for his help with links and tags.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The tiger or the tiger

There I am, stirring the sweetened, condensed milk into the pumpkin pie filling, trying to keep an eye on the clock to make sure the pie shells don't overcook, trying to figure out how many skillets of corn bread I'll need for my dressing and the phone starts RINGING.

Thomas Friedman's on the couch, in shorty robe, watching TV.

"Could you get that?"

"This is really important," he whines.

"I don't have a spare hand!" I yell.

"But future Archie just met old Archie and Betty and is about to meet old Veronica! I can't walk away until they show Jughead!"

"Lug head," I snap, wiping my hands.

"No, Jughead!"

"I was talking about you," I muttered grabbing the phone.


"Oh, hello, Gail."

It was Gail Collins, not taking in a breath, but she often seems oxygen deprived. Mall's open, but no one's shopping.

Gail was sobbing now. Something about her life should be Austen not Dickens, how hard it was for a woman of class and sophistication to compete with the "hotsy to trot tootsies in this damn town" and how she had the whole day planned, how she would drop subtle hints that she was "betwixed" to David Brooks.

That's the condensed version and I'm just throwing it out there like I tossed the condensed milk into the pumpkin pie filling. There's no need to reflect on it, it's sugary and taking it in straight will turn you diabetic.

"Gail, I've got four pie shells in the oven, cornbread cooking in the cast iron skillet and I'm in the middle of making pie filling. Get to the point?"

"No, Betinna, I can't come to Thanksgiving dinner," Gail said seeing an invitation where none was offered. "Thomas Friedman is destroying my day. He has ruined my day! Ruined!"

It was the damn column. Apparently people still read it, a small audience, but a vocal one. And they weren't pleased. It was as though they asked for turkey and dressing and got a plate of cabbage and candy corn. It wasn't what they wanted and what it was made everyone ill.

"Welcome to my world, Gail."

What did she expect? What did anyone?

"George Bush's Third Term"?

I mean come on. The brain dead have larger thought waves.

Thomas Friedman is an overstuffed ottoman with frill ruffles, stuffing falling out through the tear everyone notices but pretends not to.

"Look, Gail," I said checking the pie shells, "He write 'election day 2005.' I told him to use 'inaugurated.' Just point that out, say 'What the hell does he know anyway?' and I'm sure people will stop screaming at you over the phone."

"It's not just that --"

"Damn it!"

"Betinna, I really don't need attacks from you as well. Davy is wearing his ass pants today and I'm tense enough as it is," Gail sobbed.

"That wasn't at you," I said setting two pie crusts on top of the stove and sucking on a burned thumb.

"Betinna, Davy in his ass pants always gives me the strange tingles."

"Strange tingles." Elaine and I had so much work to do. But at least we'd been able to get her to abandon the term "rump pants." As Elaine told her, "It's an ass, not a roast."

I really didn't have time for this. I didn't have time for Thomas Friedman Monday night, stoked to the brain, bogarting the bong, and convinced that every word was "golden."

"Oh man oh man, I'm golden tonight!" he's squealed. "John Tierney is going to read this and need viagra! Nicky K will whimper like the little mongrel he is. And Bill Keller, oh my God, Betinna, 'The walrus is Paul!' I just got it! 'The walrus is Paul!' Do we have any cheese nips?"

That's how the column read.

I rewrote the whole thing but Thomas Friedman read it the next morning and said it read like Cindy Sheehan emerging from a Herbert Marcuse workshop.

He then worked himself in a tizzy because he had to "ride the wave" of public opinion but he wasn't sure where it was headed. He worked himself up so much he broke the bong.

It was interesting explaining to the attending in the ER how the glass got in his ass. What happened? He sat on it. Was it a bottle? No. Was it a knick knack? No. Was it -- It was a bong! A bong! He sat on his glass bong, now get the glass out of his ass.

The whole time Thomas Friedman just lay there asking, "Can I go now?"

We got back, I thought I could knock out the pies. But no.

As soon as he's stopped feeling guilty ("Did you see the way the doctor looked at me?") over being a "hop-head," Thomas Friedman needed more pot. He can't roll a joint because he gets the tip so wet it's as though it fell in the toilet. He remembers something about William Safire using a honey container shaped like a bear in college. So he's rummaging through the cabinets and cursing at me for buying organic honey in a glass jar.

He's freaking out because "the dude" is about to bid farewell.

"What will the world be without Ted Koppel's Nightline!" he screams over and over.

Finally Dexter Filkins happens by. He was home for the holidays, having caught a flight with Ahmed Chalabi.

"Everything in my life that matters, I can do in a toilet!" Dexter brags.

His mother must be so proud.

He grabs some aluminum foil, disappears in the bathroom for five minutes and emerges with a bong he's fashioned out of the cardboard from a roll of toilet paper.

They take hits on the couch, weeping, as they watch Koppel's final broadcast.

Then they pieced together Thomas Friedman's "George Bush's Third Term." Dexter used every creative writing technique he'd honed in Iraq. So Gail should really be screaming at Dexter. There I was with a burned thumb, food to cook, a huge spread to prepare for tomorrow and I'm dealing with Old Maid On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown.

Needing to get off the phone, I reminded Gail that when Davy wore his sock, his pants had a nice bulge in the front.

"Oh, Betinna," Gail half-giggled, half-panted, "you're so naughty. But I did notice a wiggle in front when he was walking --"

"Great, seize the day, Gail, seize the day! Call me tomorrow and let me know how it turned out,"
I said hanging up the phone.

Looking over, I saw Thomas Friedman had wandered into the kitchen and was using the good carving knife to scratch his back. Would that I could hang up on him.