Music, movies and Andrea Lewis

So it's Friday, I'm Betty and Sherry had a question and a reminder. Question first: Is this more fun than doing my own site? Yes, because I don't worry about this.

I'm not looking at the dreaded outline or wondering if I need to bring in X or Z yet, or whether Betinna might know too much too early, or . . . You name it. Rebecca said to just have fun while she was gone. She said it could be short or long and that if I didn't have time, not to sweat it.

Sherry reminded me of the "Why Thomas Friedman question?" That was on the list and both she and Goldie had wondered that. I said last night that he just ticked me off but Rebecca had replied to both of them awhile back and explained it that way. So since he ticks me, why make him the focal point?

If I had it to do over, he wouldn't be. I spent a lot of weeks pondering the site and what it would be about before I started it. I did test chapters. Throughout it all, C.I. would ask me if I worried I might get burnt out on Thomas Friedman? (Like Betinna, I find myself calling him "Thomas Friedman." I didn't do that until I started the site. I'd call him "Friedman.") I didn't think so, that I'd get burnt out, but I was wrong.

Do I regret it? If I was going to be doing the site for years and years, I would regret it. I'm not doing it for years and years. At the end of 2008, I'll probably shut it down. I can hang on for that.

Hope that covered it but, if not, let me know.

Now I need to note Sunny who is filling in for Elaine. I've spoken to her a few times over the phone and she's always sweet and, yes, sunny. She's doing a great job filling in at Like Maria Said Paz. I hope you're already visiting the site but if not, please make a point to. Her next post will be on Rebecca. So to find out some more about the woman who usually blogs here, you'll need to check out Sunny's post at Like Maria Said Paz. (I believe it's going up tonight.)

Sunny is filling in. I say that because I'm sure someone's wondering if she's going to start her own site? Last year, when Rebecca went on vacation, Elaine basically got told, "Tag, you're it!"
This is where Elaine started blogging. I don't remember how long she blogged for, it was over four weeks and it may have been six weeks. (Rebecca doesn't plan on being gone that long this summer.) She did a wonderful job and we all loved what she was doing here. Mike spearheaded a petition drive to get her to continue blogging.

So she did and started her own site: Like Maria Said Paz. Maria is a member of The Common Ills community and she used to rotate with Miguel and Francisco on picking headlines from the week's Democracy Now! in Spanish and English. The way it ended up, Maria pretty much took the full school year. So now Francisco and Miguel are taking the summer to give her a break. But "Paz" is "Peace" in Spanish and Maria would always explain, in Spanish, at the start that she was offering X number of headlines from Democracy Now! and then sign off with "Paz."

Maria is wonderful and she and I have found that we have a great deal in common. (We have the same number of children, we're both single, working mothers, we have a similar outlook on raising children . . .) To know Maria is to love her. (That's a rip from the old sixties song: "To know, know, know him, Is to love, love, love him . . .") And she's strongly committed to peace as is Elaine. They got to know each other serving on several community committees. So when Elaine finally decided to start the blog (as the petition and e-mails were coming in), she wanted to honor Maria's committment to peace -- that's how she came up with the title. (Maria is flattered.)

But Sunny has made it clear that she's happy to fill in but doesn't think she has enough in her for her own site. (I think she's wrong.) So to clear it up, Sunny's not planning on launching her own site. (But then Elaine hadn't planned on it either . . .)

Two people went to my site and wrote that I only had a paragraph about Thomas Friedman. They only read the top post. That was a news round up that we all worked on. "The cross-dressing, I can live with, the right-wing plotting . . ." was my last chapter.

Before I go further, let me post C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" [This is Friday's, my sister pointed out to me that I had posted Thursday's last night. My mistake. I've fixed it now.]:

Chaos and violence continue.
Iraq was rocked with bombings today. As Sandra Lupien noted on
KPFA's The Morning Show, "As many as 17 are dead and at least 50 wounded following attacks on mosques." The BBC reports that the bombs went off "in Baghdad and Baquba following Friday prayers." Al Jazeera notes that, in Baghdad, a car bomb went off near one Sunni mosque and a mortar round landed on another. In addition to the mortar attack on the mosque, Reuters reports another one in Baghdad that took the lieves of at least three people and wounded at least 30. Reuters also notes a car bomb exploding near a mosque in Tal Banat ("killed six and wounded 46") and that three people were gunned down in Mosul. The Associated Press reports that, in Sinjar, at least eight died and 48 were wounded when "a car bomb exploded near a Shiite mosque".
Along with the above, the
AFP reports that two sheikhs may have been kidnapped. Sheikh Said Mohammed Taha al-Samarrai of Mahmudiyah is reported kidnapped and killed according to Sunni members of Parliament. The second sheikh believed to be kidnapped is Sheikh Alaa Mohammed Abbas al-Rikabi -- and that's according to Sheikh Abdel Ghafur al-Sammarai who also states "that 181 Sunni clerics have been killed since February."
Mahmudiyah was the hometown of Abeer Qasim Hamza, the 15-year-old who was allegedly rape before being killed (along with three of her family members) by US military forces. Steven D. Green is the only one charged so far. In court Thursday, his attorney Scott Wendelsdorf "entered a plea of 'not guilty on all counts,'"
Reuters reports.
In peace news,
Bay Area Code Pink is fasting and picketing . . . outside the home of War Hawk Di Fi (the home warbucks is building): " Senator Diane Feinstein recently voted against John Kerry's amendment calling for the troops to come home. Let's make sure she doesn't disappoint her constituents again. Gather with us, as we encourage her to co-sponsor the Harkin bill (S. CON. RES 93) no permanent military presence or military bases in Iraq; no attempt to control the flow of Iraqi oil; and Armed Forces should be redeployed from Iraq as soon as practicable after the completion of Iraq's constitution-making process or December 31, 2006 - which ever comes first."
CODEPINK also continues their fast in DC and elsewhere as people across the country continue fasting or begin to show their support. Kris Wise (Daily Mail) writes of West Virginians taking part in the fast and quotes Janie Poe: "I'll go for as long as my body can hold out or until my group tells me to stop. It's probably detrimental for us on our bodies, but it's us screaming out to people to wake up."
Today on
KPFA's The Morning Show, Andrea Lewis interviewed Dahr Jamail and Mark Manning (info on tonight's event below) on the subject of Iraq. On the issue of the alleged rape and the murders, Dahr Jamail said, "This type of thing is happening on a regular basis in Iraq . . . [rapes during house raids] even in the capital city of Baghdad." Mark Manning pointed out that the legal immunity given to contractors and the military has created "a huge problem" and that the Iraqis have seen too many incidents being wiped away without investigation.
Event tonight:
An upcoming event: Brava Theater, 2789 24th Street, San Francisco, Friday, July 7th, 7:00 pm. (415-647-2822)

Mark Manning will be screening his film Caught in the Crossfire for those interested in knowing the realities on Falluja that Dexy and the other Green Zoners never got around to telling you. Nadia McCaffrey, who lost her son in the Iraq war, will bespeaking as will Dahr Jamail.

I can't wait to hear the Dahr Jamail interview. If you can't wait, you can listen online for free. (Maybe you already heard it?) I don't listen online. Kat's kind enough to tape The Morning Show for me and then mail it at the end of each week. It usually arrives on Tuesday. She'll make recommendations (example: "There's a writer in the final half-hour that you have to hear!") and I'll wait until the weekend and put the tapes in while I'm cleaning. I'll get this week's tape next Tuesday. Kat once wondered if I felt the news breaks were a waste of time because they were now a week old by the time I'd hear them? Not at all. So much is going on and so much just falls out of our memories (and out of the news) that it reminds me of the stories that were being covered.

If you're Black (or African-American, I'm from the South and old school so I use "Black"), I think you'd really appreciated Andrea Lewis. She's a great interviewer and everyone should appreciate her for that alone. But as a Black woman, she is just such a relief because she can be serious, she can be funny, but she's not foolish. I get so tired of Black women who play foolish on the radio. They're usually teamed up with a man and if they're not playing foolish, they're playing bitter. (I doubt that the women are either foolish or bitter. But they have to play supporting cast to some man and that's the two roles they get stuck with.) Andrea Lewis is just Andrea Lewis on air. It may be a persona but it's a strong one and one that I value. Andrea Lewis is also a lesbian so if you're looking for someone who's not forced into the role of right-wing stereotype by race, gender or sexuality, you should make a point to check her out.

Listen and see if she doesn't become your on air, smart friend. I feel like I know her. That's really important because I don't feel I know a lot of Black women I hear on the radio or see on TV. On TV, in the reality shows, we get to be the token bitch. I'm not sure if that started with MTV's Real World or not but that show, and every other since, seems to always hold a spot for the "black bitch." You can't kid yourself that the woman's just a strong woman being called names, she earns that name. That's apparently part of the "fun."

If I'm not seeing that, I'm seeing or hearing silly caricatures who act like they're auditioning for their role in The Beauty Shop. (Didn't Queen Latifah make a film with that title or something close?) I feel older than my years (I'm not even thirty yet, but I feel forty) and that's probably partly due to having children. (Not complaining, I love them. But it does take some of the 'kid' edge of your own personality.) There are women who say things like, "Break me off a piece of that!" and then laugh endlessly. Those women are usually very young or they're a bit of a joke to most people around them. But that's usually what we get on TV and on the radio.

Andrea Lewis is intelligent and can still be funny. If it's acting on her part (and it could be, it's probably hard to be in front of a mike, talking to everyone), she's doing a wonderful part. (I doubt it's an act.) I hope she doesn't leave the program (though I wouldn't begrudge her a chance to expand if it was offered) because I want my daughter to grow up hearing her. There are so many portrayals of Black women that are really offensive. There are also ones that are hurtful.

My oldest child (a boy) is at the age now where he really notices that there aren't any Black children on the shows he watches (Arthur and PBS Kids, mainly) and that they're not really on TV. That's really sad. But, as he gets older, he's got Will Smith and Denzel Washington and probably some more men coming down the line. Women? I love Angela Bassett but I don't see her in a lot of films. I love Halle Berry but she's usually the only Black woman in her films. That was true before the Oscar and still is: The Rich Man's Wife, Losing Isaiah, Swordfish . . . It's also true that she's been topless a bit too much for me to feel comfortable with my daughter watching her movies until she's quite a bit older. (My daughter already knows what breasts are. I'm not offended or ashamed of breasts. But I really do worry about Halle's nude scenes in terms of the message being: Here's how to be liked and noticed . . . especially by White people.)

There's a woman I really love and I always feel like I have to apologize for that. I bring her up and some man dogs on her or people just think I'm being silly. C.I.'s one of the few people who got what I was talking about. When I said Whoopi Goldberg, C.I. said, "Because she's got a body of work." Exactly.

She's made some good films (even a few great ones) and some really bad films. But I remember being a kid and we had Cosby then so it wasn't as bad as it is today where you can go show after show on any given night and might not see a single Black person. But I remember being excited if Mahogany was coming on (I love Diana Ross) or Lady Sings The Blues. There weren't a lot of films with Black people in them that got played (non-cable) during the week. There weren't a lot with them period. There was Richard Pryor and I've seen all of his films and enjoyed him a great deal. And I was lucky because Eddie Murphy was exploding when I was a kid.

But somewhere around the time Whoopi made Clara's Heart, I thought, "Kids in the future are going to have a lot more chances." Maybe they'll see Ghost, maybe they'll see The Little Rascals, Jumping Jack Flash (I love that movie), The Color Purple (ditto, but I love the book more), Made In America, one of the Sister's Act movies, . . . It's a long list. But they'll see her and they'll ask, the way I did about Billy Dee Williams (I knew who Diana Ross was) the first time I saw him onscreen. Their parents can say, "That's Whoopi Goldberg and she made a bunch of movies." I remember being so sad when I had all of Diana films on videotape. My father explained that was all of them. I said, "But she was nominated for an Oscar!" (For Lady Sings the Blues.) As I got older, I saw that it didn't matter. Women don't seem to get the same chances men get in the entertainment world. Eddie Murphy had one turkey after another for a very long, long time. They bombed at the box office. He kept making the films. (He still makes a bomb anytime he's not doing a family film these days.) I think Black men, if they make a string of blockbusters are now closer to the level of White men who are allowed to bomb over and over. But Black women and White women don't seem to get that kind of lattitude. And it's even worse for Black women.

So I really do love Andrea Lewis. She's not playing foolish or helpless. She's an equal to Philip Maldari (they co-host the program). One of them doesn't the 'tough' issues and the other takes the 'soft' ones. They both do the tough issues (solo or together) and the soft ones (ditto). I hope there's some young child in Berkeley (of any color) who hears her and, when he or she grows up, there's this great script because he or she heard a Black woman who had all these dimensions that you don't generally get to see on the big or small screen. He or she will write this strong, funny, intelligent character because listening to Lewis has shown that we're quite a bit more than we've been portrayed.

For Ty, living in New York, it's probably not such a big deal. But Cedric and I aren't on the coasts, we get stereotypes. (Ty enjoys Andrea Lewis as well, I don't mean to imply that he doesn't.) But when we were all in California in May, we would all three alternately ask, "Who is this woman!" (Kat kept teasing/threatening to take me down to the KPFA studio to say, "I've got a woman here from Georgia who just wants to say 'Thank you' to Andrea Lewis.")

It wasn't so long ago that I was a little girl that I've forgotten everything. I remember trying on different clothes or make up or changing my hair because Lisa Bonet or someone else was doing it. I remember searching for the singers who weren't just about sex. And my parents were very strict about music -- probably why I know so much older music. If I complained about needing something new and they didn't like the choices I was wanting to purchase, they'd haul out one of their vinyl albums or cassette tapes and say, "Here, this is your new music."

Diana was almost always safe with them. But with her song "Muscles," I did know, when I was asked, I better have a good answer if I wanted to keep listening. ("Michael Jackson wrote it about his pet snake, Muscles," I said as innocenctly as I could.) Now days?

I feel for Little Kim. She did her time. I wish her the best but pray to the Lord she covers up a little more and finds something else to write about besides sex-sex-sex. I remember going to the grocery store, this was a few years back, and being neverous for my oldest son, who was old enough then to pick up words, because some kid was in a car in the parking lot blasting out a song ("Move bitch, get out the way, get out the way, Move bitch, get out the way, get out the way") that I really didn't want him to grow up hearing.

They're going to hear that. Big business loves to sell us Blacks as sex obsessed, gun toting, drug dealing, whatever. It's all a cartoon (but if you look around, you'll see a lot of kids buying into that -- a lot of parents too). I can hear it by myself and think, "Oh, I guess it's funny." Or pretend or whatever. But I remember being a little girl. I took every word Stephanie Mills sang to heart. I thought Stacy Lattisaw was it when it came to how life was going to be. Or Cherelle or whomever.

I was a big fan of Madonna. I didn't hang out with a large number of White children, so, to be honest, I just thought that's what White women do. Oh, those naughty White girls, I'd think. I think I even said that to my mother once because I can remember my father being very upset when he heard one of Madonna's songs I was playing on my tape player and my mother calmed him down. (Probably told him, "Honey, it's okay. She thinks that's what White girls do. She's not going to start wearing her underwear in public and saying she's like a virgin.")

I don't know. Maybe I'm just too old. (Told you, I lost the "kid" edge long ago.) I wish sometimes that I was one of those parents who felt like, expose them to everything and they'll sort it out. I'm sure some children can do that. They probably have wonderful parents. But that's not my parenting style.

I also remember finding Madonna exciting, even if she wasn't doing anything I was going to try to do. I get a little sad when I see her these days. She's hopefully a wonderful mother, but she could be so saucy and shocking. What I did take from that was that no one was going to tell me who I was. Maybe I worry too much and the Little Kim's are sending the same message out to young girls today? Maybe if a White woman was doing the same thing I wouldn't think twice?

I don't know though. I find Britney Spears pretty repulsive. (As a recording artist. I think enough's been said about her mothering and I won't add to that. Hopefully, what everyone talks about were just catching her on her worst days and, honestly, we've all had some of those if we're raising children.) I can remember an aunt having a fit that I was listening to Stevie Nicks and screaming, "She's a witch!" to my father. My dad went through the cassette covers and I was thinking, "Oh, I'm never going to be able to hear Stevie Nicks again." When he was done looking at the covers and the lyrics, his verdict was: "She keeps her clothes on." I don't see a lot of that today. (I don't know that Stevie Nicks was a witch or is a witch. I believe that she's denied it. I could care less. I still will rock out with "Stand Back" or "Talk To Me" when it's time for spring cleaning.) But does anyone keep their clothes on today?

And then you've got the boys. I'll wrap this up with these comments on the boys. Justin Timberlake is disgusting. I did write ABC to object to his hosting that Motown special. No way was he hosting that at the same time Janet was basically banned from the Grammys. I don't remember Janet saying, "Here's my boob!" I remember him exposing it. I'm sure they worked it out together. (It wasn't the end of my world but I did think it was sad that it happened on national television.) He was some sort of 'stud' for ripping off her top and she was some sort of 'slut' for having her top ripped off. I'm old enough to know boys from men and I'm really sick of these boys who use women in order to look like men.

He's just another squeaky-voiced boy dreaming of being Michael Jackson. And that's probably not the most "macho" thing to be. It wasn't when I was a kid, though we all loved Michael. (But we never thought he was manly.) So he's like a little boy who can't keep his hands out of his pants to impress you with how manly he is.

If a boy wants to be a man, he needs to do it in some way other than stepping on women. So that's it, I'll stop my lecture now.


Betty filling in for Rebecca

Iraq snapshot.
Chaos and violence continue.
Today in Iraq,
CBS and AP report that a car bomb "near Ana town" wounded two. While the AFP notes car bombs in Baghdad that resulted in at least three dead and at least eight wounded. And the bombing of buses in Kufa has killed at least twelve and wounded over forty. Khaled Farhan (Reuters) reports that: "The bomber drove his car between the two Iranian coaches as they arrived at the Maithem al-Tamar shrine".
KUNA reports that six corpses were discovered in Kirkuk, Reuters notes "a beheaded" corpse was discovered in al-Zab, AFP reports "the discovery of 35 corpses of the last 24 hours, despite a three-week old security crackdown in the capital". The "crackdown" we're not supposed to notice the failure of.
Among the many of victims of violence has been Alaa Hassan. Hassan, 35-years-old, was an unembedded journalist who died in Iraq Wednesday June 28th: "
When Alaa crossed the bridge Jun. 28, gunmen sprayed his car with machine-gun fire, killing him with six bullets." Aaron Glantz remembers his sometimes co-writer in "A Story IPS Never Wanted to Tell" (IPS). Hassan and Glantz co-authored: "Basra Begins to Fall Apart" (IPS) and "U.S. Military Hides Many More Hadithas" (IPS). (That's not a complete list.)
Meanwhile Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the illegal occupation and the current prime minister, turns chatty.
KUNA reports that he says Iraq is "determined to hound the 41 outlaws" (including Saddam Hussein's daughter) and again bragged about how tight he was these days with the so-called insurgents. He then began recounting his whirlwhind trip in recent days (when he might have better served Iraq by addressing the issue of the alleged rape and murders in as they were happening as opposed to waiting over five days later to even make a public comment) but somehow left out the assurances he gave everyone about how 'stable' Iraq is now and how they should start investing. Though one might expect such statements to be greeted with loud laughter, greed knows no reality. IRIN reports: "Kurds approve foreigner-friendly investment law" and Reuters reports "[a] top United Nations envoy" was in Baghdad today to extoll the IMF and World Bank, and to promise international aid and support provided "Babhdad will commit itself to a series of yet unedfined political, economic and security steps."
Bloomberg notes this on al-Maliki and others' attempts at a peace 'scam': attempts at Happy Talk: "Harith al-Dari, who heads the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, told AFP on June 30 that the amnesty offer was meaningless because it excluded those who had targeted foreign soldiers. He also said most insurgent groups had rejected the plan because it offers no timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, AFP reported.
As noted during
WBAI's Pacifica news break at noon anchored by Mitch Jeserich*, Ehren Watada was charged by the Army yesterday for his refusal to serve in the illegal war. Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) notes that "Watada said he was morally obligated to obey the Constitution, not what he claimed were unlawful orders to join in an illegal war." Courage to Resist notes: "Supporters in Washington State’s Puget Sound area will gather . . . July 6, at 5pm over Interstate 5 on the Exit 119 overpass (adjacent to the entrance to Ft. Lewis)."
In other news, Mitch Jeserich also noted: "Anti-war activists are at the White House" protesting with
CODEPINK and, as Medea Benjamin stated, hope to encourage the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to do as was done during Vietnam, give harbor to the war resistors.* The fasting is to put pressure on the administration and Congress to withdraw US troops from Iraq; to say no to permanent bases; to create "a massive reconstruction effort but with funds going to Iraqi, not U.S. contractors." For more information, click here.
And in trash news, does editing the Independent for a publicity stunt mean London's Independent goes easy on you? Apparently so as
Andrew Buscombe works over time to defend the piggish 'rock star' Bono.
Fat and happy, if not exactly peaceful, Bono has long decided to play his own version of corporate raider (picking off the bones of others) but Buscombe appears unaware of that as he rushes to provide cover for Bono's part in releasing a videogame that brings the "joy" of declaring war on Venezuela to your own home. Unlike an earlier game Bono was involved with ("unwittingly" Buscombe would no doubt rush in to say), Mercenaries 2 World In Flames does not appear to have been financed with either US Defense Department money or CIA money. While Buscombe provides Bono with so much cover he's practically spooning him, Wednesday's
KPFA Evening News provided a more in depth look at the "rock star" and his business. Though quite happy to put out videogames where one gets to attack Iraq or, now, Venezuela, Bono infamously told Jann Wenner, for the November 3, 2005 issue of Rolling Stone, that he didn't feel he could "campaign" against the illegal war in Iraq. Though he may suffer from "War Got Your Tongue?" that doesn't prevent him from profitting.
*Note: Thanks to
Ruth for passing on both Mitch Jeserich items.

Betty here, C.I. up there with "Iraq snapshot." Thanks so much to Kat for blogging her last night. I told Rebecca I'd fill in (gladly) for her while she was on vacation but the brain wasn't firing on all cylinders and I didn't realize I'd be doing my first post on Wednesday. Wednesdays, I rush from work to the day care, to the house, to the kitchen, to the kids' rooms, to the car, getting them fed, dressed for church and to the church. Wednesday's are just busy for me.

So I blog at Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man and it's an comic blog. There are always questions about it (to me and to others including Rebecca) so Rebecca thought it would be a good idea to make the first post about that.

First off, I don't know Thomas Friedman and, honestly, wouldn't want to. I'm not doing a parody (or "parady" as one guy insisted). I'm doing a satire in the tradition of movie satires (Scary Movie, Hot Shots, etc.).

Second, I get a lot of help from Kat and C.I. who always listen to every draft I'm working on. They know my outline and there are times when I'll forget a point and they'll say, "That's good but you know ___ is coming up, right?" Sometimes I don't. I forget. They also are very generous with their praise and encouragement. I had a problem with an opening paragraph awhile back and C.I. reminded me about a way Kat opened a review. It would work perfectly. I called her and she said, "Use it." So I swiped her opening set up.

C.I. will also go through all my drafts when I'm ready to give up and not post anything and piece together something from one draft and another . . . Then I'll get that in an e-mail and realize that in all those drafts, I had something I could work on and polish a little.

Is it ever perfect? No. If I could, I'd rewrite everything that's up there and not just for typos.
There are times when I will put off posting until the very last minute because I think "One more swipe will make it funny" or that something could be better.

I love a number of writers but I have so much more respect for them now. I don't know how Alice Walker, one of my favorites, ever lets go of anything. It probably helps to not only have talent but style, but I'm still surprised she's ever ready to send anything out into the world.
It honestly makes me worry how I'm going to be when my kids grow up and are ready to move out. If I'm that way with my chicken scratch, how am I going to be with my kids?

Why Thomas Friedman? He gets on my nerves.

Why comedy? I like to laugh.

What's Betinna's story? Betinna doesn't remember her past but that's come out a bit, past moments and more is coming.

Is it fun? When there's time, it's fun. More often than not, I'm grabbing any time I have and trying to come up with something.

What am I happy with? (Rebecca got the question from Sherry who thought I was too hard on myself. Sherry's very sweet to think I'm being too hard.) I'm happy that I've stood up when others were silent. I'm proud that I've said I'm against the war while others stayed silent (while some still stay silent). Betinna's against the war too.

I won't hide behind some nonsense of "I would like to come out against the war but . . . " There is no but. If you're against the war, you say so. But there are a lot of people who can't or won't.
Hopefully, on a good chapter, I've brought a non-White, non-corporate view to the world of Thomas Friedman.

Why don't I answer e-mails? I do. If it's not someone spewing racist nonsense, I do. It may take a bit because I don't read my account all the time. Elaine gave me a good piece of advice which is, if it's upsetting me, take some time off. So when I get the third or fourth e-mail that reads like the KKK just learned to type, I'll take two weeks off from the e-mail account.

Why do I have a wide range of music I listen to? I really don't listen to music lately. I got a promotion at work and it's been an adjustment. I think I'm almost on top of it but it's been a great deal of work getting there. So I haven't had time to listen to much music. In better days, I love music and my whole family does. I love classic soul and r&b but I was exposed to a great deal more as well. If it's 60s pop or rock and roll, someone in my family was into them. I opened with a Soundgarden song recently and that's a group I got to know when I was dating a guy. I remember music more than anything else.

I'm saying that some people will remember they met a friend or a lover by what they were wearing. To me, it's always by a song. Even if music isn't playing, I'll think, "He's like Madonna's 'Rain' or she's like Jill Scott's 'Try.'" The first thing I want to know about a person is what kind of music they listen to and why they like who they like.

I think that covers the questions. So I'll be filling in while Rebecca's on vacation. Some nights it will be quick, some nights it may be longer. I won't be blogging on Wednesdays. I'm looking forward to filling in for an extended period (I filled in for one day before). Rebecca says, "Just toss out there, don't worry about spelling, don't worry about grammar or typos. Just keep it real." I can do that. And there's none of the "I can't post this, it's crap!" feeling that I get at my site. (That's not saying my post tonight isn't crap, just that it's okay if it is. I have another day and then another.) Hopefully, I'll have something to offer some nights.


Kat subbing for Betty who's subbing for Rebecca

Kat here. Betty didn't realize that her first day of blogging for Rebecca would be on a Wednesday. That's a church note for her. I told her this afternoon not to worry, that I'd grab it for her. Rebecca and I have done joint posts so I don't think she'll mind and I'm sure she'll change the password as soon as she gets back (not because she doesn't trust Betty but because Rebecca is always on all of backs to change our passwords -- "Did you change your password this week?").

So she and Elaine are off on an island getting tanned, getting tipsy (dare I say, "Drunk!"?), with their boyfriends (though we're all suppose to put "current" in front of Elaine's boyfriend). (To indicate that things are not permanent.)

Dennis Bernstein is talking about Iraq right now on Flashpoints and interviewing a woman about the March event where it appears a woman was raped, then murdered along with three members of her family. The kidnappings, the killings, and America won't wake up to reality. Idiots like Hillary Clinton think it's "responsible" to stay over there. Would you stay in a bad marriage? (We already know she would.) Is that responsibility?

In December of 2004, C.I. wrote "Should This Marriage Be Saved?" and that's still the question. The one our 'brave' politicians avoid. Instead it's "Oh, we can't pull out!" What is this, sex?
I mean really, there was an article I was reading yesterday where a soldier was talking about how going into Falluja was like "birth," like leaving the womb. Is that what they think? Really?
Well if that's the fucked up way they're thinking, then no surprise.

Is it like some guys who seem to think that sex is like a battering ram? I'm serious (and Rebecca will love it that I'm talking about sex), there have been some guys who seemed to think their pelvises need to smash through mine. A few times, I was like, "Hey, you're in already. Calm down."

Here's what I think Iraq is going to be like, Bully Boy's limp dick is going to be slammed up against Iraq over and over, repeatedly, because he thinks he'll get lift off at some point? He won't. He's asexual.

As much as he delights in the fear and the blood, even that can't excite him. It's like the old joke about, "Is that what it takes for LBJ to get off?" during Vietnam.

C.I. really let Dexy have it this morning. If you haven't read it, go read "NYT: Falluja Dexy starts whitewashing Ramadi." It's incredible. C.I. may be the only one staying on Dexy's "reporting" but C.I. may be all we need. If you'll think back, you'll remember that the majority of the Judith Miller whiners showed up late. They stayed silent. Cowardice or ignorance, I don't know. But C.I.'s bird-dogged Dexy since November of 2004.

For anyone who noticed the opening line, Dexy "was born trash, he'll die trash" -- yes, C.I. was the person I quoted in a review with that line. C.I. said, after it went up, "Kat, you could have put my name to it." I knew I could have, but I felt like I'd have to explain the quote -- how this isn't "trailer trash" this is "human trash." C.I. didn't care. The line means this person is human waste and will never be anything but human waste. I think with Dexy it's obvious but if I had i.d.ed C.I. in the review, I think a lot of people would wonder, "Is this because the person started out poor and is a hick?" That's not what it's about.

It's about human trash. Liars like Dexy.

And to be honest, I'm sick of the fact that he hasn't gotten called out. He lied his way through Falluja and now he's doing the same with Ramadi. I blame our media critics (I'm not talking about bloggers) who have given Dexy a huge pass. They didn't with Judith Miller. They couldn't shut up about her. But that was only after it was safe.

I'm appalled by how many have given Dexy a pass. Even after he's outed as the military propagandist by the Washington Post. And I agree with something Rebecca put up here a few weeks back, about how CounterSpin (a good program) includes that and drops it. They do a few lines and then they're off talking about Bill O'Lielly. What?

What's the bigger story? I say it's that Dexy is the one the military goes to to push propaganda.
I think there's been way too much granting of passes to Dexy. FAIR has done better but that doesn't excuse CounterSpin (CounterSpin is FAIR's radio program). K-k-k-k-kat! Where are the links?

Kiss my ass. I'm not linking to people who could've called Dexter Filkins out repeatedly between then and now. If they had, if they'd done their job, he wouldn't be in Ramadi now providing more whitewashes. I'm sorry but a lot of media critics, brave or pretend to be brave, have blood on their hands.

It's not just the liars like Dexy, it's also the ones who refused to seriously address his 'reporting.'
They should have glommed on him. There is no reason in the world that C.I.'s the only one pointing out the problems with Dexy's 'reporting.'

When I listen to CounterSpin today, I know there's a good chance on any weekly episode that Judith Miller's name will come up. Miller got us over there, as C.I. points out, it's the liars like Dexy that keep us there. So I'm not impressed. I think it's been either cowardly or a case of fiddeling while Rome burned.

If Filkins had been outed for all his crimes, propaganda, turning Falluja into a video game, not reporting on white phosophorus, relying on Rita Katz and SITE for both translations and opinions, not noting Katz's questionable history or the fact that SITE gets money from the government, go down the list.

40 years from now, people will slam Dexy's Falluja (and Ramadi) 'reporting.' The only one who won't have to hang their head in shame is C.I. What's CounterSpin going to do? Point out that they did one item where 1/2 of it was about Dexy?

I don't love CounterSpin as much as Ruth, but I do love the program. It's been so disappointing that we're at WAR and they've done so very little. They aren't the only ones. For instance, they're not the ones who did two segments today, one on Mexico's elections (that didn't even air the Zapatista's opinion but allowed a guest to slam them) and then one on Iraq. The Iraq segment wasn't even fifteen minutes. In that segement, supposedly on the fast (which I took part in), they tried to cover the rape, murder story, an arrest of one veteran, and a hundred things else. BUT THEY STILL DIDN'T NOTE THAT THE US GOVERNMENT HAS ADMITTED TO KEEPING BODY COUNTS!

That's how we treat the war?

It's not good enough. None of the independent coverage is.

This is really getting ridiculous.

The Mexico segment, blaming the Zapatistas in the brief comments on it, reminded me of what Greg Palast always says: "I don't care which rich guy wins." But the segment did. There wasn't a lot of concern for the voters being expressed. It was all how nice the 'liberal' was and how he was being denied what should be his right and blah, blah, blah. The Zapatistas were the "Ralph Naders" being blamed for the fact that the so-called liberal didn't do better. Well maybe he should have tried harder? Maybe it's his campaign's fault that the election is so close? The way it was Al Gore and John Kerry's fault that the elections were so close in 2000 and 2004.

So the Zapatistas were the scapegoat today. Bad Zapatistas for not engaging in the voting process to pick a lesser of two evils. I disagree. And I'm getting real tired of our independent media being obsessed with the two party system.

Was the election crooked? As Maria said to me, "What election in Mexico isn't?" She just got back from Mexico, by the way, this morning. She took her kids to see their relatives. And though she didn't have a problem getting back across the border, her parents did. (They are all citizens of this country.) That's a story. "Boo-hoo, the 'liberal' didn't get enough votes that he should have because the Zapatistas sat out" isn't a story. Not for independent media.

Maria said most of her relatives didn't even bother to vote because it was obvious that the 'left' choice was another Vincent Fox (whom they see as a triangulator like Bill Clinton). I asked her, "Are they Zapatistas?" They aren't. They're upper-lower class and they just didn't see any program helping them from the 'left' candidate. They thought it was shameful the way his campaign tried to run from certain things (like an association with Hugo Chavez). They felt he offered them nothing and that he revealed himself in the campaign, repeatedly, to be weak.

I asked her what she thought of the segment (the l-o-o-o-o-n-g segment) this morning? She said she thought they should bring on people who weren't 'vested' in the results.

"If they had," she said, "there might have been a serious conversation about the vote. Instead you had a bunch of people saying 'Oh, he's so wonderful.' Kat, I didn't see anyone in the lower class or upper lower class that was outraged by the vote. They didn't think it was going to matter either way. There wasn't any unrest. Maybe some will be stirred up. But I was there and I know what I saw. Maybe the White people ask the questions they want and get the answers they want? No one felt the need to front to me."

Dennis is talking about the issue of immigration. Somehow that seems more important to me.
I'm really getting tired of people wasting time.

And we are at war. C.I. wondered this week or last if the right-wing cares more about the war (continuing it) then the left does (stopping it) because the coverage indicates that the left has eighty million topics they'd rather explore than the war. And I'm taking note and when pledge drive comes around I'll be reducing my pledge amount. I'm sorry that's how I feel. The war needs to be front and center not something you pick up every now and then, not something that gets shorted in coverage because you want to rehash an election that there's no final count on.

Rebecca noted her grandmother's scrapbook and how, when she leafted through it, there were stories and stories from each day. This was during WWII.

People need to get serious. This is nonsense. The war will keep going on until people start putting it front and center. Should it be the only topic? No. But it should be the big topic if we're serious about ending the war. If we're not, well keep on giving Dexy a pass, keep on whining about how unfair the Mexican elections were (when the count's not even complete).
I'm getting real tired of it. And I'm getting real tired of giving money to independent media that could go elsewhere. It's a waste if the war is a sidenote. And that's what the war's been for the last two weeks. If things haven't changed when the next pledge month rolls around, don't be surprised to see me post "Why I Won't Be Giving Money."

I didn't expect to go on so long. Hopefully, there was something of value. Betty blogs here tomorrow night. You'll love here. Rebecca's not sure how long her vacation will be. She knows it will be at least two weeks but may go longer. (Elaine's only on a one week break.) Here's
C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Iraq snapshot.
Violence and chaos continue. Monday on
KPFA's Flashpoints, Dahr Jamail told Nora Barrows-Friedman, "It really is horrible to try to keep in context the level of violence . . . Here we are doing it again with no end in sight and I wonder just how long we'll continue doing it? . . . Things are not just staying the same in Iraq, it's getting exponentially worse."
How long before the mainstream press admits that?
In kidnapping news, Raad al-Harith and his body guards have been released. al-Harith is the deputy electricity minister in Iraq who
was kidnapped Tuesday. The AFP reports that, "after being held for 10 hour," the bodyguards and al-Hareth were released but that is not the case with regards to Taiseer Najeh Awad al-Mashhadni who was kidnapped Saturday. al-Mashhadani's kidnappers, the AFP reports, "issued demands including special protection for Shiite places" and "called for the release of detainees in US custody and a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops".
Both al-Harith and al-Mashhadni were kidnapped in Baghdad. Remember Baghdad? The "crackdown"? The press seems to have largely forgotten it. As the
AFP notes regarding the continued bombings in Baghdad: "The series of blasts come despite an ongoing security plan that has put some 50,000 Iraqi soldiers and police, backed by US forces on the streets."
Basra, which was also placed under a state of emergency also appears largely forgotten.
Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "The state of emergency ended Saturday, but residents said that little had changed: Shiite militias and tribes still control the city's streets, political factions still fight for control of the city, and Shiite Muslim militias still threaten Sunni Muslims with death. Morgue officials report that the number of people killed in sectarian violence remains unchanged."
Baghdad? The
BBC reports that a car bomb near a mosque resulted in at least six dead and at least 17 wounded. AFP notes a bomb "outside a restaurant . . . noteworthy for the massive banners praising Shiite martyrs it displayed" that killed at least one and wounded at least seven as well as another bomb that went off in a market and wounded at least ten peopole. Reuters notes a car bomb in Kirkuk that left three wounded and a roadside bomb that left two wounded. In Mosul, AFP reports, a police officer and a civilian lost their lives when a car bomb exploded (at least four other people were wounded).
Near Kirkuk,
AFP reports, "a headless male corpse" was discovered. Reuters reports the discovery of two corpses in Kerbala. AP notes the discovery of a corpse ("shot in the head) in Baghdad.
Shooting deaths?
AFP reports a Kurd was killed while driving his car in Kirkuk. In Mosul, Reuters counts four dead from gun shots. In Baghdad, AP reports that a drive by targeted a Shi-ite family, "killing a 12-year-old boy and wounding his brother and two other relatives."
Reuters reports that the central morgue in Baghdad places the body count for June at 1,595. Abdul Razzaq al-Obaidi states: "June is the highest month in terms of receiving cases of violence since" the Februrary 22nd bombing of the Golden Mosque.
To underscore, the waves of Operation Happy Talk that the peace plan/scam was a 'turning point,' that the death of Zarqawi/"Zarqawi" was a 'turning point,' go down the list -- there has been no 'turning point.'
On Tuesday, Iraq's justice minister Hashim Abdul-Rahman al-Shebli made a call for an independent investigation into the alleged rape of an under-age Iraqi female as well as her alleged murder and that of three of her family members. Today, the Associated Press reports, Nouri al-Maliki (Iraq prime minister and puppet of the illegal occupation) is following al-Shebi's call for an independent investigation. Canada's CBC notes that today was the first time he spoke publicly on the matter . This despite the fact that Green was arrested Friday (news broke on Monday) and the US announced the investigation on Friday. Though various reports mention the alleged involvement of others, thus far only Steven D. Green has been charged. Today on KPFA's The Morning Show, Sandra Lupien noted that the military has gone from referring to Green having an alleged "personality disorder" to his having an "anti-social personality disorder." Lebanon's The Daily Star reports that Safiyya al-Suhail and Ayda al-Sharif (both serve in Iraq's parliament, both are women) are asserting that al-Maliki needs to appear before parliament "to give assurances the US troops would be punished."


news for july 4th

Iraq snapshot

Chaos and violence continue. As Dahr Jamail said on Monday's Flashpoints, "It really is horrible to try to keep in context the level of violence . . . Here we are doing it again with no end in sight and I wonder just how long we'll continue doing it? . . . Things are not just staying the same in Iraq, it's getting exponentially worse."

As Sandra Lupien noted on yesterday's KPFA's The Morning Show, former US soldier Steven D. Green was arrested and charged Friday with raping an Iraqi female while he was serving in Iraq and then killing her and three members of her family. The twenty-one-year-old Green was a member of the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army before being discharged with what The New York Times termed a "personality disorder." The BBC notes that Green's next appearance in court will be July 10th. Various press reports note that four others are suspected of involvement but Green has been the only one charged. The Associated Press reports that Minister Hashim Abdul-Rahman al-Shebli, Iraq's justice minister, has "demanded" that the United Nations provide oversight to ensure that those guilty be brought to justice.

Though the United States military has maintained that the rape victime was at least twenty-years-old, reports beginning with Ellen Knickmeyer's (Washington Post) on Monday have placed the female's age much lower. Yesterday, Reuters reported that the mayor of Mahmudiya declared today that the woman "was no more than 16 years old when she was killed along with her parents and young sister".

In the United States, members of CODEPINK, Granny Peace Brigade, Gold Star Families for Peace, United for Peace & Justice and Women for Peace have gathered in DC and are fasting: "While many Americans will be expressing their patriotism via barbeques and fireworks, we'll be fasting in memory of the dead and wounded, and calling for the troops to come home from Iraq."

Yesterday, they gathered in front of the Ghandi statue at 3:00 PM where Cindy Sheehan spoke: "This war is a crime. We represent millions of Americans who withdraw their support from this government." Others participating include Daniel Ellsberg, Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn and Dick Gregory. On yesterday's WBAI's Cat Radio Cafe, Janet Coleman spoke with several members of Granny Peace Brigade about the fast and other actions. Among the women Coleman spoke with was former WBAI programmer Vinnie Burrows who sang a portion of one her songs: "The kids are dying far away in a foreign land/ I must keep on trying, their lives are in our hands."

In Scotland last weekend, members of Military Always Delivers (an activist group like the Billionaires for Bush in the United States) participated in a pro-war march and rally on Saturday. Scotland Independent Media Center reports (text and photos) that many pro-war marches were not in on the prank as members of MAD shouted slogans such as "Cut Welfare, Buy More Bombs!"; "War is the Health of the State"; and "Power Grows out of the Barrel of a Gun" while passing out "deception dollars."

Today, in Iraq, Reuters reports that Raad al-Harith, Iraq's deputy electricity minister, and 19 of his bodyguards were kidnapped in Baghdad. In other violence thus far today, a roadside bomb in Baghdad claimed the lives of at least two police officers and wounded at least four; in Hawija, a mortar attack claimed the lives of at least one and wounded at least two others; and, in Falluja, "[g]unmen wounded a member of the Association of Muslim Scholars."

An upcoming event: Brava Theater, 2789 24th Street, San Francisco, Friday, July 7th, 7:00 pm. (415-647-2822) Mark Manning will be screening his film Caught in the Crossfire for those interested in knowing the realities on Falluja that Dexy and the other Green Zoners never got around to telling you. Nadia McCaffrey, who lost her son in the Iraq war, will bespeaking as will Dahr Jamail.

To date 2538 American troops have lost their lives in Iraq (official count). And 150 members ofAlpha Company of the 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry are headed for Fort Dix and then Iraq.

Around the globe. The AFP reports that confronted with a direct threat of nuclear strikes, from North Korea, the White House shrugs and White House spokesmodel Tony Snow declares, "It is still deeply hypothetical." However, the Bully Boy demonstrates no reluctance to play Wallflower with Iran. The Associated Press reports "Western powers" are demanding a July 12th dealine for beginning talks and ceasing nuclear enrichment -- after that, it's a nuclear dance off! This despite Seymour Hersh's reporting that "Pentagon planners and other experts" are not in support of Bully Boy's plan to nuke Iran. Korea? Iran? Iran? Korea? Michael R. Gordon's head spins as he attempts to figure out which war is a "go" in order to start marketing his own brand of home-made (war) porn. (Seymour and Shane -- what have you wrought!) And in the occupied terroritories? The 'jokesters' at the Associated Press, reporting on continued armed agression, dub their story "Israel keeps up pressure on Gaza." In the real world, Nora Barrows-Friedman, on KPFA's Flashpoints, noted that over 130,000 Palestinians have been left without water; that sonic booms are being used to terrorize the population throughout the night; that Israeli forces, in the last week, have abducted " one-third of the Palestinian government. No one in the international community has yet expressed any outrage at this or the Palestinian political prisoner's conditions."

In election news in the United States, Robert Parry writes on the campaign "tool" that benefitted the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004: Osama bin Laden's rush-released video timed to debut four days prior to the election. Though it didn't fly off the shelves at Blockbuster, CIA analysts studying the release came to the judgement that "that bin-Laden was trying to help Bush gain a second term." Meanwhile, professional politician Joe Lieberman, who never met a baby or an ass he couldn't kiss, has thrown down his Zell-Miller-like marker announcing that if he doesn't win his party's nomination (Democratic), he will run as an independent to hold on to his Senate seat. Particularly surprising to Lieberman may be no cries of: "Say it ain't so, Joe!" This as fellow Democratic War Hawk Maria Cantwell appears to hope she can just wish the war away from constituents' minds. In contrast to Cantwell's fiddle-dee-dee approach, newly declared Democrat Jim Webb stated in Saturday's Democratic radio address: ""I have believed strongly that when things aren't working well, it is the responsibility of our leaders to admit it, and to fix the problem. Some say that speaking out against a war is disloyal to the troops. Whoever says that should consider what it's like to be a troop, wishing someone would speak the truth."

In other election news: Que una sorpresa -- another election in Mexico is rife with accusations of fraud and rigging. Possibly, next time an election approaches, US media outlets could spend less time shoring up the lite candidate as "left" and more time exploring the system that continues to fail the people? (We mean the system itself, but if it's easier to focus on the voting mechanics, even that would be preferred.) The BBC reports that conservative Felipe Calderon is the winner and the less conservative Manuel Lopez Obrador is waiting for a recount while the people of Mexico wait for a real leader to emerge. (The actual count of the votes will not begin until Wednesday, as noted by the KPFA Evening News Monday.)

In science & techonology news, the London Free Press is reporting that: "A huge asteroid whizzed by Earth early yesterday, passing about 433,000 kilometres from the planet's surface -- slightly farther away than the moon." Meanwhile, Jane Kay (San Franciso Chronicle) reports on a new study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Science which has found the world's bird population to be disappearing at an alarming rate: "The study, the most thorough analysis of global bird species, says 12 percent of existing species -- about 1,250 -- are threatened with extinction by 2100." La loco bird flies on the op-ed pages of the Washington Post where the always laughable Eugene Robinson shows up days late, without a tardy slip, and rushes to shore up the justifiably (long) tarnished image of Star Jones (a modern-day Joan of Arc burned at the TVQ pyre, to hear Robinson tell it) in a column that will provide laughter for years (print it up, it's doubtful the 'collected works' will ever be published). The always late for the train Robison trots out a seventies spoof of Barbara Walters but seems (not surprisingly) unaware that Star Jones has been spoofed repeatedly in more recent years on both Saturday Night Live and Mad TV. For the record, roaches weren't used in any spoof revolving around Walters. Alleged homophobe, peace-activist hater, and attorney Jones will apparently next argue the case that her firing from The View just because the audiences hated her was a case of wrongful termination at I-Hops and truck stops across the country. Chances are that she won't draw a crowd there either. Meanwhile Robinson is prepping his next hard hitting column: an exploration of Shannen Doherty's public firings. [Note: C.I. participated in the writing of the previous six sentences only after consulting with friends at the Washington Post.] In a better use of space, investigative journalist and internet sleuth Ron Byrnaert discovers that a certain Free Republic poster is apparently better known to many as a voice of the left or 'left.' Ron (Why Are We Back In Iraq?) searches for the answer to the question of "Who is Vis Numar?"

Monday's Democracy Now! offered "We Shall Overcome: An Hour With Legendary Folk Singer & Activist Pete Seeger" while today's broadcast will feature:

StoryCorps: A national social history project records the voices of ordinary people -- citizen and non-citizen, old and young -- telling their stories to each other.

Musical question of the day from Carly Simon's "Playing Possum" (written by Simon, title track to the CD of the same name):

We lived up in Cambridge
And browsed in the hippest newstands
Then we started our own newspaper
Gave the truth about Uncle Sam
We loved to be so radical
But like a rugged love affair
Some became disenchanted
And some of us just got scared
Now are you playing possum
Keeping a low profile
Are you playing possum for a while?

This joint entry written by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and me, 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; Wally of The Daily Jot; Trina of Trina's Kitchen; and Ruth of Ruth's Public Radio Report. [With additional help from Dallas and Tracey.]