Thursday, August 04, 2005

Michelle Phillips' Victim of Romance on CD

To answer Susan's question, I'm listening to Stevie Wonder's Talking Book, Michelle Phillips' Victim of Romance, Carly Simon's Midnight Serenade, the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers and Coldplay's X & Y today. Those are the five in the CD player today. I got Michelle Phillips' CD as a store purchase. But you can order Michelle Phillips' Victim of Romance through Hip-O-Select. It's cheaper than paying for an import (the only other way you can get it) and you get enough bonus tracks (ten) that it's almost like you're getting two albums.

They've got an edition of 5,000 copies. So if you're interested in hearing Victim of Romance, you should check them out. I believe this is the first time Victim of Romance has been released on CD in this country.

A joker named Daniel e-mails to ask why I haven't had any reviews up at The Common Ills this week. "Are you on vacation?" I don't review every week. I usually do about two reviews a month. I did three in July. I'm not churning out reviews. I have to feel something for the album. C.I. can find something to write several times a day, but I'm not like that. I did participate in the roundtable there this week. (Along with C.I. the others were "Dona and Ava of The Third Estate Sunday Review, Ruth of Ruth's Morning Edition Report, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, Kat of Kat's Korner, Gina and Krista of the gina & krista round-robin Elaine who's subbing for Rebecca at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, and, despite being on vacation, Rebecca.")

Kat's Korner is just my way to toss out a thought or two when I don't have a full review in me.
Or if I have something I want to say. If I don't have anything to say or share or steer you towards (like Victim of Romance tonight), I don't usually write.

And I don't start biting my nails and fiddling with my hair, fretting, "What will someone think!"
This isn't a daily blog. It is what it is (to use the phrase Jim credits me with coining).

I mean like Rebecca's on vacation. During the roundtable that came up and she was asked if she felt like she was letting anyone down? She doesn't. Elaine's doing a fantastic job subbing for her. But more importantly, Rebecca's got a right to a life and a right to down time. (Something we all strongly suggest C.I. make time for instead of trying to have a life, trying to work, trying to volunteer and still do those multiple entries each day at The Common Ills.)

I'll note two things that really moved me, things I found online.

C.I.'s "Impunity leads to further silence:"

Ignoring the realities of what we've done (rendition, torture, etc.) won't make them go away. Pretending Falluja has been "improved" or unharmed by our policies won't change the reality of the slaughter that went on or the police-state conditions that continue.
There are tough conversations that we need to have because they go to the heart of what kind of a country we are, what kind of a people and what sort of government will represent us.
We aren't having those conversations as a national dialogue. We won't until we drop the knee jerk "answer" that we can "win" by being just like the other side with slight modifications. Whether you accept the results of the 2004 election or not, the fact that we were left without a moral or ethic to stand on shouldn't be surprising. As Naomi Klein has pointed out numerous times, in numerous forums, torture wasn't an issue. We could have the Bully Boy in the Oval Office right now (as we do) but we could have a strong discussion on torture if the issue had been raised. It wasn't.
"Vote for me because I've seen war" isn't an platform, isn't an answer especially when the candidate pushing that cred has no answers. Fine tuning isn't an answer when so much is at stake.
Even with Bully Boy in office, we'd be better off as a people if the campaign of 2004 had been some real issues and asked us to consider, seriously, what had gone on in the last four years and what direction we were headed. The Kerry campaign could have led on that. Win or lose, they could have made inroads. But it was a "safe" campaign and as the tide has turned regarding America's opinion of the invasion/occupation's value, it would be great if we had some real issues (whether they were mocked by Fox "News," et al or not) that were put to us."
John Kerry reporting for duty" is not a platform. When CODEPINK tried to address the elephant in the room, they were escorted out of the hall (during the Democratic convention). We didn't want to look "weak" on terror.
Instead of challenging events and decisions, the campaign wanted to say "I'd do the same but I'd do it smarter." Never was the issue raised of whether or not the planning (such as it was) was appropriate.
We'll point out these mistakes in planning and strategy and we'll look strong was the conclusion of the campaign. The right pushes jingoism and our response is to attempt to our imitation of it?That's not an alternative.
The car's run out of gas. Everyone in the car's looking at Bully Boy behind the wheel. John Kerry's saying, "I would've stopped at the gas station five miles back." Good for you but should we have headed down this road in the first place?
All the fads and crazes won't change the fact that to a large number of people that argument will come off as coulda', woulda', shoulda'. Offering a patch, a quick fix, isn't dealing with the issues that people are hungry for. We need to demand more. Not just from our press, but from our politicians and would be politicians.
At a time when "we were lied into war" isn't a shocking notion (thanks to the Downing Street Memos and all the people -- elected officials and citizens -- who raised the issue repeatedly) the idea that candidates should be questioning the invasion itself shouldn't be controversial. When people are ready to say we were taken down the wrong road, candidates need to be able to provide something more than "I would've stopped to refuel five miles back."
We're not hearing that and we won't until we demand it. Democracy doesn't begin and end with the voting in an election or with supporting a candidate. (A point Laura Flanders makes repeatedly and has a great statement on that which I'm unfortunately forgetting right now.)

That's a section of it. Now I'll do a section from Elaine's post last night too that's called "Casualties continue to mount and the Democratic Party needs to find some ideas and a platform that's not 'more of the same:'"

I can remember when the invasion started in 2003. It was probably a week in and someone noted that it wasn't a "big deal," that it wasn't like the casualities in Vietnam. In that first month, 65 American soldiers died. One month of losses didn't seem to matter to this woman because it didn't compare with the years and years of the Vietnam conflict.
We're at 1822 right now. And we've got Donald Rumsfeld saying we could be over there for ten more years. You've got too many Democratics elected in Congress who don't want to address the problem and now Bully Boy's doing the Nixon dance of "I have a plan" as the next election cycle approaches. The plan is a Vietnam retread and it's not much of a plan.
So where does that leave us? Paul Hackett ran for Congress in a special election yesterday and he did pretty well. But there's something that bothered me about the way the election was pushed by Democrats.Vote Hackett because he's a war hero. Vote him because he's been over there.
There were probably many reasons to vote for Hackett. And he did pretty well. He lost, but he did pretty well.
But the thing that bothered me was the fact that we're still trying to do the 2004 election. Hackett wasn't for bringing the troops home now. He was going to fight a smarter war. Does that sound familiar? He was a war hero.
At some point Democrats are going to have to be able to offer a true alternative.
Bully Boy received no mandate. (Lizz Winstead would say "Mandate my ass!") But when you tried to point out a) how high turnout was, b) how many votes Kerry got, the "thinkers" would dismiss that. They would say only the results matter.
Now the talk isn't that it only mattered who won.
I don't think winning is the only thing matters and I certainly don't believe that we only learn based on who's declared the winner. But it's interesting that we're operating under a different principle now.
I also think it's interesting that we're still not presenting alternatives.
As a people, we're in favor of bringing the troops home. It's only our elected officials, with few brave exceptions, that won't enter that dialogue.
What's more worrisome is that we seem to be resorting, repeatedly, to the idea that only war heroes are worthy of office. We need ideas from our leaders. And the Democratic Party needs to offer some.
Military service is not a requirement for public office. It shouldn't be a liability either.
But it's not a platform. Jingoistic cheerleading, and we heard that as Hackett was pushed, doesn't take the place of ideas.
The party needs to get it together between now and 2006. That means offering plans and being an alternative to more of the same.
Hackett didn't have a platform and if you have trouble accepting that, listen, watch or read his interview with Amy Goodman today:
AMY GOODMAN: Well, it's hard to say congratulations on your defeat, but it has astounded many. Can you talk about what happened and the platform that you ran on?
PAUL HACKETT: Well, I mean, I had first confessed that I did not sit around and (quote/unquote) "come up with a platform." There are many issues that I believe in, and believe very passionately in, and those issues, as they came up in the campaign, I shared with the citizens of the Second District. So, it's funny, when I hear the term "platform," I sort of think as though that there was a committee that sat around and said, 'Okay, this is what we believe on this.' I mean, I just felt that in this district there had not been a choice. There had not been an alternative, and that many like me were not being represented, our voices were not being represented regarding many issues in the U.S. government, foreign policy to name a big one that was certainly spoken a lot about in the election campaign, and so forth. And then many social issues, as well. I mean, I just -- I'm just not happy with the state of politics in southern Ohio and, frankly, across the nation.
He feels that the district hadn't had a choice. He didn't offer them any choices in terms of ideas or inspiration. He speaks of having no idea what a platform is. Now the anti-government faction might like that or some factions might see it as "keeping it real," but in terms of a strategy for the Democratic Party, a platform's pretty important.

Mike's been asking me to note two things so I'll do that before I stop here. First, Rebecca on The Common Ills is a must read. Second thing was to highlight something from Democracy Now! that caught my attention today. Here's the thing that caught my attention today:

Speaker of House Hastert Allegedly Bribed
A new story in Vanity Fair is alleging that Turkish-Americans may have attempted to bribe a group of U.S. lawmakers including Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. The allegation appears in an extended piece in the magazine about FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds. According to the magazine, Edmonds was helping the FBI translate tapes surrounding an investigation of Turkish nationals. She was fired from her job after she complained about corruption at the agency. Edmonds is under a federal gag order not to publicly discuss what she heard on the wiretaps. But sources told the magazine that Edmonds has testified that she heard wiretaps of individuals boasting that they had covert relationships with Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and that Turkish interests had given tens of thousands of dollars in small donations to Hastert. The donations were reportedly given around the time that the House was considering passing a resolution condemning the Turkish genocide of Armenians. Hastert originally backed the resolution but then withdrew it minutes before it was scheduled to go up for a House vote. Hastert's office has denied receiving any such payments and Vanity Fair reports that there is no evidence that any payments were made. Edmonds is suing the government over his dismissal but the Bush administration is attempting to have the lawsuit quashed claiming it would reveal state secrets.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Disturbing news

I'm rearranging an entry C.I. posted. Dak-Ho called me and asked if I'd seen it. I hadn't. It's really important. It's also very disgusting news so you've been warned. You need to ask yourself, as you read, is this what I thought my country was about when I was a kid?

"One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts" (The Guardian)

Gareth e-mails to note Stephen Grey and Ian Cobain's "Suspect's tale of travel and torture: Alleged bomb plotter claims two and a half years of interrogation under US and UK supervision in 'ghost prisons' abroad" (The Guardian):

For two and a half years US authorities moved Benyam Mohammed around a series of prisons in Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan, before he was sent to Guantánamo Bay in September last year.
Mohammed, 26, who grew up in Notting Hill in west London, is alleged to be a key figure in terrorist plots intended to cause far greater loss of life than the suicide bombers of 7/7. One allegation, which he denies, is of planning to detonate a "dirty bomb" in a US city; another is that he and an accomplice planned to collapse a number of apartment blocks by renting ground-floor flats to seal, fill with gas from cooking appliances, and blow up with timed detonators.In an statement given to his newly appointed lawyer, Mohammed has given an account of how he was tortured for more than two years after being questioned by US and British officials who he believes were from the FBI and MI6. As well as being beaten and subjected to loud music for long periods, he claims his genitals were sliced with scalpels.
He alleges that in Morocco he was shown photos of people he knew from a west London mosque, and was asked about information he was told was supplied by MI5. One interrogator, he says, was a woman who said she was Canadian.
Drawing on his notes, Mohammed's lawyer has compiled a 28-page diary of his torture. This has been declassified by the Pentagon, and extracts are published in the Guardian today.

I believe the extracts are in "One of them made cuts in my penis. I was in agony:"

They took the scalpel to my right chest. It was only a small cut. Maybe an inch. At first I just screamed ... I was just shocked, I wasn't expecting ... Then they cut my left chest. This time I didn't want to scream because I knew it was coming.
One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts. He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute, watching my reaction. I was in agony. They must have done this 20 to 30 times, in maybe two hours. There was blood all over. "I told you I was going to teach you who's the man," [one] eventually said.
They cut all over my private parts. One of them said it would be better just to cut it off, as I would only breed terrorists. I asked for a doctor.
Doctor No 1 carried a briefcase. "You're all right, aren't you? But I'm going to say a prayer for you." Doctor No 2 gave me an Alka-Seltzer for the pain. I told him about my penis. "I need to see it. How did this happen?" I told him. He looked like it was just another patient. "Put this cream on it two times a day. Morning and night." He gave me some kind of antibiotic.
I was in Morocco for 18 months. Once they began this, they would do it to me about once a month. One time I asked a guard: "What's the point of this? I've got nothing I can say to them. I've told them everything I possibly could."
"As far as I know, it's just to degrade you. So when you leave here, you'll have these scars and you'll never forget. So you'll always fear doing anything but what the US wants."

Tonya e-mails to note Tom Hayden's "Is the War Ending? Not. But maybe the peace movement unless...:"

Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari says he wants the rapid withdrawal of US troops. after weeks of being in denial about this development, the media - and the peace movement - now to have to deal with it.
A month ago 82 Iraqi parliamentarians called for US withdrawal.
There was no media coverage. But the statement of the prime minister, standing next to Donald Rumsfeld, has to be reported.
So is the war over? Hardly.
Here is my interpretation.
The US wants to avoid more casualties on the battlefield and political losses in election year 2006.
They want to confuse, divide, lull and deflate American and global anti-war opinion.
They want to take the risk of some American troop withdrawals this winter or spring.
By seeming to begin withdrawal, they are looking for a way to stay. If they succeed, public attention will drift away from the Iraq War and the peace movement will be isolated.

Dallas e-mails to note Shirley Smith's latest Ms. Smith Goes To Washington, "Frist Frantic to Be First" (original content at BuzzFlash):

Some people seem to be very impressed by Dr. Frist's decision to support stem-cell research. Headlines read how he "breaks with Bush." Frist isn't the type who would actually care about stem-cell research or breaking with Bush, in my opinion. And he wouldn't be the first politician that voted for something when he knows all along that his vote won't make any difference.
In my opinion, I feel sure that this has been discussed with Bush and all of the leading Republicans, as they want a candidate for the next election and especially one from the Bush GOP group. They will support all of them until one floats to the top. No one from Bush's inner circle will break their "loyalty." Republicans aren't leading this nation as those who fight for the right to life . . . they have a definite pattern of death and destruction for the elderly, the ill, children, minorities, our armed forces, and people around the world.

Bright Eyes

So I'm listening to an import CD single. Thanks to Jess & C.I. for putting me wise to it. It's First Day of My Life by Bright Eyes and you get that song and "True Blue" which is a silly, fun song that I keep playing over and over. Best of all you get "When A President Talks To God." That's the song Bright Eyes performed on Leno.

Check it out. And check out the thing by Rebecca on The Common Ills (thanks, Mike).