Thursday, March 30, 2006

The downward spiral of democracy under the Bully Boy

Ahmed Omar Abu Ali Sentenced to 30-Year Term
Here in the United States, an Arab-American man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for joining al-Qaeda and plotting to assassinate President Bush. Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was convicted in November after spending nearly two years in a Saudi Arabian prison, where he says was tortured into making a confession. Two doctors who examined him corroborated his claim.

Today's Democracy Now! and I'm still shaking my head over it. We're allowing a confession obtained under torture to be 'evidence' in court. The judge refused to acknowledge that torture went on. Maybe that's supposed to make it okay?

"Well the judge didn't think he'd been tortured." Well who would know better, the judge or doctors examining the man? The judge knows that Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was tortured. And should know that confessions from torture are not reliable and that people will say anything, sign anything, just to make the torture stop.

That verdict should offend you. Right or left, it should offend you because it was reached by resorting to torture. That's not an American principle. The nation grew a little darker today as a result of the judicial malpractice.

And it's one more step in accustomizing the public to torture. (I've changed the word, Shirley says "accustoming" isn't a word. She wrote an emphatic e-mail saying this was "a wonderful post" and asked me to please fix that word.)

We have little moral ground, if any, left at this point. In six years, we've publicly trashed everything we supposedly believed in. When 9-11 happened, we were told we had to "fight" to save our way of life. Osama didn't run Abu Ghraib. Osama doesn't run Guantanamo. Go down a long list and you'll see that the things destroying our way of life, destroying our belief system, is not coming from outside the nation, it's coming from within.

Bully Boy's policies have done more to harm the long term of the country than anything else. He's certainly inspired world-wide hate and that will come back to bite us in the butts. He's also trashed our Constitution and our roots (which go back to the enlightenment). We're so far from where we were in the summer of 2000 (and we weren't perfect then) that it's hard to believe.

He tries to scare us and, like an easily led herd, people fall into panic mode and start questioning the very national identity that's supposed to bind us together. Instead of acting like citizens in a democratic society, we act like hostages. He's turned us into a nation of hostages.

And we let him do it. We didn't call out the jingo-istic haters when they started singing the backup to his lead vocals. We made them into media heroes. (I'd gone my whole life not knowing who Sean Hannity was -- and it was a very good life -- until after September 11th.)
(I've never watched his show -- or any Fox "News" programming -- but he's as inscapable as Rush was in the nineties. In fact, he and O'Reilly are probably more present than Rush was due to the fact that they're a little more photogenic and more apt to be invited elsewhere. I had to hear Hannity on The Majority Report, I had to see him in magazines.) We didn't scream, "Back off!" when they went after Susan Sontag.

In fact, Eric Alterman joined in the trashing of Sontag. (Which only proves, yet again, that he's not as smart as he likes to pretend.) C.I. had a thing on Alterman today which is must reading.
He is the wimpiest little nerd. When he's on The Majority Report, he makes people sick. And that may have something to do that he relates to Janeane Garofalo on a pre-adolescent level. He thinks it's cute to act like a fourth grader with a crush.

A lot of times, when people come over and look through whatever magazines are on my coffee table, they'll ask about The Nation and I always feel compelled to say, "I do not read Alterman." There's no one else that I feel the need to say about that. Or any other section and I really do not like their music coverage. But he's such an embarrasment. He seems to exist solely to make the weak-willed, non-Hannity on that show seem tough. There's nothing sadder than a Woody Allen who presents himself as though he's this tough talking, hard hitting man.

He's the guy at the bar who haunts your table and won't take no for an answer while it's all women present. But let a man show up and he disappears. He really has a low opinion of women, that comes through in the way he interacted with Janeane. I believe there was a time when Naomi Klein filled in for Janeane and he was on then trying to pull the same nonsense. But I may be remembering that wrong. I just know he is every pencil-necked geek hanging around until last call, just knowing that despite the fact that you've blown him off repeatedly, you're suddenly going to say, "Hey, I'll go home with you!" I believe he's married but I wonder how often that worked in his pre-marriage days? Not too often, I'd guess.

I really just got on to say thank you to everyone who wrote in to say they enjoyed the review. Jess and Ava passed those e-mails along if they went to The Common Ills. I read the ones that went to my own account, sent to my own account, as well. And to add two links to my blog roll.
While I'm online, I don't think I've noted Trina's "Mexican Rice in the Kitchen." It's a very simple recipe and if you're interested in cooking, you should have no trouble following it. And I want to note Elaine's "Peace comes from being able to contribute the best we have" because I don't think I note her often enough. (She always notes my reviews. She notes stuff from here as well, but I've never done a review that she hasn't noted.) And Cedric just posted so let me note his "Afghanistan the forgotten 'liberation'" which you should read right away.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Etta James and Bonnie Faulkner

"Hey Kat, long time no see." Blah-blah-blah, bite me.

Seriously, as one of the ones who hung in to the very end of The Third Estate Sunday Review (the late morning hours of Sunday), I was in no mood to blog Sunday. Saturday? I blogged at The Common Ills Saturday and Sunday as well.

In fact, I just posted there. C.I.'s very busy (and active in an activism filled week) right now so I said I'd do my review tonight. It's of Etta James' All The Way. I love the album. Thank you to Rebecca for steering me to it. I wasn't interested in a "lush" album, which is how it's been promoted. (Maybe the way it was promoted is the reason it's gotten some bad reviews? Sumner swears it's gotten bad reviews.)

I will be reviewing Ben Harper's Both Sides Of The Gun. But I got Etta on Friday when Rebecca mentioned it on the phone for about the 60th time. With March being women's history month and Etta James being Etta James, I thought I'd put Ben Harper on hold and review Etta.
(I also want to absorb his double-disc album some more -- I still haven't listened to the third disc that comes in the deluxe package, I'll try to do that before I write the review.)

I started the month with a Nina Simone review and I think going out with Etta is a good way to go. (No, the end of the month isn't until Friday. C.I. does "And the war drags on . . ." on Thursdays. There's no way I'm posting that day because I know it's a hassle to go through all the e-mails and don't want to be calling asking, "Is it okay to post now or are you posting?" As for Friday -- how many times do you see a Friday post here? Not very often. I'm usually out on Fridays. So the review, if I was going to post it, had to go up tonight.) I've offered, by the way, to help in any way I can with tomorrow night's indymedia roundup because I know C.I.'s got stuff on deck for Friday (offline stuff).

Did you read Ava and C.I.'s "TV Review: Joy Ride?"? If you did, you're one up on them. They were exhausted and fell asleep while writing it. They asked others to read it and say if they could follow it. They both sounded wiped out and I felt so sorry for them. If you take away the time they were asleep, they wrote that in twenty minutes. I love their writing. And Free Ride is actually funny. I saw an episode two Sundays ago because Ty called all excited to tell me that the show was using Cat Power's "Living Proof." Ty's ahead of me by several hours so I had time to watch the episode. (If we were in the same time zone, I would've said, "Gee thanks, the show's over now.")

For newcomers, I'm a Cat Power fan.

I'm also a Bonnie Faulkner fan. Today was Guns and Butter on KPFA. I forgot to note last week that this was a once week show. (But if you used the link, you would have seen that.)

If you listened today, you heard a really great show. If you didn't, click on Guns and Butter.

Dr. David Ray Griffin was Bonnie's guest today. They were discussing the witness testimonies from the 9-11 events in NYC. There was a desire (by the head of the fire department and I don't have his title, sorry) to get the statements recorded before the official haze and collective memories of the day overtook the genuine memories. Bloomberg (Mayor Bloomberg of NYC) didn't want to release them. It took a lawsuit. The New York Times was part of that. And having won a verdict from the court of appeals on August 12, 2005, the paper of record has done little with the testimonies.

Why is that? Dr. Griffin believes it's because they don't fit the official narrative. You have people making statements about how "I looked out the window to see what would like a perfectly synchronized explosion." You have witnesses talking about hearing bombs going off in the building. You have damage to the basement (before the towers fell, of course) that the witnesses describe which suggests a bomb had gone off. Firefighters talk about explosions. A witness talks about a fireball.

He suggested that if you Google "Explosive Testimony" you can find out more from his article.
Let me try that because I've been busy all day. It works. The page took awhile to load, however. You can Google or just click here for his article.

I'm not a 9-11 expert, by the way. Nor am I trying to upset or harm anyone who's suffered. Before I'm acccused of that. (Maybe I'll get misquoted by a certain website again?) I asked Ruth if C.I. had any problem with discussing alternative theories to 9-11. She said no and that one time C.I. attempted to talk her through an interview Bonnie did on steel's melting point but they both ended up confused. Ruth wanted to write about that and if they could have gotten the basics down, she would have. I'm not going to try to go for science. I'll note what was discussed. If it's too much for you to handle, stealing from C.I., walk on, Ruth did tell me that C.I. knew some firefighters in the building. That's such a hard topic to ask someone about because so many people died that day. But I did hint this weekend and I know that at least some (if not all) of the firefighters C.I. knew made it out alive. C.I. said they were disgusted with the way the walkie talkies did not work and that some swear they heard explosions.

So it was weird, after that conversation, to hear Dr. Griffin and Bonnie talking about it today. It was an interesting discussion and you can listen to it by using the link above or you can read the article (also linked above) or you can do both. Or you can do neither. That's really up to you.

I told Ruth that I'd grab Guns and Butter. From now on. She's trying to cover so much on Pacifica Radio these days. When she started, she was covering Morning Edition on NPR and she was doing two entries a week minimum. Now she does one entry a week and she's trying to cover so much that she ends up with these mammoth entries. (Wonderful ones. I read every word.) We could all help her out by noting shows during the week. Elaine's already done that with one show this week and I know Rebecca's trying to find one as well.

And we all feel like we should anyway because you either support real public radio or you don't.
Mike's noted CounterSpin twice this week. So we're all trying to do our part to get the word out. For some, that might just be noting Ruth's reports because of the way their site is set up, but we are trying to increase the attention to real public radio.

Hopefully, you will too. Imagine a country where everyone actually had information.

I'm tired so that is it for tonight. Tomorrow, I intend to add Pacifica and G&B to my blog roll. But I'm tired tonight and just wanting to get this posted and turn off the computer.