Saturday, December 31, 2005

Book of 2005: Dave Zirin's What's My Name Fool?

This is a joint entry by Mike (Mikey Likes It!) and Wally (The Daily Jot). You will see the entry at both sites. We thank C.I. for scanning the cover of Dave Zirin's What's My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States which, in our opinion, is the best book of 2005.

Martha and Shirley did a summary of books that spoke to The Common Ills community in 2005. We enjoyed reading about them. We were flattered that some members singled us out.If our antics ("For the hour!" "For the hour!" in Larry King bluster mode) made Jon Stewart's Naked Pictures of Famous People stand out for West or anyone else, we're flattered. We're also glad that we helped What's My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States stand out for a few people. But Zirin's book is our pick for the best of 2005.

Here's why. If you're a sports fan, you'll enjoy it. "But I hate sports!" some may say. We say, "Let us finish." If you like to read about politics and activisim, you'll enjoy it. If you like to read about both, you'll be floating on a cloud smiling. But this really is a book for everyone.

So if you buy books for yourself or as gifts, we'd urge to think about this one. If you check out books at the library, we'd urge you to consider checking this one out. If you do neither, we'd urge you to be aware of the book and of Dave Zirin because the book's an important one and Zirin's an important writer.

In his introduction, Zirin writes:

Sports as a whole do not represent black and white, good or bad, red state or blue state issues. Sports are neighter to be defended nor vilified. Instead we need to look at sports for what they are, so we can take apart the disgusting, the beautiful, the ridiculous, and even the radical.
This book aims to recall moments of resistance past and rescue the underreported shows of struggle and humanity by atheletes of the present, so we can appreciate the beauty of sports, independent of the muck and fight for a future where skill, art, glory, and the joy of play belong to us all.

If you need more information, you can check out the book discussion on this book at The Third Estate Sunday Review. You can also check out an interview that Amy Goodman did with Dave Zirin for Democracy Now!

But this is a book you should be aware of and Zirin is a writer you should check out. That's our recommendation for book of the year.

Since it's early in the morning, we'll note that the following sites plan to have new content later tomorrow:

The Common Ills
Like Maria Said Paz
Mikey Likes It!

Other community sites may also have new content but those are confirmed.

In addition, Sunday, check out The Third Estate Sunday Review for the latest edition. It may post later than usual (that's still up in the air) but it will post.

And, in case you missed it, there was new content Friday at the following sites:

The Common Ills
Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
Cedric's Big Mix
The Daily Jot
Mikey Likes It!
Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude

Friday, December 30, 2005

Bully Is . . .

Where's The Jot?

Talk to my grandfather.

Last night, he was all set on Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts about Bill Frist. This morning he wakes up and says, "No, you have to go with his 'Celibacy In The City.'" Fine. I'm about to boot up the computer and he's wondering about Bully Boy in his blood box and I tell him I've highlighted that one a number of times so we can go with Celibacy In The City.

Then he says, "Wait, let me think."

So we go out to breakfast. He's set on another one and then as we're leaving, he says, "One of the Bully Is . . ." so I wait to be sure and even pull a Regis and ask, "Is that your final answer?"

He thinks about it and decides that it is because of the fact that when Mom was a little girl, she used to clip the Love Is . . . comic strips from the paper and she'd tape them to her bedroom mirror and on her bedroom door. (Which is news to me who couldn't even put up my sports posters with tacks!) (Serious, I had to use that ticky tacky stuff and it was only after I noticed my teacher using that to hang stuff on the walls at school that I got to put anything up on my bedroom walls.)

I like the Bully Is . . . comics too and it makes me grin to picture my mom as a kid clipping the Love Is . . . comics out of the paper and then taping them up. I started wondering what she based it on? Was it the saying or the drawing that would make her decide to clip one. So I call her at work and go, "Mom, how do you pick those out?"

She plays dumb and says she never did that and if she did, she doesn't remember it. As I'm about to get off the phone my grandfather asks me to ask her about when her cousin Phil ripped one off her bedroom door just to be mean and she punched him (she was nine) and Mom goes, real angry, "He deserved that!"

I was laughing and saying, "I thought you didn't remember!"

She remembered. All along. She said the boy and the girl were cute little drawings and that she did think ("then," she emphasized "then") that the comics were really wise.

So my grandfather and I are going with one of Isaiah's Bully Is . . . comics. And you can find four here because Ava pulled four of them together to make a mini-collection.

My grandfather picked this one because he says it sums up 2005, Bully Boy oblivious to everything around him. I'll put up Celibacy in the City next week. I'm not sure if I've done that before or not. The first time it went up, I wasn't even blogging. But it is funny and a favorite of mine too.

So what do we have left to note about 2005?

Yesterday we noted something Mom picked out (Kim Gandy's latest column) and, over my breakfast, my grandfather had the idea of 10 other people who made a difference in 2005. There are more than ten people but these are the ones we picked out.

1) Amy Goodman because Democracy Now! gives you real news and not spin.
2) Cindy Sheehan because she took a stand and forced America to face reality.
3) Peyton and Eli Manning because we're big sports fans (and I did hear on Democracy Now! this guy talking about how the brothers visited the evacuees).
4) Robert Parry because he writes real strong books and Rebecca pulled my name for Christmas out of the list so I have three of his books. (I've just finished Secrecy & Privilege.)
5) Danny Schechter who is the News Dissector and is also the director of a great documentary called WMD (and you can read a review at The Third Estate Sunday Review).
6, 7, 8) Jon Stewart, Margaret Cho and Janeane Garofalo because laughter is needed and makes us all feel better.
9) Dave Zirin because he writes about sports and politics and makes you realize how important both can be.
10) All of us who are speaking out or starting to and aren't suffering from a bad case of "War Got Your Tongue."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Some bests of 2005

Mom said I should do some sort of best of for the year. So I'll note Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts above as one of his best and one of my favorites. It's The Wiz starring Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, Matt Cooper and Judy Miller. (For C.I.'s version of The Jot, check out. C.I. had that idea Tuesday night and offered it to me, which was really nice and sweet, but it was C.I.'s idea so I insisted it be at The Common Ills.)

And Mom picked NOW's Kim Gandy's "Holiday Songs in the Key of 'F:'"

I love this time of year. Although the ice and snow aren't doing my car any favors (or my hair, for that matter!), there is something special about having time to rest and reflect on the year -- take a step back, bask in the warmth of family and friends, and gather strength for the coming battles (which, I promise you, will be numerous).
So before treating you to our holiday songs "in the key of 'F'," I hope you'll join me in looking back over the year at some of the accomplishments that make me so proud to be your NOW President.
- The year started off with a bang with all the furor over Harvard President Larry Summers' ridiculous comments about women's "innate" inferiority in math and science! NOW was the first to
call for his resignation, a call that was later seconded by the Harvard faculty. The end result of the public attention was that Harvard has now made a real financial investment in increasing the presence of women in hard sciences at that institution.
- In February we
launched our Equal Marriage campaign, and the terrific response from activists across the country, and the ways they have put this campaign to work, has been spectacular to see!
- Through March and April we fought the FDA on
risky silicone breast implants and then lobbied furiously on Emergency Contraception (EC) while also mobilizing our activists to save the Senate filibuster from the frightening "nuclear" option that would have threatened our liberties and made it nearly impossible to stop a bad Supreme Court nominee.
- In July came a real turning point. We were all gathered in Nashville for our National Conference when the news of Sandra Day O'Connor's resignation was announced. Never ones to shrink from a fight, we immediately declared a
"State of Emergency for Women's Rights", were the first in the nation to hold a press conference, and organized a march and rally in a matter of hours, right there at the Tennessee State House in Bill Frist's "back yard."
- In September we marched with CodePink and hundreds of other groups to call for an end to the Iraq war and invasion. Hundreds of NOW members joined in to help remind the world that
"peace is a feminist issue!" We also spoke out against Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina, and continue to demand fair treatment for the survivors, who are desperately seeking the aid that was allocated for them, but which hasn't been delivered by the Bush allies who received multi-million-dollar no-bid contracts, like Halliburton.

Erika noted it at The Common Ills yesterday and Mom said to give Erika (and C.I.) credit. Tomorrow, my grandfather gets to pick. Thanks to Mike for yesterday's shout out. ":D" back at you, Mike.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Resisters standing strong and Pyle on FISA

Swiping from C.I., I'll note "Support GI Resister Katherine Jashinski Now!" which is about Jashinski and others standing up. Check out that DC Indymedia article.

And from the news roundup we did Monday night/Tuesday morning, I want to make sure everyone knows about Monday's KPFA Evening News where
Christopher Pyle who helped draft the FISA act said:

So what we have here is the rather extraordinary situation of a president who has admitted to committing a felony. Now he says that Congress excused him by passing the resolution against al Qaeda but that says nothing about electronic surveillance. And then he says that the Constitution excuses him because the Constitution places him above the law. There's actually a secret memo produced by the Justice Department to justify torture that says that a war time president can ignore the criminal law of the United States. There's no basis for this in law, there's no basis for this in the history of Constitutional law and Constitutional interpretation and that's of course why the memo was kept secret because if it had ever seen the light of day it would have been laughed out of court. Well now it's seen the light of day and assertions based on that theory have seen the light of day and we're not laughing because we realize the government is really out of control.

I'm tired this morning. I took part in Gina & Krista's year review roundtable for Friday's round-robin last night. Hope everyon'es got some solid New Year's Eve plans. 2006, let's make it a better year than 2005.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Don't try to give Bully Boy peace for Christmas

Above is Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts that ran on Christmas. It's funny because it's true -- Bully Boy would be enraged to receive peace for Christmas. If he had peace, how could he continue to bully the world?

Now here's something we all worked on. C.I. wanted it to go up here first and I said no. We all said no because it was C.I.'s idea and The Common Ills is the site that most members check first. So if you're seeing this for the first time, wow, I'm impressed! If you've already seen it, give a quick read at least to make sure you didn't miss anything. This is an early Jot but my Jot for Tuesday none the less.

"News roundup including did Bully Boy break the law?"
Did Bully Boy break the law by authorizing spying on American citizens and circumventing the FISA courts? If so, how many years can someone be sentenced to for that crime? We'll highlight a radio discussion on that issue, but first, news on Iraq, Morocco, Afghanistan, the Phillipines, Russia, Chile, Israel, activism and more.
As reported on
The Daily Iraq Wire, December 25th wasn't a day of peace in Iraq. Two bombs went off in Iraq injuring seven Iraqis. In addition, a reported al Qaeda group in Iraq announced Sunday that they had kidnapped and killed four Arabs who had been "working with the US authorities and the Iraqi government in the fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad."
Monday violence and unrest continued.
Deepa Babington, reporting for the Irish Examiner, notes that Baghdad saw five explosions today killing eight and wounding thirty-eight. Outside of Baghdad, there were attacks in Falluja where a suicide bomber killed himself and two police recruits. In Dhabab, five Iraqi soldiers were killed.
Reporting for IPS,
Gareth Porter reports today a "looming confrontation" between Shi'ites in Iraq and the American officials who are urging the disbanding of Shi'ite paramilitary groups. American officials fear groups may have close ties to Iran. The "looming confrontation" emerged when American officials decided to make an issue of the "torture houses" run by Shi'ites. "Decided?" Major R. John Stukey and others first reported the existance of "torture houses" in June of 2005. From June to November, US officials remained silent.
As of Monday, US military fatalities in Iraq stand at
2169, official count with 56 of those fatalities for the month of December. Iraq Body Count, which gathers totals by following media reports, estimates that as few as 27,592 and as many as 31,115 Iraqis have died thus far since the invasion.
In other war news,
Agence France-Presse reports the American military is claiming that "very soon" the number of troops serving in Iraq will drop from 19,000 to 2, 5000.
In activism news,
NOW is calling for action on Samuel Alito, Jr.'s Supreme Court nomination:
There is work to be done, both in Washington, DC and throughout the country. As a part of Freedom Winter 2006, NOW and Feminist Majority Foundation are working together to bring grassroots activists to DC between January 3 and January 20. We're also encouraging activists to organize in their communities.
More information can be found
online at NOW as well as online at the Feminist Majority Foundation. In related news, Ms. Magazine has compiled "the top ten news stories for women in 2005." Topping the list, Sandra Day O'Connor's announcement that she will step down from the Supreme Court bench. Planned Parenthood has also compiled a look back at the year 2005. Their look back begins with a listing of the five best and five worst places to get birth control prescriptions filled:
Brooks/Eckerd Corporation
Rite Aid
In international news,
Al Jazeera reports that Augusto Pinochet will finally stand trial for the deaths and disappearances carried out under his dictator regime as the head of Chile. Chile's Supreme Court, in a three to two vote, ruled that Pinochet is fit to stand trial. The BBC reports that charges will be filed Tuesday against four US marines for rape. The four are currently at the US embassy in Manila and "it is unclear whether it will hand over the marines." Abdul Rahman Khuzairan reports, for Islam.Online. net, that on Sunday a sit in was staged in Casablanca by Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Forum "to protest the mass grave found recently with the remains of 82 people." Canada's Star Phoenix reports that Monday in St. Petersburg, shoppers in one store were exposed to a mysterious gas: "Boxes containing timers wired to glass vials were discovered at the scene of the attack and three other stores in the same chain in Russia's second-largest city." And in Tut-tut Tuttle news, the Finanical Times reports that car dealer and contributor of $70,000 worth of donations to the GOP in 2004, Robert Tuttle continues to stumble in his post as US ambassador to England. For the second time, Tuttle has been forced to issue a correction to the BBC following an interview. Embassy work, not as easy as moving cars off a lot.
Have we made poverty history?" asks The Independent of London? The debt relief in 2008 will go not to Africa but to Iraq and Nigeria. In addition the United States is backing off from it's earlier committments. Also reporting for The Independent, Maxine Frith notes that charities and aid workers believe that Live 8, and those involved in the concerts, "hijacked" the effort and gave the world a false sense of resolution when the problems of world poverty contine. Meera Selva reports from Africa that the people supposed to benefit from the concerts in London's Hyde Park have seen little difference in their lives. One woman tells Selva, "We have problems in Africa, big problems. What can plastic bracelets and pop concerts do to solve them?"
Reuters reports Israeli helicopters firing three missiles into Gaza. This comes as Al Jazeera reports that the Israeli government has announced intentions to build an additional 200 homes on the West Bank. The BBC reports, in other news from the region, that Ariel Sharon has been urged to "curb his appetite" by doctors as he awaits sugery "to close a small hole which doctors found in his heart after he had a minor stroke."
For The
KPFA Evening News Anthony Fest spoke Monday evening to Christopher Pyle, "a consultant to Congress in the drafting of the surveillance act, today he teaches political science at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusettes." (What follows is a rough transcript, use the link to listen to the archived broadcast.)
Pyle: The Church Committee was set up because during the Watergate era we had discovered extensive domestic surveillance operations by a number of agencies including the FBI, military intelligence, the CIA and, the largest intelligence agency of all, the National Security Agency. It does electronic intercepts worldwide. It has stations around the world. It picks up communications off of statellites. It picks them off of landlines and it searches them with a dictionary of watch words. And during the 1970s, we discovered that the National Security Agency had maintained files on about 75,000 Americans and they particularly targeted political activists like Dr. Martin Luther King, the folk singer Joan Baez, and the anti-war protestor Dr. Benjamin Spock. We sought to end that massive surveillance, which had no judicial authority what so ever, by passing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. That law said that if the government, when the government wanted to monitor electronic communications it had to go to a special court to gain a national security authorization, a speciall warrant. And for a number of years, it appears that the government did go to the special court and was able to conduct its monitoring with special warrants. But three years ago, the Bush administration decided that this was inconveinent for some reason that's not fully understood. And they just ignored the court and began collecting, uh, information rather broadly. The law itself says that it's the exclusive method by which monitoring may take place and that anybody who violates the law is guilty of a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Fast: So there's no leeway for interpretation here, it's uh, it's black and white that if you don't go through the FISA court, you are in violation of the law?
Pyle: Exactly. So what we have here is the rather extraordinary situation of a president who has admitted to committing a felony. Now he says that Congress excused him by passing the resolution against al Qaeda but that says nothing about electronic surveillance. And then he says that the Constitution excuses him because the Constitution places him above the law. There's actually a secret memo produced by the Justice Department to justify torture that says that a war time president can ignore the criminal law of the United States. There's no basis for this in law, there's no basis for this in the history of Constitutional law and Constitutional interpretation and that's of course why the memo was kept secret because if it had ever seen the light of day it would have been laughed out of court. Well now it's seen the light of day and assertions based on that theory have seen the light of day and we're not laughing because we realize the government is really out of control.
Fast: Doubtless the techonology of surveillance is incrompably more powerful today than it was in the 1960s. Is there any indication yet exactly how wide, how wide a net the NSA was casting or how many people had been surveilled?
Pyle: No. The initial reports by the New York Times were that up to 500 people at a time had been targeted but perhaps thousands had been intercepted. And if they were, let's say, monitoring all e-mails and searching all e-mails in the United States for certain code words or phrases then it would be probably hundreds of thousands or millions of people who would have been monitored, not simply 500 people targeted at any given time. But we really don't know. But what we know is that the judges on the FISA court are extremely upset. One of them has already resigned because of this. The others want to know particularly whether this warrant-less spying was being used to then produce probable cause for specific warranted spying. In other words, infecting the very process with illegaly obtained information.
Fast: Since the administration was apparently conducting surveillance that was more in the nature of data mining then watching individuals is there any legal grounds under which they could conduct that kind of operation?
Pyle: No, that is what was known in the common law as a general search. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution forbids general searches. The second clause of the Fourth Amendment says that the warrants must be obtained that specify the place to be searched and and the things to be seized. The FISA warrants specify the persons who are the targets of the intercepts. There has to be specifity. There can't be a great dragnet collecting everything and then sorting it by computer and putting everybody under suspicion.

Did Bully Boy break the law? Better question, after trotting out Vicky Toe-Jam in print and on TV to put forward false claims about the Congessional act passed in the 80s to prevent the outing of CIA agents, why has the mainstream media been so reluctant to pursue people who helped with the drafting of the FISA act?
The above is news you may have missed and was compiled by
Wally, Rebecca, Mike, Kat, Jim, Jess, Ty, Cedric, Elaine, Betty, and C.I.