Two of the most dramatic, and symbolic, incidents in the long life of Robert McNamara omitted from most of his obits this week were connected to citizen protest of wildly varying types. One was a young artist's attempt to heave the former Defense chief over the side of a ferry boat in 1972. Another: the case of Norman Morrison, a 31-year-old Quaker from Baltimore who, in 1965, handed his infant daughter off to a bystander, doused himself with kerosene and set himself ablaze under McNamara's window at the Pentagon.
One week later, another antiwar protester, Roger LaPorte, did the same thing in front of the United Nations building in New York.
As reported here, and elsewhere, earlier today, the actress Mia Farrow's brother, Patrick Farrow, 66, was found dead in his sculptor studio in Vermont. It has now been declared a suicide by local authorities. His connection to a famous sister naturally drew headlines but his name rang a bell for me for another reason: I had written about him here last year following the death of his (and her) nephew in Iraq.
Patrick Farrow quickly called President Bush a "war criminal."
Thanks to all for making yesterday's posting one of the top diaries yesterday. I read all the comments -- and so did my daughter, over in London. We appreciate them very much. The story also drew wide attention at other popular sites.
She sent a followup last night feeling that she did not explain fully enough some of her feelings and reflections -- with a special tribute at the end for her former co-workers and the slain guard.
Yesterday, as the fatal shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. unfolded, I couldn’t help recalling that my daughter, Jeni Mitchell, just out of college, worked at the museum during its start-up, in 1992, through its 1993 opening, and two years after that. I also remembered that she had told me, long ago, about some of the scary threats she and others received just for working there, and the extraordinary security measures (little publicized) that they had to take. Of course, I forgot most of the details.
Fortunately, moved and "upset" by the tragic attack by a racist, anti-Semite, she wrote me from London -- where she’s getting her Ph.D. -- last night, reflecting on her experience at the museum back in the 1990s.
It was good to see an editorial in The New York Times this morning blasting KBR for trying to give its people bonuses, in light of the recent revelations about its shoddy electrical work in Iraq.
Namely, it was found that 90% of its work there was faulty.
I have followed this issue closely since January 2008, when a Green Beret, Ryan Maseth -- the son of Cheryl Harris, now my friend -- was electrocuted.
As the usual rationalizations for U.S. torture (it works, it's not so bad, we didn't do it anyway) have come under increasing attack in recent days, a relatively new defense has emerged, from GOP members of congress, columnist Charles Krauthammer, Fox News' Jim Angle, and many others: Waterboarding can't be torture because we used it on "thousands" of our own troops as part of their training!
Of course, some have questioned the degree of waterboarding (was it the lite version?) and, of course, none of the military personnel were subjected to it 83 times. But the argument remains out there.
On Thursday, I posted a piece here that drew wide attention around the Web perhaps because of its tragic relevance to the current torture debate: The story of Spc. Alyssa Peterson, who committed suicide in September 2003 a few days after refusing to take part in interrogations that likely involved torture.
The piece, which formed the basis of the top DailyKosdiary that day, drew thousands of comments, including one from Alyssa's older brother, supporting the essence of my piece (I first wrote about Alyssa almost three years ago). I posted that comment yesterday and he has since been in contact with me voicing support for the coverage and response.
I had promised a Part II, relating to a soldier who served with Alyssa, Kayla Williams.
Yesterday, at the Editor & Publisher site and at Huffington Post, I revisited the tragic case of Spc.Alyssa Peterson, who committed suicide in Iraq just days after she refused to have anything to do with "torture" interrogations of detainees in Iraq. I'd written about Alyssa before, starting nearly three years ago and then in my book on Iraq and the media.
Those two pieces drew enormous attention thanks to major links at Talking Points Memo, via Andrew Sullivan, and elsewhere. My Huff Post piece formed the basis of the top diary for Thursday here at DailyKos. Hundreds of comments have appeared, including one especially personal and revealing -- contributed by a reader identifying himself as Spencer Peterson, Alyssa's older brother.
Two amazing Obama bits this morning. I've got the issue of TIME magazine coming out tomorrow and it features cover story on Obama's first 100 days, with Joe Klein calling it the most impressive start for any president since FDR (though challenges ahead).
Also, a new AP just out which reveals that for the first time "in years" more Americans than not feel the U.S. is on "the right track."
Well, not quite, but you get my drift. The new survey from Pew released late yesterday (see my previous post) showed that more than half of all adults in the U.S. used the Web during the 2008 race for the White House for "political purposes," from just checking for news to sharing videos or Facebook postings. It also revealed that Obama backers used the Web far -- far -- more extensively than McCain's fans, for everything from meeting up to donating money.
These are not exactly shocking and they not really do justice to the full impact of the Web in Obama's victory last year.
Yes, Obama likely would have defeated McCain without the fall Web push -- but, in my view, he would have never gotten past Clinton without it in the many months before that.
"The 2008 election was the first in which more than half the voting-age population used the internet for political purposes," a new report by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, released late today, reveals. It also concludes, "Obama supporters were more active online than McCain supporters and online political users became more partisan in their information-seeking behavior."
Some 55% of all adults said they went online for news and information about the election or to communicate with others about the race. The percentage of Americans relying on the internet as a major source of campaign news more than doubled since the 2000 election (from 11% to 26%).
I've posted previously that my only church is the Church of Beethoven and it seems fitting on this morning to link you to perhaps the greatest and most inspiring music ever, a very small part of the Ninth Symphony.
But to update that, also note that the fine folksinger Billy Bragg (known, among other things, for his Woody Guthrie collaboration with Wilco) has revised the lyrics to Schiller's "Ode to Joy" and will be performing the whole Ninth, with a multicultural group of musicians, in Los Angeles this summer.