Sunday, August 20, 2006

Blog Spotlight: Rebecca doesn't grade on a curve

If Rebecca were the teacher, independent media would be explaining their latest report cards to their parents.

failing grade

if you were giving indymedia a grade, what grade would you give it?

would you pass them?

i wouldn't. i think indymedia has earned a failing grade as a group.

ehren watada's article 32 hearing began today and you know who covered it and who didn't. you know, probably, that amy goodman covered aids today. you know that we were all supposed to give snaps for the ricky cousling interview last friday but you're probably aware that, just as the mainstream broke that story, it's the mainstream that's covered ehren watada this week.

when did democracy now go to camp casey? last year. they didn't go this year. it wasn't important this year. ehren watada's hearing isn't important.

i wouldn't write on goodman's report 'needs improvement,' i'd give her a flat out F. she's earned it.

tomorrow ehren watada isn't even on the schedule. why is that?

ann wright will be testifying. james yee was present today. where the hell is indymedia?

they're off on this and that and a little bit of whatever.

the indymedia that promoted itself as the only true voice on the war has moved on.

did we get a roundtable featuring tom hayden, cindy sheehan, medea benjamin and others discussing what points were raised at the peace meeting in jordan? no, we didn't.

did we get coverage of camp casey? no, we didn't.

are we getting coverage of ehren watada? no, we're not.

so spare us the speeches on how damn important independent media is.

a lot of people spent a lot of time building it up and getting the word out on it. and now? it's basically larry king live with left voices. it's the same sort of easy topics (and easy discussions) we get from larry. larry's pure corn, he's always been, he always will be.

i don't believe he presents himself as the last voice of truth.

maybe some in indymedia who've presented themselves as the last voice of truth need to find a new selling point?

what's the deal here?

we heard firey speeches about judith miller stenography, about how the voices of peace were shut out of the discussion, about how iraq wasn't treated seriously, about how the focus was on the bombs and rockets going off and not where they landed.

wonderful speeches. but where's the effort to apply that critique?

no where to be found. because the coverage of iraq is non-existant.

matter of emphasis? sins of omission? do those phrases sound familiar?

is independent media not guilty of the same thing now with iraq?

yes, they are. they've made themselves a joke.

the nation has another laughable 'ACT NOW!'this one on global warming. no 'ACT NOW!' on ehren watada. as some 1 who takes the environment very seriously, i honestly find that and the nonsense of 'save the world in 1 e-mail' laughable. those are long term problems and an e-mail alert is useless. there are issues where it can matter. those are short-term issues (such as stopping the drilling somehwere).

ehren watada? what would the pentagon do if an action alert went out on watada?

i guess we'll never know.

and those counting on the nation to tell them what's happening right now that they can make a difference on probably won't know either because there's no interest in watada.

does any 1 think this is cutting it?

some 1 must because we keep hearing about elections over and over. 'quick, get behind this candidate or that candidate and they will save you!' the only fucking that saves any of us is using our voices and standing up. politicians don't save us. they only act, as howard zinn has written over and over, when there is pressure on them to act.

but sometime after the 2006 election, we'll hear about other topics. for now, it's all about this heor and that hero.

be your own damn hero. get your ass to a bookstore or public library and check out some books by howard zinn (elaine's favorite writer). (her all time best birthday, according to her, was when c.i. and i took her to hear howard zinn speak. we also took her out to eat which she can't remember now but she remembers, all these years later, hearing howard zinn speak. why? because zinn knows the power is yours.)

ehren watada's a hero. he's standing up. and i bet he won't be on whatever the dumb ass time/warner channel is. but that won't be addressed this week.

does ehren watada matter to you? (i know he does.) he doesn't matter to our independent media.

you let viewers, listeners and readers know what matters by what you choose to emphasize. you can count on 1 hand the outlets emphasing ehren watada. (i'm using 'indymedia' in this entry but, to be clear, i'm not referring to the indymedia/imc websites which do cover things that matter.)

i was very happy going through today's e-mails. apparently a number of you were feeling that there wasn't anything in your area so that meant you didn't have anything to do. (i'd argue that the lack of coverage of watada also added into that sense of helplessness - 1 of the things independent media should have to answer to.)

independent media has made themselves a joke in the last few weeks. they have no 1 to blame for that but themselves. 1st they decided that, like cnn, they must offer round-the-clock, wall-to-wall coverage of 1 topic and 1 topic only. then they seemed to be lost because of the supposed cease fire. (the cease fire never applied to gaza, never does.) so now they chase after aids, the environment, recently released books, bully boy's terror nonsense (they're working real hard to show you how it was a lie - a point most grasped last week, if they go beyond the mainstream news sources) and just about any other issue they can revisit without doing too much work.

well it's the summer, maybe every 1 thinks they've earned a break?

they haven't. and there message of savior through elections is a false 1.

if the democrats end up in control of both houses after the november election, nothing's changing because of that. the only thing that will change it is the pressure from you and me on our elected officials. so it's more than upsetting to read these 'hero of the week' pieces on ned lamont.

i've noted already that fly boy and i asked, as our wedding gift, that his family vote for ned lamont. i've noted that we cut our honeymoon short so he could be there to vote for lamont.

i obviously support ned lamont.

i don't kid myself that he wins the general election and all the problems are over. but i read some of the commentaries and wonder about the intelligence/awareness of the people writing the commentaries?

if independent media were graded just on whether they were the voice of the people (as opposed to the voice of corporations as big media is), just on that they'd get a failing grade.

the fawning over ned lamont doesn't empower any 1 and, especially when it comes from people who weren't even in the position to vote for him, it's really embarrassing.

a lot of people seem to think they've covered iraq if they've lined up to weigh in on ned lamont.

they've done no such thing. and independent media needs to get serious and quit trying to be 1 more gas bag 'but from the left!'

laura flanders has a very basic message that boils it down beautifully: don't leave politics to the politicians. how often in the coverage from indymedia lately have you heard that message reinforced?

you can argue, 'well that's laura flander's message.' it is her message and we've seen many steal it. we saw it pop up most recently in the nation, in a really bad article, by an atlantic monthly/new yorker refugee who was happy to use it (to advance her war cause) while failing to credit flanders for it.

how do you do that? how do you steal some 1's catch phrase, not credit them for it, and be proud of what you've written?

probably the same way that, as iraq has turned into an even greater tragedy, you kid yourself that being the millionth person to weigh in on the ned lamont victory some how means you covered iraq.

in these times appears to think it's tv guide juding from it's main page. want to know who's on comedy central tonight? well just go to in these times. you can slo read about 'chick lit' being hemingway. such deep thoughts but then they've added the woman who doesn't think we should leave iraq. they stabbed david lindorff in the back when he wrote about reality (depleted urainium) used in iraq. so they're useless all around. apparently the founder's death has allowed them to become about as meaningful as aaron spelling tv drama.

as it's gone from biweekly to triweekly to monthly it becomes more and more obvious that the best thing it can do at this point is cease publication. (give it time.) today it is home to the thinly superficial - tackling the hard hitting issues of today - whether hemmingway is chick lit and how f. scott fitzgeral applies today between shout outs to comedy central.

it's amazing when you think of how iraq woke up the nation to the importance of indymedia. it drove readers and listeners and viewers to indymedia. and now they're being fed dopey thoughts from a dopey woman who appears to believe that research and writing do not go hand in hand.

last weekend, chuck asked me in an e-mail if i thought i might be being too hard on indymedia?

that's a fair question. and as i've watched, listened and read this week, i've returned to chuck's question repeatedly.

but as i've read commentary that reads like some 1 picked up the times about 20 seconds before writing their lamont pieces or noticed who did and who did not cover ehren watada, noted that nancy a. youssef's should-have-been groundbreaking article that the u.s. was indeed keeping count of iraqi civilians who died, i've had to ask myself, what am i being encouraged to consume?

chick lit? the same 'brain' who couldn't make a call to find out if a tv show (1 she chose to write about) had a promotional budget (it did, contrary to her assertion) now wants to feed me chick lit. well, we know where she stands on the war, right next to thomas friedman basically.

i've read a supposed 'progressive' demonize hugo chavez. i've read a lot of thoughts on the lamont victory from people who don't appear to have ever set foot in conn. (maybe they flew over or drove through?) i've been left with the impression that the cure for all that ills the nation can be found by vegging out on the couch during comedy central and that our leaders just need our votes, not to be held accountable. i've learned that the biggest blow to our democracy is the possible cancellation of a really bad radio show (and was encouraged to let the company know how much i enjoy a show that is boring beyond belief and only causes headaches since the now solo host can't stop yelling in a whiny voice that most men grow out of by the time they hit puberty).

i haven't seen much that really did matter. 1 e-mail, which i'll post below in full, seemed to come from a thinking adult which may be the rarest of species as we gear up for non-stop election coverage:

The chaos and violence sweeping the Middle East make clear that the region is farther from peace than ever, and that real dangers continue to grow. The longer this Administration fails to lead, the more dangerous the world becomes for all of us.
It's essential for President Bush to lay out a timetable as to how long our troops will be tied down in his misguided war in Iraq, and when they will be withdrawn.
The truth is as painful as it is simple: American troops in Iraq are trapped in an increasingly bloody civil war between Sunni and Shiite sectarian groups, with no end in sight. Even as the massacres increase in intensity and ferocity, the Bush Administration and Republican Congress continue to ignore the needless danger our troops now face.
As I've said all along, this is a fraudulent and unnecessary war -- a reckless decision by a President whose failed leadership has put our nation's brave sons and daughters in peril.
It's obvious from recent right wing "red-meat" legislation in Congress that the only timetable the Bush Administration and his Rubber-Stamp Republican Congress care about is the November election -- and that's not acceptable. It's time for the President to face up to his failed policy and explain his plan for withdrawing American troops from Iraq.
Will you join me in the call for a new direction in Iraq? Please answer with your name:
The situation in Iraq demands an exit strategy, and it's essential for the President to explain to the nation what his exit strategy is.
No one should fall into the Republican trap of saying disengagement is defeat. The truth is the opposite: disengagement is part of the solution in Iraq. Our overwhelming military presence and our open-ended military commitment are part of the problem. They fuel the insurgency, offer a false crutch for the Iraqi government, undermine our respect in the world, and make the war on terrorism harder to win.
Yet President Bush is preparing to spend the month of August traveling throughout the United States, defending the war in cities and towns across the country. Despite what he'll say to handpicked GOP crowds at his "events," two simple facts remain: there were no WMD's in Iraq, and Saddam Hussein was not part of 9/11.
Enough is enough. The American people don't want our troops bogged down endlessly in Iraq, defending the same failed strategy. Help me send a clear message to President Bush: the Iraqi people have elected a democratic government, and it's time for American troops to begin to come home.
Congress as the elected representatives of the people should be forcing this administration to justify its decisions and holding it accountable for them.
But this Rubber-Stamp Republican Congress won't do that. It can't be trusted to keep us safe.
We need better leadership in Congress, and fortunately, the American people can give us that in November.
We need to speak out loudly and clearly today and every day that action is needed now to refocus our priorities on the real threats to America. If the Republican leadership won't hold the White House accountable for its failed leadership, the American people must hold the Republican Party accountable in November. Join me and send that message:
The best hope for the success of the new Iraqi government is for us to begin disengaging from Iraq, and it from us. The Iraqi government must begin to make its own decisions, make the necessary compromises to avoid full-scale civil war, and take responsibility for its own future.
Ted Kennedy

i'm not saying 'praise be ted.' he is the senator i've voted for (repeatedly) but what i'm saying is that compared to the coverage i've gotten from indymedia, ted is a giant surrounded by ants.
independent media has written nothing as grown up or powerful (or spoken) in months.

if indymedia wants support, it needs to do its job. it hasn't (with few exceptions - community members know the exceptions). i give it a failing grade.

chuck's question? no, i don't think i'm being too hard on indymedia. i think every 1 else is being far too soft on it.

i'd noted, in what chuck was responding to, the partisanship. he was confused that and i'll take full responsibilty for that confusion. i'm a lefty. independent media that is the voice of the democratic party (the party i always vote for) isn't independent. i'm not seeing a lot of feet to the fire. i am seeing the usual here-comes-the-elections-let's-all-hop-on-board coverage.

i'm sure naomi klein's book that she's working on will be wonderful. i'll snap it up as soon as it comes out. but a voice like klein or howard zinn or take your pick (it's a short list) isn't that common. instead we get party hacks trying to pass themselves off as independent writers. that's what i met by 'partisanship.' it's time once again to put issues on hold as we rally around the party. the damage, as naomi klein has noted, done to the peace movement as we were instructed to table iraq and get behind john kerry was huge.

the peace movement is damaged yet again in this election cycle.

that's what i met by 'partisanship.' when issues disappear to be substituted with talking points and hero worshipping of candidates. neither of which will save the country but, election cycle after election cycle, we all are supposed to pretend it will. just like we were supposed to pretend last week and nod in agreement as judith miller was scapegoated for linking 9-11 to iraq when, in fact, that linkage was made chris hedges. just as we're supposed to pretend that his outing a source who burned him on that story cleaned the slate when, in fact, his article (look it up online at the new york times) cites 2 sources, 2 defectors he spoke to and he's only outed 1.

no matter what the outlet, we're not supposed to ask, 'who was your 2nd source?' and, most importantly, we're supposed to pretend that judith miller, and not chris hedges, wrote that saddam hussein had training camps for hijacking planes. that wasn't judith miller's story.

i didn't defend miller when she was in jail here. i was very clear that it wasn't my issue. i think she's a liar and i think she got what she deserved (both in terms of jail - karmically) and in terms of losing her position at the paper. but i do draw the line at inventing things she supposedly did or pinning the blame on her for an article some 1 else wrote for the new york times.

and speaking of the paper, i'm not impressed with b.s. of how 'we are the times!' uh, no, we're not. we're not a multi-billion corporation that sits on stories, some of which it will print and some of which it kills forever. i'm not impressed that the hardest hitting criticism comes from c.i. and not 1 of the supposed watchdogs.

recently, you probably saw it, there was an action alert from a watchdog imploring you to hold the paper of no record accountable for their pushing nuclear energy as safe and good for the environment. i believe it was c.i. who covered that in 2005. in fact i know it was because c.i. held felicity barringer's feet to the fire on that crap article she wrote which was the new position of the paper. and, as community members know, felicity complained in an e-mail that she wanted shared at the site (it was). so to discover this summer that the paper of no record was pushing nuclear energy as safe and environmental is just a little late in the fucking game.

and where have the watchdogs been on rita katz? who made the difference there? not any of the watchdogs.

i'm sick of cowards who can't do their job. cowards who have an article on how the military fed dexy filkins propaganda that he ran with and the new york times printed and they want to talk about fox news? get real.

that's why monies go to charities and not indymedia. and on the issue of iraq this summer has been the summer when indymedia proved just how useless they were. failing grade. they earned it. chuck can offer his own grade (and if he wants it noted or his comments, i'll be happy to do so - he is a regular reader). but i'm not seeing anything worth applauding. i'm seeing a lot of cowardice, i'm seeing a lack of focus and i'm seeing, most of all, a message of helplessness - 'save me politician! save me!'

while other's play, c.i. is left to do the heavy lifting for yet another day. here's the 'Iraq snapshot'
because the war's not over even though the interestin it is gone from indymedia:

Thursday, August 17, 2006 -- the first day of Ehren Watada's Article 32 hearing which will determine whether or not to start a court martial inquiry over his refusal to deploy to Iraq and fight in an illegal war, chaos and violence continue in Iraq with the seat of the 'crackdown' being rocked with bombs, in Australia, the Jake Kovco inquiry follows up yesterday's hypnosis shocker by grabbing an unscheduled day off, a new studay finds that Iraqis opinions of Americans have dropped further as the war has dragged on, and the political 'death' of Mahmoud al-Mashhadani still seems premature.
Today, the Article 32 hearing began and
Melanthia Mitchell (AP) reports that the military is showing video from last weekend's Veterans for Peace conference as part of their 'evidence.' AP also reports that "The prosecution played a total of three video clips with comments Watada made over the weekend as well as on June 7, when he publicly announced his decision to refuse deployment." The speech Watada gave is here at CounterPunch and here at Truthout which also includes the video option (QuickTime and Windows Media). In addition KPFA's Flashpoints played one part of the speech yesterday night and, presumably, will air the second part today or later this week (Flashpoints airs at 5:00 pm PST, 7:00 pm Central and 8:00 pm EST -- can be heard archived at the show's website, archived at KPFA or live while the show broadcasts).
What did Watada actually say as opposed to what did the military argue? If your indymedia choices have been following this, you know this already. If they've not made time or space for Watada this week, that may say something about the quality of your go-to indynews outlet.
Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) is advising those calling to leave a message for Donald Rumsfeld (703-545-6700) or mailing him (1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000) to say: "Hands off Ehren Watada! Let him go." Billie advises that you can use to e-mail the Pentagon. She suggests "Re: Ehren Watad" or "ATTN: DONALD RUMSFELD." You can also check Courage to Resist and for the latest developments.
On his decision to say "no" to the illegal war,
Watada told Melanthia Mitchell (AP): "You don't join the military just to blindly follow whatever orders you're given. An order to go to an unlawful and immoral war based on false pretenses is no different than to kill innocent civilians."
Writing at The Huffington Post,
Peter Laufer notes the stands of Watada, Ricky Clousing and others. Peter Laufer observers: "With polls showing an increasing majority of Americans now opposed to the war, the question hangs in the air: When will our society honor and appreciate those soldiers who refuse to follow orders to fight in Iraq?"
Moving to an item a friend's wanted noted for the last two days: Where is Mahmoud al-Mashhadani? On Tuesday, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani was
'the' news in many Iraq reports. Was he on his way out? One report noted that al-Mashhadani didn't return a phone call -- why was that? Marie Cocco (Truthdig) offers today that he's "openly toying with relinquishing his post". From where? From where is he openly toying with the idea? Juan Cole (Salon) offers that "when the Iraqi parliament reconvenes next month, the first item on the agenda will be firing Mashhadani." Cole feels that al-Mashhadani "has put his foot in his mouth too many times." al-Masshadani may very well be on the way out next month but right now he is in Jordan working on a trade agreement. It's an interesting part of the story left out of the mainstream media's he's-so-out-of-here narrative. Whether or not he remains speaker after the parliament reconvenes may be influenced by what's going on in Jordan.
While that may (or may not) influence how he is seen upon return, other observations were noted today.
The World Values Surveys ("collaborative project between the Univeristy of Michigan Institute for Social Research and Eastern Michigan University) has relased their survey results which found (a) from 2004 to 2006, the percentage of Iraqis (surveyed) stating they did not want Americans as neighbors went from 87% to 90%; (b) 76% surveyed feel the US invaded "to control Iraqi oil"; (c) while 27% of respondents in 2004 felt that religion and politics should be separate, that figure is up to 41% for 2006; and (d) in 2004, 46% of Iraqis surveyed agreed that "In Iraq these days life is unpredictable and dangerous" -- the 2006 figures finds the percentage in agreement has climbed to 59%.
And on the ground in Iraq today? The usual drill.
Michael R. Gordon, Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker (New York Times) reported that 1,666 bombs exploded in Iraq during the month of July (presumably this only covers bombings not called in by US forces). Bombings have continued in August. The BBC reports that a car bomb in Baghdad ("Sadr City district") took the lives of at least seven people and wounded an additional 25. The two month old 'crackdown' has not had any noticeable impact on safety in the region. AFP reports on two car bombs ("went off in rapid succession"), also in Baghdad, that left at least 65 wounded and at least 14 dead. Alister Bull (Scotsman) observes that the violence in the capital underscores "the precarious security situation as US and Iraqi forces try to stem sectarian violence." Reuters notes that a car bomb wounded three police officers in "west-central Baghdad". AFP characterizes it as "a sucide bomber" and notes that two civilians were also injured.
Outside of Baghdad,
Reuters notes a roadside bomb in Daquq leaving two dead and a third wounded; mortar rounds wounded 21 in Muqdadiya in Sinjar, nine were wounded by "a suicide car bomber". Al Jazeera notes that the mortar attack in Muqdadiya took place in a market and that three police officers were among the wounded.
Reuters notes that a police officer (Lieutenant Colonel Abdul-llah Abdul-Kareem) was shot dead in Mosul while an unidentified police officer was shot in Falluja. AFP reports that "[a]nother six people were killed in a string of shootings in and around Baquba" and notes three brothers who owned a store together, "a salesman," a man whose car was stolen by assailants who then killed him, and a "civilian . . . shot dead in a coffee shop."
BBC reports that five corpses were discovered "near . . . Suwayra". Al Jazeera reports it was six and notes they were "mutilated." Reuters goes with six and notes that
the corpses were discovered "blindfolded . . . hands bound . . . multiple gunshot wounds" while the
AFP notes five being discovered and adds that two more corpses were discovered "near Muqdadiyah". Reuters also notes that an Iraqi soldier was discovered shot to death (thirteen shots to the head) in Balad "a day after he was kidnapped."
In peace news,
Matthew D. LaPlante and Rebecca Walsh (Salt Lake Tribune) report that Cindy Sheehan will visit Salt Lake City to protest Bully Boy who will be speaking to the American Legion August 31st. Kelly Patterson of Brigham Young University states that the protest may be larger than when Bully Boy spoke in Salt Lake City the year prior: "What's changed over the last year is public opinion about the war itself. Those kinds of shifts provide energy to people who feel very strongly about the war and its conduct. That makes this a more divisive environment -- even in Utah." KSL radio reports that "Sheehan indicated that Mayor [Rocky] Anderson had extended an invitation for her [to] come to Salt Lake and participate in the planned protest. Sheehan will give a speech during the protest at the city-county building downtown".
Camp Casey III continues through September 2nd and Camp DC opens September 5th and runs through the 21st to coincide with a week's worth of events lasting from September 21st to September 28th.
Writing on Sheehan's hospitalization last week,
Missy Comley Beattie (CounterPunch) notes that a transfusion of five-pints of blood were required and compares that need to needs within this country. Comley Beattie concludes: "We are bleeding as a result of the president's insatiable lust for power." Noting Sheehan's return to Camp Casey III this summer, Cynthia Hall Clements ( observers: "The question should not be why Sheehan is the lone voice in the wilderness protesting for peace. The question should be why more of us aren't doing the same."
In Australia, the inquiry into the April 21st death of soldier Jake Kovco in Baghdad took an unscheduled day off.
AAP reports that DNA tests were to be covered and whether or not "they had identified the source of DNA on the gun that killed Pte Kovco in his Iraq barracks." The inquiry is expected to resume on Friday.

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