Sunday, January 21, 2007

Editorial: On the useless who know better

On Saturday in the US, there were 22 deaths of US troops announced (that includes the 13 who died in a helicopter, it's been confirmed that they were all troops). Not quite the cakewalk but it never was.
The illegal war is going to hit the four-year mark (in March) and the number of people dying in Iraq will only continue to soar. US troops need to leave.
Now someone gave Katha Pollitt the impression (or maybe she just grabbed it -- wrongly like when she declares no one is "spiritual," they are religious) that the peace movement has stated that, when US troops leave, love will bloom in Iraq, IEDs will turn to flowers, mortars to ice cream and there's bound to be a love-in there.
Maybe it's not fair to blame her for being so off the mark -- she may get her impressions from The Nation. No one in this community has ever claimed it won't be a messy, bloody period when US troops withdraw. We have maintained (and we're far from alone on this) that US forces fuel the resistance, feed the violence and are part of the problem.
Let's speak slow for the Pollitts. No one likes to be occupied. (Maybe we should number to make it easier for nonreaders to follow?) That's any country. An occupation fuels violence. That's true of all occupations. Just having foreign troops patrolling your country makes you angry.
Now when you realize how many innocent Iraqis have been killed at checkpoints, when you grasp how humiliating the dead of night house raids (conducted by US forces) have been, when you know that one section of your country (the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad) has all the basic utilities working reliably while you deal with electricity being off for more hours than its on, while you make do with non-potable water, resentment breeds.
When you look around you and don't see with your own eye any reconstruction but you do see efforts to control your country's industries, you get angry.
When your sister, brother, parent, friend dies, you get angry.
If that's confusing to any Pollitt out there, these are the reasons some oppose the escalation. Now maybe if you take a whole year off from Iraq, maybe if you've got time to whine at how mean CODEPINK is for bird dogging Hillary Clinton but that big heart of yours that can find sympathy for Hillary Clinton turns to stone when the issue the rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer, maybe then you right write a nasty little slam that's not only beneath you but calls your entire work into question.
But in the real world, where people pay attention, where they vote in their own states and not in Connecticut because, though they live in New York, they just have to get Joe Lieberman out of office, in that real world, people follow the war. And they've learned to do so without lefty columnists who let whole years pass without ever addressing Iraq while writing for political outlets.
And The Real World Left (comoing soon to MTV) grasps fully that (a) US troops fuel the resentment, breed the hostility and (b) that, no, it won't be "Peace In The Valley" (the Carole King song) when US troops leave.
The Real World Left grasps that all deaths matter, not just the show death of a tyrant. The Real World Left understands that anyone who can't cover war resisters isn't really all that left to begin with and anyone wasting everyone's time, year after year, with a printed article on what to donate during the holidays in an issue that subscribers receive on or right after New Year's Eve really isn't doing anything to help anyone.
The Real World Left wants to end the war. It's not surprising Pollitt doesn't know about them or know what they think -- the magazine she writes for refuses to cover them.
Well that's not quite true. They did slam CODEPINK. In fact Pollitt did that. And Liza Featherstone became the first Nation writer to write about a demonstration in her little slam at the movement. And of course Peter Rothberg got his thong in a wad when CODEPINK dared to speak out at the event co-sponsored by The Nation (though they didn't reveal that when Rothberg was slamming CODEPINK). Rothberg's thong was so far up his ass that he couldn't even name CODEPINK in his lecture on manners. (Someone should give him a lecture on Grown Men Who Sport Peter Pan Haircuts.)
When you think about Pollitt's column on the bird dogging of Hillary and how CODEPINK should find a male to bird dog, remember that Pollitt's not written one word in 2006 or 2007 about how women have pretty much disappeared from the pages of her own magazine. Currently, they're at publishing one female contributor for every 4 males. If Pollitt wants to worry about whether or not women are being treated fairly, she can start by looking at her own magazine's sorry record of publishing women.
We actually like Pollitt. And even her writing in 2006 would have been fine . . . if this were 1996 and not 2006 when the nation has two declared wars ongoing and Bully Boy's trigger happy to start more. But though we like Pollitt, we're not her mommy, we're not her daddy. We're not going to pat her on the head, coo and hand her a cookie because she's doing perfectly acceptable work for 1996. We're calling everyone on their shit now.
We don't have time to play. A lot of the professional left does. They bore you with one thing after another. They can't cover CODEPINK except to trash them. CODEPINK's accomplishments for 2006 are quite clear. What did The Nation accomplish other than bleeding subscribers?
We're not in the mood for it. We're not in the mood for Barbara Ehrenreich's repeating falsehoods she read in The New York Times to question the mission of GreenStone Media. We wouldn't be in the mood on a good day but we're especially not in the mood when Ehrenreich's under some mistaken impression that she did something amazing in 2006. What? That so cute piece on Hurricane Katrina that made your teeth ache? Ehrenreich, what have you done that was serious in print in 2006? In print, don't bring up your long overdue haircut.
What you have been in the pages of The Progressive during 2006 is useless. And we don't have the time for it.
We don't have time for Nation staff that's flat out rude to women in radio appearences, treating them as if they're stupid for (a) pointing out that the oil law in Iraq will matter and will effect people or (b) pointing out that there is no center-left to the James Baker Circle Jerk.
In 2006, we didn't just see the usual cast of useless rejects. We saw some of the finest voices waste their own time and ours. Maybe they couldn't shut up about Judith Miller while staying silent on Dexter Filkins and Michael Gordon. Maybe they were the crowd (it's a huge one) who couldn't even mention Abeer. Or maybe they were among the many rushing to turn off the lights in the hopes that war resisters wouldn't know they were home.
We know the dying continues in Iraq. We know the only Middle East peace plan the Bully Boy's had is "DESTROY!" We know that peace is a feminist issue.
But maybe that's an issue for women to cover and little girls prefer to scribble "Don't you be mean to Hillary!" notes?
We know there's a female in charge of The Nation and we know this is at a time when women are disappearing from the pages of the magazine. We know the "arts"/critic section in the lastest issue to pop up in our mailboxes features four pieces -- all by men. Apparently women can't even handle the arts now. We know it's disgusting.
It's not just Iraq, it's a whole lot of things and independent media needs to stop kidding themselves that they do an amazing job. In 2006, they did a shit poor job. It's not as though they ignored Iraq to offer strong coverage on another topic. We know Pollitt wrote a column to note the passing of The Ego Of Us All but didn't find the time to write about Coretta Scott King.
When you've already instructed the NAACP that they shouldn't worry about media images, maybe you need to back that questionable claim up by proving that a White person like youself can cover people of color. (And to be frank, the column making that questionable claim read grossly uninformed at best and racist at worst.)
Independent media's been babied, burped and put to bed for far too long. It's time they went beyond baby steps. The country is involved in two wars, this "Hmm, what will I write about today? Democratic Party suggestions or a list? I know! I'll combine it into a list of Democratic Party suggestions!" isn't cutting it.
So to the Pollitts and Ehrenreichs, we're not surprised that AlterPunk's a joke. He will die one. But when strong voices who know better slack for a year, we are shocked.
How many deaths will it take to wake up independent media as a whole?
How many years of illegal war?
The war's not ending because you chose to ignore it.

And Ehren Watada will be court-martialed on February 5th. Yeah, we're grasping, we're really grasping, the true focus of independent media: White, male, elected official.

TV: The new Steve McQueen?

Crossing Jordan opened season six last Sunday with Jordan (Jill Hennessy) determined to prove she didn't kill her lover. She's no wallflower, Jordan Cavnaugh. When the show was about to debut and in its earliest days, NBC promos would feature Garbage's "I'm Only Happy When It Rains" and if a character can be summed up in song, that was a perfect match.

I'm only happy when it rains
I'm only happy when its complicated
And though I know you can't appreciate it
I'm only happy when it rains

You know I love it when the news is bad
And why it feels so good to feel so sad
I'm only happy when it rains

That is medical examiner Jordan Cavanaugh, the heart of the show. All things rest on Hennessy's shoulders and whether you're supposed to buy that Jordan may have committed murder or whether you're supposed to buy her approach to sex (get your clothes off, get on my bed, get busy, now get out) or whatever, Hennessy makes it believable.

Created by Tim Kring, Crossing Jordan delivered what earlier shows (Dear Detective, Mrs. Columbo) had only hinted at, a complex female character in the lead. Some have called it a CSI rip-off. They're the sort that see a man with an acoustic guitar and start screaming, "Next Dylan!" Crossing Jordan's not a cookie-cutter show. It's more like Quincy than it is CSI. Like Quincy, Jordan can become so fixated on a case, that it threatens her own career (and, frequently, her own life). She pursues clues with all the zeal of a Talmudic scholar. There's no time for niceties or office politics which is why she is frequently not working.

For a show that's danced around NBC's schedule repeatedly, Crossing Jordan has managed to deliver some solid ratings. Its thanks for that was similar to the thanks given Emmy winner Patricia Arquette's Medium, pull it off the schedule. The schedule was announced last spring and then everyone started fretting that Studio 60 Yada Yada Yada couldn't hold its own on its announced night (Thursday). What followed was monkeying around and both Medium and Crossing Jordan were benched. Is it underlining the obvious to note that both shows are the only hour long programs NBC has starring a woman?

Is it carping to note that the Water Cooler Set is attempting to come to the rescue of the ratings failure, audience rejected, Studio 60 Yada Yada Yada by telling you that the 'genius' has solved the problem: ROMANCE! The show just needed romance!

(What the show needed was someone to cut the dialogue by about two-thirds and get to the point.)

What NBC needs is new blood in the offices. Doesn't have to be young blood, but it needs to be new. They've trashed their schedule, trashed their ratings. Of the big three, they have the most to be ashamed of for Fall 2006. They had no faith in Heroes (which is why we grabbed it for our first review). They refused to heed warnings that reality wouldn't sandwich in between ER and an hour of comedies (even though The Apprentice had already made that point quite clear). And they've acted like little boys, not men (it's a very male network today, behind the scenes) because boys might need their own club house, but a network is in the business of making money which means bringing in lots of viewers -- not just men.

It was hilarious when they turned down the ad for the Dixie Chicks documentary (Shut Up and Sing) by falling back on the nonsense that they couldn't afford to offend when they had done nothing but offend as they took the formerly number one ranked network to the bottom of the barrel. They were warned, there were many loud arguments, but they knew best. So they cleared the women off the schedule (Hennessy and Arquette) and rushed in one male starrer after another. (Don't tip them off, they really think 30 Rock is Alec Baldwin's show.) It's as though the current crew can't recall the names Courtney Cox-Arquette, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Shelly Long, Lisa Bonet . . . and seem to believe that the recent glory streak for NBC revolved around, and was due solely to, men.

If you don't get what happened, note ABC added Ugly Betty and Men In Trees. Note that CBS has The New Old Christine and women carrying their end on the new sitcoms. NBC? Well if you live for helpmates, you might be able to take comfort in the fact that Studio 60 Yada Yada Yada and Friday Night Lights feature women as helpmates.

And how stupid, really, how stupid do you have to be to think a full season of new episodes can revolve around high school football? Forget whether the show is good or not, football's an old man's sport. Basketball long ago overtook it as the sport for young men. But when you've got men who never accomplished as boys, they're all over the idea despite the TV track record the football setting had. You might also note the obvious trash cluttering the schedule (with more due shortly), the 'reality' TV. The Apprentice was never a blockbuster. The only reality blockbuster NBC ever had was Weakest Link. For a season, it was all over the place. The very strange female host was weirdly compelling. But the Men To Boyz of NBC couldn't grasp that, even when it was pointed out to them repeatedly, so they go with male comics.

Make no mistake, no network disowns their female driven hits as often as CBS. But no network's ever had a team as hateful towards women as the current crew at NBC. Discussing meetings, women will voice the complaints that they were ignored and dismissed. Well why should life in the offices be any different than what makes it onscreen?

They're in panic mode now and they should be. They've destroyed the network. They thought if their aged, White, male tastes liked it, surely it should draw in all viewers, especially that coveted 18-40 set. It didn't quite work out that way.

So after all the male driven shows crash and burn, the NBC 'brains' realize they have to do something. They rush Medium back to air, they go after the show about the casting of Grease and, oh yeah, they toss Crossing Jordan back on air.

It's painful to watch the new episodes of Crossing Jordan because you'll grasp just how good the show is and realize just how out of touch the network is. For starters, the show has a stronger look than it ever has. They're using new camera angles and give credit to the hair department. The biggest beneficiary there is Jerry O'Connell. The new angles give his character Woody a bearing that he doesn't have when your using standard angles and standard lighting and the work hair's doing (also noticeable especially on Hennessy). . . . We're not joking here about the hair. We watched on Sunday and Monday morning were calling to find out what hair product was being used. Jerry O'Connell always look better than he films but for the first time on the camera, he actually looks more than 'boyish.' That's the new visual look of the show and that's the work of the hair department.

If you think we're making too much of the visuals, check it out yourself. It's got a stronger look than anything else NBC offers. It's a professional look and, you better believe, it's one that others will copy. This isn't the flat look of all the shows Dickie Wolf squeeze out, this is the sort of quality visual look you expect from a film.

Telling a friend we wanted to see if the look worked on regular TV (we're aware that not everyone has HighDef), we got a copy of another episode and the look works on regular TV as well. Not only should Crossing Jordan have made the fall schedule because it's an audience favorite and a strong show, anyone with a brain would have put it on just to note the look. They would have sold the look as a hook.

Along with the look, you've got a strong cast. It's not an ensemble because Hennessy is the lead. A character can leave on any of the CSI's and the shows will continue. You can't have Crossing Jordan without Hennesy, even if you try to change the title. Without the gravity she's given Jordan, the others wouldn't work. (We'd argue that was proven when the series did an episode without her character.) But in the supporting roles, you've got a group of people who've meshed perfectly onscreen. The camera can go anywhere and they're in character. Whether they're the focus of the shot or caught on the edges, you see them as Bug, Lily, Nigel, Garret. As Lu, Leslie Bibb has already manged mesh and is doing the kind of strong work she's not done since Popular.

When the show got bumped for the fall, our first question to friends with the show was, "How bad is it?" Now in its sixth season, it would be normal if the program was lagging. We were told that wasn't the case and, a very rare thing, if you check out the show you'll see that wasn't hype.

You may wonder why The Apprentice preceeds it but, if you do, just remember der Donald has picked a public feud with a woman and, in its earliest stages, the NBC brass just knew that would be a ratings pick me up for the tired show. (Hasn't worked out that way and NBC should have long ago repeated Trump's catch phrase back to him.)

Last Sunday, Jordan was trying to find her lover's killer. Lu was trying to get her busted, Woody was suspended and under investigation (Lu and Woody are both police officers) and Garret, Bug, Nigel and Lily were trying to help Joradn prove she was innocent. Jordan confronted a dirty judge about the bribes he'd taken, the judge killed himself, Nigel managed to use forensics to track down the real killer, whom Jordan was already confronting, the whole thing involved a mining company attempting to cover up their own crimes, you had two locations utilized throughout (Boston, the show's setting, and DC, where Jordan had gone, with Garret following, to find the killer) and you had a new character introduced. If that seems like a great deal, it was. And we didn't even mention Lily's having to explain the wedding that wasn't.

All of that (and actually more) went down without it feeling forced, without exhausting you. And that's a testament to everyone in front of and behind the cameras.

A friend who acts on a cookie-cutter crime drama asked mid-week what we were reviewing and we said we'd probably tackle Crossing Jordan. She couldn't stop marveling over Hennessy's peformance in the role and, noting our review of Moronic Mars, insisted we point out that Jordan, like Moronic, has the weight of the world on her shoulders but, "when you have a real actress," the audience never forgets that fact "because the actress doesn't." Our reply was we wish she hadn't said it so we could claim it as our own. (She said go ahead, but we'll give her credit.) That really gets to what keeps the show compelling. Hennessy's doesn't pull the punches in a scene that makes Jordan come off bad. (Jordan can be rude, she can be self-involved.) She's committed to the character. It's the type of character a woman rarely gets to play as lead. Every now and then, something along these lines will come up for a guest role and then they'll bring the actress back due to audience response only they'll water her down because if she's popular that must mean the character is "likeable."

For six seasons, Hennessy's played the character without seeking short cuts that say, "I'm really likeable. Honest." She hasn't played to the audience. Early on in the show, there was an icy scene with her maternal grandmother, she let the audience feel sorry (and possibly stunned) for Jordan. American audiences can see a complicated female character . . . on PBS when Prime Detective airs. Not a whole lot of other times.

We asked our friend if she'd ever told Hennessy how much she enjoys her performance and she responded, "I wouldn't dare. She's like the Steve McQueen of TV." And we think that sums up Jordan almost as well as "I'm Only Happy When It Rains."

If you're a fan of the show you're probably already watching (unless the bouncing all over the schedule left you dizzy). If you haven't, carve out just five minutes on a Sunday night to check out the new look of the show.

Finally, last week we reviewed Ugly Betty and Ty has noted how many e-mails came in on that. If you're one of the ones who enjoy the show or just interested in reading another feminist take on it, please check out an article on Ugly Betty by Yeid M. Rivero (Ms. magazine). It's in the Winter 2007 issue which just went on sale.


Jim: We didn't realize it, but it's time for another roundtable and participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and, me, Jim; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz; and Wally of The Daily Jot. In Friday's snapshot, C.I. noted: "Portland IMC has audio of Dennis Kyne and Darrell Anderson speaking about Camp Resistance." A text version of many points Anderson makes can be found in Hal Bernton's "Upcoming Watada trial drew Army deserter to Northwest" from The Seattle Times. We're not going to summarize the entire speech for, if you're interested read Bernton or, better, listen to the audio if that's an option for you. The focus of this roundtable, as we start off, is peace and war. It will no doubt expand as we move along.

Mike: I'll leap in and note that the audio is like an hour. We're not summarzing it. We're picking up on points. I'll give an overview just by noting that Anderson's speaking of his own feelings about the illegal war, some of what he saw in the war, and . . . I'll call them "problems."

Cedric: I would call them "problems" or "issues" as well.

Jess: We all support Darrell Anderson and there's a huge pause right now so I'm leaping in. We actually played some parts of this speech, Ava, C.I. and me, to a high school class in Florida on Friday. We got their input and there were things that bothered them. I know C.I.'s going to wait to speak until others have, it's also what happened when we were speaking with the students. So I'll kick things off by noting that Anderson expressed the belief that too much time was something by grieving mothers. I say 'something' because I honestly do not think Anderson knew what he was talking about. C.I. can word that in a nicer way and offer an explanation but that comment outraged students and I'll note that right at the start.

Rebecca: I'll wade in. Anderson spoke of admiration for Cindy Sheehan on the one hand and then expressed that statement that too much attention was going to grieving mothers. I don't know what attention he's speaking of. He's on the road, he's not following media. He appears to be under the mistaken belief that mothers opposed to the war who had lost a son or a daughter in the illegal war were being invited to sit down with Tim Russert and "Meet the press." I found the statement weak and offensive. Weak in that it had no basis in reality and offensive in that he's attempting to put war resisters out front.

C.I.: I am going to have step in sooner than I thought. I'm not trying to cut off the discussion but I know Elaine had wanted to address this topic and will probably take a pass because many of her patients are returning vets.

Dona: Whom she treats pro bono.

C.I.: Yes, let's note that. It's worth noting. Darrell Anderson is trying to find his way back, his road. He is a young man, he is suffering from PTSD and he's speaking from his heart at this moment in time. That's not to say I agree with all of his observations but I do want that noted up front before we go any further. I jumped in on Rebecca, so I'll toss back to her.

Rebecca: Okay, that's noted and you can come back in later and offer the explanation on that. But the reality is women don't deserve that. Mothers don't deserve that. And fathers have also lost children and are speaking out against the war. I know where it's coming from. It's coming from a lack of attention. Please, I'd see that kind of lashing out from clients all the time when I was still in the p.r. biz. They'd be so offended that ___ got this or that accolade. With Anderson, I would do the same thing I did with those clients which is to ask, "What have you done?" That's not minimizing his anti-war stance. That's not minimizing his actions since. But you have to be out there with the press, you have to constantly put yourself out there. You have to do that interview with the reporter you hate, the one that you know probably won't even get aired or printed but will smooth things over for the next time they interview you. You have to be at the ready when a phone call comes in for a call. I'm talking about the mainstream press here, I did no work with indendent press. Now we can, and assume will, get to the issue of the independent media, but let's be really clear that I've seen nothing but talking to reporters who have already covered the issue. Bernton is the perfect example. They aren't doing p.r. They aren't getting the word out. If you're unhappy with the lack of mainstream press, more often than not, the problem is with you. You can be unhappy with the way the press turned out and many get victimized by it, I'm not denying that. But if you are any kind of a name that hasn't been run out of respectable society, you can get attention if you are worked very hard. That means non-stop phone calls. Anderson, for instance, might not get a write up focusing on his feelings about the war. The reporter might not be interested in that. But, and this is especially true state-side, if a reporter knows he can call Anderson and say, "___ just happened in Tikrit, what can you tell about that?" then Anderson's name gets shared with other reporters. I had a client whose career was in decline once and, while it had risen, he'd treated every reporter like shit. It was no surprise they'd take out their revenge as he was in decline. He came to me at that point. I told him what we needed to do, how we were going to turn it around. It was an in depth plan requiring a lot of work on his part. It would be like selling him to the public all over again but, because he was a name, it would be easier than breaking an unknown. He was all for it for about a week and then started whining. I told him, we are looking at six weeks where you are putting yourself out there and putting yourself out with no expectations of anything coming from it. You're going to run your ass off at the end of that period, we're going to start seeing some positive press. By staying on his case, and doing the work on my end, he got through that six weeks period and, right at the end of it, got a cover. His face on the cover. And suddenly he was done. It had worked! That's what he thought. I told him it hadn't worked in the long term and we needed to go into phase two. He didn't have the energy for it and I told him I'd taken him as far as I could. This is obviously a performer and when I was out in California. But that one cover, that's all he got. No big publications followed up because he wasn't willing to. He saw that cover and thought "I'm back!" but he wasn't. P.R. may have a party atmosphere but it very hard work. I don't expect Darrell Anderson to know that. I do expect that someone would have explained it to him. If they haven't, and I like Anderson, I think he's attractive man and that's always a bonus when you're dealing with visual press like TV or someone doing a layout, let me explain it: You have to work. You have to work like crazy and you have to work over and over to get mainstream coverage.

Dona: I . . . I'm going to ask the obvious, what grieving mothers does he think end up covered? He pointed out that he wasn't speaking of Cindy Sheehan. Who does that leave? Nadia McCaffrey gets covered in California and I'm sure she's done all the things Rebecca's talking about in terms of returning calls when some reporter has a question. I also know that she's the one who broke the ban on photography. She allowed her son's coffin to be photographed. She's done many things since. But, she doesn't get the press she deserves and, outside of California, I don't see her receiving much press. On KPFA, after Bully Boy's speech, she was 'interviewed.' "Interviewed" because she wasn't. She was hustled off. Larry Bensky introduced her and knew nothing about her son. I know Kat loves Bensky but I think that needs to be noted. He introduces her as someone whose son died of "friendly fire." Did anyone do prep for that? Months and months ago, over a half a year, the military had admitted what was already known and what Nadia had already spoken of in the press, he was killed, intentionally, by Iraqis he was training. Now she attempted to nicely correct him and he got dismissive. He also had no more use for her. I don't know if he thought "Crazy woman thinks there was a cover up on her son's death!" I don't know what he thought but it was useless and, when later on, after he's hustled her off, he's talking some 'expert' about what more US troops training Iraqis will mean, I'm sorry Larry Bensky, the person who could answer that question was Nadia.

Kat: You didn't offend me. He's not perfect. I like Larry Bensky. But I agree that was a jaw dropping moment. I assumed that C.I.'s noting the Democracy Now! story from months ago about the military admitting it, noting that the next morning, was a corrective on the way Bensky's interview played out. But, Dona's larger point, grieving mothers are not being covered. And I'm sorry but Anderson sounded like a macho bullshit pig when he was sitting there whining, and it was a whine, I listened, that mothers are getting attention.

Betty: Well, and C.I., you can jump in in the middle of any of my points, feel free. I was reminded of my oldest son. He's the first to do this, he's the first to do that. He will tell you that. Now other people have swum, ridden bicycles and much more long before he was born. And that's what I kept coming back to, in my mind, when I was listening to Darrell Anderson. My oldest son wants applause when he does something and he should get it. So should Anderson. Listening to the speech, I could hear my son when things are crazy and he hasn't gotten recognized for something he should have been recognized for or hasn't received the amount of attention his actions should have produced. And he will, and he does, turn that into I gave my daughter or my other son this or that attention. Just last week, I was having to slowly explain to him that losing a tooth, at her age, is a big deal. No, it's not a big deal for him anymore, for her it is.

Ava: Betty, if you've got more to add, you should. Betty's voice was shaking on that and I think she's afraid she's said something that's going to result in a disagreement. It's not going to, that was discussed with the students when we were all listening.

Betty: Was it? Because that's what I felt. Anderson wants attention. He should have attention. He deserves attention. But he does not need to make comments about grieving mothers like that. And someone does need to explain, like Rebecca pointed out, grieving mothers do not get that much coverage to begin with. Griveing mothers are not preventing him from receiving attention. His own efforts with the press may be but I'm more inclined to believe that what's hurting there is the total lack of concern about the war on the part of media, big and small.

Cedric: I would agree with that point. No one's getting that much coverage from the media. The war gets very little from independent media and, as non-stop columns and e-mail alerts repeatedly point out, the same voices invited to the discussion by big media are the ones who cheerleaded it. He sounded like a nice guy and I agree with C.I. that we're talking about someone who's finding their way and trying to make sense of things. But someone does need to correct him real quick that the media's not covering the peace movement. Big or small, it's not covering it.

Ty: And to address Cindy Sheehan, who Anderson said he admired, she's broken through because of her history. She was plugging away trying to get traction long before Camp Casey. That was an inspired idea and the first thing that started happening at Camp Casey was that friends and activists were brought in to deal with the press. I think that, more than anything else, backs up Rebecca's point. Cindy Sheehan would have been a two day story tops for the media if people hadn't come along to say, "We're going to deal with the press." It is too much for one person to do. Someone directs a movie and a studio promotes it. The director make take part in that but the studio is the one focusing on selling it and setting up ads, press and all the rest. Listening to that section, and I agreed with many sections of his speech, I didn't with that, I thought, "He has no idea." And he doesn't. In my internship, that was the thing I heard over and over, "Who are we targeting? How are we reaching them?" There's no reason he should grasp that and, the way media treats the peace movement, it might not even matter if he did. I'm going to use Military Families Speak Out as an example. They get ignored more often than not, by media big and small, but they put out press releases. They issue those. And on them, they have contact info. Call so and so for interviews. That sort of thing. So if he wants some advice, that's what it is. That's for most war resisters. Obviously, with the law trying to hunt down Kyle Snyder, he can't do that. But Anderson's been set free by the military. There's nothing preventing him from providing contact info or from issuing press releases. He can set up his own site on Blogspot. It would get noticed. I know it would be noted in the snapshot. As it is, he left after his discharge with the announcement that he was going to a ranch for treatment on PTSD. People may not even know he's on the road now if they followed that. And let me be really clear on this, until the snapshot started noting Camp Resistance, I wasn't seeing it anywhere. I know that Ava and C.I. have been screaming at friends in big media to cover it. They shouldn't be learning about it from Ava and C.I. Let's be to the point here, the problem with Sarah Olson community-wide --

Wally: The reporter the military asking to testify in Ehren Watada's February 5th court-martial to verify that what she reported was accurate.

Ty: Right, thanks. The problem with her is that she keeps expecting the world to come to her rescue. Maybe it's being African-American and gay, but I didn't grow up thinking anyone was coming to my rescue. In terms of big media, they are, many of them, hostile to peace coverage. But it's also true that some things are not promoted. Traveling around the country in a bus? I hope you got a cell phone and I hope you're sharing the number with the press because otherwise you might as well be in Antartica for all reporters are going to care.

Mike: I want to get back to Kat's macho bullshit comment because I do agree with that. The speech before by Dennis Kyne had people in the audience mimicking the "Yes, drill sgt. sir!" type speak of the military and I wouldn't do that. I'm curious as to why they did. Maybe he was speaking to a crowd that was ex-military but at least two of the people who asked questions weren't. I don't think we need to mimic the military at peace gatherings. I don't think we need to wear camo. Kyne talked about a friend who grew up with generations of pacificts and how that wasn't his experience. It was a good speech but the audience participation wasn't something I cared for and I will honestly boo and hiss if someone does that an event that I'm present for, starts hollering out like they are in the military.

Cedric: Right. That bothered me as well. Was it funny? Some seemed to think it was. I didn't think it was funny. I'm not going to play soldier. And I strongly disagreed with the attitude expressed by Anderson that it was time for others in the peace movement to step aside and for the war resisters to lead. First of all, I don't glorify the military. I don't set them above any other group in the society.

Betty: Hear ya! I am still so angry about the 2000 elections where, and C.I. wrote about this recently, Black votes could be ignored and uncounted in Florida for any perceived violation but every military vote, whether it met the standard or not, whether it arrived by the deadline or not, could be counted. Someone can say I'm playing the race card but there's no history in this country of the military being denied the right to vote. There is a history of Black people being denied the right to vote, it's why it was written into the Constitution, it's why we had to combat Jim Crow laws.

Elaine: Okay, I think I can speak on this aspect so I'm going to jump in. I'm not speaking on other aspects because I wasn't able to run this by vets that I counsel and I don't want to say anything even in the most general sense without first talking that over with them. But Betty's point. I know when I listened and heard the "Yes, sirs!" I was appalled as well. I think there's too much time spent hiding behind the military. The right does it. Bully Boy's done it for some time. The Clinton administration did so as well though I'm not remembering Bill Clinton himself doing that. He made the usual statements a president does but I'm not remembering him amping up the volume which means I either missed it or didn't happen. If I'd seen it on TV, I would remember it. And of course Poppy Bush did it as well. Now the way it's worked, as Betty's pointed out, has included allowing all votes in Florida from the military to count while African-Americans were denied the same right. That's a concern in a democracy because in a democracy, one group is not supposed to be set above another. There are protected classes due to historical discrimination but that aren't 'set above,' the protections exist to ensure equal opportunity despite how the right tries to play it out. But Bully Boy amped it up more than anyone. And those in the peace movement are very aware that phoney slogans and hiding behind the troops allowed the War Hawks to get their message out while voices for peace couldn't get traction. "You'll undermine the military!" That and other nonsense. No one's voice is more important than anyone else's in the peace movement. It's a movement and it's of the people. You can't come along and suddenly jump in and think you can cut in line. That's not how it works. And the idea that people in the peace movement should silence their own strong voices and move to the back is not only undemocratic, it's suicide for the peace movement. C.I.?

C.I.: I'm assuming you want me to pick up where you can't. John Kerry ran for president in 2004. The right mocked his military record and made fun of it. It was an attack. An unanswered attack and largely because Kerry stood on that record and only on that record. If they had spent time getting out his post-Vietnam record, the uninformed middle wouldn't have been going, "John Kerry said what about the troops in Vietnam?" It was a huge mistake. By the same token, the thought that the movement is going to be turned over to anyone, regardless of whom or their background, is nonsense. Every voice needs to be heard. Someone responding to Cindy Sheehan might not respond to Kyle Snyder, someone responding to Medea Benjamin might not respond to Leslie Cagan. The peace movement is a buidling movement and to be that it has to offer a wide variety of voices. War resisters are shut out of the media, big and small, with few exceptions. I want them to be heard, I argue for them to be heard, when I speak, I tell their stories. But, besides being undemocratic, the idea of turning the peace movement over to any one section of voices is suicide. For war resisters it risks the same problems that the Kerry campaign encountered. More voices, not less.

Rebecca: I'm going to jump in here because to me, it's the sort of thing, sort of the same thing, as someone deciding, "I'm going to be a blogger!" one day. Then, a few weeks later, they're not happy that other sites are better known. They're focusing on fame or leadership as opposed to getting the work done. Now excuse me, and let me put C.I. on the spot here, but you have been traveling around the country, at a mimium two weeks every month, since February 2003 speaking out against the war. You're not screaming, "I am the new leader! I must be the leader!" Darrell Anderson needs to understand that the peace movement isn't about him. If you have something to share, you share it. He was complaining about the turnout at events. This is January. He was released in October after which he spent about six weeks hanging low.
I don't know what he's expecting. I know you keep a low profile on purpose, C.I., I know you're doing it because you believe in it.

C.I.: Blah, blah, blah. Look it, the thing is that Anderson wants to end the war. He's frustrated. I think we all are. But I don't think he's got the reference to judge. Jess made that point so I'm tossing to Jess.

Jess: The high schoolers were furious at some of the comments. My point was, what is Anderson grading by when he says low turnout. Low turnout compared to what? Every thing starts somewhere. If he's expecting the 60s all over again, and many are, it needs to be pointed out that for White people, many of them, the 60s were a time of profit. There's a world of difference today. Billie sent in a thing just last week, to The Common Ills, an action in her area. She noted that she wished she could participate but she couldn't. As she explained, she's already taken off from work this month for the 3,000 mark, to protest the anniversary of Guantanamo and for a third action I forget. She's got kids. She's barely making ends meet. These are differences between then and now and they shouldn't be forgotten.

Ava: And it's also true that there were more women, not in college, who could make the peace demonstations and marches in the sixties. They were homemakers. Homemakers still exist and a few of them exist that don't also hold down a job outside of the home. But that's another area effecting the turnouts. It's equally true that today's college set is not as prosperous as those in the 60s. Forget that college is higher now, significantly higher, we're not talking about inflation, we're talking about college rates sky rocketing, and a lot of students are struggling with work and school. When people ask why retired persons are so prominent in the peace movement today it is because they have the time. I won't say the money because fixed incomes and attacks on the safety net have ensured that's not the case. But they do have the time. People today work longer hours than they did in the 60s and, in terms of real wages, for less pay. If you're comparing what's going on today with what went on in the sixties, you're making a huge mistake. And someone could, in 1969, say, "I'm skipping work and if they fire me, I'll get a new job." Jobs are much scarcer.

Jess: And that's the reality. And it's equally true that we're not coming off the civil rights movement as we oppose this war. People are not used to mass mobilization. We've got to relearn that.

Dona: Relearn the wheel, as the feminist saying goes.

Jess: Exactly. But that . . . I didn't think it was a good speech. Maybe he was speaking to vets and they were applauding him. But the students we were talking to, they didn't applaud. At one point, he's taking a swipe at iPods and cell phones. Now not every student offended by that had one, but they all wanted one. Probably the way kids in the 60s wanted a transistor radio. That is how they communicate and how they interact. Downloads are today's 45s. That's reality. And whether or not someone has an iPod has nothing to do with their level of committment.

Jim: I think his point there was that there's not enough sacrifice.

Jess: I know that but they're not giving up their cell phones and that's not seen as a luxury today. He was in Canada when the immigration rights movement took hold last spring so he may not be aware of it but text messaging played a huge part in that. Instead of telling everybody what he sees from the mountain, he should come down from the mountain and start speaking with people and not to them.

Jim: Just to clarify, I wasn't disagreeing with you, Jess.

Dona: Here's my problem with making him a leader. And let's not pretend that on some level that wasn't what the speech was really about. He speaks of going to the School for the Americas to protest last fall. How did that come about? His mother had just told him about it. He didn't even know about it. Well, not everyone knows about everything. But if you're wanting to lead you need to have information. And I'm not really sure that less than two months of knowledge about the School of Americas translates as "I am ready to lead." C.I.'s right, though, the speech was about frustration and I'll return to that in a moment. But Anderson's speech rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, there were a number of e-mails on it and C.I., Ava and Jess played it to high school students in Florida for a reaction and that was negative. I'll let C.I. wrap up the Anderson aspect but I'll note that when your speech produces that many negative responses, you are making the case for why you shouldn't be the leader.

C.I.: I bit my tongue through all of that. I'm also not disagreeing with anything anyone said. But Darrell Anderson is finding his way. He's finding his path. He does suffer from PTSD. His voice is important and needs to be heard. That's a point we are all in agreement over in case it didn't come through in all the comments. We support him. We support his stand, we hope he continues to speak out. He should be speaking at rallies and demonstrations. His voice needs to be heard, war resisters need to be heard. That said, they are not the only ones who need to be heard and it is a mistake for the peace movement to ever consider hiding behind any set of voices. The more voices, the more variety, the greater the mix, the more the message gets out there. What he is voicing is not that different than what Aiden Delgado expressed last spring. In terms of the need to be heard, at least. And it's a real shame that all these months later there is no place for them to be heard in the media. There's AP, there's a few independent media programs, there's a few reporters who actually care about covering the stories, regardless of what they think of the war, but there's no space for them, for the war resisters. Where I disagree the most strongly with Anderson is his belief that someone's taken his space, someone in the peace movement. I think it's past time the movement started calling out the silence from independent media. This Saturday, in DC, there will be a massive rally. RadioNation with Laura Flanders will be there. Who else? Or is it going to be a headline at the top of the hour on independent radio stations. The media conference they can go to. The protest? Who's going to be there? Who's going to be there covering it? In terms of Camp Resistance, since it's been noted that Ava and I "screamed" at friends in big media, let me note the response to that. After they did a little research, they'd call back and say, "You know they aren't camped out all day." They, big media, didn't see it as Camp Casey where Cindy Sheehan was there. She only left when her mother was ill. Anderson himself spoke of taking off in the middle of it, in that speech. You don't prove your dedication that way. You only give big media a reason not to cover you. Anderson wants to be a leader and he can be. That's not just "He has the ability." That's he can be a leader. He needs to figure out an action and lead on it. It's past time that there was something akin to the Winter Soldiers for this war. Get a venue in NYC or near it. Nowhere else because most of the media, including indymedia, is based there. Set up hearings. You will get coverage. It may not be the kind of coverage you want -- Fox "News" will trash you, for instance -- but you will get coverage, provided you go to NYC. That's just one idea. Darrell Anderson can probably think of a hundred more. But CODEPINK doesn't sit around saying, "We're not getting covered and that group from the peace movement is!" They do their actions and they keep doing them. They're on the move, the e-mail from Billie was about a CODEPINK action. She wanted to be there but she had taken off three days from work already this month, she's planning to go to DC for the big rally which meant putting in for this Friday off, and she just couldn't swing one more day off this month. She's supporting her family. She has a large family, the things Ava and Jess spoke of are very real differences between the "60s" and today.

Ava: Before we move on, I want to talk about Friday, at least a bit. For one thing, we weren't all over. We generally are. But a teacher who knows C.I. made the invitation for her class and C.I. asked that she check with her principal because times are different and we don't want to get anyone fired. Her principal knew my aunt and the superintendent went to school with C.I. So the reaction was, "Come but not just for her class, speak to the whole school." So that's what we did over and over on Friday, spoke with students.

Jess: And let me add, we went into the school's library because C.I. had to do the snapshot. And school's out at this point, by at least an hour and students kept coming up and C.I. kept stopping to talk. Ava and I were joking that the snapshot was never going to be done. Mike calls it's a "partial snapshot." But the reason that happened is because we did have a set limit for each group because these things are not, "Here's what we think, now there's five minutes for any questions or comments." At one point, in the middle of speaking, C.I. yawned and said, "That's a sure sign that it's time for me to shut up." Everybody here's taken part in these things and they know the drill but we all speak a little and the bulk of the time is listening. This was not mandatory. Each group had a set time and a capped maximum size because there comments and thoughts are what's important. We're used to the go to this campus, go to that campus, OH MY GOD! ARE WE GOING TO MAKE IT TO THE NEXT! type of schedule. And I was wondering what it would be like this time because we were at one school. Doing it over and over. And there might not be that many. Which would be okay because then they could share even more, those that were there. But I think the entire student body turned out. The room was always at the maxium. There were more people wanting to speak than there was time for and C.I. had a great line at the end where it was, "Okay, you take this conversation to your family and friends." But even so, some students didn't get their chance to speak and when they heard we were in the library, they started leaving the bus lines and coming in. And they wanted to share their thoughts on the war, on how to end it, all of that. Not just during a time when they could cut a class by showing up, but on their own time. We ended up doing one more round. C.I. finally gave up on the snapshot and closed the laptop and we all circled up and there must have been fifty high schoolers in there, by that time it was over an hour and half after school had ended. On a Friday. So I want to be really clear that this nonsense about "apathy" is coming from people who are making no efforts to speak to any students. It's not true of colleges, it's not true of high schools and Friday really brought that home.

Ava: I would agree with that and I would also praise the set up for that. Like Jess said, it's not, "We're going to speak, you're going to listen." This is a conversation and I believe Aiden Delgado was talking about the need for that, these conversations. I was the first to play tag along with C.I. on these because when we were all going to school in NY -- Dona, Jess, Jim, Ty and me -- I was frequently flying back to California for family things or just because I was bored. I wasn't concerned about a turnout because I figured if a teacher thought her students would be interested then a significant number of students would be. But like Jess pointed out, we had at least fifty students, who'd already taken part in discussions during the day, staying after school for another discussion. Giving up their own time because there were areas of the war they wanted to address. And I think the set up, the way these take place, matters tremendously. It's not, "You sit there and listen." It's very democratic, it's a conversation. I understood what Aiden Delgado was talking about last spring. But it really came home to me when this young high schooler was talking about how no one ever asked her what she thought. Now that alone was something and something powerful because she was getting that her opinion mattered. But she spoke about how her father was serving in Afghanistan and how, when he came home, they were advised by the military not to talk about war unless he brought it up. Everything she had to say, and she was one of the ones who had stayed after, she had just been sitting on and . . . I'm tearing up just thinking about what she said so let me finish this with, I don't think going somewhere, delivering your prepared speech and leaving is accomplishing anything. It has to be a conversation. I think the movement has too many speeches and too little conversations and that was Aiden Delgado's point -- which I grasped when he made it, but it was made so clear on Friday.

Jim: That's an important point and I believe Anderson brought up what he felt or saw as people avoiding the topic of war around him. That may be one reason for the avoiding. We're basically told, by military or otherwise, not to ask. Before we move on, anything else to add about Friday?

Jess: I'll say Ava's right. It has to be a conversation. Nobody needs your speech of facts and experiences. People need to talk and the media hasn't created a space for that. It's up to all of us to create that space. Hiding behind the military, pro-war or anti-war warriors, won't create that space. Anyone going anywhere to speak should make sure that they grasp the war is not about them. If they're not providing as much time for others to participate as they are for their speeches, then they're not helping.

Rebecca: Because the peace movement has carved out the space for this conversation. It wasn't done by the media. It was the peace movement, peer to peer, face to face.

Jim: This will be going up after Polly's Brew goes out so most will have already read Goldie's column, at least community members. Did you want to talk about Goldie?

Rebecca: Sure. Goldie's going to end the war. Goldie and all the other Goldie's in this country. She's a middle school student who puts most adults to shame. She and her mother, Marlene, do house parties on the war once a month. Goldie's following the news from Iraq, the news from the peace movement. She's speaking out and she's not going to be silenced. She had to give a speech on Friday for one of her classes and she gave it on Ehren Watada. She's spoken about him and other war resisters at the house parties to invited friends. But this was the first time she was speaking to a class that included at least two 'hostiles' as Goldie laughed to me on the phone the night before she gave her speech. But she did it. She was nervous for about half of it but she kept on. And one of the 'hostiltes,' not both just one, told her after that he thought Ehren Watada was getting screwed. He was all prepared, the second he heard Goldie was going to be speaking on a war resister to make fun of her and he made that very clear to her. So not only did she face that, and we're talking about a middle schooler here, she faced that down and gave her speech and, in doing so, she got one person she never expected to be at all sympathetic to Watada to actually give a damn. Give it up for Goldie.

Jim: We're all impressed with Goldie. She and her mother are going to be in DC, right?

Rebecca: Yeah. They're both very excited about that.

Jim: Okay, Dona wanted to talk about the frustrations behind Anderson's speech.

Dona: I understand that he's frustrated, who isn't? Who cares about ending the war but isn't frustrated? He's frustrated with the War Resisters Support Campaign as well and before we move on, we really need to address that.

Mike: I'd agree that needs to be addressed. He said they were only concerned with their own issues and after he decided he'd return to the United States from Canada, they wrote him off.

Elaine: Can I jump in here? I'll shut up during the rest of it but I can talk about that topic so, if no one minds, I'm going to jump in. You know what, the War Resisters Support Campaign is not the Darrell Anderson Memorial. It is an organization on a very tight budget.

Cedric: So tight that they're asking people to provide rooms for the increased number of Americans self-checking out of the military to go to Canada.

Elaine: That's right. I'm not sure but I believe Anderson was the first to announce he was returning. Is that correct, C.I.?

C.I.: Yes. Kyle Snyder and others would follow. And after what happened to Kyle Snyder, people like Corey Glass would say they weren't coming back. Kyle Snyder, for anyone confused, returned to the US and turned himself in under an agreement made with the military and when he did, they immediately backed out on their agreement and attempted to return him to his unit to redeploy to Iraq.

Elaine: Anderson was the best case the War Resisters Support Campaign had. He'd seen the war, he'd been in Iraq, he'd been awarded a Purple Heart, he was married to a Canadian citizen --

C.I.: Gail Greer.

Elaine: and we're talking about a country where the government has been hostile to war resisters compared to during Vietnam. C.I. handled that very well, noting that it takes bravery to go to Canada and it takes bravery to turn yourself in, that both were valid and one wasn't better than the other. I agree with that. But I also think you have to be aware that an organization that's fighting for war resisters in Canada isn't set up to deliver you back to the United States and, furthermore, when you are one of their best cases because your history makes you more sympathetic, your decision to return doesn't just effect you. It effects Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Patrick Hart, all the ones trying to get refugee status because you are the one who would have had the easiest time breaking down the wall of resistance. The new government is even more hostile to war resisters but it seems to be falling apart already. But when Darrell Anderson decided to return, he made the decision that was right for him. He needed to do that. At the same time, the War Resisters League has a very small budget and is attempting to help hundreds of Americans in Canada. They are not the Darrell Anderson Memorial.

Wally: You want to talk about why?

Elaine: I think I've said all I can.

Wally: Okay, then I'll grab it. Taking money from an organization that attempts to help war resisters set up residence in Canada and then trashing the organization because they weren't as helpful to you after you decided to go back to the United States . . . You can change your mind. Anyone can. But the reality is that organization, disclosure, my grandfather has donated to them, is set up for a purpose. It's as though you had received a college grant and then decided to drop out. If you decided to drop out, that was your decision. You don't then criticize the organization that gave you a grant for college but wasn't able to help you after you dropped out of college.. Elaine is right and I agree with her 100%. It's not the Darrell Anderson Memorial and to make snarky comments about how they had their own issues and agendas is just embarrassing coming from someone who sought their help. Their funds need to go war resisters trying to get refugee status in Canada. That's why they exist. The minute Anderson changed his mind, their money needed to go towards helping those still trying for refugee status.

Cedric: I'm glad Mike brought that up because that was one of the things that bothered me most. That and what was an attack on woman, because the "grieving mothers" bit was an attack. Those women weren't as 'serious' or 'important' as people like him who had seen battle was the way that argument went. Now what we're talking about now, I like Darrell Anderson but that was a snarky remark, like Wally said. And it's why Darrell Anderson needs to share but he doesn't need to lead. He's got issues he needs to work on and that's true of everyone returning from Iraq. And that's why you don't turn the movement over to them.

Jim: Okay. Betty had asked for something to be brought up. It's peace then, peace now, I'm guessing. But there's a new book on Jane Fonda entitled Jane Fonda's War by Mary Hershberger that Betty doesn't care for.

C.I.: I'm sorry, Betty.

Betty: No, I loved reading most of it. C.I. gave me a copy, I think most of us got a copy. Right?

Rebecca: Right. And I think I know what you're going to talk about. I've avoided noting the book at my site for that reason. I do enjoy the book of speeches and intend to note that. The speeches were collected and edited by Hershberger as well.

Betty: This is about the media. It's about the government. It's about a war on peace. Which is why I'm bringing it up. There's a section in the book that has no relation to reality and I know Dona's warning about time so what I'd like to do, if that's okay, is read the section that infurated me and have C.I. rebutt line by line. Is that okay?

Jim: Fine by me. C.I.?

C.I.: Sure.

Betty: This begins on page 52 and continues through page 53. The discussion is about how J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI attempted to smear those speaking out. This section focuses on Jean Seberg and C.I. has brought that up in roundtables and written of it at The Common Ills. What the woman presents in this book is not reality. Jean Seberg is pregnant, she's an actress famous for Breathless, among other films. She is publicly with Romain Gary. Both are White. The decision is made to discredit her. The FBI decides they will discredit her by stating that she's carrying the baby of a Black Panther which is supposed to send shock waves through the still racist America. Richard Wallace Held is the FBI agent Hershberger identifies as participating.

C.I.: But there were more.

Betty: Right. So he prepares a letter with a phony signature that won't be traced back to the FBI, the book tells you. "Held heeded the order and then sent his letter to Hollywood gossip columnist Joyce Harber under a false name, purporting to be a friend of Seberg's." C.I.?

C.I.: If Hershberger knows what really happened, that is a lie. More likely she's bought into the attempts to lynch Harber which allowed others to go scott free. Harber was not sent the letter. Okay, I'm taking a breath. Just to explain the importance of this, what will be done to Seberg destroys her. She will never recover from it. She will suffer under the stress and she will eventually kill herself. This isn't something to be tossed out or something to write about when you don't know your facts. I'll assume Hershberger doesn't know her facts. That sentence alone contains a huge inaccuracy. Harber was not sent the letter. She was given it. She was given it by Bill Thomas, then the city editor of The Los Angeles Times, and he wrote at the top of the letter something like, "Joyce, I don't know if you care, but this comes from a reliable source." Joyce Harber was not sent the letter. She didn't do a blind item, but I'm getting ahead, on some letter she was sent. An editor at the paper passed it on and vouched for it. That was Bill Thomas. Bill Thomas publicly admitted to that. He had to because the letter was in Harber's files and anyone could see Thomas' note that he'd scribbled on it. When he admitted to it he denied remembering anything about it. Bill Thomas was up to his neck in that. He also, just FYI, was the person who fired Joyce Harber from the paper.

Betty: "She didn't name Jean Seberg, calling her "Miss A," but she printed unique details of Seberg's life and career that made the identity of 'Miss A' obvious."

C.I.: Well the item could have described several. That's what a blind item is. The musical in the item is probably the biggest clue but many could have read it and thought, for instance, "Jane Fonda" and just assumed she'd signed to do a musical and they didn't know about it.

Betty: I'm going to hurry this along. "Newspapers and magazines around the country picked up the story, and an emotionally fragile Seberg attempted suicide. Doctors tried to save her baby's life by performaing a ceasearn section, but the baby lived only two days."

C.I.: There are so many lies in that I don't know where to start. Harber wrote for The LA Times. Her column was also syndicated. Those who carried her syndicated column picked it up as they normally did. It did not cause anything like what that woman describes in her book. Rebecca told me not to read that because she knows how I am about Seberg. Not to read the book. I'm glad I didn't. Is Flyboy listening?

Rebecca: Yes. Why?

C.I.: See if he'll speak for a minute.

Flyboy: Sure. What's up?

C.I.: I've talked in roundtables about this and written about it at The Common Ills. Betty knows and everyone else knows what happened. I'm thinking you may not.

Flyboy: Not really. Just what Betty was reading and Rebecca telling me, "Oh my God, C.I. is going to be furious." That was when she was reading the book.

C.I.: You heard what Betty read. Could you tell me the events as the author portrays them?

Flyboy: A gossip columinist at an LA paper writes that Jean Seberg is pregnant by a Black Panther. Jean Seberg tries to kill herself. The baby dies.

C.I.: Thank you. That is such a fucking lie -- and I just told one member last week I'd try to watch my own language in these editions. I do not take kindly to anyone lying about Jean Seberg. Rebecca said skip the book or you'll be pissed. Jean Seberg went into the hospital in August. The trauma at that time was Newsweek, not The Los Angeles Times. When the Harber blind item ran it was May of 1970.

Betty: May 19, 1970 according to the endnote.

C.I.: Thank you. Sebergs ends up in the hospital in August, after Seberg o.d.ed on sleeping pills, which was not thought by all to be a suicide attempt, she was taken to the hospital. While she was in the hospital, Edward Behr wrote up a bit on her for Newsweek. He maintained that he included the 'news' that the baby's father was a Black Panther in his cable to Newsweek's NY headquarters because he was just trying to prove he was 'on' the story and in the know but it wasn't for publication. In the cable he does mark that "Strictly FYI". That ends up running in Newsweek. Kermit Lasner will offer the laughable excuse that he had no idea how that piece of shit made it into the magazine because he'd had a scooter accident at lunch. Newseek printed, August 24th issue, 1970, that, this is a quote, I damn well know what they printed: "She and French author Romain Gary, 56, are reportedly about to remarry even though the baby Jean expects in Ocotober is by another man -- a black activist she met in California." That's what got picked up everywhere, including in The Des Moines Register, Seberg's hometown paper. Now that book is supposed to utilize government documents and the FBI had Seberg's phones tapped, including her hospital phone, so they knew very well that her state of mind was frantic after Newsweek published the item. She lost the baby because of the Newsweek article. I question everything that Betty quoted including the timeline. Newsweek printed it, it got picked up everywhere, Jean Seberg lost her baby, and Romain Gary was quite clear whom he blamed when he wrote "The Big Knife" which was published in France-Soir. This was a very huge thing, in press on both sides of the Atlantic. It's still a huge deal to many and one of the main reasons I never link to the piece of crap Newsweek.

Betty: I knew it was wrong. We've discussed this and it's addressed in "Spying and Seberg" but I had to wonder how an author gets it that wrong? Maybe because it's a little easier to go after a dead gossip columnist than it is to go after Newsweek?

C.I.: To be honest with you, that's exactly where I went as well. Joyce Harber was scapegoated for that thing which she never would have read if the city editor hadn't vouched for it. Bill Thomas got off scott free. But what Harber did was a bit of gossip. In a blind item. Newsweek, not a gossip publication, printed a lie in their magazine and that set off a wave outside of any gossip community. They knew what would happen when they did that, both to Seberg and in terms of being echoed throughout the press. That was nothing but corporate media going after a peace activist. It's exactly the kind of crap they've always done and for an author of a book published by The Free Press to either not know or to avoid telling readers the actual truth is just disgusting. It's the August 24, 1970 issue of Newsweek. Anyone who doubts it can get their ass to a libary and utilize the reels or microfiche.

Dona: I just want to note that this wasn't true, it was something created by the FBI, and, therefore, it needs to be asked how a Newsweek reporter in France got hold of the information?
So now we're on the topic of the media. Okay, everyone, we're taking a break. C.I. just walked off in disgust.

Jim: And we're back. Before we move on, do you want to add anything C.I.?

C.I.: Just that if you feel the press led to the death of Seberg's child, I do, and that it was a government plot, which has been established and someone needing a source can comb through Richard Cohen's columns, he's written very strongly about it, after the FBI records became public, at The Washington Post, you name the people involved. This is the sort of cowardice we see too much of it, if it's not ignorance, a refusal to go after the big targets because you're scared. It makes my blood boil. Betty's right, it's really easy to go after a gossip columnist. It's a lot more difficult to go after Newsweek for some. But the reality is that it was Newsweek in August, not Harber in May that printed the lie and printed Jean Seberg's name by it. It was a government plot against Seberg and running to hide behind gossip columnists sure does allow Newsweek breathing room. When the government decides to destroy someone and when you can prove that it was a plot to destroy her, carried out by the FBI, with J. Edgar Hoover's approval, you tell the truth about it. You don't write, "OH MY GOD! JOYCE HARBER RAN A BLIND ITEM AND IT DESTROYED JEAN SEBERG!" The blind item worried her. Newsweek destroyed her. There's a difference.

Mike: A big difference. Like chasing after the ghost of Judith Miller while Michael Gordon continues to sell the war. It's easy, no one's going to challenge you, and, to the uninformed, it looks like you've done some work.

Ty: Lot of people trying to look like they're doing work when they aren't and we've got a thing on that for this edition so, to get to Dona's point, the thing is Darrell Anderson wants more attention and we agree he and other war resisters deserve more attention. Where we disagree is that anyone, "grieving mothers" or not, in the peace movement are getting any attention.

Cedric: I want to address the vigils. I can't remember if he mentioned the candle light vigils. I know Matthew Rothschild did. But the thing is, those are moments of honoring the dead. Those aren't protests or demonstrations.

Betty: And that's what adults do, they don't close their eyes and act like it didn't happen. Andrea Lewis did an interview with Media Benjamin about how she and others were stopped on the Golden Gate Bridge by the San Francisco police and told that they were not allowed to cross it and, basically, that they were on private property. Medea Benjamin was not presenting the action as a way to end the war. But adults do note the dead and when we stop doing that, our society will be in a lot of trouble.

Kat: That was on KPFA's The Morning Show. And before Darrell Anderson wants to think Medea Benjamin stole his moment, she is big in the Bay Area, this is her stomping ground and we love her. I didn't see 20/20 interviewing her. I didn't see her on the cover of People magazine. She was on because of an action, a local action. She didn't make WBAI as far as I know and I know she didn't get invited on Democracy Now! to discuss it. In the Bay Area, we care about peace. When Bob Watada was speaking out, Philip Maldari interviewed him and this was long before there was a moment of interest in Carolyn Ho. They're both Ehren Watada's parents.

Dona: Which is the point I wanted to get to. And thank God for KPFA, let me say that. It is so nice to have KPFA to listen to. We used to listen to WBAI and it has some strong programs but it also has some programs I have no use for. And when Mike slammed their evening news, I actually thought he was too kind. Ava, Jess and C.I. were asking me, while they were on the road last week, when they'd call, the first thing they'd ask was, "What did we miss?" Meaning what had KPFA covered? That said, this now local listener wants to know when KPFA is going to do a program on Iraq. I don't care if it's a weekly show or not. I'd love a daily show. But I think the schedule can make time for at least one hour a week devoted to Iraq. I give them credit for covering Iraq. As well as other topics. Which is all said in my lead in to: What The Hell Is Wrong With The Nation?

Cedric: You said a mouthful in those eight words. Did anyone read Trina's post? She and Mike's dad have decided no more Nations in there house. And can you blame them?

Betty: No. Trina read that to me over the phone. She'd called to find out about my post and I explained I was waiting for C.I.'s plane to land so I could try it out before posting. So she read her post to me over the phone and I told her I thought it said everything that needed to be said.

Ty: I think we're all tired of it. And we had 16 e-mails complaining about a column and saying we'd better address it. In the Januray 22nd edition of the magazine, as Melissa e-mailed, "Katha Pollitt finally discovers Iraq." Melissa and the others are complaining about "Happy New Year!" which includes this statement: "Be honest. Withdrawing from Iraq may be the right thing to do, but it won't mean peace, at least not for Iraqis."

Kat: Who needs to be honest, Pollitt? Why not your damn magazine? Anthony Arnove and Howard Zinn were just discussing the realities two weeks ago on KPFA. Where the fuck was The Nation? Or is your one sentence supposed to pass for addressing realities? That useless rag is out of my home as well. If they want back in, they'll need to develop a backbone and start covering the things that matter. Darrell Anderson, your problem isn't with grieving mothers, it's with a bullshit independent media that won't cover war resisters and you can start with The Nation. Pollitt needs to identify whom she thinks needs to "Be Honest" because no sane person believes troops come home and Iraq's a bed of roses. As Ruth pointed out, that sort of lie is the exact same thing Pat Buchanan resorted to on The McLaughin Group.

Elaine: Well maybe she's ticked off by a recent letter to the editor. Dallas has checked to see if was run. It wasn't. It was sent to The Nation by community member Martha on December 22, 2006:

Reading Katha Pollitt's "Ho-Ho-Holiday Donations -- 2006" two questions arose
1) Ms. Pollitt refers to In These Times as The Nation's "sister publication." In light of concerns regarding media consolidation, that phrase needs to be explained.
2) Looking through the ten recommended organizations and publications, I see Hurricane Katrina, I see Vietnam, et al. I don't see Iraq. Is Ms. Pollitt aware that a war is going on? MADRE, an organization recently recommended on RadioNation with Laura Flanders, seems much more fitting than a periodical (two make Ms. Pollitt's list). In addition, there are numerous organizations working for peace and supporting C.O.s.
If Ms. Pollitt is unaware that a war is going on in Iraq, that might explain why she has never written one word about the rape and murder of fourteen-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi -- a topic that strikes me as much more important than Hillary Clinton being 'bird-dogged."

Elaine (con't): C.I.?

C.I.: Dallas says it's not in any of the two issues that subscribers have still not received. But Martha is a valued member. She volunteered that for the gina & krista round-robin and I told her we'd note it as well if it wasn't published. Martha's remarks are correct and to the point. A war is going on and when Pollitt makes her slam, at whom I don't know, that some think US troops leaving Iraq means instant peace, well, it's nice that she could finally mention Iraq.

Mike: And The Nation itself?

C.I.: I'm not commenting on your entry, Mike.

Mike: I didn't think so, but the magazine itself?

C.I.: It's made itself useless. And the circulation that was falling took a deep hit with the slam on the 9-11 truth movement. I know that The Progressive also suffered fall out over their article. I'm told CounterPunch didn't and I would say that goes to what we discussed before. Alexander Cockburn is fiery. People know that and expect it from him. It's his approach and he does it quite well. I was talking to Ava last week about how I still want to cry over Rothschild's piece. What he can offer, what he usually offers, is one of the best voices. It's empowering without being drippy. It's penetrating without being caustic. And when he went after the truth movement, that was just a side that no one wanted to see. It was so unlike him -- "Get over it." And that's why it hurt the magazine. With The Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel's claim that their own article was some sort of breakthrough was just dumb. There's no other word for it. It wasn't researched. We've covered this. And when you cultivate the personality she has in print, you don't go overboard like that. I know from the e-mail we've received on that here just how many people were offended by the article, by Rothschild's as well. It's funny that both could offer stories on things they supposedly do not believe in but war resisters can't get traction. That's the point that hurt them in terms of cancellations, both magazines. When you're writing about what you think is a waste of time, it just underscores what you don't cover. With Cockburn, again CounterPunch rarely lets a week go by without noting war resistance in some manner. In addition, they cover Iraq and they weigh in on the peace movement. They had an article on that, in fact, that I linked to in the snapshot. I completely disagreed with the author on most points. But I was glad he was willing to attempt a dialogue on the peace movement. Most people don't. Or rather, most publications don't. And when you're covering things you supposedly don't believe in, it becomes very obvious what you're not making time for. Independent media took a hit in 2006 but it's nothing like what's going to happen in 2007, this is readers and listeners, if they don't get serious about Iraq. We were talking earlier about last week's trip and the way that goes on my part is that I have three or four things I want to emphasize in less than ten minutes. I always make one point war resisters. The other points change.

Jess: When we were in Utah last week, you plugged Danny Schechter's movie.

C.I.: Right. And I'll do that if I know something's in the area. That'll be one of the three or four things. But independent media's failure to lead or even cover is always brought up. Not by me. By the students we're speaking to. And that's long term damage. They can kid themselves, publications or programs, that they'll be fine. They won't be. There is a whole group of students, college and high school, that feel betrayed by independent media. They will carry that feeling of betrayal throughout their lives. The only answer is for them to get serious about covering the peace movement, covering the war, covering war resisters. Now we've been saying that here for a year. Readers and listeners have contacted publications and programs with that request. Some were community members, I'm sure, but I'm talking about students bringing this up. And their feelings are that independent media doesn't give a damn. This is a trust betrayed and if you don't work to win it back quickly, it's a trust you can never get again. As much as independent media needs to be alarmed by drop off in sales, listeners, subscribers, they need to grasp that this isn't just a short term thing. The people they have alienated are gone for good if independent media doesn't turn it around and do so quickly. Rushing posts online about "Hillary's In!" doesn't do that. It only underscores that when there's time to horse race, your publication makes time. When Ehren Watada faces a court-martial, you either drag your feet or ignore it. So what we're seeing is an entire generation that will be lost. I don't mean they will be confused. They're following the news. They're more on top of it than most independent media. I'm saying they are lost forever as listeners and subscribers. The Nation's very dependent upon older subscribers currently. They are the ones who've stood by it through good and bad times. But they've just ensured that thirty or forty years from now, they won't have that same base because they've turned off the students today.

Dona: That's their own fault. I don't feel sorry for them. I don't excuse it. They want their 'fun' topics to prove they can be as wasteful as the mainstream with their horse races. Well consider that dessert. They fail to provide the actual meal. People today are starving for meaning and they're not getting it.

Ava: I agree with you. But I mean . . . Darrell Anderson's frustration needs to be aimed at independent media. When C.I. and I are working our friends, begging, pleading, screaming, shouting, to get them to cover a topic, the question is, first question, always, "Well who is covering it." There isn't any bravery in the mainstream. If The Nation would put Ehren Watada on the cover, it would help him. It would help a whole lot. It does make a difference. When Rolling Stone mentioned Ehren Watada for their honor roll, we were able to ride that like crazy. "Well who's covering Watada?" or whatever war resister we were trying to get coverage on. We were able to say, "You do know that Rolling Stone's listing Ehren Watada on their honor roll in their upcoming year-end issue." "They are?" And it made a difference. There was no longer an attempt to do a hard sell on our part, instead it was, "I don't want to be left behind, let me check this out." So when C.I.'s writing about how independent media needs to be doing its job and needs to be creating the world they want to see in their own publications and programs, what they want covered, the kind of voices they want covered, it makes a big difference. Don't get bent out of shape that The NewsHour doesn't have a guest who is a peace activist when you still haven't. The mainstream doesn't work in isolation. It sees things bubbling up and decides to run with it. If one day, all independent media dedicated attention to Ehren Watada, not a headline, serious coverage, you better believe the mainstream would respond.

Jess: Beyond that, there is also the audience that independent media is supposed to serve. coverage matters. Darrell Anderson is upset with the turnout for events, well take it up with independent media. The DC demonstration this weekend, for instance, a national demonstration, it requires people getting there. Mentioning it on Friday is a bit too late to count as a heads up.

Ty: I'll offer a dissenting view. This is my boss' view. He says that independent media has slammed what they call "Hollywood liberals" for years, that they aren't serious, that they aren't committed. He says they're projecting. He points out what he does in one week and asks what does independent media do? And he's talking about his own personal activism. What does independent media do? Who at The Nation is going to protests and demonstrations? Forget covering them, who is even showing up?

C.I.: He named The Nation?

Ty: Yeah. And I know what you're thinking, he's given to the magazine before. He says it was money wasted.

Rebecca: Elaine explained why she doesn't write checks to independent media --

Elaine: I do the pledge drives but that is all. And you can call me Woody Allen in Sleeper, but that's how I feel. He's talking about how a revolution that puts Erno in charge is only going to need another revolution in a short time to replace Erno. I'm not that way about political revolution and political change but I do strongly believe, because what I've seen happen repeatedly, that people talk a good talk, then they get your money and use it to be just like the mainstream, not an alternative to the mainstream, just like the mainstream. So I don't give.

Rebecca: And while C.I.'s far less generous than at an earlier time, I will note that it doesn't help when someone goes to your home town and slams you for your donations.

C.I.: And Rebecca will always stick up for me.

Rebecca: I will. Those comments made were offensive. All the more so on your home turf.

C.I.: Well, I ignored them. As you pointed out in your defense of me, it was made by someone still nursing a hurt ego over my rejecting a drunken pass. But Elaine's point is one she's long made and we've gone back and forth on over the years. Sadly, I now agree with her more than I disagree. Which is why I focus on causes when I donate. They've [independent media] betrayed their audiences and they've also betrayed their donors. They talk a good game but they always seem to, help me out with a sports analogy Mike.

Mike: They always choke when it's crunch time.

Dona: And that's where Darrell Anderson needs to aim his frustration. Cedric, Betty, Ty and Wally should give closing thoughts. Anyone else who wants to jump in should. I don't think Kat said as much but when she did speak, it was powerful.

Cedric: Wasn't it? And I think Kat's been biting her tongue. I like Darrell Anderson, we all do. I see C.I.'s point and agree with it. He's finding himself. That's going to take a lot of time. He's been through a lot. But he's not going to find himself by assuming that 'grieveing mothers' are grabbing up his air time. He needs to start following the media and he'll quickly realize just how little time is given to those attempting to stop the war.

Betty: I'll agree with that and, like Rebecca, I have my little crush on him as well. Probably still do. What would help him and the movement would be various people coming together to discuss the movement. We long ago proposed that The Nation do a roundtable and, no surprise, it didn't happen. But just because independent media doesn't do it doesn't mean you can't do it yourself. CODEPINK and others should do it. Post it on your websites. We'll all link to it. Many others will as well. Get the conversation going. But the idea that I'm going to say, "Lead us!"? I'm not. The movement's been going on without you. It would go on without me. You can't show up and designate yourself a leader. I understand you're hurting, I understand what you're doing is very hard. I agree you deserve recognition. But so do others and the reality is if the movement hadn't been doing the work all along, your statements today wouldn't mean anything. People would greet them with gasps and think you were crazy. The movement has built the space in which we can all discuss Iraq realistically, or those of us who choose to do so. It's not a competition, there's enough love and respect to go around. Within the movement. In terms of media, there's nothing. Your beef is with the media. Aim your frustration at them not at women who have lost their children in an illegal war.

Ty: I think, as usual, Betty's Deep Wisdoms From The Deep South, cut to the heart of it. Our own Maya. And that's not sarcasm. The hope I'll note is this: Look, where we are and think about where we were a year ago, or the year before. Think about all the efforts to shut down debate and discussion. Think about all the cowardice. The peace movement kept going and it will continue to. Phyllis Bennis may have made that point on Saturday to Laura Flanders. I think she said something similar. And I loved her point about wealthy White men meeting up to learn how to be more wealthy and maybe more White. We're not going to have time to note Flanders in an entry. So I'm throwing it out here but I'll echo C.I. by noting that Flanders is going to be covering DC. She may end up being the only one. If she is, you especially need to know that so you can hear coverage. That's all I'll say.

Wally: Did Kat want to say something?

Kat: No. I have been biting my tongue and I think it's obvious that I have.

Wally: Okay well, you know it must be a huge adjustment just when Darrell Anderson returned home. Then to have to go Canada and start over had to be huge. To return to the US was another thing. His actions, he's very active right now, speak to someone committed and wanting change but there's another issue going on and that's dealing with what happened. You don't need to get lost in a whirl of activity to avoid that. Six weeks isn't time to deal with that. I appreciate that he's put that on hold because, for instance, Watada's stand matters to him. But take some time for yourself. And take some time to speak with others, not just to. Your voices is needed. But what you were talking about in some instances didn't reflect the reality I see. I'm speaking specifically of the comments about apathy. If I can grab just a minute more, Ava, Jess and C.I. were late Friday. They were in my neck of the woods and I was really excited. And then they weren't here and weren't here. So finally I headed over to where they had been speaking. I saw the students and heard the last bits of what they were discussing. There wasn't any apathy in that room.

Elaine: Can I jump in, I'm sorry.

Jim: That's fine. But you are the last word.

Elaine: The pressure! I don't know what Darrell Anderson's going to do or not going to do. But I do know that Kevin Benderman and Monica Benderman have a book due out on their experiences. I believe it's coming out this summer. If it's not, they're working on it. Mike highlighted one of Monica Benderman's columns recently and it noted how book stores didn't have a section on war resisters. To that, I'll add buying Peace Mom at Borders Books wasn't easy because I couldn't find it. I finally found it in the military section. Why it was there, I have no idea but that's how they're shelving it. So, point, Monica Benderman kept attention on Kevin Benderman. She was the only one doing that. He's her husband and you can say, "Oh that's what a marriage is." That doesn't take into account how difficult it was when you know your husband's been railroaded and you know he's locked away. But she kept him and his stand alive. She didn't wait for someone to give her a platform or offer an interview. And they're not waiting for book stores to develop a shelving section on war resisters. They're doing their part to make sure it happens. In the end, that's all any of us can do.

Jim: Deep words from the eastern coast? But seriously, that's one to go out on in what feels like the longest roundtable we've ever done. I don't know if we'll have anything else this feature. I'm sure Ava and C.I.'s hands are cramped from taking notes during this. Next week, we're all in DC or with Rebecca. We do plan to do an edition.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }