Sunday, May 06, 2007
-- Jane Fonda responding to Anthony DeCurtis' question about what she sees in young people today that tells her they are hopeful. The quote appears in DeCurtis' interview with Jane fonda in the 40th anniverary issue of Rolling Stone magazine (on sale now), the May 3-17, 2007 issue. We almost went with with this quote last week but bumped it for one by Betty. Betty nominated it again this week and, as Jess pointed out, the issue is still on sale. And, Jane Fonda is featured in the documentary Sir! No Sir! which airs Monday night on The Sundance Channel (check local listings).
Another week. Hell week. The nightmare edition.
Here's who participated in the writing of this edition:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
and Wally of The Daily Jot
Rebecca's apologized profusely. Rebecca was not the problem. There was a feature she really wanted to do. We did it. Then she said, "I don't know." She preferred it in the print edition. We say, "So?" We've all done that. It was one feature and we've all done that at one time or another. (Except me, Jim, who always pushes for everything to be up here if it's an interesting read.) Rebecca didn't set us behind with that.
She also offered that she might have set us behind due to her new baby (congratulations to Rebecca and Flyboy on the birth of their child last week). Again, no! She didn't set us behind. We worked around it. (We'd basically insisted she not participate this weekend due to having just given birth. She objected and Ava and C.I. immediately raised the issue that if a woman wants to work, she gets to work. End of conversation.)
Rebecca was not the reason for the delay. We thank her and we thank everyone for their help and input and assistance. We thank Dallas for his help with links and with being a soundboard.
Let's talk about what delayed us.
1) Illustrations. Two of mags were a pain in the ass. (In fact, when we finally called it quits and went to sleep, we made a point to upload those. When we woke up less than five hours later, they were still not done uploading on Flickr. They're here and that's thanks to Rebecca and C.I. figuring out another way to get the images outside of Flickr.) The other illustrations were no better. They just would not load. And would not load and would not load. We killed one feature here because of that. It really needed the Condi illustration. You can read C.I.'s "NYT: How Stupid Can Two Men Be & Helene lies again" and "Iraq snapshot" zooming in on the reason Iran's Foreign Minister gave for leaving a dinner as opposed to the US State Department's reason and note that the US press not only backed the State Department, they didn't even offer that the Foreign Minister cited a different reason. So illustrations were a pain in the butt.
2) We have never had so many technical problems. You would have thought we were on dial up the way the pages loaded so slowly -- dial up via dixie cups. After we decided to just start postiong everything and agreed we'd add the illustrations tonight, we still had to wait 20 minutes on average to pull up a page (of already typed text) before we could hit "publish."
3) We got a few features up that way. And then . . . We were kicked out of Blogger/Blogspot by Google. Not a case of page wouldn't load or can't find page. We got an actual message from Google displayed. We'll go into that below.
But those were the problems. Rebecca wasn't the problem.
Let's do the content.
Truest statement of the week -- Betty was the pick last week. This week the pick picked. Betty really wanted Jane Fonda's quote highlighted last week. We agreed it was worth highlighting and the issue is still on sale. Check out the interview, it's worth reading.
Editorial: Don't miss Sir! No Sir! Monday night on... -- The Sundance Channel. We don't imagine we'll do an editorial on a movie again. But Sir! No Sir! is an important documentary. We (rightly) criticize those in small media who maintain a continued silence on war resistance. For that reason, we felt it was our obligation to do all we could to get the word out on an important and amazing documentary.
TV: Mid-wifing the rebirth of the yuppy -- Ava and C.I.'s TV commentary. Excellent e-mailed Lorna who was waiting and waiting this morning and e-mailing and e-mailing. When we decided to bail after the Google message, Ty brought up that Lorna had written repeatedly. Ava and C.I. scanned their hard copy (they write their commentaries out on legal pad) and e-mailed them to her as a PDF. She loved it and has written a lengthy thing on their process (noting cross outs, sentences with arrows to indicate that they should be changed, etc.). She asked if it was okay to share that in Hilda's Mix Tuesday. Hilda was fine with it, so were we. So look for Lorna's analysis of Ava and C.I.'s writing process in Hilda's Mix Tuesday. I'll note (before Mike posts tomorrow that I short-changed Ava and C.I.!) that they really did not know the name of this show. They had a mental block on it. They mention calling friends to find out if it was cancelled yet and not being able to remember the name of the show. It's also true that when I asked Ava on Thursday what they were reviewing, she couldn't remember (and, as Mike noted, threatened to throw her drink at me if I didn't shut up). (Ava points out, "We were a night club blowing off steam. The last thing in the world to talk about was 'What are you two reviewing this weekend?'") This is a really strong commentary and if I weren't tired (if we all weren't tired) I could write more on it. Mike'll outdo me tomorrow. (Private message to Mike: ":D")
The Bwana of Baghdad -- Ty's checking the e-mails and we have a compliment from Joe for the "nice catch" on this. Actually, that was a nice catch by a friend of C.I.'s who came by Saturday insisting we watch the tape.
From the desk of Katrina vanden Heuvel -- This has the most images. The mags are the ones that would never upload on Flickr. Thank you to Rebecca and C.I. for figuring out another way this evening. This was longer in the print edition. Dona did a quick edit after we finally had the mag illustrations.
Jaques-cuse still doesn't get it -- Rebecca did not put us behind. When she pulled the piece she'd fought for from going online (it went out in the print edition), we were already having problems and Dona and I immediately went through the morning papers looking for something. We saw nothing that interested us. Then I saw Jaques in The New York Times. It wouldn't be a group piece but maybe Ava and C.I. could do something? ("Short piece," Dona urged.) By the time they finished this we were still trying to post. There was no delay from Rebecca pulling a piece. (It's a strong piece. And, you probably can guess, it was largely on her giving birth last week. We all enjoyed working on this. )
Screw Google -- Here it is, the message we got from Google. Jess: "I wish we were robots! Robots don't need sleep." This message came up and would not go away. For one hour we tried on various computers, we tried cleaning the cache, we tried everything. We were effectively banned by Google. As Dona says, "That's bullshit." We weren't doing anything different this week so this sudden "They're robots!" crap is just bullshit. We got this to post by e-mailing it. We couldn't get into our account. (If we could have, we would have attempted copy and pasting what we'd typed up and e-mailing them to the site. But no one had the energy to retype.) Cynthia wondered if we were plugging AOL? No. Ty sent that in and used his AOL account. AOL automatically adds that plug at the bottom of their e-mails.
Miss J/O America -- A similar feature ran in the print edition last week. It was killed for the online version because we had a strong theme going. We agreed to address the topic again this week and did so with a short feature.
Ask Dahr -- Two years after Dahr Jamail's reported something, a government report comes out echoing what he's already noted and doing a review of the governmental report is suddenly "news" and "reporting"? We don't think so. He's speaking in the Bay Area Friday night. If you're in the area, make a point to show up.
Highlights -- Mike, Rebecca, Elaine, Betty, Cedric and Wally worked on this. We thank them for it.
That's it. We're exhausted. C.I. still has to do "And the war drags on" over at The Common Ills.
Don't blame us. Blame Google. As slow as it was taking for each page to load, we would have stayed up until every feature posted (we might have left this note unwritten until after we got some sleep). Google banned us. Blame Google.
We'll see you next week.
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.
"Have we ever done an editorial on a movie?"
Dona wondered that. The answer is no. Not even at the height of Mel Gibson's 'antics.' So why now?
The movie is a documentary entitled Sir! No Sir! directed by David Zeiger. We've discussed and noted the film here before -- many, many times. So why now?
This coming MONDAY is the Sundance Channel's televised Premiere of Sir! No Sir!
Don't miss this opportunity to see the film and show it to others.
Make a night of resistance out of it!
Sir! No Sir!
Monday May 7
9 pm Eastern and Pacific
Check Listings for Central and Mountain
The Ground Truth
Monday, May 7
The Sundance Channel
10:30 pm Eastern and Pacific
Check Listings for Central and Mountain
The Sundance Channel? "Are you betraying your mission to serve your original readers?" No.
No, we know full well that our original readers, a dedicated group, included many without cable or satellite TV. We also know some of them purchased Sir! No Sir! on DVD and we'll assume that some of them have friends with cable or satellite. The latter can be sure to get the word out so people are watching Monday night. The former can feel ahead of the curve, "Oh yeah, we've got that in the house. We're not missing anything by not having cable."
Ava and C.I. will continue to cover broadcast TV in their commentaries. But this is pretty big news and Sir! No Sir! is a pretty big movie.
How so? For those who haven't seen it, the documentary covers the resistance in the military during Vietnam. You see archival footage, you get current interviews with some of those who resisted. You learn about the underground press dedicated to the movement of resistance. You hear people speaking today about their actions back then and, even now, in many voices, you hear a sense of wonderment, a sense of "Was I really strong enough to do that?"
They were and they did. And this now-hidden (we won't say forgotten because we think the hidden part was far more active) resistance helped to end the illegal war. The myth today, the lie, is that the troops either wanted to be fighting or had no opinion on the war. That's not reality. (It's not reality now either, but we'll get to that.) Why hide this reality?
To rob people of their sense of power. To send a message to those who come after that it really is just a few people -- and they're outside the military -- that opposes an illegal war. To crack down on dissent within and outside of the military. To teach everyone to be good little soldiers, following the marching orders given out by the White House.
As the movie demonstrates, the resistance wasn't hidden in real time. You could find it in Life on TV, all over. It took a lot of work to hide it and that's why we say now-hidden and not simply forgotten.
Let's get to today. Watching the movie will really put across how little coverage you're getting of war resistance from All Things Media Big and Small. We've said it before and we'll say it again, when Dana or Doug Zeigler makes a film twenty to thirty years ago about the war resistance that went on during the Iraq war, we hope the director puts people on the spot. For instance, we'd love to see how The Peace Resister explains the silence of her own magazine (magazine, not website) on the issue of war resisters?
There's a movement going on right now of war resistance, a growing, thriving movement, and you can't find out about it in the pages of The Nation. Helga Aguayo, wife of US war resister Agustin Aguayo, has spoken of how Sir! No Sir! had an effect on her husband. It didn't alter his beliefs. He was already attempting to be granted c.o. status. But a film like this sends the (needed) message that "You are not alone."
That's an important message to send. And the silence around war resisters, practiced by The Nation most shockingly but by other outlets as well, is that you are alone and you don't matter. That's bullshit. War resistance mattered then and it matters now.
Sir! No Sir! isn't a part of a long line of films documenting war resistance within the military and, for that reason, it may have a shock value for many viewers. It may set off light bulbs the same way Howard Zinn's books do. It will connect you to the larger picture of resistance, a history of resistance that so many seem determined to ignore.
And, as we've stressed before, we know when some people hear "history" or "documentary," they start thinking "boring." The film's not boring. It moves quickly and you'll most likely find yourself, as Betty did, thinking, "It's over already?" You will not be bored, you will not doze off. If you're a first time viewer, you will wish you had invited friends over to watch it with you because you will want to share the movie. So if you do get The Sundance Channel, make plans to invite company over on Monday. As noted in an e-mail to get the word out:
WE URGE YOU TO GRAB THIS OPPORTUNITY.
1. Not Everyone has the Sundance Channel...
2. So if you do, PLEASE organize a house party to watch the films
and spread their influence among soldiers and civilians alike.
3. If you don't, find someone who does and offer to bring the chips.
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE ALREADY EXTRAORDINARY EFFECTS SIR! NO SIR! HAS HAD ON ACTIVE DUTY SOLDIERS AND VETS!!!
In preparation, to help spread the films, WWW.SIRNOSIR.COM is offering these specials:The Director's Edition DVD of the film and 1 1/2 hours of additional stories will be on SALE through May 15th
$19.95 (from $23.95)
The Limited Edition DVD, with the film and "Punk Ass Crusade" counter-recruitment video,
is now available in bulk at a DISCOUNTED RATE:
5 for $50
10 for $80
15 for $105
20 for $120
(All plus shipping and handling)
CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT HOW VETERANS FOR PEACE HAS USED SIR! NO SIR! FOR RESISTANCE
The Ground Truth is also available in bulk at http://groundtruthstore.seenon.com/
It's this Monday night, May 7th. We'll close with words from the director of the film (from an open e-mail sent to get the word out):
"It's a unique experience to feel that you are part of making history."
So says Dr. Howard Levy who, as an army doctor in 1966, spent 3 years in federal prison for refusing to train Green Beret troops heading to Vietnam. His comments come at the end of my film about the GI Movement against the Vietnam War, Sir! No Sir!
In a sadly ironic twist, 40 years later Dr. Levy and the thousands of active duty soldiers who openly organized against the Vietnam War while in the military are once again part of making history-because their story is sparking a new and significant movement in the military today.
Sir! No Sir! tells a story that has literally been erased from history. Hundreds of films, both fiction and non-fiction, have been made about Vietnam. But this story-the rebellion of thousands of American soldiers-has never been told in film. This is certainly not for lack of evidence. By the Pentagon's own figures, 503,926 "incidents of desertion" occurred between 1966 and 1971; officers were being "fragged"(killed with fragmentation grenades by their own troops) at an alarming rate; and by 1971 entire units were refusing to go into battle in unprecedented numbers. In the course of a few short years, over 200 antiwar underground newspapers were published by soldiers around the world; local and national antiwar GI organizations were joined by thousands; thousands more demonstrated against the war at every major base in the world in 1970 and 1971, including in Vietnam itself; and stockades and federal prisons were filling up with soldiers jailed for their opposition to the war and the military. Colonel Robert Heinl, the Marine Corp's official historian, wrote strikingly in 1971 that rebellion in the ranks had "permeated every branch of the service." His article in the Armed Forces Journal was titled "The Collapse of the Armed Forces."
Sir! No Sir! opened in theaters last Spring and got a good deal of attention. L.A. Times critic Kenneth Turan called it "A powerful documentary that uncovers half-forgotten history, history that is still relevant but not in ways you might be expecting," and another critic only half-jokingly called it "A film that threatens the war movement with every showing, the Bush administration should outlaw it from all theatres within fifty miles of an armed forces recruiting station."
It turns out he had a point. Since its release last spring, my little film about events that happened 40 years ago has had quite an impact inside the military. Kind of like giving a motorboat to prisoners abandoned on a remote Island. The organization Iraq Veterans Against the War has distributed hundreds of DVDs soldiers for free, and the film has been cited by several who have publicly refused deployment to Iraq on the grounds that the war is immoral and a clear violation of international law.
Navy Seaman Jonathon Hutto and Marine Sergeant Liam Madden met at a screening in Norfolk last fall and, inspired by the film and David Cortright's seminal book on the GI Movement, Soldiers in Revolt, decided to start the Appeal for Redress. Cleverly using the military's own whistleblower protection policy, the Appeal is a petition to congress calling for an immediate end to the war. Almost instantly they had 1,600 signatures (it has since risen to over 2,000). If the number seems small, consider this: There are currently about 140,00 troops in Iraq. In November 1969, with over 3.5 million GIs in Vietnam, 1,366 signed a New York Times ad calling for an end to the war-and the effect was electrifying. Numbers only take on their true meaning when understood in context.
True, Iraq is not Vietnam, and 2007 is not 1969. But something very profound is happening here. The world is full of moments when history intertwines with the present in dynamic and unexpected ways. The civil rights movement of the 1960s was fueled by the hundred-year-old stories of Harriet Tubman, John Brown, and the slave rebellions we never learned about in school. This is another one of those moments.
My film doesn't tell anyone what to do. But it does tell an incendiary story of thousands of soldiers who helped end a war 40 years ago. As the Bush administration plans only escalation of this horrendous war, the 200-pound gorilla blocking his way may well be the troops themselves.
It's not yet cancelled. It is titled Notes from the Underbelly and it got on the schedule because "women will watch." Women will watch was the thinking and that was the same thinking that landed the bomb Big Wedding on ABC as well. While we're glad that at least one network hasn't written off women, we'd strongly urge them to get know to some.
Notes from the Underbelly isn't The Vagina Monologues Grabs a Pen. Though that would have been more interesting, this show builds around a sure ratings booster, pregnancy. Pregnancy and weddings pump up any ratings. At least for the short term. People tune in for the big events of Little Ricky's birth or Rhoda and Joe's marriage. Why that is may be worth pondering.
We'd argue that since many people have experienced it directly or indirectly, they enjoy seeing how characters they like will react to the same big events. Therefore, as a sweeps stunt, it can be effective.
We just don't think you can build a show around it. Or at least not the way Big Wedding tried and Notes from the Underbelly (for now) still tries. In both cases, there seems to be some sort of consensus that weddings and birth are for female viewers what car chases are for male viewers. Putting aside the issue that many women enjoy watching car chases, we think there's another problem with that thinking. A car chase gets your spirits racing but labor wipes most women out.
Watching a car chase may leave many viewers (of both genders) (and we said "chase," not "race") excited and eager to hop in the car. Watching a woman push a child out of a tiny opening in the body doesn't result in cries of, "I must do that!" Not unless your name's Arnold Schwarzenegger or Ivan Reitman.
There's also the fact that a car chase equates freedom (even when it ends as Thelma & Louise's did) while birth and marriage equate something completely different.
Two supporting characters on the show have, at least, grasped that. And they get in their jabs and funnies. The two would be Michael Weaver as Danny and Rachael Harris as Cooper.
Weaver's got no character so anytime he makes you laugh, credit the actor and not the lousy writing. Cooper's not really a character either but Harris has decided to play in her a "pinched" manner similar to Lily Tomlin's Ernestine. Were today still dominated by the big three and cable not even on the horizon, Cooper would be the break out character given the catch phrase.
But there are (many) other options these days and there's no reason to continue airing Notes from the Underbelly so it will likely be nothing but a footnote in Harris' career that reads: "The best thing about the brief ABC sitcom."
The ratings stunts work because you give a damn how Rachel's going to handle the pregnancy or whether or not Sinclair and Overton will say "I do." You're already invested in the characters, you like them and it's a nice way to boost interest (though the come down can be hell). But what if a show takes a stunt and makes that the premise?
Notes from the Underbelly has been a thirty-minute whine. It's the sort of thing that would have you replying to a friend "Oh, I'm busy" just to avoid another installment of "My life is changing and let me share." We have a friend, Rebecca, who just gave birth. We did not avoid her but her every remark wasn't, "Let's talk about my pregnancy." The two pregnant characters in this show (and their spouses) seem to believe they invented pregnancy. You know the types. They're the ones who think, "Why show off one picture of my kid when I can show fifty?"
Until a kid invents the cure for cancer, we'll hold that precious though they may be, no small child is the center of anyone's universe other than its parents. But there are many parents who operate as though their children are as lively and interesting as what happens in the Middle East or at least the latest tabloid scandal from Britty.
Melanie Paxson's Julie and Sunkrish Bala's Eric are supposed to be the extreme version of this.
But we'd argue that the leads, Jennifer Westfeldt's Lauren and Peter Cambor's Andrew, aren't headed down the same road, they're already there.
Wesfeld co-wrote, co-produced and co-starred in Kissing Jessica Stein so she at least should know that even comedy needs conflict. Writers of Undernotes from the Belly have no such knowledge.
What they've birthed is actually a tribute to the 80s yuppie. It's Hope and Michael Steadman (thirtysomething) playing for laughs. That's not the Stedmans being laughed at -- though, goodness knows, they were in real time. Instead, they're presented as ideals to strive for. And we're supposed to enjoy the yuppie conflicts that pregnancy brings. Andrew's worried about money, wants to buy a mini-van (because they increase each year in value?) and speaks of his 'primitive' desires raging within where Lauren quits her job and has to depend on him. We're supposed to find it entertaining.
It doesn't even qualify for a good sex fantasy. While Andrew thinks insular 'big' picture (you never believe for an instant that these characters live in 2007, let alone in a real world), Lauren's obsessed with her body. It's supposed to be comical when she's going on and on about how big her breasts have gotten (for the third time that episode) to her sex starved husband who just keeps staring at them and pushing for sex. It should also be noted that for many women, pregnancy raises concerns about the larger world around them -- issues of peace weigh on many women's minds -- not on bad characters' minds, but on many real life women's minds.
Peter Cambor has no character. In the pilot he wore a Longhorns shirt (Univeristy of Texas) and the only real reason for that appears to be that the actor was born in Texas. (Water Cooler Critics, we warned you years ago there was a topic ripe for the taking.) Along with no character, he has no appeal unless someone's been in search of a low rent Ben Affleck. He is to Affleck what some of those clones are to Ripley in Alien: Resurrection.
As though the show were taking place a century before it was filmed, the women and the men break up, at every gathering, into groupings based on gender. The boys are bores but not boorish enough to provide the audience a good laugh at them. They're little boys trying to act out their ideas of manhood and about as convincing as little boys are when they play cowboys.
The girls' group should be no better based on the writing but, thanks to Harris' Cooper, it's often funny. As Lauren and Julie drone on non-stop about their pregnancies (no matter how big the party, the group going off to the side always seems to be just Lauren, Julie and Cooper), you watch Cooper tense up and explode in little bits and pieces.
This pregnancy terrain actually can be handled quite well in a sitcom and has been on Roseanne. But, if you'll remember, Jackie and Roseanne didn't talk non-stop about pregnancy (nor did Dan and Fred). After awhile, you start to realize that Lauren and Julie (as well as Andrew and Eric) can't shut up about pregnancy because their actual lives are so void of anything else. They start to remind you of a girl you knew in high school who decided to have a baby because she wanted something to love.
Roseanne succeeded on this landscape because the show had actual characters and because the real show runner (Roseanne) knew a thing or two about the subject and brought it to life in a realistic way. There's no realism in Notes from the Underbelly, just tired characters with trite lives hoping that a birth will provide them with some excitement and the scariest thing is that there's no indication anyone involved with the show grasps that.
Had it been a hit, the headlines would read "Yuppies Reborn!" Instead, it's just one more superficial show (in a season of little else) that hopes a ratings stunt can take the place of actual characterization and plot development.
And why was this a "must"? Canon Andrew White of the Anglican Church in Baghdad was the guest for one segment.
Though it wasn't explained in the segment, White isn't an Iraqi. He's from England. Somehow the fact that the church he presides over is now in the Green Zone also didn't get covered; however, for the record, in 2006, the church was moved into the Green Zone and that's a courtesy not offered many congregations in Iraq.
We think White's a prat and those of us who knew of him before watching the tape of Religion & Ethics (Ava and C.I.) thought he was a prat many moons again. (He has compared actions of disinvestment in Israel as well as "concern for the Palestinians" to anti-Semitism.) For instance, we've already noted he's from England (which is where his home, his wife and his children live and what he considers home) and that may be why he frequently speaks of "we" in terms of "we" didn't fight the (illegal) war correctly, "we" didn't secure the borders, et al. He's big on "we" but "we" is rarely used when speaking of Iraqis. From the program:
ABERNETHY: And when do you think American troops can come home?
Canon WHITE: If American troops were to leave now, sadly we would see an escalation of violence. We have got to see that we were part of its instigation and by overcoming the evil regime of Saddam Hussein. So we've got to be patient. We have to be willing to endure further tragedy, and the only way forward is when we see peace returning to Iraq.
He's also in and out of the Green Zone (back and forth to London and other locales) in a way that Iraqi leaders of other faiths (whether Muslim, Christian or Jew) aren't allowed. But then many spiritual leaders can't brag about being in constant contact with the State Department, the Pentagon and the CIA (he once told The Times of London that his resolution for the new year was to be more careful about what he passed on to the CIA). He's fond of taking pot shots at liberals of all stripes. (Possibly because they didn't, as he did, dine with Saddam Hussein's sons?)
We see him as the Bwana of Baghdad and, no, we don't mean that as a compliment. (As Lindsey Buckingham sings "But Bwana . . . is the visitor . . .") And we think the cover of his new book (which he's promoting) captures that perfectly (or else someone's substituted a Save the Children ad for his intended photo). Surprisingly, even in his home country of England, though the book's been out since March, it hasn't resulted in one customer review at Amazon UK. We say that says a great deal about his reach and pull (outside of US government officials, of course).
But he's plauged with an internal surge of hope which leads to ridiculous statements (usually made at excessive volumes). Case in point: "I no longer consider this the most dangerous parish in the world. That portfolio probably belongs somewhere in British suburbia." He made that howler of a claim in April 2005 -- though, in fairness it should be noted he made it after his church had moved into the heavily fortified Green Zone. The move was beneficial in other ways as well. In interviews he frequently brags about the growing membership in his Iraqi church. If pressed, he will admit that these new members are generally British troops and staff of the so-called Coalition.
If you are able to watch his interview with Abernathy, please do. You'll noted that he appears unable to modulate his voice for much of the interview. For the bulk of the interview, White is selling it like a carny barker at high volume until the issue of the (puppet) government in Iraq is raised:
ABERNETHY: And do you expect it to last?
Canon WHITE: No.
ABERNETHY: It will fall when? And what will replace it?
Canon WHITE: The reality is that there's a very high chance that the present government will cease its existence in the coming months.
But that's too much reality for the huckster who immediately is back in the "hope" mode and at top volume. For a moment, reality intrudes. For a moment even the bagman for the US government has to admit reality.
Last week, we explored the hows and noted that the question of what could be "accomplished" needs to be asked. White demonstrates that even an (illegal) Occupation Cheerleader thinks the puppet government is on its last legs. So why are US service members in Iraq? To prop up another puppet government? And after that? And after that?
Peggy Randall, whose listed on a letter as "Director" but is still (we believe) an Associate Publisher, notes the stakes right at the top of her request:
* if you question where the country is going in Iraq, as legions continue to die and the fury spills across the Middle East
She goes on to list other ways that the White House thinks dissent equates with traitor. She offers her greeting and then goes right into what we've quoted.
We point that out because things are a little different from the desk of Katrina vanden Heuvel (editor and publisher of The Nation). Read her letter in vain to find the word "Iraq." It's not there. And is anyone surprised at this late date?
What's the most pressing issue on many people's minds? What gave Democrats a mandate in the November elections? Iraq. (Or as Tim Russert might put it, in his best Jan Brady, "Iraq, Iraq, Iraq!") It's on the minds and lips of most. Maybe vanden Heuvel's desk was a little cluttered?
The Nation magazine certainly is. Cluttered with one get-out-the-vote drive after another. Cluttered with page after page of gas bagging and sermonettes from clouds about the Democratic Party. When the Dems elected to stand down (which, as David Swanson points out, they're still doing it even if they try to market it otherwise), you might think the 'leading' magazine of the left would call them out on that? Not a chance in hell. They're too busy, week after week, cheerleading. In fact, Katha Pollitt's lept to the bandwagon in a recent piece. It's one of her better pieces in terms of fire but it fails the logic test. How so?
She's expressing her outrage over the Court's destruction of Roe (we could have done without her apology for being angry). She doesn't just express her outrage, however. She also finds the bad guy. She tells you it's Republicans. And only Republicans. As if Bob Casey Jr. got elected on a Republican ticket? Or, more to the point for a writer who wants to bring up how the same issue was decided differently when Sandra Day O'Connor was on the bench, as if O'Connor was appointed by a Democrat? When Pollitt's telling you that it makes a difference who controls the White House and who controls Congress, it really is reaching to mention "Sandra Day O'Connor" while also pinning the blame on Republicans. (O'Connor was appointed by Ronald Reagan. And, no, we're not part of the crowd spinning myths about the "great" Sandy Day who, in fact, helped lead some of the earlier efforts to chip away at Roe.)
It's strange too that she's so quick to serve the blame to Republicans that she forgets that the table Joe Biden, et al, are sitting are waiting on their own slices of blame pie. They are the ones who, after all, elected not to filibuster either John Roberts or Samuel Alito when Bully Boy nominated them.
But then, it's a lot easier to just reduce it to Republicans bad and bite the tongue regarding the political party that's maintained they will preserve Roe for thirty-plus years. But we'll set Pollitt aside because the focus is Iraq and, let's face it, Pollitt set Iraq aside many, many moons ago.
So Katrina vanden Heuvel wants to help Peggy Randall raise money but the reality is we know several who tossed the appeal into the trash after reading the note from the desk of. Due to the fact that vanden Heuvel is such a Peace Resister these days she can't even utter the word "Iraq" while she's asking you to toss into the collection plate. (We didn't toss our letters. We never toss our letters from The Nation. They're so much fun to repeat and josh in the print edition. We save them for the "This Month's Beggers" feature.)
While vanden Heuvel makes like a punch bowl server at a Democratic coatillion, other news outlets haven't been so silent.
Last week, Salon published Gregory Levey's "Northern exposure: American soldiers are fleeing the Iraq war for Canada -- and U.S. officials may be on their trail. North of the border is no longer the safe haven it was during the Vietnam era" -- on a topic we'd begun to suspect would never give any attention. (We will note, since the article is now also being run at Der Spiegel, Jeffry House's first name has no second "e.") And Levey's article reminded us, yet again, of the silence on this issue coming from the pages of The Nation.
So we thought we'd note a few of the standouts in the past month. One article or your every-two-year editorial doesn't cut it as a standout, just FYI.
"The Rape of the 'Hadji Girl'" by Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff
"Serving in the Rape Zone" by Allison Tobey
He still doesn't get it.
We will praise the paper for conducting their own study (apparently their own study) -- one in which they tracked 250 hours of radio -- but that's about all the praise they'll get.
Don Imus isn't alone. Or rather wasn't. (Imus is gone from the airwaves . . . at least for now.) We made that point last month. But we think Jacues-cuse either doesn't get it or he's trying to muddy the waters.
Imus' infamous remark combined racism and sexism (listed alphabetically). Nothing (other than the first sentence) really indicates that the latter is understood.
For instance, saying that Kim Basinger's last film role was playing "an old tampon" is crass and crude. It is not, necessarily sexism. That one really stuck out because neither of us could think of Basinger's last film role. (Her last lead was I Dreamed of Africa.) We had to call around to find out (at this hour, we do not want to look at a computer screen anymore than necessary). We don't personally find the line humorous. We also don't find it to be necessarily sexism. (And Paul Rudnick, who is not a sexist, has certainly used tampon comparisons in his own writing under an assumed name in a film magazine.) (We're wording it that way because we are aware saying more, for some, is akin to talking with children about the reality of Santa Clause.)
Again, it is crass and crude. With a better use of adjectives, it might still qualify for funny.
But those offended by Imus' remarks were not offended because they didn't "get" the "joke" or because they thought Imus was "mean." They were offended (and you can include us in that) because it was sexism and it was racism. (Reverse alphabetical order.) Either the paper doesn't grasp sexism or they're trying to muddy the water -- considering the paper's previous coverage of Imus, we wouldn't be at all surprised if it was the latter.
Crass, crude and rude will always exist. Racism and sexism certainly traffic in the three. So does humor. The difference between humor and the other two boils down to stereotypes based on race and gender (or sexual orientation, which we'll get to in a moment) -- often spoken out of hate or ignorance, but not always. If someone called us a tampon, we'd roll our eyes. (If it was a man, we'd wonder if he knew the difference between a tampon and a pad because you'd be surprised at the number of men who don't.) "An old tampon"? We'd wonder why the fool didn't say "an old used tampon" as we rolled our eyes.
If Jaques-cuse truly doesn't get it, that makes the article even more dangerous because did no editor grasp that the article equates irritating speech with hate speech? This is the sort of article that leads to cries of "They just don't want anyone to speak to their mind!"
So before that (false) charge gets pinned on feminists, let's be clear: We are feminists, Jaques-cuse is not. He does not speak for feminism. (We do not speak for all of feminism. We offer "a" feminist view, not "the" feminist view.)
We see Islamic-phobia in the examples offered of shock-jock Mancow (what a name), we see ignorance and other things. Other than his Islamic-phobia, we don't see anything (in the examples offered) that rises to the level of hate speech. (Which, as we said in the feature on Imus, he could express. And if his advertisers pull out, that's his own fault. If he lost listeners, that's his own fault.) It's strange that the man obviously is comfortable expressing hatred towards Islams but Jacques-cuse is more interested in what he said about Virginia Tech.
We're not sure about a jingle played on a Univision station. First of all, the paper has a real problem when it comes to translating Spanish. Second of all, we're given a partial quote ("I couldn't afford a motel" -- to have sex in due to the fact that property taxes are so high) and we'd have to see a little more than that to make a call.
Jaque-cuse tells you in the sentence that starts on the front page and continues on A22 that those targeted in the 250 hours studied were "Gay mean and lesbians, and women and Muslims" but, strangely, we're unable to locate anything regarding LBGTs in the article. If they were a regular target, why is it that the paper won't cover that? We're not doubting that they are a target of shock jocks. We are wondering why the paper avoids the issue other than in one sentence?
Jaque-cuse really doesn't think "a parody of a salsa song in which a man pleaded with his girlfriend for anal sex" implies gay, sex does he? Look it, we know the Docker Boys of The Times are a puritanical set. But if someone thought that was "following up" on the sentence informing readers that gays and lesbians were targeted, they really need to to thumb through the Masters & Johnsons. (We'd actually suggest Anais Nin's erotica -- Little Birds & Delta of Venus -- however, we think the Docker Boys would be less shocked by the clinical approach.)
The paper studied 250 hours. Surely there were very real examples of homophobia. The paper can't offer them. They can't offer real examples of sexism. On racism, they do a little better. Not much, but a little. The paper elected to front page this story. Forgive us for seriously asking whether the point of this article was to muddy the issue and water down the very real sexism and racism that Don Imus regularly aired.
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I'm 14 y.o./f/w. Blonde. :) Are you stroking? Kewl!! Would like to meet u. In real.
We're assuming that's about how the conversation started when Lauren Nelson, aka Miss America, decided to play perv buster. While we're the last to defend online predators (we've called them out -- even when it involved a certain 'hero' of many), we still think that there's something really sad about involving the Miss America T&A parade in it.
Andrew Gumbel (Independent of London) reports:
Lauren Nelson, the Miss America who went along with the scheme, insists she believes wholeheartedly in the cause of getting would-be sex offenders off the streets. But she was also marketed to death by Fox executives, who plainly saw the set-up's entertainment value every bit as much as its utility as a law-enforcement exercise.
"You've seen her in a bikini," read the teasing web page of the hit programme America's Most Wanted. "You've seen her in an evening gown. You've never seen her like this." As the programme documented, four men who came to meet her at a house on Long Island were arrested on the spot, with the cameras rolling. Seven other men who had exchanged explicit online messages with her were arrested a few days later.
The cattle show promotes itself this way: "'Miss America represents the highest ideals. She is a real combination of beauty, grace, and intelligence, artistic and refined." We're not seeing anything in there about getting guys off online.
If Nelson honestly believes in the issue of online predators, there are many ways for her to raise awareness of the issue. This wasn't one of them. Remembering that a Miss America was stripped of her title in the 80s due to photos she posed for before she won her title, we're really surprised that the prim prudes of the pageant have yet to issue a public rebuke to Nelson, let alone strip her of her title.
But we also believe this little stunt (a way for Nelson to raise her own profile -- no, none of us even knew her name before) really captures Bully Boy's America. Nelson is supposed to stand for many things (allegedly) and chooses to stain her tiara and the pageant's (not so) good name in a desperate bid for 15 more minutes of fame.
The pageant itself has become so low rated that it moved from broadcast to basic cable only to have CMT cut it off this year. We're not imagining that adults picturing Nelson online late night hours seeking out pervs is going to lead to a resurgence; however, it could lead to some interesting questions in the next round: "If you were taking part in a sting online, you would refer to your vagina as what?"
"World peace, Bob, world peace."
[A version of this ran in the print version last week because it didn't fit the theme and we couldn't upload the art. Wally and Cedric addressed this topic two Thursdays ago in "THIS JUST IN! BEAUTY CONTESTS GET SLEAZIER!" and "There she is, Miss America."]
No, it didn't. In a slow week, it might have. But it wasn't a slow week and the "news" wasn't "news" nor did it contain "revelations."
The "news" was a governmental report covering what Dahr Jamail has noted for years. In fact, Joe, if you're in the Bay Area, you can see Dahr this week:
Report Back from the Middle East with Dahr Jamail
Friday May 11th, 7:00 pmSan Francisco
We'd suggest, if you're able to attend, you ask him about last week's "news."
He may word it more nicely but there's very little in the so-called "news" that he hasn't already covered at length and, unlike big media outlets, he didn't need to wait for an official government report to write about the realities of reconstruction. He didn't ned to wait for it because he wrote about what he witnessed on the ground in Iraq and what his sources provided him with.
For all the talk last week about the 'revelations' in the 'news,' we found it sad that the articles we read didn't go as in depth as Dahr has. But then, he wrote his own report in 2005: "Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation."
We strongly suggest that you attend if you're able to. He can answer questions about Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, you name it. He can tell you what it's like to report from Iraq without military protection or without adhering to military guidelines. He can refute the popular lie that southern Iraq is restive or has been. (It always amazes us how often that lie gets printed. Especially in the fact of the increase in deaths of US service members serving in that region.)
Ty read your e-mail to C.I. who stated that it was on the "if' list -- if it was a slow week, the reconstruction 'bulletins' would have been covered in a snapshot. Many things drop off the 'if' list when real news related to Iraq comes along. C.I. cites this line: "Reconstruction efforts by US firms have patently failed, while Iraqi contractors are not allowed to do the work." That's from Dahr's report on the hospitals. If last week's 'news' was news to you, probably you're too dependent upon your mainstream outlets.
"Corn & Onion Casserole in the Kitchen"-- Trina's latest where she explains why, sincere or not, it really is time Hillary Clinton said she made a mistake in voting for the authorization that Bully Boy sort-of used (it really didn't grant him that power) to go to war with Iraq.
"The Friedman 'Big Dumb'" -- In this chapter, Thomas Friedman is kicked out of the library and finds new ways to invent things. For the record, Betty (though not her character Betinna) did actually speak to Australian community members Olive and Skip to get their take on Friedman's "imaginative" look at Australia. (She says thank you to Olive and Skip.)
"The grind (Mike filling in for Rebecca)" -- Mike fills in for Rebecca and discusses Rebecca and C.I. and blogs and just about everything else . . . except Cedric! Cedric's included at the top and Mike meant to discuss him. Time ran out. Mike says next time or at his own site, he'll discuss Cedric and apologizes for the oversight.
"Grab bag (Betty blogging for Rebecca)" -- Betty fills in for Rebecca and addresses questions from e-mails such as the issue of Obama. (As Kat has noted, Betty really is a natural at blogging. We love her online novel at her own site to suggest that she drop that. But in a perfect world, there would be time for Betty to do two sites.)
"Sir! No Sir! (Betty filling in for Rebecca)" -- in this fill in, Betty discusses the importance of Sir! No Sir! a documentary that airs tomorrow night (Monday night) on The Sundance Channel.
"Kevin Zeese, Willie & Annie Nelson" -- what was with Mike and Betty filling in any way? This post by Elaine explains Rebecca had her baby this week. When is she returning to blogging? She's not sure. She thinks it could be near the end of this week or she might take another week off. (Betty says she has no problem filling in.)
"Ban Bush, Not Baez" -- in a busy week, Kat wasn't too pleased with her posts at her site. We told her we were going to highlight this one and at first, from the titel, she couldn't even remember what she'd written. Yes, the week was that long. (And longer for Rebecca than anyone. Though she says it was a "lovely" delivery.)
"THIS JUST IN! PEACE BANNED AT WALTER REED!" and "Banning Baez won't make Stubby feel like a man" -- Wally and Cedric take a humorus look at the sort of the person who might have banned Joan Baez from performing at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. And, as Elaine just reminded us, Joan Baez was a guest on Friday's Democracy Now!, see "Banned by Army: Folk Singer Joan Baez Can't Sing to Wounded Soldiers at Walter Reed."
"ap whitewashes kent state recordings" -- Rebecca posted this last Tuesday and it's her most recent post thus far. (She was actually having contractions while she wrote it but thought it was hunger pains.)
"The continued undercount" -- Mike's father picked this and says everyone who reads or watches a report should be asking themselves what's being included and what isn't -- and he means in terms of what the mainstream has already reported.
"Iraq Veterans Against the War, Tori Amos, P. Smith..." -- Mike lists favorite Tori Amos songs and more.
Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Little Miss Bully Boy" -- Isaiah's comic is a comedy classic and Elaine meant to call him last week to ask if her hunch was correct: Laura Bush represents Judy Garland on a booze and pill fest and Bully Boy represents the show person Judy -- that Laura and Bully are the same, just offering degrees? Regardless, don't miss Laura's zonked eyes.
Ruth's Report -- Ruth's latest just went up this morning. You do not want to miss it. We can't say more without spoiling it.
"Kat's Korner: Patti from the Mount" -- Kat's latest CD review. Here she's weighing in on Patti Smith's new CD Twelve. We love the review and we love the CD. The review is vintage Kat, prepare to enjoy.
"NYT: How Stupid Can Two Men Be & Helene lies again" -- our favorite C.I. entry from last week. As Kat can tell you, the gang was wiped out by visiting the East Coast (for Rebecca's delivery). Wally and Cedric can tell you C.I. called to ask if they were posting that morning. (Wally and Cedric are experimenting with dropping the Friday post and going with Saturday instead for a number of reasons. Including the fact that despite C.I. and Trina posting, some members still feel there should be more posting from the community on Saturdays.) They said they were and it would go up in a second. They told us, "C.I. sounded so tired." Cedric said he really assumed it would be a link-fest post and was shocked to be laughing out loud while reading it. Elaine says "How stupic can two men be" is most likely a nod to a song by Frank Sinatra ("How lucky can one guy be . . . Ain't that a kick in the head . . .").
"'The drooling over Obama needs to stop' " -- Ty noted this was the second most requested to be highlighted piece in the e-mails. He added that this was also his favorite piece by Kat "or anyone else" cheeheads (okay, he didn't call us "cheeseheads") of last week.
"Temptations sing!" & "THIS JUST IN! SUPER CRAZY!" -- Cedric and Wally chat with Super Freak Paul Wolfowitz. Yi-yi!
"Iraq snapshot" -- Thursday's snapshot was the most requested highlight in the e-mails to this site. Ty said many e-mailing also wondered if we could include a link to Gregory Levy's "Northern exposure: American soldiers are fleeing the Iraq war for Canada -- and U.S. officials may be on their trail. North of the border is no longer the safe haven it was during the Vietnam era" (Salon)? No, we can't. Quit bothering us. :D