Sunday, September 16, 2007
-- Juan Gonzalez, Democracy Now! on September 13th of last week after John Nichols had already offered 61 words about Barack Obama's "very strong antiwar stance" and yet still seemed far, far out from the shores of reality. As Gonzalez pointed out, this wasn't a Troops Home Now! speech from Obama. If Gonzalez hadn't spoken the truth, who knows how much longer the tongue bathing of Obama would have continued?
[C.I. note: Juan Gonazalez, not "Gonzales." Our apologies.]
The never ending edition. Dona got sick this morning and we all took a breather. She's better now and thinks it was a virus. (Thanks for asking.)
Here's who worked on 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
And of course Dallas. Also, Betty's oldest son worked with us on some illustrations we'll be using in the future. We're noting that now in case it comes up at his school (as it did last time).
Here's what we've got:
Truest statement of the week -- Kat and C.I. came to the edition with Juan Gonzalez selected as their choice and nothing else measured up so he was the hands down winner.
Editorial: Stupid is the head that wears the crown... -- The title says it all.
TV: What does it take to cancel this show? -- I (Jim) asked for this when Dona started feeling sick. Ava and C.I. had notes for another commentary. This turned out really strong and builds to a point (and finish) as it moves along.
Book: Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine -- Never again. This is half the book discussion. Dona wasn't feeling well enough to edit. She really edits better than any of the rest of us. We halfed this for two reasons: easier to read and spell check. Spell check didn't work even when halved. "Rush transcript." Enjoy typos. Be smart and get Naomi Klein's new book on Tuesday (unless you get it on Monday because you're attending the NYC event).
Green Party calls for real leadership on Iraq War -- This almost didn't get done. When Dona was finally feeling better, she looked over what we had and noted that we didn't do the Green Party piece (last week, one ran in the print edition, we couldn't get it together to make it worth posting online).
The Peace Resister pretends to be about peace -- This was suggested by people at The Nation. Again, they aren't all vanden Heuvels. Some actually care about the illegal war. Those who do were laughing their asses off as vanden Heuvel attempted to pass herself off as someone who strives for peace.
United for Peace and Some Justice? -- She wasn't the only one playing, now was she? UFPJ and authors Phyliss Bennis and Eric Leaver held a useless party with door prizes awarded to themselves. Ava and C.I. did not work on this feature. They took a pass and used the time to get the book discussion edited.
On Univision Dodd & Edwards play War Hawks -- We'd planned a longer piece on the Univision forum. We may do that next week. The planned one. We're actually waiting on several things there. It will be interesting to see whether they arrive or not and will determine the scope of the feature next week. Look for it.
Does Katrina vanden Heuvel thinks she has testicles? -- Again, suggested by friends at The Nation. How did we miss this? That was the question in a phone call. We really no longer read The Nation. But we agreed it was worth noting here.
Who gets the hate mails? -- This piece on Elaine and Mike shouldn't be up. Dona started throwing up during the writing of this and we dropped the piece. There was no time to pick it back up and finish it. There was no time for a polish. Ty and Ava worked on a quick conclusion. Those who wonder what goes in the print edition, it's like this. Without the quick conclusion.
Highlights -- Mike, Kat, Cedric, Betty, Wally, Rebecca and Elaine worked on this, we thank them.
Note -- When Dona stopped throwing up, C.I. said she needs to get in bed and we need to post a note about a delay. Everyone was supposed to rest for two hours. Reality ended up being C.I. and I were up and taking care of Dona. (We did that gladly. But we're both tired, exhausted and snappy. So this note is quick and the morning or 'morning' entry at The Common Ills will be quick. This did end up being the longest time up for an edition with close to forty hours and counting.)
That's it. If you found something you liked, great. If not, oh well. See you next week.
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.
They is elected Democrats who continue to act as though there's nothing they can do, their hands are tied, they really wish there was a way to end the illegal war, but they don't have a super majority and blah, blah, blah. If only everyone knew as little about how Congress passes (or doesn't) legislation, students might be buying into those lies. Too bad for Congress, they aren't.
"How stupid do they think I am?" was used last week, repeatedly, on campuses by students taking issue with the decision of Phyllis Bennis and Eric Leaver to author a report for United for Peace and Justice that undercounted the number of Iraqi dead. You have to wonder, if the year was 1974, the authors would be rushing forward to undercount the dead in Chile?
We also wonder why, since Bennis has done this before, United for Peace and Justice wasn't at all concerned with her co-authoring their report. Despite what Bennis may think, numbers do matter. Undercounting? That's really something for government officials to practice, now isn't it? Not for activists.
Then there was The Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel insisting that she was for peace and offering, by way of example, that her living in Russia proved it. We look forward to the next declaration that Katrina vanden Heuvel is for public spaces and the claim that her living in Harlem demonstrates this. The good thing about vanden Heuvel is she delivers her own punch lines. Which is how she can insist she's an advocate for peace and then go on to write about the
American Friends Service Committee without ever mentioning war resisters -- the very reason the organization exists.
How stupid do they think we are?
Pretty stupid. They think they can use undercounts and we won't notice and won't question. They think a glorified travel study to another country is supposed to trick us into forgetting that The Peace Resister refuses to cover (or allow her magazine in print to cover) war resisters. They think we're stupid enough to believe the Democrats do not have the power to end the illegal war.
If we believed all that, we would be plenty stupid. Fortunately, the American public is not as stupid as so many seem to think.
They've turned against the illegal war and they will end the illegal war. Those prolonging the illegal war -- either intentionally or unintentionally -- should be very aware that their actions do not go unnoticed. Phyllis Bennis should start using an accurate count quickly because women always get tarred and feathered quicker than males. We had no idea, until last week, that so many students knew her name. Most appear to have learned it as a result of the undercounting in the report she co-authored. There's a great deal of anger towards her. If she's angling to become the national joke that Katrina vanden Heuvel is to students, she's well on her way. If she wants to be taken seriously, she needs to get it together and start using an accurate count. If that's confusing: Hint, a year old count (and the lower figure in the count) may go unnoticed by those who dabble at ending the illegal war. But to students devoting serious time to the issue, they're not falling for it.
And people aren't falling for the Democrats' whine of "Our Hands Are Tied!"
These days, stupid is the head that wears the crown. (For those who need smut, ask Katrina vanden Heuvel to rework that reworked saying into an oral sex 'joke'. We're not working the blue room today.) We're used to that being true in terms of the Bully Boy. The shock was that so many others would rush to prove their own stupidity.
Make Room For Bully is a show that should never have made it on the lineup. Yet, it continues to air. If there's any consolation to be found, we feel the creators have finally grasped the show's popularity is gone and not returning. Though it's aired for ninety minutes and a full hour many times prior, Thursday's episode grabbed less than a half hour in primetime reminding us of when ABC finally wised up to the fact that America had burned out on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and sent the show packing.
We noted the show was cratering in our second look at it (August 2006): "When a sitcom has so many advocating for its cancellation, and has yet to offer a same-sex kiss or some other so-called controversial plot, we think that's a strong indication of how many have just grown tired of it." Finally, the producers grasp the disinterest and, on Thursday, attempted to shake up the formula.
Timothy Bottoms played the role as if the character were drunk and attempting to hide that fact. This explained the oh . . . so . . . slow . . . line readings. While that was an interesting choice and while the key to pulling off drunk scenes is to not overdo them, Bottoms relied solely on the tele-promoter. Not relied "too heavily," relied solely. You could see his eyes dart back and forth as he read off each line in a manner that we hadn't seen since Steven Seagal hosted Saturday Night Live all those years ago.
Faltering ratings have mean budget cuts and reduced the cast (it's also true that many of the extras who once played the press no longer wish to share the stage with him) and that left Bottoms with a non-stop monologue. We do understand that. But we firmly believe that you need to memorize the lines. Stumbling over David Petreaus' name on live television, when the character of the Bully Boy would obviously know the name, struck us as amateurish and not inspired. Similarly, the half-smirks popping up at the oddest moments also seemed ill thought out.
In order to shake things up and attempt to generate interest, the producers went with a single camera. If they were going for the urgency of ER, they should have used a hand-held camera. As it was, the shot was static and expecting viewers to stare non-stop at a closeup for an entire broadcast really requires that someone attractive be used. Bottoms is made up to look ugly and the part, true, but we both agreed the face we saw Thursday night wasn't worthy of a second look let alone a prolonged close up.
Handing the writers a monologue could have resulted in some inspired lines. Instead, it felt like Studio 60 Yada-Yada-Yada. And what didn't strike us as belabored and false, struck as extreme bad writing. "Return on success" was obviously a key phrase but, as catch phrases go, it's no, "Whatcha talking 'bout, Willis?" It didn't just lay there, it was so awkward that it drew attention to itself.
At a time when the American people want a withdrawal to begin before year's end, "Return on Success" sounds a great deal like "Eternal War." It reminded us a lot of how those in charge at The Office think they're being brave by ignoring the fact that Steve Carrell's character is not an audience favorite -- or even interesting -- but Jim is. (NBC is said to have insisted John Krasinski get more airtime this year in a last ditch effort to pump up the dismal ratings.)
The failure to give people what they want goes a long way towards explaining how Make Room For Bully has nosedived. We watched Thursday night with college students on campus. During the broadcast, there were cries of "Impeach him!" and "Admit you lied the nation into war!" The show inspires the most intense negative reaction we've seen outside of The War At Home. That show was (finally) cancelled. But apparently, cancelling this one will require an Act of Congress.
We understand the reaction because, even with the Dark Angel's human incarnate Patty Heaton due to debut shortly, we don't think we'll see anything as bad for the rest of the year. While we can take comfort in the fact that there doesn't appear to currently be any hopes of a spin-off, we do question the wisdom of allowing this show to drag on so long.
The show is so bad that even those who normally do not critique TV have been calling for it's cancellation. At the start of this year, former US House Rep Elizabeth Holtzman renewed her call for cancellation. Even historian Howard Zinn, not known as a pop culture critic, has weighed in and called for Congress to cancel the proceedings. However, as Zinn noted, "Courage is in short supply in Washington, D.C." So apparently either this show will drag on for another year or the people will really have to make their voices heard.
After Thursday night's episode was finished, time was rounded out with a gag reel. Someone portraying US Senator Jack Reed jerked around a lot physically while muttering little-nothing lines that failed to note the illegal nature of Bully Boy's war and, apparently sending up the Democrats non-stop desire to hide behind the US military, had very little to say about democracy. Paired together, the two shows could have been billed as Junta!
The Reed impersonator didn't call for an end to the illegal war or bringing US troops home, he instead issued a call that the US "redefine our mission in Iraq". The last time we checked public opinion, "redefine our mission" wasn't what the people were calling for.
But it's what the parody offered and elected Democrats have no one to blame for the cheap shots but themselves. For over four years now, they've not only hidden behind the US military, they've glorified it as if the point of a democracy was to worship the US Army. We started wondering if churches will shortly begin replacing crosses with shrapnel?
The parody was so spot-on because it perfectly captured last week when the Congress heard from General David Petraeus. Petraues is an employee of the United States. Members of Congress are representatives of the people. But nothing in the proceedings indicated that these basic facts were grasped. We can't imagine, for instance, the Head of Health and Human Services being repeatedly thanked and praised for their service. We can't imagine the agency head being told repeatedly how much respect there is for the agency.
Like that agency, the military is in the employment of the United States. Elected Democrats refuse to make that point. Instead they glorify and build up repeatedly only to be defeated in the spin wars and then whine, "How did this happen?" It happened because they forgot they were not elected to the posts of Groupies to the US Military. They were elected to represent the people. Representation means heeding the will of the people. When they instead prostrate themselves before a section of a branch of government that they are supposed to practice oversight over, they've stripped themselves of their own power. It's really sad that it was John McLaughlin (on PBS' The McLaughlin Group) who semi-jokingly raised the issue of whether what took place last week (with the will of the people being ignored) was a silent coup? But such is the state of TV today.
Mike: This is Naomi Klein's third book. First up was No Logo, followed by Fences and Windows. The second book was a collection of her commentaries -- written and spoken -- some of which had been published in The Guardian of London, The Los Angeles Times, The Globe and Mail and elsewhere. The Shock Doctrine is her second book proper. It's a big book, over 400 pages, with end notes as well as some footnotes on some pages. In September 2004, Harper's magazine published Klein's "Baghdad Year Zero" which remains the strongest article about Iraq to be published in All Things Media Big and Small to date. The Shock Doctrine is an examination of the human forces that led for the push to "Year Zero" in Iraq and have led to the push before. "Year Zero" may be coming to your country next. It's a big book but the problem won't be finishing it, it will be putting it down.
Rebecca: Currently, a refugee from the Council on and for Foreign Relations and a baby of the Brookings Institute is promoting a lousy documentary entitled No End In Sight and some who see themselves as part of the peace movement -- at least today -- have taken to pimping the alleged documentary which ignores the reasons for wars and moves to the ground in Iraq after the war started to argue there wasn't a plan. That's a filthy lie and possibly some newbies in the peace movement tired their eyes analyzing for the government and don't see so well these days? That faux documentary ignores the earlier work of Klein, as well as Greg Palast, Antonia Juhasz and countless others as it attempts to preach the 'answer' of more illegal wars but let's see some serious planning! As Klein demonstrates in this book, not only was there planning but you can't divide the two.
Ty: Right, you can't argue, "Oh look at what went accidentally wrong after the illegal war started." Everything that is happening was planned. And it's been done on smaller scales before. But this is where the neos -- cons and libs -- were going to get their own playground in a way that they never had before.
Betty: Klein offers examples of where it has taken place before such as Argentina and Chile, offers examinations of where it took place before, I should say. And the difference in Iraq is that they were not going to be just imposing economic policies that destroy a people with the help of a junta or CIA backed leader, they, the US government, was actually going to be able to alter everything. They were creating the institutions and that's why it's from "Year Zero."
Wally: What they were creating was the land for neos. I don't want to say "lab" because I think they thought they'd already 'fine tuned' and were too far along into believing their own gospel. "The Chicago Boys" is a term that pops up in the book throughout. These are groupies of the psuedo-economist Milton Friedman -- no relation to Thomas Friedman outside of possibly a few intense wet dreams --who didn't believe in public anything. He wasn't for public schools, he wasn't for public housing, he wasn't for public spaces. He's dead and the world is better because of it. But while alive, he did a lot of damage and his beachhead was the University of Chicago's economics department. Following events such as the Great Depression and the rise of Nazi-ism in Germany, there was a concern about what brutal economies did to people. John Maynard Keynes was the chief economist and he favored things such as price controls. This was the FDR era and beyond. Milton Friedman was on the outs during that period while he worked on his crackpot theories about alleged 'free' markets.
Cedric: Along with disciples from US students, the department also made to indoctrinate students in other countries via exchange programs and then setting up departments in other countries. The corny crackpot ideas appearing today in the ditherings of Thomas Friedman, the rush to privatize everything, would have be seen as loony as it is if it had been offered in the forties. Klein explains how so-called 'think' tanks such as the Heritage Foundation were set up to give the veneer of respectability to these ravings and to popularize them.
Betty: I know Dona's serious about watching time so is it okay to jump in again?
Jim: Yes. And after you comment, let's go to Dona to let her get in a say to make sure that happens. We're all face to face for this book discussion, by the way, in DC.
Betty: Okay, as Wally and Cedric were pointing out this is a crackpot economic indoctrination system created by those on the outs of the very system that took the United States from the Great Depression into less economically severe times. But these are just hypothesis. They can only appear to be 'theories' if they can be tested. The beliefs are unpopular. Destruction of the minimum wage, pensions and other things that the bulk of citizens need to survive are never going to be popular with the people. Where can they be tested? Latin America. And, I'm adding, Africa. Dona?
Dona: Okay, I'm using two terms here to get across a point: "Developed countries" and "developing countries." I'm referring to the economic status in terms of the average level for people in those countries. In Latin America, leftist governments had begun making changes, such as purchasing back property from foreign corporations and turning it over to citizens --
Elaine: Land reform.
Dona: Thank you, yes, land reform. They had also begun taking back resources -- nationalizing -- that their governments should have never put in foreign hands. The chief effect in developing countries was an improvement in the quality of life for the people. The chief effect in developed countries would be the panic it sent Big Business into. Whether it's the Ford motor company or I.T.T. or United Fruit. And, in this country, they were able to get the ear of government which led to wars and slaughter. War was the tool and one of Klein's big points in the book is that these hostile actions don't just happen, I know Jess and Elaine plan to touch on that, they occur to further the goals of corporations, so you can't draw a line between the two. She demonstrates this vividly with the example of what happened in Chile and that there is a "why" to it. It had nothing to do with fears of communism -- fears that weren't true then and have been disproved since -- it had to do with the fear of a fair wage, the fear that Big Business wouldn't be able to prey on a population. Whether it's Ford being protected by the military in Chile -- scratch that. Ford wasn't being protected. It wasn't under threat. When the CIA backed coup put Pinochet into power in Chile, he immediately launched the war on the people.
Jim: Let me stop you long enough to note that the Chicago Boys had Pinochet's full attention.
Dona: Thank you. And Milton Friedman himself was fond of dashing there to offer his 'wisdom'. Pinochet dispatched the military to the Ford company where they not only openly kidnapped union leaders, they also had a torture room in the Ford plant to serve as an example to others who might step up to replace the leaders.
Kat: I wanted to make two points and if I can get them in, I'm happy. First of all, the two things go hand in hand. The repression, the attacks are meant to silence opposition to the economic policies. They go hand in hand, as they do in Iraq today. My second point I want to make is that Antonia Juhasz took part in a roundtable discussion on KPFA's Living Room and was speaking of the important of stopping the legislation that would guarantee the theft of Iraqi oil. The roundtable was made up with a lot of names. And Antonia was dismissed. As C.I. wrote about that back then, the attitude was that this legislation could be fixed in a decade or so and there were more important things to focus on. Antonia was correct, the daily violence from the war and the daily attempts to raid Iraq's assets are not two different things, the two go hand in hand. I would strongly urge the names participating in that roundtable to read Klein's book.
Jess: That was an infamous roundtable -- it still comes up. I'll back up Kat by noting that the male who cut off Juhasz declaring that there was time to worry about the oil law later on should especially read Klein's book. Elaine and I both wanted to note the issue on human rights because we think that's one section that will get ignored in book reviews -- in All Things Media Big and Small -- and I'm guessing, possibly wrongly, that Ava and C.I. plan to take up a sub-section. Augusto Jose Ramon Pinochet Ugarte was a brutal dictator who came to power in Chile via a CIA backed coup. The CIA worked with the Chilean military and police, at the behest of American companies including Ford, to engineer the overthrow. Salvador Allende had been democratically elected. The coup was planned ahead of time and involved the Chicago Boys and Milton Friedman. Friedman and his Boy Toys were convinced, and convinced Pinochet, that even though the people did not want to see their way of life destroyed, they would accept it if it was imposed on them all at once during the initial brutality. This wasn't a case of Pinochet taking power and then the 'economists' came running. The plans were already made. Pinochet rounded up people and slaughtered them in a stadium as he assumed power. In Indonesia, the CIA provided a list of people to target to the dictator Suharto. I'm going to toss over to Elaine due to time issues.
Elaine: Okay, Jess has set up the start of Pinochet. As the brutality continued and outraged the world, human rights became a concern. The problem is that human rights do not exist in isolation. Amnesty, among other groups, insisted upon dividing the two. In doing so, they simplified or distorted the realities of what was going on. Chile was doing well prior to Pinochet and making advances. Those advances were a threat to foreign corporations. The plans Pinochet implemented after, the disappearances the murders, didn't just happen because he was in a grumpy mood. This was a plan. The brutality was supposed to shock and silence the society. This was . . . help me out somebody.
Elaine: Thank you, this was ideology being put into practice. This was the hypothesis being tested. This was not random violence, it was planned. The human rights movement ignored that and, as Klein points out, ignored who was targeted and why they got targeted. I should probably clarify that no one here is 'redeeming' Pinochet. This isn't, "Poor Pinochet, tricked into using an ideology he thought would work." I think that's a really important point to make because the same ideology is at play today and it needs to be called out, as Klein does in the book, because it's an ideology that depends upon violence.
Jess: I'm grabbing again and I'm watching Dona for the wrap up signal. But Elaine's talking about the point that's been made before which is no people would say, "Oh, yeah, destroy our country, destroy our way of lives." That's why violence is needed for it to be implemented. That can be the brutality of Pinochet or it can be the "I don't believe in society" Margaret Thatcher using a war to push forwards the programs domestically or this administration using the fear following the 9-11 attacks and the anthrax letters to push through their assaults on the people. With Latin America, they proved it could be implemented -- it never works, so I'm using implemented -- under a brutal regime. Thatcher would demonstrate that it could be forced on a people in a democracy as well when war was used.
Trina: Can I speak?
Jim: Sure. Trina of Trina's Kitchen who wanted to hear the book discussion and is more than welcome to speak.
Trina: This is a huge book. And to pick up on Wally's point about labs, Latin America served as the lab for the theft to be tested. The Chicago Boys were able to implement these economic assaults because the leaders weren't concerned about democracies. What Margaret Thatcher did, via the Falkland Wars and the tendency to 'rally round the flag' moment, was demonstrate that the crackpot theories could become policies in a democracy when an opportune moment was seized. Leaders in Latin America sometimes express skepticism that these economic assaults can be forced on a people and the Chicago Boys would stress that it was possible if done all at once. Thatcher and Ronald Reagan demonstrated that you could bring in elements of the crackpot theories within a democracy if you seized on key moments. The 'think' tanks churn out papers preparing for these moments. That's why the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina found money handed out to the needy -- if you consider Big Business "the needy." The crackpot policies cannot be implemented in a society where the people aren't shocked. Mike's point about coming to you is that these vultures do not give up easily. The move, in this country, to privatize Social Security has been ongoing for decades. Klein is demonstrating how you cannot divorce this crackpot ideology from violence, it needs violence to be shoved through onto a people. My point is, it's not just happening "over there" and just because they fail in one go round doesn't mean they stop. I'm done.
Jim: Dona's doing the windup motion. Ava and C.I.?
Ava: Okay, I'll go. I'm picking up on Trina's point about them not being done. This is ongoing. And a key reason it is ongoing is because the criminals are not held accountable for their actions. Milton Friedman, like Henry Kissinger, never got tossed in jail. He minimized the violence necessary for his policies to be implemented -- the crimes necessary. Big media has aided in that. Although the recent soft crush on Jeffrey Sachs from some in small media indicates little media isn't averse to getting caught up in the hype. But big media continues to paint these stories as successes when they aren't. Long after an installed dictator is overthrown, big media refuses to report the truth. And not only do they refuse to report the truth, they do like the human rights activists and draw a line between the horrors and crimes imposed on individuals and the all out assault on the people.
C.I.: And the Ford Foundation. Ford Motor Company has always denied knowledge or involvement in the violence that has benefited them in so many countries. Even when their own plant has a high visibility torture chamber in it. Human rights activists benefited from grants from the Ford Foundation. After the Indonesian slaughter the Foundation and the Motor Company began their slow separation. It wasn't to their interest to note the connections between the crimes against individuals and the crimes against society. Because they controlled a huge sum of grant money, they were able to influence the way these wars would be seen which was "Look at the bad things that happened here" and ignore that theft of the people's resources and the destruction of their way of life. Although the Foundation is independent of the Motor Company today, it's connection to these crimes goes beyond profit share. The Ford Foundation funded the transfer of mis-knowledge. It provided grants that allowed for students to travel to this country and 'learn' the ravings of the Berkeley Mafia -- think cousins of the Chicago Boys. It is not simply that the Foundation and the Motor Company had a connection and some reviewers might imply that's the case Klein makes -- if they even bother to cover that section. Now they can argue that they had good intentions. They may very well have. Often these actions result from 'good intentions'. Those good intentions are based on the notion that democracy is doing what we tell you.
Ava: Exactly. And people should apply that to today, whether we're thinking of Our Modern Day Carrie Nation Samantha Power or the War Hawk Feathers on display in the Univision Democratic forum. The basis for some may be 'good intentions' but it quickly moves to 'we know the best' and, once that settles, it becomes we can force it on people. The issue of these crackpot ideas and democracy is that people do not support these programs and they can't win on a fair playing field. The field has to be tilted or blown up for these policies to be implemented -- they crash after -- and this isn't academic although they've taken over many economic institutions. Academic inquiry depends on honesty -- and there's no honesty in the rah-rah history that paints increasing the number of people in poverty as a 'success story' -- and it depends on the ideas being able to compete. You can read, to give an example, our ideas here. You can then run over to a right-wing site or maybe Junior Miss Nation -- nod to Elaine for that phrase -- to find out what the squishy thought is. You can ignore any of the three or even more. If something grabs support of the people it can be implemented. You or I may disagree about the effects it will have or the rightness of it, but it competed fairly. That's how it's supposed to work in academia and it's how it's supposed to work in a democracy.
C.I.: And when someone starts thinking "I know best and it will be done!" there is a disrespect. It's a disrespect that allows crimes to be committed. You can tell yourself the lie that it's 'for the greater good'. In terms of Friedman and his Boy Toys, and there precursors who physically shocked individuals in the so-called name of medical science, you can justify it. And it has been jusified. The kooks from the economic department of the University of Chicago, as Klein points out, were obsessed with 'purity'. When that concept is bought into, be it in terms of women or any other category, it's a very short step over to brutality. Because when you are noble and "the other" isn't and needs you to return it to a state of purity, you're a missionary doing noble work. Popular culture has always been filled with portrayals of the mad scientist. It's past time that we saw some 'mad economists.' The policies the Chicago Boys forced on people around the world are far more threatening than any monster terrorizing a village. To return to the human rights aspect. It was to the benefit of the Ford Foundation that human rights activists not ask why the torture and murders were taking place or who was being targeted. It was to the benefit of many organizations -- I support Amnesty so I have no problem signaling them out -- to receive those monies. Who didn't benefit? The victims. The victims of physical and mental torture and murder do not benefit in divorcing the whys and whos from that abuse. The victims who lived under fear and intimidation -- but were never tortured themselves -- are rendered invisible by such a narrative.
Jim: I don't know how this will look typed up but Ava and C.I. rattled off their comments quickly and probably took less time than many. That may not transfer over to those reading the transcript. But I want to toss out a question to C.I. about the benefits and losses.
Jim: The approach. You talked about it in terms of the victims. Talk about it in terms of the organizations.
C.I.: Oh. Jim heard Ava and I going on about the ridiculous idea of 'respectability' early Saturday morning. We don't link to Human Rights Watch -- to give one example -- community wide. That's because Rebecca finds their 'tracking' offensive in terms of the Occupied Territories. That's Rebecca's issue and it's been her issue for decades, the Occupied Territories. No one questioned her on that request. But, since we don't link to them, let's use them as an example, what did we see after the assaults in the summer of last year? All that striving towards respectability didn't stop the attacks on them. As an organization, they behave timidly and try to play the 'respectability game'. How's that worked out for them? Not very well at all. They have a really bad reputation on the left because of the way they handled themselves and the right still attacked them. And, just to clarify, we -- in this community -- don't attack them, we just ignore them.
Jim: I'm going to explore this a little further and toss to Ava.
Dona: And Ava and C.I. take the notes during these. The transcripts are typed up from their notes, which I asked Jim to note before we started this, and I'm jumping in to note it to give Ava time to get everything C.I. said down because C.I. was talking a mile a minute to make the time deadline.
Ava: Thank you, Dona. Okay, Human Rights Watch. It doesn't speak to us. It minimizes the deaths of Palestinians and works too hard to create false comparisons where they don't exist. Another example is Amnesty which every community site that links to organizations links to. But when we see or hear someone from Amnesty interviewed by Amy Goodman and try to play the respectability game, it really grates. Dalia Hashad, speaking for herself and not the organization she works with, can come off very strong. She works for Amnesty. So it's not that people working for Amnesty don't grasp reality, it's that there is a game played. The Respectability Game. It leads to a lot of things that need calling out not getting called out. I'm going to get off Amnesty because I despise the president of the American branch and I don't want to go into all of that. But 'respectability' or a desire for grants isn't changing the world. And had human rights activists been more concerned with telling the story of Chile, for instance, than they were with focusing on individual crimes, Klein wouldn't need to write her book. We'd all know the story very well. Today, at this site, we will be delinking from United for Peace and Some Justice. That's the group Elaine supports and we had honestly decided that unless Elaine was opposed to the delinking, we'd be doing it. She's not opposed and you'll see that taking place throughout this week as people have time to go into their links. The only thing that will halt that and get the links back is United for Peace and Some Justice apologizing for undercounting the number of Iraqis who have died in their allegedly 'high' estimate. We're sick of the respectablity games, we're sick of people who can't speak truth. We know our readers share that feeling and I would strongly urge that they read The Shock Doctrine. Calling out the Ford Foundation or Amnesty isn't an easy thing to do or everyone would. Naomi Klein's written a brave book that you won't be able to put down but if you're reading this site, you shouldn't want to.
Jim: Okay, C.I.'s still writing down what Ava said so I'm going to go to Mike and Kat -- and to clarify, Ava's already got pen to pad and jotting down this section. Mike usually gets the introductions to the books. If there are two books, it's him and Wally. Mike and Kat both spoke the least according to Dona's calculations so I'm going to toss to them.
Mike: The thing I would stress about this book is that we've tried to give you a feeling for it, but probably haven't. That's because there's so much detail to it. We could talk about the example of the mall in Argentina and how torture chambers were found in its basement. We could give any number of examples. I think my mother's the only one who brought up Ronald Reagan but clearly he's in the book as well. What's going on in Iraq today is a continuation of the Milton Friedman policies. Klein's calling them out and you really need to read this book because it's putting it all together.
Kat: I'd agree with that. It would easily make my top five books for the year. Ava and C.I.'s points about what a reviewer is going to focus bears noting because there are any number of ways to go with this book. Some readers may learn of Pinochet for the first time and, therefore, that may stand out to them. Some may not know much of the eighties and that may stand out. But even if you know your global history, what will stand out to all is the way that Klein synthesizes it to tell the story of corporatism and its efforts to advance Big Business while destroying the people. This is a really powerful book.
Jim: Anyone else before we start winding down?
Cedric: Friday C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" included a section of the book which focused on the destruction of Iraq's cultural history and these policies depend upon that. That's part of the 'purity' aim, where they want you to be so shocked that you are a clean slate for them to impose their wills on you. Like Mike and Kat just said, there are any number of things you could highlight from this book. I don't think Klein's wasted a page in the entire book. Each pages is a revelation.
Jim: Okay, Dona's doing the wrap up sign. I'm tossing to C.I. for a quick thought.
C.I.: Along with what everyone's already noted, Klein also covers who is getting rich off today's illegal war and how they get shocked when anyone points out the obvious. In Iraq today, the US aim is the privatization of the oil -- taking the state-owned oil, the people's oil, and handing it over to foreign companies who will reap 75% of the profits while Iraqis continue suffering in poverty. When we were at a campus in North Dakota this summer, a student explained that he sometimes wished they would just pass the oil law -- the Iraqi parliament would pass the law written by foreign corporations -- because it seemed like if Bully Boy got that, troops might be withdrawn. I'm not bringing him up to insult him or make fun of him. The chaos and violence continues day after day -- even when unreported -- and it is tempting to think it might stop if the US got what is wanted. But whether it's the oil or the other things stolen in the tag sale, the damage will continue. That's a point Naomi Klein's making in the book. The chaos and the violence goes on to shock the people. She references the military plan being used in Iraq that was drawn up in the nineties. The result of the Chicago Boys' 'tests' is the knowledge that if you can throw a population off balance or grab onto an event that throws them off balance, they'll be too disoriented to respond in the manner they would normally. So the student in North Dakota is correct to make the connection that when all the thefts have taken place, it is possible that some US troops would leave Iraq. Permanent bases make it unlikely that all would leave. But -- and this is why Anthony Arnove and Howard Zinn, among others, stress the necessity of self-determination for the Iraqi people -- if that happens after the thefts take place, the illegal war will have achieved its goals. Who is being attacked and why are key questions throughout Klein's book. The destruction that is ongoing in Iraq is only part. Allowing the theft of Iraqi oil will cause many more victims. The illegal war was about resources which include markets. There was a plan for what to do after Baghdad was seized. The plan was followed. Iraqis have proven far more resistant than the planners had estimated. The Iraqi oil union, which Nouri al-Maliki is demonizing and criminalizing, is only one example. Even members of the parliament have thus far refused to hop on board with the theft of oil. al-Maliki was installed making a lot of promises. One of the things he promised in the spring of 2006 was that he would deliver the oil law the US government wants. The fact that he's been unable to thus far is a testament to the strength of the Iraqi people. And, just to add one more thing, Dalia Hashad -- Ava mentioned her earlier -- is a co-host of WBAI's Law and Disorder which airs Monday mornings at 10:00 a.m. EST and that's where you can hear her speaking for herself and not the organization she works for.
Jim: And she does speak for herself very strongly which is why she's been quoted for "Truest statement of the week" here more than any other person. Reading from Friday's snapshot: "The Shock Doctrine is released in the United States this coming Tuesday (September 18th). The book will be launched this Monday (September 17th) in NYC at an event with Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) acting as moderator at the New York Soceity for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th Street." You can purchase an advance copy at the event and Klein will be signing the book. It's a free event, by the way. She and Goodman will be speaking so don't stay away just because you don't have money for a book. The book comes out on Tuesday. Naomi Klein will be on Democracy Now! Tuesday, correction Monday, as well, according to a message C.I. just passed. How much is the book? $28.00? Everyone's nodding. In addition to purchasing the book, you can also utilize your public library system. I'll also add that the book provides a serious look at torture through the stories of many victims and one short passage, on a torture victim who was sensory deprived and could no longer remember what colors looked like is what still stands out to me. For you, it may be something else. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism will not leave you bored or indifferent.
[Added: Click here for Klein discussing the book on Democracy Now!]
Last week, the Green Party released the following press statement entitled "Green Party joins national antiwar demonstrations, blasts bipartisan Iraq, Iran policies:"
Greens, joining antiwar protests throughout September and October, hold Democratic leaders responsible for Bush's disastrous military and foreign policies
'Faux Peace Party' Dems are collaborating with Bush by supporting threats of an attack on Iran and by renewing funding for the Iraq War, say Greens.
Greens call impeachment of Bush and Cheney an essential part of the demand for peace, urge Americans to be skeptical of GOP media propaganda blitz this week on the US troop surge.
WASHINGTON, DC -- Greens will use their presence in various antiwar demonstrations and other events throughout September and October to press the Green Party's demand for immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
Green Party activists will also use their presence in actions organized by the ANSWER Coalition (September 15, <http://www.answercoalition.org>) and United For Peace & Justice (National Mobilization to End the War in Iraq, October 27,) to stress that the Iraq War and other disastrous Bush Administrations policies are the result of bipartisan support.
"The greatest danger to the peace movement is that organizations and voters who oppose the war are being fooled into seeing the election of Democrats as a step towards peace, stability, and the observance of human rights in the Middle East," said Deanna Taylor, co-chair of the Green Party's Peace Action Committee (GPAX) <http://www.gp.org/committees/peace>. "It wasn't just a scheme by neocon radicals in the Bush Administration. The Iraq War has been a bipartisan project from the beginning."
"Democratic Congress members joined Republicans in support of the invasion of Iraq and transfer of constitutional war powers to the White House. Now that they're in control of Congress, Democratic leaders are squandering their power," SAME PERSON added.
Green Party leaders listed major points of concern that they intend to address by participating the antiwar protests:
The growing likelihood of a US attack on Iran, and willingness of leading Democrats, especially presidential candidates, to support a strike. Greens warn that a US attack on Iran is now the gravest threat to world peace.
A massive media propaganda blitz by the White House, including a planned address by President Bush this week, to persuade Americans that the troop surge is succeeding, timed to coincide with General Petraeus's final report, despite high Iraqi civilian casualties, continuing US troop casualties and low morale, and other indications that the situation in Iraq is worsening <http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=39189>.
The refusal of Democratic leaders to demand immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq or to cut off funding for the war <http://www.gp.org/press/pr_2007_07_26.shtml>; concerns that Democrats will retreat further on opposition to war in the face of the above-mentioned Bush propaganda effort.
The refusal of Democratic leaders to seek impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for numerous abuses of power, violations of the US Constitution and international law, war crimes, and other high crimes and misdemeanors. Greens have called impeachment a necessary step in the effort to recall troops and end the war.
Continued capitulation by both Republican and Democratic members of Congress to the demands of the pro-Israel lobby (AIPAC, powerful rightwing Christian groups); lack of discussion about Israel's abuses of Palestinian human rights and violations of international law and UN directives; lack of debate on the role of Israel and the pro-Israel lobby in the decision to invade Iraq and current plans to attack Iran.
Current US pressure, with bipartisan support, on the Iraqi Parliament to pass the hydrocarbon law, which will place Iraqi oil under the control of US and UK corporations and require prolonged US military presence in Iraq to protect US & UK investments. Greens have supported demands of Iraqi workers that the law be rejected and that Iraqi oil remain under Iraqi control <http://www.gp.org/press/pr_2007_07_19.shtml>.
Green leaders are urging US voters to support the Green Party's 'Peace Slate' in the 2008 election. "If Green candidates get strong percentages in races for Congress and the White House -- or even better, a seat or two in the US House, it'll terrify the Democrats into supporting a quick end to the Iraq War," said Jim Coplen, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.
Greens warned Americans that the Bush Administration has spread disinformation about Iran's role in arming factions in the Iraqi civil war and about Iran's nuclear capabilities, and has greatly exaggerated al-Qaeda's presence in Iraq
"We're especially concerned that the Bush Administration may exploit -- perhaps even fabricate -- a possible terrorist incident in the coming months to intimidate Americans and sway the outcome of the 2008 election. After seven years of deception, attempts to thwart investigate into the 9/11 attacks, and disregard for law, the Bush Administration should have zero credibility among the media and the public," said Jody Grage, treasurer of the Green Party.
Green Party of the United Stateshttp://www.gp.org 202-319-7191, 866-41
Green Party News Center http://www.gp.org/newscenter.shtml
o Green Party Speakers Bureau http://www.gp.org/speakers o 2007 national Green Party meeting in Reading, Pa.: video footage, blog and media coverage http://www.gp.org/meeting2007/
'Open Letter to Michael Moore' from the Green Party on 'Sicko,' health care reformhttp://www.gp.org/press/pr_2007_07_09.shtmlhttp://www.commondreams.org/news2007/0710-03.htm
The Democrats released . . . Well, we heard a rumor Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid had indigestion so possibly they released something?
What they didn't do, what they wouldn't do, is stand up to the illegal war.
All this time later.
Next summer, they will be holding their party convention in Chicago, July 10th to 13th, 2008. Kimberly Wilder (On the Wilder Side) informs (in "Circle of women: Message to Cynthia McKinney") that at present Cynthia McKinney appears to have decided not to run for the Green Party nomination of president. On the Wilder Side and the Green Party's website are only two places where you can follow the Green Party races. If that shocks you, it's only because the so-called independent media feels no need for "equal time". In fact, it's easier to read about a Republican campaign in the pages of The Nation than it is to read an article about the Green Party.
The Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel appears bound and determined to provide non-stop howlers during her reign as editor and publisher of The Nation. Last week, "The Peace Primary" provided non-stop laughter within The Nation magazine (and Institute) as well as outside. In the post, KvH insisted, "I've cared deeply about issues of peace and security" which had all the sincerity of Pinochet insisting he was against torture.
vanden Heuvel grasped that mere words weren't enough considering her reputation so she offered up examples. Well example. In her entire lifetime, she could only think of one example that demonstrated how "deeply" she cares about peace.
"As a journalist," she "lived in and wrote about Russia during the Gorbachev years". What?
That only provided howls of laughter from outside the magazine, especially among those who knew vanden Heuvel before she started college. Spellbound by tales of the USSR her spy daddy told her, vanen Heuvel usually used the "USSR" (which is what it was) and only used "Russia" when it was prefaced with "mother". In her college years, she was fond of referring to the USSR as her true home. Please note, Katrina vanden Heuvel is not a communist. C.I. insists this be noted: Katrina vanden Heuvel is not a communist. None of us, including C.I., feel there's anything "wrong" or "shameful" about being a communist. But we don't engage in Red baiting and we're not attempting to label KvH as such (especially when she is not). What she was then was a prolonged adolescent. Some get hung up on horses. Katrina vanden Heuvel, like the lead character in Breaking Away, got hung up on a foreign country.
She was planning to live in Russia (then the USSR) long before Gorbachev came to power. It had nothing to do with an interest in peace, it had to do with a deep love for the country. An enchantment, one might say, or a fixation.
Someone who spent the bulk of their teen years insisting she would live in the then-USSR really shouldn't get away with claiming her later stay had anything to do with peace. It's a romantic embrace of another country that she's often felt (for a number of reasons -- none of which was an embrace, to repeat of communism). It had nothing to do with peace. But when you have no real record of peace activities, you apparently get creative with your resume.
As we have repeatedly documented, Katrina vanden Heuvel's arrival of publisher of the magazine coincides with the magazine turning its back on war resisters. You can refer, most recently, to "The Nation ignores war resisters even as it publishes the child of one," "the nation magazine ignores war resisters while publishing the child of one," "The Nation refuses to cover war resisters while publishing the child of one," "The Nation ignores war resisters even while publishing the child of one," "The Nation ignores war resisters while publishing the child of one,""The Nation refuses to cover war resisters while publishing the child of one," "The Nation refuses to cover war resisters while publishing the child of one," "The Nation ignores war resisters while publishing the child of one," and "The Nation ignores war resisters even while publishing the child of one."
The kibbosh on war resisters coverage comes from vanden Heuvel and is why none of the articles written about Ehren Watada in 2006 appeared in the print edition of The Nation. It's why the first time his name was mentioned in the magazine (2007), it was to call him a coward.
It's why the magazine has consistently refused to cover the peace movement. It's why Carl Webb, noted in the print edition, is presented just as someone concerned about New Orleans and the fact that he's a war resister who went public long before his name appeared in The Nation falls by the way side. It's why Camilo Mejia, in the overly praised July article, is identified as a "deserter" (a gross simplification) and not a "war resister."
But it's too much for some to grasp which is why, Ava notes, a woman in Brooklyn identifying herself as a "big fan" of The Common Ills dropped an e-mail on Saturday to C.I. Ava describes the e-mail as "reading like it came from one of Katrina's coffee fetchers -- and I've responded to many of them, I know how they write." The woman in Brooklyn, the "big fan," wanted to know why The Nation was criticized so much by The Common Ills. Huh?
For a "big fan," the woman was short on facts. C.I. largely avoids The Nation. John Nichols gets highlighted via Common Dreams. Several David Corn pieces will not be noted ("even when they are strong, very strong") at The Common Ills unless they appear elsewhere. C.I. doesn't even read the magazine now and if something's noted at The Common Ills or here (and C.I. works on the piece here), it's usually because complaints about the piece are coming from community members and friends at The Nation itself. The woman in Brooklyn pretended not to grasp the pattern at The Nation. He -- Ava says it's most likely a "he" and she recognizes the exact coffee fetcher from the magazine based on a previous e-mail signed by him and written in a similar style -- also didn't grasp -- "big fan" that he claims to be -- that The Common Ills is not a "blog". A point made hundreds of times at The Common Ills (and explained) but apparently too much for a coffee fetcher to grasp. ("They never grasp it," explains Ava.)
So to reply to the woman (who may be a man), we will note that not only did Nation correspondent Ian Williams place his article on war resistance ("Hell No, They Won't Go!") with Larry Flynt (the link goes to OpEd News) but Katrina vanden Heuvel once again made it a point to ignore war resistance last week, to obscure reality in order to continue her silence.
"The Peace Primary" (laughable also for presenting her "family" as a sports obsessed one) is about vanden Heuvel serving on Ploughshares' committee to select worthy peace organizations. Yes, it is laughable. We'll assume she again bought her seat at the table. She claims to have "spent hours poring over the material of 25 or so groups" and yet can't accurately represent the 12 finalists she writes about. (That includes Genocide International Network which has one purpose today -- declared by the organization itself -- but KvH missed that as well.)
She opens with American Friends Service Committee and writes (this is in full) of them " The twelve finalists include: * American Friends Service Committee with Iraqis, military families, veterans, and peace supporters in the US to highlight the human and economic costs of war." We'll assume the verb in that sentence is missing due to computer problems (we often lose words here as well -- spell check on another feature resulted in "amp" being inserted for full sentences) so we'll ignore the fact that it's missing. But what we can't ignore is her continued silence on war resisters which, for the record, is not a silence that the Quakers practice. American Friends Service Committee started because? Of conscientious objectors. They continue that work today. It takes a real Peace Resister to write about American Friends Service Committee and not note that reality.
Among their many articles on war resisters in recent years has been "What Happened to Vietnam Era War Resisters?" which was especially necessary after Gerald Ford's death led to huge mountains of revisions including crediting him for what Jimmy Carter did (the paper, by Harold Jordan, notes of the Ford non-effort, " The program was widely regarded as a failure, even by people who administered it.) American Friends Service Committee does not just support COs. "AFSC SUPPORTS THE ACT OF CONSCIENCE OF LT. EHREN WATADA" is a statement of support for Iraq war resister Watada. (Watada refused to deploy to Iraq because he believes it is an illegal war. He is not a CO because he is not against war itself.) It's a statement of support The Nation has never offered.
Katrina vanden Heuvel has never offered any support for Watada at her blog (Editor's Cut). She's offered no support for any war resister. She has found time to sing the praises of American Idol so, apparently, when something really matters to her, when she considers it really important, she can find the 'courage' to weigh in.
She has made it clear, through action and word, that war resisters do not matter to her. Ploughshares embarrassed themselves by including her on the panel (a sentiment shared by two people who served on the panel with her, one of which declared, "It's like asking Henry Kissinger to award a peace prize.")
She is The Peace Resister. And her coffee fetchers, under their own names or assumed names, can attempt to obscure that but people have caught on (within the magazine and outside of it).
A dopey column doesn't change reality. The only thing that will change the perception of her is for The Nation to start covering war resistance.
In any event, natural or human created, does the body count matter?
We're under the impression it does.
But United for Peace & Justice posted a report by Phyllis Bennis and Eric Leaver that indicates the number of Iraqis killed in the illegal war doesn't matter.
The authors of the report offer a low and high estimate. They haven't done their own count so they have to depend on outside sources. For the low they go with Iraqi Body Count which Bully Boy cited so it has the US government stamp of approval apparently. For the high? In interviews United for Peace & Justice has cited the study published by The Lancet, [PDF format warning] "Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey," for the 'high' figure in Bennis and Leaver's "Iraq: The Peoples Report."
On CounterSpin last Friday (which echoed the points Ruth and C.I. didn't need weeks to make about how the Democrats do have the power to end the illegal war), co-author Bennis appeared. She was part of an interview that lasted half and hour and, surprisingly, neither she nor the co-hosts (Janine Jackson and Steve Rendall) felt the need to mention the number of Iraqis killed.
So we'll assume the report relied, as United for Peace & Justice spokespeople have said, on the report published by The Lancet. The problem? The report Bennis and Leaver authored says "600,000 plus." The study found: ""We estimate that as of July 2006, there have been 654 965 (392979-942636) which corresponds to 2-5% of the population in the study area." 654,965. Not "600,000." And that count stopped in July of 2006. So to offer "600,000 plus" in September 2007 is just flat out cowardly or ignorant.
Just Foreign Policy takes The Lancet study and adds reported deaths to it (reported since the study). [ERROR: We were wrong. To find out about JFP's count, you can click on their link or click on "Correction & Update" or "Roundtable." The update -- September 23rd -- also notes that UPFJ has decided to use the JFP count.] ]They passed the one million mark some time ago. And Friday, Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reported on a new estimate done by England's Opinion Research Business which used sampling to estimate that the number of Iraqis killed during the illegal war was 1.2 million.
Now the first question is rather obvious: In a 'report' written in September 2007, why would you lowball figures that stopped in July 2006?
The second question? For an author who spoke on CounterSpin about a "huge disconnect" and "no sense of history," why would such an author be willing to demonstrate a "huge disconnect" and "no sense of history" (or proportion) in a study they co-authored?
Over six hundred thousand (600,000) dead Iraqis are disappeared by Bennis and Leaver's use of "600,000 plus". Is that Peace & Justice?
We don't see it as such. We are opposed to undercounts whether they come from the government, the mainstream media or alternative voices.
Throughout the broadcast, no mention was made of the number of Iraqis who had died. Rather ironic since, in the headline commentary at the top of the program, the hosts made the point -- re: New York Times' coverage -- that some "deaths matter more than other" in the mainstream and complained that a columnist at The Washington Post "can't even get the numbers right" in their headlines. It may be some kind of bravery for CounterSpin to hold the mainstream media up to set of standards but it would be reality for them to apply the same standard to their guests.
As to the report itself, maybe Phyllis Bennis just isn't very well informed. We burst out laughing during one section of the interview (except C.I. who was grimacing at the stupidity of the comment). Noting that General David Petreaus' reports last week used charts and that the charts had figures on them as well as Bully Boy's desire to brag about the number of 'terrorists' killed in Iraq, Bennis declared:
Now apparently they're making body counts. So nobody has asked them, "Excuse me, general, when did you start doing body counts?" From the beginning you told us 'We don't do bodycounts.' When did that [tracking the number of Iraqis killed] begin? When do these figures start from?
Are you laughing? We did too. That question has been asked and answered.
Where was Phyllis Bennis? Playing the Red Cross of the commentator set. Like everyone else in the summer of 2006, she was dropping Iraq.
This is the author of a report on Iraq? Someone who doesn't even know the basics. C.I. says Sabrina Tavernise was the first to mention ("that I know of") a bodycount kept by the US. (Tavernise is with The New York Times. C.I. isn't participating in the writing of this feature nor is Ava.) We don't judge that article very important. The summer of 2006 was when Bennis' question was answered.
But she had dropped Iraq like all our other 'brave' voices in independent media.
Phyllis Bennis, have you heard of Nancy A. Youssef? When Iraq fell off the radar (and only Molly Ivins and Jimmy Breslin called it out), All Things Media Big and Small ignored the revelations in Youssef's article. Youssef reports for McClatchy Newspapers. It was still Knight-Ridder then. She was interviewing the US military and the figures were being held and referred to but she was not allowed to see them. She did find out that the official story is the US military had been keeping track of deaths since July 2005.
"July 2005." That is the answer to Bennis' question and it was asked by Nancy A. Youssef.
"Nobody has asked them," declared Bennis with all the self-assurance and lack of facts it requires to state "over 600,000 plus" Iraqis have died in the illegal war.
It wasn't a good week for Bennis.
And we're done with United for Peace & Some Justice. They posted the report by Bennis and Leaver, they promoted the report in interviews. We don't expect a peace group to undercount the dead. The report gives a "low" and a "high" figure. The "high" figure is off by the hundreds of thousands. United for Peace & Some Justice hasn't apologized or corrected the report. They have, according to e-mails from our readers, ignored complaints made to them about this. "We'll get back to you soon" or some such nonsense is the "reply" but a real reply never comes.
No report should rely on year old figures without noting it and no report from a peace group should undercount the dead.
Apparently only some lives have "value," as CounterSpin might say.
In the on the money (and hilarious) "2006: The Year of Living Dumbly," C.I. concluded, "All of the above added up to make 2006, for independent media, The Year of Living Dumbly. I would say that there's no way 2007 could be worse but I'm afraid some would eagerly accept that as a challenge." Phyllis Bennis seems to have accepted the challenge.
Did Hugo Chavez rise to power in Venezuela via a bloody, CIA-backed coup?
No, and that appears to be the problem for Chris Dodd and John Edwards.
Dodd was supposed to be answering a question about immigration when he decided to take the first pot shot at Hugo Chavez: "We're allowing Hugo Chavez to become -- winning a public relations battle in Latin America, because we don't invest enough and care about people who are suffering in this part of the world." What are 'we' allowing Chavez to become, Senator Dodd?
If you ask, John Edwards campaign continues to struggle to overcome Hillary Clinton's (in press attention) because he has suffered from "Me too"ism since the start of the year. On far too many issues where he should be carving out significant differences between himself and the other candidates, he appears in search of the popular theme -- popular among the candidates, not the people. Possibly that explains his jumping on the bandwagon to demonize Hugo Chavez?
Edwards declared, "Well, the starting place is one of our problems with our relationship with Venezuela and one of the problems with Chavez's basis for power in Venezuela is they have a very heavily oil-dependent economy. The United States of America unfortunately helps feed the oil-dependent economy and the power base for this dangerous leader."
What was Edwards saying? As with his comments on Iraq in the Democratic presidential forum right before the Univision one, this made no sense. It's a problem that Venezuela has a lot of oil? A problem for whom, Edwards, for whom?
And how is Chavez a "dangerous leader" because Edwards the one sounding nuts and demented. Has Chavez began building nuclear bombs? Has he launched an invasion of the United States or any other country? No. So exactly why is Chavez a "dangerous leader"? Or is Edwards attempting to signal to big business that he's just another corporatist whore who has dressed himself up in concern for the poor solely to play at being today's RFK?
Edwards wasn't done, "That is the reason that Chavez can be so effective in bringing others in Latin America to surround him when he demonizes the United States of America."
Does Edwards oft cited religion (he uses it as cover to discriminate against gays and lesbians) encourage lying? We're not aware of his faith, but we are aware that Hugo Chavez has criticized the current administration of the United States. We're also aware that so has John Edwards. So when John Edwards criticizes the White House, by his own logic, he "demonizes the United States of America."
Though John Edwards has yet to advocate impeachment in this country, he was full of talk of how to "pull the rug out from under a man like Hugo Chavez." For those aware of the many ways the US has attacked Latin America in the past decades, John Edwards' comments go beyond offensive and land in the area of criminal.
While Chris Dodd obsessed over "losing a public relations battle" to Chavez, it was left to Mike Gravel to speak the truth.
Moderator: Senator Gravel, the same question. Do you consider Hugo Chavez a dictator? Would you break relations with him?
Mike Gravel: No, not at all. In fact, I would reach out to him. Do we forget that on a weekend our CIA tried to depose him? Do we forget that? And of course -- so, is he an enemy? No, he's not an enemy. We've created him as an enemy. We're doing the same thing with Iran. What's the difference if Chavez deals with Iran? We hope that a lot of countries begin to interchange their leadership and begin to think about the globe as one entity. There's nothing wrong. The same thing with Fidel Castro. Why can't we recognize Cuba? Why -- what's the big deal, after 25 year that these people 125 miles from this country are discriminated against? It makes no sense at all. We need to open up our arms to all nations and treat them as friends, not start looking for enemies.
Oh, yeah. The 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez, backed by the US. Funded by the US. So Chavez has many valid reasons to speak out against the current administration. John Edwards and Chris Dodd were in the Senate at the time of that coup. They had nothing to say to defend a democratically leader. But today they want to play dumb and pretend that didn't happen. When even The New York Times had to shine a little light of reality on the issue of the coup -- just a little. And yet Chris Dodd and John Edwards want to play dumb while 'entertaining' with an update to the George Jones and Tammy Wynette classic "(We're Not) The Jet Set" whose lyrics now begin with Dodd and Edwards declaring, "No, we're not the peace set."
Among the many calling for the head of the 'dangerous' (e.g. democratically elected Chavez) are alleged progressive and alleged journalist David Sirota as well as Joe Lieberman's right testicle Simon Rosenberg and, of course, the supreme War Monger, Pat Robertson who endorsed the murder of Chavez in 2005 (apparently the Lord Jesus whispered in Pat's ear that The Ten Commandments were actually Ten Recommendations). As Barbara Reynolds (The Chicago Defender) wondered in 2005, "What has Chavez done to the United States that the United States should murder him? In the Bushwhack way of thinking, Chavez has committed two crimes worthy of capital punishment. He is not White and he is head of a country that has lots of oil: The Bush crowd has proven that those two ingredients are a prescription for destruction."
For those new to the realities Edwards and Dodd worked so hard to disguise, here's a quote from Chavez about the US administration:
They protect him (Luis Posada Carriles) and besides allege, in a cynical way, that they're protecting him against Venezuela because Venezuela is going to torture him. That's to say, the government of the United States is protecting the number one torturer in the history of Latin America, the Bin Laden of Latin America. It's a cynical and sham government, whose mask falls more everyday and it's left in front of the world with its Dracula molars full of blood.
For those in search of reality, Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez and Margaret Prescod interviewed Hugo Chavez in 2005 and you can listen, watch or read the two part interview by clicking here and here.
Can Katrina vanden Heuvel embarrass herself further? (Yes, she can.) As if telling her smutty oral sex 'joke' wasn't bad enough, she wrote the above in "A Democratic Litmus Test" (Editor's Cut, The Nation). We actually missed this from a September 5th post until two with the magazine pointed it out. (We truly are avoiding the piece of crap that is The Nation.) Had we seen it, we would have voted it "Worst statement of the week" last week.
Somewhere around the third week, we (Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.) were turning out an edition back in the day when Jim used "stones," "cojones," "balls" or some variation of them. Ava and C.I. stopped him pointing out that linking strength to testicles is sexist.
The usage was popular then (and still is) and Jim had never thought of it in that light. Ava and C.I. have consistently asked, when the term came up originally and since, "Is this equating strength with gender? If we're discussing 'strength' why are 'balls,' 'stones' and 'cojones' used an not 'spine'?"
If you're still note getting it, from The Common Ills last May:
I also wouldn't have highlighted because I don't see the need to call Congress female dogs (not in that language) and other uses of female imagery to imply they were weak. Congress is weak. I don't know why anyone has to be sexist to make that point. Considering how few women serve in Congress, exactly what was the need to drag gender into it and to imply that they were all women and that's why they were weak?
[. . .]
You also won't find "cojones," "stones," or any of that other macho b.s. at this site. It's real easy to say, "Well a woman could have that!" Yeah, and she'd be considered a freak. There's enough macho b.s. in the world (largely coming out of the White House), I won't add to it by pushing some myth that strength is determined by what hangs out below the belt.
Katrina vanden Heuvel is aware she doesn't have testicles, right?
Maybe she's not. Maybe that's why she's so undisturbed by the publication rate, under her, for women at The Nation? [See week's highlights and writing this feature."Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you must have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis," and "Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis."]
Or maybe Katrina vanden Heuvel grasps that she does not have testicles but is confessing, by equating the male genitalia with strength, that she doesn't see herself as strong.
"I wish I'd seen this when it went up," Rebecca says. "I would have been on the phone to my mother-in-law explaining that Katrina had just confessed to being the weak princess waiting to be rescued that so many see her as."
Regardless of whether you buy either possibility it is true that Katrina vanden Heuvel grasps the power of language. That's one reason she jumped on the hula-hoop of framing. So she should know that associating strength with testicles is sexist and perpetuates the myths that women are not naturally strong people and that the ones who are must be freak of natures.
Remember folks, it came from The Nation, not The Weekly Standard. Katrina vanden Heuvel -- Always there to make life a little harder for women.
We have a pretty good idea. At this site, the second we noted Ava and C.I. wrote the TV commentaries themselves (about a month after they'd been doing it), the hate mails poured in. Previously, the TV commentaries had been a group effort. What readers noted in their e-mails were the comments Ava and C.I. were coming up with, so we turned it over to them. Then we grew tired of hearing from friends, relatives and professors about how something was funny or "Good point about that TV show" and decided to give them credit to avoid the embarrassing moment after a relative (especially) has praised something non-stop when you have to reply, "Thanks, glad you loved it so much. But that was written by Ava and C.I."
Once it was announced here, not only did the hate mail and threats start coming in on their TV commentaries as they went up, but things that had gone up prior to the announcement suddenly garnered new attention. In two cases, the men (yes, it was men) had actually written in real time to defend their fave shows. They'd explained why they were right and Ty had replied to them. But learning that the pieces were written by women reactivated those two brave men who suddenly had to weigh in all over again and this time with cursing and threatening. We know the kind of e-mails Betty's received and Rebecca and Kat and Elaine.
Last Sunday, Elaine and Mike mentioned an idea they had. When Elaine started her site (Like Maria Said Paz), she and Mike (Mikey Likes It!) often noted the same items in their posts. So, for instance, they would take a headline from Democracy Now! and you could go to their sites and get two opinions on the event. Due to time constraints two Fridays ago, they revived that for one post. But last Sunday, the subject of the difference in e-mails to women and men came up and they said they could note the same things each night and come back with some results on the e-mails.
There were limitations going in. Chief among them, the fact that Elaine only blogs four times a week. Thursday nights she does group and doesn't blog. Mike blogs five times a week at his site. There's also the fact that their commentary could differ a bit.
But only a bit. Long before they were a couple, they were already "the blog twins" (as Rebecca dubbed them). So since they generally agree the only real differences is that, when upset, Mike jabs repeatedly and Elaine builds to an explosion. (That's true offline as well.) Elaine's strong conclusions would be offset, we assumed, by the fact that Mike's knocking the 'newsmakers' around a bit from the start.
49 piece of hate e-mail came in on the 9 posts. It's not an even number, but you'd expect it be divided reasonably even.
The 49 all went to Elaine. It was suggested she be strapped to a war head dropped in Baghdad in the most (or only) imaginative e-mail. The other 48 wrote of choking her, slitting her throat and raping her. Ironically, one man, Doug Z, wrote to both of them regarding their Wednesday posts. Of Mike's "Baby Obama makes a stinky," Doug Z was brief: "I think if you studied the Senator's positions, you'd see he's really a strong candidate." Doug Z saved his head of steam for Elaine. Writing her about "Obama the War Hawk speaks like an idiot," five hours after he wrote Mike, Doug Z declared, "I could slit your throat and piss down it. Where do you get off? Stupid b**ch, when Barack Obama is prez, you'll still be an idiotic c**t trying to get laid."
We've added the "*," just FYI. Mike found about Doug Z's e-mail to Elaine on Thursday. He wrote Doug Z who replied, "Sorry dude. Didn't know she was your girl."
Elaine heard no "Sorry dudette."
In reply to another e-mail from Mike, Doug Z explained that, though there really wasn't much difference between the opinions expressed at other sites, Elaine's post made him "mad and pissed. I just didn't like her talking about Barack Obama that way." Though Doug Z denies it, we think the "her" in the sentence is the reason Elaine got the e-mail she did.
49 hate mails came in and all went to Elaine. As Elaine notes, "Mike should have a larger audience than I do. He's been doing it longer, he posts more often and in the last three or so weeks, he's been linked to or reposted twice by non-community sites." And his tags are read by Technorati so someone using that tool to search for posts on certain individuals should come across Mike much more easily than Elaine.