Sunday, September 30, 2007

Truest statement of the week

"I'm returning my National Defense Medal because I truly believe that I did not help defend my nation and I'm returning my Global War on Terrorism Medal because I do not believe that I helped defeat terrorism in Iraq."

-- Josh Gaines, Iraq War veteran, Wednesday, September 26th, in Madison Wisconsin. Wisconsin Radio Network provides audio of Gaines speech in full.

Truest statement of the week

"No, we can't go back and it's not about romanticizing the past but it is about understanding that if a system of male dominance had a beginning, it can have an end."

-- Gloria Steinem, from a speech (delivered September 17th in Houston) entitled "The Progression of Feminism: Where Are We Going?" broadcast on KPFT's The Progressive Forum and, if you missed it, and aren't stumbling across this three months after it posted, you can hear it by going to the KPFT archives and scrolling down for the September 27th broadcast).

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
Disagreeing with the Mamas and the Papas, Sunday, Sunday can't trust that day. Another long edition. Here's who helped put it out:

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 we also acknowledge and thank Dallas for his help as link locator and soundboard. We think the student who let us use a photo of a section of her bulletin board (and note that the full photo as well as photos of some her art work -- all photos taken by Kat -- will run in Hilda's Mix on Tuesday). We thank the student in Wisconsin who passed on the Courage To Resist card. We thank Ava and C.I.'s friend who passed on The Bionic Woman trading card. And we thank Isaiah for the use of his wonderful comics.

Truest statement of the week -- We have two. Josh Gaines more than earned notice by becoming the first Iraq veteran to return his medals. We applaud him.

Truest statement of the week -- we applaud Gloria Steinem and encourage to listen to her speech if you're able to. It's amazing. We had considered (due to being tired) just going with Gaines but, as Dona pointed out, we don't hide behind the military. And when it comes to peace, Steinem was there speaking out against Vietnam, against the wars in Latin America, against the support for the racist regime in South Africa and has been speaking out against the current illegal war. We gladly note her statement. (And we'll note there are many funny remarks in the speech. After The New York Times appeared to imply last week that feminists didn't have a sense of humor, the speech may be a much needed corrective to the paper's latest assault on feminism.)

Editorial: Independent Media, Go To Your Room! -- But where is the corrective for independent media? While C.I. was working on the morning entry at The Common Ills (we post this with title and credits only so C.I. can link to it, after C.I.'s done at The Common Ills, we all work on this note), Ty was checking the e-mails. There is one strong objection to the editorial which notes that we "assume or portray" independent media as male based on the references to masturbation. Actually, sorry to shock you, but both genders masturbate. One of the many jobs C.I. had during college ("all those years ago") was pre-K. In the class was a young girl who would get up on her hands and knees at nap time, put her head down on the mat and go to town on herself. Many young boys did the same. The director attempted to reem the the girl out and C.I. pointed out, "___'s got his hands in his pants all day and all you ever do is say, 'Get your hands out of your pants, ___!'" Well it's not ladylike, the director responded. "Well, I don't like seeing any of it, but fair is fair. Tell her to get her hands out of her pants, don't scream at her that she's going to hell." So to the reader assuming that it's only young boys who pleasure themselves, it's not.

TV: Moronic Woman -- Ava and C.I.'s latest. And correction to last week. They were planning to write about Chuck. They have a lot of hopes for that show including that it does -- as its creative team insists it will -- make a point not to glorify government invasion of privacy and abuse the way Alias did. They grabbed Bionic Woman this week. They were going to jump the gun last week because they did so with Heroes last year and that ended up being the big hit of the year. They think Chuck has the potential as well and will probably now wait until much later in the season to review it. Bionic Woman? They loathed it. They got back home late Saturday and when we picked them up at the airport, they were already working the phones to speak to people with the show and people with The Bionic Woman. They compare the update and explain why it is nothing but crap. Again, thank you to someone with the original show for providing the card. It didn't make it into the print edition. Ava and C.I. wrote around it but were doubtful it would be brought over in time. We were very late this morning but even had we not been, we would have had it in plenty of time to scan. Oh, 15 regular readers e-mailed to guess who the female singer was. You all guessed correctly. Her problem, to be clear, isn't that
her lovers are noted. Her problem is that men (including some of whom were her lovers) are treated with "You da man!" while she's portrayed by Crapapedia as a whore. Those guessing correctly knew exactly which men are being applauded while she's being trashed. Her attitude is basically: "Be a prude and condemn us all if that's what you want. But don't condemn the women and congratulate the men for the same behaivor."

Courage to Resist -- War resisters remain under reported on. The 2007 crop has been almost universally ignored by independent media. (C.I. notes Joel Bleifuss -- In These Times -- actually did report on some. Credit where it's due.)

Strangely familiar -- The same independent media that can't shut up about the 2008 election (while the year is still 2007) couldn't note one of the most important moments in a debate where the three 'front runners' revealed themselves to be War Hawks willing to continue the illegal war through 2013. C.I. just made a point that I'm not going to include. It's too strong for the note. It needs to be carried over to "And the war drags on" tonight. (Too strong doesn't mean bad langaguage. It means it's a very strong point that needs to be made and I don't want it buried in this note. I, of course, am Jim.)

Support the Jena 5 (or fact check on indymedia) -- This was the longest piece. Betty's father wanted this covered. He asks, we'll do it. We did it and then waited for when he wakes up in Georgia (5:00 pm their time) for Betty to read it to him. He had a few suggestions and we worked those in. Then Jess said, "You know I'm going to hear about this from my dad." So we had to run it by both of Jess' parents. That led to a thirty minute conversation after it was run by. We took their suggestions and also added the section noting them at the end.

Now Bully Boy's concerned about spending? Now? -- Bully Boy's sudden concern over governmental spending is comical.

Cultural Operations Research Human Terrain -- "Short feature!" Dona was screaming after the Jena 6 feature never seemed to be put to bed.

Rusty Yates -- We aren't doubting the e-mailer. But our note ahead of the e-mail is to state we did not verify this. The e-mail was seen late and we posted it in full. Another point to be emphasized is that Ava and C.I.'s commentaries (which get more mail every week than anything else) have a LONG shelf life. Things they wrote in 2005 continue to be noted by people just stumbling across them. In this instance, the e-mail was adding to a commentary they did in June of 2006. Dona's said before that if she was going through and saving things to remember later on about this time period, she'd save everyone of Ava and C.I.'s TV commentaries, a huge number of editorials and several other pieces. But even Dona would first save the TV commentaries. She says now, "It's like a 'The house is on fire!' question: What do you grab?"

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Betty, Rebecca, Wally, Cedric and Kat wrote this and picked all highlights except where noted. You know I'd love to pick one and, if you paid attention this week, you know which one. I'm offended and outraged by that nonsense e-mail Mike received. I'd love to say more but he's trying to let it go so I'll leave it at that. (If you don't know, go to highlights, and click on the link to Trina's post. As Mike's mother, she feels -- rightly -- that if her son's attacked, she can defend him whether or not he's asked everyone to act like it never happened.)

So that's the edition. Hopefully there's something to make you laugh, think or get mad. If it's all three, yea for us and yea for you!

See you next week.

-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Independent Media, Go To Your Room!

Independent media apparently missed their naps. All week long. And those suffering from their tantrums missed out on several very important stories.

On Monday of last week, The Washington Post reported on the "kill teams" and did the best job of the mainstream media. US snipers are instructed to leave items laying out so that, when Iraqis pick them up, they can shoot the Iraqis. The mainstream narrative told you that weapons and materials to make weapons were left out. That wasn't reality. Reality was told back in June by war resister James Burmeister who had just gone to Canada and had been on the "kill teams". He explained that they would leave any property (including cameras) lying around to bait Iraqis and then shoot to kill them if they touched it.

This was the perfect opportunity for independent media to strut their stuff, to show what they could really do. But nap time having been missed, they were all a little sluggish. Possibly also a little sleepish because they never interviewed Burmeister in real time. (As C.I. noted repeatedly last week, PBS' NOW with David Brancaccio interviewed Burmeister for their August 24th broadcast and Burmeister did talk about the "kill teams"; however, NOW decided not to air that section of the interview. They still have it and could air it at anytime.)

Independent media just rubbed their sleepy little eyes and ignored the entire story.

How about Tent City which should have been big news to independent media on Tuesday. What's Tent City? We can forgive you for asking because independent media ignored this topic as well. It's an "open air prison" in Arizona utilizing tents from the Korean war era. They've agreed to house (and already housing one) soldiers who go AWOL from Fort Huachuca. The soldier they are housing was made to do something far worse than a perp-walk for the press but independent media couldn't tell you about that anymore than they could tell you the male prisoners were forced to wear pink 'panties.' Why? Well apparently there's not enough male rapes in prison or at least not enough for the sadistic desires of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County who, for the record, likes to brag he's the toughest sherriff in America. (It was cute the way the limited mainstream coverage ran with that after it appeared guess where. Well, it's nice to be read and at least they covered it, however badly.) Arpaio brags that the top bunk in the tents reach a temperature of 150 degrees. Tent City is appalling. But independent media wasn't interested. They were too busy blinking their eyes and try to figure out if they needed to go potty or not, or if they should just go in their nappies?

Also on Tuesday, the number of US service members killed in Iraq reached the 3800 mark. Who bothered to note that?

Wednesday's big story? In Madison, Wisconsin, a veteran of the Iraq War became the first decorated veteran to return his medals. Josh Gaines sealed them up in a package to be sent to Donald Rumsfeld, the former Secretary of Defense, at Stanford University. Wednesday's event was him mailing the package and speaking before he did. The event was announced. Where was independent media. Apparently delighted with the feel of their warm urine against their backsides. He spoke of the use of chemical weapons in Iraq on civilians, he spoke of the lack of protective armor provided to US service members, he spoke of contractors getting rich off the illegal war, he explained, "I was forced to ask, 'Are we really defeating terrorism with the scars of war?'" An amazing moment but one independent media had little to no interest in.

Wednesday night had another big moment. In the November 2006 elections, voters gave control of both houses of Congress back to the Democratic Party with a mandate to end the illegal war. And they did nothing. With approximately 70% of Americans against the illegal war, with most wanting troops out now or troops home by the end of next year, MSNBC aired the latest 'debate' among the candidates for the Democratic Party nomination for president. And what happened? The three front runners, Barack Obama, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton, declared that they would not promise to have troops home by 2013 which would be their first term if any of the three losers got elected.

As Ruth rightly noted Saturday, playing a clip of Tim Russert tricking Hillary Clinton into disagreeing with a blind quote that turned out to be words from her husband Bill wasn't covering the debate. But that ha-ha passed for coverage. Possibly, by this point, the urine had grown cold and they were too busy crying for a diaper change to pay attention?

Thursday saw War Hawk Samantha Power try to stifle opposition to the illegal war with an embarrassingly juvenile piece posted at Time magazine where she implied that the peace movement was forgetting the Iraqi refugees. The peace movement hasn't forgotten them. They are fully aware that the illegal war created them and that it continues to create them. In fact, find one independent media who noted what was noted repeatedly at The Common Ills but we'll just quote Thursday's snapshot:

Now we're up to Kramer's report in Saturday's New York Times where he reports that as retaliation against the killing of Naji, the Mahdi Army began clearing out the Washash section of Baghdad forcing "[b]etween 50 and 100 Sunni families" (families -- not individuals) to abandon their homes and flee as the thugs went through the neighborhoods with "loudspeakers, telling people to leave" and not just in full view of the US military, with the assistance of the US military. One of the newly created refugees, Sheik Abu Hasan, declares, "What shocked us a lot was that as soon as we reached the main streets, we saw Iraqi and American forces who were showing and directing us to the highway." The US military was used to assist with forced evictions (non-legal ones) and not to protect the people. The myth that the US is preserving anything should have long ago shattered. The US armed and trained the Shi'ites while banishing the Sunnis, they created the division that exists by making their first question to Iraqis: "Are you Sunni or Shia?", and the continued presence breeds the hostility and violence.
Kramer is Andrew E. Kramer of the New York Times and the article ran on Saturday. It doesn't fit the Sammy Power cry of "WAR! WAR! MORE WAR!" so it gets ignored by the alleged 'intellectual.' But the US is no longer standing on the sidelines watching as the Iraqi refugee crisis (internal and external) grows worse, they are not assisting in the clearing of the areas the thugs wish to take over. It's a point lost on Power as are most other points.

Where was independent media? Apparently getting their diaper rash powered. Which explains why, on the same day, Pig felt comfortable releasing a column entitled "Iraq Can Wait." Showing no sense of perspective or decency, Truthdig, Truthout and Common Dreams reposted it. (We are sure there were more.) Pig argued that the peace movement needed to set Iraq aside and focus on the war in Iran. What war? The war Pig has been stridently insisting was coming any day. Insisting since 2004.

Again, Ruth did what so many others couldn't, tell the damn truth, "His advice was that Iraq is not important, stopping a potential war in Iran was. Previously Pig had used an example of fire fighters so I visited my local fire house and asked them, 'If one house is on fire and another might catch on fire today or possibly tomorrow or possibly the week after or possibly never, which fire do you put out?' Three fire fighters laughed at my question, while thanking me for the kugel, and explained that of course their job was to put out the fire that was raging. They asked me why I asked and I explained Pig's column. Then we all had a good laugh." Most sentient beings laugh at Pig. Independent media enshrines him with 'feminist' Katha Pollitt singling him out for praise in one of her oh-so-rare columns to touch on Iraq in the last four years. Well why not? Don't feminists applaud sexual predators who attempt to victimize women? They don't? Well Pollitt does which is why no one involved in this considers that addled minded woman a feminist. Abeer she can take a pass on for over a year and when, finally forced to write about her, has to mention Abeer, she does so in one damn sentence. A 14-year-old girl who is gang-raped as her parents and five-year-old sister are killed in the next room, a 14-year-old girl who is then murdered (all done by US soldiers) doesn't interest Pollitt. Maybe if Abeer had been a sexual predator and not a victim of sexual violence, Katha could sing Abeer's praises?

Friday, there were two grown ups in the room. First up, Mario Murillo, WBAI's Wakeupcall Radio, interviewed CorpWatch's Pratap Chatterjee about his latest article "The Boys from Baghdad: Iraqi Commandos Trained by U.S. Contractor." Chatterjee is writing of how the US' role in creating and fermenting the civil wars in Iraq by whom they armed and who they trained and whom they allowed to do the training. It's a must read article. The other grown up was John Nichols (who also covered the MSNBC debate).

John Nichols (Common Dreams) reported that the Senate raised the debt limit for the federal government and gave the Bully Boy "at least $9 billion in new funding for its war in Iraq" in a 94 to 1 vote with Russ Feingold being the sole senator to vote no while all but 14 House members voted also went along with giving Bully Boy more monies for the illegal war.

We'll assume that independent media, scratching at their diaper rash, discovered a strange, tingling sensation from touching 'down there' and as such didn't notice what Nichols did. We'll also assume their ever increasing aversion to the Green Party prevented them from noting that party's calling out of the war funding:

The Green Party of the United States has called for full and immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, the occupation of which is entering its sixth year; the party opposes a US military attack on Iran and warns Americans not to believe the new flood of deceptive war propaganda.
Greens stress that Congress could end the war quickly if Democrats refused to move on bills for war funding, including the latest request for nearly $190 billion the Pentagon says is necessary to keep combat troops in Iraq for another year. Greens urge Congress to divert federal funds from war spending to human needs and services in the US, including restoration and rebuilding in the Gulf Coast.
The Green Party has called for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney for numerous abuses of power, including misleading the American people about the reasons for invading Iraq. Greens have called the invasion a criminal breach of the US Constitution and international law, motivated by desire for political and corporate dominance in the region, control over Iraqi oil and other resources, and cooperation with Israel's aggressive strategic objectives.

Having discovered their 'special places,' we'll assume independent media rubbed themselves raw all weekend and probably missed the news that war resister James Stepp went to Canada.

It was an embarrassing week for independent media. The majority of them should have been sent to their rooms.

As Tori Amos sings in "Taxi Ride:"

Sure you talk the talk
when you need to
I fear
the whole world is
starting to
Believe you

But maybe not. Kat visited with art students against the illegal war on campuses this week. One student especially impressed her. Kat noted one of the woman's projects in "Dali, Quixote and the Dems" last week. She took pictures of it (that will run in Hilda's Mix) and also a picture of the woman's bulletin board which contains nothing but envelopes of renewal notices, notices the woman did not heed. She told Kat, "I've had it with being lied to." A lot of big media was on that board. One independent media outlet made the board too and we've cropped the photo to make sure it catches the eye (photos of the bulletin board in full will run in Hilda's Mix out Tuesday). The phrase the student marked out was "AND ENOUGH REST". She told Kat that "HAD ENOUGH PEACE Then it's time to renew your subscription to The Nation!" said it all. We couldn't agree more.


TV: Moronic Woman

The Bionic Woman

NBC kicked off "Bionic Wednesdays" last week with the two hour debut of Bionic Woman which honestly reminded us of the Mad magazine parody "Moronic Woman." It's easy to see why NBC was stricken with panic after viewing the pilot (one role was recast, that did not fix the problems). It's less easy to grasp how another press created genius thinks he's done anything original.

Executive producer David Eick told Variety, "It's a complete reconceptualization of the title. We're using the title as a starting point, and that's all." Your brain dead Water Cooler Set went along with that fantasy and a great deal more last week.

It's impossible to talk about Bionic Woman without talking about the seventies The Bionic Woman because, despite Eick's claims, they've ripped off pretty much everything and what they didn't rip off, they've watered down.

Where to start? How about the phoniness of it all, having a British actress play an American woman living in San Francisco while the show is shot in Canada?

We're reminded of Joan Crawford's infamous quote about Greer Garson (after Garson won the Oscar) but we'll move on.

Bionic Woman appears to exist solely to demonstrate how much truth Lou Reed can pack into one line -- specifically "Sweet Jane"'s "Those were different times."

Indeed they were. The bionic woman began on The Six Million Dollar Man as a character for a two-part episode in 1975 meant to round out Lee Major's Steve Austin. The network wanted to get across the message that The Six Million Dollar Man wasn't a show for children only. Jamie Sommers, brilliantly played by Lindsay Wagner, bumps into Steve when he returns to his hometown, Ojai, California. (An actual city, it's where Dennis Kucinich was speaking last weekend.) They rekindle their high school romance. Tennis pro Sommers is in a skydiving accident. Steve pleads for Jamie to be given bionic parts and she's s given a bionic ear, a bionic arm and two bionic legs. As part of the deal Steve makes, Jamie will also be a government agent which he attempts to back out on. (Pay attention, these details matter in the current version.) Jamie's body begins rejecting the bionic parts and she dies at the end of the two-parter. The reaction from viewers was huge so another two-parter ("The Return of the Bionic Woman") was prepared in which it turns out Jamie was really cryogenically frozen and then brought back to life without her memory. Why no memory? She was still a temporary character. Universal did not grasp what they had with Wagner from the start. While filming the first two-parter, Wagner's contract with Universal ran out and Harve Bennett (executive producer of The Six Million Dollar Man) had to fight with Universal to get the contract extended for a few days so that filming could continue. The filmed two-parter meant nothing to Universal. They didn't grasp what had been created until the letters started arriving. Wagner was not under contract to Universal and was in Canada (filming Second Wind) when it was decided to bring Jamie back to life. Ron Samuels, Wagner's agent, took the network to the cleaners for the two-parter. As The Six Million Dollar Man moved into the top ten, Fred Silverman (then head of ABC) ordered a spin-off and insisted on Wagner in the lead.

Kenneth Johnson was responsible for the writing of both two parters (and would become producer of The Bionic Woman) and has always explained Jamie died in the first two-parter because there wasn't a need to put Steve Austin in a relationship and Jamie lost her memory in the second for the same reason. (Johnson also created the mini-series V and his update of that, in book form, V The Second Generation, is released next month. ) The audience reaction to Wagner is what drove the character of Jamie Sommers into her own show.

All of that is important. Universal wasn't keen on Wagner, that's why they let her option drop. They weren't keen on having her back for the second two-parter. They thought she was "flat chested" and that audiences couldn't relate to anything but big breasts. They also thought, at five feet and eight and half inches, she was too tall. Michelle Ryan, who plays the current Jamie Sommers, is an inch and a half shorter and, though acting is a challenge for her, men can't shut up about her breasts.

In other words, all Eick's done is prove that he 'can rebuild her, he can make her shorter, breastier and younger!' and that's supposed to pass for better. Wagner's character was a professional tennis player who, in the spin-off, would be a teacher when not spying for the government. In a 're imagining' that strikes us similar to what the creators of The Days & Nights of Molly Dodd set out to do (trash the character of Mary Richards -- as they publicly and repeatedly bragged), the current Jamie Sommers has been downgraded from professional athlete to scantily-clad bartender. Call it Eick Ugly. Or as the original Jamie Sommers herself said in the first episode of the spin-off over a fake disagreement with the government regarding her salary (they knew bad guys were listening in, don't ask), "What do they think I am? Some kind of bionic cocktail waitress?" Apparently Eick did indeed.

Remember how boyfriend Steve, following Jamie's accident, had her implanted with bionics to save her life? The remake makes boyfriend Will Anthros (Chris Bowers) a college professor and a doctor! -- a bionic doctor in a super secret program -- who implants the bionics himself.

A lot of the Water Cooler Set were either too stupid to know how to work in the backstory from the previous show or just trying to be cute but Somers was not The Six Million Dollar Woman in the seventies. In fact, before there was Jamie Sommers, there was Barney Miller (played by Monte Markham -- and not connected to the sitcom character) who was the seven million dollar man. Obviously, the price of technology had risen. Whether, as people with the show often joked (predominately Richard Anderson who played Oscar on both The Bionic Woman and The Six Million Dollar Man), she cost less because the parts were smaller or more due to inflation (and, not stated, the ear which was a new part) can be debated but she was not the six million dollar woman. It should also be noted that her body rejecting the first set of bionics would require additional work further raising the price the government paid 'rebuilding' her.

What was Jamie Sommers in the seventies? A pretty advanced character though the Water Cooler Set seems determined to sneer 'feminist.' Well, remember, they have a natural aversion to women. Somers used her bionic powers to disarm and throw her opponents off balance. The corpses didn't pile up the way they did on The Six Million Dollar Man. Which is not to say that Sommers didn't get into some serious battles. There was of course, pay attention New York Times, the Fembots.

The Fembots did not come along with Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me. They were robots with super strength. Those Water Cooler Critics who, while sneering that the first Jamie was a feminist, wanted to then play the last defenders of women by expressing shock that the new Jamie would battle another bionic woman obviously need to do a little more research before typing. Our 'research,' by the way, consisted of phoning people with the original production as well as the one currently airing.

The alleged 're imagining' has watered down the character's strength which did include a sense of humor -- something the Water Cooler Set couldn't tell you about -- apparently, in their minds, feminists can't be funny. What you're left with is Ryan who had two emotions to convey -- wide eyed wonder and hungover.

While her emotions are limited, she has been saddled with a sister (played by an 18-year-old actress who pouts and then pouts some more). This isn't new either. The spin-off brought on Max the bionic dog and that's basically all the new Jamie's sister is. (Though some may see her as the Dawn that destroyed Buffy The Vampire Slayer). Not content with saddling the new version with a kid sister (when the character herself can be described as a "kid"), they also saddle her with Daddy issues. Daddy's into politics and a drunk. While that will play into future storylines, it's a bit like biting the hands that feed you for Ryan's Jamie to sneer about their father's excessive drinking at a bar when that is in fact where she works. ("Oh, the layers!" a half-wit thought.)

What was most amazing about the two hours is how uninteresting it was. We kept waiting and waiting for Ryan's character to do something bionic and that was honestly because the character is so uninteresting. Listening to her put herself down (self-esteem issues hopped onto the saddle as well) to her boyfriend the professor (and government doctor!) or announce she was pregnant just left us bored. The big car accident came quick (thanks to the reassembling of the pilot -- and reshooting scenes with the recast role of the sister). Then you waited and waited.

She was supposed to be angry upon learning she was bionic and then about being held against her will. All you could do was wait for the bionic powers because Ryan lacks the ability to act the part of the character (who, in fairness, is badly written) and it was like watching a really bad summer pop corn flick where the set pieces had been structured too far apart.

More importantly, they scavenged three seasons to get their two hour pilot. The 'darker' Jaimie Eick is so proud of is actually season three Jamie who is called a freak by kids on bicycles. The constant cuts in the two hours were needed because Ryan and the writers have yet to create a character that's actually interesting.

At the end of the episode, after she'd battled a bionic woman who preceded her (and had turned bad), she's supposed to toss off a light piece of dialogue to Miguel Ferrer's Jonas Bledsoe. It was a bad move for a number of reasons including the fact that Ryan can't handle light dialogue. But mainly it served to remind us of the show that was cancelled to make way for this crap -- Crossing Jordan which Ferrer was also a part of. Jordan was a full grown adult (played magnificently by Jill Hennessy) while Jamie strikes us as a child acting out.

We don't visit Crapapedia but two people with the original series find the Crapapedia entry offensive and in need of corrections (citations would probably also be a good idea). The illustration we're using for this commentary is from the show's merchandising which included far more than Crapapedia lists (we checked after the complaints were conveyed). In addition to the cards, there was also a board game. There was also quite a bit more. Crapapedia is known for its sexism (we know a female singer who is contemplating suing Crapapedia over the way they portray her sex life -- they make her -- but none of her male partners -- out to be a whore while treating men who had many more relationships than she did as 'cool' -- that, more than the many factual inaccuracies about her, has her ticked off and we don't blame her) so it's no surprise that, yet again, when it comes to anything to do with women, Crapapedia doesn't know what the hell they are talking about.

Maybe the Water Cooler Set runs Crapapedia? They slammed the original Jamie Sommers for being a feminist. We'd gladly agree the show was a feminist statement because so few women at that time solo-ed in hour long dramas and, if they did, hello Angie Dickinson, they usually spent a great deal of time undercover as hookers or something else that would require being scantily clad. What we feel the Water Cooler was railing against were advances. They were to be found throughout each episode of the original series, even in the teaching scenes, Jamie had the students circle up and taught in the round. What the remake celebrates is regression. Jamie's saddled with Daddy issues, a kid sister, low self-esteem, a dead end job and episodes that rely solely on gimmicks either because the actress in the lead has nothing else to offer or the writers don't believe she does.

In the ratings, it lost out to the spin-off from Grey's Anatomy. Like the current character, we expect the ratings will regress as well.

Courage to Resist

After speaking to a group of students at the University of Wisconsin last week, C.I., Ava, Jess, Kat and Maggie were approached by one student who handed them the Courage to Resist card we're using as an illustration. She explained that war resisters did not get enough attention ("in my opinion" -- but it's not just her opinion) and she had brought the card to the meeting in order to bring up the issue. She was glad the conversation starter wasn't needed (the topic of war resisters is a staple of every talk) but asked if they could inform other groups they spoke to about it "to get the word out on war resisters and Courage to Resist"? They were glad to and worked it in to all of their subsequent talks (C.I. prefers "conversations" but if we use that term, it will confuse some people).

The card is available at Courage to Resist. You can purchase it in bulk (100 cards for 10 dollars, also for 10 dollars you can purchase it as a poster). It is a good way to get the word out on both Courage to Resist and on war resisters.

If you look at the faces on the card, you'll hopefully see a number of resisters you recognize: Ivan Brobeck, Kevin Benderman, Ricky Clousing, Suzanne Swift*, Katharine Jashinski, Jeremy Hinzman, Abdulla Webster, Darrel Anderson, C.S. Magaoay, Kyle Snyder, Robin Long, Mark Wilkerson, Christian Kjar, Brandon Hughey, Agustin Aguyo, Blacke LeMoine, Perry O'Brien, Jimmy Massey, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, Diedra Cobb, Stephen Funk, Joshua Despain, Wilfredo Torres, Aidan Delgado, Ryan Johnson, Cliff Cornell, Patrick Hart, Robert Zabala, Carl Webb, Michael Sudbury, Abdul Henderson, Joshua Key, Ghanim Khalil, Dan Felushko and Ehren Watada. [*We do not consider Suzanne Swift a war resister. Others can list her however they want. Our opinion -- community wide and noted often -- is that Swift needs to be immediately discharged -- honorably discharged -- and that Congress failed her. We know some in big media avoided her story due to the war resister angle. We do not doubt her strength or her courage. If she states she's a war resister, we'll gladly move her over to that list; however, she has not stated that publicly and we think it gums up the very real issues that should result in her immediate discharge so we do not list her as a war resister. Others are free to do as they see fit.]

The card is an invaluable resource but looking at it on Friday (Mike, Elaine and Rebecca) and on Saturday (Jim, Dona and Ty), what struck us most was how much the movement of resistance continues to grow. Jim Burmeister, Ross Spears, Eli Israel, Carla Gomez, Terri Johnson, and the Kamunen brothers (Luke, Leif and Leo) are just some of the resisters who've gone public this year. And that point was only brought home further with James Stepp going public last week.

But while their numbers continue to grow and while Iraq Veterans Against the War continues to increase their membership, it doesn't seem like the coverage is growing. It's not just The Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel squashing coverage, it appears to be a great deal more.

For instance, if you want to know about war resisters going to Canada, your best bet has been Canadian media, not independent broadcast media. In fact, Ross Spears and James Burmeister haven't been interviewed. In fact, Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey will both learn shortly whether or not Canada's Supreme Court will hear their appeal for refugee status. In this country, Ehren Watada's court-martial is scheduled to begin October 9th -- his second court-martial -- and possibly the lack of attention to that results from the fact that appeals could bump the date back, bump it back to next year. James Stepp spoke of discovering news of war resisters in Canada online. That's been a pattern from the start. It's still a pattern and you have to wonder about a lot of independent broadcast media -- do they think that once inducted, the audience is lost to them? Do they not grasp that there are service members who think about resistance but buy into the isolation that has been sold by the media?

Stephen Funk is the first war resister to go public. Camilo Mejia is the war resister to serve in Iraq and go public. Ehren Watada is the first officer to publicly refuse to fight in the Iraq War. Eli Israel is the first to go public while stationed in Iraq. It takes bravery for anyone to resist but knowing of those who came before can demonstrate to you that you are not crazy or insane or that you're the only one who feels this way.

C.I., Ava and Kat are the only ones who regularly speak to groups of enlisted. When they bring up the topic of war resisters, they start with what it is and the ways some can resist and offer historical examples from Vietnam before asking if anyone knows the names of any current resisters? Believe it or not, many do not. Of all the war resisters, Ehren Watada remains the best known. Over the summer "Eli" became a name they had heard about -- most didn't know his last name but were aware a service member stationed in Iraq named "Eli" was resisting. After he was discharged, few knew he had been. Sometimes they know a story about someone in another unit who went AWOL. They don't know why. There's a disinformation campaign going on within the military when that happens similar to the line (no surprise) that the The New York Times tries to push which is you only self-check out if you have emotional problems. For those who fail to grasp how damaging that lie is, think about how the rates of returning veterans seeking mental assistance is suppressed by the military asking -- in a group setting -- "Anybody got any problems and need help?"

Kat says she's always surprised by what service members respond to when Ava and C.I. cover various known war resisters. It might be Joshua and Brandi Key's large family (a number of people serving have large families), it might be the way recruiters hounded Kyle Snyder and the foster care he grew up in (ditto), it might be the three Kamunen brothers being brothers, it might be Camilo Mejia being a non-citizen when he joined the military (ditto), it could be anything. In August, one man wanted to hear more about Aidan Delgado because, like Delgado, he was a serious reader of the Dune series of novels. Whether it's Brandi Key or Jill Hart (wife of Patrick Hart) or Monica Benderman (wife of Kevin Benderman) or Nga Nguyen (wife of Jeremy Hinzman) or Helga Aguayo (wife of Agustin Aguayo) or Jamine Aponte (girlfriend of Phil McDowell), they're always interested to hear about the partners of war resisters who stood by them.

Whatever stands out to them, whatever they ask for more information on, the point of it is always a detail they can relate to, a detail that takes a name they may never have heard about it and makes the person "normal" and not that different from them.

That's why war resisters stories need to be told. The military uses "normal" to silence objection (however they define it). Aidan Delgado writes about it in his book, how, when he applied for CO status, those above him made sure everyone knew about it so that they could attempt to intimidate him in 'falling back in line' via shunning, verbal abuse and physical abuse.

From group to group, Ava, Kat and C.I. never know what's going to be the big standout. Agustin Aguyo's twin daughters standing by their father brought one man to tears. "He'd been sitting there stone faced throughout, " Kat remembers, "and I was thinking he'd been tricked into coming or had caught a ride into town with his friends and they'd just said, 'We've got to make one quick stop' without telling him what it was for."

The stories of every war resister are important but not just in terms of "I decided to resist the war and here is why." The details people can identify with, the ones that may not seem central to 'the message,' are often the ones they most connect with.

Last week, community member Rachel complained about a book author brought onto a Pacifica station to discuss the issue of AIDS in the African-American community, a guest who was plugging a book and seemed -- despite the message of the book -- highly uncomfortable addressing the issue of gay men (because he was one of those "love the sinner, hate the sin" types). She wondered why that crap can get on air -- a person hawking a book but uncomfortable with the topic -- but war resistance has "fight and scrape for every few minutes the topic does receive"? It's a good question.

And it's worth noting that Eli Israel is the first to resist while stationed in Iraq but the majority of Americans -- in the military or out -- do not even know his name because war resisters appears to have struck the bulk of independent media as a passe topic.

Aidan Delgado's book, mentioned above, is The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq. He is one of three war resisters to have published a book detailing their experiences this year. The other two books are Camilo Mejia's Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia and Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale.

This week, Kevin and Monica Benderman's Letters from Fort Lewis Brig: A Matter of Conscience becomes the fourth such book. They all make a difference.

And so would coverage, if there was any in depth coverage. But ask yourself when was the last time broadcast independent media introduced you to a new war resister?

The following appears in every "Iraq snapshot," Monday through Friday:

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.

Lastly, some people prefer not to order online for various reasons. If that is the case with you and you're interested in the illustration as a card or poster ($10 for either), Courage to Resist has a physical address, 484 Lake Park Ave #41, Oakland, CA 94610. If you visit the website, you'll see that they also have caps, t-shirts and hoodies, as well as books, DVDs and more.

Strangely familiar

Last week, if you read Rebecca's "craven dems and disgusting peter pace," Kat's "Obama, Edwards & Clinton okay with US trops in Iraq until 2013" and/or C.I.'s"Iraq snapshot," you might have grasped that something huge happened on the MSNBC aired 'debate' Wednesday night. John Nichols wrote of it on Thursday (at The Nation, so no link) but otherwise independent media elected to go AWOL. One of the most serious moments of any of these so-called debates, a moment that drew a line for the candidates and demonstrated that media declared front runners (and media made front runners) were as craven as John McCain on the Republican side.

Asked if they could guarantee that, if elected, that would withdraw all troops from Iraq by 2013, the front runners revealed that their attitude is "The people be damned. I'll do what I want."

Hillary Clinton: "It is very difficult to know what we're going to be inheriting."

John Edwards: "I cannot make that commitment."

Barack Obama: "I think it's hard to project four years from now."

Really? If it's hard to project four years from now, then possibly they should all abandon their alleged health care plans. If they can't tell the American people -- which overwhelming wants troops out of Iraq before Bully Boy leaves office -- that they'll do as the people wish, they're telegraphing that they are no better than Bully Boy and that, when push comes to shove, should they get into the Oval Office, expect four more years of a bully.

As candidate Dennis Kucininch (who pledged to have troops out within three months of being sworn in as president) noted during the debate, "It is fairly astonishing to have Democrats who took back the power of the House and Senate in 2006 to stand on this stage and tell the American people that the war will continue till 2013 and perhaps past that."

Of the other candidates, Bill Richardson hit on the points the strongest in the debate and by following that with a press release the next day repeating his remarks, "I have a fundamental difference with Senator Obama, John Edwards, and Senator Clinton. Their position is changing the mission. My position is to end this war. Six billion dollars on cancer research equals two weeks of spending on the war. As long as we do not end the war, we cannot invest in critical needs like cancer. The American people want to end the war. You cannot start the reconciliation of Iraq, a political settlement, and possibly this issue of a separation, which I think is a possible solution, until we get all our troops out. Unlike Senator Clinton, I do not believe the Congress has done enough. We have been able to move 240,000 of our troops in three months in and out of Iraq through Kuwait. It would take persuading Turkey. I would leave behind some of the light equipment. Leaving any troop behind will prevent us from moving forward toward stability in the region. I would talk to Iran. I would make sure the entire issue is tied to stability in the Israeli-Palestinian issue. You have to deal with the entire issue."

Richardson was followed closely by Chris Dodd who declared, "The idea that we could be emborlied in combat for at least another five years should set off alarm bells for anyone with a modicum of foreign policy experience. Sacrificing American lives to engage in a civil war is a deeply corrupt strategy and one I have been working to combat in Congress. I call on my fellow candidates to help me bring and end to this war before 2013 -- we need to end this war now before it passes Vietnam as the longest war in American history."

Candidate Mike Gravel responded to the question with, "Well, the first thing, you stop the debate by voting every single day on cloture, every day, 20 days, and you'll overcome cloture. The president vetoes a law; it comes back to the Congress, and in the House at noon, every single day, you vote to override the president's veto. And in 40 days, the American people will have weighed in, put the pressure on those -- you tell me that the votes aren't there, you go get them by the scruff of the neck. That's what you do. You make them vote." Remember that because we'll come back to it.

Moderator Tim Russert appeared shocked and asked if Gravel was suggesting that those candidates in office (Biden, Clinton, Edwards, Kucinich and Obama) stop their campaigns to -- heaven forbid! -- do their job by voting against the illegal war day after day for 40 days, Gravel replied, " If it stops the killing, my God, yes, do it! And, Tim, you're really missing something. This is Fantasyland. We're talking about ending the war; my God, we're just starting a war right today. There was a vote in the Senate today -- Joe Lieberman, who authored the Iraq resolution, has offered another resolution, and it essentially a fig leaf to let George Bush go to war with Iran. And I want to congratulate Biden for voting against it, Dodd for voting against, and I'm ashamed of you, Hillary, for voting for it. You're not going to get another shot at this, because what's happened if this war ensues -- we invade and they're looking for an excuse to do it. And Obama was not even there to vote."

Candidate Joe Biden hedged the answer. He said yes and he said no. He declared, "Just from Iraq. You're going to bring all troops home from Iraq. If in fact there is no political solution by the time I am president, then I would bring them out because all they are is fodder.
But -- but -- if you go along with the Biden plan that got 75 votes today and you have a stable Iraq like we have in Bosnia -- we've had 20,000 Western troops in Bosnia for 10 years. Not one has been killed -- not one. The genocide has ended. So it would depend on the circumstances when I became president. " He would bring them all home . . . unless his plan to partition Iraq into three sections came to be and since it won the support of 75 idiots in the Senate, it's very likely that Iraq will be carved up into three areas if the US has the last say. In which case, Biden's answer is "no."

It was a very important moment and it was hard to miss since it was the first question of the night. "Will you commit that at the end of your first term, in 2013, all U.S. troops will be out of Iraq?" Ava, Jess and C.I. were on a college campus, watching it in a student lounge and the boos as each of the front runners gave a pledge to fighting a 'longer' illegal war made it very difficult to hear. Students grasped the point, it was your independent media that was too damn stupid to get how important that moment was. Especially important was noting Gravel's point because the lie that gets repeated over and over is that Democrats in Congress have done all that they can to end the illegal war, that their weak ass measures and weak ass actions are all they are capable of because, though they control both houses, they don't have enough votes to override a presidential veto. You don't have to override a veto. You filibuster and filibuster and no appropriations bill get passed. Independent media had a sorry ass week that they should all be ashamed over. But the failure to highlight this debate, to make it a focal point of their broadcasts and columns, goes a long way to explaining how an illegal war that the people are strongly against could drag on this long. And it demonstrated that, as of Wednesday night, if any of the three 'front runners' were elected (or Biden), the illegal war would continue through 2013.

When this crap doesn't get covered, doesn't get loudly called out, we're all in trouble. For those who've forgotten, after winning the Democratic Party's nomination in 2004, John Kerry ran increasingly to the right of Bully Boy in an attempt to outflank him. Kerry was never an anti-war candidate. Kerry was also, once, dismissive of the opposition to the Patriot Act ("tea cup," he infamously said). Attacking John Ashcroft and the Patriot Act moved more funds Kerry's way consistently and the tea cup remarks got so many complaints that Kerry never again was that dismissive. Before there's even a declared nominee, independent media is willing to ignore the statements on prolonging the illegal war.

What Kerry's primary campaign demonstrated was that if he grasped he'd offended a huge section of supporters, he dropped that line. That should have been applied to his position on the illegal war but everyone (including many in independent media -- forgetting they were supposed to be journalists -- supposed to be) was too busy giving him a pass on Iraq, refusing to press him on it, saying "Anybody But Bush!" when not hissing "Ralph, Don't Run!" Kerry should have been pressed on Iraq.

Apparently independent media isn't even prepared to press in the primaries. It all seems strangely familiar and, honestly, incredibly pathetic. Doing what independent media can't (because they refuse to) is Isaiah with his comic strip The World Today Just Nuts. Below is his latest, posted this morning, "Bloody War Hawks." It's too bad independent media doesn't have the same spirit as a comic artist.


Support the Jena 5 (or fact check on indymedia)

One of the best lessons that my son could learn that's one of the best lessons: to know what it is to be black now. You know, if this don’t teach him what it is to be black now, I don’t know what will. But he’s seventeen now. You know, he's got a lot of life left ahead of him. And the day he set foot out of jail, I'm going to tell him, I'm going to tell him again, "You know what it is to be black now. Here it is."

That's Marcus Jones, father of indy media saint Mychal Bell, speaking on September 21st's Democracy Now! and that is the nonsense that had Betty's father hitting the roof. After he was imprisoned, Marcus Jones hopes, his son had learned a lesson on race. Sorry to interrupt the canonization, but maybe a lesson should have been learned long before it?

Abbey Brown (The Shreveport Times) reported on August 25, 2007:

In addition to Mychal Bell's recent felony conviction, his criminal history was revealed Friday to contain four other violent crimes.Because of that, a LaSalle Parish judge denied a request to reduce the 17-year-old's bail in his current scrape with the law. Bell remains in jail in lieu of a $90,000 bond.
Bell was convicted in June of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit that crime for his part in a Dec. 4 incident at Jena High School that left fellow student Justin Barker unconscious.
[. . .]

Three months prior to that attack, Bell committed two violent crimes while on probation for a battery Christmas Day 2005, according to testimony. Later that same week, he led the Jena Giants to a shutout victory in a football game against the Buckeye Panthers. Bell was adjudicated -- the juvenile equivalent to a conviction -- of battery Sept. 2 and criminal damage to property Sept. 3, said Cynthia Bradford, LaSalle Parish deputy clerk.

John Barr and Nicole Noren (ESPN) reported September 21st:

While Bell is held up as a symbol for activists, what many of them either don't know, or don't choose to dwell on, is the fact he's been in trouble before.
During a previous bond hearing it was revealed Bell has a string of juvenile offenses.
Sources told ESPN that one of those cases was a battery in which Bell punched a 17-year-old girl in the face.

Where was Marcus Jones during all of this? Living in Dallas, Texas. Your son's repeatedly convicted and placed on probation and where's the father who now wants to say a lesson (about racism) may have been learned from imprisonment?

We blame all the adults, White and African-American. When three nooses were hung from a tree on school grounds, it was a community problem that should have been addressed as such. But it wasn't.

Despite the claims of some activists, every African-American student did not grasp immediately the meaning of the nooses.) Tina Jones, Bryant Purvis' mother, speaking to Amy Goodman:

Well, my son, he didn't know about it at first. And when he did go to see, the noose part of the rope had been cut off, and just the rope itself was hanging. But when I found out about it, it was at work, from some of the other parents talking about it. Bryant didn't come home and tell me. So when I got home that day, I asked Bryant about it. And Bryant told me, “Yes, ma'am.” But he didn't really understand what the noose part of it meant. So, you know, and he was like, “Well, what is that, anyway?” And, you know, we went into detail as to, you know, what it represented or whatever.

We also lay a huge portion of the blame on the media and that's independent media. That includes a White woman who elected to make jokes about a White student being assaulted by six other students, kicked and stomped long after he was unconscious as 'assault with a shoe'. We seriously doubt the same commentator would be making jokes were the student in question gay. In fact, if someone had made similar jokes about what happened to Matthew Sheppard, we think the woman would have been (rightly) offended.

Somehow independent media -- activists posing for reporters -- spent hours and hours, columns and columns, on this topic but not only left out Bell's criminal record, they also downplayed other things as well.

To be clear, we support the Jena Five: Robert Bailey, Jr., Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, Theo Shaw and Jesse Ray Beard. Our time is too valuable to be wasted supporting a serial offender who had his day in court many times and, in relation to the school incident, has now had his sentence set aside and will have a new day in court. We do not lump Baily, Jones, Purvis, Shaw and Beard in with him because, unlike Bell, they do not have a criminal record. Lumping the five in with a serial offender does them a huge disservice but independent media wasn't interested in that, they were interested in being 'creative.'

Jacquie Soohen (Big Noise Films) is a curious sort of 'reporter'. She declared the following in a 'report' aired on Democracy Now!:

A series of incidents followed throughout the fall. In October, a black student was beaten for entering a private all-white party.

By whom, Soohen, because press reports say it was an adult and not a student? And, according to Robert Bailey's mother, Caseptla Bailey, it wasn't an "all-White party"

That young black man was my son Robert Bailey. Him and some friends had gone to a party at the Jena Fair Barn. And to my understanding, it wasn't an all-white party there. It was a few blacks that was already there in the party, and he asked to enter the party, if would it be OK for them to come in. And he said the lady responded as, "Sure, you know, as long as there be no fighting."
So once he did enter the building, a gentleman asked him what was his name. He told him, "Robert Bailey" -- no, asked him, "Is your name Robert Bailey?" And my son said yes, and Justin Sloan hit him, as well as his sister Jessie Sloan. And from there, he was attacked by several white men in the Fair Barn. After the incident happened, his other friends came in to assist him. And once the police got there, the police told the black kids that they need to get back to their side of town. So that's where a lot of racial tension is also coming from: our town cops in Jena, Louisiana.

We'll take Bailey's word for it but here's the federal government's recounting of the party:

On Dec. 1, there was a private, invitation-only birthday party at the Fair Barn. Around 11 p.m., five black students tried to come into the party but were told by a woman that they weren't allowed inside without an invitation. The boys persisted, saying they had friends inside. A white man then jumped in front of the woman, and a fight started.

A group broke the two up, and the woman asked the white man, not a student, and the black students to leave the party. Once outside, another fight started between a group of white men, not students, and the black students. Police were called, and a white man was arrested. He pleaded guilty to simple battery.

Soohen, where do you get your facts? Soohen continues:

Later that month, a white student pulled a gun on a group of black students at a gas station, claiming self-defense. The black students wrestled the gun away and reported the incident to police. They were charged with assault and robbery of the gun.

Again, Soohen doesn't know what she's supposed to be reporting on. Again, she's created a "White student" where there was a White non-student. Caseptla Bailey explains the "gas station" exchange this way:

Well, that incident happened on Saturday, December 2nd, the following day, where Robert and two of his friends, Theo Shaw and Ryan Simmons, were going to Gotta-Go Grocery. And once they got there, they say Matt Windham, who is a man, not a student at Jena High School, and Matt Windham -- I guess they had come upon each other, because Matt Windham was involved the previous night with the white gentlemen that beat my son the previous night at the Fair Barn, where -- rather attacked my son at the Fair Barn. So once they came upon each other, I guess it was on.
You know, Matt ran to his truck, from my understanding, pulled a shotgun, a sawed-off shotgun with a pistol grip, and my son wrestled with him to get the gun from him. And the other two gentlemen proceeded then to fight, and they took the gun from him and left the scene running. You know, I'm sure they were -- I know they were in fear of their lives. They were afraid that this man was going to shoot them, you know, especially in the back, running away from the scene. So they were scared. I'm sure Matt Windham was scared. You know, but he chose to run to the truck and pull the shotgun, not our children.

"A man, not a student," says Robert Bailey's mother. Again, the federal government's summary of the events:

On Dec. 2, there was an encounter at the Gotta Go convenience store that appears to have been spurred by the Friday night fight. The white man, not a student, gave one version of the story, while the three black students gave another. Walters based his charges on the statement from the witness and neither of the sides involved, and charged one of the black students with battery and theft.

Soohen has a troubled relationship with the facts when she has a narrative to sell:

No charges were ever filed against the white students in either incident.

What White students in either incident? Soohen, what White Students? 22-year-old Justin Sloan was arrested for his attack at the party and got a slap on the wrist (injustice) while the woman involved (apparently Jessie Sloan, was also a White adult, not a student) didn't even get a slap on the wrist. At the "gas station," we're again dealing with a White adult, not a student. Why does Soohen have to lie? Soohen continues her creative 'reporting:'

Then, in late November, someone tried to burn down the high school, creating even more tension. Four days later, a white student was allegedly attacked in a school fight.

"Allegedly attacked"? The student was taken to the hospital. It's a cute little narrative Soohen offers, it's just not reporting.

And it's been the biggest embarrassment for independent media.

They've near consistently revealed themselves to be unwilling to report while expecting to be seen as reporters.

We're all for supporting the Jena Five.


Five times convicted and he's a saint?

Maybe, had independent media wanted to report instead of lie, we could know about the convictions. We could evaluate them. They've provided nothing on the five convictions. So left to take the mainstream media's word only (which happens when independent media stays silent), we're left with the belief that sports star Bell was a thug, not unlike many jocks on campuses, and got away with things he should have been thrown off the team for and moved to another school over.

Independent media embarrassed themselves by canonizing Bell. In doing so, they did a huge disservice to the other five who face being tainted by Bell's criminal past as more people learn of it. Had they done their job and covered those convictions -- or even noted them -- people would be informed; however, they didn't do that. Bell's past -- which is only Bell's as far as anyone knows -- will become better known and, when it does, some will be suspicious of the other five. That shouldn't happen but independent media has allowed it to.

The problem was the adults. The problem was always the adults. A school board overruling expulsion for the White students who hung the nooses (they were given two weeks probation), the school refusing to involve all parents immediately in what happened and to note that such actions would not be allowed or tolerated.

Another failure came when African-Americans who received jury summons elected not to show up. Hopefully those who elected not to obey the summons were not among the ones later complaining that the jury was all White.

In "Tipping the Scales of Justice in Jena," Amy Goodman opens with the following:

The tree at Jena High School has been cut down, but the furor around it has only grown.
"What did the tree do wrong?" asked Katrina Wallace, a stepsister of one of the Jena Six, when I interviewed her at the Burger Barn in Jena, La. "I planted it 14 years ago as a tree of knowledge."

How did the tree become a place for White students to sit while African-Americans were sitting on the bleachers? (We wouldn't be surprised to learn that more than just African-Americans were excluded from beneath the tree but the press wasn't interested in that.) Where were the adults?

Katrina Wallace planted the tree and you know she didn't plant it to belong to one group, let alone one group of White students. When it became that, where were the adults?

And, as Wallace asks, why was the tree cut down?

If the problem is not addressed, something else will stand in for the tree shortly.

Addressing it isn't independent media distorting the events or cutting out aspects that don't 'play' well. The five members of the Jena 6 without any record -- let alone a lengthy criminal history -- are done a huge disservice when their actions are lumped in with Bell's and independent media stays silent on Bell.

Al Sharpton does a huge disservice to issues of racism when he doesn't even know his facts. In an interview with Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!), Goodman twice corrected him about the name of the District Attorney; however she failed to correct the following by Sharpton:

The fact is that if you have a prosecutor that decided that he could not prosecute the students, the white students that hung the nooses, because a hate crime, you must be an adult, according to Louisiana law, and these were juveniles, yet he felt that the black kids in the fight who were the same age, going to the same school, were adults. How do you have white kids juveniles, black kids adults, same age, same school? The fact that he did not, in any firm way, prosecute the young white student that had a shotgun on school grounds, threatening the black students, that there was a black student that was beaten at a party that he was invited to by a white female, and that person, the white student, was given a hundred-dollar ticket, tantamount to a traffic ticket.

There was no shotgun reported on school grounds. Sharpton is referring to the "gas station" incident. The White man at the party who received a slap on the wrist for his assault was not a high school student, he was a 22-year-old man. Sharpton went on to misstate the facts again:

I think that, one, no one ever said that we condone schoolyard fights, but that’s what it was. And the punishment should have been a schoolyard fight. Had these young men been dealt with in juvenile court in a regular proceeding for juveniles like any other juvenile, including the white student that pulled the gun, the shotgun at the school, and the white student that beat up, I believe it was young Mr. Bailey at the party, I don’t think there would have ever been an issue, local or national.

Repeating, no "shotgun" was brought onto the school -- that was at a "gas station" -- and the assailant in the party beating was not a high school student, he was a 22-year-old White man.

Sharpton repeatedly made similar misstatements on urban radio. Betty and Cedric would direct friends to Democracy Now!'s previous coverage of the topic but that corrective was undone when Sharpton was allowed to distort the events on Democracy Now! itself.

Racism is very much a part of the United States in 2007 and it won't go away by people denying it. It also won't be eliminated by lying. All those who offered half-reports and full out lies have allowed very real racism to be ignored in the future because the truth does come out and when Bell's criminal history is better known, it will be the excuse -- as was Tawana Brawley -- to dismiss racism. Independent media truly should be ashamed. And, Betty's father wants noted, when your child gets arrested, "You get off your butt and haul it back to where your kid is. Not five times later, the very first time."

The 'creative' reporting didn't just hurt all future causes -- because as truth gets out Bell will be used in the same manner Tawana Brawley still is today -- to dismiss very serious racial justice issues. It also hurt the other five defendents. A point Jess' parents (his mother's a public defender, his father is a prison rights activist) wanted made. Five juveniles with no record are now publicly melded with Bell. Unlike Bell, they haven't been convicted five times. Unlike Bell, they weren't on probation. Unlike Bell, they weren't turned into saints by independent media. As their cases go to court, having been yoked to Bell -- having Bell turned into the poster boy for them, juries will see them as one person. The only one who benefits from that is Bell. The others are all hurt by it because, though independent media couldn't tell you about it, Bell's convictions have been heavily reported in areas that jury pools will come from. If there was one poster boy to be made out of this, the most likely would have been the then-fourteen-year-old. He is the most naturally sympathetic because of his age. Prospective jurors, hearing about the case over the last few weeks, would have been naturally the most sympathetic to him. However, independent media wasn't interested in that. And as a result, most following the coverage can't even name him today. They can't even shape a narrative correctly.

(For those scratching their heads -- many, but not all, will be, Jesse Ray Beard was 14-years-old at the time of the school beating.)

Now Bully Boy's concerned about spending? Now?

Earlier this year congressional leaders promised to show that they could be responsible with the people's money. Unfortunately they seem to have chosen the path of higher spending. They have proposed spending increases that would add an extra $205 billion on top of my Administration's budget request over the next five years. There's only one way to pay for such a large spending increase, and that is to raise taxes on the American people.

So declared the Bully Boy in his radio address yesterday. Suspend disbelief and accept that possibly Bully Boy knows what he's talking about and isn't in the mood for lying (really suspend disbelief), Congress is guilty of wanting to spend $205 billion more and mainly on domestic programs. Bully Boy's reaction? Threaten a tax increase. There's no money for the American people in Bully Boy's administration (except for cronies), but there's a ton for him to waste in his illegal war.

On this week's Bill Moyers Journal, the financial cost of the war was addressed. (This aired Friday in most markets. If it's already aired in your area, click here for transcript and here for a/v.)

BILL MOYERS: You said the other day to someone that we think we can fight the war in Iraq without paying for it.

JOHN BOGLE: Well, we borrow the money to fight the Iraq War by some estimates and they're not absurd estimates is running now towards a $1 trillion. We could be doing what the British empire did. We could be bankrupting ourselves in the long run. And--

BILL MOYERS: You see us as an empire?

JOHN BOGLE: Well, of course it's an empire. We reach all over the world. We thought of ourselves in many, many respects as the policemen of the world. God knows we know we're the policemen of the Middle East. And there are those say, even from Alan Greenspan on up or down, that oil is the root of that. I mean, these are great societal questions. Protecting oil, which is in turn polluting the atmosphere.
We have problems as a society. And we don't have to surrender to them. But, we have to have a little introspection about where we are in America today. We've go to think through these things. We've got to develop a political system that is not driven by money. I mean, these are societal problems for us that don't have any easy answers.
But you don't have to be an economist to know that a great deal of or a minimum in our economy is coming from borrowed money. People are spending at a higher rate than they're earning, and we're starting to pay a price for that now. Particularly in the mortgage side. But, eventually, that could easily spread and people won't be able to do that anymore. You can't keep spending money you don't have. It gets a lot of it, you know, and it wasn't that many years ago -- maybe a couple of generations ago -- that if you wanted something, you saved for it. And when you completed saving for it, you bought it. Imagine that. And that wasn't so bad. But, now, we know that we can have the instant gratification and pay for it with interest payments, of course, over time, which is not an unfair way to do it. We're going to pay a big price for the excessive debt we've accumulated in this society both in the public side and the private side.
And it's no secret that this lack of savings in our economy -- just about zero -- is putting us at the mercy of foreign countries. China owns -- I don't know the exact number -- but, let me say about 25 percent of our federal debt. China does. What happens when they start to buy our corporations with all those extra dollars they've got there? I mean, I think that's very-- these problems are long term, are very much worrisome and very much intractable.

They paved paradise and sold it to China? While Bully Boy overlooks those realities and refuses to take responsibility for his illegal war and on the very same day he slams Democrats regarding increases in spending, he also signed H.J. Res. 43 "which increases the statutory limit on the public debt limit".

The conflict is largely about the SCHIPS funding (we do not favor the legislation because we do not favor a flat tax) and, on Friday, White House flack Dana Perino attempted to paint Bully Boy as a saint but mainly revealed her ignorance saying Bully Boy cared about "making it more fair for people to be able to buy insurance . . ." Perino was lying but "more fair"?

Was Snow White banned in her home? "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" Perino really doesn't think it goes fair, more fair, fairest -- does she? (For the record the adjectives are fairer and fairest.)

For those wondering, Iraq proper didn't come up once in the press conference. A question was asked about Rush Limbaugh's use of the phrase "phony soldiers" and that was apparently all the attention the White House press corp could devote to the illegal war.

This despite the fact that spending was being addressed and despite the fact that, as John Nichols (Common Dreams) reported, on Thursday, Congress gave the Bully Boy $9 billion more in additional funding for the illegal war with only one senator voting against the measure (Russ Feingold) and only fourteen Democrats in the House voting against it (Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Earl Blumenauer, Keith Ellison, Ron Paul, Bob Filner, Barney Frank, Maurice Hinchey, Dennis Kunich, Jim McDermott, Donald Payne, Lynn Woolsey and Diane Watson voting no (Kucinich and Paul are running for their parties' presidential nomination). Presidential candidates Joe Biden, Sam Brownback, Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama skipped the vote.

Now Bully Boy wants to worry about spending? Well, as Isaiah's "Irma La Dunce" suggests, step under the red light Bully Boy and raise a few bucks.

Cultural Operations Research Human Terrain

Pledge of Non-participation in Counter-insurgency
We, the undersigned, believe that anthropologists should not engage in research and other activities that contribute to counter-insurgency operations in Iraq or in related theaters in the "war on terror." Furthermore, we believe that anthropologists should refrain from directly assisting the US military in combat, be it through torture, interrogation, or tactical advice.
US military and intelligence agencies and military contractors have identified "cultural knowledge," "ethnographic intelligence," and "human terrain mapping" as essential to US-led military intervention in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. Consequently, these agencies have mounted a drive to recruit professional anthropologists as employees and consultants. While often presented by its proponents as work that builds a more secure world, protects US soldiers on the battlefield, or promotes cross-cultural understanding, at base it contributes instead to a brutal war of occupation which has entailed massive casualties. By so doing, such work breaches relations of openness and trust with the people anthropologists work with around the world and, directly or indirectly, enables the occupation of one country by another. In addition, much of this work is covert. Anthropological support for such an enterprise is at odds with the humane ideals of our discipline as well as professional standards.
We are not all necessarily opposed to other forms of anthropological consulting for the state, or for the military, especially when such cooperation contributes to generally accepted humanitarian objectives. A variety of views exist among us, and the ethical issues are complex. Some feel that anthropologists can effectively brief diplomats or work with peacekeeping forces without compromising professional values. However, work that is covert, work that breaches relations of openness and trust with studied populations, and work that enables the occupation of one country by another violates professional standards.
Consequently, we pledge not to undertake research or other activities in support of counter-insurgency work in Iraq or in related theaters in the "war on terror," and we appeal to colleagues everywhere to make the same commitment.

The above is the petition from the Network of Concerned Anthropologists. Anthropologists, including Roberto J. Gonzalez and David H. Price, started the site and Gonzalez and Price also contributed "When Anthropologists Become Counter-Insurgents" (CounterPunch) on Friday:

In fact, David Kipp of the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas describes HTS teams as a "CORDS for the 21st Century"-a reference to the Pentagon's Vietnam-era Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support project. The most infamous product of the CORDS counter-insurgency effort was the Phoenix Program, in which CIA agents collected intelligence information used to "neutralize" (read assassinate) suspected Viet Cong members. Between 1968 and 1972, more than 26,000 suspected Viet Cong were killed as a result, including many civilians.
Kipp's comparison of HTS and CORDS begs a series of ethical questions which have gone unanswered. If anthropologists on HTS teams interview Afghans or Iraqis about the intimate details of their lives, what is to prevent combat teams from using the same data to one day "neutralize" suspected insurgents? What would impede the transfer of data collected by social scientists to commanders planning offensive military campaigns? Where is the line that separates the professional anthropologist from the counter-insurgency technician? Although the answers to these questions are not clear, the history of anthropology should give us pause. During World War II and the Cold War, US military and intelligence agencies tended to use anthropologists' work to help accomplish immediate goals, and discarded all other information that was counter to their beliefs or institutional models.
Other wars brought anthropology to the battlefield, but with mixed results, and lingering questions remain about the ethics and the efficacy of these interactions--even in wars with much broader support than the current misadventure in Iraq. These engagements have always raised deep ethical questions within the discipline. Even during the Second World War, a number of anthropologists were troubled by the use of specific cultural anthropological knowledge for warfare, and as Laura Thompson in 1944 worried, what would become of anthropology if its practitioners became nothing more than "technicians for hire to the highest bidder?" After the war, CIA operatives like Edward Lansdale tapped ethnographic knowledge for campaigns in the Philippines and Vietnam; and when disclosures about the use of anthropological data in the Vietnam War were made public, the resulting clash within the American Anthropological Association created rifts that remain evident to this day.

In this community, the topic was first addressed in C.I.'s "When Dumb Ass Met Dumb Ass." (December, 2006) when War Hawk George Packer (so fidgety on Bill Moyers Journal last week -- as hard not to notice as the ever increasing bald 'spot') wrote (in The New Yorker) with glee over a freakish woman (who cackles to Packer, "I'm engaged in a massive act of rebellion against my hippie parents") and her involvement in a program that should have gotten massive attention. C.I. wrote:

She's now a consultant for the Pentagon and quite a bit more. She majored in anthro and now uses her doctorate for bad. (No surprise to anyone who remembers her tantrums as a child.)

She's Packer's kind of people, a supposed hippie child (in her dreams) who woke up to reality and now will use knowledge of a people against them which is what her talk of "culture" is about -- using it to conquer a people. She was frightening as a child, she's more so today.

This is the new phase, what's giving Bully Boy hope that he can still eek out a 'win' in his illegal war, the 'culture' ammo that Monty and others will provide him with. The department is called Cultural Operations Research Human Terrain and it's tasked with using research against a people. An unnamed Marine is 'quoted.' It's apparently what he told Monty but for some reason Packer presents the quote as though he heard it himself: "We were focused on broadcast media and metrics. But this had no impact because Iraqis spread information through rumor. We should have been visiting their coffee shops."

To tell the truth? No, to spread their own rumors (which was all the military was doing with their broadcasts and their leaflets). Propaganda, the US military hopes, will go down easier with the help of Monty and her ilk.

This is such a betrayal of the sciences and anyone who says otherwise is a liar or a fool. The closest Packer can get to that reality is when he speaks to another anthropoligist (think of them as Conquering Apologists) who wants far less of the limelight than Monty (she always wanted the limelight) and goes unnamed but does state: "I do not want to get anybody killed" and offers that people are so offended by her work that "I end up getting shunned at cocktail parties."

Oh boo-hoo. In a just world, you'd be stripped of your degree and possibly imprisoned for war crimes. You do not misuse science. You do not gather information under phoney pretexts or study a people so that you can conquer them -- not in the social sciences. (That's done by marketing majors.) (A joke.)

If we've noted this here before, it would have been in a roundtable or an editorial. C.I. and Elaine have repeatedly revisited this topic this year. You have to wonder why independent media (broadcast) can't say the same?

Hopefully, the petition will garner some attention. If not, it will just be one more aspect of the illegal war that independent media has been AWOL on.

Rusty Yates

We're posting an e-mail that came in Saturday and posting it in full. We do not vouch for the comments in it, we do not disavow the comments in it. We found it to be an interesting e-mail.

It's not signed and we have no idea who it came from. (We won't reprint the e-mail address.) Ty periodically checks the e-mails during the writing of these editions to find out if there's anything breaking a regular member wants noted. He read this and shared it with us. It's responding to Ava and C.I.'s "TV: What Could Be Lower Than A Cesspool?" from July 30, 2006. Again, there TV commentaries have long, long shelf lives. In that commentary, they addressed ABC's Primetime Live and the e-mail is about that episode's coverage of the Andrea Yates case.

You are correct in stating the obvious. Rusty Yates was deep into the Michael Woroniecki cult and was the whole basis for Andrea's indoctrination.

I was a member of this "mail order" cult for 4 years. Although I never knew Rusty Yates back then (I do now, but we had a falling out over his denial of responsibility in the tragedy), I heard his name mentioned on a letter tape distributed to disciples in the fall of 1984. Rusty abandoned his naval scholarship and dropped out of the military only months after meeting Woroniecki at Auburn. It is clear to me he had persuaded Rusty to abandon it, although from the world's point of view, that's not conclusive. Woroniecki persuaded me to abandon a career. That was the one thing Woroniecki was not able to effect with Rusty, as he apparently picked up the pieces from Woroniecki's influence, finished his degree and went on to NASA to work. It became the reason Woroniecki would emphasis why his kids would never get saved and why he was going to hell.

Woroniecki had almost fully converted this man. He had abandoned living in a home for RV life--he bought the preacher's bus. He was pumping out children at light-speed. He was implementing home schooling. He had almost completely isolated his family from the "world." He was the authority in that family in accordance to cult teaching, and nothing happened in it without his approval. Rusty was determined however to walk a comfortable line between two realities, a cult and the real world. This drove Woroniecki batty. In Woroniecki's mind, despite his strides to conform, Rusty still loved the world and was still headed for hell.

Although Rusty had a falling out with the preacher in 1999, notice Rusty still "could not find a church that he liked" (he wasn't looking--the preacher convinced him, like he did me, that the "churches were of Satan.") Rusty had simply refused to have a further relationship with the preacher, but he still held his teachings. He tenaciously hung onto that RV bus after buying the second home at the insistence of Andrea's mother. He spent thousands of dollars to install a driveway for it. Woroniecki was a closed door, but the dream was still operationally intact. Rusty chose the three bedroom house because he could set up a home-schooling room in it.

Primetime didn't peer too closely into the cult, but one could say they only had time to focus on a few aspects of a very large case. You are correct in saying they obscured the fact that Rusty violated doctor's orders in leaving her unattended. Rusty's motives were based on his former belief about depression, that all these people needed was a "swift kick in the pants" to get motivated, he told Brian Kennedy (CNN transcript). I was satisfied at least that they connected Andrea's delusions to the bizarre cult teachings of Michael Woroniecki, and showed a portion of the video where those ideas principally came from. I own a copy, and I made a 30 minute excerpt of the teaching from it for the net:


We've added the link which ran as a stand alone address in the e-mail (including it as such would throw the entry off -- see Elaine's "Isaiah, Kevin & Monica Benderman, 3800" for an example, scroll down to her Green Party excerpt -- because the web address was too long). Otherwsie, the e-mail is as sent. Again, we can't vouch for it, we don't even know the name of the person who sent it. But we did think it was worthy of inclusion.
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