Sunday, December 02, 2007

Truest statement of the week

I just want to note about the blurring of the line why we’re in such a moment of danger right now. The President has said that he can say, "Amy Goodman, you're an enemy combatant. Naomi Wolf, you're an enemy combatant. This guy behind the camera, you're an enemy combatant. A person walking down the street, enemy combatant. can be anyone. A person walking down the street, enemy combatant." And it doesn’t matter that we're innocent US citizens. I mean, we could be Republicans, we could be evangelicals. It doesn't matter. He can take us, and if he says it's true, that makes it true, because it's a status offense, and he can put us in a ten-by-twelve-foot cell in a Navy brig in solitary confinement for three years, making it difficult for us to see our families, to contact an attorney, to get charges filed.They can't torture us yet, though I was chilled to learn that an adviser to the White House was reported in a British newspaper yesterday as not ruling out waterboarding against US citizens. However, psychologists know that prolonged isolation makes sane people insane. That's what happened to Jose Padilla. So, you know, when I say everyone’s got their moment at which they start to silence themselves, the day I read in the New York Times that someone I identify with has been named an enemy combatant and is sitting in a Navy brig in isolation, that's when I'm going to stop talking in a context like this, because that’s when I will become too afraid.

American Freedom Campaign's Naomi Wolf, author of The End of America: Letters of Warning to a Young Patriot, from Democracy Now!'s "'The End of America': Feminist Social Critic Naomi Wolf Warns U.S. in Slow Descent into Fascism" (November 28, 2007).

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --

Another Sunday nightmare. Here's who participated 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 Dallas who we thank. We also thank Isaiah for his illustration we reposted.

Truest statement of the week -- Naomi Wolf had five contenders and we went with this one. If you want to see which section you would have selected, use the link to watch, listen to or read Amy Goodman's interview with her.

Editorial: Cover the December 11th War Resisters hearings -- Is it going to get coverage? We know it deserves coverage. But considering that Eli Israel is but one of many names who've gone public in 2007 and received zilch from independent media (broadcast and print), we just don't know. (Eli Israel is the first US service member to resist while stationed in Iraq. We feel we have to add that he did not to Canada. We feel we have to add that because there's been no coverage of him.)

TV: Fumble Line -- This was one of the nightmares. It wasn't a problem when Ava and C.I. cautioned us that they weren't sure they had anything this week. It wasn't a problem when we read it (to steal from Ava and C.I., "We'll get back to that"). It was a problem when a PBS friend (the same one who had a problem last spring with one of their commentaries after it posted) called to find out what they were going to say about Frontline? They had written the commentary and shared the basics. "A heated exchange" describes perfectly what we heard. Ava and C.I. were pissed and the person on speaker phone as well. In the end, Ava and C.I. said agreed to pull a name. (And they note, they were correct. A friend who was with Simon & Schuster already called to ask, "Were you talking about ___? Yes, she's quoted in" one of the books released while the person was at the publisher. They'll be naming next week when they can get ahold of that book.) Since they were pulling a woman's name, they then felt it was only fair to pull the names of the two men. This makes the delay seem briefer than it was. Since their feature rarely causes a hold up (and since it wasn't the only delay), no hard feelings. Back to when we read it. As Dona said, "I thought you told us it would be two paragraphs if that?" Exactly. They had a great deal to say. I am not insulting or devaluing the work they do covering entertainment programs -- they make many excellent political points with those. But for those who sometimes wonder why I always urge them ("Urge? Try demand," says Ava) to cover a news program it's for commentaries like these. Here's why they didn't think they had much: they watched a bad program. Here's why they need to do these news programs: they know all the details, all the backstory. You're getting the fact that the program's celebrating an anniversary that has yet to arrive, that leads them into the history of the show, that leads them into the way the 2004 election was covered, which leads to the program from last week, which leads to the critique of the specific episode.

Bilal -- Bilal Hussein needs to be set free. He doesn't need to stand trial and then be freed, he needs to be freed by the US military right now.

Mailbag -- The first feature we worked on. Betty pulled one section where she was speaking when Kat reminded her, "You just gave away Betinna." Betty didn't realize that until she looked over the transcript and saw Kat was correct. Otherwise, nothing got pulled.

Holiday Shopping Suggestions -- Do you still have gifts to buy? If so consider the ones listed.

Laura Flanders speaks with Dennis Kucinich -- We hadn't planned to write this one and it didn't make the print version. But we ended up doing it due to the long delays.

Peter Byrne on The Nation -- During the long delay, Ty remembered we hadn't dealt with the comments by Peter Byrne that a number of you had e-mailed about. There are typos here (probably in everything) but I said, "Post it!" as soon as it was typed because I didn't want C.I. going through and softening it up.

Kimberly Wilder urges you to vote for Donna Warren -- Kimberly Wilder makes the case for Donna Warren. (Again, C.I.'s the only one of us who could vote in that election. Of those participating in this note, we could vote in KPFA's LSB election.)

Things to watch, things to listen to -- Our guide. A big problem. Due to Laura Flanders' program which we couldn't get an air time for. Prior to the delay, this was to go up before her show aired online via Air America Radio's website. We missed that and had to track down another station. Not easy. We will note that a station on the West coast broadcasts her around midnight.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Betty, Wally, Cedric, Kat and Rebecca wrote this and picked out the highlights unless otherwise noted. We thank them for it.

That's it, see you next week.

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

Editorial: Cover the December 11th War Resisters hearings

In 2003, the Liberal government upheld international law and refused to join the war in Iraq.
Prime Minister Jean Chretien
Iraq war debate -- March 17, 2003

Chretien: If military action proceeds without a new resolution of the [United Nations] Security Council, Canada will not participate.

[Applause. Standing ovation.]

Since 2004, dozens of U.S. soldiers have left the military and come to Canada.

These soldiers have come to Canada because they oppose the war in Iraq.

They need a provision from the Canadian government to let them stay.

US War Resister Justin Colby: My name is Justin Colby. I was a specialist in the United States Army. I served for three years. I spent one year in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. I joined the army after 9-11 and I left the army after my year in Iraq, before my unit was going to go back. And I left because Iraq never attacked the United States and the things that we did there led me to believe that we weren't defending our country.

On November 15th, 2007, the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of U.S. war resisters.

As a result, U.S. war resisters living in Canada face deportation back to the U.S.

If deported, they face imprisonment, or even deployment back to Iraq.

US War Resister Kimberly Rivera: I'm Kimbely Rivera. I served three months in Iraq and I'm here with my family.

A 2007 poll found that 64.6% of Ontario voters and 71% of Liberal voters want U.S. war resisters to stay in Canada.

US War Resister Phil McDowell: My name is Phil McDowell. I'm a former sergeant in the United States Army. I joined the army after September the 11th. I served a one-year tour in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. During my tour I realized that the war was unjust and illegal and the reasons for the invasion were lies. After completing my contractual agreement with the army, I was called back into service for another fifteen-month tour. At that time, I refused to deploy, moved to Canada because I believed I'd be able to stay here. We're asking Liberals to support a provision that would allow Iraq War Resisters to remain in Canada.

U.S. war resisters need the support of the Liberal Party to live in Canada.

War Resisters Support Campaign

The above is the transcript to one of many PSA's the War Resisters Support Campaign has put together. Cindy Sheehan (at OpEdNews) urges people to utilize Courage to Resist's easy to mail or e-mail resources to allow the Canadian government to know you are watching and to support organizations supporting war resisters as well as supporting war resisters by donating money to cover expenses for Ryan Johnson, Jen Johnson (his wife) and Brandon Hughey to attend the the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in Ottawa on December 11th (the address for checks or money orders is Ryan Johnson, 312 Tower Rd. Nelson, BC V1L3K6).

What's going on, you may wonder? In the middle of last month, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the appeals of US war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey. With the courts abdicating their responsibilities, energies are now being focused on Parliament and insisting that they do the right thing. As Sheehan points out, it is very important that war resisters such as Ryan Johnson and Brandon Hughey be able to speak, it's important that Jen Johnson is present because the decision to expel war resisters would not only effect individuals, it would also effect family members. Joshua and Brandi Key have made a home for themselves and their children. Patrick and Jill Hart have put down roots with their son as well. Kimberly Rivera and her husband and children aren't visiting, they're attempting to restart their lives.

It took a lot of courage and strength for all the war resisters (whether they've gone public or simply blended in) to make the decision to go to Canada. They've gotten very little support in the US alternative media. They have gotten attention from the mainstream media (which covers the story but doesn't advocate -- advocating is supposed to be the role of independent media). When the decision on Hinzman and Hughey's appeals was announced, you might have thought independent media in the US would turn the day over to publishing commentaries at magazine websites and broadcast discussions of the impact. You would be wrong. If you waited thinking that they were attempting to figure out what the Court's refusal actually meant . . . Well it's been weeks since the announcement, think about what you've seen and heard. Very little.

When a government is making a decision, media coverage is very important. It sends a message that people are watching. December 11th is the date scheduled for the hearings and we're honestly wondering if anyone's planning to cover it. (We wouldn't be at all surprised to see Truthout cover it -- and we'd be glad and note their coverage -- but we're referring to broadcast and print when we speak of "independent media.") Regardless of the outcome of the hearings, this is important and this is news.

War resisters will be testifying publicly about what led to their decision to resist. All will be noting the illegal nature of the war. Some will be sharing tales of the reasons they enlisted, some will be sharing how they attempted to be granted C.O. status but were refused, some will be sharing what they saw while stationed in Iraq. With the US ambassador to Canada going from granting interviews on the subject in an effort to clamp down on attention to writing letters to the editor, you damn well better believe his bosses hope the hearings don't get US media attention. In the middle of the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk, the White House has largely succeeded in divorcing Iraq from reality. Reality will be presented by those who speak publicly. The question is who will know about and that question goes to who will cover it?

This is an issue and those against the illegal war who are donating to candidates who cannot commit to ending the illegal war if elected should be using their money to end the illegal war by donating to the organizations that honestly attempt to end it. Post-2013 is not ending it. It's not a commitment because it assumes that not only will the candidate be elected to one term, he or she would be elected to two. You need to grasp that the 'front runners' (Barack Obama, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton) are saying, "Vote for me in 2008." Will you end the illegal war if we vote for you? "No. I can't promise that. I can promise you that if I'm voted into office in 2008 and again in 2012, I may end the illegal war in my hypothetical second term."

Everyone should expect that US independent media will be present and providing coverage, it does fit clearly with their stated roles. And if they again fail to live up to their obligations, they should be held accountable.

Illustrain is Isaiah's "Canada in Distress."

TV: Fumble Line


PBS' Frontline, like Mother Superior, frequently jumps the gun. We'd like to say we're referring to a desire to rush timely reports on air; however, we're referring to their tendency to rush towards self-congratulation. Currently they are trumpeting the fact that they've been airing for 'over 25 years' and we'd be happy to offer a non-sincere "Congratulations" were it not for the fact that the program began airing January 1983. Now we may not be math genius but we can add 25 to 1983. We bet you can as well and that you also come to the figure of 2008. In other words, they're like a twenty-year-old desperate to order that first legal drink -- a desperation unbecoming in a young adult and certainly unbecoming in a news program.

They don't, however, consider themselves a news program. They bill themselves as a "public affiars" program which will come as a shock to many journalists who regularly write of it as a news program. Billing itself as a news program would not allow them to use the adjective "longest running" as a preface since The NewsHour beats it out. So they abdicate their genre to grab onto a title. It's perfectly in keeping with the Frontline legacy, one you won't find told in the laughable "about us" section of their website.

Jessica Savitch is a name many may not know today. (Chet Collier and Frank Magid are among the names Docker Boy David Carr fumbled past last week in The New York Times when trying to explain a shift in news which Savitch's era represented.) Up Close and Personal started out as a film about her life; however, drugs, death, sex and more isn't "Disney" enough, even if you could attach a mermaid's tale to it, so what made it to screen was yet another version of A Star Is Born. But once upon a time, Jessica Savitch was a big name in news circles. It was thought she might become the first women to land the (solo) anchor role on the weekday evening news. (Savitch did anchor NBC's weekend news.) She was a news star at NBC. Both Bill Moyers and Charles Kuralt turned down the offer to host Frontline. Jessica Savitch said yes. Though she mainly provided narration, the program and PBS were more than happy to ride her famous name so it's a little disgusting how quick they are to disown her today.

Maybe it's not the reports of her drug use but that she's considered too 'fluffy' for their tastes? We're talking about a program that debuted with a look at the NFL and organized crime. A shade or two of difference and it could have been a Geraldo special. Instead with Savitch's name, her skill and her interview with Pete Rozelle, over eight million viewers tuned in for the show's debut. It's equally true that the show was happy to use Savitch when it was time to raise money -- even after the program began airing. An argument could be made that it wouldn't be around today were it not for signing Savitch (and whether or not that would be a god thing is also open to debate), so it's a little pathetic to watch them distance themselves so from the name that made them.

Almost as pathetic as alleged journalists with the program telling -- after Savitch died -- tidbits that supposedly embarrassed Savitch (who was as temperamental as Dan Rather and assorted others are) but really just demonstrated how pathetic the people she had to work with were. One only demonstrated how stupid she herself was when she began dining out on tales of how Jessica Savitch -- in the pre-cell phone days -- demanded to leave a location (during a taping break) to go to a pay phone in order to make a call. Savitch's contract with NBC was being re-negotiated and she feared NBC had brought in Connie Chung as a replacement. When the call was made, she would learn Chung was replacing her as weekend anchor. Wanting to make the call was not a sign of 'diva' behavior or a sign of paranoia. It was what any anchor would have been doing during a break. As shocking and pathetic as repeating that supposedly 'illuminating' story (after Savitch died) was, the men working on the show were no better as they offered comparisons (after Savitch died) to Marilyn Monroe and Alex in Fatal Attraction (Glenn Close's psycho character). They kissed her ass while she was alive because they needed her. The minute she died, they preyed on her like vultures.

Jessica Savitch did cocaine. Sorry to shock anyone but she's not the only news personality (or anchor) to do it. Her image has been repeatedly trashed and sullied by those who needed her to get their program on the air. The fact that Moyers and Kuralt turned them down should have clued everyone involved with the program that they didn't have the jewel they thought they did and they should have considered themselves damn lucky to have landed a name like Jessica Savitch.

The lack of appreciation goes a long way towards explaining Frontline which veers from rare insights to That's Incredible! from week to week. A program that devalues what put them on the map also disrespects their audience.

Which is how you get the con game they pulled on viewers in 2004, after the party conventions, when they decided to offer a two-hour broadcast about that year's presidential election. It was entitled "The Choice" but viewers even only semi-awake should have grasped that the choosing had been made before the program ever aired.

Did it lean to Bully Boy? PBS always tilts right. But we're not even talking about that. We are talking about the fact that public television -- created with a mandate for diversity -- told viewers they had two choices: Bully Boy or John Kerry. Who knew public television had signed the "Ralph, Don't Run!" petition? Frontline certainly acted as if it had.

It acts like a number of things while billing itself as a "thought provoking journalism." Wait, it just called itself a public affairs program! Twenty-four years later (not twenty-five) and it still can't figure out what it is. Conveying that confusion seemed to be the entire point of last week's episode.

"Spying on the Home Front" featured an attempt at open 'cute' programming. Viewers were treated to a wedding in Las Vegas and, look, there's an Elvis impersonator. Home movies turned Americans into voyeurs when they should have been appalled that everyone in Vegas was being watched (forget New Year's Eve, those cameras run constantly). Having wasted a valuable amount of time, it was then off to the land of catch-up: How we got here?

As the episode continued, you might have found yourself longing for the couple's return since you were now smack dab in PBS-country, national capital: Official Land!

Did you learn anything? Well, it's good to know torture boy John Yoo is packing on the pounds and his bags under the eyes film worse than Oprah's. But anything of real value? It may have been established that NSA letters and not court orders were used in some cases of spying on Americans (specifically, eavesdropping on their electronic communications) -- then again, it may not have been established. The viewers were left to draw their own conclusions.

And maybe some did. Maybe some people who have managed to make it through the last years without ever hearing of the Bully Boy's illegal, warrantless spying, actually learned something? If so, good for them. We have no idea why that crowd would be watching Frontline -- maybe the remote busted? -- in the first place but anything's possible.

For those who've been paying even a tiny amount of attention, they were most likely frustrated as the program offered, at best, bullet points and nothing in depth. Had Robert Parry (Consortium News) been on, for example, he could have addressed the way Bully Boy's actions fit into the larger push for 'unitary executive power.' He could have provided the context that John Yoo (who had a serious problem looking at the camera -- a common trait among those who lie on camera) was fumbling around. Parry could have explained it and could have critiqued it. Instead viewers were left with Yoo trying to make like the last one standing at the fort as 'marauders' rode in. A Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) or Marjorie Cohn (National Lawyers Guild) could have explained the legal basics involved and really gotten to the heart of the Constitutional objections -- instead, the talking head officials they went with provided about the same level of enlightenment as the ghastly Liberty Kids. Without Parry, Ratner or Cohn -- or anyone else qualified to speak on the subject -- it was all a series of similar events whose relationship to one another, if any, could be boiled down as "Say what?"

In her new book The End of America: Letters of Warning to a Young Patriot, Naomi Wolf explains how spying works in a country, in a closing society. It's used to track (which Frontline managed to grasp) and it's used to silence (which they really didn't). Whether it was the couple who married in Vegas or any 'official' paraded, illegal spying on American citizens was presented as basically something annoying, like living next door to Bewitched's Gladys Kravitz.

That's not really the point of spying. The point is to silence, to intimidate. When it's known that a government is spying on its citizens -- any government -- that doesn't just 'irritate' or 'tick off' citizens, it silences them. They begin restricting their activities based on what they know about the targets of surveillance and what they fear. So when an attorney like Brandon Mayfield is targeted, the fact that he's committed no crime (he committed no crime) doesn't really matter. What matters is that he spoke out against the government and the government, publicly, made it clear that those who challenge the official line coming out of the White House will be spied upon, will be targeted. That is the point of spying, that is the point of torture. It reaches far beyond the people who are actually spied upon or tortured to create a fear running through an entire society that anyone and everyone could be next so no one better question, no one better buck the system, fall in line quickly. It sends a message.

It's a message Frontline viewers never received because none of the 'officials' on the program seemed well versed in the topic. Any news or public affairs program exploring the topic of spying needs to address fully the effects it repeatedly has on any society that allows its government to spy on the citizens. Not to do so is a failure. Frontline failed for an hour.

After a viewer digests sixty minutes of PBS on one topic, they should never have to wonder "Say what?" When a PBS program can't get across the basics and their relationship to one another in an hour something is seriously wrong. But, hey, you got to see an Elvis impersonator sing, right? That should count for . . . nothing.

We had a made a point to ask friends at PBS which episode to watch and this is the one they advised us was the best. We'll assume that is the case and they weren't trying to trick us by unloading a 1978 Ford Pinto. That said, we felt like we were test driving a Hyundai and cursing the salesperson who swore to us it handled just like a Honda.

If Frontline can utilize (waste) an hour by only hinting around at some of the realities, what really is the point of the show?


Note: We named the people trashing Savitch in the print version. Part of the long delay in this week's online edition (only part) resulted from a PBS friend calling this morning to ask what we were saying about Frontline? We outlined the key points and were told, "You can't mention her by name!" We don't see why we can't name a woman who's trashed Jessica Savitch. We're told those statements may have been made over the years publicly (they have been, repeatedly) but they were never made to the press "or at least not on the record." After a heated exchange, we agreed to pull the woman in question's name (and, since she wasn't being named, we made the decision to pull the names of the men). That was because we don't have the time to hunt down printed versions of the statements but we believe they do exist. If this really pisses us off after we've had some sleep (it does now), we may go looking for those statements in published accounts and, if we do, we will note the three people by name either in a note added to this commentary or in next week's commentary.


A Pentagon source who requested anonymity advised me that the Pentagon has prepared a total of nine charges against [Bilal] Hussein. All but two of the charges are "make weight," the source said. The two "more serious accusations" are that Hussein promised to help an individual suspected of involvement in insurgent activities to secure a false I.D., and that his photographs--disseminated internationally by the A.P.–demonstrate that Hussein is a propagandist for insurgents. The source said all of these allegations, excepting perhaps the claims about the I.D., were "extremely weak" and "lacked any meaningful evidence to support them" but noted that "after more than a year and a half of holding this man in prison, it was not possible simply to release him, because that would mean admitting that a mistake was made."
The source also stated that the Pentagon's public affairs division, now headed by Dorrance Smith, had been deeply engaged in the matter from the outset. He said that the Pentagon would say that all decisions were made on the ground in Baghdad. "In a formal sense that is true, but Baghdad is dancing to the Pentagon's tune." The source also stated that using right-wing bloggers as a means of disseminating the story was a strategy formally embraced by Pentagon public affairs at a very high level. "They’re natural allies. Our message is their message. And they have no particular interest in fact-checking. It drives the mainstream media nuts." He likened the right-wing blogosphere to sheep dogs who would keep the American mainstream media in line.

The above is from Scott Horton's "U.S. Seeks to Prosecute Pulitzer Prize-Winning A.P. Photographer" (Harper's magazine). April 12, 2006, Bilal Hussein was imprisoned by the US military and he's remained imprisoned ever since. His crime was reporting. Actual reporting. Including the realities of Falluja. Not rah-rah Dexy Gordon nonsense, but the reality of the slaughter. The military brass didn't like it, nor did the White House. That's his 'crime.'

Now they prepare to punish Bilal. Though he was arrested by the US military and held for over 19 months (thus far), he's going to face an Iraqi court. An Iraqi court? Not an independent body in what is an occupied land. Not a body known for making great decisions since the invasion. But if we all close our eyes and shut our mouths, maybe we can pretend.

Attempting to try their case in public, various government spokespersons (military and non-military) have issued statements linking Bilal to 'insurgents,' to 'enemy-combatants,' to 'terrorists' and to al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. If you look too closely at any of the charges aired publicly in the past, you'll quickly grasp that part of the problem is the classification the military has used and the press has echoed.

Who are these groupings? A real press would have made their own determination instead of repeating whatever was the military spin for the day. The bulk of those people are Iraqis. But an occupying force bringing 'freedom' to Iraq can't very well admit that the ones they are fighting are, in fact, Iraqis. So categories are invented.

Bilal is an Iraqi. He grew up there, lived there all of his life. He is from Falluja. The US slaughtered Falluja in November of 2004 (the US attacked it in April of 2004). We would imagine that among the people Bilal grew up with their are many with a variety of feelings towards the US foreign forces and we wouldn't be at all surprised if many of them had hostile thoughts about US forces.

Those are contacts and sources. Bilal is a photo-journalist. A journalist works their contacts and sources to get the best news they can. A journalist, though Dexy Filkins appears to have thought otherwise, is not part of any military, foreign or domestic. A journalist is supposed to tell a story to the best of their ability.

Dexy himself had contacts with the resistance and was going to meet with them. He was so jazzed he even bragged about it to US military brass. A scowl was enough for Dexy to kill that assignment. He denies the story we believe Molly Bingham who is far more trusty to us. Bingham and Steve Connors have a documentary Meeting Resistance which is playing across the United States and will be playing this evening (7:00 pm and 9:30 pm) at Baxter Avenue Theatres, 1250 Bardstown Road in Louisville, Kentucky. Their amazing documentary comes from the two journalists working their sources. That is what a journalist is supposed to do.

Bilal's 'crime' was not grasping that 'good' reporters were the Dexy Filkins who only went where the US military told them to, only wrote what the US military wanted them to and his 'award winning' piece appears to have been vetted by them due to the long delay between the actions themselves, his dateline and when the piece finally appeared in print.

Unlike Dexy, Bilal didn't travel with a regiment of bodyguards (the paper's bodyguards). He traveled among his fellow Iraqis. And that really frightens the military brass, that someone might go where they didn't want them to, that someone might tell what was really happening.

When he and Dexy were go-go-boy living it up in the Green Zone, John F. Burns made the ridiculous statement that he tailors his own coverage (and presumably that of those he edited) for US tax payers. He was quoted making that statement but not forced to explain it. A reporter's supposed to tailor coverage to the truth.

If you're wondering why Dexy and Burnsie are being mentioned here it's because they are part of the Bilal story. By refusing to be independent reporters (Dexy was the US military's go-to-guy when it was time to plant a story; Burnsie had enough experience to know how to report even though he sought to ignore that experience), they added to the climate. They didn't create it. That can't be pinned upon them. The US government didn't want reality getting out of Iraq. That's why reporters were warned/threatened prior to the start of the illegal war that they could be targets (US military targets) if they weren't embedded with the US military. As Naomi Wolf notes in The End of America: Letters of Warning to a Young Patriot, BBC's Kate Adie explained that the Pentagon announced they would "target down" on unembedded reporters transmitting via satellite phones and other electronic devices and that one official explained, "Who cares . . . they've been warned." (Pages 116-117 which also note that the Pentagon wanted to know the political positions of all non-embedded reporters.)

This was the climate before the illegal war started. The mainstream press, in total, refused to question it. They went along with it, many eagerly so. They betrayed their professions and created the climate in which someone doing a journalist's job could be seen as a 'criminal.' And now, when Bilal faces a 'court' hearing, they can't question that publicly. (At least two mainstream news outlets have privately advocated, to the US military, for the release of Bilal.)

If these same censorship standards had been imposed during Vietnam, a lot of reporters would have been behind bars. Things weren't perfect then. But the US press did realize that telling what was happening would require covering everything and not just what the US military wanted covered. But today, like Dan Rather embarrassing himself on David Letterman, news outlets have blurred their professional responsibilities to the point that accurate reporting, when it goes against the line coming out of the White House, is seen as a threat, a crime and something to be punished.

The illegal war will end. Not soon enough and it certainly never should have begun. What won't end will be the stain on journalism. And unless and until journalists can stand with Bilal, the entire profession is under attack. Not from online critics (including ourselves) but from the government. When a journalist doing their job is a threat, there's been a deep confusion as to what journalism is actually supposed to be.

Failure to stand up for and with Bilal betrays journalism and it is such a huge betrayal that there may be no 'bounce back.' If this is allowed to go on without being called out loudly, forget the reality of journalism today, even the greatness once dreamed of is lost. In fact, if it's allowed to go on, we'd suggest that every college journalism program begin immediately implementing courses on "How to cover the US military as a promotional tool and second arm of the government" because otherwise you're educating students in a practice that will be deemed 'criminal.'

Free Bilal. Not 'try him and let the courts decide.' Free him. He's done nothing wrong. He's done journalism. And if one journalist is allowed to stand trial for doing their job, you're setting up the grounds under which another journalist can be tried.

The Trial of the Press (that's what it is, Bilal's just a stand in for the profession) is due to begin December 9th in Baghdad. It should never take place. Bilal should be immediately freed by the US military. Associated Press president and CEO Tom Curley noted ("Railroading A Journalist In Iraq," Washington Post):

After months of stony silence, except for leaks of unsupported and self-serving allegations to friendly media outlets, military authorities are railroading Bilal's case before a judge in circumstances designed to put Bilal and his lawyers at an extreme disadvantage.
Perhaps it is not surprising that the operators of the world's largest prison-camp network have found a way to provide access to due process in a form that actually looks more unjust than indefinite imprisonment without charges.
But this is a poor example -- and not the first of its kind -- of the way our government honors the democratic principles and values it says it wants to share with the Iraqi people.

It also sets an example for Iraqis and, please note, Nouri al-Maliki has repeatedly used the 'crackdown' (in all of its versions) to 'crackdown' on the press.

The AP did their own investigation into Bilal (Scott Horton was one of the attorneys who worked on some of the investigation) and they found nothing. After 19 months of imprisonment, it's obvious the US military has nothing either.

AP's Ellen Hale pointed out (September 20, 2006):

Journalists interview and photograph murderers, child molesters, kidnappers, and, yes, even terrorists, when they cover news that the public has a right to know, such as the reality of the insurgency in Iraq. To cover the conflicts in our world, journalists must have contact with the people who engage on various sides of the conflict.

Hale is correct and that is what journalism is supposed to be. Allowing Bilal to be tried alters journalism. It alters the way it is practiced today (due to the chilling message a trial sends -- more chilling, believe it or not, than the 19 month imprisonment) and it alters the way it's seen in the future.

Think about it, with little else to visualize, American journalist students have pictured becoming the next Woodward and Bernstein. A trial sends a different image. A trial lowers the bar and provides the nightmare, "Don't be Bilal because look what they did to him." Which is why the US military needs to immediately release Bilal and this idea that a journalist can be tried on trumped up charges needs to end immediately.



Ty: We're dipping into the mailbag and will try to get to respond to as many e-mails here as we can in the designated time limit. Here's who is participating: The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ava, Jim and me, 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 JotFirst up, Joanne wonders, "Why you all link to On the Wilder Side and credit it to Kimberly Wilder when she does have a husband who also posts there?"

Mike: Let me start. I don't link to On the Wilder Side. In fact, most of us don't. That's not a reflection on the work done there, it's just we all hate going into our templates. Unless it's a war resister's site, I haven't really made significant changes to my blogroll since 2005. I just don't have the time. I have linked to her site, in posts, from time to time when it was covering something I wanted to talk about. If it was something her husband had written, I would have given his name and not typed: "Kimberly Wilder's husband wrote a . . ."

Elaine: I had to check my own site before answering. I do like her site but, for the reasons Mike gave, I doubted I had it on my roll. I don't. That's not a reflection on her, I'm just really busy and when I go into Blogger/Blogspot, I'm going there to post. It's why I don't go back and fix typos as well, I don't have the time. I have linked to her in posts and think she does a wonderful site. I want to link to C.I.'s "Bused and Bought" post, a permalink, and when I finally get around to doing that, I'll add her to my permalinks.

Jess: Well here we list the site as On the Wilder Side. C.I. did the links because after Ty, Dona and Jim switched templates on us one writing edition, none of us knew how to add links. So here we list it by the title. The question to "you" really goes to C.I.

C.I.: Right. Kimberly Wilder does the majority of the posts, if not all, on any given day I've visted the site. She is listed on The Common Ills permalinks in parenthesis after the title of the site. The reason for that is (a) she does the bulk of the work and (b) she is a "she." Visitors e-mail all the time asking where they can find more women bloggers or sites run by women. That's been the case since The Common Ills started. Anyone with that question visiting The Common Ills sees her name in parenthesis and they have the answer right there.

Ty: Next up. Kyle loves Betty's "Betinna goes to the movies" and wonders if we have thought any about reviewing Redacted here?

Jim: First, Betty did do a wonderful chapter, didn't she? And it was important enough, the film, that she broke from her outline. We actually had intended to have a review of the film this week. We had selected this week for two reasons. (1) Betty hadn't seen it and it opened in Atlanta Friday. (2) Texas community members are very interested in it and it was supposed to open Friday in Houston and Dallas. Those dates changed. By having something up Sunday 'morning,' it would serve as a reminder to members in that area to go out and see it. We're now wondering when we'll note it or how. But the plan had been that this edition would have a movie sub-theme and that would include Brian De Palma's film. Now we're trying to figure out what to do and C.I. and Dona are both of the belief that the Joshua Key thing we wanted to do has been postponed enough so, De Palma piece or not, we do the Key piece today. I know C.I.'s not going to comment, holding it in case we do something on the film, but Betty?

Betty: See the movie. It's everything Wally has said it was. Wally saw it early and has talked it up to the point that I was afraid I was going to be disappointed. It's really that great.

Ty: Next up political endorsements. We'll toss to Kat first after I summarize. Thirteen e-mails screaming that we have endorsed Ralph Nader for president in 2008, four e-mails screaming that Wally and Cedric aren't fair to Barack Obama. Kat?

Kat: In terms of presidential contenders, only one person has been endorsed and that's not even by everyone. The post appeared at my site in March. The candidate endorsed was Dennis Kucinich and, along with me, the post speaks for "The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona and Ava, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, former NOW member Trina of Trina's Kitchen, Gina of the gina & krista round-robin, Krista of the gina & krista round-robin, Martha, community member, Shirley, community member, Kayla, community member, Keesha, community member." It was in response to NOW PAC endorsing Hillary Clinton. C.I. didn't sign it but Ava did. That was brought up by Ava and C.I. recently because we've stated here, Jim's stated here, that Ava didn't sign it. Ava did sign it. I'd assumed Jim was correct or I would have corrected him. Ava asked me after that was stated about it in terms of did I leave her name off because she thought she'd given me permission to put her name on the post? She had. So those members of the community have endorsed Kucinich.

Cedric: I really don't care that someone's upset that I'm not 'fair' to Obama. Wally and I come across a ton of articles about him every day and we could turn our sites over to him in terms of the many appalling things he does.

Wally: JFK.

Cedric: Right. Recently we saw that nonsense. He and his campaign and his supporters are trying to compare him to JFK. It's always a White person for the bi-racial Obama. He wants the 'first' publicity but he's always rushing to the White comparison. If you don't think I'm 'fair' to him, oh well. I don't think he's fair to African-Americans. I don't think he's fair to the other Democratic candidates. I don't think he's fair to gays and lesbians. I really don't care. We're trying to do a quick post and a short amount of time and if you don't like what we do, stop going to our sites. We won't cry over it.

Ty: Wally?

Wally: I think Cedric said. Whether it's using right-wing talking points or playing footsie with Mike Bloomberg, we don't like him. That's not really breaking news. I'll say right now that I honestly don't want to waste time in a mailbag with this issue again.

Jess: On the Nader issue, he won't even be announcing whether or not he'll run until the end of the year so anyone wrongly assuming that we have endorsed Ralph Nader has some issues of their own that they need to examine.

Ty: Lynette e-mailed that she would like more visuals and Paul e-mailed to register that when we don't offer visuals, the site loads a lot quicker on his computer.

Dona: In good news for Paul, since we've lost our sub-theme for this edition, there probably won't be a great deal of illustrations. It has to do with what we have time for. Do we have time to do something new, an illustration? Do we have time to go through the physical folder of illustrations we've already done -- including some done just by Betty's oldest son? Are Rebecca and C.I. ready to battle with Flickr? We spent a great deal of the opening time of this writing edition hunting down links for an amazing review that Kat did of Ann Wilson's new CD. She wrote that in a burst and then had to type it. We were reading over it and impressed, no question, but we pointed out how many links it should require. So we started hunting down those. By the time you read this, by the way, it should be up at The Common Ills. But there are a number of things that happen any edition. Including writing many pieces that only go into the print edition. My own personal belief is that the site's stronger with visuals, that it breaks up text and accomplishes other things. Jim, you want to talk about it in terms of public domain?

Jim: Sure. Dona had a project for a class around the time we started doing illustrations here. We started to give a face to war resisters. So that people had something to visualize and put a face to. Then Dona was doing research on coverage of war and how the problems with today's media are not limited to today. C.I. helped her with the research so that she could trace it back to the Civil War and it probably goes further than that. But while we were going through the bound journals of those early magazines and early newspapers, we could see the emergence of visuals. That's what got us to thinking about adding visuals here. And, in those early days, it was an engraving. A generic one that they used over and over. So if there's something we've used before and can use it again, I'm not bothered by that. It's in keeping with what prompted us to really consider illustrations to begin with. About the only thing that does bother me is the fact that we've got illustrations Betty's son has done -- either by himself or with others -- and we haven't used them. We will be doing so. But you've got everyone busy beyond belief and somethings have to wait.

Ty: Rebecca?

Rebecca: Flickr's the program used to upload illustrations. Prior to Flickr, C.I. and I both had Hello! accounts. All we did was upload our illustrations into Hello! and e-mail them to our sites. Once they 'hit' the sites, anyone who wanted to could use them. They'd click on the illustration and be taken to a web page where they just copied that web address. With Flickr, you have to register with them to use an illustration. That means you have to log into their illustration bank and pick the image and blah, blah, blah. In terms of uploading, I think we've missed the window of opportunity, looking at the time, on Sunday morning when it will upload quickly and easily. If we miss that window, we end up with error messages, slow uploads and, often, non-uploads. Repeatedly. It's a pain in the ass and there has to be another way but, as of now, Flickr is what we're sticking with.

Ty: ___ e-mails that he has written over and over to get an event plugged and we will not do it.

Jim: Is that the 'Unity' guy?

Ty: No.

Jim: The 'Unity' guy can forget it. We're not interested in endorsing Republican events. Jess, talk about this site and then toss it out there to anyone else who wants to grab it.

Jess: Your every event may be the beginning and the end of the world to you. It's not to us. We get a number of things each week that we're asked to note. The Common Ills gets a number of things, I'm mentioning TCI because I'm among the ones who go through the e-mails for TCI, and even as much as C.I. puts online each week, there's not enough time to note everything. Each writing edition here starts with a list of things we would like to work on. From that, we work on what time permits. From all that we get done, we decide what's worth going up online. As a general rule, you can ask yourself, "Did I call them about this?" If you answer is no, then we have no personal obligation to note your event because we do not personally know you. We note what we can. I'll also note that, especially with TCI, there are a lot of people wanting things noted and, as Ava has pointed out, it's a one way street. That's probably done more than anything else to make me say, "Oh, we've got more important things to cover" when someone tosses out, "Do we want to note ___?"

Ty: C.I. should probably comment but I've got a specific on C.I. so if someone else wants to leap in?

Wally: If I could note Brian De Palma's film in every post, I would. That's not how Cedric and my joint-posts work. The fact that something I really believe in like that film doesn't get the attention from me I wished it would goes a long way towards my not feeling guilty about things that really don't effect my own life not getting noted. This is someone, Ty, who's self-published a book, right? He's been e-mailing me as well.

Ty: Yeah. Anyone else?

Mike: Well I don't know the book so I couldn't plug it. In terms of my site, I meant to plug Courage to Resist's holiday gifts -- gifts all year round but they're noting them during the holidays. I see that Thursday as I've just posted and I called C.I. and C.I. noted it for me. I meant to note it on Friday but I was posting at eleven at night and forgot. I'll try to note it on Monday because I believe in the work that organization does. But sometimes the answer is as simple as that, you think you'll note it, you forget and then life's moved on.

Ty: Okay, C.I., Reena e-mails complaining that you didn't note the Culture Project's Impeachment project. She also complains that in Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot" you didn't note Naomi Wolf's comments on impeachment from "'The End of America': Feminist Social Critic Naomi Wolf Warns U.S. in Slow Descent into Fascism" on Democracy Now!

C.I.: First up, Reena's specific issues. I don't support No End In Sight. It's a bad film that sells illegal war and the Culture Project can exhibit whatever they want but I don't publicize that film and I won't. The film was made by a War Hawk who still supports the illegal war and will not call it out. He wants to offer that it wasn't 'planned.' Naomi Klein has aptly demonstrated that the chaos was planned. I'm not going to endorse any event that features that crappy film. As for Wolf's statements about impeachment, she had recently been interviewed on The Bat Segunda Show. Google "Bat Segunda Show," "Naomi Wolf" and "The Common Ills" and you'll see that her remarks on impeachment were noted in an "Iraq snapshot." Her group is America Freedom Campaign. On Bat Segunda, she explained that she personally favored impeachment but it wasn't a position her organization had taken a position on. That was due to the fact that it's a grassroots organization and positions and stands come from the bottom to the top. They aren't dictating to members, they are listening to members. On that day in question, she spoke about impeachment and spoke for the organization. That was a change and one we would have noted; however, there was, as Kat pointed out in her post that day, no transcript at Democracy Now! when I was finishing up the snapshot. I'd assumed we'd end with Naomi and told the friend I was dictating the snapshot to over the phone, "Grab ____" I then was told there was no transcript. I thought real hard about the broadcast I'd heard and we noted a section of it based on my memory only. I didn't have time to listen a second time. Due to the fact that Wolf was announcing a new position for her organization, I wasn't going to include anything on that unless it was absolutely 100%, word for word, Wolf. And, for the record, that was Wednesday, not Tuesday, as Reena seems to think, Wednesday for the snapshot, Wednesday for the broadcast of Democracy Now!. We've covered impeachment before, we will again. In terms of all things not-related to Iraq, it gets mentioned when it's possible. Some things are held for several days because I don't have the time or can't make them fit. That's life. I used to worry about it, I don't now. "IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event" are words that will appear in every snapshot between now and the event itself. In fact, we're running the full announcement because TCI members want it run. That to me is a great deal more important than many of the things that I don't highlight -- either by choice, due to time or whatever. But I am not going to play dumb and highlight a film by a War Hawk that tells you the Iraq War's big problem was lack of 'planning.' The Iraq War is illegal. The embrace of that film by The New Republican would be expected, that others have hopped on board with it is distrubing. To offer an example of why something isn't noted, there was a thing for African-American business people that came into the public account. That has nothing to do with Iraq. Which, to repeat, is the focus of The Common Ills. But the topic was interesting so I did what I usually do when I don't know anything about a sender or whatever they are promoting, grabbed the phone and called friends. No one had heard of it, I looked around on the web and there was no information on the organization. Its stated goals were worthy but I couldn't verify anything on it and wasn't going to write anything about it as a result. As Mike pointed out, it's hard for him to plug a book he doesn't know. If I'm sending out an S.O.S. to everyone I know about an organization and no one's heard of it and even Google can't turn up anything on it, it's not getting noted. It's equally true that I'm going through two e-mail accounts for members and the public e-mail account. First thing in the morning, I'm starting with what's at the top of each page and working my way through as quickly as possible. If someone's put something in a "Must read" folder for me, I may not see it until that evening if then.

Elaine: In terms of checking things out, I'd add that possibly if some of the people promoting the film No End In Sight had bothered to do a little research, people against the illegal war wouldn't be steered to a film that tells you all would be right with the Iraq War if only the occupation phase had been planned better. Why anyone opposed to the illegal war would promote a film whose maker is for the Iraq War to this day is a question for others to answer. In terms of my site, what C.I. just said. That happens all the time. I don't know anything about the thing they want highlighted, I do some research and either find out it's not worth highlighting or can't find out anything on it. It's equally true that if that research takes me more than a single day and you e-mail me to tear me a new one for not noting your thing, I stop researching because I don't work for you and if you've shown your ass, I'm not going to go to the trouble of using my time to try to help you.

Ty: This is going to be the last e-mail. Robert applauds Ava and C.I.'s stand and says he'll keep reading regardless of what they cover in their TV pieces. But he wonders if they're prepared for the fact that the strike could go on for some time.

Ava: Absolutely. Jay Leno's move has angered the writers. Why he decided to fire striking workers is anyone's guess. But if it was to play toady for the corporation that's already dumping him for Conan O'Brian, as they've publicly announced, it didn't work out that way. It's actually added a new determination to the strike. C.I. and I are fully aware that the strike could go on through March easily. We'll return to covering first-run entertainment shows when the strike is over and not before then. Thank you to Robert and everyone else who wrote in to say they supported or could live with the decision.

Ty: And that's going to be it for this mailbag.

Holiday Shopping Suggestions

From Courage to Resist:

It's pretty hard finding the perfect gift sometimes—maybe we can help. In return, your donation will help fund our work supporting the troops who refuse to fight. Listed donations include all shipping, handling, and taxes. All apparel is U.S. made, "sweatshop free" and union printed. We'll make sure to ship items within a couple of days so that you have your gifts in plenty of time for the holidays.

1. Courage to Resist Hoodie
Heavy weight and warm. Sizes small to XXL. (view) $50

2. "Peace-star" Cap
Not sure what size hoodie or shirt to get? These are adjustable, sueded, and cool. (view) $25

3. Courage to Resist Shirt
Available in basic and women's fitted styles, from extra small to 3XL. (view) $25

4. Army of None Book
Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War, and Build a Better World by Courage to Resist organizer David Solnit and Gulf War objector Aimee Allison. $20

5. Sir! No Sir! DVD
New Special Director's Edition with over 100 min. of new bonus material! $30

6. Breaking Ranks DVD
New doc about four U.S. soldiers seeking sanctuary in Canada. If your thinking about using this for a house party, check out our "Dear Canada" organizer box. $30

7. The Sutras of Abu Ghraib Book
Notes from a conscientious objector in Iraq (hardcover) by Aidan Delgado. Democracy Now's Amy Goodman notes, "His description of how he was transformed by the horrors of Iraq is unforgettable." $25

8. Arlington West DVD
Documentary features 101 interviews, with soldiers and Marines en route to and returning from the war in Iraq, plus military families, and more. $20

9. Road from Ar Ramadi Book
The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejía (hardcover). The NY Times' Bob Herbert notes, "The issues [Mejía] has raised deserve a close reading by the nation as a whole." $25

10. Make a Donation as a Gift
Not sure what to get? Consider giving a gift donation on behalf of a like-minded special someone. We'll be happy to send them a card letting them know of your generosity. Just include the gift recipient's name and address in the "Comments & Notes" field.

Laura Flanders speaks with Dennis Kucinich

"This is huge and yet people couldn't hear about it." So says Laura Flanders, on this week's RadioNation with Laura Flanders, about the attempts to sneak in the right for the US to be militarized under the Bully Boy's new mandate to declare martial law at will. One person was speaking of it publicly on the campaign trail. Who?

"He's the winner of The Nation poll," Flanders explained of US House Rep and 2008 Democratic presidential contender Dennis Kucinich. The winner of the magazine's online poll and yet he can't cut a break from the magazine that's too caught up in their soggy, moist crush on Barack Obama. It's a bit like asking guests whether they'd like chicken or fish at a wedding reception, ignoring their selections and serving everyone pork. Since The Nation does depend upon the readership, this scorning of their informed opinions goes beyond sad.

In 2004, Kucinich also ran for president. He didn't receive the party's nomination, John Kerry did. At the convention, some of his supporters felt betrayed at what they saw as his going along with the party's desire to push the illegal war. Would it happen again?

"I won't support anyone who's for war," Kucinich explained as to whether or not, if someone other than him wins the Democratic presidential nomination. "Count me out." That's fairly clear.

When asked of the lack of coverage he and other candidates (not dubbed 'front runners') are not receiving, Kucinich termed it the "celebritization of politics." He explained that "the media treats politics as a version of American Idol" and we'd agree and include the coverage offered by The Nation magazine (on stands now with yet another Barack cover) in that criticism. We would especially include The Nation in that criticism. The Progressive ran no online poll; however, they still managed to do a cover story on Dennis Kucinich (it's the issue on sale now) and they are a monthly magazine (The Nation is more or a less a 'weekly').

As gas bags debate who is up and who is down in the polls, who raised what money, bend over backwards to put forward the lie that Barack Obama is 'anti-war,' issues get lost and more and more people begin to feel they are being hyped. [For a look at one response to the horserace coverage that has been shoved off on citizens, read Adolph L. Reed Jr.'s piece in The Progressive.] "Despite the national media telling us that Iraq has receeded as an issue," Ari Berman found that not to be the case. Maybe he could clue Katrina vanden Heuvel in on that because the reality is The Nation does a horrible job covering the illegal war.

"When it comes to ending the war," vanden Heuvel purrs in that tired school girl voice the 2008 election represents both "opportunity and peril" because there's no real candidate for ending the illegal war. She purrs that during a spot on this week RadioNation with Laura Flanders. Again, Berman, clue her into reality and someone show her the results of the magazine's online poll. The Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel has eliminated the term "war resister" from the print magazine. She has refused to cover war resisters (the Ehren Watada articles -- not the sidebar after he was called a "coward" in print -- were "online exclusives"), she's written of the American Friends Service Committee without ever noting their historical and ongoing mission: supporting war resisters, she's turned Iraq into a weapon for Democrats to use in elections and avoided calling out Democrats who are War Hawks (and killed an expose on Dianne Feinstein's profitting off the illegal war).

There's nothing for the magazine to be proud of and, to the list of destructions, add what they've done to Laura Flanders' program. One of the finest broadcasters in radio no longer gets to field phone calls (something she is the best, not one of the best, at) because the show has gone from live to prerecorded. It's also been reduced from six hours to one hour a week. In addition, it's now utilized as a non-stop infomercial for The Nation magazine and Katrina vanden Heuvel (who writes so little) is on so much she's practically a co-host. Anyone who thinks vanden Heuvel makes for good radio listening obviously the missed the reaction to her Majority Report appearances.

"What I stand for is getting out of Iraq, healthcare for all," Dennis Kucinich began quickly listing off topics and if you didn't grasp before the damage the magazine has done to the show, you quickly did as the commercial break ended and you were presented with another guest. Gas bagging about Australian politics and, as Australian TCI community members feared, he didn't mention Jake Kovco. Whether because he didn't know about Kovco or because the show's shortening has allowed little time to address needed topics, we don't know. But Jake Kovco effected John Howard in the same way that Hurricane Katrina effected the Bully Boy -- it revealed to citizens who disagreed with his policies but still gave him the benefit of the doubt that there was no leadership coming from the top.

Peter Byrne on The Nation

The Nation's public relations flack, Ben Wyskida, is most disingenuous. In the magazine's kill memo, which Amanda Witherell saw, The Nation's investigative editor, Bob Moser, who had worked closely with me on the project, wrote that I had done a "solid job," but that the magazine liked to have a political "impact," and since Feinstein was "not facing a strong challenge for re-election," they were not going to print the story. If that is not a political reason, then I do not know not what is.
Wyskida, who was not involved in the project, is not telling the truth when he talks about problems with sourcing etc. Notice that he does not refer to a single concrete example of a supposedly incorrect fact. That is because every fact stems from a public record or an on the record interview for attribution; and every fact was triple-checked. After the right wing talk radio demagogues started broadcasting my findings in March, thousands of bloggers, and an assortment of mainstream media reporters, glommed onto the story searching for factual errors. They found not a single one. Nor did The Nation find any factual errors; and the central thesis of my reporting, that Feinstein did not recuse herself from acting on matters that significantly impacted her personal finances, was clearly corroborated by the Congressional Record. No less than four non-partisan ethics experts reviewed the material, and it was their clearly reported statements in my story that Feinstein had a conflict of interest that gave the article gravitas. Wyskida is blowing smoke because The Nation is embarrassed that conservative bloggers and radio-jerks like Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage were lauding the story and applauding The Nation for funding it.
As for The Nation's status as a mouthpiece for the moderate wing of the Democratic Party, you will observe that Vanden Heuval does not like Rupert Murdoch's darling, Hillary Clinton, but she gushes over Mister War On Terror is Good Barack Obama. And The Nation recently loathed Cindy Sheehan in print for daring to run against the Democrat's Great White Warmonger, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And, please note, Mister Wyskida, that your boss, Katrina Vanden Heuval wrote an editorial praising Feinstein after the November 2006 elections.
And of course the neoconservative magazines passed on the story: because they consider the so-called liberal Feinstein as one of their own! If The Nation had any guts, it would come clean and admit it made a mistake based on political opportunism. And you’d best get your facts in order, Wyskida, because I have an email trail of every interaction that I had with The Nation's editors. That said, there is an obvious fracture within the editorial ranks at The Nation. The managing editor who originally approved my story is gone; so is the person at The Nation's investigative fund who wrote the check. And not all the writers are pro-Pelosi, pro-Obama. Despite being forced to witness socialite-millionaire Vanden Heuval's self-promoting antics on television, radio and the Net, many fine writers at the magazine swallow their gorge and continue to perform good services. The ancient, ailing publication just needs a new editor/publisher--one who is not a political partisan. For the full account of what really went down see my exposé, DiFi Backlash: [link]--Peter Byrne

Last week we noted The Nation's killing of Peter Byrne's story. A number of e-mails came in asking why we didn't note Byrne's comments to the online article? We never saw them until they were pointed out.

Amanda Witherell's "Project Censored: The Byrne ultimatum: The story behind a censored story that was killed by The Nation" (San Francisco Bay Guardian) appeared in September and C.I. clipped it and put it in a folder we keep for ideas. The folder also has illustrations (because we took it to DC in mid-September) including many done by Betty's son (which we will be using in the coming months). C.I. and Jess are the ones who utilize it the most and that is mainly in adding things to it. It is a huge folder. Dona had just read Project Censored (the latest book installment) and mentioned the censoring of the article by Byrne (which we had noted before) at the end of October or the start of November. When she did, Jess said, "You know there's an article on that." Clipped to the article were various faxes from friends of C.I.'s asking if and when the article was going to be noted. One fax included Young Ben's laughable comments with the message, "Okay, now you've GOT to cover this." We never went to the website (the web address for the article was provided in every fax) and were unaware, until readers e-mailed last week, that Byrne had also commented. When we finally did the article, which we had noted weeks prior that we hadn't had time to get to, it was only because readers reminded us of our promise (online) to cover it. It was, from the beginning, one of those topics that repeatedly fell through the cracks. Not because it wasn't important but we just always had another topic to cover and too little time.

Our apologies to Byrne because we certainly would have included his comments in full last week had we been aware of them. Byrne is, obviously, not saying anything that's in dispute. Katrina vanden Heuvel is ruining the magazine and there are writers who are leaving (and have left) and those who are hanging in there hoping for a change in leadership. We've noted that here repeatedly for over a year now. He is correct. That's one of those 'baseless charges' Young Ben felt the need to e-mail us about July 2nd. Young Ben couldn't identify that or any other error in his over 40K e-mail; however, a friend at the magazine says that was the big beef Young Ben was attempting to chew on. Young Ben was not involved in the writing or the editing of Byrne's article and not involved in the decision making. He was "out of the loop" on it as a magazine insider explained to us. Again, Byrne makes that point and he is correct. The publicity director Young Ben (who once showed so much promise when he devoted himself to sex and sarcasm with a sideline interest in Green party politics) has taken a job that is over his head. But that's an article for another edition.

We're not sure which article Byrne's referring to that was slamming Cindy Sheehan and appeared in print. It's not like there was only one. Katha Pollitt's nonsense was repeated and it appeared online. Katrina's laughable "dialogue" (it's only a dialogue if she gets the last word and 'responds' to someone she doesn't allow to respond back) appeared in print. We have no idea whether Gilligan's nonsense appeared in print. (We call him Gilligan and do not refer to him by name. The same way he refuses to use the term "war resister" even when writing of war resister Darrell Anderson in The Guardian of London.) But the magazine -- in print and online -- has repeatedly slammed Cindy Sheehan, Byrne is correct.

"Socialite-millionaire vanden Heuvel"? We wouldn't use that term. It applies too much to her. She's not all that wealthy (despite the claims) and repeating it allows many to think she can't be ousted (she can be and support for her is weakening, she really just has a former Republican firmly on her side at this point). Yes, she and her family members disgraced themselves publicly fighting for the money her grandfather earned (the only real earner in that family) and, yes, it wasn't enough for them to fight in court, they had to take their refusal to pay estate taxes up through the court system and repeatedly (and publicly) lose. Which is why we wouldn't call her a "socialite" either. She wishes she were.

The truth is her social circle has shrunk so it's a good thing she's surrounded herself with coffee fetchers. She is not that wealthy and the majority of the people she loosely knew in 'moneyed circles' laughed in disbelief at the court battles and now refer to her as a "money grubber." That's not how you want to be to known in the moneyed class. Her father is also an issue (and her grandfather disparaged him to Elaine and C.I. repeatedly long before her father divorced her mother -- a woman that Elaine states Katrina should have attempted to emulate instead of being "Daddy's little girl"). As is the fact that she's gone around begging for money to fund one lame brained 'cause' after another that would 'take back' the Democratic Party. None have worked and there are jokes about "the beggar at the door." So she's not a "socialite" by any means. She was never Cornelia Guest. (Elaine says we have to note this and C.I. says "I'll live with it." Socialites with similar appearance challenges have them fixed.) And Rebecca's mother-in-law has made damn sure that doors closed.

She's "Daddy's girl." And her father was never received well in power circles. He did some spy work, did some lowly ambassador work (lowly so C.I. insists that, despite the rumors that her father was a spy during that period, it be noted that the man was not a spy after WWII) and then he basically, in the opinion of his late father-in-law, benefited from the name and money of the family he married into. Daddy's girl was enthralled with him and made him her role model. Together they bring each other onto any board they serve on. They get those posts by promising money and the really big money never emerges. (Do people realize how little Katrina's contributed to the campaigns of Bernie Sanders -- a politician she has repeatedly held up as a role model over the years?)

Calling her a "socialite" is akin to calling Tatum O'Neal's character Addie (Paper Moon) a "socialite." On that we disagree with Byrne (but do grasp how he came to that description).

Her grandfather made the family fortune in the world of entertainment and she has repeatedly traded on favors. More and more, people feel that any admiration they had for the man (who was a highly esteemed man) has been paid back in full. When she took to weighing in on last year's Oscars, she offended a good portion of the entertainment world because she broke protocol and, though she is not a member of the Academy, she certainly should have known better. (It also needs to be noted that her remarks were considered "tacky" -- which they were.)

Our apologies for not including Byrne's remarks last week. Despite some readers' fears, we weren't trying to ignore his criticisms, we just weren't aware of them.

We should further add that Young Ben's comments (not worth quoting) including the laughable statement that the magazine never promises a cover. Yeah, and Barbara Walters never allows subjects to dictate the interviews. Tell another funny, Young Ben. Hey, why don't you tell one about the circulation and we'll all pretend that we haven't heard endlessly that the magazine is including "trial subscriptions" (which get cancelled) in the circulation statement as "subscribers."

Kimberly Wilder urges you to vote for Donna Warren

Kimberly Wilder (On the Wilder Side) has written about an LSB candidate for Pacifica's KPFK in "Green heroine, Donna Warren runs for KPFK:"

Green heroine, Donna Warren, runs for KPFK
KPFK, a radio station in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, is part of the Pacifica Radio network. Pacifica stations are community radio stations which promote peace and free speech.
One of the endearing values of the Pacifica Network, is that they strive for grassroots democracy, and have elections for positions on the local and national station boards.
Donna K. Warren is a community activist, a green, and a former green candidate who is running for KPFK Local Station Board as a Listener Representative. Besides the fact that she is a great candidate, it is always nice for greens to have people who understand third party politics and our right to exist involved in the kinds of progressive organizations that greens support and work for.
I hope that you will vote for Donna K. Warren for KPFK Local Station Board. Please rank her high on your ballot, and please pass her name along to friends in the LA area. Ballots are due on December 11th (I think this is an ultimate deadline, like they have to be in, please check at the KPFK web-site.)

Wilder goes on to provide more coverage of Warren's accomplishments. If you are able to vote in the KPFK LSB election, we urge to consider voting for Warren. Of those participating here, only C.I. can vote. To vote, you must have either donated money (at least $25) or have provided three hours of authorized volunteer time to KPFK (during the period of September 1, 2006 to August 31, 2007). If you have not received a ballot and believe you meet the eligibility requirements, you can contact KPFK.

Things to watch, things to listen to


Today in Louisville, Kentucky, you can see Molly Bingham and Steve Connors new documentary Meeting Resistance at 7:00 and 9:30 pm -- Baxter Avenue Theatres, 1250 Bardstown Road.


RadioNation with Laura Flanders. You could have or still can hear Flanders interview US House Rep and 2008 Democratic presidential contender Dennis Kucinich. At 3:00 pm EST, 2:00 pm Central and noon Pacific, you can listen online via Seattle's 1090 AM regardless of where you are (in addition, those who can pick up 1090 over the airwaves can listen via the radio). Air America Radio first: Update your damn page of stations. There's no point in listing stations that carry your programming if they dropped it (including if they dropped it a long, long time ago). RadioNation (and this isn't directed at Flanders, this is directed at Ben and Peter and the people above them), fix the damn podcast. We're getting sick and tired of e-mails coming in about how people can't listen to the archives since The Nation magazine started screwing with Laura's show, how you no longer have a play option on the archive page, how you have to download and maybe it works and maybe it doesn't. That's from high speed connectors and modum connectors. Fix it. Since you've started interfering in the show, it's gone from live to recorded, it's lost five hours a week, the team that worked with Laura has been replaced and you've done every thing you could think of to destroy this show. You want titles? Earn 'em. Fix the archives. After you do that, consider compiling a list of what stations the program airs on and the time. In Friday's "Iraq snapshot," C.I. noted who would be on the show and every community site got e-mails saying, "I'd like to listen but . . ." That's not Laura Flanders fault, that's The Nation magazine. You've taken a highly popular show and driven people away. Fix the problems or give up your titles. (Peter, we're aware you're overworked and, yes, we aware that it's humiliating to be told "I'm going to be on TV! Send out an e-mail right away!" That has nothing to do with Flanders or with her show. Ben, don't rush in to rescue Peter or e-mail. If you're thinking about it, busying yourself by sniffing your own arm pit -- endearing? fetish? habit? sign of nervousness? you decide.)

On Tuesday's Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman interviews CNN xenophobe Lou Dobbs for the hour.

Those interested in the 2008 vote can still check out NOW with David Brancaccio and catch, among others, Greg Palast. Third party members be aware that the issue of voting is reduced to who gets to cast a vote and there are no questions of the Democrats as to efforts to supress candidates from getting on the ballot to begin with (despite the legal cases still ongoing).

Those interested in the Mid-East can check out the latest Bill Moyers Journal which provides streaming and transcripts to welcome all audiences.


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"Kat's Korner: Ann Wilson sings and stands tall" -- Kat's latest review. Ann Wilson's Hope & Glory is strongly recommend by all of us. So is Kat's review. We'll note that Rebecca talks about the problems with Flickr in "Mailbag" for this edition. We did that early in edition and Rebecca notes that due to time issues, we'd already missed the "open window" when uploading to Flickr is the easiest. She wasn't kidding. She and C.I. have worked and worked trying to get Flickr to take the scan of the album cover and Isaiah's latest comic (they've given up on new illustrations for this site being uploaded). If the cover finally uploads, it'll be added to the review.

"Ruth's Report" -- Ruth's latest is a hard hitting look at what public radio is not covering and what CounterSpin is. Amazing commentary.

"Betinna goes to the movies" -- Betty's latest finds Betinna seeing Brian De Palma's Redacted and then running into two peace resisters. Wonderful film critique and hilarious commentary on those who resist peace.

"Mexican Corn Chowder in the Kitchen" -- as Trina reminds, Dennis Kucinich is a guest today on RadioNation with Laura Flanders (1:00 p.m. EST).

"naomi wolf, bruce dixon, vanity fair & the falling star" -- Rebecca tackling a number of subjects including "pretty lame destroying her career, pretty lame but don't shed a tear . . ."

"Did they check the widows and orphans fund too?" & "THIS JUST IN! RUDY G STEALS OVER $10,000 FROM THE DISABLED!" -- Cedric and Wally on who paid for Rudy G's extra-marital affair.

"Mitt and Oprah" -- Elaine tackles two of the biggest jokes in politics today: Mitt Romney and Oprah Winfrey.

"Marjorie Cohn, Third" -- Mike offers a rundown of last week's edition and Jim said we had to note "this must read."

"Operation Happy Talk rolls into the shore" -- Reader Caitlin asked that this commentary by C.I. be noted. It really is impressive and we've not yet chosen "Truest statement for the week" but there are several worthy contenders in this.

"Marjorie Cohn and an embarrassing 'reporter'" -- Ruth asked us to note this by Elaine because she enjoyed it and because she deleted a post a few weeks back about the script being written by two friends of C.I.'s that paints an ego maniac in a bad light. Elaine says she can understand Ruth deleting because she deleted a great deal of what she wrote before posting this. "The reading, which I begged for, at C.I.'s on Thanksgiving was hilarious. I had written about that specifically including quoting lines. I deleted that aspect of it."

"screw the pacifica radio archive special" & "2 hours of war resistance killed for a rubber chicken dinner speech" -- A number of us got e-mails asking if we left Rebecca and Kat hanging? Not intentionally. They wrote about this topic on Monday and wrote about it amazingly. The rest of us who post on Tuesday (including Ruth) had intended to address the topic but were asked not to by Kat and Rebecca. Despite Rebecca making it clear that she was speaking for herself and only to her readers, the inboxes at The Common Ills bulged with too many e-mails on this topic.

Kat: "Rebecca and I shared our thoughts. Those in agreement or disagreement didn't really need to try to pull C.I. into it. We purposely avoided doing that for a number of reasons including the fact that C.I. just doesn't have the time. When Jess told me how many e-mails had come in on the topic, to The Common Ills, I called Rebecca." Rebecca: "We both thought, 'What else can we do?' I guess we could have written "DO NOT DRAG C.I. INTO THIS!" but other than that, what could we have done? So we asked everyone to just find another topic and not link to our posts."

"Third time's the charm?" & "THIS JUST IN! WIFE NUMBER 3 IS A KEEPER!" -- Cedric and Wally explain how blushing bride al-Maliki keeps getting undeserved praise.

"Bill Moyers Journal: Accessible to all" -- Ruth explains the importance of "accessible" and considering all the lip service being given to returning wounded veterans, it's a damn shame the issue needs to be explained at all.

"And the war drags on . . ." -- C.I. discussing how unchallenged myths take hold and prolong the illegal war.

"DN! on Venezuela, Nii OkaiJah, IVAW " -- Mike sharing thoughts on the death penalty, DNA and many other issues. Jess' father asked that we note this one and says Mike's right, even supporters of the death penalty should be demanding universal DNA tests for everyone on death row. We agree.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }