Sunday, April 13, 2008

"Stop the madness!" cry the Goodmans, "You first," reply Ava and C.I.

Standing Up To The Madness' slogan is "It Takes Two." The Donny and Marie of the faux left return to handle a cut-and-paste clip job so daunting it truly does take two.

Amy and David Goodman follow up Static and Exception to the Rulers with the just released Standing Up To The Madness which most publishing insiders are already predicting will prove The Law of Diminishing Returns. Exception to the Rulers was a best seller with no qualifiers needed. Their follow up grazed the best seller list and no one informed considered Static to be a best seller. One friend at Hyperion Books compared the latest output to Fleetwood Mac's Tusk, joking, "We're seeing our Christmas bonuses fly out the window." (We were provided with the book prior to release.)

What are we seeing? We won't call it a book. A book generally requires research and/or thought and there's no evidence that the authors bothered with either. But it's difficult to crank out three pieces of product in book form over four years and have much to offer. This offering is dedicated to their mother Dorrie Goodman and you may be asking, "Didn't they dedicate the first book to their parents?" Yes, they did. They billed her as "Dorothy" there and co-dedicated the book to their father. Consider it a sign of how low on inspiration the sister-brother duo is running.


If you need more clues, Exception to the Rulers was 318 pages of text, Static 307 and the latest opus checks in at 228. While it's true that publisher imposed a page limit this go round (diminishing returns and all), it's equally true that when you have only 228 pages, you use them wisely -- a reality the 'authors' failed to grasp as evidenced by the inclusion of 13 continuous pages of Congressional transcript. Clip jobs, by their very nature, don't provide a great deal of insight and the thirteen pages of transcript more than back that up. Either that or we're missing the 'importance' of including such lines as Philip Cooney declaring "That is correct" and, the next time he speaks, declaring 'That's correct," and the next time he speaks, "That's a fair characterization, yes," and . . . Well you get the point.

Consider yourself fortunate because it's a point that escaped the writers.

But most realities escape the writers' attention. For instance, their focus is Americans standing up. (For someone who promotes a world view on her program Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman's frame of reference is intensely provincial.) The historical start-point they go to is the Montgomery Bus Boycott which was neither the start of the Civil Rights Movement nor the start of rebellion and resistance in the last century. We know why they did that but we'll be kind and not out their diaper rashes. We will steer you to page 201 which contains a little more reality than one Panhandle Media Biography on ___ usually provides. As one of us (Ava) noted in a roundtable over two years ago, the popular tale offered of one person was neither full nor accurate. Again, you can check out page 201 but grasp that, while breakthrough for Panhandle Media, so much more is still not being said.

What gets said in the book is either a retread or 'inspirational.' Consider it a bound-version of sister Goodman's radio/TV program. A lot is included from that and a lot's not included. In this volume subtitled "Ordinary Heroes In Extraordinary Times," they feel the need to 'cover' the 'big events.'

Panhandle Media embarrasses itself so often that it's difficult to keep track of all the groaners. But certainly Jena 6 was among the biggest bits of nonsense (the coverage of it). The Goodmans offer up 23 pages on Jena 6 and who knew it was the biggest news of this decade? (It gets more pages than any other topic.) Jena 6 brought out the worst in independent media. They weren't content to tell a story worthy of telling, they found it necessary to embellish the tale. That didn't start with Laura Flanders telling 'jokes' about six males beating up one male. But it certainly didn't end there and when Goodman chose to end her Democracy Now! coverage, she did so by letting people (including but not limited to Al Sharpton) present 'facts' that were in direct contradiction to her own reporting on the program, to what participants (including the mother of Robert Bailey) had told her on air.

Amy and David, good diaper babies who still haven't grown up, want to reduce the narrative to the most simplistic form. Possibly that's a good thing because at 23 pages, it's already too long. But they're interested in portraying those 'bad' small towns -- you know where Whites run amuck and apparently African-Americans have been trapped there? Reading some of the Goodmans' babble -- and it is heavy on the psycho-babble -- you may have enough common sense to grasp that if there was something to stand up against for years and years, the adult citizens of Jena, LA should have stood up a long time ago. You'd grasp that because the Goodmans want to make the tale (and they are far from alone on this) a tale of all Whites oppressing all African-Americans in Jena. To do that, the siblings have to leave a lot out.

The Goodmans quote liberally from an interview Amy did with Robert Bailey (and Theo Shaw, Democracy Now!'s "Judge Reduces Charges in Jena 6 Case But Refuses to Overtun Mychal Bell Conviction," September 5, 2007). They also clean up the quotes from the program, but we'll get back to that. What stands out here, or should stand out here, is the way the Goodmans render Jena as all on one side, all on the other. In the interview quoted at length over the 23 pages, they leave out Robert Bailey explaining of the nooses that were hung on a tree, "Everybody was mad about the noose." He goes on to clarify that -- was Amy Goodman sleeping during the interview? -- with, "The whole school was mad, not just black people. The whole school was mad. It was some white boys who wanted to fight them boys for hanging the nooses in the school once they came back."

If you caught the September 5th broadcast, you caught that information. You never came across it again. It was a detail that didn't fit the narrative and was quickly tossed aside. It's not a detail that fits the even more embellished narrative the Goodmans try to sell in their book. In the book, all White people are against the African-Americans in Jena. It's dishonest, but what can you expect from liars who were never really interested in "six" to begin with?

The victim in the assault -- and it was an assault, a fight is one-on-one -- later ran into trouble. He was expelled for having a shotgun in his truck. That's not a groundbreaking development in the south and it's a rare week when that state or Texas or Arkansas doesn't have at least one student expelled for that. The reasons offered by parents and other supporters usually go something along the lines of he was hunting over the weekend and forgot. We don't buy that. We've spoken at high schools in the deep south. We don't know what the male in question was planning (or not planning) but we do know that it's not uncommon for some young males to violate school policy and have guns in their cars to show their friends. In the wake of Columbine, that may be a scary thought for some but it's also reality. We have no idea why the victim stored his shotgun in his truck in the school parking lot and neither do the Goodmans but the inference they want you to walk away with was he planned to start shooting. (There is no evidence to back that up but the Goodmans broke free of the factual orbit some time ago.)

The gun being found in the car happens long after the six were arrested for the attack, long after everything. It's offered as an "update." What's curious is that Justin Purvis doesn't require an update. Kids, all kids, do dumb things, do bad things, it's part of growing up. Purvis' actions after leaving Jena offer an example about the assault in Jena. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the 19-year-old Purvis attended high school. He was arrested. For what? Someone messed with his car's tires. He didn't know who. He didn't know enough to go to authorities. He instead attacked a younger student. He choked the student so badly that there were hand marks around the student's neck and he banged the students head against a bench.

Our feelings on Jena 6 was always that the adults failed, especially those in charge of the school itself. But Purvis' actions (click here for the arrest report) after Jena 6 go to the nonsense of jump-on-the-bandwagon that Amy Goodman, Laura Flanders and so many others did.

For the record, you won't find a lot of football players in Panhandle Media. You'll find a lot of males who were tormented by football players in their own school days. So right away this was a challenge to Panhandle Media -- which is basically made up of The Breakfast Club minus Emilio's character (Katrina vanden Heuvel is Claire). In their book, the Goodmans try to tread the line by noting how important football is in the town of Jena. (As in most small towns, the local high school game is the week's big Friday event.) Due to the importance a town places on it, you often find some boorish (and worse) behavior from football players in that region. But Panhandle Media never wanted to entertain that possibility. They wanted to make Bell a Saint.

When ESPN is providing more reality than Panhandle Media, there's a problem. Whether Bell should or should not have been tried as an adult (we don't think he should have been), the fact remains that he had previous convictions and was already on probation. Panhandle Media wasn't interested then and isn't interested now. One of Bell's convictions was for assaulting a young female. Where does a football player get it into his head that he can assault a woman? A sense of entitlement. The whole town's behind the football team and he can do whatever he wants because -- until graduation -- he's a god. That's part of the Jena 6 story and it's part that Panhandle Media has ignored. Were it six White people, their take on it would have been completely different and everyone knows that.

Along with ignoring Bell's priors, they also had to elevate the six up to academic excellence. We have no idea what their grades were but these were not well educated high schoolers. We noted the interview with Bailey and Purvis that Amy Goodman did for her program earlier and how she left certain things out in Standing Up. In the book, she quotes Bailey declaring, "I used to always think the KKK chased black people on horses, and they catch you with a rope." As we've already noted, he also declared, "The whole was mad, not just black people. The whole school was mad. It was some white boys who wanted to fight them boys for hanging the nooses in the school once they came back." We're not trying to pick on Bailey but he was 18-years-old when he made that statement. Those words are not the words of an academic scholar. That they are the words of someone completing high school is appalling ("them boys," etc.). What you appear to have had was a lot of star athletes getting a pass on their schoolwork and that's not uncommon in any school setting for any race.

The basics of Jena 6 are that a string of events took place. Most trace it back to August 2006 (though some argue the events were not inter-related) when nooses were hung from a tree following the question by Justin Purvis (who told some outlets he was joking) of whether or not African-American students could sit beneath a tree. It would be interesting to know who was sitting under that tree because the media never showed a great deal of interest. We'll guess it was the wealthy (for that town) because on school yards across America, the 'powerful' students select what areas are 'their' areas and which ones aren't. We would guess that the bulk of the school was not 'permitted' to sit under that tree. Following Purvis' question, African-Americans sat under the tree and the nooses followed. (There is a report that this had nothing to do with that and had to do with White students, having watched Lonesome Dove, wanting to send a message to one or more White students about an unrelated issue. Ourselves, we think that's unlikely but, not being there, we don't know. And, unlike the Goodmans, we won't intentionally leave out details to shape a narrative.)

When that took place, our opinion has always been that the school should have immediately stepped in and grabbed this very teachable moment to educate the students. We think their failure to do so encouraged all that happened. Why they failed is something they'll have to answer to. Some say they were trying to downplay it and some say it was racially motivated. Ourselves, we suspect the latter but we really don't know.

Hanging the nooses was offensive but kids do offensive things all the time. Those in charge (at school or at home) are responsible for checking the behavior and explaining why something is offensive. There was no effort made on the part of the school to address this with the student body. Punishment of some form was passed on to the students who hung the nooses. Whether you think the punishment was sufficient or not for those individuals, there's no denying that this was a school event and should have been dealt with school wide.

Back to the book, the Goodmans not only reduce it down to 'good' and 'bad,' they also reduce young adults to "students." Robert Bailey went to a party at one point during all of this (December 1, 2006) and was "hit over the head with a beer bottle" by what the Goodmans describe as "white students." These were not high schoolers, these were older adults and the man charged wasn't even a college student. But that's a division they erase because they're churning out a narrative. The newspaper The Town Talk reported it like this:

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.

The Goodmans tidy that up to "Robert Bailey was beaten by a group of white students when he showed up a private party." It's not journalism, it's not reality and it's not true.

On December 2, 2006, at a gas station (Gotta' Go), an incident took place. To read the Goodmans it involved "one of the white men who'd beaten Bailey" the previous night. That would be one of "a group of white students" according to them. It was not White students and Amy Goodman knows that unless she's brain dead. Robert Bailey's mother, Caseptla, explained to Amy Goodman (though Goodman apparently wants to pretend that never happened):

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.

Caseptla Bailey wasn't present but she has been consistent in all of her statements and we find her believable. So we'll easily accept the recounting that she provided, all details of it. We think Robert Bailey did a foolish thing in holding onto the gun having decided to disarm the man and we think it was also foolish for Bailey and friends to try to disarm if they were able to run away. They're not the police and if there was another alternative, they should have sought it. But possibly, the run away time present at the end of the encounter wasn't there at the beginning. Allowing for that possibility, the immediate next move was to go to the police. You do not take someone's gun and bring it back to your home unless you want to be arrested for theft. That should be clear to adults but Robert Bailey wasn't an adult then and we'll give him the benefit of the doubt. However, no one should be surprised that Robert Bailey was then arrested having failed to report the incident to the police and having taken a weapon that didn't belong to him. He was a kid. Kids do stupid things. It's part of growth and learning.

But nowhere do the Goodmans acknowledge that. Nowhere do they point out that even if someone points a gun at you or might point a gun at you, you're not allowed to keep it as a trophy. It's evidence of a crime, if you report it. But it's never yours to claim.

Robert Bailey's mother has always struck us as the most grounded of anyone in Jena. Our belief is that, had Robert went to his mother immediately, she would have stated, "Okay, good for you, now let's call the police and turn the gun over to them." He didn't do that and that's not a crime. But when an incident takes place and you walk off with someone else property, if that person complains to the authorities and you are in possession of their property, you have created a mess for yourself. And that's what kids do, over and over, and parents steer them along and provide gudience but they have to know what's going on and if they don't (because their children didn't tell them about it or something else), problems get worse.

Let's stay on Robert Bailey for a moment because someone's going to e-mail the site to ask, "How could you leave out the video!" On his MySpace page, Robert Bailey once posted a video of himself with hundred dollar bills which has led to claims that he has profited from the whole Jena 6 experience. It was a dumb thing to do, to make that video and post it. It does not indicate that he's getting rich off Jena 6. Money was donated to them and to their defense. There's no crime or shock that he might have access to some of it (even if access is only saying, "Mom, can I see the money for a minute? I'm making a video"). Equally true is that his mother has stated that was not Jena 6 money, that was money he earned from a job. There have been many contradictory stories throughout the coverage; however, Caseptla Bailey has always been upfront and consistent and she should be taken at her word. We have a lot of respect for her and we think she's a parent who was both active and really cared.

By contrast, another parent lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area throughout these events. Bell's father. When his son was repeatedly put on probation, the man wasn't there. He wanted to show up after the fact and act as if he was an expert on the situation. Bell's problems were out of control. When a juvenile is repeatedly placed on probation, both parents need to be actively involved in their child's life and you can't do that by phone. As the man offered one pronouncement after another, once the media frenzy hit, no one pressed him on why it took the final blow to get him back to Jena. He should have moved back sooner if he wasn't able to have his son move in with him. That's just basic. Your son is spiraling out of control. By all accounts, he had talent on the football field. That's not going to get him anywhere if he's running into trouble with the law. We're not going to blame Bell's mother because we'll assume her hands were more than full and she was dealing with all that she could handle. But a father's who is not present when his son is placed on probation four times really has no business showing up after they want to try his son as an adult and preaching to the world. Accept some ownership for the blame because your child was a child and you were supposed to provide leadership but had other things you wanted to do.

Again, this wasn't one slap on the wrist, Bell was placed on probation four times previously.

The Goodmans don't touch on that either -- but then they don't even note Bell's previous problems with the law. It doesn't fit into sainthood and that's what they're selling. This sainthood goes a long way towards explaining why Purvis, after the protests and march, could end up in another region and think it was okay to assault a student instead of going to the authorities. If nothing else, the fact that he was 19-years-old should have been conveyed to him, it should have been made clear that he was no longer a juvenile and that any fight on school grounds would result in stiffer punishment. Consider it another teachable moment wasted.

In their introduction, amidst talk of "psychic damage," the Goodmans tell you that they are offering "stories of struggle in this book [which] illuminate and dignify the brave efforts taken by ordinary citizens and soldiers to defend their communities and their nation." That is not the the story of Jena 6 unless the Goodmans are endorsing violence. Six young males ganging up to attack one male and to kick him repeatedly after he's passed out is hardly Ghandi material. We think the embrae of the revisionary Jena 6 narrative goes to the fact that the Goodmans actually support armed revolution and would enjoy their attempting to address that in the future.

If it seems as if we've focused a great deal on Jena 6, it's because the Goodmans do. Let's back up there because their latest 'collaboration' has the same problem their two previous 'books' did. Throughout this volume, credited to Amy and David Goodman, you will come across confusing sentences. "As we talk on his porch," the Goodmans will write of a conversation in Jena, "We ask" the Goodmans will write of interview with Billy Wayne Fowler, "he told us one evening" of interviewing Robert Bailey. Who is "us," who is "we"? Those are interviews Amy Goodman did for Democracy Now! and why are they being passed off as a joint-sibling product? Though an improvement over the "I" in the previous volumes (how do two writers use "I" in their first person book to begin with?), it's a falsehood because David Goodman wasn't present for those interviews. What exactly is David Goodman's role in these 'books' that read like the transcript to one of Amy Goodman's many speeches?

It's a question worth asking because you'll be hearing a great deal about "Amy Goodman's new book" as she hits the circuit to promote it (she has an upcoming appearance -- with David -- in Houston). Along with asking her that, people might want to ask her about the Iraq War because, for an ongoing illegal war, the most shocking thing about Standing Up To The Madness, is how little attention it receives and how little attention war resisters receive. Do they need to assault a woman to get a little Panhandle Media love?

Twenty-three pages are spent on Jena. Sixteen are spent on war resisters. There are two 'covered': Agustin Aguayo and Ehren Watada. It only serves to demonstrate how little Democracy Now! has covered war resisters. In the fall of 2006, the program lost interest and -- if you haven't figured out already -- the 'book' liberally raids from the program. Mark Wilcox was the really the last one covered for resistance. They brought on Kyle Snyder afterwards but mainly because he was news elsewhere. (Snyder had returned from Canada to turn himself in after working out a deal -- he quickly discovered that the deal didn't exist and he self-checked out again. He currently resides in Canada with his Canadian wife.) That was it and that was 2006. Despite the fact that 2007 saw many more war resisters emerge, Amy Goodman hasn't had time for them. In the 'book,' sister and brother write, "By 2007, soldiers were deserting the army at the highest rate since 1980" -- and we won't argue that point. We will, however, note that this happened with no coverage from Democracy Now!

James Burmeister, Skylar James, Phil McDowell, the brothers Kamunen (Leo, Leif and Luke -- who left in December of 2006 but went public in 2007) and Brad McCall are not a full of list of Class of 2007 war resisters who went public. But they and others were never interviewed by Amy Goodman for her program. (Trust us, Brad McCall is not press shy.) Class of 2007 also included the historic Eli Israel who became the first to publicly resist while serving in Iraq. Once he announced his resistance, he sent out a public plea for support.

You might think "going where the silences are" Amy Goodman would be all over that but she wasn't. She's never even mentioned him on her sorry-ass program. She's done a lousy job covering war resistance -- so much so that her audience isn't even being steered by her to the campaign to get safe harbor status for US war resisters in Canada -- a measure that the country's Parliament debates this month. [ Three e-mails addresses to focus on are: Prime Minister Stephen Harper ( who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion ( who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua ( who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. A few more can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.]

War resistance has dropped off her radar so readers of the latest volume may be surprised to find out that Aguayo has appealed to the Supreme Court. Though other Pacifica programs have had Aguayo on, since receiving her $500,000 grant from The Nation magazine, Goodman has steered clear of the topic of war resistance. Consider her Bought And Bossed. The Goodman's 'book' 'coverage' of Watada is even more embarrassing.

The Goodmans leave out key details of the story such as when they simply write that the February 2007 court-martial "ended in a mistrial." Over defense objection. That's a key point and it goes to the double-jeopardy issue. But by the time the court-martial rolled around, Democracy Now! wasn't interested in Watada and, in fact, 'farmed out' the topic by reairing a report from the website Truthout. Well if CBS News can be in talks with CNN to farm out their reporting, why not Goody airing coverage available elsewhere? It's not like it was important, he was just the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy, right? The whole brief section is insulting to Watada and to his stand and to his family. For those not in the know, Amy Goodman got a rare primetime CNN appearance as Watada's February court-martial approached. It was an embarrassment as she allowed herself to be shouted down by another guest and sat there in stoney silence. But the Watada case got her on CNN. So people had a right to expect that she would cover the court-martial. She didn't.

The Goodmans' insulting 'coverage' of Watada in their 'book' last less than six pages. In six pages they more than manage to insult. Take Bob Watada -- or as readers of the 'book' may ask, "Who?" He's mentioned in a single sentence despite the fact that he (and Ehren's step-mother Rosa) went on repeated speaking tours to raise awareness of his son and despite the fact that Bob Watada addressed the big January 2007 DC peace rally, he's reduced to a single sentence. Carolyn Ho gets mentioned a little more due to the fact that Amy Goodman interviewed her for Democracy Now! -- but it's no better than Bob comes off. When we got our advanced copies, we photocopied the Watada section to see if we were the only ones offended and we weren't.

The biggest offense cited in this section is when they are talking about Ho, Ehren's mother, and offer:

"I totally support him," Ho says now. "And I will continue to speak out until justice is served."

For those not in the know, that's from a December 2006 interview. "Says now"? Carolyn Ho put her life on hold for the court-martial and for the events leading up to the court-martial including the Decemeber 2006 pre-trial. She took time off from her job (time she couldn't afford to take off) to speak to members of Congress and to rally support for her son. She did that repeatedly. She came to the mainland (Ho lives in Hawaii) over and over so for the Goodmans to write "now" as if this was a 2008 comment (2008 is "now") is just flat out offensive.

It doesn't end there and the thing that enraged us the most was Amy Goodman's desire to forget holding the powerful accountable and instead suck up to her guest list.

The brother and the sister write:

Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka, whose grandson is serving in Iraq expressed his support for Watada on Democracy Now! "I admire his position, "he said. "It's a position that has grown with him being reared and brought up in Hawaii in a diverse population and with diverse culture and a care for people. And what he has done is so difficult for any young man to take a position like that, to the point where he is willing to resign his position as an officer and to leave the service of the United States. But he bases it on the mistakes that this country has made. And so, he needs to be admired for that."

Readers of the 'book' would be under the impression, from the above, that Akaka is advocating for Watada. However, he's not. That interview aired May 4, 2007. The Goodmans end the quote before Akaka had finished responding. What he says (on the program) immediately after "that" is:

But he has had a difficult time to convince the military courts, as well, to just let him resign. But for me, we'll let the courts decide that. But I admire his position. It's very difficult, and we know that we all love our country, and I know he does too. But his reasons are, as I said, moral and that's really basic for anybody as he makes a difficult decision as he has.

Akaka offered no support to Watada. The issue in May 2007 was double-jeopardy and that issue wasn't addressed and the Goodmans fail to point out that Akaka was one of the members of Congress Carolyn Ho personally lobbied. And she should have some pull with Akaka since Bob Watada is good part of the reason Akaka ever made it into the Senate, having worked his ass off for Akaka and other Democrats in Hawaii. To provide some perspective, Akaka didn't just refuse to stand with Watada, he did so in May 2007. In November 2006, he was re-elected to another six year term. He will be 88 years old when his term is up. Courage is standing up for Ehren Watada. Courage is not saying, "It's a matter for the courts." It's a pathetic response from a pathetic man who risks nothing by standing up for Watada. Akaka, if he's foolish enough to run for the Senate again, doesn't do so until 2012. He is worthless and shameful.

But it doesn't fit the Goodmans' happy little narrative so, while rendering Bob Watada invisible despite all the work he has done, they selectively edit (including "for me" being vanished from the quote they use) Akaka's remarks to make it sound as if the dottering old fool did something brave when bravery is not one of the attributes anyone would ever credit Akaka with.

The duo's concluding chapter runs eleven pages. You might falsely assume that's a good thing but they're bound and determined not to offer a conclusion but an infomercial. They write, "People often ask us in our travels, 'What gives you hope?'" Really? As two who hit the road each week to speak out against the illegal war, our most often asked question has to do with how many nights we'll be staying in the hotel.

The writers attempt to build a sermonette and, like Amy Goodman's begging during Pacifica pledge drives, you know all the inflated talk is only leading to one thing: Fork over your money.

How do you stand up to madness? If you didn't ask, don't worry, they do. And their first answer is "Support independent media." And their first example of it, big surprise, is Democracy Now! Like the panhandler on the street who won't take "no" for an answer when requesting cigarettes (that you don't have), they go on for 24 lines about Democracy Now! By contrast, the legal organization the Center for Constitutional Rights gets only ten lines. They go on to 'instruct' that you should "say no" and "stand together" and if you're wondering how stupid the authors think you are, the better question is how stupid are the authors that they think these remedial basics make for a concluding chapter or anything 'informative.' Apparently fans of The Player (Tim Robbins, who starred in that film, blurbs the book on the back cover), they start repeating the catch phrase from that film, "Now more than ever." Attempting to create some excitement . . . off the backs of others.

"Now more than ever -- and always -- we must stand up to the madness," they conclude in their final sentence. Ourselves, we think the easiest way to "stand up to" any madness is to stop purchasing (and selling) easy-assemble-'books' that are nothing but clip jobs. We're pretty sure we've heard everything in the book a million times before and would suggest that, before the siblings Goodman decide to destroy more trees in their pursuit of 'authorship,' they take some time to actually write something as opposed to the copy and paste nonsense they've offered. When we told friends at the publishing company that this was going to be a chore to review, we were told we'd probably work harder on our review than the 'authors' did on their 'book' -- and were then begged to include that when we wrote the review.

See, reality is that the book deal is coming to an end shortly and that some feel played. They feel they're not getting books (they aren't) and they're bothered by the decreasing sales of the siblings. Marketing's at a loss on how to sell this non-book. Does the left need a feel good menu? ("If they did, wouldn't Katrina [vanden Heuvel]'s ditherings be selling?" asked one at Hyperion.) Is this what passes for a kick-start-the-movement-field-manual? No, it's just another copy and paste production in a world that already has too many 'books' from 'authors' who lack the skills to provide genuine thought and analysis. People at the publishing company are confused because they really liked Exceptions to the Rulers. That 'book,' the first by the siblings, covered a broad landscape beginning largely in the 90s. All those stories have now been told and re-told. All the Goodmans appear to offer at present are collected scraps. Standing Up To The Madness won't come from the likes of short-sighted mental midgets.
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