Sunday, January 06, 2008
So I just think it's fair for people to understand that many of the charges that have been leveled not just at me, but also at Senator Edwards, are not totally, you know, unrelated to the very record that you have.
Senator Hillary Clinton to Senator Barack Obama in the New Hampshire Democratic presidential debate, Saturday, January 5, 2007.
A faster Sunday than usual.
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 always Dallas who hunts down links, provides feedback and more.
Truest statement of the week -- Mark this week down. We don't think a politican has ever had "Truest" before. "True" and "politican" do not naturally go together. More shocking for some may be the speaker, Hillary Clinton. But it was the truest statement. We wish we could grab a John Edwards as well but he spent the debate acting as if he was running for the office of vice-president or maybe just "wing man" for Barack Obama.
Truest statement of the week II -- Kat telling it like it is about Barack.
Editorial: 2008 already doesn't look good -- Is it too much to be worried about a new year based on a week? Maybe so if you ignore issues like precedents. Ourselves, we think 2008 got off to a sorry start and if independent media's planning to strut their stuff this year, they must be conserving their energy.
TV: The Dead and Missing Persons -- The epic. Ava and C.I. told us they'd work on it near the end, it would be long and it would cover a great deal. It does. There is a lot of humor there -- everyone was laughing while I (Jim) read it out loud -- but what stands out to me are the points they're making. I know they hate, HATE, doing these news and public affairs program. And I know they'd rather be back on the entertainment beat. But last a week an e-mail came in from long time reader Joni who wrote, "Yeah, I thought I'd be 'enduring' their pieces while the strike was going on. But they've really stuck to their usual style and I would rank these along side their best reviews of TV programs" -- meaning entertainment. I would as well.
Roundtable -- We're not the horse race site. We went back and forth on whether or not to note Iowa (Ava and C.I. had told us they'd be noting Kucinich in their TV commentary). But from the start of this site, we've called out Iowa's first out of the gate place each presidential election. It really seemed necessary to note it this week while everyone still had an impression of it. Had the problems with Iowa been noted elsewhere, we could have skipped this focus. (Although I think the last section of the roundtable is all anyone's going to comment on -- positive or negativel.)
Roundtable on the media -- More roundtables, you always ask. This week you get two because we didn't get to some of the planned topics. This one focuses on the media and specifically on the media and Barack Obama. Ty mentions a song in this roundtable. He and C.I. had discussed the issue. We ran out of time for it this edition but will be covering it next week.
Wack job of the week -- Elaine came up with the idea for this feature. It should be a regular one and we'll try to do it at least once every six weeks.
2007 Archives -- Yes, switching the template was a mistake. Yes, you all curse Ty, Dona and me for doing that in your e-mails. So we made a point to include a post with the 2007 archives while they were still up. (They are now not listed by week. The minute we posted anything here in 2008, the weeks would disappear and just a year is now listed.) We'll put this in our permalinks for easier access. C.I.'s on another laptop and says it's now added to the permalinks on the left (under the community sites).
Theft of the week -- Katrina vanden Heuvel 'finds' a topic. After Deliah Boyd has already found it.
Highlights -- Mike, Betty, Cedric, Wally, Kat and Elaine wrote this and selected the highlights unless otherwise noted. We thank them for this feature.
**When the circus leaves town** -- This was added Sunday evening when we were fixing some typos and C.I. noted Wally and Cedric's joint-post wasn't noted anywhere else in this edition. We've reposted it in full. They're taking a look at Iowa post-caucus.
And that's it. We're all going to sleep. The Common Ills will have entries this evening. See you next week.
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.
It does not bode well for the rest of the year.
As Ruth points out in her latest report, the radio program CounterSpin elected to air a best-of last week and, despite having a few things of value, felt that 2007 in Iraq could best be told with someone yet again trotting out stories from 2004 as opposed to the co-author of a 2007 report on realities Iraqis were currently living with.
Celine Nahory: Well, at the very moment the US is actually imposing another siege on Falluja. There were two in 2004 and there is one going on right now -- for about a month now. But Falluja is absolutely not the only city on which there have been assaults. Part of the "anti-insurgency operation" that the US is pursuing in Iraq. A dozen other cities have suffered: Najaf, Tal Afar, Samarra, al Qaim, Haditha, Ramadi, Baquba, many others. And this is not something that happened here and there. It's really ongoing operations. And usually those operations follow the same pattern where the city is sealed off, a very harsh curfew is imposed, residents are encouraged to leave resulting in massive displacement of people. After awhile they assume that those who stay inside are only 'insurgents' and they cut water, food, electricity, medical supplies and carry massive bombardments on urban households and this destructs a very large part of the city. Reports say that more than 75% of the city of Falluja lies in ruins today. And many of those occasions, the US military has taken over medical facilities such as hospitals. In those cities, very often hospitals are the tallest building in those cities. So the US takes them over and puts snipers on top and you have once again control over the city or neighborhoods.
Sounds pretty damn important to us and CounterSpin must have agreed -- at least in June -- because they broadcast it. During the interview, co-host Janine Jackson expressed shock that the report wasn't getting attention and asserted that she had only seen the report covered by AFP. So how does that segment get left out of your best-of? Was it really necessary to bore us with Lebanon Dispatches again trotting out his tale of being in Iraq in 2004?
Well, maybe in the first week of January, 2011 -- when the illegal war may still be going on -- CounterSpin can serve up some information about Iraq in 2007?
Though the gas baggery on Iowa that dominated so much of the alleged independent media last week was annoying (and shallow), we were thankful that at least it had pushed the Cult of 'Saint' Bhutto to second place on the short list of topics indymedia 'covered.'
They weren't interested. They still weren't interested.
Mike Huckabee, the GOP winner in Iowa -- none of the gas bags pointed this or any other realities out -- got approximately 40,00 votes. It's true. From Scott Maxwell's "Iowa caucus results: Harbinger of 'change'?" in today's Orlando Sentinel:
Did you notice that, in order to win a caucus in Iowa, a candidate like Mike Huckabee had to win about 40,000 votes? To put that in perspective, Allen Arthur got more votes than that to win his seat on Orange County's soil and water board. For that matter, so did the guy Arthur beat. There's something to be said for allowing candidates to use a knock-on-doors strategy in a smaller state. And it's true that the rest of America could learn something from Iowans in terms of the focus those folks put on their elections. But it's also true that we could probably find a state that's a bit more representative of America than this group that's 93 percent white that has chosen past victors such as Paul Tsongas. (Which also tells you not to read too much into Iowa.)
The Democrats? The Democratic Party doesn't release numbers to the media or offer transparency. Somehow in all the gas baggery provided by indymedia last week, they couldn't note that. When, like Maxwell, they noted the racial majority in the state, they did so proclaiming it was amazing that "Black" Barack Obama could win. It's news that Obama is popular with White people? We thought that was his base.
Maxwell noted the racial component to question why Iowa went first every election cycle. Independent media that supposedly probes the story that the mainstream media ignores offered hours and hours, articles and articles on Iowa but never took the time to question the kick-off Iowa is given every four years.
It's not just that they couldn't shut up about Iowa, it's that their jabbering never offered anything of real value.
On Thursday, three US service members were announced dead by the US military. By Friday, All Things Media Big and Small made it clear that they just weren't interested.
On Wednesday, The New York Times ran an article on John Edwards' pledge to end the illegal war. As C.I. noted, skip Gordo's write up and go instead to the transcript of the interview. Independent media? Uninterested. Tom Hayden and Norman Solomon covered it during the week and that was really about it.
Did independent media think Edwards plan wasn't a good one? Did they doubt his sincerity? If so, they should have covered those aspects. But they didn't and the most likely reason for the silence was that it was about Iraq and they don't give a damn about Iraq.
The Iraq War that hits the five-year-anniversary in two months gets damn little attention. When vets return, they frequently say the same thing, "It's like people don't even know there's a war going on." What people know and don't know, that does not come from first-hand observation, is dependent upon the media.
2006 was, for independent media, the year of living dumbly and 2007 was the year of living useless. With only one week down in 2008, the mind already shudders to think how low they can scrape. As they scatter to the wind in search of topics to cover, one reality remains: The Iraq War drags on.
That's certainly not Bill Moyers' fault. At the start of the week, Kucinich had some strong supporters. The often excluded candidate was going to fight full out and his supporters were with him. (Disclosure: Ava endorsed Kucinich in the primary; C.I. has never personally thought Kucinich was a trust worthy candidate -- in 2004 or 2008.) Then came hump day last week and Kucinich hit a speed bump. As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) reported it on Thursday, "Meanwhile Barack Obama has picked up an endorsement from another Democratic challenger, Dennis Kucinich. In a statement, Kucinich urged his supporters to back Obama if Kucinich fails to meet the required fifteen-percent threshold. Voters are allowed to re-align with another candidate if their first choice fails to attract enough votes. Kucinich says his endorsement for Obama is limited to Iowa and he still hopes to compete nationwide."
The reaction was quick within this community with Rebecca, Elaine and Kat explaining that the revealing move ended their support for Kucinich while, on Saturday, Trina would offer the perfect dip to serve for the funeral of Kucinich's campaign. Outside the community, Norman Solomon (CounterPunch) probably captured it best in a column which noted that John Edwards shared more similarities with Kucinich than did Obama and, with Kucinich having endorsed Obama, "now, I can't think of reasons good enough to support Kucinich rather than Edwards in the weeks ahead." The widespread reaction was a topic Moyers raised on Friday asking, "Are you aware that you really upset some of your supporters by asking them to make Barack Obama their second choice in Iowa if they didn't vote for you? And I have had a score of e-mails since we announced that you were coming on the broadcast from your supporters who were quite upset. 'Dennis Kucinich has urged us to do exactly what he spent the last year telling them not to do: skip over a candidate with more progressive politics in order to support a candidate with less progressive politics'."
Kucinich just didn't get it. He thought the thing to do was fall back to 2004 when he had recommended John Edwards in Iowa. First of all, he really doesn't want to remind people of his cowardly 2004 run which found him promising the moon but refusing to fight, as he'd promised he would, for a peace plank on the party platform. When his supporters' peace signs were snatched up at the DNC convention in Boston that year, he refused to say a word. He was a coward and he was pathetic. 2004 really isn't the get-out-of-the-dog-house path he thinks it is. But it's curiously revealing in a way Kucinich didn't touch on.
In 2004, "I made a recommendation and it's an Iowa-only recommendation, it wasn't an endorsement, to go with John Edwards," was part of his meandering answer. For those who see Kucinich as America's only hope for peace and someone who has fought non-stop against the illegal war, they shouldn't rush on to his next statement, they should let that point sink in.
In 2004, John Edwards was not running for the presidency as someone against the war. Dennis Kucinich was. So was Howard Dean. Kucinich, in 2004, elected to endorse not the anti-war candidate Dean, but the then pro-war publicly Edwards. So this isn't just an issue for 2008, when he passed over an anti-war candidate (Edwards) to go with a War Hawk (Obama), he did the same in 2004.
Kucinich doesn't see it as an endorsement, it's a recommendation, he insists. It's an endorsement. And he knows what it was. He caught himself, in the midst of an answer, revealing just that, "And in 2008 I told my supporters that if I didn't reach the delegate threshold they should go-- I would recommend that they go with Barack Obama in the second ballot." "They should go . . ." Oops, he caught himself and started over with, "I would recommend . . ."
Ty passed on reader Jill's e-mail. Jill supported Kucinich until last week. She had "the t-shirts, the bumper stickers, the sign, the whole thing. I never let anyone discuss politics around me without bringing up and advocating for Dennis. I think Kat, Rebecca, Elaine and Trina get to the how offensive it is with comments about how Kucinich appears to think he's the leader of a cult and can order his 'followers' to move at his command. I was a supporter, I was not his follower."
Kucinich would like to argue that Iowa is "different." Due to the nature of the state's set up -- a caucus and not a primary -- support for him might be 'wasted' and it was incumbent upon him to decree to followers where they should go in the second and any later rounds of the caucus.
Here's reality. 'Wasted' is a vote for any candidate, in any state, who doesn't run to win. In other states, voters will not have the luxury of looking around their polling place to determine how many voted for Edwards, Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bill Richardson, Mike Gravel or Kucinich. So, by his logic, their votes may be 'wasted.'
If he doesn't believe his campaign is important enough for his supporters to stand with him, then he's not a real candidate. His supporters in Iowa were certainly in-the-know enough to know how the caucus process works and could have, without any input from him, figured out who they would go with if they didn't stick with him. Instead, he made a deal with Obama to send his 'followers' to them. Maybe it worked in Iowa? Maybe it didn't?
But it did result in (a) offending a lot of people and (b) conveying that he's not running a real campaign.
As a general rule, in future races, anyone who is found to have made a backdoor deal with another candidate in Iowa should immediately be removed from all future debates. Kucinich went public with his arrangement. (Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd and Joe Biden were all rumored to have made deals with the Obama campaign. Dodd and Biden have dropped out of the race.)
Kucinich was shut out of Saturday's debate and wanted to whine and get supporters to whine for him.
Reality, no one's going to miss his one liners. They were on the level of the material offered by strike breaker Jay Leno -- on whose program Kucinich appeared last year to play comic foil at his own expense. Kucinich's 'good guy' persona often translated as "Let's all make fun of me!" It was pathetic. Debates are for issues, not personalities. Granted, the moderators and candidates have all forgotten that point, but there was no reason Kucinich needed to grin through, and contribute to, one televised embarrassment over and over; however, he gladly played the fool.
If you're not grasping how pathetic Kucinich is, note this exchange from the broadcast:
BILL MOYERS: You know, as you speak out, I'm reminded of the lead editorial in THE NATION magazine this week, your friends at THE NATION saying that "Dennis Kucinich more closely embodies our ideals at THE NATION magazine than anybody else. And yet we have to admit that his inability to raise money, to organize grass-roots activism, and to create a mass, small "d," democratic core around him leads us to look elsewhere." What do you say to your friends at THE NATION?
DENNIS KUCINICH: I wish they would have been with me last night in Keene, New Hampshire, where 700 people showed up at the theater in downtown Keene to rally behind the campaign.
Kucinich whimpers, "I wish . . ." How pathetic. How weak. How embarrassing.
In 2007, The Nation repeatedly ran two candidates for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination on their covers: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Hillary's covers were intended to depict her as pure evil and Obama's looked like soft porn. The magazine repeatedly ignored him and, if you set aside John Nichols' rare pieces on him, you're left with no real coverage at all. (The only time Kucinich made the cover of the magazine in 2007 was in an illustration of all the candidates.) We're having a hard time believing that if Mike Gravel had been asked that question, he would have whimpered, "I wish . . ." We think Gravel would have talked about how offensive it was that the magazine gave him no serious coverage. (It was offensive.) But Kucinich wallows in weakness.
The only strength in his campaign came from his supporters and he betrayed them.
It's very easy for him to claim that was one-state-only, as he did to Moyers. It's easy for him to offer the 'differences' between Iowa and other states. But here's reality, in the final tally, Kucinich was attempting to give his Iowa supporters away. They weren't "his" to begin with. He certainly had no right to give or keep them. But Iowa is one state out of fifty and if he thinks it's more important that support 'counts' for other candidates than it is that his supporters stand with him . . . Well, that's not a message that's just going to be applied to Iowa.
As noted already, following the Iowa caucus, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd dropped out. Kucinich dropped out prior to the caucus, he just hasn't made the announcement.
To defend Kucinich's right to be in the race didn't require you supported him. (Again, C.I. does not care for candidate Kucinich.) It only required that you believe anyone who wanted to run be allowed to. But that belief is based on the candidates being real ones and not clowns. Only a clown tries to steer his supporters elsewhere.
Though the candidate was a clown, his supporters weren't. They seriously believed in standing up for a candidate. That wasn't easy. Forget Kucinich's own flaws in campaigning (which included having a press contact who wasn't reachable by phone for the bulk of his run), his supporters believed that it was important to vote for what you believed in. The hope of many (not all) was that, as time passed, enough people would come around and see that Kucinich was the only real candidate. Some would label their support as 'wasting' their vote but their beliefs were that you took your vote seriously by voting for a candidate, who might very well lose, if the candidate stood for something you also believed in.
Kucinich killed his own campaign by removing reasons to support him. If it's not important that he be supported in Iowa, then he shouldn't be supported in any state. And since other states will not allow for 'rounds,' his message translates as, "Don't waste your vote on me."
Yesterday, in New Hampshire, a debate took place. 'Candidate' Kucinich was excluded. We found it interesting who went for the role of the clown when Kucinich wasn't there to play it: Barack Obama and Bill Richardson.
Richardson provided one laugh-getter after another including, "Well, I've been in hostage negotiations that are a lot more civil than this." Possibly too much time has been spent with the lie that you learn everything you need to know in kindergarten? Certainly high school teaches its own lessons such as this one: The class clown rarely becomes the class president. But at least Richardson's jokes actually got laughs. Obama's attempts were far worse.
Charlie Gibson ('moderator') asked Clinton about Obama's record and, in one section of her response, she declared, "You know, Senator Obama has been -- as the Associated Press described it, he could have a pretty good debate with himself, because four years ago he was for single-payer health care. Then he moved toward a rejection of that, a more incremental approach. Then he was for universal health care; then he proposed a health care plan that doesn't cover everybody." Obama's response? "Well, I think the Associated Press was quoting some of your folks, Hillary." As any professional comic knows the only audience response to fear is dead silence which, for the record, greeted that lame attempt at humor by Obama.
With Kucinich out of the debate, Richardson and Obama seemed bound and determined to land the title Funny Boy. That may be a result of the popularity of one-liners under Reagan. "Where's the beef?" was simple and possibly that's because Regan couldn't handle anything too complex. "Well, I think" "the Associated Press" "was quoting" "some of" "your folks, Hillary" is never going to get a loud laugh. It's badly constructed, it depends upon listeners following groupings and it's just badly, badly worded. Though not nominally funnier, it would get the point across much better if he'd said, "Sounds like AP was quoting your people." No need for "Hillary." Funny lines rarely end with a person's name and "eee" syllables, as ending ones, don't lend themselves to that harsh landing needed to pull off the catty Obama was aspiring to. He reminded us of the critic John Simon being channeled through Herman Munster.
"Where's the beef?" was to the point and made the point, for those who liked Reagan, "He's like us, repeating a slogan." Wit really isn't a factor in presidential elections but bad attempts at it distance the voters from the candidate.
When people talk about the Al Gore 2000 campaign for president, they're often full of anger about what the press did to him. The press did this, the press did that and blah, blah, blah. What Al Gore did to himself is never addressed.
Sure, some will note that he ran a lousy campaign, but that's about as far as it goes. Last fall, TV viewers were provided with an example of the damage Gore so regularly did to himself when he appeared on 30 Rock allegedly to promote awareness on the environment. (NBC turned an entire week over to pseudo-environmentalism.) In the episode, Gore's heavily billed appearance came at the end. Guest star David Schwimmer played a corporate schill for pseudo-environmentalism whose 'power' goes to his head and he goes nuts. To replace him on a Today segment, Alec Baldwin's character attempts to strong-arm Gore. It doesn't work and the appearance might have been fine -- stiff, but fine. However, Gore then has to make a statement, to Tina Fey's character, about an animal being in danger ("Quiet. A whale is in trouble. I have to go.") and, like Superman from the 50s TV series, he's gone.
Gone nuts is more like it.
There is "good sport" and then there is "sacrificial victim." Like Gore too often did in 2000, Kucinich made himself the clown and provided plenty of ammo for those neutral to him -- not just those that hate him -- to turn away from him.
When a publishing house fed a tidbit to Tim Russert via a glossy magazine and Russert screwed it up (the UFO incident) in a debate, Dennis Kucinich responded by? Going to a joke. Is that the image Americans respond to? Do they really think, "Gee, if the United States is bombed, imagine the one liners in the Oval Office!"?
No. But politicians seem to think they're funny (that actually is funny) and Kucinich clowned in debate after debate and then wanted to whine that he wasn't getting significant or serious press. The press actually was hostile to Al Gore during 2000; however, the reality was that every time he thought he was playing good sport by mocking himself, he telegraphed two key things: (a) weakness and (b) a desire to be liked. The latter fed into their beliefs that he'd do anything to be president and the former gave them even more motivation to carve him up.
To Moyers, Kucinich bragged about being third-string on the football team. Even non-sports nuts like ourselves know that's not a good thing. To some it may be a charming story. To others, it may also convey the desperation to fit in, the desperation to go along with something you stink at instead of finding something you're good at, and/or the desperation to be liked. What's for sure is that it doesn't show leadership. Was Kucinich auditioning for a cabinet post? Was he auditioning for a deputy cabinet post?
Kucinich claimed it demonstrated that he had "determination" and was "resilient." After, he would go on to brag about his masters in communication which only left us wondering how bad the RTF programs were in his day? He would answer that for us shortly when he declared, "The electronic broadcast media is licensed to, you know, and to operate the airwaves in a public trust for the public." Is licensed to what, Kucinich? "to, you know, and to"? Was "you know" a blank we were all supposed to fill with our own preference?
Running off at the mouth with no lost words when boring the country with his story of being a third-string football player but unable to speak with any degree of authority about the broadcast media, Kucinich not only dug the grave for his now dead candidacy, he also cast doubt on communication majors.
Which brings us to the start of the broadcast, when Moyers interviewed Kathleen Hall Jamieson, or, as we like to think of her, Dr. Kathy.
Dr. Kathy teaches communication and if you've ever confused that with a real field (it's on par with majors such as "hotel management" and "public relations"), watch Dr. Kathy's discussion with Moyers before you plunk down any money for a degree in it.
Dr. Kathy focused on the speeches given by Obama and Mike Huckabee in Iowa. Good, you might think, we're going to get some reality in terms of what they claimed as opposed to what they actually did.
We got Dr. Kathy, who would later in the interview decry media narratives, impose her own. It was embarrassing and were it not for the weird thing Dr. Kathy kept doing with her hands, we would have averted our eyes.
The weird thing she was doing with her hands? We have no idea what it was but it reminded us of Lady MacBeth attempting to wash off the blood. Dr. Kathy is with the so-called "FactCheck.org" which means, if only by association, she has some blood on her hands as well. For those who have forgotten, 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry called out the cuts to veterans programs the Bully Boy was making. Kerry was correct. The issue could have been addressed and explored were it not for the fact that the allegedly non-partisan "FactCheck.org" rushed in to decree that Kerry was wrong.
As Elaine has pointed out repeatedly over the years, there is no medical staff at "FactCheck.org." As she has also noted, her own experience in her practice was already telling her there was a crisis before Kerry's comments. But "FactCheck.org" gave the press the perfect excuse to 'move along' and provided cover for the Bully Boy. Like Elaine, we think "FactCheck.org" is culpable in all veterans' sucides as well as in the slow to emerge Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal because, summoning all their alleged authority, they decreed there was no funding issue. So if we were Dr. Kathy, we'd be flailing our hands around in a weird manner as well. (However, we'd grasp that the blood's not coming off.)
When Dr. Kathy finished wasting everyone's time by telling them what was being 'communicated' in speeches they had already seen (if they were interested), she turned her eye to media narratives being told on Friday morning, the first morning after the Iowa caucus. What may be of most interest there is that Dr. Kathy weighed in on a number of things but missed the most important thing.
To speak of missing persons
Tonight there's only one
And we all carry with us what the man's begun
-- Jackson Browne, "Missing Persons" (Hold Out)
John Edwards had a small lead over Hillary Clinton; however, it was a lead. He came in second. Though pictured in the top right picture on the front page of Thursday's New York Times (before the caucus), Friday was different.
Taking up a third of the top half of the front page, Adam Nagourney's "Obama Triumphs In Iowa Contest; Huckabee Rolls" continued inside the paper for two-thirds of A13 and the lengthy article provided only seven sentences that mentioned Edwards (only one paragraph was specifically about Edwards). Mike Huckabee was the focus of a front page "news analysis" that continued inside for the rest of A13. Second place in the GOP Iowa caucus Mitt Romney had an article on A14 that took up a little over half the page.
On A15, Marc Santora's "With Iowa in Rearview Mirror, Candidates Move to New Ground and Issues" took up approximately a third of the page and managed to mention Edwards in three sentences. Hillary Clinton received six sentences, Obama received six sentences, Mitt Romney received at least six sentences, Mike Huckabee (the GOP winner, remember) received one sentence, Rudy G received two sentences. It bears noting that the paper went to print with 65% of the Republican precints reporting. At that time, the order (from first onward) was Huckabee, Romney, Fred D. Thompson (13.7% for third place) and John McCain (in fourth with 13.2%). The Times wasn't interested in dropping below fourth (for the Democrats, fourth place was held by Bill Richardson.) So here's the point in our counting sentences in Santora's article: Who received the most coverage? Twelve sentences went to fourth place in Iowa John McCain.
And let's note who got their picture in the paper the day after the Iowa caucus: Mitt Romney got the largest photo, Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee got the smaller photos of the same size (however, as always, cover boy Bambi was in the foreground of his photo and Huckabee looked like an extra at a press conference) and . . . John McCain. McCain would be covered and pictured on Saturday as well, for anyone wondering.
But Saturday came after Dr. Kathy offered the sort of 'insight' only a communications major can. And somehow she, like the press, managed to overlook John Edwards. (She doesn't mention him once.) Dr. Kathy could, and did, talk about the fourth place McCain when Bill Moyers asked her to talk about the stories the press was putting out -- the larger stories (narratives) -- on Friday:
But the other piece out there before the caucus ever happened, was if McCain comes in third in Iowa, McCain is propelled into New Hampshire. If Romney doesn't win in Iowa, Romney comes into New Hampshire very, very vulnerable. Who isn't even being talked about in that narrative? Huckabee, who won in the Iowa caucuses. And you hear some of that in this morning's press coverage, and news coverage in broadcast. You hear the assumption that it's really McCain-Romney in New Hampshire. And here's the last narrative: Huckabee really was about getting those evangelicals. And there aren't any of those in New Hampshire. So we probably shouldn't think he's going to do well there. Let's wait for him to come back, when the evangelicals reappear in South Carolina.
First, McCain didn't come in third and discussing that pre-set narrative required noting the reality. Second, if there was a key to the narratives repeatedly put forward by the press on Friday (about only one state and only 16% of those eligble participating) it was the absence of John Edwards from the major narratives. Communications guru Dr. Kathy also stripped Edwards out of the equation by never once mentioning him.
At one point, she raved over a photo of Barack Obama on stage compared to one of Hillary. We'd heard and read that crap everywhere already before The Journal aired. Does the country really need a communications major to tell us what's shown in staged photos? Might we be better served by someone who wasn't taken in by staged and planned photos but instead explored what the photos didn't tell you?
If you're one of the (lucky) few who missed the photos 'commentary' that was everywhere Friday morning, Hillary was pictured with Bill, Mad Maddie Albright and Wesley Clark among others. Barack Obama offered a White Bennington ad (though no one commented on the Whiteness of it all). Dr. Kathy saw symbolism in the photos, saw portents, saw . . . a load of crap. Here's the reality Dr. Kathy and others wouldn't tell you, Hillary's photo was your basic speech photo with the candidate surrounded by their team. Bambi's people, Technicolor by Deluxe wizards that they are, saw a chance to use the speech to send a false message. Now the reality is that Bambi's backed by Sammy Power, Sarah Sewer, Anthony Lake, Dennis Ross and Zbigniew Brzezinski among others. So a lot of garbage about how the photos say this or that ("Change!" "Break with tradition!" on Bambi's part) needs to note the reality of what's not said in the photos.
What Bill Moyers Journal provided on Friday was an autopsy on the death of Kucinich campaign and the need to file a missing persons report on John Edwards. To his credit, Moyers did bring up Edwards elsewhere in the program. But since Dr. Kathy's been invited to come back on the program this coming Friday, we strongly urge her to offer less factoids, less impressions about regligion and a lot less nonsense.
[Reminder, Bill Moyers Journal online offers full transcripts, audio and video streaming options and, by doing so, serves the public interest. All programs of The Journal are archived online.]
Jim: A roundtable, as long promised. Jess, Ava and C.I. offered one on the week the rest of us were on holiday, but other than that, it's been awhile. We have a number of topics and those we're unable to get to will hopefully be addressed in a "Mailbag" feature. Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and me, 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. The illustration is by Betty's son. Last week saw the Iowa caucus and this week will see the New Hampshire primary. There were some points people wanted to raise, so we'll start there and start with Wally.
Wally: Over 90% White, non-ballot vote, non-secret vote, multiple rounds. Backdoor deals. That's Iowa. But the DNC wants to strip my state of their delegates for pushing up their primary? Florida, for anyone who's forgotten, was robbed of votes in 2000 and the Dems didn't do a damn thing to stand up for the Democratic voters in the state. Now the Democratic Party wants to strip Florida of delegates due to moving up the primary? That's just ridiculous.
Cedric: Florida and Michigan, and the DNC's efforts to punish them for moving up their primaries, are topics we touch on from time to time at our sites, Wally and I, and we get e-mails. The DNC is not on strong ground making these threats and they've angered a lot of people -- obviously within the two states but also outside of it.
Mike: And I think it goes to the basic point you two have repeatedly made: The Olympics. Like the presidential elections, the Olympics are held every four year. The same place doesn't get it every time. Look at the Superbowl while you're at it. The kick off state needs to be rotated each presidential election cycle. Iowa really shouldn't be on the list of possibilities to begin with due to the fact that they don't have a primary. But they certainly have had their first go-round and then some. It's time for other states.
Rebecca: Last month, The New York Times had a front page article on how Hillary Clinton wasn't grasping Iowa and she had met with someone for an hour and was surprised, after the one on one face to face meeting, that this didn't mean he would be supporting her. She had spent an hour with one man and the campaign had nothing to show for it. If you followed the paper's Iowa coverage, or The Washington Post's, you saw that repeatedly. There was a woman one of them wrote about who'd been able to ask all but one candidate a question. Why the hell does Iowa get that each election cycle? And of course, New Hampshire does as well. It needs to be rotated.
Kat: Well, Iowa gets it because it's easy to control that state and the Democratic Party does not allow oversight by the press of their results. It's a method of control. So I think everyone should be opposed to it for that reason and I think other states should be asking why they don't get that? I mean, Joan, a community member in Hawaii, is used to never seeing a candidate because the Democrats write off Hawaii. That's largely true of this state as well, California, after the primaries are over.
Dona: The thing that gets me is the lie the press puts out, and there's no bigger liar here than Adam Nagourney this cycle, about how Iowans are more passionated about politics and more serious and blah, blah, blah. Only 16% voted. That's the percentage. And that was considered "record"! If you look at the last two election cycles, Iowa didn't even have the double digits.
Ty: Right, they get all that face time with the candidates, they get to see them at schools, homes, you name it, and this goes on for months but 16% is considered a large turnout? Everybody needs to remember that in 2012 if they push for Iowa again. They need to remember it when the lies start up that this catered to state is somehow 'better' or more 'committed' than the other states. It's not.
Jess: And by rotating it, I think you'd see the first-state always have a higher turnout just because it would be something new. "We go first this cycle! Oh great!" I mean, the other states, the people have to make do with media. Maybe there's a stop-over visit, maybe there isn't. And Biden, Joe Biden, and Chris Dodd dropped out. Why? What did Iowa, what did 16% of those eligible to vote in the 2008 elections, tell us about the country? Nothing.
Jim: That's a key point and the main reason we're talking about this. We've actually touched on Iowa in 2005 and 2006 as well as last year. But there was no way we could pass up noting it this week while it was fresh on a lot of people's minds. This is screwed up and has gone on more than long enough. There are serious issues with transperancy and serious issues with voter fraud. Those are not new. It's past time that Iowa was called out and that this issue was addressed. Do we think it will be in 2008?
Dona: Absolutely not. But when we first started bringing this up, back in 2005, there were a lot of "You don't know what you're talking about! Everyone votes in Iowa!" Well, obviously someone writing that doesn't know what they're talking about because it's a caucus, not a primary. But each time we've touched on it, a few more people have said, "Okay, I get it."
Jess: Or "Okay I get it and it stinks."
Dona: Exactly. So right now, as everyone's seen the flaws if they were paying attention, it's time to really nail that into memory.
Jim: Because even if it doesn't change for 2012, as more people grasp this issue, it will have to change. It may be many election cycles on down the line, but it will. And it needs to and that's why we're bringing it up. It's not fair.
Elaine: Well, there's another issue to touch on, many actually, but let's talk about the process itself. Kat rightly compared it to serving on a jury. But let's note that a jury deliberates in private so you can also compare it to mob mentality. I'm all for democracy, but that's not what happens. You go to your designated area and you stand in the section for your candidate. Then you go off into another section as you see who's for who. Let's not pretend that those changing their "vote" aren't influenced by a mob mentality. That's not democracy and it's not how the process works in primaries so it's completely non-reflective.
Cedric: That's really a good point. It's like a sheep process. "Oh, all the people are over there. And look, they're staring at us." Is your pick -- since they don't use ballots, I'm calling it pick -- supposed to have integrity or not? Then why is it public. Do you want someone following you into the voting booth? I don't. My vote's no one else's damn business. Maybe that's among the reasons more people don't turn out in Iowa?
Betty: How pathetic, the 16%. You've been catered to and given months of time with candidates and all you can offer is 16%? That's disgusting. It's disgusting that 16% is considered a high. And all Iowan students who participated in that better not be planning to return to their colleges and vote in those primaries.
Jim: How does everyone feel that about that, by the way? Should students be allowed to vote in the areas they go to college in or not?
Mike: I go to college in my area so it's not been an issue for me.
Jess: Dona and Ava were the furthest from home when we were on campus in NY, so how about they start?
Ava: I kept my voting in California. I had no interest in voting in any NY races. I wasn't planning on living there. I was on the phone with friends and family all the time so I knew what was going on back here. But I could, and did, fly out at the drop of a hat when I wanted to. I think Dona's probably had the best experience to base an answer on.
Dona: Well, I was in touch like Ava's talking about. I wasn't able to fly back and forth. I had serious concerns about ballot integrity and ballot counting. I did change my registration. In some communities, in the past, that's been necessary. If you're in a college town, there have been attempts to use the ballot box between students and "townies" and I could see how students not only had a right but had a need to weigh in. In terms of my own experiences, of voting in NY, I knew the big candidates, the big races, and I had no idea on the others. To be honest with you, on at least six races, I asked Jim, who is from that area, his father -- for the same reason -- and professors to get their opinion because I couldn't grasp the differences on some local races between the candidates. In those races, if you wanted to know who I voted for, you'd have to dig up my ballot because I have no idea. In the meantime, a woman who used to babysit for me all the time ran for local office in my hometown and, because I switched my registration, I wasn't able to vote her. Even if I hadn't been calling home and friends, if I'd asked for an absentee ballot, I would've known all the people running in local races. So for me, I'd say it was a mistake. I'm not recommending that anyone dictate the policy to students. I am suggesting that students, on their own, weigh the pros and cons of switching. We have so few options and choices as it is that I'd be the last to argue that the decision be made for us. But I would also say people, students, need to think about it in terms of more than which is easier -- absentee or in person -- when making the decision.
Betty: But you're switched again?
Dona: Oh yeah. I'm voting out here now. I say "out here" so I should note that Kat, Jim, Ty, Jess, Ava, C.I. and myself are in California. Everyone else is participating by phone, Betty from Georgia. But, yeah, I'm registered out here now. I'm voting Cindy Sheehan for Congress. But it's not that hard to have a sense of the races or the measures in the Bay Area. You've got more than just the mainstream, you've got a ton of local alternative papers and other resources and, of course, at C.I.'s there are always people over talking politics. So I actually know more about this area. And if something similar happens for someone else, obviously they should feel free to switch their registration. I'm glad Betty brought that up because I'm in grad school now, so still a student, and they are two different experiences, NY and out here. So, actually, my own experiences make a strong case for both. But, let me add, that for Cindy's race alone, I would switch my registration and there might be a race like that for others -- maybe a professor is running for local or statewide office -- where you want to weigh in. So there are many factors to consider. And I believe it's a student's decision.
Kat: If I could, as someone who has long lived in the area Dona's talking about, you can drop out. You can be oblivious. But I've always felt you had to work at it out here. Make a real effort not to follow what was going on. I know that's not the case everywhere. But it does seem like, whether it's TV or radio, we get a lot more public affairs programming on ballots and candidates. And if something's not being covered, that's all you hear about from the people you bump into -- forget that you know.
Betty: One more thing. I found it really interesting how the narrative post-caucus didn't address the vote swapping, the backdoor deals. We know Kucinich made a deal. Joe Biden, Bill Richardson and Chris Dodd's campaign are rumored to have as well. This was being reported leading into the caucus and, afterward, not a word. I know Ava and C.I. are tackling the Kucinich issue in their TV commentary but I'm not sure what they're including and what they aren't so I want to be on record that I find that disgusting. If you're rivals, real ones, you don't make deals. And these trading deals go to how compromised Iowa is.
Jim: Good point. No one participating in this supports Kucinich now. I think the feeling is he destroyed his own campaign.
Rebecca: And Trina captured the sentiment perfectly in her post. But we weren't all in the Kucinch camp to begin with.
Jim: That's true. It was Trina, Kat, Betty, Rebecca, Dona, Ava and Elaine.
Elaine: As well as other female community members including Keesha, Martha, Shirley, Gina and Krista. I don't remember everyone that was on it. Ruth may have been on it. Kat?
Kat: I'd have to go back and re-read it and it's too painful now.
Jim: So that was who supported Kucinich and who didn't. The rest hadn't declared but we were all open to Kucinich --
Rebecca: No, we weren't.
Jim: We weren't?
Rebecca: I don't know if I can tell this story?
C.I.: Go ahead. But let's note that Kucinich got links and no criticsm until two weekends ago and that criticism was based upon the anger from disabled and deaf community members who were furious that he offered a weekly summary you could follow provided you could hear. No text, no anything.
Jim: C.I. didn't like Kucinich?
Rebecca: Hated him. And I'm the one who can't keep a secret? Ha!
Elaine: You did keep a secret. Even I didn't know. How did you know?
Rebecca: You got to Boston late. We were there, this is 2004 for the DNC convention, when C.I. was approached by this student who looked like she was about to cry.
C.I.: I'd spoken to a group at her campus repeatedly. Probably four or five times.
Rebecca: So she comes up and C.I.'s like, "What's wrong?" And Dennis sold out his supporters and how could he do that -- she's crying at this point -- and why, why, why? I mean she couldn't believe it. He was the peace candidate, going to fight for that peace plank and blah-blah-blah. C.I. told her that Kucinich was anti-choice until this election, wasn't to be trusted and a few more things that would have to be seriously censored here. It ended with, "He's a f---ing liar." And C.I. encouraging her to say it. Which she did. C.I. loathes Dennis.
C.I.: I don't know that I loathe him. I don't care for him. But he makes a lot of promises, always has, and a lot of people believe him. And then Dennis does what's best for Dennis. That's nothing new.
Kat: Well . . . I mean, I feel really stupid because I've yammered on about him to you over and over.
C.I.: No, don't feel stupid. You supported what he stood for. I wouldn't criticize anyone for a candidate, for supporting a candidate, that they'd researched and whose positions matched their own. I'm really not interested in who anyone votes for.
Kat: Well, was it hard to include him in the snapshot?
C.I.: Not at all. I mean it wasn't hard, when the media went after him, to defend him. That wasn't about me, that was about what was going on at that time.
Elaine: You really never know who C.I. supports or doesn't unless you're told, "This is who I . . ." And it's really not an issue, Kat, trust me. I've explained before how I supported Howard Dean in the primary and was donating to his campaign. Because I'd decided, I mentioned it to C.I., only then would I learn -- in any election cycle, and C.I. was happy for me. And shared, "I'm supporting John Kerry." I started looking at the two and trying to decide, re-decide, and ended up contributing to Kerry as well in the primary and that's the only time C.I. got mad.
C.I.: Because you believed in and supported Howard Dean. You shouldn't undercut that by donating to a rival.
Ty: I just want to back Kat up on this because I'm kind of surprised -- actually I'm twice surprised.
Rebecca: Once is me, right?
Ty: (laughing) Right.
Rebecca: I can keep some secrets.
Ty: Okay. But I mean, I didn't know that and wouldn't have guessed.
Jess: Nor would the angry e-mails from visitors to the public account. For about a month, when I'd come across those, I would send out a "C.I. is not endorsing anyone" e-mail. Then I got sick of it and just ignored them. But there were a large number of visitors who would swear it was Kucinich central at The Common Ills.
C.I.: If he'd gotten serious attention from the media -- big or small -- there might have been a need to insert a cautionary note about his past history. But, as it was, there was no point. He got no attention. So we were a counter-measure. If media -- big or small -- had been pushing him, had made them their choice --
Jim: The Nation.
C.I.: Right, there might have been a need for a cautionary note. But as it was, there wasn't. He was talking about Iraq and we highlighted him regularly. On the weekend, not yesterday but two Saturdays ago, I told Mike to decide about a statement.
Mike: Yeah, the thing about the video had resulted in C.I. offering three sentences on how unfair that was and someone who begs for attention isn't very sincere if they turn around and shut out potential supporters. I deleted it because I thought, "Geez, there's already enough harshness in this. They'll be a ton of e-mails as it is." But I wouldn't have done that without the option from C.I. to do so. But you already had C.I. noting "What a bunch of losers" and I agreed with that but I just thought the "no more links" was going to result in a lot of e-mails. So, since I had the choice to prune, I did.
Jim: I've pulled that up and here's just one section, it's in a note at the end of the entry, "Kucinich took himself out of the running with a portion of disabled voters by running a crappy website. That's reality. That the media would create front runners was not a surprise or a new development. That so many not included to the party would whine so often about that but fail to use their own power (their websites) goes to the reality that they share the blame." Looking at that now, yeah, it is obvious. Ava, did you know?
Ava: No. We don't discuss campaign politics. Well, I mean, I'll overhear some things during a phone call and we may laugh about that after or groan, if C.I.'s on the phone with a friend at one of the campaigns. But even then, it's about whatever I overhead and not about the candidate themselves. And, to be clear, Kucinich is no longer a candidate in anything but name only. I still wouldn't know that C.I. didn't trust Kucinich if Kucinich was still a real candidate. He destroyed his own race.
Jim: Okay, so at this point, there's no endorsements from anyone. Does anyone want to change that? Does anyone have a pick?
Betty: I think it's clear that we have a non-pick, Barack Obama.
Jim: True. Anyone leaning any way?
Cedric: I'm leaning towards Hillary. With Biden and Dodd dropping out and Kucinich dropping himself out, with rumors that Richardson cut a deal, they're all gone. Green Party? I'd have to see a real campaign and not a safe one. I'm not wasting my vote on someone running a "Vote for us if you're in a safe state campaign." If Cynthia McKinney got the nomination, for instance, of the Green Party, I'd seriously consider it because she is a strong voice who speaks her mind. But in terms of who I'm left with right now, it's John Edwards or Hillary Clinton. If Edwards could stand up to Obama, I might rate him a little higher but he's coming off like a suck-up to Obama and besides not liking suck-ups, I don't like Obama. With Hillary, who's always been in the running for me, it has to do with the issue of the community. The Clintons, and look at either Bush before or after Bill Clinton was president, didn't put up a wall. I feel like I'm hedging that a bit and, in fairness, I shouldn't. I would say I see Hillary Clinton as someone who is friendly to and responsive of African-Americans. Barack Obama's too busy trying to be White while crying, "I'm Black!" If Edwards stays on the issue of Iraq and shows some guts in terms of standing up to Obama, I could go that way. His statements currently are more in line with my way of thinking. But, right now, I'd say I'm leaning towards Hillary. I don't mean to upset anyone.
C.I.: You haven't. Your preference is your preference. You don't have to explain it. No one here thinks you woke up one day and said, "I like X's smile." You've been considering how to vote for some time. And it's your vote.
Betty: Is that what got said behind my back? I know C.I. ran interference when I was supporting Hillary.
Rebecca: It was more like, "Nobody better say one damn word that makes Betty feel bad."
Cedric: And I understand why Iraq is the barrier for many. I know the "find another candidate if Iraq is your issue" pushed Betty away from supporting Hillary.
Rebecca: Cedric, I'm not going to try to change your mind. I've been very vocal about my dislike for Hillary but you can check with Betty and you'll find that I only offered her support when she was supporting Hillary. I mean, we're left with three: Clinton, Edwards or Obama. None of us are going to support Obama. That leaves Clinton or Edwards. And Mike was making a point Friday similar to what you're talking about now which is that Edwards refuses to stand up to Obama. He'll go to town on Hillary, but he won't stand up to Hillary.
Mike: Well you were making that point too, remember? Before Edwards and Obama tag-teamed Hillary, you were saying he needed to go after Obama. He didn't. That was a huge mistake and it makes him look weak.
Elaine: To provide the perspective, in a 'debate,' Obama called Edwards out for chaning his mind on the illegal war. Edwards had already apologized for his 2002 vote. Obama was making a big deal out of it and how he was against the illegal war. He gave a speech calling it "dumb" before it started. In 2004, when C.I. and I went to a fundraiser planning to donate to his campaign for US Senator, the maximum donation, in fact, we got our face time and, of course, we bring up Iraq. He says he doesn't favor withdrawal because "we" are already there. That's not being against the war. Then you add in that he voted for every authorization until the summer of 2007. You add in that he told The New York Times in 2004 and The New Yorker in 2006 that he didn't know how he would have voted in 2002 if he'd been in the Senate. When you add that and a lot more in, you're left with no one who's got a right to call anyone out on their vote in 2002.
Dona: What bothered me about Mike's post Friday was the e-mail. The one the Edwards campaign sent out. I'm not signed up so I didn't get it. Mike's summarizing it and I'm thinking, "WHAT!"
Mike: "Dear Mike, It was a strong night for us - we finished second in Iowa, beating out the Clinton machine. Change won tonight - the status quo lost. But now the fight is on - and they're going to come after us, trying to drown out our message of change with their hundreds of millions of dollars. That's why I need you to make a contribution to my campaign today. Click here to make a contribution. What we saw in Iowa was two candidates who thought their money would make them inevitable. But what the Iowa caucus goers have shown us is that if you're willing to have a little backbone, to have the courage to speak for the middle class, to speak for those who have no voice, and if you're willing to stand up to corporate greed, then that message and the American people are unstoppable, no matter how much money is spent to prevent that message from getting out. That's why I need your support today, so those who believe in the status quo will not stop our message of change that this country so desperately needs. Click here to make a contribution. I am so proud of this cause - and so grateful for your support. It is your support that has sustained Elizabeth and me as we have campaigned across this country. You have created a tidal wave of change that will sweep from Iowa to New Hampshire, to Nevada and South Carolina. Continue to stand with me, so that when this wave of change is done, every one of us will be able to look our children in the eye and say, "We did for you what our parents did for us - we left America better for you than we found it." Thank you for your support - the wave of change has begun. Sincerely, John".
Dona: That's weaker than I thought. How does he avoid naming Obama? That's weak. And I believe Rebecca's point was that, back before the tag-team debate, that with Barack ahead of him in the polls, going after Hillary wasn't going to put him in first place, it would put him in second if he succeeded. So your point was that he needed to go after Barack Obama as well.
Rebecca: Right. And he wouldn't have looked so bad during that debate. It wouldn't have been, "How dare they pile up on Hillary!" He wouldn't have looked scared -- which is how it looked -- to take on an opponent by himself.
Jim: Your post Friday, do you want us to talk about that?
Rebecca: I'm sure I'll be creamed for it in e-mails, I don't care. It needed saying.
Jim: I'm sure you'll be creamed as well. But I liked it and unless you don't want it noted, I think we can grab that and then go into the last topic.
Rebecca: Go for it.
Ty: I'll summarize it, Rebecca's talking about how asexual Bambi is. Like Michael Jackson. And she's noting that Molly Ivins always said a candidate needed some Elvis. Barack doesn't have it. And I agree with what she's saying.
Rebecca: Thank you, Ty.
Ty: But it's part of running away from his Black side. He has to be cuddly and non-threatening and emphasize his White side. If he acted like an adult African-American male, it would scare people off. Instead he's "cute" -- like he's the new Webster as opposed to someone running for president. He's soft and cuddly. Republicans are going to eat him for lunch.
Jim: Edwards needs to stand up to Obama and unless or until he does, he looks weak. We seem to all agree on that. So I wanted to discuss the strength issue here. I don't think anyone's bothered that Hillary's strong.
Rebecca: It's the only thing I respect about her.
Kat: Yeah, I'd go with that. I mean Rebecca and I both loathe her. But look at the MoveOn vote. Barack skipped it -- as usual -- but Hillary didn't vote to condemn MoveOn. C.I. wrote something at the time about how Hillary doesn't back down and that can be a good thing if you agree on the issue and a bad thing if you don't. Which I agree with. But there's no question that she's a strong person. And it's the only thing I'd rate her postively on.
Jim: There's an alleged gender gap on that, if you read the gas baggery. So let me throw it out to the just the guys --
Ty: Just the straight guys.
Jim: Okay, thank you. So Jess, Mike, Cedric and Wally. Any thoughts?
Wally: The president has to be strong. And in terms of Hillary Clinton, I've never doubted she was strong enough for the job. I've never been bothered by that, to get to the issue. I've never thought, "Oh, that's threatening to me!" I don't know why anyone would be.
Jess: I think it's a non-issue. I know the press tries to make it one but they've tarred her with that forever, even as First Lady, it's never been the case. There's a segment that hates her and will always hate her. They're vocal, they're loud. But the "I wouldn't vote her" segment isn't that large. And this, "I won't vote her" crap is crap. What, all the people are going to be voting Green? Of course not. They're vested in their Democratic candidate -- I'm a Green -- and they're acting like lovers and not citizens. They voted for a lot worse than Hillary before. Were she to get the nomination, these people saying, "I won't vote for her!" wouldn't keep that promise in most cases. It's just something they say, especially the Bambi crowd. The Bambi crowd doesn't have the guts to do anything to begin with. They couldn't take a stand if their lives depended upon it.
Mike: Besides, taking a stand might be seen as 'devisive' and they'd freak over that. I agree. Cedric made a really good point earlier that I hadn't thought of. I'm open to voting Green this go round with the right candidate. But if it's one of those 'safe states' only, I'm not wasting my vote on anyone who doesn't want to win. You can lose and I'm okay with that. But I'm not voting for any "I'm kind-of running for president" candidates. What I want is for Edwards to show strength. If he doesn't and the Greens do a 'safe state' campaign, I'd vote for Hillary.
Cedric: I'm not sure what to say. I mean, obviously I don't have a problem if I'm already leaning towards her. I guess I'd just echo what everyone else said. Including Wally, that we expect a president to be strong. She's got strength. Rebecca's post was on the money. Bambi is so weak. He could sell inspirational tapes on latenight TV, you don't see his weak ass as a leader outside of a huggy-feelings group encounter.
Jim: So who do you see as sexy? That question popped up many weeks ago from Suzette. She asked if we'd sleep with a war resister? She was serious by the way. We weren't sure when it first came in and Rebecca didn't care. Rebecca's attitude was, "Hey, here's a chance to get some attention for war resisters." Was it being trivial? C.I. and Dona said no. Both said, "We might be taken less seriously, but who cares. If one person reading it goes to look up ___ that's one person who thinks about war resisters that day." So we're going to make that the closing topic and if we knew the war resister was married, he or she was removed from the people who could be considered. Cedric?
Cedric: My pick would be Terri Johnson because she's strong -- I have no problem with strong women -- and her story is enlisting and realizing what a huge mistake it was during basics. So she caught on quick which means she's very, very smart. I like her hair and she has beautiful eyes. Known war resisters who are women is not a large amount. I should also note, Terri Johnson is African-American. That needs to be noted since the lie of "The Peace Movement Is All White" still gets repeated.
Elaine: I feel the need to note that I am in a relationship, with Mike, and this is like "fantasy football."
Jim: I should have noted that. No one is going to go after someone. Thanks for pointing that out.
Elaine: I know who C.I.'s picking. Otherwise, I don't. So if I'm grabbing someone's choice, I'm sorry. Mine is Eli Israel. He went public last year. He was serving in Iraq and he became the first war resister to publicly say no and call out the illegal war while in Iraq. They tried to target him, tried to say he was crazy. He went public with the help of some friends and the publicity meant the military couldn't hide him away.
Ty: My choice is Stephen Funk. He's the first to resist. There seemed to be an effort, in the last few weeks, to rob him of that. An effort to say, "___ spoke out before the illegal war started." No offense to ___, but Funk spoke out after it started and I'm not sure that ___ did as soon as Stephen did. Stephen Funk, like me, is gay so that makes him a natural choice. I don't know how deep we want to go here but a few years back, when I was 17, or maybe 16, I would go to this site -- no link -- called Nifty Archives. It's a gay short stories, sex stories, website. And they had these different categories, one of which is "Celebrity." And it always pissed me off that they'd never have a gay fantasy. I mean, it was sex between two men. But they always used someone that was straight or straight as far as we know. An actor or singer or athlete who was out didn't get someone writing about them. I'm talking already out when I was visiting. Guys that were coming out while I was visiting didn't get stories written about them. It was like, "My gay fantasies can only revolve around straight men." Is this too much?
Ava: No, Ty, it's interesting continue.
Ty: Well, it was like, to me, they were saying, "Oh, __'s gay. Okay, let's move on to some hot guys!" As if a guy who came out was no longer hot. When I got into college, I would talk about that with other guys. At first, just gay guys. Then with straight male friends and Jim said, "That's like the guys" meaning straight guys "who only want to sleep with virgins." And I really think that says it all. It's got to be this fantasy of, "Oh, I'm so hot, he will be gay for me!" It totally devalues the famous gay men who come out that all those guys were obsessed with all these straight or seemingly straight guys. I found it disgusting. So Stephen Funk's is out and proud and he gets my vote.
Wally: Katherine Jashinski. She's actually a war resister of the Aghanistan War. We all include her because she's one of the first women to say no to illegal war. And we're all opposed to the Afghanistan War, for the record. She's got dark hair and is attractive but what makes her especially attractive to me is the fact that she said no to the Afghanistan War and a lot of people haven't gone that route. That was was always wrong. Afghanistan didn't bomb the US or hijack planes and crash them. But the knee-jerk response was "I'm hurting! We have to hurt someone!" So she's really strong to stand up to that nonsense.
Betty: I'll go with Carl Webb who gets overlooked by a lot of people. He said no and he said it publicly. And he went on about his business. The military repeatedly tried to force him into serving and he said no. Went around the country giving interviews and basically sending a don't-mess-with-me vibe out. And they didn't. They tried to jerk him around but he was strong enough that I think they got the message. It's also true that he's African-American and one of the earliest of war resisters to speak out. Like Funk, I think other things are at play when Webb's 'disappeared.' I think Funk's minimized by some because he is gay and I think race has played into some of the low attention or non-attention that many have given to Webb. Of course, he's not kissing butt or making it pretty which is even more threatening, all the more so for some when it comes in a Black package. By the way, I have nothing against the other races. Ehren Watada's a cutie, to name one, but I would go with Carl Webb.
Kat: Luke Kamunen.
Kat: I'm not finished. Leo Kamunen. And Leif Kamunen. Hey, if I'm playing fantasy league, why not go for a foursome?
Rebecca: (laughing) I love Kat!
Kat: The three are brothers. And what interests me most about them is that they all were together at Christmas and didn't plan it but all decided, "Screw this illegal war" and they didn't report. Good for them. And when it's a family, you know that someone must have imparted some important lessons while they were growing up. They're also attractive in that corn-fed, Mid-West kind of way.
Jess: I'll go with Carla Gomez for my pick. Obviously, she's Latina and I do like that, obviously. Her story is that she was in high school when the recruiters targeted her. They made a lot of promises and they wanted her to take some tests. She ends up being driven over an hour away by the recruiter and when she's there, they start pressuring her to sign up. Under a delayed program where she'd be in as soon as she graduated high school. She doesn't want to sign and they won't let up. Finally, to get out of there she signs up. Now they're wanting her in and she just wants out. They co-erced her into signing. She finds out that she can opt out by simply declaring her decision to do so in writing. Which is what she did.
Jim: And, in case anyone reading this has signed up and now wants out, if you haven't graduated high school yet, write it down and send it in. Do not agree to a meeting. They'll try to pressure you and they'll bring in others for that meeting because that's how it works. They prey on you and try to guilt you. They're trained in that. Tell them you want out in writing and refuse to meet with them. Ava?
Ava: Mine's easy, Camilo Mejia. He just radiates a sweetness and understanding. He signed up and was in college when the illegal war broke out. He served in Iraq and his contract expired. He was not a US citizen and he couldn't be extended. It was against the policies. When this became an issue while he was in Iraq, his contract, they made a call to the US and he was told he was out. He asked the woman if she'd repeat that to his superior and she would. He hands the phone over and the superior hangs it up and claims the call was lost. They knew they had to let him go. They refused to. They did give him a pass because he had issues involving his child and his residency status. He came back to the US and attempted to get out. The military refused to let him. He didn't break any promises and he didn't desert. His contract was up and couldn't be extended. It's hilarious that War Hawks want to claim that anyone has to stick to a contract -- which does not say "I will serve in an illegal war" -- but it's appalling that The Nation and other crap ass indymedia wants to call him a "deserter." What that says is they believe in slavery. Because if Camilo doesn't have the right to leave when his contract has ended, then he's a slave.
He is the first war resister to go public that had served in Iraq.
Dona: I'll go with Brandon Hughey who was the second war resister to be public about going to Canada, he follows Jeremy Hinzman. He and Hinzman applied for refugee status and were turned down by the so-called "board" which is really just one person. They went up through the court system and the Supreme Court, on November 15th, refused to hear their case. The only way they can be protected now is for the Canadian government to pass legislation. In order for that to happen, people need to e-mail Prime Minister Stephen Harper (firstname.lastname@example.org -- that's pm at gc.ca) who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion (Dion.S@parl.gc.ca -- that's Dion.S at parl.gc.ca) who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua (Bevilacqua.M@parl.gc.ca -- that's Bevilacqua.M at parl.gc.ca) who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. And there's a page here at War Resisters Support Campaign that supplies more e-mail addresses to contact and Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use. I like Hughey's smile.
Mike: I think I'm the only guy who hasn't gone so I'll jump in. As moderator and because he still doubts the effects of this, Jim is skipping out and hiding behind Dona's alleged jealousy to do so. Dona and Jim are a couple. My pick is Deidre Cobb. She's from the early wave of war resisters. She was with the Army and she refused to serve in the Iraq War. She also refused to take the Anthrax vaccine which, when you think about, is equally hard to refuse. That was a big issue before 9-11 and soldiers were refusing and suing. It's not been tested and there are potential harmful effects. After 9-11, 'terorrism, terrorism,' Chicken Little time. So it had to take a steady mind to say no to the vaccine and it also required someone who knew that everyone else was going along. She showed real courage in both. She's not going to be a party to an illegal war and she's not going to let the government use her body as a testing lab. Along with being a female war resister, she's also African-American.
Cedric: Really. I see her name in the snapshot but I never knew she was African-American.
Dona: Which right away proves that the feature accomplished something and will probably do so with others as well. Rebecca?
Rebecca: My pick is Skylar. Bethany James is her given name but she prefers Skylar. No offense to the fellows, but I'm happily married -- that includes sexual satisfaction. So there's really no way the men -- as wonderful as I'm sure they are -- could offer me anything I'm not already getting. Skylar refused to serve and went to Canada. In case anyone's thinking, "Poor James, she might not like the idea of a woman picking her," Skylar is an out and proud lesbian. And that, because the US military is so in need of bodies to send overseas, wasn't an issue. She had a Rainbow flag in her room. They didn't care. This wasn't "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," this was "Don't See, Ignore." I agree with Ty 100% that Stephen Funk gets sidelined very often due to the fact that he's gay. I think a lot of people take the attitude of, "I don't want to rally around that!" I think we saw the same hypocrisy in the last five or so months of 2006 when someone the media said was right-wing, someone who was a war resister, got more press than Mark Wilkerson, Darrell Anderson and others who went public at the same time. That's true of The New York Times but I'm talking about left voices who otherwise had nothing to say about war resisters but suddenly, when they could write, "right-winger, proud of his country," felt they could almost show a little bravery. As far as I know, there's only been one piece written on Skylar so, like most of the war resisters going public in 2007, a lot of people have never heard about her. She was harassed while serving in the military because of her sexual orientation. You'd think there'd be more than enough to result in several stories but that hasn't been the case.
C.I.: Adam Kokesh.
Jim: For real?
Rebecca: Absolutely for real. I could've seen that one coming. He's a law student, he's passionate, and angry and that was C.I. type in college.
C.I.: Yeah, well, one of them. Yeah, that's who I'm picking. He is passionate, he is angry. We disagree politically in terms of our political systems, but this is fantasy and I'm thinking one night stand not long term committment in my fantasy. He obviously knows what to do in bed --
Jim: Wait, back up. How can you tell that?
C.I.: The way he moves. It's easy to tell. Even if the person is straight-laced and has a stick up their ass, it's easy to tell. That's not calling Kokesh either of those things. With those types, you're looking for the energy expended and stored. But with someone like Kokesh, he utilizes his space, watch him. He's good in bed, you can tell.
Rebecca: I will back that judgement up by noting C.I. had this "poor you" smile in college I'd get whenever I was headed off to bed with a lousy lay. After the 40th or 50th time seeing that smile, I learned to trust it. To explain "headed off to bed," Elaine, C.I. and I were roommates in college.
C.I.: And I won't hedge bets here, I'll say it, I think he's a sexy man. I'm not trying to get into his pants. And wouldn't. He's got too much energy for me at my age. But, along with that being one of my most common types, it's also true that he resisted after he was discharged which shouldn't have been a problem. The military decided to make it a problem and tried to change his discharge status. That's going to happen again and people better be prepared for it when it does -- I don't mean the individual, I mean the media. So far, we know he, Cloy Richards and Liam Madden were all targeted in that way. There are a few others. When it happens again and someone goes public, there better be media attention. There really wasn't in the lead up, attention from small media. Matthew Rothschild was the exception. The other reason I selected him -- I had three -- was that from time to time, an e-mail will come in noting him, Madden or other members of Iraq Veterans Against the War and saying they should be listed in the list of war resisters. Unless someone publicly applies the term, I don't. They have to identify that way. So that allows me to explain why some aren't listed that you might think need to be. But, to be clear, Adam Kokesh is very sexy.
Jim: Why do you keep emphasizing that if you're not wanting anything to happen?
C.I.: Because if someone's reading this and thinking, "What's your idea of sexy?" -- well, there's a link and they can go to his page. And maybe while they're there they'll do more than look at his picture.
Rebecca: The whole point, and I wasn't offended by Suzette's question in the least, of doing this was it's a way to raise attention. I mean, there are right-wingers who hate C.I. or me, or centrists, we hear from them. And we're fully aware that offering this up let's them have a new way to slam us in those e-mails they love to pen. I don't give a f--k. People are not discussing war resisters -- excuse me, media is not discussing them. And this is a way to note them and maybe have someone be curious for sexual reasons -- like C.I. just explained -- and think, "Well what do they find sexy?" So maybe someone who might just normally read through or glance through, takes the time to actually find out something, out of prurient interests. Fine by me. I don't care. I'm not trying to be 'respectable.' I loved Suzette's question and would have been happy to answer it privately. But this is a chance to raise awareness. It's one tactic we haven't tried. And, in this country, we value sex.
C.I.: So it sends the message that war resisters are sexy. They're functioning adults. They are attractive -- which we also value in this society -- and like Rebecca said, I really don't care about the e-mails. I know Rebecca will get more hate mail on this. I'll get, "You blew it!" I've got a centrist posing as left blogger who's offered 'advise' since at least the second month of The Common Ills. If I had a day in prison for everytime he's -- you knew it was a he, didn't you -- e-mailed to tell me, "You're blowing your credibility!" I'd be serving a life sentence. The second you start worrying about what you can or can't say out of fear of blowing your 'credibility' or not being 'respectable,' you've lost it. You're no longer effective because you're spending the bulk of your time looking over your shoulder.
Jim: Any last thoughts?
Elaine: Joan Baez and her sisters, during Vietnam, did a poster that was a photograph of the three of them --
C.I.: Mimi Farina, Pauline Baez and, of course, Joan.
Elaine: Correct. And there was a bit of a backlash that still goes on today. The negative criticism was that the poster suggested that if you did the right thing, here's your reward, a sexual toy. Like C.I., who noted the poster at The Common Ills, I understand that criticism and I understand where it's coming from. But I also understand that "Girls Say Yes To Boys Who Say No" was a tongue-in-cheek thing intended to raise the issue of war resistance. I'm a feminist and I'm not going to slam any feminist that is offended by the poster -- or was offended -- but when this came up and Rebecca, Dona and C.I. were advocating for it, that's the first thing that came to my mind: the poster. That poster was talked about throughout the Vietnam era and it certainly grabbed attention. I support what the three women did and applaud it. I'm very aware that they were criticized for it and that's why I joined Rebecca, Dona and C.I. in advocating for Suzette's question being addressed. We didn't do anything like the poster here --
C.I.: We weren't controversial enough?
Elaine: Well, you, Kat and Rebecca maybe.
C.I.: How's this? Kokesh obviously has a very wide one. If width is your thing, the opportunity presents itself and you are interested, women ride that train.
Elaine: (Laughing) That may be more controversial and attention getting, yes. I know we're pressed for time, but I need to take a moment to stop laughing.
Dona: Go ahead.
Elaine: Okay. I think there needs to be more attention to war resisters and I think the peace movement too often falls back on safe methods, on things they think worked in the '60s' when, if you were active during Vietnam, you know there were so many things done and that each of them had some effect, some positive effect. Jim was -- Jim is -- strongly opposed to this. I don't believe he's ever skipped out on participation. To his credit, he didn't try to block it. And I can respect that because it may seem 'light' or 'trivial.' But I think Suzette had a question and I think it would result in a way of talking about war resisters that we hadn't tried before and maybe, for three to five seconds, something someone said would make a war resister stay in the mind of someone who read this. I actually think the reference to Adam Kokesh's member will stay in most heads for much longer than that.
Jim: Well, I'm wrapping it upt. My concern really was, and is, how this plays out. I think it works at the goal you've all stated. But I also know that the way this plays out, I read the e-mails to this site, is that we're going to hear from a bunch of men calling you "sluts" and everything else. By "you," I mean the women participating. I know the men participated too. But I also know that's going to fly over the usual gang of whiners that e-mail to say, "We're winning the war! Shut up!" It's going to be, with that segment, a response of --
Ava: Jim, I've been called far worse than slut in an e-mail to this site.
Jim: I know. And it's a good ambition for this piece, raising awareness. I just know the fall out and that it will only be applied to the women. No one's going to write something rude about Mike, Jess, Ty, Cedric or Wally. It's going to be "slut" this and that. And probably it will now all focus on C.I. due to the remarks about Kokesh. But that was my concern and why I was opposed to it. I know the hate that's out there and it just seemed to me that, even with the noble goal, it was feeding them additional reasons to attack. I applaud you all for your ability to say "Who cares?" I'll go ahead and declare that I'm the only one who's working the e-mail account this week. So someone who wants to write in hoping they can insult Dona or anyone else doesn't have that opportunity. Some of the known war resisters include James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.