Sunday, March 18, 2007

Truest statement of the week

Pelosi and Reid have a job to do. The antiwar movement has a job to do. The jobs are not the same. This should be obvious -- but, judging from public and private debates now fiercely underway among progressive activists and organizations, there's a lot of confusion in the air. No amount of savvy Capitol-speak can change the fact that 'benchmarks' are euphemisms for more war. And when activists pretend otherwise, they play into the hands of those who want the war to go on . . . and on . . . and on.

-- Norman Solomon, "The Pragmatism of Prolonged War" (CounterPunch)

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --

Sunday and we're kind of through. Kind of because we've got another illustration that, ninety minutes later, still isn't done uploading.

Here's who helped with the writing of 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

We thank everyone above (that's not part of the core six) and we thank Rebecca for photo shopping illustrations and Dallas for being a soundboard, a link locator and so much more.

New content?

Highlights -- Mike, Kat, Wally, Betty, Rebecca and Cedric wrote this and selected the highlights. Thank you to them for doing that.

MyTV's Fascist House -- You wanted it, it's here. And guess what? We can do it less often. Ava and C.I. added the thing at the end and we asked them, "What's that about?" MyTV is crashing and bombing. They're reworking the schedule they swore they'd stick with and their "original programming" no longer airs five times a week for two hours a night. Translation? We don't have to do this feature as often. Seriously, this was a pain in the butt. The collage would not upload to Flickr. (We have another uploading problem, we'll get to that.) So C.I. ended up trying out a new program and that was time consuming. But we got it up and it's here.

Things you should catch if you missed them -- there were two radio programs that we thought were worth noting and on topics readers care about.

The Albert Gonzales Show -- when the collage was done, Kat and C.I. both pointed out that in it, where Alberto's standing and Bully Boy's carrying a purse and looking at him, it's like the opening of The Mary Tyler Moore Show where Mary tosses her hat up and that woman is staring at her. So we decided to cast this feature in that light. (Rebecca cropped the collage to zoom in on just that aspect of it for the illustration for this piece.)

About the under-reporting . . . -- remember there's one more illustration? It goes with this. We held this and held this and finally posted it without the illustration. As we type, that's still uploading. Correction, it's uploaded, it's in the process of factoring in different sizes and that's gone on for over half an hour. We'll put it in when we can (hopefully tonight).

2 Books, 10 Minutes -- The book discussion returns. Two books. This is our war resister piece for the edition. (A reader wrote in about last week's edition and noted we didn't even mention war resisters. Actually, we discussed Agustin Aguayo and the media coverage in the roundtable last edition.)

TV: The Road to Boyville -- Words I, Jim, never enjoy hearing from Ava: "Wait a minute, we're done with our TV review and we're still not ready to post?" (Ava and C.I. usually write the TV commentary at the last minute, when everything else is done or almost done.) Yes, Ava, that was true. On the plus side, they've written a really strong commentary and when I was reading it out loud to everyone, Ty said, "Oh, readers love it when they take on the Idiot Bellafante."

Editorial: Mushroom Cloud -- There are two paragraphs missing due to a link. We reconstructed it into about two lines. We didn't know the DN! link had wiped out two paragraphs until we went to copy and paste for the print edition. Hopefully, the illustration carries anything the words don't.

Truest statement of the week -- Norman Solomon offered words to live by last week. That's our selection for the statement you shouldn't have missed.

So that's it for us this week. C.I.'s checking to see if the illustration is done doing whatever it's doing and we can put it into the article. Nope? Okay, we'll see you next week.

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

Editorial: Mushroom Cloud

Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.

In an October 7, 2002 speech soaking in lies, the above may have been Bully Boy's most memorable moment. We heard all about the "mushroom cloud." It was the talking point that was supposed to strike fear in the hearts of America and cloud the minds to actual facts. Condi
pimped it ("We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."). They planted it in the press. As Arianna Huffington pointed out on Democracy Now! (we lost two paragraphs by including this link -- we'll put the link in here: in 2005, Judith Miller (and Michael Gordon, as Amy Goodman noted) were fed false claims by the administration and they printed it, Dick Cheney goes on Meet the Press, holds up the front page of The New York Times and says you don't have to take his word on, look, it's in The New York Times! Though Miller got the bum's rush, Gordo's still at the paper and that should tell you something. Instead of asking questions like "What proof?" the press ran with false claims over and over. The administration couldn't have sold the illegal war alone.


So where we are? Monday is the 4th annivesary of the start of the illegal war -- the "cakewalk" that turned into a mudslide. Over 655,000 Iraqis have died.
3217 US service members have died. (23,417 US service members have been wounded.) 134 British troops have died. 124 "other" troops have died. 153 journalists have died (64 have been kidnapped during the war -- 11 of which are 'status unknown'). The US financial cost of the war as we write this is $409,305,853,271 (and rising). Approximately 140,000 US service members are currently stationed in Iraq. In January, Bully Boy began pushing for an escalation and told Congress and the American people the number would be 21,500. The American people said "no" in repeated polls. Congress did nothing. Bully Boy then upped it, in February, to 4,500 more and, Bryan Bender (Boston Globe) reports, it's being upped again (2,500 to 3,000). So he floated the notion of 21,500 and the American people said "no." Now he's moving it closer to 30,000.

Instead of warning us about the supposed "mushroom cloud," the press should have been warning us about the "mushroom clod." Nothing's brought more instability and ill will to the world than the Bully Boy and his 'wars' on terror and Iraq. Poll after poll demonstrates that people around the world see him as the greatest threat, study after study demonstrates that his actions have made the world less stable.

As a body, Congress refuses to stand up to him on these actions. They refuse to use their power of the purse, they refuse to filibuster. The House of Representatives even removed the measure that would require him to get the permission of the Congress before going to war with Iran. (Something that is Constitutionally required; however, he's used the War Powers Act passed after 9-11 to justify his actions and Congress has refused to call him out on it.)

In recent weeks, it's been one scandal after another. Dick Cheney's right hand (until he was indicted) was convicted on four out of five charges. The Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandals demonstrated that the same lack of compassion for Iraqis was also shown to US service members. The attempt to fire state attorney generals (who weren't "Bushies") and replace them while circumventing the legal process (Congressional approval) is one long unfolding scandal. One thing after another, but Congress won't explore impeachment.

Bully Boy's the mushroom clod, Congress is becoming the one supplying him with the power to continue to be that.

TV: The Road to Boyville

We usually make it a point not to read reviews before we write our own. Friends will sometimes complain that ___ totally distorted their show in a review and that's generally the extent of our knowledge of other reviews. This week's different because Rebecca made a point to summarize the Idiot Bellafante's New York Times scribbles.

Apparently, tired of distorting and attacking Gloria Steinem, Idiot Bellafante wanted to share with the public how tremendously stupid she was. She conveyed that quite clearly. October Road started its six week try out on ABC last Thursday. Idiot Bellafante watched, she just didn't have a knowledge base.

What's October Road? It's like a really bad Diane Lane movie without the saving grace of Lane. (Especially think Indian Summer.) But the plot? We've seen it all before even if the Idiot hasn't. The lead character is Nick Garrett, played by Bryan Greenberg, who writes under the name "Nicholson Garrett." What does he write?

Pay attention, Idiot Bellafante, he writes a tell all on his home town and then returns there. Are you already getting the connections? If you have a brain, you made them immediately. Peyton Place, Return to Peyton Place -- films or books. So Allison MacKenzie's become a man and psuedo-feminist Bellafante can't even note that? Well, she's a special kind of idiot: The last one to the Water Cooler after the Set's moved on.

Allison MacKenzie really only worked onscreen in the TV series Peyton Place. Played by Mia Farrow, MacKenzie was the ultimate waif. Given a penis by Andre Nemec and with a name change to Nick, the character's still a waif. Returning home for the first time in ten years, Nick is supposed to deliver a speech at his alma mata. He can't manage a speech, he can't manage questions and answers, he flees the auditorium at a fast run. With Farrow's long locks flowing after, it might have worked. It doesn't and that's because Bryan Greenberg is a lot like Patrick Dempsy before he finally found his footing (the mini-series Crime and Punishment). Apparently, Greenberg missed the fact that Nick was supposed to be tormented?

The show comes without a voice over. We feel we need to note that and note it early because it feels like it has a voice over. Or, as Big Cat tells Nick, "Shut up, man, you talk too much."

Never has one hour played so slowly. Though Greenberg's got no handle on the character from the start, the fast edits of the opening scenes suggested the show might move quickly. Those scenes were set in NYC (which, the show tells you, does have minorities -- two Hispanics, one African-American). They were howlers (such as the woman who apparently carries trashy novels with her when she goes to a dance club) but they moved quickly.

Then Nick returns to the mythical October Road, MA and we started wondering if the setting should have been Vermont? The oh-so-slow pace suggested molasses. Tom Berringer shows up a little thicker and a little grizzlier as Nick's father. You're supposed to believe Berringer's graduated to "character actor" but that would mean he'd achieved something elsewhere first and, let's be honest, that never happened. He gives the same performance he gave as the bi-sexual or gay character who killed Diane Keaton in Looking For Mr. Goodbar. He's given it his entire career. It wasn't pretty in the 70s and, thirty years later, it's still DOA.

The whole show is, a dreary little drama about Nick and how will he reconnect with his former friends, with his brother and father, with his ex-girlfriend, and, most of all, does he have a second novel in him? Idiot Bellafonte tells you it's a "soap opera" which only demonstrates how dull her own life must be.

It does have fantasy elements. Such as the fact that Nick has a place in NYC that's like a slacker's wet dream (note the Kurt Cobain photo). Nick's written one book that's sold okay. He's unable to write his second book, even with his publisher breathing down his neck. At what point does Nick get a day job? That's a serious question considering the rents in Manhattan. Do people really think a semi-successful novel is a lotto ticket? Apparently the creator of the show does, but will audiences buy it?

The shoddy manner in which the series is written suggests people think the audiences will buy anything. Ten years ago, after high school graduation, Nick went on a six-week trip to Europe and never returned home. Check your calanders, but we believe that would mean Nick graduated in 1997. So, while it's not surprising that he would have a photo of Kurt Cobain, it is surprising that moldy, oldies like "The Boys Are Back In Town" and REO Speedwagon are points of reference for him and his high school buddies. Thin Lizzy's song came out in 1976. His father could have been listening to it. 1987 was the last year REO Speedwagon cracked the top thirty on Billboard's Album chart. Nick, and his friends (with the exception of Hannah), would have been eight-years-old.

Due to the slowness of the characters, you wouldn't be at all surprised if they were still listening to Nirvana in 1997 (that's not an insult to Nirvana, it is noting that three years after Cobain's death, it was not storming the charts with new material). But there's no way in hell you're buying that this group of males (plus Hannah) were rocking out to crap from before they were born.

When a show wants to traffic in pop cult to add layers but doesn't care about the details, you get October Road. Remember that we said "with the exception of Hannah" earlier? Hannah wasn't 18 when she graduated high school. She was 17. The dialogue tells you she was two weeks shy of her 18th birthday when her boyfriend Nick left for Europe and didn't return for ten years. Can you absorb that?

Good. Because the writers are having real trouble with it. In a scene where Hannah is actually onscreen with another woman, she's explaining how Nick's return to town has effected her: "I saw him and it felt like I was 18 all over again." She's asked how she felt when she was 18 and she answers "scared." But she wasn't 18 when she last saw him. There's no attention to details -- which says a great deal. If anyone could have grasped that, the scene (which went right to commercial in the blink of an eye) could have Eurythmics "17 Again" playing in the background -- a song that hit the charts two years after Hannah graduated, so she'd probably know it.

There's no indication that anyone behind the camera would because it's sung by a woman (Annie Lennox) and the show plays out like bad MOR with pictures. You get a lot of shouts outs to faceless (male) bands, a lot of songs by faceless (male) bands -- male, male, male.

One of the things you may register first as the camera moves around October Road is that it's apparently an all White town. Then you may notice that women really don't seem to be present? (Which may be a sign that they were smart enough to move away from losers who graduated in 1997 but listen to MOR from their father's years.) There's a student the audience is supposed to like -- she stayed (she was the only one) around until Nick returned to the auditorium he ran out of to avoid speaking. She's supposed to be likeable but she comes off like the woman Jeff Daniels cheats on Debra Winger with in Terms of Endearment (the one who says "validate your emotions"). You've got a woman at a bar, you've got a wife of one of the buddies. (Apparently there's only been one marriage in their entire graduating class.) And you have Hannah.

Hannah's played by Laura Prepon and she's the only note of grace in the entire show. She's not playing Donna here (from That 70s Show). She's also not playing Debra Winger's character, Paula, in An Officer and a Gentleman -- though that's a comparison novelist Nick makes in print -- which makes you hope he never emerges from his writer's bloc. She's actually more like Lynette (Paula's best friend) in that there's no hope of escape for her. She's got some interesting physicality to convey that with. All her motions are tired, hesitant and slow. (That's in character, we're not calling her acting "tired.") The only exception to that rule is scenes with her young son where Hannah's body comes back to life. As later episodes play out this will become more clear, but Hannah's hopes are her son. That's who she's living for. She's giving a very adult and mature performance and commands your attention everytime she's on screen.

The rest of the cast? Some of the "boys" are actors. (Greenberg's not become one yet, despite the SAG card.) But stunted, emotional cripples really doesn't play. If Hannah's the wounded bird, the rest of the cast are the cuckoos she's flying over. The male characters are like a large Greek chorus incapable of acting independently and you're not thinking, "What a group of friends!" You're thinking, "What a group of losers!"

Never is that more clear than when it's time for the boys to rock out. They jammed twice in the first episode. The second time was to "The Boys Are Back In Town." Before you assume they have any musical talent, think again. Though they've been "jamming" together in high school and, with the exception of Nick, every Saturday for the last ten years, no one plays an instrument. They put a tune on the stereo and blast it while they pretend to play.

If that's not a sign for underachievement, what is?

Someone thought it was cute -- air drums, air guitar, etc. But it's really just pathetic to think that every Saturday, grown men are basically grabbing their hairbrushes and pretending to be Thin Lizzy or whomever else their fathers listened to. The whole thing plays out like little boys who can't and won't grow up, little boys who were told "That's so cute" when they were 8 or 9- years-old. Early on in the first episode, Nick's father asks, "What's wrong with those boys?" The audience is never provided with an answer but something is obviously wrong with those "boys."

2 Books, 10 Minutes

Jim: We're doing another book discussion. The two books are Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq, and Joshua Key's "as told to Lawrence Hill"'s The Deserter's Tale. Participating in the discussion 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. Mike, get us started.


Mike: Okay, Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq, is a softcover book that retails for $14 in the United States, it has an introduction written by Norman Solomon and it's 190 pages of text. Cindy Sheehan, Michael Ratner and Jim Hightower all have praise for the book on the back cover. Laufer is a journalist and, I didn't know this part until I read the book, a war resister during Vietnam. The book is about the resistance within the military as well as the resistance to the military. On the last half, resistance outside the military, there's Josh Sonnenfield's story. He does counter-recruiting and learned a lot about how to be effective when recruiters invade your campus. One thing is that you're table needs to be near their table and another thing is that if you're taking up their time talking to them, that's time they don't have to sign up someone else.

Wally: Yeah, on page 90, he says, "I would spend the whole lunch period talking to them so that they wouldn't be talking to anyone else."

Dona: I enjoyed the entire book but that section, chapter six, really deserves attention. I don't think there was much in there that I wasn't aware of in terms of recruitment scandals, but the power is the way they are presented and woven together. I think we all remember when Democracy Now! played the call from the recruiter in Houston, Texas threatening a student that if he didn't show up for a meeting, he would be breaking a federal law and he a warrant would be issued. But the power comes from the presentation of all these incidents that are being assembled.

Jess: On this section, I think it's important to use the word "salesmen" because that's what they are and, as Josh Sonnenfeld points out, they hate that word. But they're coming in and they are selling. We're trying to make sure Laufer's book gets it's own time so I won't tie it into Joshua Key's book but I will note that Sonnenfeld is a really great source of information. He didn't just set up a table near the "salesmen," he had his facts down. He knew that the contract was meaningless. It says that on the contract and he knew it well enough to explain it. That during war time anything can be changed, that all the contracts include clauses that make any promises made by recruiters worthless.

Rebecca: "I don't care what you're lousy recruiter said, Benjamin." Captain Lewis in the Goldie Hawn movie Private Benjamin. Chapter six was one of my favorite sections and it was because Laufer really does put it together in a way that makes it really powerful, the lies that are told and who gets targeted. And the fact that there's no punishment for lying. Dona was talking about the recruiter in Houston who lied to the kid and told him if he didn't show up for a meeting, a warrant would be issued for his arrest. Laufer tells you that the guy ended up promoted, two months after that, and that "the Army explained, he was an ideal boss for other recruiters since he knows the consequences of violating the Army's ethics code."

Ava: Sgt. Thomas Kelt, just to get it on the record, is the recruiter who lied about the warrant.

Kat: My favorite chapter was chapter ten which dealt with a number of things including the GI Rights Hotline and I enjoyed hearing about April Burns who says something really important, "I believe there is a culture of war and a culture of peace. We must keep the culture of peace vital and alive." And she speaks of how there is a long river connecting war resister of the past and the present.

Jess: That was a good chapter and I'd honestly forgotten about it. There's a lot in the book. Louise Zimmerman is another strong voice in that chapter. She speaks about how if, you change your mind after you've signed the papers, don't go for your second oath. Write a letter and don't show up.

C.I.: That's page 151, I belive, and she says, "Just say in the letter, 'I changed my mind.' And pretty much any reason will work. You can say you're going to school, you're getting married, you're going on vacation, whatever. It's still a volunteer army and you are not in the military until you go for the second time to take the oath." That was in response to someone who'd signed up under the delayed entry program.

Ava: So to be clear, if you're in high school, and you sign up with the intent to join after graduation, you can get out of it.

Kat: And she says after you do that, do not go down to a recruitment center, do not meet with them. They will try to strong arm you or they may try to lie to you. You're out and you're under no obligation to speak with them so don't.

Ty: You'll find a lot of names you know in the book. One is Carl Webb who readers of this site should know of. The book gives you the basic history of Webb and why he went AWOL and Carl Webb explains why he did so publicly, quote from page 167: "Most soldiers obey their orders because they are afraid of what could happen to them. They think, 'Oh, they are going to throw me in a dungeon, and put shackles on me, and I'll never see the light of day,' of they fear the isolation. . . . But just by being out there, I am going to give them ideas. I'm an example." Carl Webb is African-American and I'm tossing that out because one group we spoke with last week in Texas contained someone who'd tagged along and she honestly thought war-resisters were all White. Mike asked her, "What about Ehren Watada?" And she replied there was him and the rest were all White. That's not the case. There are a number of Latinos who've gone public as well like Camilo Mejia --

C.I.: Whose book comes out next month.

Ty (con't): Right, Aiden Delgado, Pablo Paredes and more. Stephen Funk is credited in this book, and elsewhere, with being the first known war resister of this war. I often wonder if he's overlooked, and he does get overlooked by a lot of outlets, because he's openly gay? At any rate, war resisters are all colors, all persuasions, they are everyman and everywoman.

Mike: That really was surprising, when that woman said she thought all war resisters were White. I'm not making fun of her because she really believed that so it's good that she brought it up. If she hadn't, she might still think that. She was genuine and, after, she tried to apologize for not knowing that they weren't all White. I told her that they hardly get any media coverage, big or small media, so don't sweat it. And I meant that, both that she shouldn't worry about it and, you know I meant this, that media's not overly interested in these stories.

Ava: And usually, when one person has a question, like that or on some other topic, there are a few others who do as well.

Jim: Okay, I'm going to toss it over to Betty who said she wanted to make points about this book.

Betty: Right, I said I'd shut up during Joshua Key's book as long as I got to make some points on this one. First off, there are illustrations in the book. We started doing those recently and the reason was "To put a face on it." Good illustration or bad one, it would take, for instance, the words "Kyle Snyder," and give a face to them. So I was really glad that this book had illustrations. With Joshua Key and Aiden Delgado, for instance, I could picture them because I know what they look like but there's a man known only as "Darrell" in the book and there's Ryan Johnson and one other that I really didn't have a visual on. So I really did appreciate the illustrations, by Kate Gridley. That said, I did think the Aiden Delgado drawing was a poor one. I'm not throwing stones here, our first illustration of Ehren Wataada was something we all regretted because one side of the face is higher than the other. But I did think, "I've never seen Delgado look so heavy." When we were in Houston, I mentioned the book and, as you know, one of the women asked, "What's with the drawing of Delgado?" I knew just what she meant so I wanted to note that. But as with our really bad Ehren illustration, a bad illustration is better than no illustration.

Jim: We really did hate that illustration. It was like, if I remember right, the paper moved while we were doing it and we didn't have time redo it so we ended up stuck with it and then all the community sites were stuck with it. I know Rebecca ended up photo shopping it and giving it a neon poster look to make it more presentatable, so thank you to Rebecca for that. I figured that was what Betty was going to bring up.

Betty: And the other illustrations, at least of the ones I already knew, captured them quite well. I'm not insulting her talent. Gridley has a lot of talent. That illustration of Aiden Delgado just didn't fit for me.

Jim: And let's note too that people are aware of this book. In Texas, that was one of the big things, they'd heard of it more than they'd seen it. That's why Mike emphasized that it's soft cover. This isn't a hardcover book that's going to set you back nearly thirty bucks so if you've heard of it and thought of reading it and can't get it through your library system, it's $14.00.

Kat: And there were people who had read it. I'll sum up the book by noting that what I enjoyed about it was summed up by the culture of peace quote earlier. You've got people sharing stories of Iraq, you've got tales of resistance within the military and outside, you've got people working for peace. We've talked about the power of the counter-recruiting chapter, how it assembles various things we mainly already knew in terms of horror stories but it does so in such a way that it grabs you and gives you this sense of perspective that you're not going to get if you hear one day about one and then a week or a month later about another. That's true of that chapter and it's really true of the whole book. I think we all enjoyed this one.

Jim: Next up, Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale. Wally?


Wally: This book came out this year and is available in hardcover. The list price is $23.00 but we're using for the link because a member suggested that to C.I. and it's a lot less expensive there. But, as Dona would say, we support public libraries so also check your local library and remember that you can request that they borrow it from another library if it's not in their system. Also remember your college libraries. This is Joshua Key's story as told to Lawrence Hill who is a Canadian journalist. Joshua Key is one of the war resisters covered in Peter Laufer's book. Now he's telling his story of how he ended up in the military, how he ended up self-checking out and how he ended up in Canada.

Elaine: I put myself down for this book. We all noted ahead of time, since we're trying to do this edition in a reasonable amount of time --

Kat: Ha-ha-ha.

Elaine: Yeah, ha-ha, that'll happen. But I noted that this was the book I wanted to discuss. The reason for that is I wanted to make one point. Brandi Key is Joshua's wife and she is very much a part of this story. I think he and Hill do a wonderful job on that aspect. The decision for him to leave the military effected her life, and their children's, as well and I really got a strong sense of her, Brandi Key, in the book. That was one of the things I enjoyed most.

Cedric: I agree with that and think it's obvious that, if his wife had been someone else with another point of view, Joshua Key's life would be very different now. He and his family wouldn't be starting over in Canada. He might not ever get to see his kids. If her reaction was like some members of his family, that would be the case. I thought he did a strong job there and with his kids because his being a father really does effect how he sees Iraq. At one point, a guy he's serving with, who is married, takes a rifle butt and smashes an Iraqi woman's face with it. With Josh, each day he's in Iraq, more and more, it seems like he's seeing the children and thinking of his own. That's why the "thrill" is less and less for him. He writes about the first home search, in the middle of night, and setting up the explosives at the door and the rush from all of that but then he's seeing this young Iraqi girl and, this really happens over and over, he's connecting it to his own children.

Ty: And his own country. He makes that point several times, that if America was invaded and this was going on here, how would we feel?

Rebecca: I'm glad you made that point because I did have an excerpt I wanted to share. I'm going to read a paragraph from the book, this is from page 153:

That got me thinking. How would I react if foreigners invaded the United States and did just a tenth of the things that we had to the Iraqi people? I would be right up there with the rebels and insurgents, using every bit of my cleverness to blow up the occupiers. I would dig a hole in my hometown in Oklahoma and rig mines in the trees and set them to blow up when the enemy passed below. I would lob all the mortars and rocket-propelled grenades I could buy. No doubt about it. If somebody blasted into my home and terrorized my family, I would become a force to be reckoned with. I would invent my own booby traps and come up with the most unexpected methods of mayhem. I would give the occupiers hell and keep at it until I was dead and gone, twice over.

Ty: And that's a good point, a good connection. The book is full of them. I liked this book a lot and wondered about the missions he was sent out on.

Jim: In what way?

Ty: Well sometimes, like when he sees the US service member kicking an Iraqi's decapitated head like it's a soccer ball, they're called to that area because there was gunfire and the mistaken belief is that American troops are under attack. But at other times, the missions just seemed pointless.

C.I.: That's a good point and Cedric talked about that first home search. You have to wonder if some missions weren't about their stated purpose at all but to get the heart pumped up and build team cohesion and those Iraqis ended up being used for that reason. By superior officers. He's made the point, in an interview, that some of the missions seemed to be about keeping them off kilter and that's probably true as well. If your off balance, your response is going to be more of an attack mode. And, like Ty points out, so much of it seemed pointless. Whether it's when they're sent to search the home of two mentally impaired men or when they're sent into a home that's all women, you have to wonder was it bad information, which it could very well have been, or if superiors weren't using those homes to build an even more warlike response in the troops?

Kat: I'm glad you made that point because I had the same thought reading the book. I could picture some old man, puffing on a cigar, stroking his own ego and saying, "This'll make men out of them."

Ava: The home searches . . . I found those stories very descriptive. I wondered what happened, for instance, when his squad was sent out of a home that contained only women, and higher ranking US troops were in there and, from inside the house, women could be heard screaming. I was very glad about the descriptions of the home searches because that's a complaint that, if it makes it into the media, is usually treated as a claim: "Iraqi claims home was destroyed." But that's what happened on search after search in Key's books. And we know from others who've shared their own stories that it is indeed how those searches went. US troops find something they like, they can, and some do, snatch it up and keep it, send it home as a gift. They tear apart mattresses, couches, they bash in wooden floors, they rip through everything. It's the sort of 'search' that, when the FBI does it in this country and it gets publicity, there's a moment or two of outrage, of, "How can they destroy someone's home?"

Jess: And we should note that all men and any boy over 5 feet tall was zip-cuffed and taken away. At one point, a teenage Iraqi girl who speaks English wants to know where her male relatives are being taken and Key can't tell her because he doesn't know. That and the home searches are one way the resentment built among Iraqis.

Kat: But did the people in charge of planning ever care? I don't think they did. And I think you can see that in the book when anyone gets into trouble for 'fratenizing' with the enemy. That's someone who's come to claim a corpse, that's a doctor at a hospital being guarded, that's the young eight-year-old girl who ends up getting shot down. They're all the "enemy" according to military procedure and Key's going in during April of 2003. I think that says a great deal that all the service members are repeatedly told that. I think that, more than anything, demonstrates this wasn't about democracy because, from the beginning, all Iraqis were to be seen as "enemies."

Ava: I love that point and I wish I had made it. Kat's exactly right, everyone's supposed to be seen as an enemy and the only exception in the book is the young boy who's working for them as a translator. He's told, by high ranking officials, from the beginning that he's going to be taken to the United States as a result of all the help he's providing. And of course he's not. He's lied to. When, many, many months later, he's finally told the truth, he quits. He's gone from being able to move freely off the base to being confined to the base because of death threats. So put yourself in his shoes and think about that, think about how you're helping as a translator and, no matter how bad it gets, you tell yourself, "It's worth it because they're going to send me to the United States." Then you find out that they've lied to you all along and all you've gotten was a lousy twenty dollars a week -- talk about sweat shops -- and no chance of reintigrating into Iraqi society because you're now seen as a collaborator.

Jim: There are a lot of other things in the book and we're planning to use some of it from time to time over the next few weeks. So, with Dona signaling that this needs to wind down and with her saying that Cedric and Wally have spoken the least, I'll toss to them.

Cedric: I'll say, quickly, that I recommend the book strongly, I recommend both books, and that Key's story really should be read. There's so much more in the book than what we've touched on and Elaine's point about Brandi being a figure in this story is important. This isn't just about what happened over in Iraq because Brandi and the kids are very much a part of the story even when he's over there.

Wally: I'll just add that he's someone who started out with a very strong sense of right and wrong because of his childhood. He didn't know what he was getting into when he shipped to Iraq but when he's over there, his sense of right and wrong isn't something he can shake. Even if he tries. We didn't touch on the time when he leaves the military and he's in the United States but that's a strong section as well. The whole book's strong and highly recommended.

Jim: Okay. And Dona just noted that Elaine might want to say something.

Elaine: No, as long as I got in the point about Brandi, I was fine. Thanks.

Jim: Alright. So two books. Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale provides the low down on what happens when one person's principles come into conflict with reality and Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq provides you with stories of resistance. Both are very powerful and both are recommended.

About the under-reporting . . .

Last Friday, something happened, actual news. Valerie Plame, the CIA covert agent, outed by the administration, finally spoke. She spoke publicly and she spoke to Congress. But if you thought the press was going to make like Jeannie C. Riley and tell you 'bout the day Valerie Plame socked it to the Beltway Babies USA, you were wrong.


Monday's edition of Investors Business Daily features a (Reuters) photo of Plame on the front page and tells you Plame had nothing new to offer. Its the same nonsense Julie Hirshchfeld Davis (AP) had to offer Friday which makes you wonder if they were all so stunned by what Plame wore [see Greg Mitchell's "Media Reviews Plame's Wardrobe -- But Not White House Coverup" (Editor & Publisher)] that they missed what she was saying in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Or maybe they still put their faith in the breathing fungus that is Vicky ToeJam? "Later, Republican attorney Victoria Toensing testified repeatedly to an incredulous committee that Plame was not, in fact, covert, despite the confirmation by the CIA and by Plame."

Let's stick with Vicky ToeJam for a bit. (And note that you can search The Common Ills for more on Vicky ToeJam in 2005.) This ugly, one person megaphone was so busy, since the outing of Valerie Plame, spitting out spin, she didn't have time to identify herself as a friend of Robert Novak (the columnist who outed Plame after the White House fed him the information).
Here's Robert Parry deconstructing ToeJam:

Toensing, who had been buzzing around the TV pundit shows decrying Libby’s prosecution, wrote that "Plame was not covert. She worked at CIA headquarters and had not been stationed abroad within five years of the date of Novak’s column."
Though it might not have been clear to a casual reader, Toensing was hanging her claim about Plame not being "covert" on a contention that Plame didn't meet the coverage standards of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.
Toensing's claim was legalistic at best since it obscured the larger point that Plame was working undercover in a classified CIA position and was running agents abroad whose safety would be put at risk by an unauthorized disclosure of Plame's identity.
But Toensing, who promotes herself as an author of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, wasn't even right about the legal details. The law doesn't require that a CIA officer be "stationed" abroad in the preceding five years; it simply refers to an officer who "has served within the last five years outside the United States."
That would cover someone who -- while based in the United States -- went abroad on official CIA business, as Plame testified that she did.
Toensing, who appeared as a Republican witness at the March 16 congressional hearing, was asked about her bald assertion that “Plame was not covert.”
"Not under the law," Toensing responded. "I'm giving you the legal interpretation under the law and I helped draft the law. The person is supposed to reside outside the United States."
But that’s not what the law says, either. It says "served" abroad, not "reside."
When asked whether she had spoken to the CIA or Plame about Plame’s covert status, Toensing said, "I didn't talk to Ms. Plame or the CIA. I can just tell you what's required under the law. They can call anybody anything they want to do in the halls" of the CIA.
In other words, Toensing had no idea about the facts of the matter; she didn't know how often Plame might have traveled abroad in the five years before her exposure; Toensing didn't even get the language of the statute correct.

Oh, little Vicky, you were always someone's fool.

Now that we've dispensed with Crazy, let's address Valerie Plame's testimony.

The committee chair, Henry Waxman, opened the hearing with a statement which included this:

I have been advised by the CIA and that even now, after all that has happened, I cannot disclose the full nature, scope and character of Ms. Wilson's service to our nation without causing serious damage to our national security interests.
But General Hayden and the CIA have cleared these following comments for today's hearing.
During her employment at the CIA, Ms. Wilson was undercover. Her employment status with the CIA was classified information, prohibited from disclosure under Executive Order 12958.
At the time of the publication of Robert Novak's column on July 14, 2003, Ms. Wilson's CIA employment status was covert. This was classified information.

Valerie Plame was covert, her "status with the CIA was classified information." Waxman was cleared by the CIA to state that upfront.

Plame testified under oath. She opened with a rundown of what she had done at the CIA:

I worked on behalf of the national security of our country, on behalf of the people of the United States until my name and true affiliation were exposed in the national media on July 14, 2003, after a leak by administration officials.
Today, I can tell this committee even more. In the run-up to the war with Iraq I worked in the counter proliferation division of the CIA -- still as a covert officer whose affiliation with the CIA was classified.
I raced to discover solid intelligence for senior policymakers on Iraq's presumed weapons of mass destruction programs.
While I helped to manage and run secret worldwide operations against this WMD target from CIA headquarters in Washington, I also traveled to foreign countries on secret missions to find vital intelligence.
I loved my career because I love my country. I was proud of the serious responsibilities entrusted to me as a CIA covert operations officer and I was dedicated to this work.
It was not common knowledge on the Georgetown cocktail circuit that everyone knew where I worked.
But all of my efforts on behalf of the national security of the United States -- all of my training, all of the value of my years of service -- were abruptly ended when my name and identity were exposed irresponsibly.
In the course of the trial of Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, "Scooter" Libby, I was shocked by the evidence that emerged.
My name and identity were carelessly and recklessly abused by senior government officials in both the White House and the State Department.
All of them understood that I worked for the CIA and, having signed oaths to protect national security secrets, they should have been diligent in protecting me and every CIA officer.

Along with testifying that she was a covert agent, Plame addressed how it felt to be outed by the administration ("hit in the gut"), how it put people she was working with at risk, how it lowered morale at the CIA (obviously, when the White House thinks nothing of an outing an agent, everyone's going to be concerned about their own cover), how the criminal act could cause potential informants to be reluctant about coming forward since they had seen how cavalier the administration could be about protecting the nation's own agents, that her area of expertise was WMD (something you might think was needed) and that she had been overseas, while undercover during the last five years prior to the outing in the Robert Novak column. [For more on Plame's testimony, you can check out David Swanson's live blogging of it.]

As if Plame's testimony wasn't news all by itself, another bombshell emerged when James Knodell, Director of the White House's Office of Security, testified. Knodell repeatedly responded to questions about whether or not there was an internal investigation with "Not by my office" and "Not in my office." Robert Parry (Consortium News) explores the revelations in Knodell's testimony (the White House originally objected to Knodell testifying):

Though Bush declared in September 2003 that he was determined to get to the bottom of who blew Plame's cover, it was revealed at the March 16 hearing that the White House never even undertook an administrative review to assess responsibility for the leak.
James Knodell, the hapless director of the White House security office, was forced to concede that no internal security investigation was performed; no security clearances were suspended or revoked; no punishment of any kind was meted out to White House political adviser Karl Rove who is now known to have revealed Plame's classified identity to at least two reporters.

The fact that, after outing Plame to reporters, Rove still has a security clearance was raised in the hearing as well. But the AP and many others want to say that there were no revelations, no bombshells. Apparently, the Beltway Babies work overtime when it comes to protecting their own.

I want to tell you all a story 'bout a covert CIA agent's life
She had a husband who called out the administration lies
Well her husband came home one afternoon and didn't even call on the way
He said, "Val, Robert Novak's outed you in his column today."

The press ignored the obvious but focused on her manner of dress
They lied that she was on a Vanity Fair cover and trying to impress
Vicky Toejam was a one woman echo chamber for her friend
Robert Novak -- who decided to up and out Valerie Plame one day.

Well, it happened that a committe called her to testify
They were sure surprised when Plame strode in and didn't bat an eye
And as she sat down, I still recall the words she had to say
She said, "I'd like to address this to the Beltway Babies USA"

Well, there's Danny Burton still just sittin' there
He wouldn't start an investigation into my outing when he was the committee chair
And Mr. Issa, can you coin another term like non-Nixonian?
Or better yet, how 'bout you "Step away from the podium"?

Well, Gil Gutknecht couldn't be here 'cause he lost his seat in Nov. 2006
Same election that put an end to Tom DeLay's dirty tricks
Now some of you have the nerve to say my cover wasn't blown?
Well, this is just a little Peyton Place and you're all Beltway Baby overgrown

No I wouldn't put you on because it really did, it happened just this way
The day my Valerie Plame socked it to the Beltway Babies USA
The day my Valerie Plame socked it to the Beltway Babies USA

The Albert Gonzales Show

Who can approve torture with a smile?
Who can take the rule of law
And suddenly make it just fade away?
Well it's you, Albie, and you should know it
With each glance and every little movement, you show it
Hate is all around
No need to find it
You can destroy a town
And you wouldn't mind it
You're going to shred the Constitution after all.


It's The Alberto Gonzales Show!

Starring Albert Gonzales.

After a rough first marriage, Albert Gonzales decides to make a fresh start and hitches his wagon to the Bully Boy. Eventually, he lands in DC. As White House consel, he renders the Geneva Conventions "quaint." He clamped down on the public's right to know by restricting the Freedom of Information Act. He moved on to Attorney General where, when not speaking publicy about porn, he carved out time for the illegal, warrantless, NSA spying on American citizens and, more recently, was involved in the conspiracy to fire eight US attorneys, replace them with lackeys (including a Karl Rove pet, Tim Griffin) and circumvent the Congressional approval. At first, the White House attempted to scapegoat Harriet Miers and portray Gonzales as having clean hands, then the e-mails started coming out and they demonstrate Gonzales was as deep in the conspiracy as Miers -- if not deeper since it was his job to oversee the attorneys and it was his job to know what was going on.

On Tuesday, Gonzales held a for show press conference filled with one laugh getter after another. "I acknowledge that mistakes were made here," he declared. "I accept that responsibility."

The lengthier version went:

I believe in accountability. Like every CEO of every major organization, I am responsible for what happens at the Department of Justice. I acknowledge that mistakes were made here. I accept that responsibility and my pledge to the American people is to find out what went wrong here, to assess accountability, and to make improvements so that the mistakes in this instance do not occur again in the future. Finally, let me just say one thing: I've overcome a lot of obstacles in my life to become Attorney General. I am here not because I give up. I am here because I've learned from my mistakes, because I accept responsibility, and because I am committed to doing my job. And that is what I intend to do here on behalf of the American people.

CEO? He's not a CEO, he's a public servant and that carries with it more obligations than does being a CEO of a company. When he brought up the line about "I've overcome a lot of obstacles in my life," we thought he was referring to ethnicity (in which case, he is aware that David Iglesias is Hispanic -- one of the eight who got fired?). Then we read Andrew Zajac's laughable piece (Chicago Tribune) and decided Gonzales was playing drama queen. His father was repeatedly arrested for drunk driving. A brother died in 1980 and no one wants to talk about why or how. At one point, Zajac gets all excited over a story Gonzales has told for over a year now -- that in high school, he dated a woman whose parents didn't like him because he was "Mexican." We've heard that story, Zajac, over and over. But maybe Gonzales meant this tidbit Zajac tosses out:

In January 2000, while Gonzales sat on the Texas Supreme Court, his sister Theresa and an accomplice were arrested in a Houston-area drug bust in which police seized 40 grams of cocaine, nearly a pound of marijuana, more than $3,000 in cash, an assault rifle, a sawed-off shotgun and a .50 caliber handgun, plus several hundred rounds of ammunition.
Court records indicate that at the time of her arrest, Theresa Gonzales was on 10 years' probation following a guilty plea to a similar charge in 1991.
Theresa Gonzales was sentenced to 90 days' "jail therapy" and the charge against her was dismissed, court records show.

Zajac then tells you that the White House says Gonzales never even knew about his sister's arrest or trial until after the verdict. Really? She was on ten years probation which had yet to expire (on probation for "a similar charge") and she's busted with a sawed off shotgun, grass and coke and and "jail therapy" (for 90 days) is what she's sentenced to? Yeah, let's all pretend strings weren't pulled there to please/appease Gonzales (who was then sitting on the Texas Supreme Court).

Zajac apparently never thought to call a prosecuter from the area and ask, "Is this a normal sentence?" (It isn't.) Zajac appears to have only called numbers he was given by whomever fed him this attempt at "Sympathy for the Devil." That would explain why, while supposedly writing about the life of Gonzales, he has no idea that Gonzales has been married twice. Search in vain for the name Diane Clemens.

The long running joke that is the public servent career of Alberto Gonzales seems destined to continue unless or until the press can't stop looking the other way and minimizing his actions, past and present.

Things you should catch if you missed them

There were two radio programs last week that we hope you caught. If you missed them, and you are able to listen online, you can still catch them.

First up, Friday on KPFA's Making Contact, Aaron Glantz gave an overview of the court-martial of Ehren Watada last month which ended in the mistrial. Glantz was in Tacoma to cover that for KPFA, Free Speech Radio News,, and IPS. If you followed his live broadcast coverage, you know his voice was starting to give the second night of the court-martial and that by the third day (Wednesday), he was hoarse beyond belief. But he kept reporting and he's one of a very small number of reporters who can tell you what happened and how. Watada is, of course, the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq publicly (in June of 2006) and the first to be court-martialed for that (February 2007).

Second, prepare to be shocked by last week's CounterSpin (or this week's if it airs later in your area). Why? They address Sudan. If you didn't catch it yet, we can already hear your moan, "Oh my God! You've drank the Kool-Aid! You're going to join the 'Bring the Troops Home and Send them to Darfur' Carrie Nations Brigade!" Not so fast. We can understand that concern. Outside of Bonnie Faulkner, we're not aware of anyone who's attempted to explore the issue. We are aware that independent media has provided a megaphone to the same Carrie Nations who run the op-ed mill that the mainstream media can't get enough of.

But Peter Hart's not sitting down with a Carrie Nation, he's speaking to Mahmood Mandani about his recent piece in The London Review of Books. We think you'll enjoy the interview for the most part? For the most part? There seems to be an effort to suggest that Darfur has gotten less attention than Iraq (by Hart) which we find laughable -- the five of us who left NY in part to get away from the Carrie Nations, find that laughable.

As Mandani notes in his essay:

The most powerful mobilisation in New York City is in relation to Darfur, not Iraq. One would expect the reverse, for no other reason than that most New Yorkers are American citizens and so should feel directly responsible for the violence in occupied Iraq. But Iraq is a messy place in the American imagination, a place with messy politics. Americans worry about what their government should do in Iraq. Should it withdraw? What would happen if it did? In contrast, there is nothing messy about Darfur. It is a place without history and without politics; simply a site where perpetrators clearly identifiable as 'Arabs' confront victims clearly identifiable as 'Africans'.
A full-page advertisement has appeared several times a week in the New York Times calling for intervention in Darfur now. It wants the intervening forces to be placed under 'a chain of command allowing necessary and timely military action without approval from distant political or civilian personnel'. That intervention in Darfur should not be subject to 'political or civilian' considerations and that the intervening forces should have the right to shoot -- to kill -- without permission from distant places: these are said to be 'humanitarian' demands. In the same vein, a New Republic editorial on Darfur has called for 'force as a first-resort response'. What makes the situation even more puzzling is that some of those who are calling for an end to intervention in Iraq are demanding an intervention in Darfur; as the slogan goes, 'Out of Iraq and into Darfur.'

Yeah, that's what we've seen as well. Nicky K is mentioned in the interview because, when not buying prostitutes in his own version of Elite Snake Moan, he can't shut up about Darfur. We'd argue that the paper of little to no record has ran far fewer advocacy pieces on Iraq that could pass for 'left.' It's also a regular topic in that paper, in many papers. You've got George Clooney and the Christian Right as figureheads for the movement. You've got psuedo academics bringing up the Carrie Nations brigade. Even relocated out of NY, we can't escape the nonsense. Amy Goodman's not interviewed Keith Harmon Snow on the topic but she has interviewed the 2nd Lt. of the Carrie Nations Brigade and allowed him to push for his questionable claims as fact. We regularly turn off The Morning Show when this topic is even mentioned -- and that's often at least once a week. The Nation magazine's own Carol Brady (not to be confused with the Cindy Brady of the Faux Left) has put out how many action alerts on Darfur?

It's saddened us to see the same independent media that questioned the Iraq war before it started, the same independent media that's done their best to stop the lies that could likely lead to a war with Iran, accept the nonsense. (And did we mention The Progressive?)

Hart and Mandani note that the Congo is a crisis that's not getting much attention. It certainly isn't. And at some point, you'd think people would ponder that. We enjoyed the interview and we think you will as well; however, as people glad to be far from the crazy, modern day Carrie Nations, let's be clear that even now, we have to work to avoid them in print and over the airwaves.

Peter Hart also deserves credit (C.I. noted this at The Common Ills in real time) for, a few weeks back, noting that the "What is wrong with Americans! Why don't they know how many Iraqis have died!" crowd missed the important point that if they don't know something, it may go directly to what they are or are not being informed of. That was true of the false link between 9-11 and Iraq and it was true of the issue of Americans being able to tell you how many Iraqis had died. He was a lone voice making that point and, sadly, it didn't get picked up by others after he had the strength to break from the pack.

So congratulations to CounterSpin for, again, breaking from the pack. As community member Pru has repeatedly noted, in England, they can have serious conversations about Darfur but what she sees from the American press (big and small) is a cartoon version of the issue. This isn't the first piece The London Review of Books has run addressing the realities of Darfur. We're also remembering Jonathan Steele's strong column in The Guardian of London. (And we're sure Pru could provide us with a long reading list of other articles and broadcasts.) But in this country, it's been Bonnie Faulkner (Guns and Butter) and only her in terms of the media (that we're aware of -- if you know someone else, please e-mail us and we'll note it here).

Enjoy the interview but don't get your hopes up that we'll have a realistic conversation -- as noted earlier, Peter Hart called out the media for failing to inform the American people about Iraqi deaths and that call didn't get picked up and amplified by others.

If you listen to the full half-hour of CounterSpin, you'll also be treated to an interview with Karen Greenberg where she discusses the rules and regulations the US military attempts to impose upon those who visit (humanitarian workers, journalists, etc.) Guantanamo. Pay close to attention to when she discusses how the US military insists that they be called "detainees" and not "prisoners." Almost two years ago, C.I. stopped using "detainee" and started using "prisoners" (noting that "detainee" made it sound like they'd been stopped while coming through customs, not as though they'd been imprisoned for years). Elaine echoed that and, in this community, they've led on that and are the reason that we all use "prisoners." But why is the press using "detainees"? Especially since that's the demanded choice of the US military? It seems to us that anyone who listens to that interview should immediately begin calling the prisoners "prisoners" because that's what they are and "detainee" sugar coats it and lulls Americans into thinking it's not that bad, they're "detainees" after all, not "prisoners."

MyTV's Fascist House

This week on MyTV's Fascist House, Bullies Just Want To Have Fun!

Bully Boy proves it's "hard work" as he goes grocery shopping, finds time to snicker at Alberto Gonzales (while carrying a purse?) and mixes it up south of the border with a young Latin male. Well, Ricky Martin has turned on him. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama see the 'interesting' exchange but the only comment either will make is: "Tomorrow my office will issue a statement." Obama wants to poll first to see what position he should take and Clinton's got her staff researching to find a Republican who's said something about gays and lesbians so she can hide behind that.

Meanwhile, Alberto Gonzales is all the news. Funsters Harriet Miers and Karl Rove attempt to get his mind off his troubles by taking him to a Paul McCartney concert where musical guest McCartney entertains with sappy love songs and coded cries for more war. While this goes on, conservative spokesmodel George Will unleashes the Will-bot. The Will-bot can be identified by both the bow tie and the dull, useless look. Will counts off the reasons why Alberto should remain as Attorney General ("Full head of hair, always willing to help out with fraternity hazing and torture, not afraid to get his hands dirty . . ."). Dick Cheney appears to hang his head in shame at the whole sordid affairs but actually he's wondering (a) if you really can dig to China and (b) if so, is the a route for bunker buster bombs? Meanwhile, Tony Blair has a nasty case of the tickles, so amused is he to see someone else in the hot seat.

MyTV's Fascist House airing for two hours, two nights a week, 52 weeks a year. (Unless Rupert decides it's lost enough money and decides to pull the plug on it.)


Unless otherwise noted, these were selected by Kat, Cedric, Betty, Elaine, Wally, Rebecca and Mike.

"You're not supposed to snort Sticky Bumps" -- we loved this one. "Sticky Bumps" is surfboard wax, in case you don't know. This piece will have you nodding and laughing all at the same time.

"THIS JUST IN! 'DO I LOOK LIKE A WALTER REED SCAPEGOAT?'" and "Alberto's telling you he's not going" -- Wally and Cedric tackle the issue of whether or not Alberto Gonzales will resign.

"Couching with a Potato Head" -- Betty's latest chapter explains the team required just to get Thomas Friedman up to typing out drivel.

"harriet tried to get out before the subpoenas were served" -- Rebecca following the unfolding Gonzales scandal.

"Richard & Neil" -- we couldn't agree more with Kat. And we think Thompson is a writer who gets by on "indicating" more often than sharing. Overrated. We'll look forward to RT's anti-war song and wish him the best but the sad truth is, his songs need someone like Maria McKee to pour life into them because, lyrically, they're barely sketched in.

"Dave Lindorff" -- Elaine goes over everyone's approach to speaking (and sums it up very well -- "I do do that!" was the most often heard comment when we were reading her post.

"Steamed Fish and Green Apples in the Kitchen" -- while Elaine explained each of our approaches to speaking, Trina talked about the Texas trip in terms of food (the recipe is community member Billie's) and also addressed the myth of apathy.

"Dallas," "North Texas and Ira Chernus," "East Texas," "Matthew Rothschild, Texas, etc.," and
"Ann Wright, Danny Schechter" -- Mike charts the Texas trip, day by day. He was against us including everyone of his entry but (a) they make for really interesting reads and (b) we planned to write about Texas this week but time got away from us.

"THIS JUST IN! DARLENE SUPERVILLE? NOT SO SUPER!" and "Oopsie, AP!" -- Wally & Cedric's joint-post. They knew there was no way Vanity Fair would put Valerie Plame on the cover but they say "thank you" to C.I. who, when they asked, said, "Viggo was the cover." AP will apparently make up any "fact" in order to smear Valerie Plame.

"And the war drags on . . ." -- and we love the personal story C.I. tells at the end. Rebecca (who has met the woman C.I.'s speaking of) enjoyed it most but we all thought it was worth sharing.
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