Sunday, May 20, 2007

Truest statement of the week

AMY GOODMAN: John, we just have thirty seconds, but do you think oil is a secret motive with US relations with Sudan?
JOHN GHAZVINIAN: Possibly. I mean, yes and no. I mean, look, I think China is much more transparent about oil in Sudan. The US relationship with Sudan is a complex one, and for the last few years it’s had a lot to do with cooperation on counterterrorism and intelligence gathering, as well. The Sudan conflict is a lot more complicated than it tends to get presented out as in the media, to be honest, especially the Darfur conflict. And oil kind of plays a part, but it’s not the main driving factor.

-- from "'Untapped: The Scramble for Africa's Oil'," Democracy Now!, last Thursday. The sound you hear is 100 Modern Day Carrie Nations hissing and their flock scratching their heads in confusion.

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
We are all tired. But I'll be damned if I let Mike beat me without putting up a fight! (Personal note to Mike: ":D")

Here's who helped out the 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 all of them. We also thank Dallas for all of his help.

Biggest problems this edition? Illustrations. Which is why you're only getting one new one online. When we had no luck repeatedly, we started searching for illustrations we'd used in the past that might work this time.

What else are online only readers missing? A lengthy feature that will be much sharper and focused when it goes up here next week. (We'll also be rewriting parts of it, not just editing.) That took forever and a day. After 3 hours, Ava and C.I. bailed us on to go work on their TV commentary. That was a long one for them. They rejoined us an hour later and Ava's first remark was, "You're still working on the same feature!" We were. It never came together to our satisifaction. We have hope for it next week -- after some sleep.

Two other features were also pulled. That was fine with Dona because it forced "Short Features!" (Her mantra.)

Content that made it online:

Truest statement of the week -- an obvious choice. Once Kat pointed it out.

Editorial: Who's failing? -- quit blaming students, the peace movement and everything else. Pin the tail on the ass: the media.

TV: The lows and the really lows -- Taking a deep breath because this is where Mike beats me every week! Ava and C.I. didn't think they had anything to write. We know, you've heard it all before. We have too. But they were on the road for the first half of last week, they really didn't have time to watch much. They had watched the CMAs at a friend's house while they were on the road. They had done a funny bit when they got back about the perverse Reba. When they kept saying, "We've got nothing," we suggested they write about the CMAs. The print version of this includes when they could no longer watch. The friend is in the country music industry and he told them about a closet case early on and they made a game of attempting to guess who it was. (Ava and C.I. note that Kenny Chesney has been accused of camp and high drama, they have not accused him of being gay. Kenny Chesney was not the man in question.) When they saw the man, they both exclaimed, "It's him!" How so? These are my words (they fear if they're quoted it will give it away and they're really not interested in outing anyone), when you don't want to be seen as gay, you don't butch it up, you rob yourself of every bit of personality you might have. (This is very funny in the print version but they weren't sure -- they didn't know or know of the guy until watching the awards -- if they were saying anything that would out someone.) As Ava and C.I. explained to their friend (Ava says we can note it's a music producer) how they were able to figure it out, they were all laughing so hard that even Reba in close up couldn't top it, so the TV was turned off. So there was there Reba bit. But they didn't see an entire commentary in that. This took them an hour and it was mainly in figuring out what to pair it with. When they decided to pair it with the networks' announced fall line ups they were finally able to begin writing. This is really a strong commentary that had us all laughing and Ava (who has not and will not read over it -- nor will C.I.) said that's just because it looked like there wouldn't be anything so our expectations were tremendously lowered. Not true.

1 Book, 10 Minutes -- The embargo is over. C.I. had agreed to wait two weeks before quoting from the book when some community members said they were going to purchase it when it came out. With Joshua Key's book, C.I. was quoting from it to soon for some book readers in the community. So C.I. said, "If you're serious, I'll wait two weeks. But I expect people to buy it when it comes out." So today we did the book discussion.

So you wanna be a war resister -- This is a piece C.I. has advocated for the last few weeks and we've never had the time to do it or remembered to do it. (C.I. notes, "It figures we would do it the week when we are all beyond wiped out." True.)

The Nation Stats -- We grab four issues.

Yo George -- Tori's new CD is out, please check it out. This was short feature number one.

Vote Vets says, "Whatever Kagan said!" -- We were trying like crazy to come up with things to fill the hole from losing the extremely long piece and 2 others. It was so bad, we had the chat & chews on. We saw Newt make a fool out of himself (to no one's surprise and felt Chris Dodd should have shot back, "By your logic, when you shut down Congress in the 90s, you were aiding America's enemies!") on Meet the Press. We saw Dianne Feinstein sport a new hair color (C.I. notes, "As described" -- C.I. was rubbing the eyes long before Face The Nation came on). And we saw this 'debate' on Iraq that didn't even qualify as a discussion. We went with that.

Listings -- We're going to attempt to do this weekly but probably won't have time every week. We had a new illustration for it (and it ran in the print edition) but we'll probably go ahead and stick with this illustration in the future.

Highlights -- Mike, Wally, Cedric, Betty, Rebecca and Elaine worked on this. We thank them for it.

And that's it. We're finally done. But let me give a shout out to my bud Mike who does his own version of this note at his site (usually on Mondays). "Kevin Zeese, Third Estate Sunday Review" was his note for last week's edition. Mike does a great job summarizing and frequently remembers and notes things I forget.

One more thing. Last week's "Nation Isle" came dangerously close to being the most talked about feature. (As always the honor went to Ava and C.I.'s commentary.) Some of this was due to the piece itself but it's also true that apparently a cruise ship to Alaska encountered problems last week. We hadn't heard of that except for C.I. who saw something in The New York Times on it (believes it was either Thursday or Friday, a photo of an African-American woman who had survived the cruise -- C.I. read the caption but wasn't interested in the article). If you're e-mailing about that this week, please tell us when the crash (or sinking or whatever) was. To the best of our knowledge, Katrina vanden Heuvel was not on board. (That last sentence was a joke.)

See you next week.

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

Editorial: Who's failing?

Let's see if we remember all the excuses correctly.

The war hasn't registered because there isn't a draft.

The war hasn't registered because young people are apathetic.

The war hasn't registered due to a failure of the peace movement.

All the (false) claims above have been widely repeated. We're having a hard time thinking of anyone outside CounterSpin's Peter Hart who has challenged any of this nonsense. Noting the hand wringing and blaming of the American people when one poll (ONE POLL) found that those Americans polled could not correctly estimate the number of Iraqis who have been killed in the illegal war, Hart didn't join in the hand wringing, he rightly rejected it and place the blame squarely where it belonged: on the media.

Not yesterday, but the Saturday before last, an attack killed 4 US soldiers and 1 Iraqi translator and 3 US soldiers were missing -- presumably captured and, although offering no proof, an organization reportedly linked to al Qaeda claimed credit for the kidnappings.

If you don't know about it, we're sure it's because there's no draft, we're sure it's because of students level of participation and we're sure it's another sign of failure on the part of the peace movement. Except . . .

Did you know that a woman works a gondola in Venice? She does! Her name is Alexandra Hai! And doesn't that effect, alter and change your entire life!

Did you know that Oscar Pistorius (South Africa) runs with a prosthetic and some racing opposite him think it gives him an unfair edge? That's what we're told! And won't that put food on your table and provide you with health coverage!

Did you know that Bono says smoke from Billy Squier's fireplace "is drifting" into his own Central Park West co-op? Doesn't knowing that enrich your daily life?

Those are among the stories that The New York Times could not only cover last week, but also front page. The New York Times didn't front page the news of 4 dead US soldiers and 3 missing (don't bring up the translator, the paper doesn't care about Iraqis) until last Friday. Seven days later, it's finally front page news to the paper. Prior to that, there was time to waste on every topic no matter how minor.

Why does the illegal war not register to some Americans? Blame the media. Blame a media that thinks Bono 'suffering' from Billy Squier's smoke is bigger news than 4 dead and 3 missing US soldiers. Now this wasn't The New York Post. This was The New York Times and that's the best they could do.

That's something to think about, file away and remember the next time some blowhard starts pinning the blame elsewhere. Who's failing?

Not the students, not the peace movement, it's the media. Need another example? On Thursday, the 3400 mark for number of US service members killed in Iraq was passed. On Saturday, in The New York Times, readers got a sob-fest for contractors which noted that the body count for US service members was "almost" at 3400. The count on Saturday was 3415. However, if you made the mistake of assuming, "I get everything from The New York Times!" -- you were left uninformed. We're also not seeing, on Nightline, "Day 9: US Soldiers Missing."

We'll repeat: Who's failing? The media.

The illustration above includes the Bono front page story, the Venice front page story and, on Friday, 7 days later, 3 missing US soldiers is finally front page news.

Please also see:
"Other Items"
"NYT: Gives up even pretending to be in the news business"
"NYT: Bono's front page news while US soldiers get left on A10"
"NYT: Cave joins the cast of Scrubs and he can't do it all on his own, he's no Superman"
"Guest post by Mike"
"The Bono Times?"
"7 Days Later, NYT Front Pages the 3 Missing US Soldiers"

TV: The lows and the really lows

On the old Soupy Sales television series there was a character named Philo Kvetch who liked to toss out pearls of wisdom such as, "Show me a cow wearing rags and I'll show you a bum steer."

In a really lousy TV week, we kept coming back to that phrase.

It didn't help that last week, as various networks announced their fall schedules, CBS elected to air the Reba McEntire hosted Country Music Awards. Watching, with a friend not nominated this year but nominated in the past (never a winner), we (Ava and C.I.) first rubbed our eyes in disbelief as Reba strode to center stage from a great distance. Why, we wondered, was she wearing a black dress with off-white sleeves? Then, as she came closer, we realized those were her bare arms and someone neglected to powder them.

The dress (with a long train neither she nor anyone else carried) seemed to exist solely to dust the stage. The three of us discussed what looked like some serious work. For instance, the left breast is now much higher than the right. And her squinty eyes were gone while her eyebrows were much higher. Watching her grimace and scowl, we quickly ruled out Botox which just left us to debate whether she'd had a chemical peel or a face lift?

Our musings ceased quickly as she immediately launched into her GOP playbook, making a 'gay joke' about West Hollywood. Does the average country music listener even know where West Hollywood is? Reba didn't care, she's a 'survivor,' remember, one who hitched her wagon to the Bully Boy and damned if she wasn't going to use her airtime in service of the administration. That was most noticeable when Reba decided to share what a laughing matter she thought global warming was. Like the Bully Boy, Reba doesn't buy into it and thought it was "cute" (remember, the woman also thinks she herself is cute so there exists a huge gulf of misunderstanding) to joke about "2 kegs of ice cold beer" and how "Kenny Chesney has agreed to only drink cold beer." Intermixed, as always with this eyesore, were repeated sayings of "a-ha!" To cue audiences that she thinks what she says is funny, Reba always feels the need to laugh first. It doesn't make the lines funnier but when, as she readily admitted, "I just blew that joke right there," it probably is needed so that viewers will know it was supposed to be funny.

She quickly moved into an introduction of Hannah Storm whom she hailed as a "news anchor" -- if that didn't have you laughing, Storm's outfit would since news anchors (of either gender) rarely wear plunging necklines that end below the breasts. Reba applauded like crazy (apparently for the bed ruffle at the bottom of Storm's tacky dress), providing multiple laughs as her flesh flapped in the wind. Either work on the delts or stick to outfits with sleeves. That was really driven home when Reba raised her arm and treated the world to the ugliest armpit -- and the only part of Reba that may still be semi-natural.

In an evening of guts hanging out over too tight pants and tiny heads on thick necks, Reba seemed, if not entertaining, right at home. After a commercial break, she was back to introduce Martina McBride and she was still wearing the same dress which led us to wonder if Reba only had time to hit one garage sale last week?

In three seconds, McBride shook the show to life and showed what it could have been with a real performer hosting. (She was also the first woman on the show to wear an evening dress that fit as opposed to looking like it was purchased to "grow into.") Reba's recording career ended long ago (even if labels haven't wised up -- though the desperation factor in September's Reba Duets indicates that they have caught on) and her eternally low rated sitcom finally went off the air. But there she was hosting because CBS doesn't like people with political views . . . unless they're the same as the Bully Boy's.

CBS also doesn't like women so the asexual Reba (she forever comes off like Frankie in The Member of the Wedding) was the perfect fit.

When we repeatedly warned that CBS was attempting to pull The New Adventures of Old Christine, Ty noted skeptical e-mails came in. The gist of the e-mails was, "It's a hit. Why would a network mess with their own hit?" If you missed it, the fall 2007 season doesn't include the show (it's scheduled to return mid-season). It does include Rules of Engagement which, we'll note yet again, had declining ratings, week after week. Why would CBS do this? We've noted the whys of that many times. If you weren't listening then, you probably wouldn't now but, again, note, the show is pulled. No one works harder than CBS to disown their female driven hits. Which is why they monkeyed with a successful Monday night line up (at the end Rules of Engagment wasn't just losing viewers each week, it was getting millions less viewers than The New Adventures of Old Christine had in the same time slot) and now are all geared up to return the audience disperser to Monday nights while letting Christine sit it out. The reality is that Fox may, as happened when CBS was attempting to destroy Cybil, steal the Monday night audience away with a new program (Ally McBeal then, K-Ville this fall).

ABC actually does care about women, it just has a hard time attracting them when not in soap opera mode. To their credit, they've stuck by Men in Trees which remains the network's best show that not enough people are watching. Their big hopes are pinned on a spin-off (no one whisper "Time of Your Life" or "Joey" too loudly) and a title that had a New York Times' Docker Boy reaching down the front of his pants last week: Dirty Sexy Money. Apparently, TLC's Crazy Sexy Cool never made it onto his playlists judging by the way he panted over the title.

As bad as that is, nothing is as hopeless as the CW which wants to offer both an update of Dakatari (entitled Life Is Wild -- but without the cross-eyed Clarence or Judy the chimp) and Touched by an Angel in reverse: instead of working for God, the lead works for the devil (Reaper starring Bret Harrison) by retrieving evil souls that have escaped from hell. We question the premise of the latter -- not only because just titling the Robert Blake vehicle Helltown was too much for some viewers but also because why would Satan be despondent that evil souls were making it back to the earth and doing bad things? Lucifer with a soft spot? We've only met the Dark Angel's female approximate, so maybe we're missing something.

"Nothing is as hopeless as the CW? Surely you both are forgetting Patricia Heaton!" Would that we could forget Patti (who is the Dark Angel's female approximate, for anyone wondering). Back To You is a show we wouldn't miss. In fact, we intend to preserve it for those rough days when you need a little pick me up to get you through. What we're hearing (among other delicious details) is that this century's Rose Marie is convinced not only that she has one more hit series in her but that she knows comedy. This is leading to disputes (and grumbling in makeup and wardrobe) between her and the male lead Kelsey Grammer. Grammer thinks the comedy should be a bit more high brow and Patti's idea of high brow seems to be saying "Excuse me" after picking her nose in public. Those working on the show swear the duel of wills would make a great reality show but that it's not making for a sitcom. We will be front and center, rooting for a huge train wreck.

Fox cancelled The War At Home and, a story to share there, when they did a multi-arc storyline, we were asked by a friend with the show to give it another look. We did. It was surprisingly good. The characters were finally clicking. All of the characters. Then the storyline ended and the show went back to its usual crap. That's why we didn't re-review it. Yes, the gay storyline allowed the show to actually be about something. Yes, it allowed all the characters to be involved and for actual dialogue, specific to characters, to be written. But the minute Kenny (Rami Malek) moved back to his own home, the show returned to unwatchable. We've made our feelings very clear about the male lead but even his character was watchable when he was forced to interact with Kenny. Had they used that to reinvent the show, we would have loudly praised it. They didn't so we will note here that those episodes were not just the finest of the series but the finest of any comedy Fox aired this year. There's a lesson if anyone at the network wants to pay attention. Various characters living in a home does not make a family even when the words "Mom" and "Dad" are frequently used. There has to be some glue that pulls them together. For several episodes, that was Kenny and it felt like you were watching a family and not assorted actors reciting dialogue. (Often bad dialogue.)

We'll come back to Fox in a minute. NBC. In this Sophie's Choice, the daughter always dies. Which is why Crossing Jordan was cancelled. While we're noting things, we'll note that Bug was a victim of the Patriot Act at the end of this season. You saw the government break the law -- as they do whenever questioning alleged 'terrorists'. That storyline wasn't over and, had NBC renewed the show, you would have seen some hard hitting repercussions from torture. The good news is that after football season is over, Medium will return. Or you could say, the really bad news is that Medium will sit out half the year. And apparently still wanting to keep the "No Girls Allowed" sign over their clubhouse, moments after unveiling their new lineup last week, NBC began having pangs of doubt about their remake of The Bionic Woman. It is now said to be "on the crater." The crater is the opposite of the bubble. Meaning if anything goes wrong early on, bad reviews, bad ratings, NBC's dumping it quicker than you can say "Kidnapped" (or quicker than they could say "Cancelled" last fall).

Apparently all the money wasted on the boy 'genius' and his hideous series (and Water Cooler Critics should never be able to live down their attempts to market that bad show) has so tapped out the network (which is in dead last in the ratings for the big three and Fox) that they've again scheduled only six nights of programming. One of the Docker Boys was hailing the shake ups NBC was allegedly putting forward but somehow missed that fact. In the current economy, sitting out an entire night makes no sense unless you're a net-lette. NBC has many times owned Saturdays, most recently with Golden Girls in the 80s. If they think the way out of ratings cellar is by (yet again) abandoning Saturday nights, it's obvious that not enough alleged shake ups have taken place.

With the way things go in cycles, we'd argue that Saturdays are ripe for a comeback and just waiting for the brave network (none currently) willing to offer programming, original programming. At this rate, to win Saturdays, you wouldn't even have to be good, just new. "Drama series encore" doesn't qualify for that. We'll offer one suggestion, move Friday Night Lights to Saturday. It's the height of stupidity to program a show about Friday night high school football on a night when the core audience will be . . . away from their TVs attending high school football games. We'd further suggest that when so many of the networks have mid-seasons replacements scheduled this early (as already noted Medium and The New Adventures of Old Christine and add to the list Notes from the Underbelly), mid-season replacements scheduled before you've even begun filming some of your fall shows, you might want to toss some of those on a Saturday night as well.

If there was any good news for NBC at all it was the inclusion of MyTV in the ratings which made it look so much better by comparison. The Roger Ailes network was supposed to storm the ratings, that was the talk leading up to fall 2006: They understood audiences and what audiences wanted was telenovas! And regardless of whether they were huge ratings hits or not, they were sticking with the format!

Of course, when the cellar dweller Fashion House is your top rated program all year long, you quickly have to rethink things. MyTV now intends to build the Murdoch empire around 'reality' shows. We're guessing that will go over about as well as the telenovas did. Ty reports e-mails coming in asking that we review this telenova or that telenova. If time permits, we may grab the final telenovas but, honestly, what is there to say about Wicked, Wicked Game other than Oscar winner Tatum O'Neal does a fine job impersonating Courtney Love? Fashion House, the network's 'hit,' averaged approximately half a million viewers each showing -- apparently the world was not interested in seeing Bo Derek yet again attempt to throw her legs around the world. By comparison, it was a great year for NBC.

Back to Fox. Though it may surprise many younger viewers, Fox once attempted to program on Saturdays. Those days are long gone. That noted, their new line up should cause the most interest. Whether or not anything will actually reach out to viewers, they are offering the most interesting sounding fare. Julianna Margulies returns to TV with Canterbury's Law, The Sarah Connor Chronicles revolve around the character from the Terminator, Parker Posey lands her first TV series in The Return of Jezebel James (Posey previously did guest spots on Will & Grace and Boston Legal, this is the first primetime series she's been a regular in), and the always watchable Craig Biekro and Rashida Jones in The Rules for Starting Over. Who knows how any of them will look by the time they hit TV screens? (Sarah Connor Chronicles is penciled in for mid-season but Fox suits think they have one dog that will need to be put down quickly and so Sarah Connor Chronicles could begin airing prior to mid-season.) But that's what rolling out a new line up is supposed to look like. The net-lette seems to grasp that (currently) better than the big three does.

And that really may be the worst thing (other than Reba) in a week of worsts. The big three is still programming as if we lived in a six-day week world and their idea of generate some excitement is to turn 'characters' from the Geiko commercials into a TV show: ABC's Cavemen.

Yes, cavemen will return to network TV next fall. Though African-Americans still can't catch a lead on the big three, look for the 'diversity' of cavemen to beam into your homes on Tuesday nights.

We're counting about 29 new shows debuting in the fall that we could consider reviewing. When we told that to Ty he said including that fact would seriously cut down on some of the e-mails he has to read. He also noted a number of e-mails regarding a panic over this summer. Usually, they note that the CW will be airing *Hidden Palms* (yes, we plan to review it). We may do an overview piece like this but we also will have commentaries relating to just one show as well. We stated over and over throughout the fall, winter and spring that we were saving 30 Rock for the summer because it would be renewed. ABC has cancelled The George Lopez Show and According to Jim and we will probably offer farewells to both (not fond in the case of the latter). There's a talk show Rebecca suggested we review last fall that we told her we'd try to grab during the summer. We're sorry that Jim and Mike noting the fact that there is so little to review has caused a mini-panic and we do appreciate Ty passing on that three long term readers said, "Go ahead and grab cable." We won't. We can continue to cover broadcast TV and do so each week.

That may mean the occassional overview piece like this. But last week was the week that was supposed to build excitement for fall 2007, instead most networks rolled out so-so presentations (Jerry Seinfeld doing bits is not Jerry Seinfeld returns to television -- it's Seinfeld dabbling and NBC shelling out a ton of money for those doodles). And, as if to underscore what a crap week it was for TV, CBS offered up born trash, die trash Reba as a "draw." Short of teaming her up with Patti Heaton, can it get much worse than that?

1 Book, 10 Minutes


Jim: This week we have a book discussion. 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 book in question is Camilo Mejia's Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia. Mike, set us up.

Mike: Camilo Mejia's Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia was published by The New Press and on sale the first Tuesday of this month. The list price is $24.95. It's 300 pages of text, contains an editor's note and an afterword by Chris Hedges. Camilo Mejia is a war resister and the first war resister who served in Iraq, or the first public one. He tells his story prior to enlisting very quickly and the bulk of the book focuses on his time in Iraq.

Rebecca: That was actually my only problem with the book. The book basically ends in May of 2004. To me, what has gone on since would have been just as interesting.

Kat: Like his time in prison for refusing to serve in the illegal war?

Dona: Backing up, Camilo Mejia self-checked out while on leave in the United States, went underground and turned himself in. After turning himself in, he was court-martialed and sentenced to a year behind bars but served a little over eight months.

Rebecca: Right. The book ends, his narrative ends with the verdict. The editor's note comes after and reminded me of the ending of American Graffiti. Three years is a lot of time and I would have preferred to have heard about that from Mejia.

Ty: Maybe there will be a sequel to the book.

Rebecca: Anyone who saw More American Graffiti won't rush for a sequel.

Wally: I understand what Rebecca's saying. I even agree with her. The book's got a lot to offer and you'll be flipping the pages quickly but with that editor's note about what Camilo did while serving his time and about how he went back to college and is scheduled to graduate this month, those are things that should have been shaped out by him. I really liked the book. If the editor's note hadn't been included, I probably wouldn't have felt, "Where was that stuff?" But when you read the editor's note it really does point out that the story wasn't finished.

Cedric: The big surprise for me in the book was his story because I thought I knew it. He's usually considered the first public war resister. There's another guy --

C.I.: Stephen Funk.

Cedric: Right, Stephen Funk. He comes before and he refused to deploy to Iraq. So Camilo Mejia is the first to refuse to re-deploy or the first to have served there and become a war resister as a result. But the legal issues were all new to me and I really had thought I knew the story.

Jim: You're talking about status?

Cedric: Right. He's serving in the US military and he's not a US citizen. He's not the only one and I'm aware that happens; however, with Camilo, because of his status, the military was legally compelled to release him before he ever self-checked out. I don't know how to word it any better than that.

C.I.: I think you explained it fine but, if anyone's confused, a non-citizen cannot be extended in the US military after eight years.

Cedric: Thank you, that's it. The eight year thing. So Camilo's eight years expires when he is in Iraq. Again, I had followed, or thought I had followed, his story in the limited press it received but that was a new detail to me. Camilo was a resident, enlisted as such, had met his obligation and legally the military was required to discharge him because he had come to the eight-year mark. I'm not saying he shouldn't have self-checked out, I am saying that he shouldn't have had to because the military should have lived up to their own guidelines. I remember the Dan Rather interview airing --

Ava: 60 Minutes II.

Cedric: Right and I don't remember that being in there. Maybe I've forgotten it. But his mother had a senator --

C.I.: Ben Nelson.

Cedric: Ben Nelson working on this. This was all going on before he self-checked out and I have no idea why this wasn't an issue in the court-martial but, as I read the book, it was never brought up. That was probably what stood out most to me in the book. I enjoyed it and his stories from Iraq are more than worth reading but what stood out to me when I was reading it and what still stands out is that the military was required to discharge him and they didn't. Only after that did he self-check out.

Elaine: I think that's a strong point and, if it was stressed, I missed that coverage in real time. I think that's a theme in the book actually: the military not meeting obligations. I think that's true when Mejia and those serving under him are under fire and they follow the standard procedure, by the book, which is to keep moving. Once they're back on base, Mejia and another man are getting chewed out by superiors for following procedure. And for letting the 'enemy' know that they were 'afraid.'

Betty: I marked that as some thing to highlight. I'll note this, from the end of it, on page 76:

Gallegos, Rosado, and I looked at one another, not saying a word. Just minutes before, we had celebrated the fact that we made it through an ambush untouched. Now we were dealing with a command that was asking us to expose ourselves unnecessarily to serious danger in order to "send the right message." They knew damn well that we had acted according to regulations, just as we knew that it was our asses on the line while they were safe back at the base. I left the command post with my two team leaders, wondering who the real enemy was in Iraq, and just how close we were sleeping from it.

Betty (Con't): In the stories you hear, and certainly in relation to the attack two Saturdays ago where it appears the 4 US soldiers and 1 Iraqi translator who died as well as the 3 US soldiers who were kidnapped, had been sitting ducks, this really does stand out. Or it did for me. And, obviously, Elaine as well.

Elaine: Because you have to wonder whether that was some petty throw-the-weight-around nonsense or is about something greater?

Ty: Because this is a detail that repeats. You'll hear it or read it in various accounts. I'm not suggesting that those ranking higher, in these stories, are wishing that the soldiers would die, but I am thinking that they're willing to take greater risks than are necessary because they're looking for decorations.

Mike: Decorations for the actions of others. And, like Camilio says in the quote Betty read, their asses are safe back at the base.

Jess: Along with those similar stories, there was also, to me, a sense that some of the missions, especially the ones where they're being sent out when they've just returned and are supposed to be getting sleep, there was a sense that these missions weren't important in any strategical manner. I don't think it was someone being petty and throwing the weight around, I do think, and I'm remembering Joshua Key's stories about late night home raids in his book The Deserter's Tale, it was done in an attempt to piss the ones going out off, to keep them pissed off and angry. I think some of the aggression and abuse stems from that. And I do think creating the anger, if not desiring the abuse as well, is planned from above.

Jim: That's the book Key wrote with Lawrence Hill, The Deserter's Tale. And just FYI, we discussed it and Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq, in "2 Books, 10 Minutes" back in March. Any thoughts on what Jess just said?

Elaine: Well, I mean, isn't that what boot camp is all about? Isn't that what they do, with the stabbing the dummy and screaming racial slurs?

Dona: Oh, careful, Elaine. Didn't you know that's suspect?

Elaine: Sorry, I don't know what you're talking about.

Dona: I'll be kind and not name the reviewer but he was shocked, SHOCKED, by Key's account of boot camp and had to add that he really couldn't see that happening.

Elaine: You're kidding.

Dona: No, I'll e-mail you that review.

Elaine: Well you know, and Dona does know, that story's not exclusive to Key. Vets have told Matthew Rothschild similar stories on Progressive Radio. It's in Laufer's book, it's even been in some mainstream news reporting. I'll assume the reviewer has had his head in the sand, or elsewhere, and somehow managed to repeatedly miss that for the four plus years that the illegal war has dragged on.

Ava: That's the reason Camilo Mejia needs to share his story and others as well. C.I. and I were talking about that specifically because, like Dona, we know that review. And until you've got a large number explaining that it did happen, that it does happen, you will always have reviewers like that who will make ridiculous claims.

C.I.: And this is another valuable resource for today and for tomorrow. I know Rebecca's not trashing the book. She's offering a valid opinion and from the way Kat spoke, I think Kat strongly agreed with her. So maybe we should return to that?

Jim: Is that right, Kat?

Kat: Yeah. That is a huge part of the story and I don't think it got the space. It didn't get the space. That's not a "think," that's reality. If you meet someone who has self-check out and he or she talks about their plans, they do float the idea of turning themselves in, we all know that, we've all spoken to some. And what's the first question they ask? About imprisonment. Not, "Oh, could I make it in jail?" They're concerned about how they will be seen by others who are confined. I'm not suggesting anyone should turn themselves in, I am saying that's the thing that anyone who has self-checked out is going to be flipping through the book for before they start reading.

Rebecca: And they will be disappointed because, while the editor's note can tell you that he had conversations while imprisoned and that he read books then as well, there's nothing from Camilo about it. I'd also add, and I'm going to assume everyone here knows which one I'm referring to, but there is someone who has self-checked out and is most interested in the reactions that other people have to you. That's not a part of this book. We do get to hear about two soldiers that show up to testify at the court-martial. I'm not saying, "Don't read the book!" It's a strong book worth reading. I am saying that it doesn't provide what people currently in Camilo's situation are necessarily looking for.

Jess: And maybe when Kevin and Monica Benderman's book is published, we'll get more on that.

Elaine: I would guess we would.

Dona: As I'm following along in my head, it appears to me that Mike, Betty, Ava and C.I. have said the least and Ava and C.I. have used a lot of time to clarify something. So I think it would be good to turn it over to them.

Jim: As we wrap up? Yes. Okay, Mike why don't you grab first.

Mike: I think we've given some really strong examples of the book. I'm not sure whether to toss out something new or just back up a point. So I'll do sort of both. While he's in Iraq and while he's underground, he misses his daughter Samantha. So why do we get this in the editor's note. I know we're hurrying, I'm looking it up quickly.

C.I.: Page 302.

Mike: Yes, thank you. "According to Mejia, the worst moment he experienced in his almost nine months in jail was the one time his daughter, Samantha, came to visit him. Seeing her and then watching her leave without him at the end of the visit made him feel like a real prisoner, like something essential in his life had been taken away." That's an editor's note?

Betty: Yeah. I hadn't thought about the point Rebecca raised early on in the discussion until she raised it. It flew over my head and I didn't notice it -- a sign of how involving the book is -- but I agree with Mike, that's not an editor's note, that's something the author needs to tell. It's too important to be put in an editor's note. That needs to be in the text, not in a note. That's not to insult the book that is written. It's a great book and we all enjoyed it. But that point, better than anything else, underscores Rebecca's point. Now, personally, I would have enjoyed a bit more on the underground days but I'm assuming we can only know so much about those because the network still exists and Camilo's being tight lipped there so that others may benefit. But while I can think about that and understand why more isn't shared, something like "one of the worst days" really is something that we should be hearing about from Camilo himself, not from an editor's note.

Ava: I agree completely with Betty, Rebecca, Mike and Kat on this point. But at 300 pages, I'm not sure what you do? Do you go on for fifty more pages? A hundred? I would have been all for it. It was a page turner. I could have kept reading for many more pages. But I think 300 was considered the maximum limit and I'm wondering what would have been cut out to provide the space for what's missing?

C.I.: Which is a good point. And though Ava stopped, I think actually she wants to add something.

Ava: I do. Um. I think it's obvious that this was most likely an editorial decision. And I think it was the wrong one.

C.I.: The way it ends, Camilo has been sentenced and is being taken away and someone may have seen that as cinematic but that's not the end of the story. Mejia has taken part in speaking out and in rallies and demonstrations, not to mention the march that he and other Latinos devised in March of last year: Peregrinacion por la Paz, the March for Peace. Those are important elements of the story and they should have been included. To give the editor the benefit of the doubt, if Camilo Mejia wasn't able to write about such things, the answer is for a Q&A chapter where these and other topics are addressed quickly, briefly and in the author's own words. Lastly, Also on Monday, you can hear Camilo Mejia in his own words, and war resisters Pablo Paredes, Michael Wong and Jeff Paterson on's Questioning War-Organizing Resistance this Monday from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm PST.

Jim: So to sum up, everyone recommends the book. You will find it hard to put down. Like many good books which hold your attention, you will be disappointed when it ends and you may also feel that it ends without dealing with some of the issues that begin with imprisonment.

So you wanna be a war resister

Just grab your guitar and learn how to play?

It's not that easy.

We're not talking about the decision, that's something you have to make yourself.

We are talking about the realities if you go public.

Let's say you've self-checked out and are now thinking of going public.

You can issue a statement or sit for an interview while you're underground. In the just released Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia, Camilo Mejia writes of doing just that. But let's say you're caught or you turn yourself in.

Caught? If you've missed it, the US military is actively pursuing war resisters. They're not even respecting international law or national boundaries.

If that happens, are you prepared?

You need at least one family member. Ideally, more than that.

But you need at least one family member. While you may or may not speak to the press after turning yourself in or being arrested, if you are convicted during a court-martial, you're going to fall off the radar if it's just you. Monica Benderman kept focus on her husband Kevin Benderman when he was imprisoned. It's equally true that Ehren Watada has had both parents and a step-mother to speak out for him.

The more you have who will speak out on your behalf the better. The military wants you to be a passing fad. They want war resisters to fade. They want people to believe that if you are court-martialed, you are forgotten. So the more people you have who are able to speak on your behalf the better.

One of the first things you'll be asked/told is not to speak to anyone on the base while you're awaiting your court-martial and not to speak to the press. If you think you're getting a good deal, go for it. But the reality is that they don't want attention on this topic.

They want you to be faceless and silent. They're not overly concerned about you as an individual. Once your in custody, they're pretty sure they can convict you in a military court. What they are concerned about is your speaking out.

Suzanne Swift was promoted as a war resister by some before she was one. Sara Rich has written of her daughter's awakening. But what we're concerned with here is Swift's case and the way it was handled. She was screwed over and jerked around by the military. We think that's largely due to bad advice. Including the early promotion of her as a war resister which confused the issues at the heart of her case (she was sexually harassed and abused, while serving, by males of higher rank). We are not criticizing her mother who has fought like 10, at least ten, parents and has kept Swift's issue alive. But we think she had lousy legal advice.

We wonder how, when your complaints of abuse are documented, that you end up being the one punished? We think it was a mistake for her to ever lay low after her case became public. We also question the gag order placed on her by the military. How do you tell a victim they can't speak of their assault? We think there are enough issues involved in that, and enough awareness outside the military, that the gag order could be challenged. We also think Swift speaking would get the military talking about her departure faster than anything else.

So we think if you agree to be silent, are advised to be silent or, as Swift was, are ordered to be silent, you seriously consider other options. They don't want you talking. Whether you do or not, the threat that you may is sometimes all that you have to bargain with after you're in their custody.

You're also not responsible for what those speaking for you say. In fact, they should be encouraged to say even more than you would because they can't be prosecuted for their speech.

Anita Anderson scared the hell out of the military because she made it very clear that she would be outside the gates protesting what they did to her son, Darrell Anderson. With the public turning against the war, the military doesn't want to risk creating another Cindy Sheehan.

They could, and did, ignore the family members when the war was more popular and pre-Cindy Sheehan. They have no response to a pissed off, angry mother.

They can't censor her speech. They can't respond to her remarks without looking like jerks and risking a backlash. And they fear that every time she speaks, another mother of an enlisted is going to be nodding in agreement.

If you don't have that kind of support group, we're not suggesting you don't turn yourself in if you're considering that. We're not suggesting that if you're caught, you're screwed. But five weeks ago we were asked to sketch out the ideal for a war resister who was considering turning himself in. What would he need? How would he get attention? Should he get attention?

If you've got some established relationship with someone in the military who's telling you to turn yourself in and guaranteeing they'll go easy on you, go for it if you trust you're being told the truth. But remember, Kyle Snyder had an agreement with the military, turned himself in, and the second his attorney left, the military immediately began shredding the agreement and attempting to ship him over to Iraq.

We're also not saying that friends can't be very effective spokespersons. But it's a lot of work and a casual friend's not going to hold up. It's requires too much work and too much energy. Carolyn Ho has truly put her own life on hold to speak out for her son (Ehren Watada).

The other big question we were asked was what about the press? What about them?

You can count on the AP for the most part. Not to tell your story as you tell it. Not to necessarily be fair. But they are the most dependable of the mainstream in following this issue.

Where ever you are in the United States, you can count on Flashpoints Radio and Democracy Now! to show interest. Otherwise? If you can hold a press conference in NYC or California (LA or San Francisco), you can get some attention. It's also true that if you can find some backdrop that will play Norman Rockwell-esque you can count on some local and state press that may be amplified by the national press.

What you don't need to do is hold back when you're speaking to the press. If you do that, and most not familiar with the press will naturally do so, when you are more comfortable talking to them and begin sharing more, it will be seen as, "Oh, they just invented that! They never mentioned it before!"

The other most asked question is about what it's like, if you're convicted, after your behind bars? We can't answer that.

Someone who could is Mark Wilkerson. Unless his sentence gets shortened, he's confined until September. From "Send Mark Letters of Support:"

Mark is currently serving 7 months confinement at Fort Sill, OK. He is in high spirits and hopes to post an update to the blog shortly. Please send him your letters of support:
Mark Wilkerson

c/o Sarah Wilkerson
PO Box 25037
Colorado Springs, CO 80936

If you're a war resister, you know or suspect that his mail is read. Translation, do not write, "Mark, I'm in the same situation you were in . . ." because that return address is going to be used to track you down.

That is probably the biggest question, what is that like?

We can't tell anyone to turn themselves in and we can't tell anyone to self-check out. There's no fear of being prosecuted over that. That's not happened (and didn't during Vietnam). But there is the reality that both are life altering decisions. Only you can make either/both decision/s because you are the one who will have to live with it/them. But if you're wondering what the ideal situation is, that's what is. You're up against an army and you'll need your own army of support.

The Nation Stats


The Nation may need to rename itself The Men's Nation. This despite having a woman holding the post of editor and publisher (Katrina vanden Heuvel pictured above as she enters the room for a staff meeting).

May 14, 2007 issue. Another special issue. On Iraq? Don't make us laugh! It's Cuba.

Editorials & Comment

"Changing Course on Cuba" -- unsigned

Bruce Shapiro's "Virg. Tech: Only Connect"

Richard Kim's "One of My Own" (another Virginia Tech feature)

Andre Schiffrin's "Sarko vs. Sego in France"

"Nation Notes" -- kind of a mini-Talk of the Town feature

5 pieces

Score: O females, 3 males


Calvin Trillin's "A Bring-the-Troops-Home Rally in Baghdad"

Alexander Cockburn's "Is Global Warming a Sin?"
Katha Pollitt's "Regerts Only"

Naomi Klein's "Sacrificial Wolfie"

4 pieces

Score: 2 females, 2 males


Julia E. Sweig's "A New Stance Toward Havan" -- hey, do you read Extra!? We do. In the March/April 2007 issue, Michael Dolny contributes "Think Tank Sources Fall, but Left Gains Slightly" on pages 24 & 25. Guess what the second most quoted think tank in the mainstream media is? The Council on Foreign Relations. Right behind the centrist Brookings Institute. (CoFR is centrist.) The first non-right wing, non-centrist think tank to make the top 25 is Economic Policy Institute (at number 10). Note that these are Extra!'s i.d.s for the orgs. We agree, but that darn mainstream media. Pushing that Council on Foreign Relation. Thank goodness we have an independent media that doesn't promote centrist organizations, one that is free of organizations like CoFR. What's that you say? Yes, Sweig is a part of CoFR. Want another shocker? When the left is promoting centrists organizations, what chance do left think tanks have of being cited in the mainstream?

"The Changing of the Guard" roundtable featuring Peter Kornbluh, Alberto Coll, Saul Landau, William LeoGrande, Philip Peters and Ramon Sanchez-Parodi

Peter Kornbluh's "Terror and the Counterterrorists"

Max J. Castro's "Miami Vise"

Gore Vidal's "Ferdinand VII"

John Dinges' "Watching the Reporters"

Rosa Miriam Elizalde's "A Dangerous Little Beehive?"

7 pieces

Score: 2 females, 10 males


David Yaffe's "The Art of the Improviser"

Tara Gallagher's "The Beautiful Things . . ."

William Deresiewicz's "Cafe Society"

3 pieces

Score: 1 female, 2 males

Total score: 5 women, 17 men

Year to date score: 47 women, 191 men.

May 21, 2007 issue, another theme issue. Iraq? Stop, you're making us laugh so hard we'll have an accident in our pants. It's education.

Editorials & Comment

"Showdown on the War" -- unsigned

David Corn's "George Tenet's Evasions"

Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Yeltsin's (Real) Legacy"

Jon Wiener's "The Chutzpah Industry"

Air Melber's "Dems Tangled in the Netroots" -- someone thought it was a cute title, we'd argue that forget roots, someone's ass is showing (and not one worth looking at)

Lynn Randolph's "Scenes from Hell (art)"

6 pieces

Score: 2 women, 3 men


Calvin Trillins's "Another exasperating Account . . ."

Eric Alterman's "The Post-Imus Conundrum" -- where AlterPunk promotes a false correlation between rappers and Don Imus and flaunts his stupidity in otherways as well. Apparently research for AlterPunky Brewster meant watching a few episodes of MTV Cribs. New artists in any genre, do not reap in a windfall from a huge album. Not only that, but AlterPunky writes as though he's not even aware of what a high royalty rate on sales would be. He accepts the myth that there are millionaires, those rappers. Just like the Doo Wop groups, just like the stars of the 50s and 60s. He saw people living above their means on MTV cribs and has never heard what awaits. We'd recommend he call MC Hammer, but Alterpunky would probably be more comfortable speaking to Vanilla Ice. Pure fiction from the world's most detached mind.

2 pieces

Score: 2 men, 0 women


Linda Darling-Hammond's "Evaluating 'No Child Left Behind'"

Pedro Noguera, Velma L. Cobb, Deborah Meier's "Responses"

Thomas Pally's "The Flaws in Rubinomics"

Christopher Hayes' "Look Who's Taxing"

4 pieces

Score: 3 women, 3 men


Roberto Gonzales Echevarria's "Eshleman . . ."

Graham Foust's "Poem Windy and Continued (poem)"

Russell Jacoby's "Barber . . ."

"Discovery/ The Nation '07 Prizewinners"

3 pieces

Score: 3 men

Total score: 5 women, 11 men

Year to date score: 52 women, 202 men

May 28, 2007 issue. And there's another theme. We know none of you said: "Iraq!" The theme this time is thick tomes reviewed in such a way that you'll never want to pick them up. By comparsion, this issue makes The New York Review of Books look like Sassy. Stuffed shirts across the nation will be thrilled.

Editorials & Comments

"Morality Gets a Massage"

Patricia J. Williams' "Invisible America" -- Professor and chef Patricia J. Williams cooking up more disasters. Here she's suddenly concerned with those who cannot see racism and yet, strangely, her usual object of drool festing is Obama. Patricia, Gina wishes you'd make the time to meet Margaret Kimberley. Barring that, why don't you read Kimberley's "Should We Want a Black President?" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report) but, warning, afterwards you may feel the need to take your Obama posters down from the walls.

The Pooper's "Laboring for Edwards"

Andre Schiffrin's "France A Droite"

Calvin Trillin's "Studs Terkel, Listner"

"MacArthur Park"

6 pieces

Score: 1 woman, 3 men


Calvin Trillin's "Three Out of Ten . . ."

Alexander Cockburn's "Who Are the Merchants of Fear?"

Katha Pollitt's "'Democracy' Is Hell" -- Pollitt weighs in on Iraq -0- so we'll be kind.

3 pieces

Score: 1 woman, 2 men


Michael Anderson on Ralph Ellison

John Lenoard on DeLillo

Rachel Cohen on Brown v. Board

Daniel Lazare on books about the Lord Jesus (Praise Be!)

Brenda Wineapple on Edith Wharton

Fatin Abbas on 3 books

William Deresiewicz on 2 books

James Miller on Debray

Gene Seymour on Dick

Michael Wood on Murakami

10 pieces

Score: 3 women, 7 men

Year to date score: 57 women, 214 men

June 4, 2007 issue. No theme (other than the non-stop election coverage).

Editorials & Comment

"Dems Sell Out on Trade" -- on this they can get outraged. On Congress selling on Iraq, they go wobbly.

Micki McGee's "The Secret's Success" -- cutesy but it helps KvH say, "I am publishing women!" Very important now that more and more people are pointing out the very disturbing pattern.

Robert L. Borosage and Katrina vanden Heuvel's "New Energy for America" -- of course, self-publishing has helped increase the numbers for women in the magazine.

Vijay Prashad's "The Third World Idea"

4 pieces

Score: 2 women, 2 men


Calvin Trillin's "Exit Tony Blair"

AlterPunk's makes like Joan Rivers and offers "Can We Talk?" We eagerly await his accessory line which may include gold plated safety pins for diapers and a chrome pacifier.

Gary Younge's "Labour Crowns King Brown"

3 pieces

Score: 3 men


Ari Berman's "Hillary Inc."

Spencer Ackerman's "Training Iraq's Death Squads"

Jehangir S. Pocha's "The Last 'Competative Advantage': Letter From China"

3 pieces

Score: 3 men


Richard J. Evans' "Why It Happened the Way It Did"

Colin Flemin on Russian literature

Arthur C. Danto's "Cinema Studies"

Adrienne Rich's poem "Even Then Maybe"

4 pieces

Score: 3 men, 1 woman

Year to date score: 60 women, 225 men

That raises women's profile. Now the way it works is that 3.75 men are published for every 1 woman. Of course the number of pieces with female bylines would have to increase as well. Currently women are 165 bylines behind men and we're not even to the half-way mark of the year. An accomplishment if ever there was one!

Yo George

Yo George

Is this just the Madness of King George

Yo George

Well you have the whole Nation

on all fours

-- "Yo George," written by Tori Amos

Kat's latest review is "Tori wades in" -- Tori Amos' American Doll Posse. Tori's a favorite of ours and we love this CD. Think about "Yo George" this week and wonder what it will take for Congress to stand up to him. Pick up Tori's CD, it's wonderful.

Vote Vets says, "Whatever Kagan said!"


Vote Vet's Paul Eaton, former general, is a wonderful speaker . . . for the War Hawks. Appearing opposite the pugnacious Fred Kagan on CBS' Face the Nation today -- Kagan who made one outlandish claim after another regarding the success of the escalation -- the best Eaton could offer? Kagan may be right. He hasn't been to Iraq in sometime and apparently not following the news.

We're not keen on Vote Vets to begin with. Wesley Clark thinks it's okay to bomb TV stations. Bob Kerry desperately wants everyone to forget his admitted War Crimes. Paul Hackett had his mini-vigilante episode where he chased down and aimed a gun at some kids who'd damaged his fence.

So Vote Vets has enough problems on their own before Eaton ever opened his mouth on Face the Nation today. But we have to wonder about the mindset of someone invited on a chat & chew who has done no prep. We also have to wonder how anyone could no so little about the realities of Iraq which have even been reported in the mainstream.

Kagan offered the 'good news' that possibly US troops could begin a drawdown (not a withdrawal) in the fall of 2008. Eaton stared ahead.

If he has trouble retaining information over long periods of time, he could have simply pointed to Kirk Semple's article "Gunmane in Iraqi Army Uniforms Kill 15 in Eastern Village" in this morning's New York Times (A10) which notes:

In recent weeks, the Green Zone has suffered near-daily barrages of mortars and rockets, some from pre-dominatly Shiite neighborhoods to the east. The attacks have threatened the zone's status as the safest place in Iraq. Many officials working in the enclave have begun wearing body armor outside their offices.

In fairness, the hour was early. Maybe Eaton wasn't fully awake due to not having had the time yet to do his Yoga Booty Ballet workout?


So what's going on this week for the politically minded? Quite a bit actually.

TV viewers with cable or satellite might want to tune in

Tuesday, May 22nd
9:30 pm e/p
Forest For The Trees (U.S. Television Premiere) -- Directed by Bernadine Mellis. Mellis follows her father, civil rights lawyer Dennis Cunningham, as he goes to federal court in 2002 on behalf of his client, the late environmental activist Judi Bari.
A leader of EarthFirst!, Bari was injured in a car bombing as she prepared for 1990's "Redwood Summer," a peaceful action protesting the logging of old-growth redwoods in Northern California.
Arrested for the crime but never charged, Bari believed she was targeted in order to discredit her organization and sued the FBI and the Oakland Police. A suspenseful chronicle of an important trial, Forest for the Trees is also a profile of a dynamic and funny woman, who earned the respect of loggers as well as environmentalists.

An important topic, an important documentary. One of the reasons why Sundance is a needed channel is because you won't see PBS touching anything like this in the current climate.

To listen to? Mark your calendars, this airs tomorrow:

Monday, airs Questioning War-Organizing Resistance from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm PST and will address the issue of war resistance with guests including Pablo Paredes, Michael Wong, Jeff Paterson and Camilo Mejia. More information can be found in Carol Brouillet's "Questioning War- Organizing Resistance- War Resisters Radio Show" (Indybay IMC).

If you're able to stream online, this is something you won't want to miss.

But what to do, what to do?????

Plenty and we'll note this from the Green Party of Suffolk (we noted a partial of this last week):

The Green Party of Suffolk is holding a "Summer in Setauket--Green Fundraising Party" on Friday, June 22nd at the scenic Setauket Neighborhood House.
The evening's events will include: A Silent Art Auction; display of youth and adult poster contest entries; music by "Blacklisted and the Banned"; and a vegetarian/vegan potluck dinner.
This event was originally scheduled for St. Patrick's day, and was snowed out. We are excited to hold it in June, when guests may enjoy the porch at the Setauket Neighborhood House.
For information and directions, see details below, or go to:
Pictures and videos of some of the art to be auctioned can be found at: Pieces include:
A steel sculpture of a peace sign by the artist, Portugie. It is made from rolled steel and is about 12 inches in diameter. Portugie, aka John Phillips, is a Babylon sculptor, musician, and public access producer.
"Jardin du Luxembourg" by Peter Josyph. Media: acrylic, oil, and wax-oil crayon on handmade French paper. Artist notes: "I chose a nice abstract (one of a few post-9/11 works) that happens to be on the best paper made in the world: extremely heavy handmade paper from a mill somewhere in France, paper I've only seen in Paris and have had to carry back with me. Its also of a series that enables me to double-sign it: once vertically, once horizontally: very user-friendly for accommodating wallspace!"
A painting, "Escaping the Fire", by Amityville poet/painter Lois V. Walker. The painting is acrylic and multimedia, and measures 15x21. More works by Lois V. Walker can be found at
A birch weaving by Manorville naturalist/puppeteer/ farmer/artist Tom Stock. It is mounted on a curved piece of wood. The weaving is made from Adirondack Birch Bark that naturally peels off the trees. It measures 8 x 14.
A pastel by Huntington artist/musician Gary Ivan. The piece measures 8 x 11.
Four pieces donated by Ron Thomson for the Silent Art Auction. More works by Ron Thomson can be found at
A photograph, "End of the Road", by Long Island photographer Robert A. Kelly. The Photograph is 10 x 10. More works by Robert A. Kelly at
A photograph, "Shep Jones Lane", by Robert A. Kelly. The Photograph is 10 x 10.
The Silent Auction will also include a number of autographed books, some of them by the artists whose art is also represented. Amityville scholar/poet
Pat Falk has also donated a signed copy of her most recent book It Happens As We Speak:A Feminist Poetics and a book of her poetry.

"Summer in Setauket--Green Fundraising Party" Information and Directions:
The Green Party of Suffolk will be holding a "Summer in Setauket--Green Fundraising Party" on Friday, June 22 from 7pm to 10pm at the Setauket Neighborhood House, 95 Main Street, Setauket. (Main Street is north of 25A and 6/10th of a mile west of Nichols Road)
The evening will include a performance by the music group "Blacklisted and the Banned." There will also be a potluck dinner, a silent art auction, and a display of entries from the "Bring Home Our Troops" poster contest.
Vegetarian and vegan dishes will be served. Admission is $15 (with a dish) and $20 (without a dish). Children are welcome. There will be a Silent Art Auction of work by local artists.
Blacklisted & The Banned will perform their unique style of original, political music. Blacklisted features local musicians Sonny Meadows, Bob Westcott, Jon Foreman, Bob Campbell and Robert Langley. The Banned has a new CD out: "I Never Thought I'd Miss Richard Nixon." You can purchase the CD at

The Green Party is an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans. The Green Party's values can be described by the four pillars of: Nonviolence; Grassroots Democracy; Ecological Wisdom; and Social and Economic Justice.
Donations and/or requests for advance tickets can be sent to: Green Party of Suffolk, 14 Robin Drive, Huntington, NY 11743. Please note that political donations are not tax-deductible. For more information call Roger at (631) 351-5763 or go to
Green Party of Suffolk:
Information on Blacklisted and the Banned:
Setuaket Neighborhood House:

Information on poet, Pat Falk:

You say, "Sounds cool but it's not in my area." Well here's something that will be going to four cities:

Don't miss award-winning journalist and film-maker John Pilger ( on tour this June. He will be making appearances in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago.
John Pilger is one of the world's pre-eminent investigative journalists and documentary film-makers. His best-selling books of reportage have in the words of Noam Chomsky "been a beacon of light in often dark times."
Full details below.
Pilger will discuss his new book, Freedom Next Time (Nation Books), with Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! They will consider Iraq, Palestine, India, South Africa, and the island of Diego Garcia, where the long struggle for freedom has taken place, but the people are still waiting for its dream to be realized.
ThursdayJune 77 PM
Doors open 6:15 PMThe New School
Tishman Auditorium66 West 12th Street$5 admission; free for students with IDA book signing of Freedom Next Time by Pilger and Static by Goodman will follow the event.
Presented by The New School, the Center for Economic Research and Social Change, and The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund.For ticket information, contact (212) 229-5488 or
For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or
For more information, visit or e-mail
Pilger will discuss his new book, Freedom Next Time (Nation Books) and show his film Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror. This film, set in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Washington, looks at President Bush's "war on terror" and the "liberation" of countries where bloodshed and repression continue.
MondayJune 117 PM
Doors open 6:00 PM
Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (
The JACCC is located at: 244 S. San Pedro Street (between 2nd and 3rd Streets) in the historic Little Tokyo district of downtown Los Angeles, just blocks away from the Los Angeles Music Center and the new Disney Hall. Followed by audience dialogue and a book signing.
$5 admissionA book signing of Freedom Next Time and other books by John Pilger will follow the event.
Directions, maps, and parking info at:
Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, and The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund.For ticket information, call or visit the JACCC. Box office: 213-680-3700 (Box Office Hours: Monday - Saturday: Noon - 5 pm)
For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or
For more information, email
Pilger will discuss his new book, Freedom Next Time (Nation Books) and show his film Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror. This film, set in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Washington, looks at President Bush's "war on terror" and the "liberation" of countries where bloodshed and repression continue. Followed by audience dialogue and a book signing.
WednesdayJune 137 PM
Doors open 6:00 PMYerba Buena Center for the Arts (
701 Mission Street at Third$15 general, $5 students
A book signing of Freedom Next Time and other books by John Pilger will follow the event.
Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, and KPFA, with support from the Wallace Global Fund.
For ticket information, call 415-978-2787 or order online at In person tickets at YBCA Box office located inside the Galleries and Forum Building, 701 Mission Street at Third. (Hours: Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun: noon - 5 pm; Thu: noon - 8 pm.)
For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or
For more information, email
In his morning session, Pilger will discuss his new book, Freedom Next Time (Nation Books) and also engage in a conversation with Anthony Arnove, author of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal. Followed by audience dialogue and a book signing.In his evening session, Pilger will speak at a rally with other prominent international activists fighting for justice.
SaturdayJune 16two appearances at the Socialism 2007 conference (
11:30 AM (followed by book signing) and 7:30 PM
Chicago Crowne Plaza O'Hare5440 North River Road, Rosemont, IL 60018
Regular registration - whole conference: $85
Weekend Rate - Saturday and Sunday only: $70Single day: $35
Single session: $10
Presented by The Center for Economic Research and Social Change, The Nation Institute, with support from the Wallace Global Fund. Co-sponsors: Obrera Socialista, Socialist Worker, International Socialist Review, and Haymarket Books.
For ticket information, call 773-583-8665 or e-mail
For media inquiries, contact (212) 209-5407 or
For more information, email
*About the book: "This highly informed, thoughtful and passionate work is an important a thread in the world's growing tapestry of political counter-narratives as those of Dee Brown or Howard Zinn."--Publishers Weekly (STARRED review)
"Pilger draws on meticulous research and interviews to uncover the human cost of the skullduggery of the imperial powers in Diego Garcia as well as Afghanistan, Iraq, South Africa, and Palestine as the U.S. and Britain have heartlessly put their interests ahead of those citizens of weaker nations." --Booklist
"Freedom Next Time allows us to hear the personal testimonies of those challenging power. The array of interviews with the voiceless and abused provides an indispensable corrective to the litany of disinformation we are fed by the media, and for this achievement Pilger is surely the most outstanding journalist in the world today.--The Guardian (UK)
Freedom Next Time: Resisting the Empire is award-winning journalist John Pilger's vital examination of five countries' struggle toward freedom. When Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990, elation swept South Africa as its people finally dared to dream that a different world was possible. But as John Pilger movingly describes, true freedom remains a dream deferred.
In Freedom Next Time Pilger examines five counties -- South Africa, India, Palestine, Afghanistan and the forgotten Chagos Islands -- to reveal populations for whom the promise of true democracy remains elusive. His vivid eyewitness reporting and incisive interviews expose the lies of our rulers, turning a piercing searchlight onto events that would otherwise be consigned to the shadows by an unrecognized, yet virulent censorship.With his signature compassion and keen eye for detail, Pilger gives his reader a close study of the realities of these war-torn nations. In one of the most revealing chapters, Pilger offers one of the few journalistic studies of Britain's forced depopulation of the Chagos islands in the 1960s and 1970s. He describes a document drawn up by British planners in 1968, titled "maintaining the fiction," that argued that the islanders were not permanent inhabitants. When Pilger asks Olivier Bancoult, the Chagossians' leader in exile, "What upsets you most?" He replies, "the lie that we didn't exist." Today the island remains a U.S. military base, to which the Chagossians have been unable to return, despite a grant from the High Court.
In Freedom Next Time Pilger gives voice to those who would otherwise remain silent, and in so doing salutes those who refuse to be defined as victims.
For more information, visit:
John Pilger is a world-renowned journalist, author, and documentary filmmaker who began his career in 1958 in his homeland, Australia, before moving to London in the 1960s. He has been a foreign correspondent and a front-line war reporter throughout his career, and currently writes for the New Statesman, The Guardian, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times, among others. He has twice won British journalism's highest award, Journalist of the Year, for his work all over the world, notably in Cambodia and Vietnam. He has been International Reporter of the Year and winner of the United Nations Association Peace Prize and Gold Medal. For his broadcasting, he has won France's Reporter Sans Frontieres, an American television Academy Award, an Emmy, and the Richard Dimbleby Award, given by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. He has made 57 documentary films, most of them shown on ITV network television in the UK and around the world. In 2003, he received the prestigious Sophie Prize for "thirty years of exposing deception and furthering human rights." He holds numerous honorary degrees from British, Scottish and Irish universities. He is a Frank H.T. Rhodes Visiting Professor at Cornell University, New York. He is the author of many books including The New Rulers of the World.
Freedom Next Time: Resisting the Empire
by John PilgerNation Books / June 5, 2007
ISBN 1-56858-326-5 / 376 pp./ $16.95 / trade paperback
*For more information, visit


This is written by -- and all highlights selected by unless otherwise noted -- Wally, Betty, Rebecca, Cedric, Elaine and Mike.

"Popcorn and Queso in the Kitchen" -- Trina's latest addresses Kucinich and graduations.

"The Janet Jackson-ing of Thomas Friedman" -- Get ready, the War Paint Council is meeting again. Our hearts go out to Betinna.

"Tori wades in" -- Kat promised she'd review Tori Amos' American Doll Posse and it went up today. It would have gone up a few hours sooner but Flickr problems prevented that. Check it out and Mike's favorite track on the CD is "Secret Spell."

"Ruth Reports" -- Pacifica's in fundraising mode. That doesn't give Ruth a great deal to address. So since there were e-mails about the pledge drive, Ruth decided to tackle that topic.

"NYT: Paper that couldn't name Abeer wants to talk 'hidden casualties'" -- In a hard hitting week for C.I. who would have thought Saturday would top it all? Mike's mother (Trina) didn't think things could get more hard hitting than an entry on Thursday. She wanted that highlighted (and it will be) but she agreed, Saturday was the hardest hitting.

"And the war drags on . . ." -- this was Treva's pick. C.I. addressing the issue of a military's commander's opinion that American lack will.

"THIS JUST IN! FAILURE PAYS PRETTY DAMN WELL!" and "Things just get more rotten at the VA" -- Wally and Cedric hit hard on the bonuses given out (with your tax payer dollars) to underserving and underperforming administrators.

"Antonia Zerbisias, Patrick Cockburn" -- one of our favorite posts by Elaine this week. (She refused to let us link to our favorite. She'll explain why on Monday at her site.)

"Kevin Zeese, Third Estate Sunday Review" -- Jim's pick for Mike's best post. He also said Mike did a much better job in this than he (Jim) did in last week's "A Note To Our Readers." (Mike notes that he hadn't been up for over 24 hours straight before writing his post.)

"In the Company of Men" and "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY SEEKS (MALE) PLAYMATE" -- Cedric and Wally explain what's up with the Bully Boy.

"democracy now, free speech radio news" -- Rebecca returns to posting with a wide ranging post.

"The Alberto Gonzales Show" -- Betty filling in for Rebecca gives the break down on the latest Gonzales news.

"Guest post by Mike" -- Mike discusses Cedric and the paper of little-to-no record's lousy performance.

"Ron Jacobs & more (Betty filling in for Rebecca)" -- Betty shares a personal story (with a friend's permission).

"Did you hear the news today? Oh boy" -- Betty updating you on Gonzales. Now what's up with Rebecca. She says she'll be posting more this week unless something comes up and Betty says she's agreed to post ("even at the last minute!") any time she's needed. Jim and Mike are also willing to post (as is C.I. but C.I.'s already doing enough).

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Exit the Poodle" -- we left this out last week by mistake. Our apologies to Isaiah.
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