Sunday, July 22, 2007

Truest statement of the week

The left can get serious or they can play stupid and let the war drag on. In a democracy, every one who wants to run for an office can. That's Ralph Nader, that's Cindy Sheehan, that's even a wack job like JBS. No candidate is 'entitled' to a vote. They earn it. Some on the left, who would actually be voting in a Sheehan and Pelosi match up, may not feel Sheehan's their choice. That's their right. That's their power. But for someone who won't even be voting in the race to tell a potential candidate that they shouldn't run isn't democracy.
It is cowardice. It is duplicity. It is shameful. It is in no way sisterhood. It is absolutely undemocratic.

-- C.I. on the efforts to launch a "Cindy, Don't Run!" campaign, "And the war drags on . . ."

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --

Sunday, Sunday. Our heads are killing us.

First, credit where it is due. The writing on this edition is by:

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 them. We thank Dallas for links and being a soundboard. We thank Betty's oldest son for coming up with the idea for the only new illustration we used. (It did mean running to the grocery store at midnight, but we still thank him!) Other illustrations made it into the print edition. Flickr would not take them and we're not in the mood to play around with it this morning. We especially thank Ty's boyfriend who called while we were at the airport and asked, "Do you know you don't have anything up?" He'd already distributed our print edition (at our old campus). We gave him the password and told him he could post. What? The first two things that went up. (We weren't sure about the order.)

So let's note that it was great that everyone could be together this past week and the week before. It was a lot of fun. Some left early this morning and we weren't going to be rude and say, "Bye, see ya." So the plan is to see everyone off at the airport.

Delays, delays. C.I. delayed The Common Ills yesterday morning to make breakfast for all of us (wonderful breakfast) guessing that Sunday morning would be too hectic for us to enjoy a final breakfast (it was). But it was so much fun seeing everyone. And we need to do it again real soon and not wait for a rally or next summer.

Betty's oldest son and her daughter, by the way, do the illustration in the print edition that goes with this week's editorial. The drawing is by Betty's son, the "spots" are from her daughter.
If we're forgetting something, remind us. (We're noting Betty's son's illustrations because of the fact that last time he helped out, he told his friends and expected that we would have noted his help in the note. We rushed it and forgot it that week. That led to some of his friends doubting him. We don't want that to ever happen again. If you're reading this and you're his friend, he worked his butt off on this edition and anything he says he did, he did. Even if we forgot to mention it.)

So, onliners, what do you have this week?

Truest statement of the week -- our pick because of Cindy Sheehan. We didn't have time for a piece on Sheehan herself this week (and we're waiting to see if she decides to run) but we did want to be on record opposed to the attacks on her for considering running and C.I. said it best last week.

Editorial: Stop the Current Illegal War before the next one begins -- 2004 saw the peace movement co-opted by a presidential election. If it happens again, we'll call it out. IVAW, Tina Richards and Cindy Sheehan are taking and making the case to the people. More need to be doing so. Funding the war is killing American troops.

TV: Losers & Fools -- The epic . . . in a bottle? Sorry, I've got the Police on the brain. ("I" is Jim.) This is the promised return to hard hitting TV commentaries by C.I. and Ava (who wrote this piece and write all the TV commentaries themselves -- all other pieces were a group effort except Highlights). When they took the look at PBS, the attention freaked them out and they were lowering the profile. Dona explained that in the gina & krista round-robin back in May. She explained this date would be the return. She explained this would be the show. Now, of course, two Sundays ago, they ended up returning to epic. That wasn't planned (as explained that edition). Even so, I had my doubts. Partly because I know they know several working on this show. But they said, "It will be hard hitting." I shouldn't have doubted them. It is hard hitting. It's amazing. If there's any fault or weakness, it's in the title I added to their commentary. We needed to finish the print edition (so Ty's boyfriend could get it out) and I plugged that in thinking I'd have time to change it before it went up online. Time never emerged. Hopefully the title works. If not, it's the only weak thing about their commentary. I rank this as one of their all time finest.

Standing with the war resisters -- Print version is longer. Online version addresses several things and we think it makes the point. If you're going to support war resisters, do so publicly. If you can't, you're prolonging the war.

Iraq War Helper -- Betty's oldest son heard Mike and Wally talking about C.I.'s "Illegal War Helper" and said, shortly before midnight, "You should do a thing with the front of Hamburger Helper." Perfect. But C.I. doesn't eat beef. And there was no box in the house. Trip to the grocery store and, as Elaine can tell you, when everyone's tired, you don't go to the grocery store with C.I. (Rebecca and Elaine have a chips story from college about C.I. they've often told -- we believe blogged about too -- an hour on the chip aisle. Lost in the Supermarket, indeed.) Anyway, the piece works. (And in fairness, it was Mike and C.I. on this trip to the supermarket that knew they needed one thing but couldn't think what it was forever. It did provide Dona the time to realize that Betty Crocker's "warm" microwaveable desserts could produce the "war" for the illustration.)

Mailbag -- We planned to note more e-mails. Ended up with a mini-roundtable instead. Probably better that way. Three people did write that they had never had their topic or question noted in any forum here (in addition to the ones we were able to get to). We'll try to pick those three up next time.

Iraq reporting MSM style -- C.I. and Jess have tossed this idea around a couple of times. We've never nibbled before. This time, we got the point. Had we known the work required before writing it, we might have begged off because we thought this would be a quick, short feature.

Sweet Nepotism -- print version is longer. C.I. pulled some things (that were funny, even C.I. will say that, Rebecca and Elaine contributed those things). It's still funny. Unless you don't have a sense of humor. It's also true. And journalistically, there's nothing funny about repeatedly plugging a group you and your father are connected to without ever informing the readers of that. That's a journalistic no-no, in fact.

New York Times enlists in the clampdown -- We'd gone long on the Mailbag and on the MSM feature. Dona said, "I want a short feature and it better be short. Don't toss out an idea if we can do it quickly." We were hoping to finish early or finish most of it early enough so everyone could get some sleep before the first group had to catch their flights. Didn't happen. But this did end up a short feature.

Hightlights -- Mike, Wally, Cedric, Betty, Rebecca, Elaine and Kat (and Kat this time around) worked on this. We thank them for it. Dona and Ty suggested they include links in the writing credit and that should have been done all along. Our apologies for not realizing that before.

And? And that's it. We'll see you next week. Hope you found something here to make you laugh, make you think or make you angry. If you laughed, thought or frowned even once, we did our job.

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

Editorial: Stop the Current Illegal War before the next one begins

You, telling me the things you're gonna do for me.
I ain't blind and I don't like what I think I see.
Takin' it to the streets, takin' it to the streets,
no more need for runnin', takin' it to the streets.

-- "Takin' It to the Streets" (recorded by the Doobie Brothers, written by Michael McDonald)

While the Senate threw a slumber party with some Democratic members fighting for the Reed-Levin measure that would not Bring the Troops Home Now, while the administration tried to reset the clock on the escalation progress report, Tina Richards' Grassroots America and Iraq Veterans Against the War launched the campaign Funding the War is Killing the Troops.

A long with Cindy Sheehan, whose currently on a national tour to raise awareness (see Camp Casey Pease Institute for more details), they are takin' it to the streets.

The summer of 2006 was a summer of protest with fasts, war resisters going public and much more. Summer of 2007? Seems like everyone's focused on DC. (Sheehan, Richards and IVAW are not focused on DC.) Seems like everyone's humming, "If you're going to DC, wear some flowers in your hair . . ." What happened to getting the word out? What happened to protests around the country? What happened to inspiration?

Howard Zinn rightly noted, we are citizens not politicians. We're also not DC based lobbyists. The peace movement has made strides. Pham Binh (Dissident Voice) notes IVAW's membership is growing a strong sign of how much their work is appreciated. Meanwhile the latest CBS News-New York Times poll found that 74% of Americans say the illegal war is going badly and 61% of respondents said that any future funding of the illegal war should be tied to a timetable for withdrawal.

61%. An impressive number. A sign of how much the peace movement has achieved. For those who have forgotten, a few months back when the Dems in Congress were performing their May shell game, the Party Hacks were out in full force claiming that the weak measure in both houses (which funded the illegal war) was something great. The public has figured out better and that's why Congress' approval rating has plummeted. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I might as well vote for Obama." For the record, what is with the left's reluctance to note that "I was always against the illegal war" Obama was also always opposed to withdrawal? The Republicans have a video clip -- one of many -- that they've already begun circulating of Obama saying that.

(Note: We've gone back and forth over linking to the video since it's a GOP site. We've decided not to. If you need to see it, e-mail or you can find it yourself by searching "Obama's Double- Speak." The GOP handout promoting it notes: "But in 2004, Obama said that a quick withdrawal from Iraq would be 'a slap in the face' to the troops. And in 2006, he said that he did 'not believe that setting a date certain for the total withdrawal of U.S. troops [was] the best approach to achieving'." We would suggest to John Edwards that the next time Obama wants to claim he was right all along, Edwards toss those -- and other -- statements to Obama for clarification. When Elaine and C.I. met Obama in 2004, when he was still the "anti-war" candidate, he told them he did not support withdrawal which is among the many reasons they consider him a fake and a phony.)

DC actions, when applying pressure, are not to be underestimated; however, they are not to be overestimated either. And when DC actions are all you're doing, you're not doing enough. Add to that the fact that the 2008 elections will be held next year (but are already covered like they are next week) and DC based activism makes a lot of people leery due to the fact that the peace movement rolled over in 2004.

We're not rolling over and we call out those that do. It's one thing to support the campaigns of Mike Gravel or Dennis Kucinich who are calling for an end to the illegal war, no theft of Iraqi oil and no permanent bases in Iraq. It's another thing entirely for the peace movement to latch onto the least worse of two evils.

The results of that approach were perfectly clear in 2004. John Kerry tried to run to the right of the Bully Boy and in the immediate aftermath of the 2004 elections, we were told Iraq really wasn't an issue and there were other more important things to focus on, WalkOn,

Naomi Klein decried it as it was happening. Any organization fighting to end the illegal war (or pretending to) should be put on notice that the people will not put up with the same thing in 2008.

An individual can vote (or not vote) for whomever he or she chooses. That can be the lesser of two evils or someone they believe in. Each individual will have to make up their own minds on that. And the peace movement, as a movement, doesn't need to provide cover (again) for candidates who pledge "a smarter [illegal] war." The peace movement does not need to pick up the pieces after the election. There are new organizations now and those who try to do as they did in 2004 will quickly find themselves left on the sidelines.

The peace movement should be focused on ending the illegal war and that means applying pressure to any and all candidates. It does not mean free passes.

The real work is going on and has always gone on outside of DC. The mood of the people has shifted and the same CBS-New York Times poll that found 61% wanting any future funding to come with a timetable for withdrawal also found 8% of respondents saying no more funding period. That's something the peace movement should be focused on now, raising that 8% to an even higher number.

On Friday, White House flack Tony Snow held a press conference. What was his first item of business? "First," he said, " the President made some important remarks this morning in the Rose Garden, pointing out that Congress has an important obligation to step up and pass legislation to support our troops and their missions for the coming year." That's a lie and one US Senator Carl Levin is happy to repeat as well.

"Funding the war is killing the troops" is a very basic message. It's understandable, it's memorable and it needs to be focused on. IVAW and Tina Richards have come up with a great slogan that punctures the hot air balloon of the administration's. But for that message to get out to all, it's going to take more than just some DC lobbying.

The power is, and always is, with the people. On any given day, a dozen ridiculous excuses are offered as to why today isn't like Vietnam. There's the nonsense whine of the "we don't have a draft!" There's the crap about apathy. There's a lot of commentary being spoken by people who apparently forgot what they once lived through.

Reality is that the peace movement has accomplished more in a shorter period in terms of public opinion than was done in Vietnam. Reality is that the protests came alive when Nixon expanded the illegal war into Cambodia (the same will happen if Bully Boy declares war on Iran). Reality is that we're being told a lie. Now we've pretty much rejected (except for the 28% die hards) the lies that led us into an illegal war. But we're still buying one lie. We're buying the lie that Congress is going to do something. It was only Congress' repeated refusals to do anything, under LBJ and then under Nixon, that helped enrage the people. It wasn't just that a president wasn't listening, it was that a Congress wasn't listening. Repeatedly.

The Party Hacks are pushing the Slumber Party as proof that the Dems are "trying." (Trying our patience, yes. Anything else, no.) That happened then as well. And when the people waited and waited for some action to be taken to bring the troops out of Vietnam and no action was being taken, the people got active. It can be really tough for people to face the fact that both the White House and Congress would betray them. But that's what happened then and that's what's happening now.

Funding the war is killing the troops. As that message gets out more and more and sinks in, con games won't work, not even briefly. And as the disgust (already showing up as demonstrated in the polls) simmers and settles, the people will do what they always do, take control of their government and comfy, fat politicians in DC will realize they aren't the bosses, they are only the representatives.

Funding the war is killing the troops. Funding the war is killing Iraqis. Funding the war is continuing the war. Getting that message out to the people will end the illegal war. If the peace movement demonstrated as much faith in the people as they do in politicians, it would already be over.

TV: Losers & Fools

Sally Field walked away from TV in the 70s to become a film actress and went on to win two Oscars for Best Actress. In the fall of 2006, she returned to starring on TV with ABC's Brothers & Sisters and the main question is why she ever left?

Field, who just got a name recognition Emmy nomination as Best Actress in a TV series, is so hopelessly lost on screen that the (false) rumors are again flying that Ellen Burstyn dubbed her Gidget Goes Verona when she performed a scene from Shakespeare (The Winter's Tale) at the Actors Studio. Field is a genuinely talented actress. She's demonstrated that on ABC in only one scene (when she grabbed a broom and attempted to deal with an errant fire alarm). In that moment, when she treated the dialogue like throw away lines, she created an actual character. The rest of the time?

She's indicating. She's telegraphing "like me." Mainly she's so lost trying to find her character that if the camera didn't keep her in close up, most of the time the audiences wouldn't even notice her. Field's a survivor (infamous for telling Flying Nun co-star and on-set friend Alejandro Rey, shortly before that show ended, that if she never saw him again it really wouldn't bother her) who was always more infamous than famous. A myth has arisen that she was a TV star. Gidget lasted two seasons, The Flying Nun three. Translation, she wasn't a Candice Bergen or Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She was infamous and she was an industry joke. After the cancellation of The Flying Nun, she knocked around doing guest spots on bad episodic TV before returning as a TV lead in the lemon known as The Girl With Something Extra (which she co-starred in with John Davidson). That series bombed from the start. Field could have ended up like a lower level Karen Valentine (a true TV star thanks to Room 222 and a TV cautionary tale after Fred Silverman tied her up in development hell sidelining her career for years).

We're not mitigating the bravery it took for Field to reinvent herself, we're just noting that she wasn't a TV star when she decided she'd now be a serious actress. She was a slightly more famous Jerry Van Dyke and her TV leads led to the same eye rolls Van Dyke's My Mother The Car did. Field studied her craft throughout and itched for something bigger. Playing "the girl" in Smokey & the Bandit didn't make her a star but it did give her visibility. Norma Rae (her first Oscar win) would make her a movie star and demonstrated the same amazing gifts she'd shown (and won an Emmy for) in the TV mini-series Sybil. Noram Rae was 1979. She wouldn't win another Oscar for several years and that was no one's fault but her own. Field followed that career high by appearing in sitcoms passing for films (Kiss Me Goodbye, Smokey and the Bandit II, Back Roads, etc.) and by giving pedestrian, episodic TV drama performances in actual films (Absence of Malice). When she finally got a role she could chew into, she won another Oscar (for 1984's Places of the Hearts) but by that point, Jessica Lange and Sissy Spacek had already given much stronger performances as women of the farmlands. What Field mainly telegraphed in Places of the Heart was likability (which is why her acceptance speech was not a shock) and nostalgia.

She followed it with two disasters (in which she still played likable) -- Murphy's Romance and Surrender -- before taking a much more active role in her career. (She wisely walked away from No Small Affair -- Field as a rock star a young man lusted for was ridiculous from the start. Demi Moore would land the role. Field unwisely walked away from Moonstruck.) Punchline tapped into something. Though not a huge hit, it allowed her to remind people of how layered a performance she could give. (It also provided Tom Hanks with the best role he's had to this day.) Steel Magnolias followed and Field was lost in the film. Her character M'lynn's onscreen tantrums leave a bad taste to this day and all the other actress ran circles around her. Not Without My Daughter destroyed her career (but did work into Poppy Bush's propaganda push for the Gulf War) and although she achieved moments to be proud of in Soap Dish, that was really it for Field as a lead actress and why she ended up in supporting roles in both Mrs. Doubtfire and Forrest Gump. Her career as a non-acting film producer was pretty much killed with the disaster that was Dying Young. There really was nowhere left to be a star but TV.

ER wasn't her return to TV. The play All the Way Home (performed live on a Sunday evening on NBC in 1981 was her return -- and she was amazing). But her run as Abby's mother, Maggie Wyczenski, was memorable (and provided Field with her second Emmy). In her earliest scenes, before Maggie's illness was full blown, Field brought an edgy nervousness to the performance with her body movements, her posture, her line delivery and the darting of eyes. Audiences could see that even though Maggie loved Abby, there was something below the surface that made Abby's disdain for her mother completely understandable.

As Nora Walker each Sunday night on Brothers & Sisters, Field offers up nothing but surface. She can be shrill and strident and it has nothing to do with Nora, just with Field trying to bring something -- anything -- to an underwritten character. Field joined the cast late after Betty Buckley had already established the character. The characterization was considered too 'harsh' for TV and the role was recast with Field. She stepped into it with promises that have still not been met. There has been no effort on the part of the writers, producers or creator to flesh out Nora.

So you get Sally Field floundering from scene to scene, indicating light emotions and bearing down (too hard) on heavy ones while coming off like Joan Crawford in Secret Storm. It's not pretty. Most of the time, she just falls back on likable ticks and it's hard to slam for that when her character -- which she stepped into late -- has still not been developed.

The writers seem to think that widow Nora dating her college professor is, in and of itself, a plot and storyline. They seem to confuse screen time with characterization. And if you're confused as to why that is, look no further than behind the screen.

Jon Robin Baitz is supposed to be a playwright but, in any form, dispenses the sort of canned milk his father did (at Carnation) that no one sees as real or healthy. He created the show and, along with Ken Olin and Greg Berlanti, produces it. Not one of them knows from writing a TV show. Berlanti gets a lot of credit for Jack & Bobby with most people ignoring the other disaster (Everwood). If Field wants to have a character, she's going to have to grasp that she's working with boys (not men) and, like Christine Lahti in Jack & Bobby, create the character outside of the scripts. Ignore the text, toss it aside. (That is why Field's one scene attacking the fire alarm worked.)

But the question remains as to why she even wants to try? Her light comedy skills are such that she could star in a sitcom. Her strong drama skills are such that she could land a real drama and not this weak soap opera. It's not even fair to call it a "soap opera." It's more of a "cleanser opera." It's something you wipe across your face at the end of the night that tingles lightly and removes the make up.

Brothers & Sisters is a badly cast and badly written show. Patricia Wettig and Ron Rifkin, in supporting roles, are the only ones who aren't embarrassing themselves. Rifkin's added a darkness to a light character and ended up with something. Wettig has made her character very detached and it works within the role (Wettig isn't detached in her performance, she commits, however, to making the character detached -- it works because she's playing the mistress of Field's late husband).

We know people working on the show and were asked to review it last fall. We said we'd wait. We had hopes that promises made to Field would be delivered and that Nora would actually be written as something an actress could perform. Not only did that never happen, ABC got hot for the very bad actor Rob Lowe and decided he was an "element" that could improve the show.

Apparently they were confused as to the box office on Tommy Boy?

Rob Lowe started out a bad actor and he will die a bad actor. When he taped himself sleeping with two females (one of age, one of underage) his career almost ended and, if it had, that would have been the most damage he did to the Democratic Party (he was at the DNC convention during the self-filming of the sex tape). Sadly, bad movies brought him back and he was able to publicly endorse Ahnuld and take up with all sorts of right-wing crazies. But when you have no talent, you need something to drive up a following apparently. Though early promoted as beautiful and gorgeous and sexy by a fellow actress (who was in the closet and had reason to pretend she was hot for Lowe), he probably summed up himself better as George Jetson of cartoon fame. He is as stiff and cardboard as Jetson and seeing him get break after break must really rankle the likes of his fore bearers (for instance, Bobby Sherman).

Lowe plays a politician, a US Senator, who is involved with Calista Flockhart's Kitty. Kitty is Nora daughter and underscores every flaw with the series. Flockhart's got her Happy Face stamp out again and this decade it's being used to sell the Republicans Are Really Nice lie. (If only Shelley Long had not suffered from the desire for bad perms, she could have had Flockhart's career.)

Nora is supposed to be the oddball in her family, the political oddball, because she's a Republican. For that little conceit to work, she'd have to come from a liberal family. No one connected with the show can grasp that her family is not liberal.

Her brother Kevin (played by the boxy Matthew Rhys) is gay. If that's supposed to be the contrast -- one child is gay, the other is a Republican! -- we'd remind everyone that The Second Family has a lesbian daughter named Mary (who is both gay and Republican).

Brothers & Sisters plays politics the way Crossfire and other media outlets have. You present a right winger and you pair them up with a centrist but dub them "from the left." If that's not clear, the season cliff hanger (a very low cliff) was Nora's son, the drug addicted Afghanistan war vet Justin, preparing to ship off to Iraq. The series began with Justin somewhere stateside and Nora, Kitty and Kevin having to search for him, finding him drugged out, and then attempting to encourage the veteran to rebuild his life. A lot of boring scenes existed between the debut and the cliff hanger. Kitty's supposed to be Ann Coulter with niceness. What are the rest supposed to be?

It's a question worth asking when Nora's big scene as Justin prepares for Iraq doesn't involve pointing out that the drug addiction could get him a discharge, doesn't include pointing out the war is illegal, doesn't include her contacting any of the family's supposed high power friends to get him out of service. What is the scene built upon?

Nora's screeching that if Justin ships over to Iraq with a bad attitude, he will die, so lose the attitude, little mister. It's Field using all the technique left over for her nostalgia trip in Places From The Heart, but it is no way contemporary.

This is not a show about a left family. This is not a show about a liberal family. This is a show about flag wavers and one of them happens to be a Republican while the rest are squishy centrists who are more concerned with who they are sleeping with or might be sleeping with (or whom their partners have slept with) than anything in the world around them.

At one point, GOP Kitty's informed, with awe, that there's no one else like her to which she responds, "That's probably just because you haven't met enough Republicans." She gives it the same pert, Ally McBeal delivery as though she's on a mission to make the Republican Party the craze she made anorexia a decade earlier.

We have had loud and intense arguments with friends working on the show about exactly that sort of nonsense. They truly think they are making an adult, political drama and that it's something to be proud of. Sally Field declaring, to her children at the dinner table, "If your brother wants to give you his sperm . . ." only qualifies for "adult" to someone browsing the Adult Video section of a DVD store.

With the exception of Kitty, it's an apolitical and annoying show. They want points for the character of Kevin who is openly gay. They want points for being slightly more daring than Dawson's Creek which is where producer Bertnali hails from. Just as there was nothing adult about that teen opera, there's nothing adult about Brothers & Sisters. It's a horny teen's view of the world where getting your clothes off is the end-all-be-all whether you are straight or gay, whether you are over forty or under. With the exception of Republican Kitty, no one is motivated by anything other than hoary cliches.

As to the supposed breakthrough role of openly gay, mid-thirties Kevin, he's as boring as Matt on Melrose Place but he can get a little onscreen action. He frequently has to explain he's gay over and over which is rather surprising when his sexuality should be firmly established in the family. He also frequently runs to the right of Kitty (while allegedly not a Republican). [In one scene supposedly addressing the issues of gay fatherhood, Kitty would tell him, "I don't necessarily agree with your views" and come of as more 'progressive' than her supposedly 'left' (centrist) brother.] His conservative nature is a cheap trick by the writers to get credit for doing something while doing nothing. A light peck (don't call it a kiss) takes place with Scotty (one of Kevin's two onscreen boyfriends in the first season) and Kevin's appalled by a public display of affection. He later ends up in love with closeted daytime soap star Chad. If you're not getting the point, the issue isn't that Kevin's not a flamer. The issue is that Kevin -- in a show where everyone but Rifkin is talking about the sex they've had and are having -- believes his sexuality begins and ends with the announcement that he's gay.

That's nothing to be proud of, that's nothing to point to as a breakthrough. He's a dull, whiney character who's not even physically attractive. When you cast Calista (forget Field who's very slim herself), someone needs to wonder why all the males in the cast have obviously not skipped a meal their entire lives?

The show wants a lot of credit and some are willing to give it to them. Rob Lowe wrinkling his brow over the death of an assistant (on a helicopter he was supposed to be on!) passes for acting the same way that recycling toned down Jerry Springer Show dialogue passes for mature drama. And throughout, the show refuses to address political issues.

If that's not clear, let's note that 70% of Americans have turned against the illegal war. In the most recent CBS-New York Times poll, 61% of Americans do not favor further funding of the illegal war without a timeline for withdrawal while 8% favor no further funding of the illegal war.

People with the show can argue (as one did loudly in the middle of last week) that this is a new poll. The response to tying withdrawal and funding is new, those results are new. But approximately 70% of Americans being against the illegal war has been a fairly consistent view for 2007, for all of 2007. So when a show films their cliffhanger at such a time and the baby of the large family, Justin, is about to be shipped to Iraq and the family is supposedly a political family and all supposedly to the left of GOP Kitty, that Sally Field's Nora is giving a big speech about the need for a positive attitude is 100% crap. All attempts to pretty that up or pretend otherwise are 100% crap.

Nora's refusal to address the issue of Justin getting out of the military are beyond laughable. Her son is a drug addict -- one that she moved heaven and earth (in the first episode) to track down. The mere fact that he's active in his disease qualifies him for a discharge. That's before you factor in Nora's high powered friends or the fact that her daughter Kitty is dating a US Senator. (For the record, GOP Kitty did ask the Senator for help in keeping her brother from being sent to Iraq.) That this supposedly left mother is more concerned with waving the flag than saving her own son is rather shocking. That she has no concerns about the legality of the war is appalling.

Viewers would be smart to wise up that this isn't a political show, it's not an adult show and it's not a show worth watching. Field may or may not win the Emmy. She hasn't earned it for her performance but she may get it due to her name and some residual good will for her last TV work on ER. Instead of spending the next weeks working on an acceptance speech, she should work on a cough and take to the sickbed until the promises she was made when she joined the series start showing up on the written page. Brothers & Sisters coasted through season one and it may not have more than a second or third season. If that happens, Field will not be the noted two-time Oscar winner but instead the lead of bad TV she started out as. That may not be pretty, but it is reality.

Standing with the war resisters

In the December 2004 issue of The Progressive, Frida Berrigan's "Meet the New COs" ran (pages 26-27, with illustration by Kelly Mudge) reported on war resisters who had gone to Canada with a special focus on Jeremy Hinzman, the first war resisters to go public about self-checking out and moving to Candada.

The article traced his awakening from experiences with the military, experience with the Quakers and the birth of Liam, Hinzman and his wife Nga Nguyen's child. Hinzman attempted to be granted CO status and was denied. He reapplied before shipping off to Afghanistan. In April 2003, while serving in Afghanistan, his CO hearing was held and his request was dismissed on the grounds that Hinzman was not a pacificst (which is not a requirement for CO status). Upon returning to the US, Hinzman was ordered to go to Iraq ("We were not attacking Iraq because we were under an imminent threat. Our aim there was economic in nature. To die and kill other people so that the American public could have cheap access to oil was wrong.")

War Resisters Support Campaign picks up the story there, "In January 2004 he drove to Canada to seek asylum. He is currently living in Toronto with his wife Nga Nguyen and son Liam. His refugee claim was turned down in March 2005 by the Immigration and Refugee Board. This decision was upheld by the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal. Jeremy is now seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada."

Back before The Nation turned into the huge suck-fest it currently is, it could and did report on Hinzman. For instance, they filed a report in Januray 2005 on him and other war resisters in Canada that actually made it into print. Naomi Klein mentioned him in a column and they did an online update the first time his claim was turned down. Then, they lost interest. Their interest in war resisters who go to Canada has never been peaked again and they've steadfastly refused to cover Kyle Snyder (who not only returned to the US in October of 2006 and turned himself into the military, but also self-checked out again when the military burned him again, returned to Canada and whose February wedding day was put on hold when he was arrested at his home and hauled off in his boxers on the request of the US military), Darrell Anderson who returned from Canada and turned himself in (becoming the first to do so in the summer of 2006), Ivan Brobeck who turned himself in on election day and issued a press release/open letter to the Bully Boy on that day, Joshua Key, Ross Spears, Dean Walcott, Patrick Hart, Corey Glass and countless others.

Today, Australia's Green Left Weekly reviews Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale. The widely applauded book has been applauded domestically primarily by the mainstream media. Exceptions to that include The Progressive and International Socialist Review. The Nation has still had no interest in reviewing the book despite the fact that they not only review books every issue, they dedicate an entire issue to books each year. (We discussed it and Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq in "2 Books, 10 Minutes," March 18th -- for any wondering.)

The silence is not only irritating, it's harmful. Last week, Mark Larabee (The Oregonian) reported on a war resister who had gone to Canada, Oregon's James Burmeister who has the full support of his mother behind him. Two things stood out in the article, first you had the fact that his mother was being harassed on the phone by the US military. Remember the lie that the US military just puts self-checkouts' names on a criminal data base and then moves on to other things? That lie has been allowed to grow and be repeated endlessly due to the fact that so few will challenge it. As C.I. noted last Tuesday, the recent arrest of Joseph Smith at his home yet again demonstrates that the US military does not just enter names into a date base.

Larabee's report also included this:

But experts say it's not a good option. Most deserters turn themselves in, said J.E. McNeil, director of the Center on Conscience and War, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., providing legal advice to U.S. troops.
"Going to Canada is a bad idea," McNeil said. "This is not Vietnam. At that time, you could walk in, set your bags down and stay."
She said a better option is to return to the military. Most who do are discharged under the "other than honorable" classification, she said. Few have been convicted of desertion, she said.

Both C.I. and Trina called that nonsense out. C.I. noted that it takes mere seconds to explain, "I'm not qualified to speak to that. Let me help you find the number of someone who is." Because J.E. McNeil is not in Canada, J.E. McNeil is not working with resisters in Canada on their asylum claims and J.E. McNeil doesn't know what the hell she's talking about. Speaking on a topic other than CO's is probably "a bad idea" for J.E. McNeil. It takes mere seconds to explain you're not qualified to speak, undoing the damage from the ill informed J.E. McNeil takes much longer.

The decision to move to Canada after self-checking out is not made lightly and no one but the person (and their spouses) can make that decision. Having made that decision, a brave one, the last thing anyone needs is a J.E. McNeil saying it's "a bad idea." J.E. McNeil is presented as an "expert" -- though the plural is used in the article, only McNeil is cited. J.E. McNeil is not an expert on war resisters in Canada and the last thing they or anyone else needs are her ill informed remarks.

War resisters who go to Canada know the odds are very unlikely that even some limited form of amnesty will be offered by a future president. Jimmy Carter, when president, refused to offer any amnesty to self-checkouts. He did offer amnesty to men who were going to be drafted but left for Canada before their induction. If Carter didn't offer it when war resisters actually had tremendous support from alternative media, it's doubtful anyone will offer it in the future. That means if you return to see your family (for whatever reason), you are risking arrest. Unless you are willing to endure prison time, moving to Canada means not returning to the US. It is a very difficult decision, it is not "a bad idea."

In this country and within the military, war resisters moving to Canada demonstrate that they take their refusal to serve in an illegal war very seriously. That sends a message (even if J.E. McNeil can't grasp it). It's a very strong message and one that leads to discussions on bases. In addition, it sends a message in Canada. Trina phoned a friend who moved to Canada with her war resister husband during Vietnam and this is what she noted of the impact that war resisters in Canada are currently having:

Today's resisters have made an impact in their own country and by bringing the fight to Canada, they're impacting two countries. As the war continues, the US needs some form of support in the global community to continue. It won't be in the form of soldiers. And Canada's never sent any. But is Canada going to do more than that? That's the issue war resisters are placing on our tables here. And just raising that issue makes it harder for the fool-in-chief in the White House. But if Canada is forced to start granting asylum, that will make things even harder for the US. They are the northern neighbor, bordering the US. They have tremendous power in that regard. War resisters today are forcing Canada to explore using that power. We have a conservative government but I really don't think that matters on this issue. I don't think it matters that our prime minister wants to be close with the White House. The ball is rolling and if it keeps gathering speed, the government's going to be forced to deal with it and that will be a mighty rebuke to the White House and their illegal war. The conversations that are taking place are happening because of the presence of the war resisters. They are really impacting three countries, the US by leaving, Canada by arriving and Iraq by refusing to serve there. That woman, that fool, doesn't know the first thing she is talking about and should shut her mouth.

The fact that their presence forces Canada to do more than say "Well, we didn't send troops so it's not really our issue" is a strong impact and one that the J.E. McNeils of this world never seem to consider. There may be no reason she should. It's certainly not addressed in the domestic media and, since she appears to know so little about war resisters in Canada on her own, she's ignorant of reality.

War resisters are taking brave stands. Some do so with the support of their families, some do so without. (Some have received more support as the illegal war has continued and realities have emerged in this country). You do not honor brave stands by ignoring them or by insisting that they are "a bad idea." We support those who are granted CO status (and have covered them) and we don't see it as an either/or proposition. (We also support those who speak out against the illegal war after serving in Iraq and those who left the service as the illegal war was starting in protest. And, of course, we support Eli Israel who has become the first known US soldier to refuse to serve while stationed in Iraq.) Not being members of the Council for Foreign Relations or any other centrist or centrist-right organization, we have no need to couch our statements or hide our support for war resisters.

If you missed it, The Nation's overly praised article (Cowards' Nation?) avoided speaking to anyone with the War Resisters Support Campaign, they did, however, seek out Vets for Freedom. That would be the group that John Stauber explained last week was nothing but a front group and noting he'd covered this before in 2006:

"Citizen journalists on SourceWatch have been investigating and exposing the many Republican connections and the partisan pro-war political agenda behind Vets for Freedom, a new organization with mysterious funding and a flashy website designed by Campaign Solutions, part of the Donatelli Group. Vets for Freedom's hollow claim of "non-partisanship" took another blow Sunday, June 25, when the Buffalo News published a front page story by Jerry Zremski, their Washington correspondent, linking Vets for Freedom to the Bush White House."
Describing Vets for Freedom as a "pro-war group with deep Republican ties," the Buffalo News revealed that
Taylor Gross, who until last year worked as a spokesman for President Bush under White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, is conducting PR work for Veterans for Freedom. Gross attempted to convince the Buffalo News and other papers that two decorated military veterans with the group, Wade Zirkle and David Bellavia, could report cheaply for the newspapers from Iraq while embedded with the US military.
VFF is today a powerful, well-funded pro-war lobby, essentially a
front group for Bush policies in Iraq that is often treated with kid gloves by reporters unfamiliar with its funding and connections, journalists who often depict the lobby group as simply another military veterans organization. In fact, the group's sole mission is to lobby on behalf of Bush's global war on terror.

Treated with kid gloves by reporters? And invited to the table by The Nation while the magazine refuses to extend the same invitation to war resisters in Canada (or war resisters underground in this country). Far worthier of praise than the crappy article in The Nation are

Ian Urbina's "Even in Families Sworn to Duty, Misgivings Arise as War Goes On." (New York Times, last Sunday) and Ian Munro's "US military deserters seek refuge in Canada" (Australia's The Age, last Friday). It should also be noted that Joel Bleifuss (In These Times) wrote, in June, about war resisters Leo, Leif and Luke Kamunen, three brothers who self-checked out of the military and that CounterPunch consistently addresses the subject of war resisters and war resistance.

In times of crisis, those who show bravery need to be supported. It's really that basic.

Iraq War Helper

What to do, what to do? You're a busy on the go Bully Boy fighting for trouble wherever there's freedom. You're busy planning your next illegal war but the public's turned out your current one. Before you think of scrapping all your plans, grab a box of Iraq War Helper which can extend your illegal war and allow you to serve it up for days, months and even years to come!



A lot lies

A lot of repetition

A helpful media

1) Stir the pot of confusion by noting a September progress report is due and will be completed, but the illegal war's escalation can't really be judged until November. Repeat often.

Sprinkle with attacks on those Congress members who call for even a limited withdrawal and those who ask to see the Pentagon's contingency plan.

Dispatch US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker to preach "the fear" repeatedly.

Send Bully Boy out to the soft, local media where most reporters won't fact check his statements but instead just report, "Bully Boy said today . . ."

Heat to a boiling because, hey, you're not planning on moving to Iraq.

2) Increase heat. You can never cause "too much damage" to an occupied country. As the occupier, you and you alone will decide what is "too much damage." Nearly a million dead Iraqis? So what? Over 3600 US troops killed? So what? Over 163 British troops killed? So what? Look, you are The Decider. This is your country, everyone else in the US only awaits your orders. Bully up to the bar, Bully Boy.

Remove troops only if the House brings charges of impeachment.

Helpful Tips

*For milder public opposition, consider withdrawing a few troops and making a great show of it. Some will feel you're finally listening to the American people.

To maintain the death count in such a case, increase the air war. Bombs are like salt, sprinkle them throughout freely.

Also try our "Illegal War Helper."



Once more into the mailbag. First up, in our April 29, 2007 "A Note to Our Readers," Jim wrote, "Iraq Quiz -- We thank those who came before. NOLA Express ran a great Vietnam quiz in the early 70s and this is us updating it. Since the press won't deal with reality (see 1st part of the trilogy), it's very likely we'll have another illegal war in a few years. Hopefully, someone will see our quiz and carry it forward as well. (NOLA Express' quiz is not available online. We're not even sure if they're archived -- in the older sense of the term -- anywhere.)" An e-mail from BD advises us, "Nola Express is indeed archived.The entire work files of the paper were sold to Temple University and are available in a special collections library, along w/ a complete 145 issue run!" Nola Express was an independent paper out of New Orleans back in the day when the alternative press meant something more than dining reviews and Teens on Steroids cover stories. Those able to visit the archives are strongly urged to. You'll not only get a strong sense of history, you'll grasp all that is lacking into the alternative weeklies allegedly serving various cities around the country. Thank you to BD for passing that on.

Karen e-mailed about Ava and C.I.'s TV review of CSI Miami and runs David Caruso Personal Fan Pages. Karen e-mailed at the end of June and we've been meaning to give her a shout out but the last few editions have been rough. We're noting her now.

Participating in the responses for this feature are 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, just FYI.

Mel e-mails that he just saw Hairspray and was wondering if we were going to review it and why we don't do more movie reviews?

Ty and C.I. saw Hairspray (Ty and his boss kidnapped C.I. for a preview showing awhile back) and they have nothing bad to say about it and encourage anyone who's able to see the film to make the time. But we don't do movie reviews here. From time to time, we do a DVD review. That's generally a documentary though we're also trying to include as a new feature noting strong films you may not have heard of the way you should. (our review of Grace of My Heart is the first in that series and, so far, also are only one.) We've also (use Google, our archives are screwed up) reviewed all of Jane Fonda's comedy films available on DVD in the lead up to the release of Monster-In-Law. (Those start out as a group project but quickly became Ava and C.I. features -- this piece by Ava and C.I. has links to some of those reviews.) Ava and C.I. did a critique of the critiques to Monster-In-Law back in May of 2005. But we don't do film reviews. We get offered DVDs all the time via e-mail (thank you to those who offer and to the woman pushing a Darfur film, you don't want us to review it). Via Ty, Ava and C.I., the core six and Kat can see anything previewed on the West Coast. It's equally true that when five of the core six (Jim, Dona, Jess, Ty and Ava) were in NY (back when this site started), we frequently went to the movies. This site was much talked about (among Jim, Dona, Jess and Ty) and when it finally started (when Jim snagged C.I. at a campus lecture and asked for help), we had ideas about what we would be and what wouldn't be. One thing we thought we would be was a weekly that covered realities college students addressed. Having reported on the realities of a fellow student's (bad) rehab stay and another student's decision to have an abortion (after being impregnated by someone in her family) that shifted. We really appreciate that they allowed us to report on those (as well as some other people allowing us to report other stories). In the print edition (still distributed on our old campus for at least one more year), those were well received. In the online edition? Ignored. In fact, months and months later, when there was a big reproductive rights rally in DC, C.I. pushed our abortion story (at The Common Ills) and it only then garnered any attention. It was really disappointing to us, then five journalism majors (Dona, Jim, Ty, Ava and Jess), to bust our butts trying to tell these very real stories and see no response to them. It also really bummed out Jim (yes, Jim, of all people) that these people sharing these deeply personal details of their lives were doing so with the hope that someone else would be helped and yet no one gave a damn. We gave up on that. However, that was one of our primary goals when we started. Another goal was telling the truth about the illegal war and we've carried that goal on through. We don't even remember what else was in the first edition (and with the archives so screwed up, it would take forever to locate) (C.I. says there was a cutting of lyrics or poetry most likely and that we did that for several months -- that was Dona's idea) but as we were finishing up that first edition and trying to figure out what was missing, Jim seized upon TV. He noted that you couldn't go into anyone's apartment or dorm room without coming across the TV being turned on. Dona swears Ava and C.I.'s response was a loud groan (they don't dispute Dona's memory) and Jim, Dona, Ty and Jess can tell you that they had to be talked into that first feature. This and only this was the thing that resulted in any e-mails. Dona and Jim were checking the e-mails constantly. The Common Ills community members, tipped off by C.I. to our site, e-mailed welcoming e-mails and encouraging ones. But the only e-mails commenting on anything we had done were the ones on the TV review. Those e-mails and the ones that followed helped us figure out who our original online audience was: mainly young couples struggling with bills and often with a young child or two. When this became a constant in the e-mails, Ava and C.I. (with support from Dona) declared all TV features would be on broadcast TV because the majority of the early readers did not have cable or satellite. Jim, Jess and Ty fought that. After the first month, the TV commentaries would be written solely by Ava and C.I. so it really didn't matter what Jim, Jess and Ty thought. But when we were planning that first edition and doing it (and planning as we went along) there was a movie that three of us had just seen (Jim, Ty and Dona can no longer remember what it was) and there was talk about that but there was also the fact that every time they talked it up on campus (it was a small film) there was a "What?" response and a general sense that who has time to run off to the movies? So films were never the focus of this site. TV was a last minute thought and it's probably what we're known for now more than anything else. Ava and C.I.'s TV commentaries are always the most e-mailed on feature each week and their audience continues to increase. Things they wrote in 2005 are still stumbled upon by people today who discover this site for the first time. The point there is, in answer to an e-mail that came in this week from a 19-year-old female wanting advice on starting her own site, try to do what you want and don't toss aside an idea that others may disdain. (Ava and C.I. disdained the TV commentaries -- karma is the fact that they now write them.)

Lori Jones e-mails to say "TV: Global Boring" "was epic and amazing and I'll leave it to just that since I don't want to freak Ava and C.I. out but I do wonder if that means the return to epic promised for this month has been put on hold?"

No, the planned return to hard hitting, slap you upside your face, leave you laughing and stunned does appear this week as planned. It's amazing. They took the longest on this one they've ever taken and that was mainly in debating, after they wrote it, what to leave in and what to pull.

Bryan appreciates "Boys & Girls . . . have a good time together " from two weeks ago but asks that we note the explanation of Ava and C.I. recreating the Liza Featherstone for "Nation Isle" was covered by Mike on May 16th and asks that we note that. (We are happy to.)

Kate has "had it with Katha Pollitt and all her nonsense." She's referring to a blog post at The Notion (The Nation's blog) where Pollitt trashes Alexander Cockburn for a column (link goes to his column at CounterPunch and we're not linking to Pollitt's nonsense). She wondered what our thoughts on Pollitt or Cockburn's pieces were?

Elaine: I think the plus is that Katha Pollitt's finally grasped, after the four year mark, that an illegal war is going on. Other than that, I have no comment on Pollitt. I will note that Alexander Cockburn is one of my favorite writers and I always enjoy reading him.

Ava: Was she again being "sardonic"? That is her favorite catch-all when she's called out for a mistake, right? She was clearly being "sardonic." I'll agree with Elaine that it's nice Katha's finally discovered a war is going on.

C.I.: Katha Pollitt's comments are uninformed and racist. That's the reality. Whether you agree with Cockburn or not, just on the face of it, Pollitt's comments are racist and uninformed. Now Cockburn has many points, one of which is that the resistance is little covered and that it's all lumped into one grouping entitled "insurgency" or, sometimes, "terrorists." Pollitt proves Cockburn's point by immediately going to the issue of sexism.

Jim: It's the only thing she can go to because she is so grossly uninformed.

C.I.: Agreed. You want to grab this?

Jim: No, go on.

C.I.: Feminists in the Arab world will often speak of how they are more than a little tired of what they see as the West's attitude of pity for them. Pollitt's resorting to extremes to build a case against Cockburn and ridicule him. In the process, unintentionally, she resorts to stereotypes. There is very real violence directed at women in Iraq today. There is a femicide going on. That didn't start because Iraqis woke up one day and said, "Let's subjugate all the women and kill some for sport." That is a direct consequence of the US involvement in Iraq, the illegal involvement. Women had higher social standing before the illegal war, they had even higher standing before the sanctions and other events of the 90s. Who are the resistance fighters? Pollitt's nonsense reads like every bomber and kidnapper is the resistance. As an Arab feminist said, "She's suffering MSM damage." The resistance to the illegal war and the illegal occupation in Iraq is very real. Among those resisting are the oil unions. Katha Pollitt doesn't appear to grasp that or is in such a rush to over simply that she presents the Bully Boy's version of the illegal war. There are many forms of violent resistance going on and there are many forms of non-violent resistance going on in Iraq. She lumps them all into what the Bully Boy has termed "terrorism" when the real terrorism is occupying someone else's country and refusing to leave even when the people wish you gone. Cockburn was attempting to introduce an element into the discussion, Katha Pollitt ridicules him for it and nothing she writes indicates she grasps what he was getting at, the nature of resistance or even the nature of historical struggles. Like Kate, I found Pollitt's comments outrageous when I heard about them repeatedly, mainly from Arab feminists.

Jess: It really isn't surprising that The Nation would want to shut down this discussion that Cockburn is attempting and that Tom Hayden attempted before. Some of the resistance can be found in the many legislators and professionals who met with Hadyen and CODEPINK in Jordan last year. Pollitt was too busy ridiculing CODEPINK domestically to ever note that meeting. As my mother has said for two years now, Pollitt started planning her wedding and apparently lost her common sense.

Rebecca: Jess' mother and I talk about that on the phone quite often. How Pollitt picked a funny time to have the spinster woes and began writing as if she was also suffering from severe Carrie Bradshaw damage. I'll just add that it's amazing that Pollitt can bring nothing to the discussion of Iraq but wants to come out punching at Cockburn.

Cedric: Well it's not really that amazing because that is what she does. Whether it's a rightwinger, CODEPINK or Cockburn or the then president of the NAACP, that is what she does. She's proven herself incapable of presenting anything -- unless you can count that weak ass yearly "Most Worthy Charities" column that needs to go online and stop trashing up the magazine -- and is instead only capable of doing that sort of thing. And I'll add, The Nation feels they're so high minded and above the fray, judging by their infamous e-mail 'passed on' to us so I'll assume they've never read one word of Pollitt.

Betty: I agree with everything that's been said and will back up Cedric because I actually raised the point of her writing style a day after we finished our response edition to The Nation's insane e-mail. I called C.I. and said, "What about Pollitt?" They're offering that we should be more mindful of our tone. What about Pollitt? But Cedric's exactly correct. A year after Abeer is in the news, Pollitt, under criticism, finally writes a single sentence about Abeer. A fourteen-year-old girl is gang-raped and murdered, her five-year-old sister and her parents are murdered in the same war crimes conducted by US soldiers. To Pollitt, that's one brief sentence. But let her be able to grab the knives and carve someone up and she's got all the time in the world. The Nation needs to worry less about what we do and, if they're so 'high minded,' worry about what Pollitt does. She can't talk about Iraq or any big issue because all she can do is carve up. One of C.I.'s friend who was offended by the Arab portrayal in Pollitt's nonsense asked me if I got how much that offended her and I explained how much I am and will always be offended by Katha Pollitt's decision to speak for what my race, not her race, needs to do. The woman said, "So you do understand." And believe me, I do. Katha Pollitt is 2% knowledge and 98% hot air that is increasingly and increasingly offensive. It's past time that she got she is not the template for all human experience. And that "loud" just makes you loud, it doesn't make you a feminist.

Ty: Betty's done so I want to go back to C.I. and anyone else can speak but I walked into a very private conversation on this topic and thought C.I. might share on that.

C.I.: I can't believe how hurtful Pollitt's scribbles were. I can't believe that she can't grasp that. The conversation Ty's referring to was with a feminist, a feminist who is Arab, and she was just destroyed by that nonsense. There is so much hatred of a race of people being expressed in those scribbles by Pollitt. And a White reader from the West, fed the propaganda of the administration, might fall for it without a second thought, but it is highly offensive. I don't want to get too personal because I don't have permission from her to speak on this topic but the question my friend was getting at was, basically, "Is this how feminism sees me in this country?" It's a very serious question and Pollitt's lack of knowledge and cheap pot shots were not seen as "Welcome to the USA." The Nation's got a real problem with race on so many levels but that nonsense by Pollitt, coming from a feminist, did more damage than they may ever know.

Jim: I think the issues that Betty, C.I. and others have focused on are very important. And I'm not trying to cut off discussion of that but since we've got a pause, I'll offer that lumping everyone practicing resistance into terrorists is offensive just on the face of it. You would think she would grasp that.

Dona: She can't. She's too busy playing "I'm so much more feminist and in the West this is how we do it." Because of this nonsense and the reaction of at least two friends of C.I.'s, there was a meeting on this topic last week. And I got how offensive it was just from hearing about it, I heard about it from Jim, but attending that meeting where American feminists and Arab feminists spoke freely, I realized that we all have our issues. As someone from the West, I see traditional dress, forget burkas, and think, "Liberate yourself!" That is wrong on my part and I never grasped that until the meeting. But there were all these issues and everyone speaking on their own understandings and confusions. Katha Pollitt needs to do a little work before she passes herself off as SuperWoman who will save the world because her 'saving' is not needed by all feminists and it takes supreme ignorance to look at a US created problem and try to indict another people for it.

Jess: Exactly because this and the civil war and other issues didn't pop up from the American people. The woman from MADRE, last year on RadioNation with Laura Flanders, was speaking of how the Shia/Sunni split was created by Americans. By the same token, women had to protest, during the American occupation, to get the limited rights that they currently have. The US was alll ready and prepared to sign off on a Constitution that would have completely destroyed women's rights. As it is, the rights aren't preserved and it's a huge setback. But who courted religious extremists and put them in power?

Ava: Let's say Sweden invaded and occupied the US tomorrow. Let's say that for easy compliance with their occupation they went to the extreme right. Jerry Falwell's dead, right? Pretend he's not. They put people like Falwell in charge. Suddenly women's rights are stripped away. How would Katha Pollitt feel if Ruth Roach Pierson was writing a piece, in Canada, about American women, like the one Pollitt wrote? My guess is she wouldn't be pleased.

Mike: I'm going to repeat what I said to one of C.I.'s friends who was bothered by Pollitt, we're talking about the Den Mother to the Mud Flap Gals. This isn't a great thinker or even a consistent one. That's what that whole nonsense about "economics" in that recent column was really underscoring. When has Pollitt written about economics? She hasn't this year but she wants to get on her high horse. I said, Yeah, she's offensive. But the thing is, you're talking about someone with a very small mind and a very small scope.

Dona: Mike's editing his summary but he had the woman laughing and she said "Thank you" at the end of it.

Mike: Well, she was just so torn up about it and I can understand that but my point was, this isn't a Robin Morgan or Alice Walker. It's just the in-house feminist for The Nation, a magazine that doesn't give a damn about women. Think of her as the cover the magazine hides behind and, realizing she's turned herself into a beard, you'll grasp how little she means in the big scheme of things.

Wally: I don't disagree with anything that's been said, I agree with everything, but I'm sure The Nation will see it as "There they go again attacking the women."

Ava: B.S. I know what you're saying and it's a point worth raising but Pollitt wrote a racist screed and too damn bad for The Nation if they can't take the criticism. We've been overly kind in the past to the print version of Melissa from thirty-something. She was racist and her comments hurt women. Let the Mud Flap Gals rally to her defense but she's not getting support from real feminists when she stereotypes and insults and hurts -- hurts -- Arab women. She's becoming George Will in drag more and more as she sees herself as the expert on everything and capable of weighing in all races. She's stereotyping and she's offensive. I hope they do whine to C.I. again. If they do they can expect a very loud WAAAA back from me if I catch that in the inbox. Someone really needs to explain to Pollitt, dear, you're an old line socialist gone soft, White woman who stopped progressing around 1992, you are not an expert on all races, you are not an expert on much of anything at all. Go stalk your ex-boyrfriends on the internet and write your lame poetry but quit thinking you're carrying a feminist torch because you are nothing but the worst example of elitist, White "America first" thinking trying to pass itself off as feminism.

Jim: And that's going to be the only one we respond to in roundtable fashion. Ty picked that one and knew C.I. would respond due to the fact that it had been a huge issue at the house, with many women covering over to explain how offensive they found Pollitt's scribbles. We actually had three other e-mails we were going to respond to in roundtable fashion but Dona's noting this has already doubled the allotted time for this feature.

Iraq reporting MSM style

Yesterday, the US military stated, "The members of Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) join with the people of Iraq to congratulate you on your 2-0 victory over Vietnam. It was an exciting game in the quest for the 2007 Asian Cup. Good luck against the winner of the second round quarterfinals team, neighboring Iran or the Republic of Korea!" A military official, high ranking, who asked to be unidentified stated that the Iranian soccer club was smuggling IEDs in their sports cups. A reporter for The New York Times volunteered to cavity search each one but was turned down. For now.

Said The Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone Willie Caldwell, "We hope they kick some Iranian butt! Someone needs to." When asked if he saw any portent in the fact that Iraq defeated Vietnam -- a country the US lost to in its last high profile illegal war -- Willie Caldwell explained that he believed he heard the "Into the bunkers!" cry blaring over the Green Zone speakers.

Last week, the Defense Department stated that "the army, navy, air force and marine corps announced an increase, while the coast guard number remained the same. The net collective result is 1,036 more reservists mobilized than last week." When questioned whether the Bully Boy of the United States was planning to expand the surge or if these troops were being mobilized for a war on another country, Caldwell stated, "I'm serious, you need to take cover."

This morning, the US military announced that al-Qaeda in Iraq was on the run as a result of a raid that took place north of Baghdad with smalls arms fire being exchanged. A man who was armed was killed. Obviously a terrorists because guns are unknown in Iraq. Also yesterday, the US military captured al-Qaeda in Iraq's religious adviser when he surrendered himself in Mosul. Still on the loose are al-Qaeda's motivational speaker, al-Qaeda's dog walker and al-Qaeda's personal trainer. Major Marc Young, a flack for the US military, stated, "The people of Iraq deserve to be able to choose a future free of terrorists and their barbaric attacks." When we finished having our rinsed and set at the Green Zone beauty parlor, we passed this on to our stylist who responded, "Yankee imperialistic dogs go home." Clearly, the American presence is appreciated in Iraq.

The surge has resulted in the year and one month crackdown on Baghdad bringing more security to all residents of the capital. This is evidenced by the US military announcing today that there were fifteen rocket attacks from July 18th to July 21st -- one of which caused minor damage on the al-Nafees Hospital. No wonder the commanding general of Multinational Force-West in Iraq, General Walter E. Gaskin, declared Friday, that "we have turned the corner. . . .

we truly turned the corner". General Gaskin reported that he was "excited," that a "persistent presence" was needed and, parental warning, informed reporters that Iraqi male soldiers "don't lack the hard". Reporters were unable to follow up by asking if he knew that first hand and if the US government was now dispensing Viagra to Iraqis. As he wound down, General Gaskin declared that Iraqis "have demonstrated that they support this" effort/illegal war "by voting with their feet by sending their sons to join the police and the army, and they have participated in the governmental process." When reporters prepared to ask him if he was attempting to imply that Iraqi women are leading the resistance, General Gaskin had already ended the press briefing.

As Reuters' Kristen Roberts noted, General Gaskin's briefing was very "optimistic." Lt. General Ray Odierno, Commander Multinational Corps-Iraq, gave a real downer of a briefing last Thursday. Odierno spoke of the need for a "bit more time" twice and began mentioning the September progress report that will be delivered to the US Congress. At which point, General Odierno began speaking of November, denied it was "a slip of the tongue," and clarified, "What I was saying is -- again, my remarks were, in 45 days I will have a better idea if the trends are continuing, and that's September. Obviously, we have an assessment we will conduct in September that will provide -- that General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will provide. I was not looking at extending that time frame when they have to report back. What I imagine we'll have to do is do assessments that follow that initial assessment in September, and that's -- I'm assuming we'll continue to do assessments while we're here."

General Odierno also suggested that the US Congress efforts to pass a withdrawal were emboldening al Qaeda (but note, he spoke before the US military captured al Qaeda's religious advisor!). When asked about proof of that, General Odierno admitted he had none, he had "no specific intelligence." Some naysayers might accuse him of making baseless accusations in an effort to clamp down on the desired withdrawal. General Odierno also stated that there was "a link between Iranian support to extremists" meaning al Qaeda but, when questioned further, admitted, "We don't see any evidence -- significant evidence".

General Odierno spoke of the hand-shake agreement the US military had with tribes in Al Anbar Province and if that's good enough for him, it should be good enough for all Americans, provided they are true Americans, Americans who bleed red, white and blue, Americans who support the Bully Boy of the United States through good and bad times, photo ops and rectal exams, Americans who grasp that we are in Iraq to create a democracy and we cannot do that by being democratic.

Sweet Nepotism


Hey gals and guys,

It's me The Peace Resister Koo Koo Katrina. If I'm writing you know it's unimportant but let me bore you with the non-doings by the Roosevelt Institute and, in case anyone's wondering, I always plug them because Daddy sits on the board. (Sits right next to the DLC's Al From and together they make sure the think-tank never even tilts left!) Somehow when heaping useless, lavish praise on them, I always forget to mention spy Daddy, er my Daddy, sits on the board. Or that I do too!

Now it's pretty much a journalistic no-no to ever write about an organization you or your own family serves on without noting the service but as editor and publisher of The Nation, I long ago moved the periodical away from journalism.

That's why a lot of fools praise our really bad article on Iraq without taking us to task for having in our possession "dozens of photos" of abuses and not printing a single one.

You can have journalism or you can have fluff. The Nation, as led by me, is all about the fluff.

So Daddy's think-tank brain washes young people (we pick the centrists and the center-left from the bottom of the barrel) and tasked them to name "the most pressing issues facing our generation" and, good suck ups and weasels that they are, Iraq didn't make the list.

Oh, I'm bored already. Let me change the subject. But I won't write about American Idol again, got too much flack for that last time (even after the post was "disappeared") so let me again whine about Time Warner's "scheme" against independent magazines. Again, some might suggest I disclose Daddy's relationship to Time-Warner, but I wouldn't be setting myself up as the indy queen bee if I did that, would I?

I'm tired. I should start planning a seventeenth birthday party anyway.


Koo Koo Katrina

New York Times enlists in the clampdown

Thursday, Lt. General Ray Odierno gave a press briefing to reporters, via videolink from Iraq, where he twice stated that a "bit more time" was needed to judge the escalation beyond the report that General David Petraues will be delivering to Congress in September. That is the report that Republicans in Congress and the administration have used to deride any attempts at withdrawal (admittedly weak attempts from Democrats) since May and Senate Republicans and the Bully Boy repeatedly cited that report during last week's Senate Slumber Party.

The remarks by Odierno on Thursday rightly set off alarms as the administration was obviously beginning yet another push-back in their continued efforts to extend the illegal war.

The Queen of Clampdown, The New York Times, announced Saturday (A6), "White House and Military Say Iraq Report Will Be Ready in September" signaling not only that its reporters missed the point but also that they didn't speak with David S. Cloud who attended Friday's press briefing by Tony Snow, White House flack. Thom Shanker and David S. Cloud reported Saturday, "The White House and senior military officers vowed Friday that an important assessment on progress in Iraq would be delivered by the Sept. 15 deadline set by Congress, even if it takes weeks longer to compile a more complete judgment on the current troop increase. A day after the No. 2 American commander in Iraq said it would take 'at least until November' to complete a full assessment, Tony Snow, the White House spokesman, said neither the White House nor military officers in Baghdad were asking for more time before reporting to Congress on progress in Iraq."

Those not following closely may have breathed a sigh of relief. However, reality check, Odierno never implied that the September report (Congressionally mandated) would not be delivered. Odierno stated on Thursday, during the press conference in question, "What I was saying is -- again, my remarks were, in 45 days I will have a better idea if the trends are continuing, and that's September. Obviously, we have an assessment we will conduct in September that will provide -- that General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will provide. I was not looking at extending that time frame when they have to report back. What I imagine we'll have to do is do assessments that follow that initial assessment in September, and that's -- I'm assuming we'll continue to do assessments while we're here."

Reporters at Friday's press briefing by Snow grasped the reality of what was being stated. (One noted, "We know that he didn't ask to change the September reporting date. That isn't the point.") Shanker and Sanger didn't grasp the point.

Their Saturday nonsense implied that Odierno had stated the September report was off. (He didn't state that, he clarified he was not stating that during his briefing.) What had many up in arms was the push-back involved in, after saying "Wait until the September report!" repeatedly, the second in command in Iraq suddenly declares that the September report really won't be able to judge the success or failure and that what's needed is to wait for a November assessment. By playing dumb, Shanker and Sanger distorted not only what Odierno stated but also the meaning of it.


This feature is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, 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. Unless otherwise noted, we also picked the highlights.

"Egg plant, Onion, Tomato blend in the Kitchen" -- Trina's latest. She didn't have time to note Dennis Kucinich this week for two reasons. One, she loves egg plant and when she found an e-mail Saturday asking for an egg plant recipe, she ended up altering what she'd planned to write about and, two, she's hitting hard on the topic of war resistance. As Elaine notes, "We really do, community wide, let C.I. and Trina tackle this subject. Maybe it's because we end up writing about here, as a group, each Sunday but the work Trina and C.I. did last week, and repeatedly, on this topic, really makes me wish I would cover it more at my own site by something other than including it in the snapshot." [Also note, unlike The Nation, every site has covered war resisters in the last 12 months in some form in addition to running the snapshot. That includes Betty, Wally and Cedric who do humorous posts. Every site.]

"Somebody Switched His Meds" -- if you don't like Thomas Friedman's opinion, wait for the next column? Is that the motto? Maybe it should be. Two weeks ago he was insisting (short of a UN mission) all troops out of Iraq. Now he's back on the war bandwagon calling for a US "diplomatic surge." He truly is insane. Poor Betinna, she's married to him.

"Talking entry on Iraq, Borders and more" -- Kat cannot believe the response to this post. We cannot believe she wrote it after our long Friday night (we're all together again this week -- those of us not living on the West Coast leave at various times today). This really is mammoth. You've got to read it.

"Michael Eric Dyson meet Tuesday's NYT" -- Mike wrote this quickly on one of the nights everyone was trying to hurry out the door. Betty had asked him if he could address the fact that Obama's claims of "small donors" weren't reality and said if he couldn't, that was fine, she'd blog. Mike was happy to grab it. Obama's "small donors" -- for any who have missed it -- are not people donating money to the campaign -- the way people donated small sums to Howard Dean. Instead, "small donors" are people buying merchandise at rallies. Those are not donors. But it makes it seem as if Obama's less corporate contolled by claiming they are "small donors."

"It's a Crock" & "THIS JUST IN! THAT'S A CROCK!" -- Ryan Crocker addressed by Cedric and Wally in a favorite of ours as well as Bonnie and Josh who both e-mailed requesting that it be noted in highlights. Crock's selling "the fear" like its a bad hygene odor.

"Ruth's Report" -- Ruth did this on a Saturday and it was wonderful. Breaking news altered her report so it wasn't posted Sunday morning to give her a chance to rewrite it. She feels like something's lost in tone as a result but we think it stands as a strong report.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "You Are Staying" -- Condi singing for more war, Dick Cheney playing with himself at the thought of it and Bully Boy saying the troops are staying. It's a comic, it's also reality.

"Kat's Korner: Mavis Staples doesn't turn back" -- Kat's latest review. This is an amazing CD and those who've bought it in the community since Kat's review went up last Sunday echo that. Kat says there have to be ten brilliant CDs released between now and the end of the year for Mavis not to make the list of the ten best of 2007.

"Now they want to wait until November" -- Kat usually doesn't help out on these things. "Honestly, you do these last while the gang [Jess, Ty, Jim, Dona, Ava and C.I.] are doing the final edits and by skipping out on helping you with this feature, I get to be the first one in bed."

She wanted to help out this week to make two points. First, as she noted during the week, all of us being together the last two weeks has meant that those of us posting in the evening were able to really help each other out. "You're posting on ___? I got an e-mail on that. I saw an article on that. Let me help you find something on that." Second, she appreciates the e-mails of "good catch" on this post but wants it noted she was going to post the snapshot and "I'm tired" and nothing else. She mentioned it to C.I. and said she had nothing to say that someone else wasn't already saying. C.I. suggested she go to USA Today and look for the article about the November date to evaluate the illegal war. "That happened throughout the week, from everyone, and I thank them all. I noted that in a post but I'm not sure that came across. I really enjoyed being able to help and being able to be helped by everyone."

"alberto does a video," "silvestre reyes is a dumb ass," "Cindy Sheehan, online radio (C.I.),"
"alberto gives speeches & gets a letter" and "albie gonzales" -- Tori e-mailed that it must be hard for Betty to post anything with three kids and it must be really hard for Rebecca to post with a newborn. Since Rebecca's covering the Alberto scandals exclusively and since she's a new mother, Tori wrote that she hopes all of Rebecca's posts will continue to be noted. Rebecca says, "Thank you, you're so sweet." Rebecca is doing a strong job keeping it real and breaking down to understandable levels. If you missed it, she took one evening off. That was the evening we were all rushing. C.I. volunteered to fill in (and watch her baby and Betty's kids). Rebecca agreed if C.I. would keep it light ("I didn't want C.I. trying to do a heavy post with everything else going on"). Didn't work out that way and we all loved the post but were asked (by C.I.) not to note it. Rebecca ignored the request when she posted next. The rest of us tried to follow it. C.I. said, "It'll be like a hidden track." In case you missed it, we'll steer you to it now.

"Senator Crazy is bored with Iraq, whine, whine" & "THIS JUST IN! GET HIS TIRED ASS OUT OF THE SENATE!..." -- John McCain, Senator Crazy, thinks Iraq's been discussed by Congress too many times. Senator Crazy is insane. Wally and Cedric say they intend to go to the well everytime Senator Crazy makes another insane remark.

"And the war drags on . . ." -- powerful commentary by C.I. (Mike gives you some background on the writing of it in his "The power of "no") that was selected by 31 people e-mailing this site for a must include. It's also on the short list for the "Truest Statement of the Week" feature.

:"Iraq snapshot" -- Trina asked that we "please" highlight this snapshot by C.I. She said it sometimes seems like if C.I. doesn't call it out, it's not going to get called out. We all agree.
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