Monday, September 03, 2007

The Nation ignores war resisters even while publishing the child of one

Do you know Adam, Anna, Philip and Zackary Key?

According to a woman who decided to make herself the spokesperson on war resisters who go to Canada, their parents made a HUGE mistake. HUGE. It's not like, she insisted to a reporter, it was during Vietnam!

Reality check for the dumb and stupid, it wasn't all that easy during Vietnam. Long before Canada's prime minister Pierre Trudeau's 1969 decision to legally welcome war resisters (as opposed to merely looking the other way), they had been streaming into Canada. Most place the start date as 1965 but, in fact, war resisters were going into even earlier.

Those from the US who went to Canada to avoid taking part in an illegal war usually did so with little more than hopes and dreams. There was no set happy ending. There were no guarantees. So when someone today wants to LIE and say, "It's not like it was during Vietnam," she needs to be questioned on exactly what she knows about that time period because it would appear she knows damn little and is helping even less.

Adam, Anna, Philip and Zackary are being raised in Canada because their parents, Joshua and Brandi Key, made a very brave decision for their family after Joshua returned from Iraq. To go back to that illegal war would be wrong. Life doesn't always provide multiple options and you often go with the best possible. For the Keys, that was Canada.

And though an ahistorical worrywart wants to smear that decision publicly with her own gross ignorance, it was a brave decision. And it's a decision many are making today, as they did during Vietnam.

What's life going to be like for the Keys? No one knows. But the family is together and they are rebuilding their lives.

Anna may grow up to be a member of Canada's parliament. Zackary may grow up to be a police officer. Philip may become an internationally known artist. Adam may end up one of the great political minds of the future. Any of that could happen. The children have the support and love of both parents.

Adam Key might even end up someday writing at The Nation.

Think that's so hard?

Naomi Klein writes there.

And Naomi Klein holds dual citizenship in Canada and in the United States because her parents went to Canada to avoid her father serving in an illegal war. No, that's not in her official biography. That is reality.

Naomi Klein, one of the left's strongest voices today, grew up in Canada due to an illegal war.
That's important to know at any time. It's especially important to know when fools want to caution that going to Canada will be the demise for everyone. No, it won't. That's never been the reality and it's not the reality today.

Klein, and many others who are known, were raised in Canada as the children of war resisters. Klein often talks about her teenage mall days and her rejection of her parents' principles (a phase common in many teenagers) and how she ended up becoming politically aware. We'd argue Klein is politically aware because of the family she was raised in and that, after the normal separation process that the adolescent years bring, it goes to very strong lessons from her childhood.

So, let's be really clear, war resisters moving to Canada does not equal "death" or "despair" for them. Opportunties will still exist. We have no doubt that one of the children of the today's war resisters will step forward on the national stage, as Klein has done, thirty years from now and emerge as a genuine leader.

When that happens, we hope that he or she will speak honestly about their lives growing up because after the current illegal war ends, another one will come. There's too much money to be made, too much greed, too much power to be sought for that not to be the case.

And it's especially important for young families making the decision to resist to know that their children are not automatically sentenced to horrible lives as a result of the decisions the parents' make. That was true before an idiot decided to play fortune teller on a subject she knew nothing about it. It will always be true.

Unlike The Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel, Naomi Klein is internationally known. Unlike The Peace Resister, Klein didn't buy her way into the table. She's an international voice who's known around the world and not for something as embarrassing as attempting to show 'wit' with explicit non-jokes about oral sex.

In that tale of two women, you see one woman whose made her own way thanks to the strong foundation she was provided and you see another who bought herself a seat at the table thanks to her grandfather's money. If you looked at a photo of either woman when they were five-years-old, you wouldn't know where they'd end up. Due to family money, you might assume vanden Heuvel would end up with a bigger playground, but you wouldn't know which would grow up to be a strong, mature woman and leader.

Had you bet on money, you would have lost.

So no one knows the future. But the Keys give their children a step up by standing for what they believe in. That always makes a difference.

If one of them, or one of Jill and Patrick Hart's children, or the children of any war resister who moves to Canada, ends up an important voice thirty years from now, we hope they talk about it, we hope they write about it.

The Nation have very little to be proud of post-2004 elections. A lot of nonsense, a lot of skimming the surface, a lot of playing Democratic Party organ and a hell of a lot of wasted time. That all comes under the 'leadership' of Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel who, when not embarrassing herself with oral sex 'jokes' on Comedy Central, dabbles at putting out a weekly 'political' magazine.

It must be like Bizarro World to be the child of a war resister and published by a magazine that refuses to write about them. In print, only Ehren Watada has been written about. A sidebar, to a January 2007 issue, after he's called a "coward" in the main article (on a petition). More recently, The Nation ran an overly praised article in July. In the article, they boasted of 'dozens' of photos provided to them of abuse of Iraqis. They failed to run one photo.

We've never doubted the photos. We know they exist. We know, for instance, that CO Aidan Delgado provided them with one involving a spoon. But there is no bravery at the top of The Nation so the photos didn't run. The same article labels war resister Camilo Mejia a "deserter" and leaves it at that. It refuses to note that Mejia's contract with the US military was over, that as a non-citizen his contract could not be extended, that Senator Bill Nelson had already made an issue out of the fact that Mejia should be sent home, that Mejia attempted to handle that through channels, that Mejia attempted to be granted CO status. The laughable article just tells you that Mejia is a 'deserter'. That's how it goes at the simplistic Nation magazine these days.

That's what happens when a smutty mouthed 'girl' decides to dabble beyond her depth, she betrays everything the magazine is supposed to stand for.

In March, the illegal war hits the five-year-mark. All Katrina vanden Heuvel appears concerned about in terms of the illegal war is that Cindy Sheehan not run from California's eighth district for a Congressional seat.

In a laughable, self-serving response to Cindy Sheehan's calling The Nation out on their appalling record on Iraq, Katrina vanden Heuvel offers a reply that may be even more phony than her faux public speaking voice.

She declares her sadness (she learned of Eleanor Roosevelt's trick -- from aquaintences if not from college, as the person who takes credit for teaching her of it says) over Sheehan's letter and then rushes to declare "As you well know, The Nation has, from the very beginning, been in the forefront of opposing this disastrous war. In fact, very few media outlets have been more strongly and consistently opposed to the war than this magazine, whether in its conception, planning or execution."

Oh, were that it were true. Anyone reading the magazine is well aware that The Nation offers up their yearly editorial against the illegal war each year and little else. When the 2004 elections took place, a lot of people moved away from the topic of the illegal war (the myth was it was a 'downer' and voters didn't care) and that certainly included The Nation. The Peace Resister goes on to mention feature articles but fails to note that the bulk of those articles appeared in print prior to her officially becoming publisher. She also fails to note that many of those articles didn't originate with The Nation but, such as Klein's exposure of the graft Mad Maddie Albright and James Baker were involved in, appeared in other outlets outside the US and The Nation just reprinted them.

She makes the laughable claim that Democrats (and "Republicans and Independents") have been taken to task by the magazine. We think Katha Pollitt got closer to truth following her advisory blog that Cindy Sheehan shouldn't run for Congress, when she explained that the strategy she supports is to target "Blue Dog" Democrats. That's who The Nation targets as well. It gives a pass to all other Democrats.

The claim that The Nation has opposed the illegal war as few other media outlets have requires that people be unaware of the monthly Progessive magazine, CounterPunch, Democracy Now! and a host of other outlets. With regards to The Progressive, that's especially appalling since it's not a weekly.

The Nation has not reviewed any book authored by a war resister (The Progressive and International Socialist Review have). The Nation has not explored the case of Suzanne Swift or Ehren Watada in print. (Sidebars are not explorations.) The strong opposition to the illegal war comes from the magazine before Katrina vanden Heuvel was installed as publisher of the 'leading magazine of the left'. That a member of the centrist Council for Foreign Relations (which was cheerleaing the illegal war from the start) now heads the magazine goes a long way towards explaining why it's fastly becoming the magazine more and more subscribers are dropping.
vanden Heuvel rushes to defend Pollitt (she always rushes to defend her pets which is why David Corn is largely left on his own -- a good thing for him and may the huge interest in him at other -- mainstream -- outlets mean he soons moves on to better things) and tells Sheehan that Pollitt's "criticism is framed by real respect for your 'crucial role in our politics: as an activist'." Katrina vanden Heuvel, who did not win an award from Planned Parenthood (she was not named in the award ceremonies, The Nation magazine won an award, stop the lying) is not a feminist.

So it's no surprise that she doesn't see anything appalling in the fact that Pollitt thinks she can tell a woman, any woman, not to run for public office. But let's deal with this alleged 'real respect' Pollitt allegedly has for Cindy Sheehan.

"Cindy Sheehan put a family face on the antiwar movement." Pollitt wrote that single sentence. It runs in the January 9/16, 2006 issue. ("9/16"? One of those alleged 'double issues' that are the same size as regular issues but subscribers get to pay 'double' for them.) That appears to be Katha Pollitt's entire writing output on Cindy Sheehan prior to Sheehan deciding to run for Congress. Real respect? For the "'crucial role in our politics: as an activist'." Well, golly gee, imagaine if Pollitt had no respect, Sheehan might have been 'robbed' of that single sentence commentary.

Pollitt had no respect for Cindy Sheehan. It never translated into coverage. You walk it like you talk it. The Nation wants credit for a million things and they haven't done any of them. They apparently think they have, they seem to have tricked themselves into believing that. Of course it helps that they disappear online articles. Such as the praise for the James Baker Circle Jerk report which they praised. For those who were spared the Circle Jerk, it enshrines the theft of Iraqi oil and it's really difficult to applaud that and to claim you're strongly opposed to the illegal war. It's really difficult to claim you opposed to the illegal war when, as Congress votes on whether or not to fund the illegal war, you're off Blogging With Retainer about American Idol. It helps that these embarrassments, these pieces that endorse the continued illegal war can, in fact, be disappeared from the magazine's website. It does not, however, change the fact that they went up in the first place. [To read an editor and a publisher blogging on the 'very important' topic of American Idol while avoiding the issue of Congress' voting whether or not to fund the illegal war, you can see Mike's "The Third Estate Sunday Review " and then Elaine's "Monday" and then Rebecca's "cynthia mckinney" -- each excerpted a section of the column after it had been 'disappeared' but before it was also gone from Google cache.]

"Week in and week out, we publish writers who may not agree on everything but who share a fundamental belief in the necessity of ending this war and occupation," vanden Heuvel writes apparently either willing to lie or unaware of the many centrists she continues to bring into the magazine. There's this alleged split between The Nation and The New Republic(an). The split was among readers of the magazines, never among the periodicals. Which is why The Nation website, as late as 2005, linked to The New Republic(an) as one of their "sites we like" and only pulled the link when the complaints poured in. It's why The Nation has regularly published writers from The New Republic(an). Little Lee Lee would probably still be polluting the magazine, in fact, had he not gotten busted at The New Republic(an) for posting favorable comments to his own pieces at that magazine's website.

Every week, vanden Heuvel would have you believe, writers who believe the illegal war should be ended are published. That's really not true. And many weeks they find a way to avoid the illegal war. Take the July 16/23, 2007 issue. It's another "double" issue with the same number of pages as a regular issue. (Well, to be fair, many issues are 38 pages and this one is 46, eight extra pages qualifies as "double"?) In that issue the editors urged the Democrats to "Get in It to Win It" (how very "You go, girl!" of them), the Peace Resister teamed up with a man (it's always a man) to write about health care, Canadian publisher, 'death' of LA Weekly, Micheal Bloomberg, Al Gore being distored by the press in 2000, Michael Moore's latest documentary, Medicare, SEIU, Richard Nixon, India, Iran and Israel are the topics of the issue. Iraq?

Go fish.

Well, let's drop back a week to the July 9, 2007 issue. The topics covered? Editorial on Gaza, pieces on "red tape," Venezuela, immigration, public health, Pollitt babbling in that useless way that is her hallmark (she appears ticked off by The Dangerous Book for Boys), the progressive majority, school reform (or 'reform'), Hong Kong, a book review of Leonard Michaels (who died in 2003), a review of a book on Lincoln Kirstein's contributions to the world of ballet, and four movie reviews. On the last, none of the reviews are about films on Iraq. They've avoided that topic repeatedly. They will most likely break that rule for the documentary by the non-filmmaker who is one of vanden Heuvel's peers at the Council for Foreign Relations. But the reality is the film ignores the illegality of the war and wants to leap into the occupation thereby selling that the premise that illegal war is not the problem, just better planning.

So again, those asking about Iraq are instructed to "Go fish."

And that's pretty much the way it's gone week after week. They still do those firey editorials on the illegal war once a year. They don't stand by them. There was the claim, at the end of 2005, that the magazine refused to support anyone running for Congress not calling for an end to the illegal war. They hit the newsstands the week before the election with a mushy profile on War Hawk Harold Ford, Jnr. Democratic primary challengers (forget third parties, The Nation's current incarnation does) who supported withdrawal while the incumbent supported continued illegal war? They didn't bother to show 'em any love, to get their names out to the public, to use the magazine's power in any manner that was useful in 2006 and they will probably do the same in 2008.

By the time you're going soft and mushy on a candidate who's not only a War Hawk but also posing in front of the Confederate flag at the Little Rebel, you're scraping the bottom of the barrel.

So vanden Heuvel should spare Cindy Sheehan the lecture on how much The Nation allegedly cares about ending the illegal war since it has never translated into "week in and week out" coverage. Nor has Sheehan garnered much coverage from the magazine. When she became the face of the peace movement, she wasn't placed on the cover of The Nation (they had placed her on the cover prior for a story about families who had lost loved ones in the illegal war). Other than John Nichols, no one appears to have been overly interested in covering Cindy Sheehan when she became the face of the peace movement. But, as Sheehan notes, "The Nation also invited me to its foundation dinner in NYC at the end of 2005, presumably to exploit my popularity to sell tickets."

While the magazine avoided the topic of Cindy Sheehan (the same way they avoided the peace movement itself), vanden Heuvel wants to purr that Pollitt has "real respect" for Sheehan when the reality is that respect translates into coverage. Concern translates into coverage. The Nation was more interested in doing a 'special issue' on food than it was in covering the illegal war. So much for 'real respect.'

vanden Heuvel wants to dub Pollitt's 'Please, Cindy, Don't Run' nonsense as "legitimate criticism" and can only get away with that because she's no feminist. But Pollitt's supposed to be a feminist and no feminist tells another woman not to run.

All of vanden Heuvel's New Age babble in soothing tones is undercut by yet another snide smear from Pollitt who posts another attack on Sheehan after vanden Heuvel's fluff was posted.
vanden Heuvel boasts of The Nation's website and well she should -- it misinforms many about the actual content of the print magazine. Those who know the magazine only through the website are misinformed about the magazine. For instance, as C.I. addressed in "2006: The Year of Living Dumbly," the website has allowed many to believe that the magazine covers war resisters when, in fact, it doesn't. When Ehren Watada became the first officer to publicly refuse to serve in the illegal war, The Nation's website did cover it and did so through the end of 2006. The magazine? No. Those were "online exclusives." Cindy Sheehan and CODEPINKs 2006 summer trip to Jordan to meet with Iraqis was covered "online" by Tom Hayden (who was on the trip) but it never ran in the magazine. Though Pollitt wasn't interested in covering CODEPINK's trip, she was interested in slamming the organization for bird-dogging War Hawk Hillary Clinton in 2006. As community member Marthat wrote The Nation on December 22, 2006 (in a letter the magazine didn't run, strange, isn't it? -- we first noted it here):

Reading Katha Pollitt's "Ho-Ho-Holiday Donations -- 2006" two questions arose
1) Ms. Pollitt refers to In These Times as The Nation's "sister publication." In light of concerns regarding media consolidation, that phrase needs to be explained.
2) Looking through the ten recommended organizations and publications, I see Hurricane Katrina, I see Vietnam, et al. I don't see Iraq. Is Ms. Pollitt aware that a war is going on? MADRE, an organization recently recommended on
RadioNation with Laura Flanders, seems much more fitting than a periodical (two make Ms. Pollitt's list). In addition, there are numerous organizations working for peace and supporting C.O.s.
If Ms. Pollitt is unaware that a war is going on in Iraq, that might explain why she has never written one word about the rape and murder of fourteen-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi -- a topic that strikes me as much more important than Hillary Clinton being 'bird-dogged."

We think Martha's December 2006 e-mail backs up Cindy Sheehan's current letter and then some.

Katha Pollitt's offended that Sheehan used "stridently" in a sentence about her. Suddenly Pollitt wants to play 'feminist' voice. That's real cute for a useless chatterer who refused to cover the gang-rape and murder of Abeer. That news broke in June 2006. Pollitt avoided it. Consistently. US soldiers have now confessed to their involvement in the gang-rape and murder and been convicted. Steven D. Green had already been discharged (and never should have been inducted) so he will face trial in a civilian court. He maintains his innocence but others have testified he was the ring leader.

"Murder, not war. Rape, not war. That's what we're here talking about today. Not all that business about cold food, checkpoints, personnel assignments. Cold food didn't kill that family. Personnel assignments didn't rape and murder that 14-year-old little girl."

That's Captain Alex Pickands speaking in the August 2006 Article 32 hearing on the War Crimes.

Pollitt was too busy throughout all of 2006, alleged feminist that she is, to weigh in on Abeer. As the criticim mounted, she finally got off her useless horse to 'contribute' to the dialogue with this: "Think of Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, the 14-year-old girl raped and then murdered with her family by US soldiers in Mahmoudiya in March of last year." Her family was raped with her? No, and she was gang-raped. Her family was murdered during the gang-rape in the next room and Abeer could hear the gun shots and the screams while two soldiers took 'turns' raping her and before Steven D. Green allegedly joined in the gang-rape and then allegedly shot her dead.
Pollitt finally 'discovered' Abeer when it was time to write her column for the May 28, 2007 issue. What a friend feminists have in Katha. The most documented War Crime of the illegal war, one that even the military brass couldn't white wash, and Pollitt's avoiding it for six months. It should also be noted that 'feminist' Pollitt's full statement on Abeer is in the single sentence quoted above. As with Cindy Sheehan, Pollitt's alleged concern didn't translate into coverage.

Instead, the laughable piece allows Katha Pollitt to flashback to her girlhood days when she read Romeo & Juliet. As C.I. noted August 12th:

Over at The Nation, Katha Pollitt scribbles in the useless way that's become her hallmark for this century. Pollitt, who in 2006, took the time to call out CODEPINK when she could have been writing about Abeer (a story that feminists especially should have been writing about), enlists in the "Cindy Don't Run" campaign. In fairness to Pollitt, it should be noted that she finally wrote about Abeer late this year, after Alexander Cockburn's column had finally gotten the name "Abeer" into print at The Nation. Pollitt did a shout out in one sentence while drooling, prolonged adolesecent she now writes as, over Romeo & Juliet possibilities. Let's be real clear on that damn story, a couple gets married from two tribes, the wife is stoned to death. Save your drama about the great love story because the man didn't sacrifice s__. This wasn't Romeo & Juliet and many believe this wasn't a marriage of choice. But the MSM put out the spin and damned if all the saps didn't buy into it even though the tribe in question was repeatedly under assault and women from it were being kidnapped and "married" into forced marriages. Pollitt wrote like a fool singing the score to Seven Brides For Seven Brothers who stares at you blankly when you bring up the rape of the Sabine women.

That sums up Pollitt's nonsense. It ran in the "Spring Books" issue so maybe she felt the need to rise to the level of 'dramatic'? For 18 lines, Pollitt went on about, yes, a very real stoning but also about a mythical reason. The stoned woman "had fallen in love," Pollitt tells you and this was the "crime" for which she was stoned. The stoning happened and it is criminal. We're not disputing that. (Some media outlets are.) The reasons for the stoning? Even the media is now putting distance between themselves and the Shakespeare in the Park narrative. As Elaine noted August 15th:

Then I read the snapshot and, some good news, if you use the links on the bombings in northern Iraq, you'll see some MSM outlets are expressing skepticsm of the narrative and not merely repeating it. It may very well be true, about the whys of the stoning; however, there's been no evidence offered of that Romeo & Juliet narrative. If it is true, I'd just like to know how it is true. I don't think there's any excuse for stoning anyone. I'm not even questioning the stoning (although, maybe I should, at least one story did not[e] the cell phone captures were not verified). I'm only questioning how you look [at] a sect that is being targeted with forced marriage and decide, "Oh, no, this was love. This was true love."

If it was, all I think is that the press should have offered proof of it and I never saw any. I saw a cute little narrative, I saw a lot of what looked like leaping to conclusions.

But I never saw anything resembling proof that it wasn't a forced marriage.

Now while it is true that this community avoided leaping onto the Romeo & Juliet bandwagon because a reporter in Iraq warned C.I. that the popular narrative wasn't supported by any facts, it probably helps to know the facts and, BE HONEST, Pollitt doesn't.

In February, Minority Rights Group International issued a (PDF format) report , authored by Preti Taneja and entitled "Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication: Iraq's minority communities since 2003." The report noted that women were being kidnapped and forced to convert to other religion by men they 'married' (post-kidnapping) under duress and cited the Mandaen and Yazidi women as especially being targeted. So Pollitt rushing in during the month of May to scribble about 'love' was always going to be a hard sell. For the record, the myth that the 'young' 'lovers' were in love overlooked the man's age and the fact that no one in the press ever spoke to him but depended upon second and third-hand 'reporting.' Right about now, a genuine feminist might want to feel a little shame for scribbles that 'celebrated' a man who most likely kidnapped and raped a much younger woman. In May 2007, when Pollitt wrote, the War Crimes against Abeer were not in dispute. So, naturally, she reduced Abeer to a single-sentence (in the only thing she ever wrote about Abeer) and instead (this is where the xenophobia allegations against Pollitt really take root -- though reach another level when she slams Alexander Cockburn) went to town on a story that including many non-verified details to write about what we'll term those 'savages'.

vanden Heuvel wants to stress that the magazine has covered "week in and week out" Iraq when, not only is that false, they couldn't even cover the news in real time. It's not that they weren't aware of Abeer, they just didn't care. It didn't fit the 'frame' they were into. So much easier to, as Pollitt did, slam the 'savages' than to hold Americans accountable for what were crimes and what have resulted in convictions. And that's really at the heart (or 'frame') of The Nation's alleged Iraq coverage since the 2004 election. The issue is never the very real tragedy for Iraqis, it's all about the US. (Alexander Cockburn remains the exception and, as we've noted before, we count him as being part of CounterPunch, not The Nation. The slams from The Nation in print and online have only encouraged our belief more so.)

So possibly, Cindy Sheehan's noting that reality when she writes, "Maybe Katha Pollitt et al. should go to the Middle East and view the carnage that this Administration has caused with the complicity of the Democratic Party, which she so stridently defends."

Of course Pollitt misses the point (or pretends to) writing, "Sheehan accuses me of 'stridently' (nice --does anyone EVER use that word for a man?) defending the Democratic Party's 'complicity' in the war and of not caring about the sufferings of Iraqis the way she does."

Pollitt needs to get a new set of glasses in her advanced age because Sheehan never writes what Pollitt's claiming (however, Sheehan should write it). As for "strident," we've USED the term and applied it to many males. Pollitt's bound to her NYC bubble and only gets out, apparently, when it's time to carpet bag by voting in another state.

Sheehan's writing is actually a letter to the magazine. Katrina vanden Heuvel attempts to bill it as a "dialogue." As Ellen Willis once said, vanden Heuvel likes and courts weak personalities because they're so much easier to control. And it's so much easier to dub something a 'dialogue' when vanden Heuvel can ensure she gets the last word. It's not a dialogue. Sheehan wrote a letter to the editor and instead of doing the smart thing and considering it, vanden Heuvel strikes her floating-on-a-cloud pose to get in the last word. We find her pose laughable but do prefer it to the smutty mouth she sports on Comedy Central. Or maybe she honestly believes an independent woman of the left should attempt to come off like Monica Lewinsky?

What we do know is that the magazine has the child of war resisters in the midst. And they work really hard to avoid noting that in the same way they work really hard to avoid covering Ivan Brobeck, Patrick Hart, Joshua Key, Kimberly Rivera, Linjamin Mull, Corey Glass, Marc Train, Ross Spears, Phil McDowell, Robin Long, Ryan Johnson, Kyle Snyder, Christian Kjar, Phil McDowell, Dean Walcott and the many others who have gone to Canada as a result of the US engaging in an illegal war.

What we do know is that their laughable article avoid interviewing any of those people. Strange since even the US military wanted to interview Joshua Key after he wrote about (see his book The Deserter's Tale) War Crimes in Iraq -- wanted it so badly they crossed the border into Canada, posed as Canadian police and harassed Winnie Ng.

"What!" readers of The Nation gasp. They gasp because The Nation ignored that story as well.

Gregory Levey (writing in Salon) would cover that topic while The Nation would ignore it. That story also includes the pre-wedding arrest of Kyle Snyder, in Canada, on the orders of the US military. An investigation is currently underweigh in Canada on that issue and, while we expect a white wash, that an investigation has been launched goes to the outrage Canadians have over the violation of their national sovereignty by Canadian police willing to be tools in service of the US military.

We enjoyed Pollitt's faux outrage at her writing being dubbed done "stridently" especially since that high horse Pollitt loves to hop on, BE HONEST, never includes calling out her own magazine. As we noted July 4th (though Pollitt stayed silent), The Nation's record of publishing women is shameful.

"Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you must have a penis"
Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"
Are You A Writer For The Nation? If so, chances are you have a penis"

Pollitt never bothered to express outrage over that publicly though she has (repeatedly) taken the New York Times to task for the number of women they run on the op-ed pages -- from the Glass House she resides in.

July 4th, we tackled the magazine's disgraceful record of publishing women. Jess mentioned that to someone at an organization when replying to their e-mail to C.I. The result was that the e-mail was passed on. (And we're still waiting for the apology which better be coming soon or we may run the e-mail Jess was replying to at The Third Estate Sunday Review. If the pass on was supposed to 'embarrass' Jess, trust us, the original e-mail will be embarrassing for the organization. C.I. has given permission for the e-mail to be published because Jess was replying for C.I. and "If replies can be passed on, so can the original e-mail. No privacy protection works one way.") As a result, The Nation attempted an end-run at the last minute (July 2nd) where they tried to derail our article. For that reason, no one discussed this article other than to note it would run at all sites and would cover The Nation. Even when a sudden 'fan' with The Nation showed up last week to ask what the topic would be? (Friends at the magazine revealed the 'fan' wasn't and that it was most likely a fishing trip to gear up for another attempted pre-empt.)

July 7th, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez spoke with one author of The Nation's laughable piece and we've been accused of ignoring that. We weren't ignoring that Democracy Now! broadcast. We were holding our comments for this article. If you watched the broadcast you should have noticed what Goodman and Gonzalez, not The Nation provided, excerpts from interviews with war resisters that they (Goodman and Gonzalez) had conducted. We applaud them for seeing the obvious flaw in The Nation's overly praised report and doing their part to make sure they didn't fall into the same trap.

This article focused on war resisters and it may be news to some at The Nation that Naomi Klein is the child of war resisters. It may cause some uncomfortable moments among the many who have avoided the topic of war resisters. Later this month, Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism is released (September 18th). We've all read it, it's amazing. (It will also be available in audio format on CD.) You can write something that amazing when you're a true independent voice as opposed to a party organ playing the notes instructed by a 'frame'. It's also worth noting that the most in depth article Klein wrote on Iraq, the must read "Baghdad Year Zero," ran not in The Nation, but in Harper's Magazine.

As for The Nation, we'd hope to be done with it. We don't bother to read it anymore. But we're hearing stories -- including the destroying of Laura Flanders' brilliant radio show to turn it into an hour long infomerical each week for The Nation magazine -- and may have to tackle those at a future date. We hear a great deal from friends on the masthead of the magazine -- and we should probably note here that everyone with the magazine does not endorse or embrace the embarrassment it has become -- so we can't rule out tackling it again. We'd honestly prefer to be done with it. If community members make it an issue, C.I. has to tackle it at The Common Ills. The rest of us have the luxury of writing about whatever we want and we really don't see much value in writing about a useless magazine whose editor and publisher is bound and determined to make it increasingly useless (while plugging organizations that she and her father belong to without ever disclosing that fact). But when someone with the magazine wants to unload, as they frequently do, we will still listen and possibly write about.

It's easy to write off the useless magazine because it's not interested in war resistance at a time of illegal war. To learn about that, you have to go elsewhere. For information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

-- 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,
Wally of
The Daily Jot,
Trina of
Trina's Kitchen,
and Ruth of
Ruth's Report

naomi klein

war resisters

peace resister

Katrina vanden Heuvel
iraqaidan delgadocamilo mejia
joshua keykyle snyderdemocracy now
juan gonzalezamy goodmangregory levey
laura flanders

alexander cockburn

international socialist review

the progressive

like maria said paz

kats korner

sex and politics and screeds and attitude

trinas kitchen

the daily jot

cedrics big mix

mikey likes it

thomas friedman is a great man

the third estate sunday review

ruths reportthe common ills

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Truest statement of the week

Our politicians despair that there can be no way to override Bush and save our young and everybody of any age in Iraq.
Of course there is. By all the energy and dignified disgust of a nation that needs it to keep any semblance of greatness, there is an extraordinary need for an impeachment of this president and his vice president.
You start an impeachment with an investigator who starts to develop a case. That’s what got Nixon out. He had the most expensive, elaborate defense in the world, and when they were pressed his assistants folded and Nixon quit. I wonder whether Bush and his people can do any better when pressed.

-- Jimmy Breslin, "Remove Bush Over War Lies" (Common Dreams via Newsday).

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --

Long Sunday. We ditched mail bag and a number of other features to get something together in the limited amount of time before we had to catch our flight out of here.

Here's who worked on this edition:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim,
Rebecca of
Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of
Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of
The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of
Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of
Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of
Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of
Like Maria Said Paz,
and Wally of
The Daily Jot

We thank all of the above and Dallas for hunting down links and being a soundboard.

Here's what we've got.

Truest statement of the week -- Breslin telling it like it is.

Editorial: Impeach -- There really are no more excuses for the Democrats refusing to bring impeachment.

TV: The Soggy Katrina retrospectives -- Where's Lopez? That was Dona and my (Jim) question. Ava and C.I. wrote this during the time that we were editing the other pieces. When they were done they couldn't believe we were still editing. No Lopez this week. We were all on the road (along with Kat -- Wally joined up for some of the mid-week travel and speaking). Ava and C.I. caught the Katrina coverage and figured that having wasted their time on so much bad coverage, they could write about that. (We also think they're carrying the Lopez commentary over to El Espirito as Ava has threatened.) This is really amazing. We were expecting Lopez and for it to be light because we know how tired we all are. Instead, they provided a hard hitting commentary. If you're not someone who did the job needed, you'll probably read it and weep. (Hoprah!)

How Not To Stage A Rally -- We hadn't planned to come to Texas. Let us say first off, community members in the DFW area are committed, do care, are willing to work. And you made Dallas pleasurable (not just bearable) for our last minute Saturday visit and party. We grasp you are not to blame for the nonsense in Fort Worth and that's true of non-community members in the area as well. There was no leadership, there were no efforts to get out any news of the event and the 'media cooridnator' tended to piss everyone off across the board by ignoring attempts at contact. It's their failure. It's not the failure of the people of the DFW area. We're noting it and we went back and forth while writing this and while editing it. We kept coming back to one member who came all the way into DFW on Saturday from Chandler, Texas. (We don't know the county but it's outside Tyler. C.I. says it is not Smith County although Tyler is Smith County.) She was furious. She was furious with the wrong information about the trains, she was furious because there were no efforts throughout the week to connect with people. She said, "This happens over and over and Texas gets this reputation for not caring. You have to write about this. You have to do it so people don't read the news stories of the low turnout and think 'Well Texans don't care'." They do care. But 'leaders' who can't get their acts together hurt the entire peace movement. We're moving on before we tell you what we really think of those 'leaders'.

A Day in Dallas and time wasted at Parkland -- "Skanks"? That's not the term we used while writing. We couldn't think of a term. Betty came up with skanks and before she left (she and her oldest son are already en route back to Georgia), she told us she had no idea. "I think they're trashy, like hookers. Or sleazy." We don't care what they are, the word's perfect for the "VOLUNTEERS." Time permitting we'll go in and add two lines that accidently got lost during the editing process.

The GOP's new Larry Craig Diet -- Short feature! And do we have any illustrations? We were without our paint, et al. Without a scanner. So you've got us using older illustrations and public domain photos.

10 CDs -- As requested, it's back for this issue. Dona was watching the clock like a hawk.

Things to Watch -- Apologies to Kimberly Wilder, we meant to note the Green Party press release last week. We mean to do a lot. These are always a scramble.

Highlights -- Thank you to Mike, Kat, Elaine, Cedric, Wally, Rebecca and Betty for doing this feature. We appreciate their hard work.

We're headed home and that's going to be it. See you next week.

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

Editorial: Impeach

A progressive group of U.S. nuns has called on Congress to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney because of their roles in the war in Iraq.
"The National Coalition of American Nuns is impelled by conscience to call you to act promptly to impeach President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for ... high crimes and misdemeanors," the group wrote in a letter written on behalf of its board members.

So reports The Winston-Salem Journal. File it under 'just another dull homebody'. In fact, we're thinking that magazine ad should be revived to note all the people who do favor impeachment of which the National Coalition of American Nuns is only the latest to come forward.

At exactly what point does Congress start taking notice?

Last Tuesday, US House Rep John Conyers (who attended a pre-illegal war session on the need for impeachment as well as penning a book on why Bully Boy needs to be impeached after the illegal war had started) appeared on Democracy Now! where he explained that his response to impeachment "is that we have several things to do in -- I begin this part of our conversation by indicating that I have nothing but the highest regard for Cindy Sheehan. But the question of how we orchestrate moving a congressional schedule forward of accomplishments -- we're pretty proud of what we've done in eight months after having no control over the agenda for twelve years. . . . We also are trying to make sure that we don't bring resolutions or hearings that would put the election in jeopardy. We could close down the Congress -- I have been in more impeachment hearings than anybody in the House or the Senate. And our legislative attempts to reverse so many things would come to a stop. And it is doubtful if we wouldn’t go into an election with not one, but at least two attempts to remove the top executive officers in the country, I don't think that that can happen."

There is no need for impeaching two "top executives". You go after the Bully Boy. Anything else is wasting time. (Yes, we are aware Dennis Kucinich has introduced a motion to impeach Dick Cheney.) The reality is that if Bully Boy is forced from office, you've got Cheney with a year or less (or more) in the Oval Office. (Provided the evidence from Bully Boy's impeachment did not require Cheney to step down or for impeachment proceedings to be started immediately against him.) Here's DC reality. Bully Boy's a lame duck. Cheney becoming president would be even more so. People have futures to secure, they've got jobs to line up. Think the rats are deserting now? They really would if Cheney took over. You might actually get some grown ups in government because he'd either have to go for the most obviously incompetent (and desperate for the resume listing) or else go for seasoned professionals (who are to the right of us but certainly less extreme than the current crowd). Cheney would be a lame duck only more so.

If he tried to start a war illegally? Impeach him. It won't be very difficult. He has no good will factor with the public. In fact, he's self-serving enough that, in the face of Bully Boy being impeached, he might try to sport a kinder and gentler Dr. Death in the months remaining to get a historical pass as the 'healer' who brought the country back together. (He might not, but the point is he's a lame duck and no one knows how he'd act in that situation with those limitations imposed upon him.)

John Conyers told Amy Goodman that it was just too much work but impeachment proceedings into Nixon's White House did not bring the government to a standstill. Nor did the impeachment process mean the government came to a standstill when Bill Clinton was president.

So that really just leaves elections. If the 2008 elections are to determine everything, Conyers and other Democrats might want to get wise to the anger and frustration on the part of many voters with a Congress that does nothing. The eight months Conyers is so proud of have demonstrated little to actually be proud of.

"OMG! Everyone picks on John Conyers! he is just one person!"

As Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) noted last week:

Nancy Pelosi, he [Conyers] said, "cannot prevent me from introducing an impeachment resolution."
He added: "I want you to know that I have no reticence, no reluctance, no hesitation to use the tool of impeachment . . . whenever I feel that it is appropriate."
So what's his hesitation now?

Exactly what is his hesitation? Does he not know what constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors? Does he think lying a nation into an illegal war is minor?

Now there's a number of factors he could be impeached for (torture, his assault on the rule of law, go down the list) but let's just stay with Iraq because the Katha Pollitts of the world love to say they're not a "single-issue voter."

Iraq's a single issue?

You're talking about deceiving the public. You're talking about betraying democracy. You're talking about fixing intell. You're also talking about death and destruction in Iraq. Now the Kathas are never overly concerned with Iraq to begin with (they certainly haven't made the last four years about covering it) so maybe they just don't give a damn about the Iraqis killed and maimed daily? Maybe it doesn't matter to them because they're xenophobes? Or maybe coming off like a pushy high school sophomore doesn't allow a lot of time to contemplate, let alone grow the hell up.

Iraq is under assault. The US started the illegal war. We're really sorry that to the Kathas the illegal war is just a single-issue but, from where we stand, the US started the illegal war and the responsibility to end is a US responsibility. With over a million Iraqis killed, over four million turned into refugees, with diseases breaking out as a result of a lack of potable water, with the intended theft of Iraqi oil, we really don't see the illegal war as simplistically as the unable to BE HONEST Kathas.

It's past time to impeach the Bully Boy. But the Kathas think the answer to America's future is targeting "Blue Dogs" in the 2008 election. It's all about the 2008 elections for the cowards and spineless.

Is the country going to make it to the 2008 elections? That's a serious question. The US as we know it has already changed so much under the Bully Boy that it will take years to undue (especially with Democrats who are itching for some of the same powers Bully Boy created for himself).

A Congress that refuses to defend itself, let alone the people, isn't much of a Congress. A Congress that allows the Constitution to be repeatedly shredded (and, even as the minority party, the Dems mounted no real resistance to Bully Boy while they were out of power) isn't much of a Congress. And standing by after using the (laughable) excuse that they (Dems) were out of power or they would have stopped the assaults of the Bully Boy just demonstrates that they are unable to mount an opposition even when they have the votes.

It's past time to impeach.

TV: The Soggy Katrina retrospectives

Last week saw the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. A few commentators tossed in Rita as will. Wilma? It never got much national attention in real time. Apparently homes going without electricity for weeks on end (including during the Thanksgiving holiday) is 'normal' and, certainly, damages of "$16.8 billion in southern Florida" are the norm, right?

MyTV may have offered the most useless 'special' but at least they didn't pretend to be about anything other New Orleans. Watching the non-stop "Katrina" dubbed coverage which actually only covered New Orleans, we couldn't help but wonder about the victims at the Pentagon who are left out when 9-11 is reduced to "the Twin Towers"?

Arthel Neville was the 'host' or 'anchor' of the MyTV 'coverage.' Apparently so thrilled to be working after CNN ditched her, Arthel had trouble with the teleprompter which would explain the mistaken pause in her introduction that made it sound like she was not part of the Neville family but the Moore family. Rupert Murdoch's latest bomb served up the news that the 'tragedy' of New Orleans was a musical scene lost (something Arthel's own family has disputed, just FYI) and, swiping Don McLean's Chevy, aired Going Back To New Orleans, The Deacon John Film.

Though not quite on the level of his 'bravo' performance in Angel Heart, if a bunch of tunes was what you needed to understand tragedy, Arthel and MyTV were serving it up via The Deacon.

This was the second worst of the worsts so MyTV can take comfort in that. It's two years later and between Katrina and the annual "Diana died this time in 1997" 'coverage,' news consumers might wonder if another 'big event' takes place in the same period will all 'news' be reduced to nothing but 'retrospective'?

It's two years later. There are serious problems in New Orleans (and elsewhere) but the coverage didn't reflect that. So any viewers who felt "Two years later and you still haven't gotten on with your lives!" are forgiven.

Pacifica Radio (in various forms) did a fine job of covering the very real issues. TV?

Let's turn the worst offender. Hoprah. Hoprah Winfrey. So busy selling clouds of fancy, she can't even produce an hour of television worth watching. But Hoprah, in the midst of her vacation, decided to do a Katrina (New Orleans) show, bags under the eyes past the cheekbones be damned. (Exactly what kind of a vacation was she in the midst of? Or is she fasting?)

Hoprah, once upon a time, produced a show that wasn't a total waste of time. That's when the woman who was abused as a child could still connect with reality. These days, it's listen to some woman or man cry while she nods and half-way acts concerned (she's lost the ability to fake it and her eyes today dart around when she's supposed to be attentive) before throwing an arm in the air (just one) and hollering something like, "RUSSELL CROWE!" to immediately move into the next segment.

Hoprah wants to inspire and watching her attempt to inspire and inspire over New Orleans, we had to wonder when she plans to retire? She's announced the end was coming before but fails to keep that promise. She really should.

At one point, in her early days, she overtook Phil Donahue. She did that with trashy shows only a notch above Jerry Springer. Then she morphed from Oprah into Hoprah and it's been light days (in the maxi-pad sense) ever since. If you never caught Donahue, you don't realize what a loss his departure has been for daytime TV.

Never was that more clear than on August 29th when she showed up with a new wig and a host of characters. Hoprah's not interested in people anymore. She'll toss out the cars to anyone who still watches but that's as close as she wants to get to the crowd. So she 'anchored' her special which was 'reporting' from other people. Hoprah couldn't be bothered with going to New Orleans herself and she apparently didn't want to talk to anyone from there either.

Anderson Cooper, sporting his newest hairstyle (Dennis the Menace), used his normal speaking voice when on a couch talking with Hoprah and that may have surprised CNN viewers. He tends to 'butch it up' when on CNN (he did while with ABC's overnight news program as well).

Anderson's now famous for something other than the rumors about being gay (and most at ABC news thought he was and thought he was out when he was at their network long before he did The Mole -- but in a week of Larry Craig, who the hell knows anymore?) and for his mother's tacky jeans. He's infamous around the world as The Crying Newscaster. And it was a real shame that, although he sported those biceps his always obsessive gym time has built, he refused to shed a tear. He is the Phyllis George of the 'news' set with all that entails.

Anderson wanted you to know that only 60% of New Orleans residents have returned since Katrina struck.

"I don't want people to forget what they saw here those terrible days after the storm. I don't want people to just move on and not remember," he declared, presumably about what happened in New Orleans and, by 'what happened,' we mean the fact that his ratings shot up and he finally became the TV star he always wanted to be.

Sitting solo on a couch across from Hoprah, Anderson explained how he doesn't "think anybody in America should be invisible." If you thought that was the perfect intro for a New Orleans guest to be brought out, you shouldn't apply to produce the show any time soon. Hoprah was nodding (and darting her eyes) while he spoke. Obviously they both agreed, people shouldn't be invisible but apparently they also shouldn't be invited to the White-White couches of Hoprah-ville. Anderson did mention how many people could not move back and there wasn't a plan for them to but we had to take his word for it because no one who couldn't move back to New Orleans wasn't invited on.

Then it was time for more nonsense, this time from Dr. Mehmet Oz who's part of Hoprah's "Angel Network". Dr. Oz did mention Mississippi so maybe we shouldn't be so hard on him? But it's hard enough to take his fey "Angel" nature and tacking on "Dr. Oz" really doesn't help. He, like Anderson, sat on the couch and audiences were treated to a filmed 'report' by Dr. Oz. While New Orleans has suffered serious medical setbacks, Dr. Oz explaining to America that most in New Orleans now go to the emergency room for all primary care really doesn't lead to shock when most Americans, in any area, do the same. In fact, all of his generic nonsense could have been delivered by anyone. In fact, last week Sandra Day O'Connor came close to saying the same things about the American medical system.

Then it was time to skip over to the issue of trailers and learn that they weren't safe. Why? Presumably the Mad Cow lawsuit (which she won) scared Hoprah so much that solid details will never come from her show. But Steven and Lisa Huckabee were interviewed about the tumor he's developed in his mouth. What's to be done? Trailers are being moved out! That's about the level of depth Hoprah could offer.

Now from the Huckabees we went to a woman who suffered "a vicious attack" in New Orleans, one Helen Hill. She, her husband Paul Gaillunas and the Huckabees are all White. These days, so is Hoprah. (She loves the wigs, what Diana Ross used to refer to as "my White girl hair.")

Though Anderson has the 'serious' news credentials, for some reason Lisa Ling was sent to "the most dangerous and crime-ridden section of town." We like Ling and we think she did the best report (an actual one) broadcast on the show. We should note that she found non-Whites. Strange, isn't it, that she could do that when so many couldn't (or, more likely, wouldn't).

Ling was in the middle of discussing the crime rate and noting that the French Quarter is considered 'safe' when Anderson had to chime in to plug an eatery (there's a reason he has to spend so many hours in the gym -- and while we say 'reason,' others whisper 'eating disorder') and plug casinos.

Gayle King (remember she's just Hoprah's friend!) then did a report on the Ninth Ward which consisted of more trailers. Too much time was spent on the 'smell' coming from one toilet (credit to King for interviewing people of color) for the show not to have taken a sample of the water to be analyzed. But Hoprah's more interested in heartbreak. So King's report focused on how the family visits the area their home used to be in so that the kids 'can be kids.' We saw them jumping rope and other things but felt that since part of 'kids being kids' is going to the restroom, we did wonder about spending a day in a condemned, non-repaired section of New Orleans and how that was supposed to be 'hopeful'?

Just when you thought maybe they'd finally get to reality (lousy planning by the federal, state and local government), it was time for more Hoprah and a report on the "million" volunteers with Anderson crediting them for anything positive that had happened. (Take that, residents who moved back.) Then it was time for Anderson to play soulful so for this interview he spoke with a resident who also happened to be a person of color. The take-away from Anderson's interview with Herbert Gettridge was: Herbert came back and rebuilt, what's the problem with all the rest who left?

As the show wound down, Hoprah noted that Gayle had interviewed New Orleans mayor (we would say "New Orleans failure") Ray Nagin. Hoprah read off the statement Nagin gave Gayle, "I'm the last man standing. People expect me to do miracles, and I can do that but I need some resources to get the job done." Hoprah did nothing to question that statement. She did, however, jump in to answer a question by insisting that people who wanted to help should give to her "Angel Network" because all the money went to help.


Because the rumors we've heard is that there's a huge glut of overhead costs -- we've heard the glut consists of non-essential monies spent. If Hoprah's saying that's not the case, that's good to know -- especially since we're talking over $15 million in donations. It's probably also worth noting that Jerry Lewis only gets a days worth of time this time of year to plead on TV for his cause, Hoprah's there 52 weeks a year, five days a week.

Of course, criticism of Hoprah tends to result in her pulling the plug (as she did on her reading club when a featured, living author dared to criticize her). But we really don't think she could raise much money by dropping back to the victims of The Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

Just as people were missing from the special unless they had personal (and only personal) stories to tell with no connections that point to government responsibilities (maybe Ann Curry briefed Hoprah on how to do a special?), Hoprah avoided issues such as the shoot to kill order, the mercenaries (BlackWater) brought into New Orleans and any thing that might offer a bit too much reality and not enough pulling of the heart strings.

And you really couldn't count on the 360 degrees of Anderson Cooper on CNN either. His own coverage, which he hawked on Hoprah, wasn't any better. Anderson 'blogged' about his one day coverage (coverage Hoprah insisted was the finest -- but remember, Hoprah was part of the team that sold the current illegal war):

I'm not big on anniversaries, especially ones recognized by television.
They always seem artificial to me. Maybe I'm just cynical about television, but whenever I hear a newscast making a big deal about the anniversary of an event, I always assume it must be a slow news cycle.

Yeah, we'd assume that too -- having sat through the tear-fest Andy offered. (He allowed others to cry.) It's worth noting that Katie Couric is anchoring the CBS Evening News from Iraq this week and the response to that from the Water Cooler Set has been, "Ratings stunt!" It's September. Who's not trying to get ratings? (And what was Anderson's soggy 'news' coverage of Katrina but a ratings stunt?) One of the more idiotic of the Water Cooler Set suggested that instead of sending Couric, CBS should send a news team into Iraq. Apparently, the set suffers from water on the brain because CBS has long had their own news crew in Iraq.

The reason Couric's going to Iraq (besides ratings) is, and the Water Cooler Set can't tell you since it's too hard for them to dig up information, because it's what viewers want. CBS News randomly samples visitors to their website (visitors who agree to take a poll) and the most consistent trend over the last three months has been the request for more coverage of Iraq in the polling. If you speak to anyone in CBS News (on the sets or in the offices), you'll quickly find that out. It's why, while other network newscasts have cut back on Iraq, CBS has continued to provide Iraq coverage. You may or may not like the coverage (and that's your opinion and you're entitled to it) but Iraq didn't fall of CBS News' radar and two other networks can't make the same claim. With Iraq cited repeatedly over three months, the decision was made to go to Iraq.

If Couric (whom we know and like) blows it, does a lousy job, in Iraq, by all means pile on. Even call her "Katey" (yeah, we saw that) and bring out all the 'critiques' of her that were offered before she sat down in the anchor chair for the first time. But until then, possibly, one might wait a moment or two for the actual news content to air before rushing in with the ridicule?

Everyone wants to pump up their ratings, no question. But CBS News' reason for picking Iraq was the feedback they have consistently received for the last three months. And if the Water Cooler Set wanted to knock around CBS News, we found it strange that in a week where Harry led Monday's Early Show trumpeting the 'good news' about the housing scandal -- houses are getting cheaper! -- the focus was yet again on Katie Couric.

We also find it strange that in a week that saw us in several different cities and repeatedly encountering the same announcement ("King of the Hill brought to you by the US Navy"), Katie Couric's trip to Iraq was the thing to obsess over. With Family Guy about to start airing in syndication and the US military gearing up to use the built-in adolescent audiences for animated shows as potential recruits, we honestly believe there were more things to be worried over. ADDED 9-4-07: A new book dealing with the way the military is targeting students, Army of None, published by Seven Stories Press, available at Courage to Resist and many other places, provides details on how the targeting works and how to fight it. Aimee Allison and David Solnit are the authors and they will be traveling this month and next getting the word out on the book. Clicking here will give you more info and the book was addressed in "2 Books, 20 minutes" earlier this month.

So if you were a TV watcher and wanted to get some reality about New Orleans, was there anywhere to go?

Yes, there was. Democracy Now! While Juan Gonzalez handled the anchoring duties from the Firehouse Studio in NYC, Goodman went down to New Orleans to report. Want the kind of reality Anderson and Hoprah weren't in the mood for? You could watch (or listen or read) Goodman's report on the killings on Danziger Bridge, killings of victims of Hurricane Katrina trying to escape the hurricane -- six people shot by the police (two of which died). Or maybe, like the member of Hoprah's audience, you were interested in the realities of charities? Goodman reported on the problems (that's putting it mildly) with the Red Cross efforts (or lack of them) in New Orleans. A discussion on the realities of any 'improvements' to the system or government responsibility didn't take place with Anderson or Hoprah, you had to go to Goodman and Gonzalez interviewing John McQauid. Hoprah offered us a shot of a school and some silly words about it. If you wanted to know the realities of what's happening with New Orleans schools, you had to turn to Goodman who reported on the seizure by the state of 107 schools in New Orleans which were being turned into charter schools. Charter schools reduce teachers to line clerks at McDonalds and also destroy unions which is why the Bully Boy has pushed them from the beginning.

The realities that people need to be aware of today? We'll start with the fact that Hurricane Katrina has lost a lot of it's 'heat'. People are tired of the topic. There is very much a feeling that victims are like someone who got dumped and, two years after, should have already gotten over it.

Now the reality is that the government failed the victims (originally and repeatedly) and that's not conveyed with Hoprah and Anderson turning to brave volunteers and minimizing the government failures then and now. Their 'reporting' adds nothing to understanding. It pulls at the heart strings for a moment until the next heart grabbing story comes along. It does nothing to convey the lessons that should have been learned (but have not been learned by the government -- local, state and national). It's a kind of political and historical ignorance and that this is what the big moneyed shows had to offer is shameful.

The late political theorist Judith N. Shklar addressed the issues that allowed events like Hurricane Katrina to become injustices in her book Faces of Injustice (1990, based on lectures given at Yale Law School in 1988):

When is a disaster a misfortune and when is it an injustice? Intuitively the answer seems quite obvious. If the dreadful event is caused by the external forces of nature, it is a misfortune and we must resign ourselves to our suffering. Should, however, some ill-intentioned agent, human or supernatural, have brought it about, then it is an injustice and we may express indignation and outrage.
[. . .]
An earthquake is surely a natural event, but that is not all that can or will in fact be said about it if a lot of damage is done and many people perish. . . . Many buildings do collapse because contractors have violated construction codes and bribed inspectors. The population is rarely fully warned of these dangers, which technologically sophistacted devices can predict. Public authorities, moreover, may not always make serious prepartions for the eventuality. There would be no effectively organized emergency measures, no adequate medical relief and no swift transportation for the injured. Many will die who might have been saved. Where had their taxes gone to?

The problems for residents of New Orleans were not "external forces of nature." The problems were governmental failures. The Hurricane itself was the least of the problems. Had preparations been made that should have, Katrina would most likely be nothing but a story of rising waters that receded shortly after. The problems after Katrina hit were also governmental failures. Two years later, why can't some victims get over it? How could they?

The mini-lotto-like payout to victims was an embarrassment. Every thing was lost and lost because their government (on every level) failed them. The petty cash thrown at them was cash that was understood to be provided to tide them over. This was not enough money to start over and anyone who thinks that is kidding themselves. So the idea that they should 'get over' what happened fails to recognize that so many are still out of the area and have been given no 'right of return.' A number went to surrounding states, some spread even further. But the understanding was that New Orleans was being rebuilt and they just had to wait. New Orleans has been rebuilt. The parts that the government(s) cared about. Big Business is back in New Orleans and Anderson can tell you where to go to eat or gamble to be sure. But for people who made it their home, who had family and friends streching back for decades and decades, many of them have nothing to return to all this time later. The money tossed at them was never seen as "starting over" money. It was money that was supposed to hold them over as they waited for the day (not expected to take a year, let alone two and counting) when they could return.

When big-monied dumb ass TV personalities provide cover for Big Money, they probably should pat themselves on the back a lot less because they've done nothing praise worthy . Their audiences who think they have been 'touched' have just been misinformed and should really be turning to new news content providers. Two years after Hurricane Katrina, that probably still remains the strongest reality.

How Not To Stage A Rally

Or, "Get your act together or get off the stage."


September is a month of actions and we're writing this feature for two reasons:

1) Honestly we're pissed at the nonsense that went on in Fort Worth.

2) There are a lot of other actions this month and hopefully others will have it together but, if they don't grasp why they need to, they need only look to Texas.

Texans for Peace (and Ego?) staged a . . . nothing.

They have no one to blame for that but themselves. They planned poorly, they refused to do publicity for it and they pissed off a huge portion of people that were early on last week excited.

Want to suppress turnout, follow their 'model.'

Here's your first clue. If you can stage an event in the state of New York in either NYC or Dabney, you go with NYC.

For some reason, Texans for Peace decided the place to stage a big rally in north Texas was Fort Worth. As Carly Simon has sung, "It's a cow town, it's a cow town." Let's say the event had been a success (it wasn't) and had received national press. People across America reading their papers the next day wouldn't be thinking, "Wow! Look at those numbers!" They'd be thinking, "Where the hell is Fort Worth?"

Dallas and Houston are the best known Texas cities nationally (and they both have football teams associated with them). After that, it's Austin. Dallas was where over 500,000 rallied in April 2006. Dallas is not just nationally known, it's internationally known. The locale was a huge mistake. (And didn't, as Eddie explained to us Saturday, take into account the long term rivalries between Dallas and Fort Worth.)

The city choice was bad planning.

It was not the last of the bad choices.

When those of us who flew to Dallas Saturday morning (all but Cedric did, he had a family wedding), we landed at DFW. The rally itself began at 12:30 p.m. to be followed by a march. We were grabbing taxis outside DFW when Rebecca said, "Forget it, I'm staying at the hotel." Why? She had her infant child with her. "I'm not taking my baby out in this heat for hours." (Hotel? If you're a community member and didn't get a call Saturday morning that we were going to stay overnight in Dallas, our apologies. It was last minute. Read on.) (We were told at DFW that the temperature was around 94 degrees.)

On a Saturday, a non-work day for most people, and a Saturday that's a holiday weekend, why the hell do you invite people to stand around for hours (12:30 to 3:30) in hell-like temperatures?

Answer? You don't. Billie (like Eddie, Billie lives in the area) explained to us that one of the complaint that gets tossed out each August is that schools really do not need to start back up until after Labor Day because it's so hot. It was hot. Too hot to plan a mid-day rally.

For some idiotic reason, the free event required tickets. They wanted people to print up tickets so they could have a number count. If they're taking tickets, presumably they can do a head count at the same places they'd be taking tickets. The ticket nonsense irked people. (Which was why C.I. repeatedly noted last week, you don't need a ticket. Hopefully that was true, hopefully people weren't being turned away if they didn't print out a ticket.)

Worst of all was the issue of media. At the party we staged (we skipped the event), a reporter for one of Dallas's big stations explained he attempted to contact the group in advance of the event and never got a reply.

There was laughter when he said that because that may have been the biggest mistake Texans for Peace made.

James Hohmann (Dallas Morning News) notes this in his write up, "Protest spokeswoman Alyssa Burgin said the fact that the straw poll itself did not draw as many delegates and candidates as Republican officials had announced likely kept crowds away."

No, Alyssa Burgin kept people away from the protests.

Early on community members in Texas began e-mailing C.I. and calling. They don't like Alyssa Burgin. They never knew of her until last week. But they didn't like being blown off by her.

Texans for Peace's website carried this message:

Whether you plan to be in town for the Republican President Straw Poll, or are coming expressly for the American People's Straw Poll on Iraq, welcome. We will have a media/ blogger tent, a platform for video cameras and media packets available for you as early a 10:00 on September 1.
Please help us to plan for the event my registering for the event. To register as Media/Blogger/Podcaster, please contact Alyssa Burgin, media coodinator,

A number of Texas community members planned to take photos. At some point a group decided that if they could get on the media list, they'd be able to get some really good photos that they could share. (Three community members did attend. Their photos run in today's El Espirito. They will run nowhere else.) So they wrote and wrote and wrote. And Burgin, the alleged media 'coodinator' (who'd already blown off a Dallas TV station), blew them off as well. There was never a reply.

Isaiah, The Common Ills' cartoonist, got wind of what was happening (every one in Texas knew, and many outside of it, what was going on there). He wrote three times. He included his phone number. He included his full name, his place of work, his home address. He noted where the photos would run. Had he gotten a reply of any kind, photos would be running at all websites. Counting mirror sites, that would have been twelve. He noted that it photos would run in newsletter (that would have been four newsletters). He e-mailed three times. He never got a reply of any form. He used the e-mail address posted (which possibly was wrong -- if so, check your information that you post to make sure you posted correctly). By the time Isaiah joined the list of the blown off, the community was done with what Diana called "that f**king circle-jerk."

Billie earlier, we're talking 2003 right after the illegal war started, tried to work with Dallas' peace chapter on the issue of the Clear Channel staged 'independent' war rallies. The chapter had no interest in it.

Billie declares, "It was made perfectly clear to me that my Black ass wasn't welcome in their chanting, ego-tripping group."

Texas organizations have a bad image with Texans and the reason is because the organizations can't get their sh*t together. An East Texas member who ended up debating a Republican and Libertarian campaign spokesperson in 1992, offered the best example. At the time he was a college student. He was volunteering with that county's Democratic chapter. He showed up for his daily hours after classes only to learn he'd be debating in a public forum in a matter of hours. Why? Ron Brown was coming to the area and everyone wanted to be there. The local chair, the paid volunteers, etc. Everyone wanted to meet the 'star' so a planned debate (that the local Republican and Libertarian spokesperson would still be attending) was being blown off by one and all. He said he told them he wasn't prepared for a debate. He wasn't even comfortable with public speaking. He was told they just needed a body there. (What a confidence builder!) He had less than half an hour before the debate (he cut his hair in the Democratic Party headquarters' bathroom during that time because he'd been putting off going to the barber to use all his spare time during the week volunteering) and no one helped him prep for the debate. (We're sure he did a great job. Despite what he still thinks, he's an effective public speaker and we've seen that first hand.)

When he shared the story Saturday at the party, everyone agreed that was how things went in Texas. A few people eager to meet 'stars' and not willing to do the work required.

After what happened on Saturday and during the lead up, we more than agree with that judgement.

Get your posted facts right. Know the TRE schedule before you post it online. When those of us still trying to get there arrived at Union Station (on the TRE and more, see "A Day in Dallas and time wasted at Parkland") we were greeted by a number of community members who were also running late because the schedule was not as posted. (The Texans for Peace website at one point offered the TRE ran every 45 minutes, currently it says it runs every 90 minutes.)

Update your website (the TRE change doesn't count). Cindy Sheehan was there. That's a 'detail' that should have gone up early. Apparently it went up 'late' (after the event swears Kendra).

Dallas has several colleges. Members who go to El Centro, Mountain View and UT at Arlington had no idea about the event from anything on campus. Were college students not seen as the 'in crowd'? Diana's oldest son, who goes to El Centro, attempted to get the word out. The question he was asked was, "Are you a part of the group?" (No.) "Well if we're welcome, shouldn't they have sent a member out to invite us or at least posted flyers on campus?" They did neither. Nor did they post fliers at libraries in Dallas. (We checked with two of the public libraries in Dallas. We were told by both -- Dallas has multiple branches, the main library is downtown -- that if they'd been asked, they would have given permission for the event to be posted on their message boards.)

Exactly how were you getting the word out when you blew off at least one mainstream news source and blew off countless people e-mailing for permission to take photos that would run at websites?

From a Google search:

Thousands to Rally in the Streets Outside GOP Straw Poll 'Bring ...PR Web (press release), WA - Aug 29, 2007

They put out a press release on the 29th. The event was on the first. The event was Saturday and they weren't issuing a press release until Wednesday. (C.I. heard about the event from a speaker on Tuesday which is why it was announced in Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot.")

As Trina noted Saturday morning:

In Texas today, there will be a big rally in Fort Worth to end the illegal war. (Details are in the snasphot.) I know a lot of community members have worked hard getting the word out so I hope it goes well. I know some members were hoping to get some pictures to share but when they contacted the organization they received no reply. One member contacted the organization three times in one day. So I am worried about the number of the turnout (and think that explains why so few members even knew about it -- ones living in Texas -- until C.I. started noting the protest this week). But a lot of people have been working on getting the word out and I am pulling for a huge turnout. I congratulate them on the turnout whatever the number is.

The way this worked for Texas community members is that they were getting excited by Wednesday when the first news was being shared among them that contacting Burgin (as the website instructed) didn't seem to be resulting in a reply. By Friday at 5:00, when Isaiah had not heard a reply to any of his three e-mails, the excitement had largely vanished. Three members did end up attending. Most skipped it and came to the community party instead.

The party had been scheduled to begin an hour after the march. Instead it started early. There were five times as many people at the party as the current press estimates on the turnout for the event in Fort Worth. And, note, the party wasn't planned until Saturday morning. Billie called as we were walking through DFW and said, "I don't think anyone's going to go." C.I. said, "Get the word out that we'll stay in Dallas and throw a party. It'll probably be a conference room in the hotel." That's when and how we ended up staying in Dallas -- because the enthusiasm for the event had gotten weak as the week wore on and cratered when Isaiah (providing everything but his Social Security number and contacting Burgin three times) couldn't get a reply.

People were sick of Burgin, were sick of the nonsense and the few that did make it to Union Station were sick of it and sweating like pigs.

Texans for Peace offered a text book example of what not to do. If there's any 'contribution' to the half-assed work they did it's in telling others how not do plan an event.

For starters, no one wants to stand or sit out in the heat during the hottest point of the day. (As late as three o'clock, Kat and Ty could see the sun straight overhead, beating down.) A 12:30 rally does not need a nine a.m. start time. A nine a.m. rally (which would have avoided the afternoon heat) might have made sense.

We strongly urge all groups and speakers not to participate with any event where the organizers cannot provide you (in writing) with their to-do lists to get attention for the event.

If the whole point was to let organizers hobnob with Cindy Sheehan, Adam Kokesh and Diane Wilson, great job!

If the point was to get people mobilized, it was a failure.

The event was a failure. Again, we had five times as many people turn out for the party that only got planned when we landed in DFW Saturday morning.

If you're the press contact, don't blow off big media. You need them. And don't blow off small media because they'll make sure everyone knows how little you think of them and make sure that people don't attend. That's exactly what happened as one community member after another got blown off by Burgin. By the time Isaiah was blown off, the community was enraged which is why Kat wrote this Friday:

Review? Yes, I'll be doing a CD review over the Labor Day weekend. Our plans changed at the end of this week and we probably won't be back in California for a bit. So I may not have the review done until Labor Day itself. But I will be writing one and it will be the one that everyone who weighed in said they wanted reviewed.

That was after the 5:00 pm deadline passed for a response to Isaiah (no response came ever, by the way, for any wondering). As member after member was blown off by Bergen, the community was already enraged. When Isaiah, writing three times and providing all his essentials (seriously, he's got everything in those e-mails but his Social Security number) was blown off, the community had decided to boycott the event. When we learned of that, we said, "Okay, let's fly out." That's what Kat meant by the last minute change. We alerted as many members as we could. Billie worked hard calling around Friday night and Saturday morning to say we were coming in (that's all participating on the writing of this except Cedric). Our party had more people than the event.

Fort Worth was the wrong city. That's why C.I. was stressing (beginning Tuesday) all the surrounding areas. It's not nationally known, it's not densely populated, it's not easily reached. For all their talk of "Take the TRE," the reality is Dallas has buses and a light rail. The reality is that the largest protest in Texas in modern history took place in Dallas in April 2006.

Texans for Peace made no effort to reach out in the areas. It would have taken a few minutes to post fliers on library bulletin boards. If they want to argue that they were short handed, had Burgin replied to any of her e-mails (she didn't) with, "I need some help getting the word out, do you know anyone who can help with fliers?", she would have found willing volunteers. But she wasn't interested in that. She wasn't interested in contacting big media and she wasn't interested in replying to her e-mails.

Maybe she had a death in her family or an accident? That's what we were thinking during the party. But, as the Dallas Morning News article demonstrates, she got her ass to the rally. Maybe that's really all that mattered to those organizing the event, that they got speakers to give up their valuable time for the organizers' private party in a public place.

It was a waste of time. And it's an embarrassment.

If the event had low attendance because of indifference to the goals, that would be one thing. But the reality is there was interest in ending the illegal war. There was not interest in participating in the ego tripping of a few little non-names who weren't going to do sh*t to promote an event.

They picked the wrong location, they picked the wrong time for the rally, they posted the wrong information at their website and they didn't reply when contacted. The failure is Texans for Peace, not people in Texas who care about ending the illegal war.

The plus is after the disaster Texans for Peace staged, it's hard to imagine any event coming off worse.

P.S. The party in Dallas was wonderful.
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