Sunday, December 09, 2007

Truest statement of the week

The numbers continue to be appalling. The Centers for Disease Control have adjusted data which indicated that approximately 40,000 new infections take place every year. The new estimate is between 58,000 and 63,000. Currently HIV infection rates are rising among those black men who acknowledge having sex with other men. Black men comprise 44% of all male HIV infections in the United States while black women make up 64% of all female HIV infected individuals in this country.
The disproportionate numbers of black HIV sufferers explains succinctly why the subject is treated with far less urgency than it was 25 years ago. AIDS in America has become a black disease. Like any other issue that effects black people more than any other group, it suddenly becomes a non-issue, unworthy of news print or broadcast time. To make matters worse, because the spread of HIV is associated with sexual contact and intravenous drug use, too many black Americans prefer denial instead of serious discussion. The anointed leadership are no better than anyone else at speaking frankly to save lives. The website of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA) provides a telling example of this awful phenomenon. The home page contains this odd disclaimer, which helps explain why HIV rates in black Americans continue to be too high:
"This site contains HIV prevention messages that may not be appropriate for all audiences. If you are not seeking such information or may be offended by such materials, please exit this website."
Why is the NBLCA apologizing? One can infer that the "offensive" information is sexual in nature, but so what, HIV is a sexually transmitted disease. How can it be discussed without discussing sex? If the NBLCA can't discuss sex without reservation, they ought to put themselves out of business and make the failure complete. It is clear that gala fund raisers featuring well connected, celebrity board members haven't made much of an impact.

-- Margaret Kimberley's "AIDS, the Black Disease" (Black Agenda Report).

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --

Another Sunday nightmare. Here's who participated on this edition:

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

We thank all of the above and we also thank Dallas for his help on all features and Ruth of Ruth's Report for her help on two features as well as Penny for help on one.

What do we have?

Truest statement of the week -- This seemed like an easy selection that one could narrow down to a decision between two choices then we read Margaret Kimberley on Saturday and realized there was a third contender and she actually left everyone else in the dust.

Editorial: It's not an issue to be 'dropped' -- December 11th, in Canada, their parliament holds hearings featuring US war resisters. Will it get covered? If last week's big 'debate' is any indication, the answer appears to be 'no.'

TV: 60 Wasted Minutes -- "Another home run for Jim!" cheers Bradley in an e-mail. Thank you, Bradley, and I do think I (Jim) deserve the bulk of all credit for the TV commentaries since I write the headlines. (I'm joking. But good to know I managed to please at least a few readers this week.) This was a very rough edition. We started very late due to attending a concert Saturday night. It had to be Saturday because we all wanted to attend (Kat, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava, C.I. and myself). That ruled out Friday since Ava, Kat and C.I. were not back from 'the road.' (A documentary Ken Burns could make that might actually be of interest!) Sunday, Ava, C.I. and Kat are still get their bearings, packing to go back on the road and really don't have time for a concert. So that was a must. We knew we'd start late. There was another article this edition that was a bit more than we thought it would be. And the impact from it had us convinced the TV commentary would be "immediately disposable" as C.I. billed it. So it was a great surprise to us when we read it. We usually read it when we're about to get ready for the editorial or before if morale is low. It always boosts everyone's spirit. This time, we waited until after a two hour debate over some sections of the lengthiest piece this edition. It had gone through several drafts and two hours discussing it wasn't helping. Dona suggested we take a long nap and regroup (just the core gang) to decide what to do. Mike reminded we hadn't heard Ava and C.I.'s commentary, so I grabbed it and read it outloud. Let me repeat, because I have been repeatedly criticized for this by our readers, when I kept insisting Ava and C.I. should cover news programming, it was because of how wonderful a job they could do with it. Thanks to the writers' strike, I get my wish. And readers get another hard-hitting commentary from Ava and C.I. so it's win-win for all! ("Not for us," says Ava. "We had to watch the program.")

Who's killing the peace movement? -- The longest article. The point of frustration. It was wonderful in every draft. Ruth helped with this one and we thank her so much. I wrote an intro to this piece but, briefly, this started as part of a snapshot C.I. was dictating over the phone last week. "Pause" is now repeatedly said by whomever takes the dictation (if they're typing as it's dictated and not recording and typing up later) because the snapshots are e-mailed and if you go over 50K, an e-mailed entry is not going to 'hit' the website but instead be sent back with a failure notice. So those who type up as C.I. dictates repeatedly call "pause" these days and save the draft. They then inform of the K. This was too much K. C.I. said, "I've just got 15 minutes left. Trash all of that and we'll start over and forget the peace movement." Ava tore the cell phone from C.I.'s hand and said, "Don't trash it! Send it to Elaine!" Ava knew this was too good to be trashed. Elaine loved it. It wasn't sent to me because I would've immediately planted a flag in it and declared it "Third Estate Sunday Review territory!" Ava and Elaine were hoping a miracle would happen and C.I. could finish it and post it as an entry at The Common Ills. Time never emerged. There was also the possibility that it could be serialized in several snapshots. That didn't work out as well. As Kat suspected, it became a Third piece. We made it through several drafts and they were all good. There was concern on C.I.'s part about some of the comments. Dona declared a break after two hours of back and forth regarding the last draft (which we had thought was worth posting this morning). We all took a nap because we were getting nowhere. We phoned Penny this afternoon and read it to her. She wanted something added so we attached a note at the end. She also made clear that there was not only nothing to be concerned about but that it was a wee bit too soft. We agreed. We went back to earlier drafts pulling out stronger sections and did one more go at it. It was the last thing posted her and went up immediately after being written. It didn't even get a spell check. We wanted it up and done with. This sort of piece is exactly the reason this site started in the first place.

Dope of the week (US division) -- Short features, Dona reminded us early on. We had the peace movement article planned, we needed short pieces. A number of readers wrote in about Katrina and Moonbat. Readers Geneeva was the one who suggested that since we do a "Truest," we needed a feature to point out the "dumbest." We agree. When readers raise one, we'll declare a "Dope of the week." This features two of Isaiah's illustrations and we thank him for them.

Dope of the week (British division) -- Moonbat. Ruth and Rebecca heard this interview in real time, the rest of us listened to the archived broadcast this weekend. Ruth also helped with the writing of this feature. We thank Ruth for all her help.

Green Party -- more candidates are declared for president than media is telling you.

About those permalinks -- The biggest complaints in the last month have been about our permalinks. We have no idea why. With regards to A.N.S.W.E.R., they are added now and that was a legitimate complaint to make. But they are a pain in the butt to add and we're honestly thinking of exploring returning to our old template which was so much easier. (However, C.I. says going back means adding permalinks all over again "and I'm not doing it so if we switch, someone else better volunteer.")

Here come the revisonary tactics -- We really wanted a mailbag but Jess pointed out that the peace movement article might take longer than we were thinking (our visionary Jess) so we decided to address one e-mail that struck us as the most needing addressed. We'll try to do a mailbag next edition. We also have a roundtable on hold involving a question a member suggested. Why is it on hold? We're going to use for a week when war resisters get the least attention and we're hoping this isn't it since there will be a hearing in Canada.

KPFK ballots due by midnight December 11th -- You have until midnight December 11th for KPFK to receive your ballot if you're voting in their LSB elections.

Highlights -- Kat, Mike, Elaine, Betty, Rebecca, Cedric and Wally wrote this and selected the highlight except where noted. They were very tired and left the in-progress, two-hour discussion to write this. We thank them for it.

Note -- My note explaining we were going to sleep on the article and why.

So that's it. We think there's something here to make you laugh, make you outraged, make you think. Dona says it's probably one of our stronger editions of this year.

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

Editorial: It's not an issue to be 'dropped'

"This is an unusual debate. We've selected just three topics, subjects we think deserve close examination. And because we're limiting the topics, the candidates will have more time to explain their positions, and we will have the time to follow up on some of those answers," declared Robert Siegel last week on the alleged debate that took up two hours of NPR time and probed all the Democratic candidates, except Bill Richardson, for president about their position.

It was a joke from the start and it was a joke throughout. That wasn't limited to the refusal to allow Mike Gravel to speak of tarrifs when the most pressing issue in the world was brought up. Most pressing issue in the world? We're being sarcastic. The issue was toys from China.

Increasing standards on imports (safety standards or otherwise) doesn't really require a great deal of explanation and it certainly doesn't rate being one of the three topics.

But that's what NPR offered.

That's what NPR offered while the US is engaged in war with Iraq. The Iraq War. Begun in March of 2003 and still ongoing. According to the three media designated 'front runners' (in their New Hampshire 'debate') it would still be going on in 2013 if they were elected president.
But there were no questions on Iraq.

Well into the debate, Siegel tried to cheat the audiences, stating, "We've already heard the candidates on Iran and the lessons of Iraq." There was on discussion on the lessons of Iraq. That was a bold face lie offered by someone old enough to better and old enough to be ashamed that while the country is involved in an ongoing war, NPR used two hours to avoid the topic.

You can check the transcript yourselves and find that there was no question about Iraq and that those who brought up the 'lessons' of Iraq (a) did so on their own, (b) very few bothered to and (c) 'lessons' from the illegal war involve a bit more than comparing an NIE on Iran to the lies told in the leadup to Iraq.

It needs to be noted that Steve Inskeep thought he was broadcasting on Fox 'News' -- at least when he felt the need to go after Dennis Kucinich. As you read the following exchange, keep in mind that the tone Inskeep uses was only deployed on Kucinich, that Inskeep had already announced time was short so there was even less reason for his editorial interruption and that this aired on NPR:

MR. INSKEEP: Congressman Kucinich.
REP. KUCINICH: I wrestle with the question as to whether or not the president and the vice president should be held liable for crimes, for taking us into a war based on lies.
I mean, I'm ready to be president. I've been right all along on Iraq, on Iran, on not-for-profit health care and giving our children a chance for an education from age 3 all the way through to a degree --
MR. INSKEEP: Oh, come on. You know what you want to do on that. You want to impeach people --
REP. KUCINICH: I know. Listen, I'm ready to be president. I am ready to be president. And the standards -- I'm the only one here who has said that both President Bush and Vice President Cheney ought to be impeached for lying to the American people, not only to take us into war against Iraq, but now this new development with the -- with the National Intelligence Estimate.
Tell us what our standards should be for the Oval Office. Tell us what standards -- I'm asking my colleagues here -- that you would expect to be obtained by anybody who would be president. Can you lie about a war? Is that okay?

"Oh, come on," snarled Stevie, "You know what you want to do on that. You want to impeach people." What a loon, what an embarrassment. As embarrassing as the fact that Siegel handled the issue of Iran while Inskeep handled the issue of immigration and Michele Norris was left to tackle toys from China that attempted to pass for a trade discussion. Norris: "It's the holiday season and many Americans are heading to the stores, and many of the products that they're going to find on the shelves have a 'Made in China' label." Did no one catch that? Maybe they didn't catch that she wasn't on for the first segment either? No, "This is Michele Norris." Was she flown in from the 'soft' issue?

But let's be really clear, ignoring the Iraq War is reducing the debate to nothing but 'soft' issues. When a nation is engaged in an ongoing war, there is no justification for a debate or 'debate' featuring presidential candidates that ignores the war. That is just shameful.

After C.I. commented on the disgrace in Wednesdy's "Iraq snapshot," a friend at NPR advised C.I. that the Democratic candidates were running from the war issue and that this could be verified by checking out their websites. True enough and in Thursday's "Iraq snapshot" it's noted the only two candidates offered anything new mentioning Iraq last week. The two were Hillary Clinton (offering a streaming video endorsement from Wesley Clark asserting Clinton "has what it takes to end the war in Iraq") and Mike Gravel (a rally in LA's Pan Pacific Park from one to four p.m. tomorrow features the slogan "Bring Our Troops Home").

But guess what? NPR isn't supposed to be an arm of a political party and just because candidates don't want to address Iraq doesn't mean that a news outlet spends two hours avoiding the issue.

We're rather appalled by the number of media commentators (from the left and 'left') weighing in on the NPR broadcast without ever noting (or noticing?) that Iraq wasn't the focus of any segment, wasn't even a question from the moderators.

This week, December 11th, the Canadian Parliament holds hearings where Iraq War resisters seeking asylum will testify in public. Who's going to cover that?

As the Democratic candidates rush to find another topic, as press outlets such NPR assist them by not addressing Iraq, who will be covering the hearings?

Or are we all supposed to pretend they don't matter?

Right or left, this is a significant moment for the illegal war. (The squishy center naturally wishes to avoid it.) The right's preparing to laugh loudly, the left's hoping the testimonies will prompt the Canadian legislature to do the right thing.

No real history of the illegal war in five, ten, twenty or however many years from now can offer retrospective coverage without covering this event. US war resisters went to Canada in order not to participate in the illegal war. But who's going to have archived footage? Who's going to have text commentaries in their online archives?

Who's going to be present and accounted for?

The future Sir! No Sir! documentary on this illegal war will surely need footage. If it's made in our lifetime and independent media ignores what happens December 11th, we'll happily offer to go on camera and point out the fact that the event was known, that the event was well publicized and that independent media had more 'pressing' issues to attend to.

TV: 60 Wasted Minutes

Tick-tick-tick . . . "I'm Steve Kroft. I'm Scott Pelley. I'm Lesley Stahl. I'm Andy Rooney." And we're confused as hell. We thought we were watching a news program on CBS last Sunday, one entitled 60 Minutes, but instead found something so awful, we got on the phone to a friend who was with Dateline until the most recent great purge.

Tiffany schmiffany, he insisted, with the oh-so-loving close-ups of Anderson Cooper, that show's far from its roots and as bad as every other news magazine on network TV. Though we'd missed the Baby Cries A Lot of network and cable fame (Coops wasn't on), we had to agree we'd seen something other than news.

In terms of visually, we were still recoiling from the site of 62-year-old Steve Kroft 'rolling' down the streets of Philly with Will Smith's posse and consider it to be one of the most jarring moments of broadcast TV all year as well as a 'profile' that made Matt Lauer's glossy and gauzy interview Jennifer Lopez years ago seem far less appalling in retrospect. For all the fluff Lauer offered at the height of Bennifer, he didn't confuse popularity with art and, after we got over the visuals, the fact that Kroft did may have been the most shocking detail of all.

Kroft was pimping hard and it didn't help that Smith was off -- blowing his well rehearsed ahead of time joke about his 'work ethic' in which he was supposed to pause, look off and then make the comments about sex. He rushed it, despite the practice ahead of time, and it wasn't funny (debatable whether it would have been funny regardless) and it was about as real as seeing Tom Cruise attempting to play 'natural.' No one forced 60 Minutes to open their segment with a joke (bungled or not) and no one forced 60 Minutes to rewrite history. But there was Kroft praising the bravery and ambition of a young Will Smith in taking on the role of a gay hustler in the movie adaptation of Six Degrees of Separation. Bravery? Apparently we're supposed to forget that it was a follow up for a bad TV actor who'd had bit parts in two bad films previously as well as never mention the very real lack of bravery and homophobia tied to that film?

For those who forgot or never knew, Smith's role required a same-sex kiss and had included it in the play. It was supposed to be in the film as well. Smith refused it. Smith refused it and, at times, tried to hide behind another actor stating he'd explained how wrong it was to Smith. The excuse and the excuse on top of the excuse reeked of homophobia and, if a news program had any reason at all to mention that film, it shouldn't side-step the repeatedly aired homophobia in interviews from that time and immediately after. That may seem years ago, despite Ian McKellen raising the issue in 2004, but it's not as though many of Smith's films haven't trafficked in homophobia (see especially Hitch and Bad Boys II). We doubt even Barbara Walters would have shied from the topic of 'Big Willie Style' so it was a bit distressing to see 60 Minutes do so but it was distressing to see their "Nothing's Gonna Stop Will Now" portrait to begin with. For the record, someone whose biggest box office was in 1996 (second biggest in 1997) isn't really 'on the rise,' he's peaked a decade ago. Maybe they felt the Brans and Depends set that tunes into CBS wouldn't notice?

Another big story was Lesley Stahl's 'update' to an earlier story. We caught the original story when it first aired as well as last week which was the same broadcast story with Stahl standing in front of the cameras providing a few sentences of an 'update' from the CBS studios. The 'update' mainly existed as a commercial: Those wishing to take part in a charity (which CBS couldn't really tell you whether it was under fire from big business or not), have until the end of the year when the offer ends.

Is 60 Minutes unaware that a writers' strike is effecting scripted television? (Or that one may soon lead to CBS journalists joining the strike?) We're aware of the strike but we're also aware that past strikes were ratings bonanzas for 60 Minutes as they could promote 'all new' episodes at a time when everyone else was doling out repeats.

As irritating as the above could be (and was), it was the opening 'report,' the heavily promoted piece from Iraq, that most disappointed. On the plus, correspondent Scott Pelley did cut off professional liar Andrew White (more popularly billed as "Reverend Canon White") when he was about to launch into another of his praise-the-war speeches. Whether Pelley knew that was coming (and grasped how ridiculous it would sound when White had just admitted things were beyond worse for Iraqi Christians today and, yes, much better under the rule of Saddam Hussein) or he just grew of tired of White, who knows? But it was needed and something other interviewers should consider doing if they're unable to say, "Hey, Crazy, you've just talked about the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Christians since the start of the illegal war. Where do you get off preaching that this war is a 'good' one?"

Pelley really doesn't have the 'seasoning' or experience for the role he currently holds which is why his reports are hit or miss. That lack of 'seasoning' and experience is rather sad when the 'youngster' we're discussing is fifty-years-old. Only on 60 Minutes could Pelley be the 'new boy.'

The 'new boy' was smart or lucky enough to interrupt White but it bears noting that the slaughter of Iraqi Christians didn't begin in the last few months. In fact, due to the slaughter and the large exodus out of Iraq, there may actually be less Christians dying today because there are so few left in Iraq. But, for those who missed it, White was selling the war on American television back in May declaring, "If American troops were to leave now, sadly we would see an escalation of violence. We have got to see that we were part of its instigation and by overcoming the evil regime of Saddam Hussein. So we've got to be patient." And, as we noted then, he's been selling it all along, including April 2005 when he put forward the laughable claim that "the most dangerous parish in the world" wasn't in Baghdad, it was "somewhere in British suburbia." Who knew hundreds of thousands of Christians were being slaughtered in England?

White's a liar so any fact or figure he gives is questionable. CBS edited well and the statements of White that they did air could largely be backed up. But that required a lot of work because it's not just the war Liar White lies about, he lies about everything. In July he was giving testimony (which he didn't realize would be made public) to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom that all the Jews in Baghdad had left. That was a lie. That was testimony to an organization whose chief concern is the abuses and persecutions targeted at religious people.

"I know every single one of the Jews left" is the lie he offered. The 19 previously remaining Jews had gone down to eight as would be revealed in August and, at that time, White would avoid press questions about why he had claimed they had all left while also asserting that he gives the Jewish residents money regularly. Uh, Fibber McGee, did you miss doling out the charity in July? Since the point of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom was to identify targeted communities who needed support, White's testified lie was especially appalling. Again, he had no idea his testimony would be made public which provided you with rare insight to the disgusting liar.

CBS didn't lie about White but they did leave viewers with an impression that was false. As White went on and on about his goodness (when you have to brag that much, you're probably not all that goodly), viewers were apt to think, "That wonderful man, spending all his time in Baghdad." No mention was made that White flies in and out of the Green Zone. (In fact, viewers may not have been clear that they were watching footage filmed in the Green Zone when White was present.) White's not only leaving to visit his family, he's leaving to hawk his books. That's why he was on US television in May, he was on a book tour.

White made the claim that the reason women and children were so present in the service that CBS filmed was because many of the adult males had been killed. That may be true. It certainly is true of other segments of the Iraqi population; however, as two who've seen White lie on television and in person, we feel required to note that he did the shifty-eye move he's prone to when attempting to peal off a whopper. Something about those remarks was untrue. It may have been about those assembled and how they were assembled or the way they were dressed or the fact that all were not only well dressed but also freshly washed. This was in the Green Zone, true, but the visual footage indicated that the church only 'assisted' the well scrubbed -- in the midst of an illegal war. (As two who have been in missions in Latin America, we're quite aware that conflict is messy and dirty and that's what we're getting at for anyone wrongly thinking we're implying that Iraqis can't be 'clean.' That's not the issue. The issue is the most effected, the neediest, don't usually clean up so well due to the circumstances they live under, even when TV crews are present.)

Why White was utilized, we have no idea. He's far from the only Christian leader in Baghdad if CBS was only interested in Christians. As CNN noted Saturday:

Meanwhile, Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, leader of the ancient Chaldean Church, on Saturday celebrated his first Mass in Baghdad since Pope Benedict XVI elevated him to cardinal in November, The Associated Press reported.
"We pray to our Lord that this occasion will be a beginning for a new era of peace and prosperity for our beloved country," said Bishop Shlemon Wardono, according to AP.

Pelley demonstrated how far 60 Minutes was from news shortly after the service and the shots of the soup kitchen. (Pelley failed to ask White if the sudden 'upping' of meals served by the church on Sundays had anything to do with the fact that a TV crew was present.) Pelley was out on the street, in the open (which should have clued viewers into the fact that for all the talk of 'hidden' church, they were in the Green Zone), speaking with various church goers who not only did not appear nervous but also were not desperate to cover themselves in what would be considered more 'traditional garb' (a concern if you were truly in the open in Iraq). A couple spoke with him and handed him photographs. The photographs were of their slaughtered children.

Remember 60 Minutes airs on television, not radio. So, since this is billed as a news program and has a lengthy legacy of hard hitting broadcasts, you naturally expect the photos to be shown. Taking a page from Katrina vanden Heuvel's book, Pelley goes the non-journalistic route and instead of holding the photos up to the camera, decides to 'explain' what they show. He declared they were too graphic for television.

The parents didn't think so. The parents readily offered the photos which they either always carried with them or carried with them to that Sunday service because they knew a TV crew would be present. The parents wanted to get the story out and a real reporter would have assisted them.

Watching Pelley grimace as he looked at the photos and then 'explain' them by merely noting the children had been shot and the photos were too graphic ("They're just too much"), we wondered if maybe Amy Goodman and Allan Nairn, reporting on East Timor today, would have to, in order to attract network attention to the massacre, say, "Well there was a lot of blood but we can't go into it because it was really, really graphic."?

While Pelley censored reality from news viewers, he also censored reality regarding the persecuted unless he just assumed that all viewers would know that Iraq's persecuted religious community includes far more than Christians.

Also surprising was that the occupation of a Catholic Church by the US military was not an issue to be explored. Abandoned or not, we found the occupation offensive and it's not as if churches are the only abandoned buildings in Baghdad (we were still in Baghdad, though Pelley may have confused viewers by referring to it as Dora, a neighborhood, not a city). For a better report on the same story, refer to Jaime Tarabay's audio broadcast (NPR's All Things Considered). And, it should be noted, Tarabay provided a better report on radio -- with no visuals -- and in under four minutes. That goes a long way towards explaining why 60 Minutes left us confused as to what exactly we were wasting an hour on.

Who's killing the peace movement?

Jim: I'm doing this introduction to explain this feature. It originated as part of a snapshot C.I. was dictating last week. It didn't make it into the snapshot because it was so lengthy that it would have meant not much else would have been included. C.I. was saying to forget it but Ava grabbed the phone and told the friend C.I. was dictating to "Send it to Elaine." Ava thought it was worth preserving. Elaine agreed. Mike heard a few paragraphs of it from Elaine. I was desperate to find out about it and read it. As Kat noted, it would more than likely end up here. It needed to be finished and the concern was that the tone be kept because the power came from C.I. speaking about it in terms of a member of the generation that lived through Vietnam. To help ensure that tone remained, we asked Ruth to help out. We also thank "Penny" whom we called this afternoon when we were still unsure of two jokes. Her remarks were, "You've been more than kind. You need to hit harder. This is about an illegal war and everyone named is supposed to be a grown up." With that input we did another draft.

Turning to the peace movement, there is plenty of life there and, if you ever doubted it, check out the commentaries between Max Uhlenbeck (Left Turn) and Joshua Frank (Dissident Voice). Uhlenbeck would have served readers better if he'd noted his long relationship with United for Peace & Justice. Considering that he's writing in defense of UPFJ and attacking A.N.S.W.E.R., it is required that he disclose his long standing relationship with UPFJ.

He would be better served if he didn't write about things from a "knowing stance" when he doesn't know what he's talking about. That's not a criticism of him, it is a criticism of his elders who have spent the better part of this decade repeatedly lying (either because they baked their minds so badly they can't remember Vietnam or because it's better to rewrite history in a self-serving manner).

"Learning from history," Uhlenbeck writes, "we saw the Vietnam war end due to a series of interconnected and overlapping factors: the Vietnamese resistance itself, the mandatory draft and the development of the GI movement inside the US military, and finally mass protest domestically -- which took many forms, but were often centered on or around college campuses."

He recites the talking points very well -- he wasn't present (I believe he graduated high school in 1996) -- so it's not his fault that he's mislearned history.

There is NO draft today. But that hasn't stopped various male lefties -- who were never drafted -- from telling their distortions of how "The draft did it, man. The draft ended the illegal war." No, it didn't. The draft didn't end the Korean War either.

It's a nice little lie that excuses inaction. It's not true. Women were never going to be drafted during Vietnam, they didn't need a draft to mobilize against the illegal war. Young men burning their draft cards was a visual symbol of opposition to the illegal war; however, the reality is that draft wasn't equal, wasn't 'fair' and there were many loopholes if you happened to be White and middle-class. It's interesting that he rates "mass protest domestically" last. But then he's come of age in a movement that worships at the crotch of the US military institution.

Vietnam did end for a number of reasons and the main reason was because the people (all the people -- in the US, in Vietnam and around the world) made it too difficult for the US government to continue the war. There were many ways in which they did that. Failure of 'elders' to tell the truth today leads to one of the biggest problems facing today's movement: a disinformation campaign.

Possibly, if young people today were told the truth -- as opposed to campfire tales that play as "worship me" -- they would have realized how little they need the "elders."

Is that harsh? I hope so.

And one thing I applaud Uhlenbeck strongly for is the fact that he took his issues out into the public. He needs to. He falters in places because he's speaking of a time he didn't live through and just as surely as the right-wing practiced revisionary history (in their case meant to rewrite reality), the left-wing (or 'left'-wing) has as well (the typical inflations of the past that come with age).

United for Peace and Justice, despite what Uhlenbeck states, is the movement's problem. It's also one of the movement's success.

Life isn't computer binary code and seldom plays out in the dualistic either-or nature.

UPFJ deserves tremendous credit for being one of the organizations that carved out a space for dissent, supported voices against the war and told and kept telling the truth.

That's then. Now?

UPFJ also deserves credit for being in tune with the needs of people around the country. They were slammed by some for doing local actions instead of a DC one most recently. That action was what people wanted. Anyone arguing that's not the case needs to hit the road and start talking to people. UPFJ was very attuned to the needs around the country.

Uhlenbeck notes a reluctance to change the leadership at the top. That is a UPFJ problem -- it's also a problem of many organizations. People who lived through Vietnam (whether they remember it correctly or not) need to be self-checking on their roles in the movement.

All those decades ago, Elaine and I heard Howard Zinn speak in public for the first time and Elaine quickly identified exactly why he was such a bolt of lightning: He gave information.

He still does that today.

He provides information. He's inspiring in the genuine way (as is Studs Terkel) not that faux "Sweet Victories" way. But at the heart of it, Zinn has always transmitted information.

That wasn't always the case back then. Some 'elders' felt the need to hoard information and refused to give up their positions. They were forced out and you can sense that same thing in the air today if you speak with students.

UPFJ is not the only organization with this problem but it's a very serious problem. Uhlenbeck has noted publicly before that his role at UPFJ was often just being the young face when UPFJ needed to send out one. That's a problem.

Where are the young people speaking at rallies?

Don't bring up IVAW. (We'll address IVAW in a moment.) Ideally, the peace movement wants to see increased participation from young people (young people have been active in the peace movement throughout this decade). Well put them on stage, put them in positions of power.

This myth that they can't lead is nonsense.

They'll be living with the fall out from this illegal war long after those of us who lived through Vietnam are dead. They are the leaders. They've made, and are making, themselves leaders -- in spite of obstacles put up by many in the peace movement. It is their movement. You can't clutch it and insist, "Did you wash your hands? I can't let you take the reigns of power until you wash your hands!"

It's not ours to hold, it is the young people's movement. Our role is bodies at protests, rallies, marches, etc. Our role is to provide information, to transfer information. Our role -- those of us who lived through Vietnam -- is not in controlling the movement, dictating the movement, etc.

I'm not sure someone Uhlenbeck's age will get that point because there's been so many of us (people of my generation) lying for so long.

"Don't trust anyone over 30?"

Slogans like that and others came about for a reason and the reason was we were young, we were active and we were ready to lead. Domestic demographics being what they are, we've been allowed to dominate the society for far too long. It's time to release control (past time) and to grasp that our role is not to do what we did in the 'sixties.' We should be offering bodies and offering advise (which can be listened to or not, we shouldn't be the decision makers) but today's movement is not our movement to lead.

How vain is our generation (actually several generations) that it wasn't enough for us to be the 'stars' of the '60s' -- we've still got to hang on to the spotlight?

When Uhlenbeck is repeating the popular revision of the 'draft, man,' it is a sure sign that today's 'elders' have held onto power for far too long and, let's be honest, have told one too many "glory days" tales. Not in a way that informed -- obviously if today's illegal war still has to waste so much talking about how there was a draft back in the day, no one's been informed -- but in a really sick way.

Today, we do have some information to share, no question. But we assumed leadership in the '60s' and let's all stop lying that we were any more informed than students today are.

That is reality. Students need to know that, they need to know that there is no 'great wisdom' to be learned (and tested on?) before assuming leadership in the movement.

The reality is the peace movement at the top has become a lot like the restrictive country clubs from our childhoods, the ones society railed against, the same way we later railed against elders that refused to let us be more than flunkies. That the same generation which railed so loudly on this score has kept students out today is rather sad.

If young adults aren't in leadership roles, the peace movement sends a message about how little they are valued. And there's no 'elder' alive today that should find that shocking because we all made those same arguments when we were young and on the outs. We were correct then.

And, as we formed our own groups and came into leadership, we provided life into the movement.

Outside of CODEPINK, name an organization that can make that claim -- one that formed at the start of the illegal war? Liza Featherstone (The Nation) was wrong to think that the answer to the peace movement was to use political campaign events as a model. She was right to note the very rote nature to so much of today's events.

Why is that?

Let's be honest, my generation is largely stuck in their ways and in their own mindset and we're unable to do much more than repeat what we did earlier.

That's why any movement needs 'young blood,' needs 'new life.' Nothing will change with established organizations if they don't start bringing young people into roles of leadership. But, and we've noted this for over a year now, it really doesn't matter. Young people are leading and those organizations that do not want to recognize that, those that are not willing to transfer the power, will find themselves in the dust.

Now myths and glory tales give the impression that -- whether it is the absence of the draft, the absence of a unified resistance, the absence of the Holy Trinity of Janis, Jimi and Jim or what have you -- there are these host of 'factors' that are preventing the movement against the illegal war from doing this or doing that. The reality is that leadership is preventing and they're doing that by refusing to step out of the way and let today's young people take control of what is their movement to steer.

Norman Solomon, a very astute critic in many ways, not only made the decision to slime Jane Fonda on MSNBC before the illegal war started, he was so proud of that moment he reproduced it in his recent cut & paste book. Jane Fonda, he informed, lacked maturity. Reality check: Jane Fonda stopped the bombing of the dikes.

Sean Penn has done some amazingly brave things. But the reality is that, in earlier times, others showed a lot more bravery -- including Jane Fonda. Possibly travel companions and elders don't serve today's activists well when they offer their cautionary tales?

Cautionary tales?

Back in the day, suck ups like Toad (who was never a leader in any sense of the word) were happy to do what they were told, as they were told, by the 'elders.' The 'elders' had lived through McCarthyism and a great deal more. Many were frightened of their own shadow. Which is one reason that many of the earliest efforts to call out what was happening in Vietnam failed.

The peace movement could not conduct itself like the nuclear freeze movement or any of the other peace movements that had recently come before. Vietnam was not a case of preventing a 'potential.' Vietnam was the locale for daily dying. Which is why the movement was modeled after the Civil Rights movement which also addressed daily reality as opposed to 'potential' risks.

The peace movement lacked life and lacked urgency for many, many years. 'Elders' today can rewrite it all they want, but that is reality.

And when they were the young, they knew that reality very well. They railed against it. They pushed, shoved and fought their way into leadership and they brought life and urgency to the movement.

Jane Fonda is one of the great cautionary myths today's elders trot out. In an interview with 60 Minutes, Fonda was asked if someone should be doing what she did then and she replied she wouldn't recommend it. Fred Gardner (who does not practice revisionary tactics about Vietnam) took her to task for that. What he may have missed is that Fonda is fully aware of how she is used and would be the last to recommend to anyone that they open themselves up to what she has faced and continues to face in terms of right-wing hatred. We're talking about a lifetime of attacks on every facet of her life (including when Rupert Murdoch's trashy British press attempted to destroy her success with the workout by lying that she'd had a heart attack requiring that she lead a workout class in front of reporters to immediately end that false rumor).

For all the organized hatred, the reality is that after she got involved in the movement, she went on to win two Oscars, she went on to star in successful movies, she built the home fitness industry and her autobiography topped The New York Times' bestseller list. That point is similar to the one Janeane Garofalo attempted to make repeatedly when, following her brave efforts at ending this illegal war, ABC decided not to get behind her sitcom. She repeatedly pointed out that it had nothing to do with her opposition to the illegal war and stated how important that was to stress. If it's not stressed, it becomes a case of "Don't speak out! Look what happened to Janeane!"

Fonda's efforts during Vietnam were not beyond the pale and were not seen as such then by the left or, in most cases, even the mainstream media. The fact that they are today goes to two things. First, and easily agreed to by many, there is the fact that she has been the focus of non-stop attacks by the right. The second is less often stated because it requires that some 'voices' do a personal inventory: the left joined in the attacks. Little 'jokes,' little 'jabs' and, most of all, an effort to say, "I'm not like Jane Fonda."

Phyllis Bennis is an example of someone who was not like Jane Fonda. By her own admission, her days back then were filled with chants against US service members. By contrast, Fonda actively worked with service members. (A lie is told that she attacked POWs. She did not attack POWs. She spoke of a specific group of POWs, quick to meet with Richard Nixon, and to lie -- and it was a LIE -- about how well things were going in Vietnam to the press.)

It is amazing that the same 'elders' who fret and worry about another Jane Fonda are so quick to embrace Bennis who trotted out her anti-service member rhetoric (during Vietnam) not all that long ago when she wanted to slam Alexander Cockburn.

Why did she want to slam him?

To score some easy points, maybe. But the main purpose was to attack his suggestion that Americans might need to learn a little about the resistance and offer that it was support for the resistance in earlier illegal wars that helped end them.

Bennis rushed in, for who knows what reason, I honestly don't think the world was awaiting "Phyllis Socks it to Alex!", to say the resistance in Iraq was not organized and, besides, most were terrorists and most were this and most were that and, as you read on, you had to wonder is this the same Bennis who regularly appears to only stop short of claiming Hezbollah can cure cancer when singing their praises? She is aware that they're not dancing and singing on the deck of the Good Ship Lollypop, isn't she?

What is the resistance in Iraq like?

The reality is that few know because very few reporters have bothered to find out their stories. Molly Bingham and Steve Connors new documentary Meeting Resistance offers a look a look at some of the early stages of the resistance in Iraq for those interested. That apparently does not include Bennis. Clutching the pearls in the best Cokie Roberts manner, Bennis huffed, "We know virtually nothing of what most of the factions stand for beyond opposition to the U.S. occupation -- and from my own personal vantage point, of the little beyond that that we do know, I don't like so much." That's telling them, Phyl!

"We know virtually nothing" but that didn't prevent her from weighing in and screaming, "NO!"

When Bennis is doing that, an educated and enlightened voice in many ways, people should start to grasp that there is a problem with today's peace movement.

And the problem is at the top.

While we're on Bennis, let's note the fact that she needs to figure out what she's going to speak on. She can't be expert on everything. The Middle East is far too diverse and she's made enough mistakes on Iraq recently (not limited to but including the appalling revelation she made on CounterSpin of somehow missing Nancy A. Youssef's summer 2006 report on the US military keeping track of some Iraqi deaths -- Bennis was taking to the airwaves in that period to offer her analyses on Lebanon).

But someone thinks she can be both the Middle East expert to be brought on to discuss Israel's latest crimes and the Iraq War while also being a major voice of the peace movement.

Does no one else see a problem with that?

That's three positions she's handling and that's probably two too many.

She's far from alone.

With some, the reality is that many of them never got 'fame.' Now they are bound and determined to hold onto (hoard) what they can. Tom Hayden did achieve actual fame during Vietnam. Though two periods actually. Early on and then, later, when he joined with Jane Fonda to protest the war. (That's not meant to suggest the second phase was a one-time moment. I am wording it that way to avoid any confusion that he got back in only because he married Fonda. That is suggested by some, but it's not reality. They were very much a team. She did provide an entry point back in, but he did not ride her coattails and to suggest otherwise is insulting to both as well as untrue.)

So Hayden, whom I admire (and I admire Bennis as well), should know a lot of things that he appears to forget these days. Recently he made the ludicrous claim that what fueled student activity in his day was the invasive physical you had to take for the draft. Speaking for myself and other women, "Uh, no, Tom, that's not what fueled our activism against the war."

But it's not just the way back past that he's gone fuzzy on. Recently he wrote a voters guide for The Nation. It was the cover story and the illustration was of a student's notebook, clearly implying this was an outreach to today's youth. Does he really think they need him to tell them about elections? Or they want it?

Did he forget his on air public frustration in January 2005, when he repeatedly attempted to address Iraq and the host only wanted to discuss the 2004 election and how a recount was needed? Does he not know his annoyance was abundantly clear? (Or that of his host as he continued to address Iraq when she just wanted to talk about Ohio?)

It was strange to watch him be silent while Bennis went after Cockburn because the larger points Cockburn was making were points he made on air (on the same show) this year. The reaction from the host -- let's be honest, it was Laura Flanders in both cases. Flanders is the niece of Alexander Cockburbn which made her reaction all the more puzzling. When Hayden made the same points, it was greeted with disbelief and then, after he was off air, it was turned into, "There's confusion on the blog. People are asking, 'Does he want us to be penpals with the resistance?'" Oh, ha, ha, ha. How droll. How funny.

What's really going on here?

Jane Fonda. Jane Fonda and Joan Baez. Jane Fonda and Joan Baez and anyone else who has been demonized. The 'elders' are running scared. They don't want to be Dixie Chicked.

And that's the biggest problem with today's movement. Just as in the sixties (and this actually was during the chronological sixties), the big problem the movement had to overcome was the fear-based response of the elders who lived through McCarthyism, the biggest problem the movement today has to overcome is today's elders fear of being Fonda-nized.

They should be so lucky.

Let's be safe, let's not rock the boat, the rest of the country isn't ready for us!

Well how damn enlightened and above the rest of the country you must be. Or maybe just think you are.

The reality is that most of the 'elders' today (Hayden is an exception, Gardner is another) were not leaders then. The leaders gave it there all and, in doing so, many burned out. They were tired. They had put their lives on hold. They had every reason to move on to a quieter plane. The ones holding power today weren't doing much during Vietnam. And it frequently seems like, having spent so much time with their faces pressed to the glass, they'll be damned if they'll let any young person in today.

It's not their movement.

The movement belongs to the young people. They will live with effects of the illegal war long after those my age have died.

But they're not being handed the movement. They're being told they can be participants but not leaders. By people who, let's be real, weren't leaders back in the day no matter how much they all wish they were. And that goes a long way towards explaining how much damage they have done to history with their own revisions.

"The draft! The draft!" they cry and confuse a large number of young people today. There was a draft in place before Vietnam. A standing draft. The draft ended no war. It didn't end Vietnam. But hiding behind the non-issue of the draft certainly allows leaders to pretend that not having one today is why the movement is where it currently is.

Repeating, if you were a White and middle class male, you could get out of the draft in many cases. You could get a deferment for college, for being a father, etc. Those unaware of that reality should study Dick Cheney's bio because he managed to win a lotto of deferments throughout Vietnam. You could also avoid the draft by joining the National Guard and, in those days, that generally meant you would remain state-side. (As the current occupant of the White House did. Although if you didn't fufill your service, you did stand a chance of being shipped to Vietnam.)

[It also needs to be noted that many -- including big names in other areas today -- avoided the draft by screwing themselves up temporarily before reporting for their physical or by stating they were gay.]

The reality is that there was massive opposition to the war. The revision appears to be it was just the men who had to endure an 'invasive' physical. The reality is that also came from women, who were never going to be drafted, as well as very young students, middle school (we called it junior high then) students and the middle school males weren't about to graduate from eighth grade and ship off to Vietnam.

One of the great accomplishments of the earlier peace movement was ending the draft. But don't confuse that accomplishment with the continually repeated refrain that the draft ended Vietnam. It did not.

A sign of just how aged today's peace movement is can be found in the drinking age. Currently, you can die in an illegal war your country sends you off to at eighteen but you can't have a legal drink in most states until you're twenty-one.

The fact that today's peace movement hasn't even raised that issue goes a long way towards explaining how little it actually reaches out to young people.

You can be shot dead in Iraq or wounded, the victim of a roadside bomb or IED as well, but you're not getting a beer until you're twenty-one. You're old enough to be hailed as hero (the heroines don't get hailed, but we're not supposed to notice even when the statements come from a member of Congress in an open hearing) at 18, provided you die, but you're not old enough to order a drink.

That wouldn't have flown during Vietnam. In fact, young people won the right to vote during Vietnam by making the argument that the same country that would ship them off to die wouldn't let them vote.

Knowledge is worth sharing. Fear? No. And you have to wonder, when Tom Hayden's counseling that voters need to be realistic -- in an article the illustration declares is aimed at young people -- where the peace movement thinks tomorrow's dreamers will come from if we're all told, repeatedly, do the safe thing?

We have to do the safe thing with our actions agains the illegal war, we have to do the safe thing with our votes, when do we stop hammering training wheels onto everything? When do we get out of the damn way and let the young people lead?

We are a huge bulge in the national demographics and, as such, we really can't remember a time when the country didn't cater to us. So maybe we've grown to think that is our due?

But we're passing on way too may myths and outright lies to the young people today. We're controlling a peace movement that shouldn't be ours to control. We're operating from fear though we kid ourselves that we're 'reasonable.'

And then we want to pin the problems of today's peace movement not on ourselves but on mythical aspects that have no relation to reality.

War resisters in Canada are fighting for their right to remain in Canada. One of the biggest obstacles they face is that "There is no draft!" Canada did not grant asylum to US service members during Vietnam because of the draft. You were not stopped at the border and required to declare that you were about to be drafted and only waived through if you hadn't enlisted. (And that's not the only time Canada provided asylum to war resisters.) But because of these revisionary tales about the draft, today's war resisters not only have to make a case for why they can't go back, they're tasked with also explaining how they're not different from the earlier wave. That goes to the 'elders' in today's peace movement.

'Elders' should be occupying roles as critics and as information resources. They shouldn't be in leadership. When the protests against Vietnam really came alive, it was because the young people took up the leadership, fought for it.

Two weeks ago, having heard all the nonsense about that time recited back to me by one student in particular, I made a point to grab a real leader in the protests from back in the day and take her to campuses with us. She offered the reality on those days. Her biggest advice was: "Stop listening to them."


It was "us" and "them" back then.

We try to kid ourselves that we can be 'hip' or 'happening' or whatever we think the phrase may be today. We try to kid ourselves that we are so exceptional and wonderful that we can speak to the issues of concern for young people. We're so wise, we're so everything.

The reality is that we are leading an old person's movement. We are excluding young people and we are refusing to hand over the reigns. We had our day in the sun (or the shadow for some) and yet we're apparently going to go to our graves refusing to serve a movement because our damn egos are more important.

Us v. Them. When at all acknowledged today, we tell the tale as if it was just the 'straights' v. the 'freaks.' When the reality, as we should all remember, was it was us versus the people standing in our way and that included the 'elders' in the peace movement at that time. It's funny that in all the campfire tales repeatedly told on campuses, on broadcasts and in print, we forget to inform the young people today of that aspect.

It happens so much that you have to wonder if we are deliberately attempting to hide that reality to maintain our own positions?

Now a life off stage will panic many of the 'elders' so let's just say they move off center-stage.

We do have role models. They aren't the ones who were pushed aside because they wouldn't let us lead. (Although that seems to be who we emulate now in our old age.) They were the people like Howard Zinn who were more than happy to transfer knowledge.

But we've become like middle-management, so afraid those under us will be promoted, that we are actively destroying the movement and we need to take a long, hard look at our actions.

Earlier into the peace movement to end the Iraq War, there was the lie put foward repeatedly that young people weren't involved or that they were apethetic. Did any of those repeating that lie not notice the fact that young people weren't represented onstage at the rallies? Or that they were used as window dressing when seeking to 'turn on' the youth?

Do you think it didn't go noticed that a child could be presented as a voice of peace but a teenager or young adult couldn't? That is what happened. But children are cute and cuddly, and let's be honest, so much easier to manage.

At the start of this year, a rally was held in DC. What was the average age of the speakers? It appeared to be well over 40 and that would be a higher number were it not for members of Iraq Veterans Against the War who had to fight to be invited onstage. (Don't bother e-mailing to say that's not true. IVAW had to fight and good for them for fighting.) Yes, there were survivors of Hurricane Katrina passed off as 'victims' as well, of various ages, but 'victims' aren't really a threat to leadership by their very nature.

March 13th through 15th, Iraq Veterans Against the War stages their Winter Soldiers Investigation. That is an example of using events from the past, absolutely. It's also a way to give young people who served a voice. Students for a Democratic Society is another example of learning from the past but in a way that places young people in charge and in the forefront.

Ideally, there would be a way to share the stage but the 'elders' have made clear that they don't want to share. When that was made clear in my youth, we stormed the gates and pushed them aside. One of the most encouraging things on campuses in the last two years has been hearing students voice, on their own, increasingly, the belief that their monies were always wanted, their bodies were wanted at rallies and marches, but their skills were never wanted and their input never sought. That is a reality and it's one that we're not supposed to speak of.

Refusing to acknowledge it is hurting the peace movement. Students have been carving out their own spaces in their own groups and they're going to be taking the leadership roles in non-student groups. The ones who will not share leadership will find themselves out in the cold so elders need to be asking themselves if they themselves are the most important thing or if it's the organizations they work for or with? If it's the latter, they need to figure out how they're going to address this issue because if they can't, or won't, it will be addressed for them and it will not be pretty or tidy -- nor should it be. It wasn't 'back in the day.'

On campuses, students always share their past activities. When they share their upcoming actions, I listen. If they ask for input, I will explain the positive effects and the negative effects of something similar during Vietnam and note that the world has changed. I don't say, "Don't unfurl a banner, don't boo a speaker, don't . . ." I'm not the one who will be living with those actions. I'm comfortable explaining potential effects but I'm not a leader and don't present myself as such. Sadly others are more than willing to present themselves as leaders and to instruct on 'should's and 'shouldn't's. These are not infants or toddlers who might burn themselves on the stove. There's no great mystery to how to end the illegal war. There's no training course they need to sit through.

But haven't we (my generation) succeeded in making them think there is? In making them think that we knew all the ins and outs of everything before we organized a rally or staged a march? We who stormed and tore down the gates seem more than happy to act as gatekeepers today and we should be appalled by that.

The reality is that any student today can better reach students because they are students. They know better then outsiders looking in -- outsiders who aren't as 'with it' or 'cool' as they'd like to believe. It leads to a lot of embarrassments. One example of that is Medea Benjamin, an usually wise person, writing an embarrassing column not all that long ago where she shared the tragedy of a pie-ing. As someone who's had enough paint thrown on themselves at marches during Vietnam to cover the CODEPINK DC house (though it couldn't be used if it had been saved -- the paint was always red), I didn't have a lot of sympathy for her plight. When Iraqis are being shot and bombed, when US service members are being shot and bombed, I didn't have a lot of sympathy for the pie-ing. Considering that no anti-pie-ing column appeared when it was done to Ann Coulter (or others), the column made me recoil.

When one of our smartest voices is using her space to explain how unfair her pie-ing was, there's a problem with the movement. Pie-ing is like getting hit with a water ballon. It's not the end of the world. It's not even the world-on-hold. At best, it's an amusing anecdote to be briefly shared with friends or during an interview. When enough confusion exists to think it makes for a column, there's a problem with the peace movement including the failure to see how that would be received. Students didn't take that column seriously and it led to a lot of mocking. (The day after it ran at Common Dreams, the first campus group we visited was alive with mocking cries of "Oh no! I've been pied!")

It may have been done by lefties. It may have been done by right-wingers. Or centrists. Or someone just wanting a laugh. It really had nothing to do with Medea but she turned it into herself. It's the equivalent of the streakers in the seventies and should be taken about as seriously. The fact that it was given enough weight to lead to what one student called "Stop the Pie-ing! The Madness Must End!" goes a long way towards explaining how out of touch the peace movement can be today. I'm sure it was a shock. I do not, however, remember reports of a detached retina or anything that would lead to a need to write that column.

It's a little too much naval gazing for a generation that should be able to sketch their own navels from memory at this point. Along with illustrating that point, it's included because I respect all the people named in this. Bennis, Benjmain, Hayden, Cockburn, Frank, Max and anyone I've forgotten that we've addressed. I think all but Cockburn and the two young people are part of the problem but they are not the problem.

They are part of the problem because they are not doing what needs to be done, what they should know has to be done: Demanding the gates be opened to young people. They are named because I honestly don't believe they are aware of the problem. There are others I could name who are aware of the problem and aren't at all bothered by it.

They better get ready to be bothered because the same students who gave up on leaders that never showed and became their own leaders have been working and realizing there's no great mystery to opposing the illegal war. On my end, Ava and I will be on campuses at least once a week with a real leader from the Vietnam era for the first six months of 2008. We hope to continue that throughout the year but we have lined up the first six months.

It wasn't that hard to do. Penny (as Elaine dubbed her) went on campuses with us and discovered that the biggest obstacle today wasn't apathy, wasn't lack of awareness, it was the obstacles elders have put up which allow them to maintain their positions. Penny's now working with a group on a campus close to her, in a non-leadership role. She's sharing information

She's also been sharing with genuine leaders of the Vietnam era. That's how we were able to line up speakers for next year so quickly. She called people, she spoke of what she heard, what she saw and underscored that a lot of (at best) second and third-tier participants in the peace movement were now trying to pass themselves off as leaders and holding back young people today. People who thought they had nothing to share today that would be of value grasp that they are needed to combat the lies and myths that have sprung up.

Penny's mouth dropped as a student shared an action she had tried to get started only to have it shot down when (and by) a 'leader' visiting the campus said it was the 'wrong approach' because it might 'offend' 'some people'.

"The war itself is offensive," Penny replied. And that is the reality.

And it's one we grapsed and had to grasp 'back in the day' in order to seize power and bring life into the movement. As Ava explained last week to one group, "Real leaders wouldn't spend so much time trying to shut you down, shut you off and control you." Equally true that real leaders wouldn't hop into bed with any political party that won't end the illegal war.

Those who've spent the last few years, and plan to spend 2008, playing footsie with Democrats to enrich or maintain their own standing should consider themselves on notice. 2008 stands a good chance of being the year when the young people take charge.


* Note: We read this to Penny over the phone. She wants a section added that we're not able to fit in so we're putting it in as a note. Jane Fonda was not the leader of the peace movement during Vietnam but she was one of many leaders. If you doubt how the peace movement today has turned into a lot of turf-wars, look at the reaction to Fonda who has consistently spoken out against the illegal war (including before it started). She has no interest in being a leader today but she has repeatedly attempted to do more and everytime she does a Toad or a Pooper or someone else comes along to scream, "She'll destroy the peace movement!" And Fonda backs away. Penny: "More likely, a more visible role for her would contrast with what others are doing -- or not doing -- and demonstrate just what frauds so many of today's leaders are because she was always one of the most effective communicators the movement had. That also explains why FAIR's magazine [Extra!] elected to slam her."

Dope of the week (US division)


What world does The Nation's editor & publisher The Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel live in? Apparently the world of hypocrisy.

Last week, she hopped on her high horse to scribble about healthcare and included this:

Even if the Post or the Times devoted a full story analyzing the leading candidates' healthcare proposals, how much attention would the two papers give to alternatives offered by someone like Congressman Dennis Kucinich--the only candidate supporting a truly universal, Medicare for all, healthcare plan that, according to recent polls, has majority support? I suspect very little. In our downsized politics of excluded alternatives, media polices the parameters of what's considered "realistic" when it comes to many choices, including healthcare reform.

Woooh! The day Katrina socked it to the MSM?


That's it on Dennis Kucinich -- both in her 'commentary' (which includes 14 other lines) and in the lengthy analyses she attaches to it -- an analysis of Hillary, John and Barack's plans. Would the leading papers leave out Kucinich's plan, fail to give it significant coverage? Katrina's 'suspects' they would give it "very little" attention. Sort of the way she refuses to give it attention and sort of the way she rushes to share an over fifty-line analysis that never mentions (let alone addresses) the Kucinich plan.

We don't doubt her 'analysis' of the mainstream but we are fully aware of what her own magazine's provided regarding Kucinich. Very little.

Katrina, that shattering you hear is the sound of your own glass house breaking.

Keep serving up your Barack-ali and pretend like no one notices.


Illustrations are Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Peace Resister" and
Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "From the kitchen of the Peace Resister."

Dope of the week (British division)

We'd really prefer to ignore the Moonbat. We know he's embarrassed British community members (and that was the subject of a lengthy roundtable in Polly's Brew last year). But he keeps leaving his droppings on our side of the pond.

Case in point, Thursday's Uprising. We heard about it. We listened to it Saturday. (Go to Uprising or the KPFK archives.)

There was the Moonbat, pushing his soft-issue, the environment, yet again. He was again decrying plane travel and insisiting that it was damaging the environment.

Insisting that with no sense of irony, apparently.

Sonali Kolhatkar, at the end of the interview, made a point to note WBAI's help with the interview.


Why is WBAI assisting in a telphone interview from England? Because he wasn't in England, he was in NYC. That is correct, the Moonbat wanted to decry plane travel. Apparently he swam to the United States for his latest publicity junket.

George Monbiot wasn't satisified just to leave everyone wondering if reducing plane travel starts with others. He had a lot to 'offer.'

He offered a slime of Alexander Cockburn, the assessment that Cockburn was 'blowing it' and the left had experienced more than enough of Cockburn. What left, Moonbat? Were you speaking for England, the United States or, yet again, being the self-proclaimed voice of the globe?

If Cockburn has indeed ignored replying to Moonbat, we say, "Well done, Alex, well done."

The fact that Moonbat feels the need to travel to the United States to speak about global warming (while railing against the pollution created by planes) appears to indicate that he honestly believes that issue is under-reported in the United States and really requires a smug punk with a bad haircut to put a 'face' on the issue.

We're aware people bend over backwards to avoid criticizing him but maybe they're unfamiliar with the fact that he's promoting nuclear energy?

That's what the one-time journalist, now environmental activist wanted to share: It's needed. It's clean.

It's destructive and dangerous to the planet. Only a fool, only a Moonbat, would promote it. He made no reference to solar power or wind power, but he could hawk nuclear energy.

For those unaware, the nuclear energy and nuclear weapon industry are tied together. At a time when it appears a serious movement is on the verge of rebuilding to call for a reduction and then elimination of nuclear weapons, the last thing the world needs is the likes of Moonbat selling nuclear energy as 'safe' and 'clean.'

Along with the damage they would do to the environment, a series of nuclear plants spring up all over the United States would send a message that nuclear energy is 'normal.' That would carry over to nuclear weapons and make them more palitable.

Moonbat, fly away, fly far, far away.

Green Party

The Green Party of Illinois announces: "In their meeting Thursday, the Illinois Board of Elections dismissed objections to all four Green Party candidates for president: Jared Ball of Washington D.C., Howie Hawkins of New York, Kent Mesplay of California and Cynthia McKinney of California."

Kent Mesplay "[g]rew up in a rain forest" and can list the following on his resume: "Green Party U.S. presidential candidate, 2004 primaries. Running again in the 2008 race. Participated in 12 presidential debates and panel discussions, including at the Institute of Politics, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, January 2004.Collected signatures, helping to get David Cobb, myself and the Green Party on the ballot in Rhode Island in 2004."

Cynthia McKinney is a nationally know former member of Congress who declared her candidacy last month. As a member of Congress, McKinney fought to raise real issues and ask the questions others didn't even want whispered. Her 'thanks' for that was to have the Democratic Party work to destroy her chances of re-election, not once but twice. The first time, she ran again the following cycle and was elected; however, her party's leader refused to restore her seniority the way she did for other members. In 2006, Democratic leadership worked overtime to demonize McKinney (and the most that 'left' Nation magazine could do was offer that they didn't want to get into it and 'enough' about Cynthia McKinney). That shows you how feared she is and how corrupt party leadership is because while working to run off a genuine progressive voice, they were begging anti-choice people to run as Democrats (some of whom were elected). McKinney is currently campaigning in Illinois. She will be in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin* December 11th: "Congresswoman McKinney will announce her candidacy and hold a press conference at the Madison State Capitol, room 330 SW at 12:30 PM. She will speak at UW Milwaukee Campus, Bolton, room 150 at 7 PM, and will attend a fundraiser directly after at Espresso Christoph coffee shop, 3116 N. Downer Ave., Milwaukee."

Of her party switch, McKinney explains, "With the Democratic Party having left so many of its base supporters behind, the appeal of the Green Party was one that I could hear."

Cindy Sheehan says of McKinney, "She has always fought against the establishment (and that is why she is not in Congress now, in fact) and she has fought for legitimate voting and for the people of New Orleans. She introduced Articles of Impeachment on her last day as a Congressperson in 2006."

[*"In addition to McKinney, other Green candidates appearing on the Wisconsin Green Party’s presidential ballot will be: Jared Ball -- college professor from the District of Columbia, Jesse Johnson -- filmmaker and film company owner from West Virginia, Jerry Kann -- child welfare non-profit administrative assistant from New York, Kent Mesplay -- air quality inspector from California, Joe Schriner -- journalist and author from Ohio, and Kat Swift -- non-profit bookkeeper from Texas."]

Ralph Nader is still deciding whether or not to run and has stated he will announce before the end of this year. Others may announce as well.

Jared Bell and Howie Hawkins?

If you're running for national office, you need a website and you need it now. Third parties are historically underfunded. We can understand that. We also know Blogger/Blogspot is free (and that Green candidates have used it in the past).

Is Jared Bell a skateboarder or does he run track? He may very well but we doubt those are his websites. You can view him speaking online here.

Howie Hawkins is someone we've noted before. In fact, unlike independent media, we actually called out the refusal to include Hawkins in New York's 2006 Senate candidate debate. It was cute to hear one gasbag whine last week about how Hillary Clinton spent X dollars on her Senate race when she didn't have any real competition. That's obvious now but, for those who forget, independent media signed up to push another candidate. Hawkins? Ha, you make us laugh. Hawkins ran as a Green and when's the last time you can remember alleged independent media doing a damn thing to help a Green candidate? You can find his 2006 Senate campaign website easily. If he has a presidential campaign site, we're not seeing it.

If you know that a site exists, please e-mail us and we'll note it when we next cover the Green Party presidential candidates. If you support a Green presidential candidate and have started your own website noting them, let us know and we'll link to it in a future feature. But websites need to be started by someone because there is not enough money to cover the nation with campaign headquarters for individual candidates. The best shot is going online to explain why you should be the presidential candidate for the Green Party. With primaries on the verge of starting and a number of people on the left dissatisfied with the Democratic Party, you really need to get your message out there.

The Illinois Green Party notes, "The decision by the board sets the stage for the state's first ever contested Green Primary." It does set the stage but for a true contest, all candidates running need to have an online resource that can be readily found so potential voters know what they stand for.

Of those participating on this feature, Jess is the only registered Green and notes that he will be voting Green in 2008. If Nader runs, he has Jess' vote "because he's stood for the right issue and because he's been so smeared since 2000." Otherwise? "Cynthia McKinney's campaign strongly interests me. I'm familiar with Hawkins, as most Greens are, but a little puzzled as to why he doesn't have a campaign site up and running. If someone wants my primary vote, they better have an online resource where I can start my research. I will, however, vote for the Green Party nominee in the general election regardless of who that person is."

The Illinois Green Party has sent us many press releases and we're grateful for that. We'll be reposting the rest of the latest one in full but first a few things. We are a left site. We are all aware of the way the Green Party has been attacked and the way it is regularly ignored by alleged independent media. If you're a state Green Party and you'd like to be noted as well, feel free to send an e-mail and we'll be happy to post in full. Will the same policy be extended to the Democratic Party?

No. The Democratic Party receives ample attention from independent media and we've got other things to offer each week. The fact that the Green Party is regularly excluded by alleged independent media requires that we do our part to be a corrective to that reality so we will gladly and happily note what we can on the Green Party. We said "state parties." That means if it's a release on state candidates, we'll note it. It doesn't just have to be presidential candidates. We will, however, note that we publish on Sunday and if you send us something about an event that's already taken place, we probably won't note it.

Here is the rest of the Illinois Green Party's press release:

"Because we will have four candidates on the ballot for the same office, and thus a contested primary, every voter in the state will have the chance to pull a Green ballot on Feb. 5," says Phil Huckelberry, Chair of the ILGP Government & Elections Committee.
The Illinois Green Party became an established political party in 2006, when gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney earned more than 10% of the vote. As an established party, Greens will participate in the Feb. 5 primary, name committee people, and can slate candidates to fill vacancies on the ticket.
"Voters in Illinois went to the polls in 2006 and demanded more options, beyond the two party system," says David Black, Secretary of the Illinois Green Party. "And we've delivered a number of excellent candidates in races all over the state."
In addition to the state board's decisions, the Cook County Board of Elections also threw out objections to the candidacy of Jerome Pohlen, a journalist and library trustee from Berwyn seeking the Green nomination for 3rd Congressional District.
Not all of the objections filed last month had favorable outcomes to the Illinois Green Party. The board voted unanimously to remove Scott Summers, attorney and McHenry Community College trustee, from the primary ballot for 16th Congressional District, despite hearing arguments that the Board used a different formula to calculate Green signature requirements than it used to calculate Republican and Democratic requirements.
"Had the board used the same formula, I would have had more than enough signatures to get on the ballot," says Summers."I think the political parties should be treated equally under the law." Summers says that he may file suit in the case or will seek to be slated by the party following the primary.
Objections are still pending against congressional candidate David Kalbfleisch (10th district), as well as other candidates for state, local and committee person offices.

About those permalinks

It's a rare week that goes by where someone doesn't e-mail to complain about the permalinks. Why do we note ___? Why don't we note ___? Mama Cass!

On the phone Friday, Jim mentioned to C.I. some of the nonsense coming in regarding links. Those with Blogger/Blogspot know-how may assume you pull up the template, copy and paste the code, then copy and paste the link and it's in there and you're done.

Jim, Dona and Ty switched templates this year and added links. Or thought they did. It didn't work. C.I. figured out how and remains the only one that really knows how to add links to our template. But when you do, unlike with the older templates, you don't just add it where it you want. It automatically adds to the top and you have to click to get it to go down once, click again for two, click . . . click . . . click.

It took a half-hour for C.I. to update the links on Friday.

They are what they are (to modify a saying of Kat's). If you don't like them (to steal from Cedric), oh well.

Since we're not people who trash our own beliefs to write a voters' guide, we first link to all community sites and they are linked to in the order they started.

The Official Cass Elliot Webpage? If you can't appreciate Cass, we're not going to be able to offer anything you can appreciate so move along.

C.I. redid the order to address some complaints. War resisters are now grouped together.

Peace organizations are now grouped together.

If you see something you think was there but appears to have vanished, you can e-mail.

While clicking on the tiny dashes (to go up or down), C.I. accidentally deleted Military Families Speak Out and noticed that but fears it may have happened before that and didn't get noticed. So there may be something that got automatically deleted on Friday. If you see something missing, is the e-mail address.

A.N.S.W.E.R. was the biggest issue in last week's e-mails about the permalinks. Some e-mailed to say they were glad we didn't support the organization and others e-mailed to ask why we didn't support the organization. We have no beef with them. We also have no time to play around with the permalinks. We'd planned to add them before and Dona had tried to two months ago. There's a step she missed (a save step apparently) and it wasn't added. It's on the permalinks now.

You don't link to any third party candidates was what two people wrote in to say. Ralph Nader may or may not decide to run, but he is now linked. Cynthia McKinney is running and she is now linked. Cindy Sheehan is running for Congress and she is now linked.

Unless something was accidentally deleted and is drawn to our attention, that's probably it for the updates to our links for a few months. It's a pain in the butt to do links, Dona's been talked through it twice but still has trouble with the new process and she knows more about it than anyone other than C.I.
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