Sunday, June 22, 2008

Truest statement of the week

Sgt. Matthis Chiroux: Good afternoon. We gather here this Father's Day on a very somber note. The American occupation of Iraq -- an illegal, immoral war which is ripping this nation apart as well causing an immeasurable harm to the Iraqi people and the people of the world alike. We gather in the remembrance of the sacrifice of many whose fathers weep on this joyous day for they know their own flesh and blood has been torn and siphoned from them for what we collectively hope will be this last blunder of American military might. We gather here and hope that our fathers will forgive us for the wrongs we have perpetrated on our bodies, hearts and minds alike in this cruel decade of disaster which stems from the very city in which we stand.
This father's day, we gather here to calm the vicious and vengeful alike. The first day I came to Washington, D.C. was less than one month before I shipped out to basic training. I was so moved by this country and its history that it reinvigorated my belief in the righteousness of what I was doing: Joining the army not only in search of personal progress but to participate in the efforts to bring justice to the individuals responsible for 9-11.
I remember standing at the base of the Washington Monument and watching the fireworks explode in the sky that Fourth of July and wondering how it was that we could have come under attack on American soil and believing firmly that I would be participatingin dealing justice for September 11th.
I remember standing before the Lincoln Memorial and feeling the presence of not just the former president and emancipator but of Martin Luther King and his dream for a brighter and more united future for the children of this nation.
That young me could not have known where he'd be standing almost six years later and what he would be saying this Father's Day. I am Sgt. Matthis Chiroux and tonight at midnight I may face further action from the army for refusing to reactive to participate in the Iraq occupation.
This fact hangs heavy on my heart as I look back at my five years of service in uniform. But I understand that what I am doing is in keeping with the values I shared with my friends-in-arms while we wondered if things could really get any worse?
Today I stand in resistance to the occupation of Iraq because I believe in our nation, its military and her people. I resist because I swore an oath to this nation that I would not allow it to fall into decay when I may be serving on the side of right. And my country is in decay and in these times of crisis Thomas Paine once said, "The summer soldier and sunshine patriot will flee from service to our country."
I stand here today as a Winter Soldier. To serve our nation, its military and its people in this dark time of confusion and corruption.
I stand here to make it known that my duty as a soldier is first to the higher ideals and guiding principles of this country which our leaders have failed to uphold.
I stand here today in defense of the US Constitution which has known no greater enemy, foreign or domestic, than those highest in this land who are sworn to be governed by its word.
I stand here today in defense of those who have been stripped of their voices in this occupation for the warriors of this nation have been silenced to the people who need to start listening.
We are here to honor the memory of our fathers who more than two centuries ago brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, as Abraham Lincoln once noted.
We are here to honor the struggle of our fathers and their fathers and their fathers before them to build this nation and bring it together -- through slavery and poverty, to sexism and racism, through materialism and imperialism. They built this nation and struggled to keep it alive as we've blundered and learned and blundered again. We owe it to our fathers to stand for this nation now when a dark cloud has descended upon it in the form of an administration who is stealing the lives of us all to wage an illegal war -- conceived in lies and birthed [born] of manipulation.
As a soldier I was told it was not my place to question the orders of those appointed above me. I had that lie trained into me from my first day of basic training to my last day of active duty. But I have learned the truth, the truth that the occupation of Iraq is inherently illegal and that it is my duty as a soldier to refuse illegal orders to reactivate and deploy in support of it.
I have learned that in these times of crisis one must look deep into their own values to know the path that they must walk. I have learned that feeling and thinking and speaking and acting and keeping with courage and honesty in preservation of a righteous cause is blessed and may give a person strength to utter truths that may calm the vicious and the vengeful alike.
I believe that this nation and this military may come to know the same truth: That the rule of law has been forsaken and we must return to it or be doomed to continue disaster. I believe in the goodness of the American people and I believe that justice is not dead because we as a people believe that it is our responsibility to resist the injustices done by our government in our names. We know this truth to be self-evident that our nation can unite to oppose an illegal occupation which is killing and scarring and shattering the lives of our youth and the Iraqi people.
On this Fathers Day, know, America, that your children need you. We need you to care for us and to care for our country which we will inherit when you are finished with her. We need you to end this occupation of Iraq which has destroyed a country and scattered its people to the wind like ashes in the tempest -- a tempest that has engulfed the nation of Iraq and scrubbed any sign of peace and prosperity from the surface of a civilization older than even history itself.
Fathers, we need you to care for your children and the children of Iraq for they know not why you fight and carry no fault in the conflict.
Fathers, your sons and daughters need you now to embrace peace for though we were attacked, we have dealt in retaliation that same suffering one-thousand times over to a people who never wronged us. The nation will know little healing until first we stem off the flow of blood and human life for justice and healing will never be done by a blade or a bullet or a bomb or a torture cell.
By continuing to participate in the unjust occupation of Iraq, we, as service members, are contributing to that flow of human life and we cannot now -- nor could we ever -- call the Iraqi people an enemy in the fight against the use of terror. But terror is all we now know. We are terrified of the prospect that we have been lied to. We are terrified by the idea that we have killed for nothing. We are terrified to break the silence. We are terrified to do what we know is right.
But never again will I allow terror to silence me. Nor will I allow it to govern my actions. I refuse terror as a tactic for uniting a people around an unjust cause. I refuse to allow terror to motivate me to do violence on my fellow man especially those who never wronged me in the first place. I refuse to be terrified to stand in defense of my Constitution. And I refuse to be terrified of doing so in great adversity.
As a resister to the Iraq Occupation, I refuse to be terrified by what may come for I know those who stand against me are in terror of the truth. But I will speak my truth, and I will stand by it firmly and forever will my soul know peace. Thank you.

-- Matthis Chiroux' Father's Day Speech in D.C. Chiroux is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and they are noting things you can do:

Contact your congressional representatives and ask them to publicly support Matthis.
Contribute to IVAW's legal defense fund to help Matthis and other resisters.
Send a message of support to Sgt Matthis Chiroux at
Find out more about Matthis Chiroux.

A note to our readers

Hey --
Another Sunday.

This is our fourth annual summer read/fiction edition.

Helping out here were Dallas and the following:

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,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,

We thank them all. We curse Flickr which added three hours on to what should have been a smooth edition.

Truest statement of the week -- Matthis Chiroux's statement last Sunday on why he is not deploying to Iraq. The only choice for truest this week.

Editorial: What's your acceptance level? -- This is longer in the print edition and does not include the asides. Dona wanted it shorter, tighter and more personal. Did Ava or C.I. jot down Elaine's remark? Or C.I.'s? Could they remember it if they didn't because "that's what our readers will enjoy." This is part of out continued efforts to provide the forgotten history and, as Dona pointed out, the Vietnam era includes what was going on here, not just in Canada and Vietnam.

TV: Breaking what? -- In the tradition of their CSI and 7th Heaven commentaries, Ava and C.I. had worked out a fiction angle for this week's commentary. They tossed it aside as Jim asked, "Can you raise this issue?" repeatedly. It was not a slow news week. (Some issues were also taken over to another feature.) A summer-read may not have been fully possible any week but there was a ton to comment on this week. Ava and C.I. decided to do a 'straight' commentary. Which doesn't mean there aren't laughs (for example, check out their opening sentence). My apologies to them (this is Jim) for asking them to put aside what they had planned but without this grabbing a number of things, I could feel the e-mails pouring in asking, "Where is your committment!" (Again, we do this summer read edition every year and this is our fourth year doing it.)

New York Times, Early Edition -- a funny short story that Cedric, Ava and C.I. led on was tossed aside online (it ran in the print edition). It needed a "strong polish" (Ava). As noted above, I was worried about the fact that we weren't covering any of the big topics of last week. C.I., Elaine and Dona came up with the idea for this to calm my nerves. This begins our summer read offerings.

Clouds -- This was the short story everyone loved and, if it suffers from anything, it was too much care and too much time. To shorten it, we pulled out numerous details. The long version runs in the print edition and will also run Friday in the gina & krista round-robin. A note on the illustration. It was done for the humorous short story we're not running online. Jess wondered if Rebecca could reverse one detail in photoshop? She did and saw why Jess asked. Removing a detail created a completely different illustration and one that would work for this short story.

The non-whistle blower -- This is mainly Mike, Wally, Cedric and me. All stories went through several drafts but we had this idea and worked on. The David Gregory thing may be the only detail that was added to it (Ava and C.I. said "put that in" and Kat and Dona wrote it into the story).

Bee-bees and cockle bugs -- Ty had an idea for a short story that would have some sort of horror theme. It would not work out. Marcia said flip it so that it's one girl and one boy (it was two boys originally) and once that was done, it came together fairly quickly.

Circling -- With no time to do the polish needed for the humorous short story (and Ava and C.I. rejecting "dashing" one off as they have in past years -- they still had to do their TV commentary), we were at a loss. Betty said, "Did we ever try anything in the Dorothy Parker style?" I reminded her we didn't have time to polish a humor piece so we didn't have time to write a new one. She corrected me by noting Parker wrote obsessively about love obsessions.

Nader-Gonzalez -- We carry campaign finance over to this. Community sites hit hard on this issue last week and Ava and C.I. grab it in their TV commentary (at my request) but I wanted us to note it in at least one other article. This is a big issue, there's a great deal of silence on it from the left and 'left' and I didn't want us to be guilty of that.

Highlights -- Mike, Ruth, Kat, Betty, Wally, Cedric, Marica, Rebecca and Elaine wrote this and picked all highlights unless otherwise noted.

That's it, we'll see you next week.

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

Editorial: What's your acceptance level?

"By continuing to participate in the unjust occupation of Iraq," declared Matthis Chiroux last Sunday, "we, as service members, are contributing to that flow of human life and we cannot now -- nor could we ever -- call the Iraqi people an enemy in the fight against the use of terror. But terror is all we now know. We are terrified of the prospect that we have been lied to. We are terrified by the idea that we have killed for nothing. We are terrified to break the silence. We are terrified to do what we know is right."

June 15th was when the honorably discharged Sgt. Chiroux was supposed to report to deploy to Iraq but, as he stated he would May 15th, Chiroux refused to do so, he took a stand against the illegal war. In 2006, a top ten (circulation wise) daily newspaper, reporting on war resistance, felt the need to treat war resister as though it were a term that had just sprung up when it's roots go far back into this country's history.

But history isn't a major or even a minor required for a degree in journalism. So a great deal just falls away and that's apparent with each report on war resisters today.

Andrew Johnson granted amnesty to "deserters." It was December 25, 1968 and the amnesty applied to all who fought on the Confederate side of the Civil War. It was thought that, for the country, even those who had fought against it should be given amnesty. In 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt would grant amnesty to those who were found guilty of either draft evasion or espionage during WWI. Harry S. Truman would grant four amnesties while in office -- for those who evaded the draft during WWII or deserted as well as those with records prior to military service. Gerald Ford would create a program where "draft dodgers" and "deserters" could go through a process that would -- if they met the criteria -- wipe the slate clean. Jimmy Carter would follow with amnesty for all "draft dodgers."

The Civil War, WWI, WWII, Vietnam. Amnesty isn't uncommon and one could argue it followed all of the US' 'big' wars. Ted Kennedy, who's been in the Senate long enough to see two major illegal wars, would say as Vietnam was thought to be winding down (it was not winding down in 1972, despite Kennedy's assurances and beliefs otherwise) that the nation needed to heal and that part of the healing had to include some form of amnesty. Always the politician, Kennedy would use the rhetorical (and dualistic) dialogue while presenting the issue, the either/or. Some say they must always be punished, some say amnesty must be "offered to those who were right about the war before the rest of us".

Those who have refused to take part in the illegal Iraq War were right when the White House was wrong. The man who lied the world into an illegal war will be drawing the curtain in a little over half-a-year from now. It started in his first term and will continue after his second term ends. In January 2009, someone else will operate out of the Oval Office.

And what are the candidates offering? And what are politicians in Congress pushing?

The GOP and Democratic presidential candidates, like their parties 'leadership' in Congress, seem unable to state clearly and unambiguously that it is time to end the illegal war and withdraw ALL US troops. Vietnam was owned by LBJ and Tricky Dick and, if it comes down to one of the two major parties occupying the White House next year, it's very likely that co-ownership will again be granted to two presidents.

How did we get here and how do we get out of it?

One way is knowing your history. Knowing what is possible because it's already been done once. And a president isn't the only one who can grant amnesty, the US Congress can as well. But how can the latter support an amnesty when it's difficult to get even one member of Congress to speak out in support of Matthis Chiroux despite his haunting Congress for over a month and receiving private messages of support? Where is the backbone?

Or do they all plan to pull a Teddy Kennedy and pretend that a group was "right about the war before the rest of us" and that "the rest of us" is only just now aware of how illegal the Iraq War is?

Last week, a Washington Post-ABC poll found that 34% of respondents feel the Iraq War "was worth fighting" and 63% feel it was not worth fighting. Are the Democrats waiting for the percentage of those opposed to reach 99% or possibly 100%?

With 63% saying it was not worth it, Congress still decided to open up the public piggy bank and give Bully Boy every penny he wants to continue the illegal war (as well as the war in Afghanistan). And they didn't just fork over our tax dollars (present and future), they also left out any talk of withdrawal (actual withdrawal dates or toothless, non-binding measures).

You might have thought Panhandle Media would have a field day with that topic, dashing off fiery editorials and columns, filling the broadcast hours decrying and discussing Congressional Democrats latest sell-out on the Iraq War. Instead, the strongest statement against the funding came from Cindy Sheehan's campaign which noted, "In January 2007, the newly gaveled Speaker [Nancy Pelosi] promised that her House would not give George Bush any more blank checks for funding without "oversight, standards or conditions." United for Peace & Justice attempted to find an upside when there was none: "This, of course, is not the outcome we would have liked. However, it is worth noting that 155 members of the House voted against the supplemental funding bill. That is the largest number of "no" votes on war funding so far." No, UPFJ, the glass isn't half-full, it's shattered and, with 435 members of Congress, 155 is a pitiful number.

In terms of voting, of your vote, you should be paying attention to the fact that it is presidential candidates Ralph Nader and Bob Barr who are calling for an end to the illegal war along with presumed Green Party nominee Cynthia McKinney. Their campaigns get by on spit and a shoe string while still inspiring people around the country with a message and issues, not the big bucks from the defense industry. They battle media blackouts, they battle underhanded tactics from the two main parties and they battle for ballot access. We're not sure which is more shocking -- all three tactics go against what is supposed to take place in a democracy.

Were Jimmy Carter not so in the tank for the Democratic Party, we'd suggest that he try monitoring elections in the US.

How can a voter make an informed decision when access to candidate information is regularly denied? How can a voter confidently mark a ballot when candidates have to struggle and fight to even get listed on the ballot?

On the information issue, where is today's Liberation News Service? No fair mentioning Barack propaganda arms. Liberation News Service was not in the habit of air brushing the blemishes from War Hawk politicians. If you're not familiar with them, we'd suggest you ignore Wikipedia (which Jim pulled up and began reading from to howls of laughter from Elaine and C.I. who couldn't believe such a "dumb ass" article could be written and point out that the Liberation News Service had headquarters in DC, that is shared a town house with Insurgent Printing and Graphics as well as The Washington Free Press but "typical, that it would be turned into yet another New York story"). [C.I. notes that in the sixties, Liberation News Service was also produced in Chicago and Berkeley but "as of the start of 1968, it didn't even have a 'press' to print on in New York or any equipment rented from Western Union, so it took a real idiot to write that Wiki-article and claim it was NYC based at the start." For more laughs, Elaine asked Jim to see if Wiki had an article on the Underground Press Syndicate. It did. The author of which foolishly believes UPS was domestic plus Canada when, in fact, it was a worldwide service in Europe as well as Australia. Ah, Crap-a-pedia, if we couldn't laugh at you, the world would be a less joyful place.]

During Vietnam, you had alternative weeklies, also known as underground weeklies, which addressed all the things The Nation, The New Republic, et al, wouldn't about the war, about the peace movement, etc. [Examples would include, but are not limited to, Berkeley Barb, The Seed, Nola Express, East Village Other, Fifth Estate, Inner-City Voice, The Great Speckled Bird, The Los Angeles Free Press, The Avatar and Berkeley Tribe.] Where is today's UPS or LNS?

"You have the internet!" we can hear some American displeased over the 2004 election and moving to Canada insisting. (Yeah, you know who we mean.) Yes, Dancing With Fools, you do. And back then, you had an alternative weekly in most major cities across the country. The point of LNS specifically (UPS, again, had an international reach) was to amplify the audience. So one webpage doesn't mean a thing. It's the same as one weekly. During Vietnam, people were smart enough to grasp the importance of amplification.

They've got amplification -- the people who want the Iraq War to continue. They've got a media megaphone and they appear to have both major political parties in this country in their pocket. The dominant message of the mainstream media is that the war should continue. All this time later, that's still the message with "henny pennies" (to flip Donald Rumsfeld back on them) naysayers insisting doom and gloom if the US leaves Iraq. (Ignoring the doom and gloom the US has brought and continues to bring to the area.) In what passes for the US 'alternative' media, the dominant message is that the war is bad (illegal, as Billy Joel once found of honesty, is such a lonely word, apparently) and you need to go vote for Barack but, like Vitameatavegamin, he's so tasty!

In a functioning democracy, these would not be your press choices.

But you live with what you're willing to accept and until the American people are willing to call out the illegal war loudly and clearly and to call out All Things Media Big and Small, you get what you accept.

TV: Breaking what?

Getting your news from Amy Goodman is a bit like learning about sex from the nuns: something's always missing and the pieces never fit together. We realized that last week as we watched one appalling moment after another.

Take Tuesday when Goody decided to break the self-imposed barrier of "No More War Resisters" and spoke to one for the first time since 2006. The war resister is Matthis Chiroux who was honorably discharged and getting on with his life when the military decided to recall him. May 15th, Chiroux announced that he would be not reporting to deploy to Iraq. June 15th was the day he was due to report and, instead, he made a public statement in DC explaining why he wasn't reporting.

Two days later, he's on Democracy Now! and Goody asks him, "When did you go to Iraq?" Chiroux' reply began with, "I've never been to Iraq, ma'am." And whatever followed that, we have no idea. We were too shocked that so little preparation went into an interview. Actually, we were shocked to grasp just how out of it Goody is because Chiroux has been speaking publicly since May 15th and given many interviews to independent media as well as a two-part interview to Courage to Resist. How do you miss that basic point? If you're not doing your own prep work, shouldn't who ever is doing it know where your guest served and where he didn't?

But when someone's publicly announcing that they are refusing to participate in the illegal war and you're interviewing them, don't you think to ask them how they arrived at their decision?

We're not questioning Matthis' decision, we support it. But Goody took the interview in several directions and none of them were (a) productive or (b) informative. None explored why someone would decide to resist. Judging by her questions, she was more interested in a bacteria story in Afghanistan than the stand Matthis Chiroux had taken.

If we were bothered by that 'interview' on Tuesday, the next one had us rolling on the floor laughing. Goody brought on Mike Gravel. For those who have forgotten or never knew, Gravel was in the Democratic Party presidential primary for a few seconds. After he was shut out of the debates by the networks and cable, he announced he was now running for the presidential nomination of a third party, the Libertarian Party. Bob Barr got that nomination.

You were clued in that it was loony time just in the introduction, where Goody referred to Lori Van Auken as "one of the so-called 'Jersey Girls'." So-called? Hey, remember when Diana Ross was one of the 'so-called' Supremes?

Gravel was plugging a host of issues -- and doing it better than Vincent Bugliosi who'd been on the previous week and began his segment whining that he'd been promised more time to plug his book. But it appeared Gravel was mainly on to sneer at women -- getting in his pot shots at Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi. He somehow managed to sing the praises of assorted males but sneered at women throughout. At one point, the topic of impeachment was raised and, strangely, he made time to sneer at Pelosi. No question that she deserves it but John Conyers is an adult and if he wanted to start impeachment proceedings, he could do it without Pelosi's say so. It's not like Steny Hoyer ever listens to Pelosi or, for that matter, gives a damn what she says.

Conyers chairs the House Judiciary Committee which is where impeachment would start. Conyers entered Congress in January 1965 -- forty-three years ago. If impeachment (which we support but don't see happening) is as popular as polls indicate, he'd have nothing to lose by announcing impeachment hearings. The popularity would prevent any attempts to remove him as the committee chair and -- regardless of the outcome -- initiating impeachment would make him so popular with rank-and-file Democrats that he'd be untouchable by Pelosi or anyone else in House leadership. Pelosi may have taken impeachment "off the table," but, if Conyers wanted to, he could put it back on the table at any minute.

But Gravel had no harsh words for Conyers. Instead he offered up nonsense about how he was kept out of the Democratic debates because he "challenged" Hillary Clinton in the debates. Yes, Crazy Gravel, the media was on Hillary's side. You can tell that by the soft-gloves approach they gave her. What's that? They used non-stop sexism to destroy her? Oh, yeah, that is reality and Gravel orbits it but never touches down. Ground control to Major Mike.

Gravel's supporting Barack Obama. Considering that he raised the Iran resolution to Goodman, someone might want to inform Senator Nut Job that Barack didn't vote against it. He skipped the vote. He skipped the vote and lied that he didn't know it was taking place. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office corrected the public record by explaining Barack had been informed of the vote. More importantly, someone should inform Senator Muy Loco that, in April of 2007, Barack cosponsored the "Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007."

Don't ever count on Amy Goodman supplying that bit of news, she's never mentioned that bill in the fourteen months since it was proposed.

Gravel was calling the Democratic Party and the Republican Party war parties and insisting that the Libertarian and the Green Party were not. Since neither's had control of Congress or seated anyone in the Oval Office, we'd argue you just don't know. But Gravel stated he wasn't part of a war party -- which begs the question when did he finally realize the Democratic Party's close affiliation with war?

As someone who helped read the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional record, one would have thought he'd be well aware of the Democratic Party's affinity for war. But that might be expecting him to make sense and that's never going to happen with someone who wanted to be the Libertarian Party's presidential nominee mere months ago but was insisting on Democracy Now! last week that voting for Ralph Nader was nothing but "a good place to put a protest vote if you want to put it."

The next day (June 18th), Goody brought on Ralph Nader. It was pretty frightening. Repeatedly, Goody asked Nader to critique someone else: Tim Russert, Chuck Hagel, Barack Obama, John McCain . . . We waited and waited for Goody to ever ask Ralph about his own proposals, about what he would do as president. What's the big criticism of all press coverage of elections? The focus on the money race, the fundraising. That Goody could be counted on to ask about: "How is your fundraising going? Have you reached that goal?"

In what surely has to be the worst question of the interview, Goody asked, "Who do you think would be more likely to bomb Iran, to attack Iran, or have a surrogate do it: John McCain or Barack Obama?" Ralph's answer surprised her ("I don't know."). But what was that question to begin with, her version of Barbara Walters? Possibly. Or just another effort for her to push Barack for presidency with the hopes that Ralph would respond, "McCain of course!"

Then she asked him to respond to Mattew Rothschild's column -- the one where he insults Nader by writing, "Hardly any of the tiny few who may vote for Nader would otherwise go to the Democrats in the fall, anyway." Nader responded by noting that with no media coverage he and Matt Gonzalez (his running mate) are polling at 6%. That question, along with the earlier one and what followed pushed the narrative that Nader being in the race could rob the Democrats (or maybe just rob Barack) of the presidency as Goodman continued, "Well let me ask you something. Are you, Ralph Nader, freaked out at the possibility that a Republican would win?" Freaked out? The last time we can remember that on a screen was the film Bird On Wire (1989) when Goldie Hawn and Mel Gibson were playing former hippies. Sadly, Goody appeared serious.

But she was playing and we'd advise third party candidates invited on her show in the future (probably in September or October if Goody's record holds) to be aware of that. Goodman wasn't an interviewer, she was a prosecutor. She wasn't working for the state unless there's a State of Barack. (As far as we know, that's only a delusion and not yet a physical state at this point.) Her questions, her position, repeatedly advanced the myth that Barack owns votes and anyone running, other than the GOP nominee, will be stealing from Barack. That was especially clear when she kind-of, sort-of noted that Barack's not about ending the illegal war: "For those who want to vote for Barack Obama but are very discouraged about the lack of a strong stance that he has taken or laying out his position, for example, on withdrawal from Iraq, what do you think they should do?"

Was Ralph Nader really brought on to defend his own run? Because that's certainly how it played out. And while you might expect that on network and cable shows, you don't expect that from 'independent' media. You don't expect a candidate for president to never be asked a question about his or her stands on the issues, you don't expect him or her to never be asked what they would do if elected, you don't expect them to not be asked of what, for example, they have planned for their first hundred days in office.

But that's what Goody did. She presented a presidential candidate as though he were a media critic and alternated that with making him defend his decision to run for the presidency. (She also repeated a flat-out lie that he corrected her on -- one that should never have been repeated by her and we'll have the decency not to repeat it here.)

How do you do that? How do you invite any candidate on and make the thrust of the interview their defending their right to run? In a democracy, anyone who wants to run office can. But there was Goody, before the DNC can even stage an August coronation for Barack, acting as if any run (any run from the left) for the presidency should be viewed as a threat to what she sees as the needed crowning of Barack.

She really wants him crowned and we've long noted that (here, here and here -- among other examples). She's slanted her show to him for some time (long before 2008) and either avoided mentioning unpleasant truths or else buried them. For example, last weekend's headlines.

Headlines is where Goody likes to do her intense damage. She doesn't have to worry that a guest may run off on an aside and she can present whatever she wants however she wants. So, on April 22nd, she declared, "Senator Clinton also ratcheted up her rhetoric toward Iran on Monday. During an interview that will air today on ABC News, Clinton said she would 'totally obliterate' Iran if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons." No, Clinton didn't say that. She did say Iran would be attacked. "Totally obliterate"? She stated Iran needed to know that the US had the power to do that. It's a jump from noting the power to do that to declaring that Clinton threatened she would do that as president if Israel was attacked. But Goody's always happy to make a leap of bad faith with anyone other than Barack.

With Barack, it's emphasize what she likes -- which is how Chris Dodd's endorsement of Barack was in headlines one day and led the headlines the following day. Of course, considering Dodd's subprime scandal, Goody wouldn't feature his endorsement as a headline if it happened today.

Friday, she 'covered' Barack's decision to reject public financing in the presidential election and she buried it deep in the headlines:

In campaign news, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has announced he is opting out of the federal public financing system in the general election. By turning down $84 million in federal money, Obama will be allowed to raise and spend an unlimited amount during the election. Obama is the first major party candidate to reject public funds since the system started in 1976. The decision marks a reversal for Obama. Last year he had pledged to accept public financing if his opponent did as well. McCain confirmed he will stay in the public financing system. McCain spokesperson Jill Hazelbaker said, "Obama's decision will have far-reaching and extraordinary consequences that will weaken and undermine the public financing system."

No mention of Watergate. No exploration of the effects this would have except to quote someone from the McCain camp (whom DN! consumers are taught to boo and hiss). She might as well have quoted Judith Miller on the subject for all the weight that carried.

Miller's former paper, The New York Times, took the issue more seriously than Goody did, editorializing in Friday's paper that Barack's decision put "Public Funding on the Ropes." The paper would run Leslie Wayne's "Obama's Decision Threatens Public Financing System" on the same day. For those unaware, public financing of elections is supposed to be a core left belief. But to crown Barack, beliefs are tossed aside quicker than a 98 Degrees CD. Mike pulled together a number of quotes from left voices at left outlets on public financing and, as he notes, except for the late Molly Ivins, none of them have an excuse for not calling out Barack's decision (or worse, for applauding it as Christopher Hayes did last week online at The Nation).

As the use of homophobia went unchecked by Barack, as sexism ran rampant across the media spectrum (including from the mouths of 'lefties' like Tom Hayden, Robert Scheer and Robert Parry) and was encouraged by Barack, as Barack told CNN at the start of the month that he had no set plan for what to do (or not do) about Iraq but would decide what to do after he was elected, we saw the same pattern: The left and 'left' refuse to call him out. They make excuses (Allan Nairn is probably still the most laughable with the excuse he gave to Goodman back in January that Barack only took money from Big Business because he was afraid they wouldn't trust him otherwise) or they stay silent. You see it over and over again. Sometimes, to shake things up, they'll minimize. But there is no sense at all that our left outlets are remotely interested in demanding that Barack stand for anything or propose anything. They've become nothing but a cheering section. It's really pathetic and it may well represent the destruction of Panhandle Media.

Contrary to popular folklore, Panhandle Media was neither that important in the last fifty years nor that 'independent.' During Vietnam, the alternative weeklies (we do not mean The Nation or The New Republic -- though the latter focused more on Vietnam, the peace movement and ending that illegal war than did The Nation) had some impact. So did FM radio which existed then as something more than spinning the same top twenty hits. But by the Fall of Nixon, Panhandle Media was really over. Or at least back to its planned uselessness. They built up Jimmy Carter as a man of peace, as a saint. They avoided calling him out. They did a lot of 'strong' editorials using words like 'hope' -- as in they 'hoped' he would do whatever. Then they got on board and cheerleaded Bill Clinton. (Some grabbed the pom-poms a little later than others.) They largely only grew critical in the second term, something that might surprise many considering all the Bill Clinton criticisms they rushed out to attack Hillary with in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

It's important that you know that because, for all the occasional lip service about third parties, they always fall in line behind the Democrats. Some of their attacks on Hillary can be viewed as their own self-hatred for having worked so hard to build up Bill. If Barack were elected (and he still doesn't have the nomination), they'd do the same thing. They'd cheerlead him throughout his first administration. If there were a second administration, they'd sharpen their knives. And if his vice president or his wife elected to run for the presidency, they'd do a real number on them, hauling out all the criticism they stifled in real time, when it mattered.

Every four years, Panhandle Media bets on the Democrats and then wants to be seen as "independent." It's probably the longest running joke in history. Consider them the original 527s -- predating MoveOn and all the rest.

If you ever doubted that, you only had to catch Democracy Now! last week. You only had to notice that a man who ran for the presidential nomination of a third party only moments ago was able to say that voting for Ralph Nader was nothing but a "protest vote" and Goody never bothered to ask him, "Well, if that's how you feel, why were you running for a third party nomination?" You saw it when Ralph Nader's entire segment played out like, "What makes you think you have a right to run! Don't you know you could jeopardize the anointing of the Christ-child!" You saw it in how she trivialized money by asking Nader how much he'd raised but reduced Barack's rejection of public financing to a headline that didn't even note anyone calling out Barack's decision (Russ Feingold did, Democracy21 did) and instead slipped in criticism from the one camp that her viewers are taught to snarl at (the McCain campaign).

Democracy Now! is nothing but Democratic Party Now! and that's all it probably ever can be. We don't have a thriving independent media in this country. Should Barack get the nomination and be elected to the White House, that will become really obvious -- as anyone who was paying attention after Carter got elected or Clinton did to his first term can attest. What happens each cycle is that a small faithful continue consuming but a larger portion realizes that they've been had, that beliefs and principles are really not important to 'independent' media except as something to attack the GOP with. They burn off their own audiences.

It's not 'independent media,' it's 'partisan media.' That's not a "left media." Left media would take positions and principles of the left and hold everyone accountable by those cores beliefs. "Partisan media" is just another organ of the Democratic Party. It's why they tone down their Iraq coverage (to the point that it's really non-existent). It's why they ratchet up the fear level as an election approaches.

For real positive change to ever come to the United States, you'd have to have a left media and such a media would make demands and offer blistering critiques. While doing that, they would also use their own power to reshape understandings and the world that they controlled. You don't see that at The Progressive which lost Molly Ivins but, since her death, has found time to add three columnists (two Anglo, one Latino) -- all male. You don't see that at The Nation which featured only 149 bylines of women in 2007 but 491 male bylines. You don't hear it on CounterSpin which can't even see fit to offer a fifty-fifty gender split when booking guests. And you certainly didn't see it last week on Democracy Now! as Goodman offered up 16 male guests and only 4 women.

When they can't change themselves, they can't change the world. And it's this abdication of their own power that does more to explain the rut that the left has been in for the last forty years than anything else. You can't change the world when you re-create the same injustices in your own sphere of influence.

New York Times, Early Edition



By Michael R. Gordon


WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 -- The newly sworn in President Barack Obama last night ordered an attack on the country of Iran. Though largely vague throughout his campaign, Mr. Obama repeatedly gave statements indicating that an attack on Iran was possible.

In addition to multiple public statements, April 24, 2007 found the then-U.S. Senator co-sponsoring the "Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007" which demanded, "The Secretary of State should designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189) and the Secretary of the Treasury should place the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists under Executive Order 13224 (66 Fed. Reg. 186; relating to blocking property and prohibiting transactions with persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism)."

At approximately 11:30 p.m. E.S.T., the president gave the order for nuclear bombs to be dropped on Iran after consulting with his panel of advisers. The Associated Press reported the "sky over Tehran was glorious with colors as the bombs exploded." The Times' London correspondent, John F. Burns, watching an ariel satellite feed of the bombing from Downing Street, described it as "like seeing the opening of Love, American Style -- but without the annoying theme song."

Secretary of War Sarah Sewall declared that all nukes hit their targets and that "civilian damage was minimal but you can't take over the world without breaking a few populations." Secretary of State and Anger Samantha Power, speaking at the State Dept. earlier this morning, deemed the first wave a "cake-walk, or at least microwave brownies. The world is on notice. There will be no disagreements with U.S. foreign policy. Not on my watch!"

The president is expected to address the nation later today at noon E.S.T. and already MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, now in charge of all news programming, has dubbed the assault "Operation Hit Back, We Take No S**t" and warned viewers that, "This is no time for dissent or disagreement."

Across the country, the response from antiwar activists was largely non-existent. Said Crypt Keeper Tom Hayden, "This is a glorious day and I know the movement that supported President Obama will now rise up . . . Or, if not now, possibly after he assaults the next country on his list of terrorist states." In New York City, a gaggle of protesters gathered outside the former firehouse building at 87 Lafayette Street where they pelted Democracy Now! propagandist Amy Goodman with rotten tomatoes, lettuce and, in honor of Fidel Castro's February 4, 1962 Second Declaration of Havana, bananas. Ms. Goodman was heard to say, "Oh! Ow! Hey, that hurts! Ow! Help! Help! Ow!"

Those protesters not hurling produce carried signs that proclaimed slogans such as: "GOODMAN LIED! IRANIANS DIED!"

In Harlem, rescue workers came to the aid of Code Stink's Medea Benjamin who attempted to escape from an unruly mob by seeking shelter in Katrina vanden Heuvel's Harlem mansion; however, Ms. vanden Heuvel refused Ms. Benjamin admittance and the latter was repeatedly "pie-ed" -- the act of hurling a pie at a victim -- by angry citizens denouncing her as a "liar" and "war mongerer" due to her unconditional support for Mr. Obama while he ran for the presidency.

Reached for comment, Ms. Benjamin eagerly confirmed the "pie-ing" and repeatedly spelled her name ("It's really important you get it correctly") while offering to pose with her detached retinas for "any photographer you can get a hold of." When asked what she made of the protesters and their anger towards her, Ms. Benjamin reminded this reporter, "Look, Bub, I am the story. Don't you go off chasing down the wackos. This is about me. All about me!"

From the safety of her Harlem mansion, Ms. vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation magazine, advised the press that, "Democratic wars are okay. Democrats only started needed wars. President Obama has stated he had his reasons and that is good enough for the left, if I can speak for the entire left in this country, and haven't I always presumed to do just that?"

D.C. is abuzz with talk that President Obama will announce today that dissidents will be rounded up and rumored to be on the watch list are all gays and lesbians. Speaking from Free Speech and Obama TV headquarters, self-loathing lesbian Laura Flanders declared, "I will do what I have to do for my country. My only concern with President Obama has always been that he find a way to break with [Chicago] Mayor Richard Daley. I still hold out hope that at some point, maybe not in his first term, or in his second, or immediately after he leaves office, President Obama will break with Daley. That's really all I care about. If I have to be carried off to a detention center and wear an orange jumpsuit with a pink triangle, well, I'm just happy to do whatever I can for my country."

As this report was being filed, Medea Benjamin called to advise that Code Stink had a new slogan and campaign.

"Win With War," she explained. "That's the slogan. I'll be modeling it on a T-shirt on Regis & Kelly later today. It is very important that we all support our president and the war on Iran. If we do not do that, the bases the U.S. needs in Africa may be denied. AFRICOM has always been our president's deepest desire and I see it as my patriotic duty to ensure that his wish is granted."


In the clouds, people live in the clouds.

Lila had believed that as a child. Not hoped. Not thought. Believed.

Her MeMa, the most understanding adult she knew, would pretend to agree. She'd point out a cloud to Lila and say, "Look, that one's a face."

No, Lila would explain patiently, clouds weren't people, clouds were where people lived.

One Friday summer night at MeMa's with five other cousins, Mema had gathered up some heavy blankets and they'd all headed outside to the front yard. The yard dropped off at the mid-point, just after the large tree, and sloped down to the street. MeMa had spread the blankets out on the slope, popped open her can of Coors, lit her cigarette and told all the cousins to get on the blankets and look up at the stars.

MeMa pointed out The Little Dipper, The Stars of Orion and other things everyone else seemed to see. Lila saw none of them. Not even The Milky Way, which she'd actually bothered to look for, expecting to see a candy bar.

But while everyone studied tiny strips of the sky, Lila marveled over how the black velvet behind the stars seemed to go on forever.

Every now and then, a car would whisk down the street and a tune would briefly fill the air. The musical notes would linger in the warm air around them before seemingly floating upward. Lila wished she could join the upward journey.

Soon enough they were herded back inside while MeMa made popcorn on the stove. At one point or another, all six cousins would be in the kitchen, but mainly they wandered in and out. There was Tim who loved to go into the large bathroom off the hall and pretend the big shower was an elevator. He'd usually get one or two cousins to go with him. Michele would dart off to the piano and being playing the left hand half of "Heart and Soul" -- the only song she half-knew and one that she not only refused to teach but begged the aunt who taught her not to teach anyone else.

That would be Aunt Sara. Still just a teenager and living with MeMa but, it being a Friday night, out with her boyfriend. NO KIDS IN MY ROOM she'd shout on her way out. But she didn't mean Lila. Lila never dug around or picked up anything. The most she would do was sit on one of the two double beds as she looked around Sara's room. She'd look at the red milk crates holding books and vinyl albums. The ones marked "Borders, Inc." and carrying a warning in white letters of "ILLEGAL-FINE" if their use was "unauthorized."

They'd been swiped from the back of a grocery store. Aunt Sara was babysitting her and they were going out for ice cream. Only, instead, Aunt Sara had driven through the grocery store parking lot, around to the back and parked. She'd lit a cigarette, checked her hair in the rear view mirror and then moved it so she could see the loading dock.

Ever so often, people came out to the loading dock. About every twelve minutes, Aunt Sara told her, knowing Lila never told secrets. As the third group went back inside the store, Aunt Sara said, "Come on."

Following her aunt's lead, Lila opened the car door and they hurried to the dock in something faster than a walk but slower than a run. Aunt Sara had grabbed four milk crates but Lila could only handle two, one for each hand. They hurried back to the car with Aunt Sara saying to put the crates in the back because it would take too long to unlock the trunk.

Then they were speeding back through the parking lot and to MeMa's with Aunt Sara saying the couldn't get the ice cream but she knew Lila would understand. And Lila did. She understood how they waited until MeMa and Papa had gone to sleep and then they'd popped the screen off Aunt Sara's window, crawled out and went to the car to bring in the red milk crates.

MeMa had seen them the next day and asked about them.

Aunt Sara had given some guy at school's name and said he brought them over last night.

"Don't you remember? You were watching TV and I told you that was him at the door as I walked past you. Then Lila and I brought them in and had to walk past you again. Don't you remember?"

"Is that true?" MeMa had asked Lila.

"Uh-huh," Lila had replied without pausing and looking her grandmother right in the eye.

Aunt Sara always trusted Lila because of moments like these. She knew you could always count on Lila to back you up, whether it was on milk crates or that new bracelet Aunt Sara was wearing.

"I must have been watching Alfred Hitchcock," MeMa said as Lila and Aunt Sara shrugged.

That was MeMa's favorite show and every night, after the news, Mama would watch Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It was why they'd come in tonight.

When they'd first gotten on the blankets outside, cousin Carrie had asked, "MeMa, can we sleep out here tonight?"

"Why sure," MeMa had responded.

But Lila had known that as the time passed, they'd be back inside in time for MeMa to catch her program.

Lila walked back into the kitchen and saw the large bowl of popcorn on the counter. MeMa was at the stove melting butter in a pan to pour over it. As Lila inhaled the smells, she saw that all of her cousins were back inside the except the kitchen except for Michelle still pounding away the rhythm of "Heart and Soul."

MeMa poured the butter over the popcorn, put the pan back on the stove, picked up the bowl and told Lila to get the salt shaker off the table as they all headed to the TV.

They sat on the floor in front of the TV. Since the episode where the people had pig noses, Lila never watched and always kept her back to the TV until the show went off and My Three Sons came on. Some would make fun of Lila for that and, if they did, MeMa would say Lila was just like her mother and list all the movies where Lila's mother had hidden under the seat in the theater.

My Three Sons caused Lila no qualms and, as an added bonus, when it came on, it meant her PaPa would soon be home from work. She'd watch the show with him while a few cousins went off with MeMa. After the show went off, it was to the kitchen, where PaPa warmed up dinner and told her about his day as he ate dinner.

By then, MeMa had set up beds on the couches and, of course, Michelle always insisted on sleeping on one of the double beds in Aunt Sara's room.

Such was her life for years until her father got a job transfer and they moved off. She only saw MeMa and PaPa at Christmas for the next two years. It was a very long drive and she fell asleep both times. They were due to drive back for Aunt Sara's wedding one June but instead drove back when MeMa had a heart attack and passed away.

It was hard to believe it until she saw MeMa in the coffin and, even then, she wanted to believe it was a joke MeMa was playing. That any second, she'd open her eyes, leap to her feat and holler, "Surprise!"

She thought about all the jokes MeMa liked to play as she sat forever in the pew, not hearing what anyone was saying. She did notice a commotion when Aunt Sara had entered, wearing sunglasses, accompanied by her husband-to-be, also in sunglasses. It did seem weird to wear sunglasses inside.

And later in the day, she'd caught on to what all the adults were whispering. "Stoned." She was almost twelve, she knew about these things. Some adults clucked, some acted sympathetic but they all got caught in those half-conversations quickly stopped when they noticed a child was listening.

Lila felt very alone. Her parents were off talking to other adults and, since moving away, she really wasn't close to any of her cousins. She wandered out of the funeral home, into the parking lot and kicked at the gravel.

For a second, she was excited to see her Aunt Sara but she didn't even notice Lila as she and her husband-to-be headed for his car, a flashy Camaro. Lila scraped at the ground with her shoe until the gravel was stripped away revealing soft dirt.

And she looked around the parking lot and out at the street. It was a bright and sunny day and she'd always expected it to rain on the day of funerals.

Shielding her eyes, she looked up at the sun and then noticed the clouds. One by one, she went from cloud to cloud.

It looked like someone was waving from one. She stared more intently. It was MeMa. MeMa was up in the clouds. Of course, she'd want to watch her own funeral. She was smiling and waving down to Lila. Lila waived back, smiled and thought, "So that's how the people get to live in the clouds."

Overcome with excitement, she had to tell someone. But who would believe her enough to come outside and would they do it quickly enough before MeMa walked deeper into the cloud and disappeared?

She ran towards the Camaro, scattering gravel as she did so.

The man cursed as he saw her but Aunt Sara looked over as she took a drag off a joint and said, "Oh, it's just Lila. Don't worry, she's cool."

Aunt Sara passed the joint to the man and put on a bright smile for Lila as she said hello.

Lila didn't have time for pleasantries. MeMa was up in the clouds, looking down and waiving. Look! Look!

Aunt Sara and the man burst out laughing.

"Lila, people don't live in clouds. They couldn't even breathe up there, it's so high. That's why they have to pressurize airplanes or something," Aunt Sara said shaking her head.

"Wait!" exclaimed the man. "Wait! I think I see her!"

He pointed up at a cloud that was not the one Lila had seen MeMa in. Lila was wondering if MeMa had moved to another cloud when the man burst out laughing, quickly joined by Aunt Sara.

Lila glared at them both.

"Don't be mad," Aunt Sara chided. "People don't live in clouds. MeMa is in that building, in a coffin, and they're about to place her in the ground. She's not in any cloud, Lila. She's dead. People die. When they're dead, they're . . . like dead. No more. She's gone."

As Lila walked away, they both laughed at her.

She thought about going back into the funeral home and playing dumb as she told all the adults that Aunt Sara smoked cigarettes and even rolled them herself, that she was out in the parking lot doing that right now. That would fix her.

But as she walked, she looked up to the clouds. She couldn't see MeMa anymore. Aunt Sara and that man had run her off. She really was gone now. If Aunt Sara had only been willing to look up, she would have seen MeMa. MeMa might have figured out a way to get them both up there. Instead, Aunt Sara wouldn't even look and that rude man made jokes.

Lila had learned that Aunt Sara wasn't all that she'd thought but, most of all, she'd learned how fleeting moments were. It was a very grown up thought and one to be puzzled over.

The non-whistle blower

Alex lay in the tiny bathtub with his legs bent because that was the only way he could fit in. He took an occasional puff on a Marlboro Light and an occasional pull on a Miller long neck. All the while he started at one corner of the ceiling off to the side where bits of rain leaked through the white ceiling and had long ago turned the area a golden brown. Further to the side there were rings, the sort a glass might leave on a coffee table.

It seemed a little strange to be taking a bath while it rained outside. But it had been a strange day.

"Get a good job," his father had told him over and over growing up.

As if that were the key to a happy life.

He'd done that.

Or thought he had in March 2001. Even his father had thought so, placing a hand on his shoulder and telling him, "You got a good job, boy."

Not everyone grew up to work for the Vice President of the United States.

And Mr. Cheney was quite the man. It was an honor to serve him.

At least in the beginning. But the Iraq War had caused Alex conflict.

Then came the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, under Mr. Cheney's orders.

Scooter Libby had played dumb and now Scott McClellan was doing his own version of 'limited hang out.'

It had seemed so easy in 2002 with just a few lies to push the country into the war. But then it had become important to lie again when people like former Ambassador Joe Wilson began talking. To silence him and send a message, it was important to out Wilson's wife.

They'd smeared before. Certainly, it was wrong to run to the press with false charges against former Treasure Secretary Paul O'Neill. But that had happened so quickly -- whisper it into David Gregory's ear and there he was later that day declaring on NBC's Nightly News that O'Neill may have stolen computer discs and other items to help Ron Suskind with the book The Price Of Loyalty -- that there was no time to ponder the ethics of it.

With the outing of Valerie Plame, Wilson had to be shut up and anyone else thinking about coming forward had to realize the price they'd pay for doing so. Stephen Hadley had basically been Mr. Cheney's point-man. He'd rallied them to work quickly and blanket the press with the information.

There had been no time for doubts and when Alex' doubts surfaced later, Victoria Toensing was explaining to the world that no law was broken and that Plame had not been undercover.

But as the scandal subsided and it emerged that Plame had been undercover.

Alex took no pride in breaking the law or in being part of a government's operation to retaliate against someone working for the government. As more time passed, he thought about all the others put in jeopardy by outing Plame, the associates, the agents, the assets. He thought about all the ongoing investigations that no doubt ended.

He thought about things that he never crossed his mind when they were all bursting into action and he couldn't deny that they were never 'saving' the country. He couldn't escape the fact that they were the criminals.

His arm snaked over the edge of the tub and picked up the SW99.

He held in his hand for a moment feeling the weight of the gun and thinking about all he'd done, all he'd taken part in, and how the others were responding.

"I ain't no Daniel Ellsberg," he muttered pulling the trigger.

As the sound of the gun firing faded, the rain continued to leak through the ceiling.

Bee-bees and cockle bugs

She delighted in embarrassing him. Not a day went by when she didn't find some way to do so.

Playing jacks last month, she'd heard him misstate that his pants were damp because his mother had taken them out of the dishwasher that morning and she began telling everyone that his clothes were washed in a dishwasher.

She gloated at the laughter she had created.

There was something about viewing his humiliation that almost made his presence worth it.


But now he was seated in front of her.

"What kind of a fool goes out in public with bee-bees on his neck?" she said loud enough for everyone to hear while she pointed them out.

As everyone burst out laughing, he attempted to ignore her.

She acknowledged the laughter and, as the teacher instructed everyone to continue reading, she looked down at the open book on the desk before her.

She really hated him.

It wasn't anything he'd ever done or said, she just hated him.

Just the sight of him was enough to set her off.

She looked up to see all her classmates reading. Bored, she glanced at his neck.

The bee-bees looked bigger.

She rubbed her eyes and looked again.

They were bigger. They were now little puffs.



"Cockle bugs," she whispered loudly causing the class to erupt in laughter again while the teacher called for order.

She stared at her book and pretended she was innocent.

But all the while she was thinking about what she could say in the lunch line?

It had to be really funny. She wanted the whole cafeteria laughing.

Good wasn't good enough, this had to be roll on the floor funny.

What could she say?

She brushed a hair away from her face as she started at her book. It had to be . . . She brushed the hair away again.

It wasn't her hair!

Looking up, she saw the bee-bee on his neck expanding and expanding. It was the size of a bale of cotton and still growing.

Alarmed, she looked at her classmates but they were all staring down at their books.

As the bee-bee grew and grew, there was little room for her at her desk.

Standing, she opened her mouth intending to say something funny; however, no sooner did she open her mouth then the expanding bee-bee shot into her mouth.

She tried to jerk it out but it was still expanding and forcing its way deeper into her mouth, down her throat.

She was gagging and waving her hands to get her classmates attention.

They all remained glued to their books.

She was choking and the hairs were now coming out of her nostrils and running down her face, winding around her neck.

She couldn't breathe and it was choking her.

No one noticed. She stamped her feet since she couldn't scream, trying to get someone's attention.

He turned around.

He turned around and smirked at her as she gagged.

She fell to the floor.

Her mother was crying. The police were present. She'd found her daughter that morning, going in to wake her for school, smothered by her own pillow.


If I ran to you right now, would you embrace me?

If I called would you pick up the phone?

If I took all the blame -- even the parts that were yours -- would you forgive me?

If I ate crow, served with a side of humble pie and topped with what remains of my self-respect, would it make everything alright?

That's not sarcasm.

I'd gladly do that and more.

If you'd forgive me and take me back.

Are you thinking of me right now?

Or have you moved on. Already.

How can it be over when it still feels so intense?


Ralph Nader stands for shifting the power from the big corporations back to the people.
Full stop.

Friday, Team Nader opened their latest release with the above, reminding people of just what is it at stake in the 2008 election. Though, as Ava and C.I. note this edition, Amy Goodman wasn't concerned with the issues the Ralph Nader-Matt Gonzalez ticket is proposing, you may be and, if you are, you can click here to go their issues page. If you prefer to access online streaming instead of text, you can click here for videos from the Nader campaign. (Mike and Wally say you have to check out Nader's hoop shot at the end of this video.)

Last week, Barack Obama announced he would be the first presidential candidate to reject public financing since the system was created following the revelations of Tricky Dick's 'antics' in the White House. Idiot commentators on the 'left' rushed to marvel that it was still kind-of like public financing because Barack gets so much 'grass-roots' support and small donations. Regular readers know that's a lie as Ava and C.I. have been documenting that for nearly a year now. But those late to the party can check out Jay Mandle (Washington Post) reporting that small donors are 3% less this cycle than they were at the same time in 2004 and Mandle pointed out:

Contributions of less than $200 do not have to be itemized in reports to the Federal Election Commission, so we have no idea how many are made. We also cannot rely on the candidates' rhetoric to match the facts. During a Feb. 26 debate in Cleveland, for example, Obama said that "we have now raised 90 percent of our donations from small donors, $25, $50." His campaign's own data from January 2007 through January 2008 show that 36 percent of donated funds were from small donors. Obama probably meant that 90 percent of the individuals who contributed were small donors, but the number of donors has not been verified.
Small-dollar donations to Obama have surged this year, and those donors became crucial in the spring as the battle to secure the Democratic nomination intensified. But for most of his campaign, big donors have been Obama's mainstay. Employees of investment bank Goldman Sachs, for example, have contributed more than $570,000 to his campaign.

Don't smoke Barack's "hope-ium" unless you want to be a deranged addict. He is no cuddly smoking caterpillar.

Ralph Nader is saying not just end the illegal war, he's saying end corporate control of our government. He's saying we clean up all the messes.

This is our fiction edition (our regular summer read) so we should note two things (1) this piece isn't fiction and (2) neither is Ralph Nader. If you're not taking his campaign seriously, you might ask yourself why that is?


There's a candidate in the race, running for the White House, who fits your check list if you're on the left. If your vote matters to you, if you'd like to use it to change the country for the better, you should be following the Nader-Gonzalez campaign.


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"Katty and Betsy drop in" -- Betty wasn't sure she was going to do a chapter this week. She wanted to but she had other issues she wanted to pursue. In the end, she says, it came down to the realization that if she didn't do a chapter this week, it would be too easy to turn her website into a blog "and too tempting."

"Basic pasta sauce in the Kitchen" -- Trina focuses on recipes for those suffering economically and also shares some family news.

"barack insults women again" -- When you think Barack can't disappoint any more, he surprises you. Here Rebecca addresses Barack's belief that women need to "get over it."

"Iraq snapshot," "THIS JUST IN! DNC OR GOP? WHO CAN TELL?," "Extreme DNC Makeover!," "LAT and Barack -- liars liars pants on fire," "Barack sells out, Matthis stands firm," "Glen Ford, Kevin Zeese," "Public finance, Bill Moyers Journal," "Barack sells out, Matthis stands firm," "the liar barack" and "Public financing" -- Don't ever say this community was silent when Barack Obama broke his pledge to use public financing and destroyed the system put in place to deal with the abuses of Watergate.

"The Nation & Progressive hold a tag sale on beliefs" -- Panhandle Media wasn't silent on public financing . . . until Barack decided not to use it and Panhandle Media decided to look the other way. Mike digs into the archives of The Nation and The Progressive to demonstrate how they couldn't shut up about the importance of public financing . . . until their wet dream decided to opt out.

"Pride and shame" -- June is Gay Pride Month and Marcia continues her highlighting of stories effecting the LGBT community, good and bad.

"Sexism and more" -- Ruth's amazing post/essay saved Tuesday night is the opinion of everyone writing this. Tuesday night, Blogger/Blogspot had a problem. When you went to publish, you got a "502 error" message. If you hit the "back" button, you were taken back to either a blank screen or your post (in full or part). Ruth called C.I. who had that error before and talked her through how-to-save her post. The rest of us lost our posts and threw together what we could quickly. We were all feeling like we'd woodshedded and not to good about Tuesday night until we read Ruth's post. This is really amazing. She hasn't had time to return to the topic but plans to. She reveals that "Eli X" e-mailed her and wanted a private exchange but she'd already replied with a lengthy e-mail. He wrote again and she thought, "Am I going to spend all that time on another lengthy e-mail or am I going to take the topic to my site? Since he had stated in his e-mail reply that 'now' we were having 'a conversation,' my attitude was, 'I will have it in public.' No offense to Eli X but the topic matters to me. I am not getting that it matters to him. I am getting that he has concerns about 'tone' and I honestly wonder how sincere he was to begin with since I have not heard from him since I took the discussion to my site -- without naming him."

"Isaiah and comments to Kevin Zeese," "Glen Ford, Kevin Zeese," and "Backstory" -- Kat's not doing private e-mails period. She states, "Zeese has been pretty nice in his e-mails but I've been burned before. All of my replies are public as a result of the nonsense I went through in 2005 or 2006. I was lucky that the jerk distorted my words posted at my website and not my e-mails. If he'd distorted my e-mails, it would have been my word against his. Because he elected to alter my statements while keeping them in quotes, it revealed him to be a liar. I'm not about to go through all of that again. My replies will remain public. When the jerk launched his attack on me and kept insisting I publish his words as my own -- an 'apology' he'd written for me to post -- I lost interest in e-mails and, again, I was very lucky that his attacks on me included taking sentences from my website and altering them because it demonstrated how 'big journalist' had no ethics and would distort and lie. I honestly think Kevin Zeese and I could get together, knock back a few beers and have a lively conversation we'd both enjoy. But the jerk spoiled e-mails for everyone who's not a community member -- and I don't even have time to reply to most of them who write me."

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing" -- As C.I. notes ("And the war drags on . . ."), Isaiah was supposed to be on vacation. Hillary's speech suspending her campaign effected all of us. Wally and Cedric had each other to bounce ideas off of but Isaiah does his comics by himself and that requires humor and thinking and getting a visual. So he was supposed to take some time off. He surprised everyone (including C.I.) by doing a comic last weekend. It's already become one of his most popular. As Elaine's noted, Isaiah had been toying with this one for sometime -- as far back as before Puerto Rico held its primary. He revamped the visual in his head and came up with this.

"Matthis Chiroux" -- Kat picks this post by C.I. and explains the backstory includes revamping the entire thing quickly as C.I. tried to find out what Matthis said. A friend with IVAW said (over the phone) that the video had been e-mailed and C.I. was rushing through the e-mails to find it. "C.I. only had time to watch the video once," Kat explains, "Ava, C.I. and I had about fifteen minutes to get to the airport and I was amazed to see C.I. typing up the entire speech after one viewing of the video. C.I. noted that it may be 'born' and not 'birthed' that Matthis says but otherwise, C.I. had every word said. It was 'birthed,' by the way, as a call later explained. But C.I. was attempting to figure out how much to open up this entry with, how much of the speech, and where to include it in full and how to redo the entire post. I was looking at my watch and Ava was saying, 'Don't worry, we'll be out the door on time.' And we were. But it was a hectic moment and, later that night, when I read it, I was surprised at how smoothly it ran together and how well it worked because 'rushed' doesn't begin to describe the writing. C.I. was going through three different phones and listening on those to people talking and listening to video of the speech. I wasn't writing it, but just watching had me freaking out."

"Blogging, Pride" -- Marcia has a 'fan' -- one with a known name. He thinks her writing about being a lesbian and about Gay Pride Month and the weddings in San Francisco is not helping Barack's campaign. Marcia replies to note that (a) she doesn't give a damn about helping Barack and (b) her site allows comments and if you're e-mailing to have privacy, it doesn't apply at her site.

"Isaiah, Third, Nader, etc." -- Mike breaks down last week's writing edition and talks about Ralph Nader.

"Iraq snapshot" and "Senate Armed Services Committee" -- C.I. and Kat cover the Senate Armed Services Committee on SERE and torture.

"Pride: Tammy Baldwin" -- Marcia highlights Rep. Tammy Baldwin for Gay Pride Month.

"Ralph and the race for president" and "the 2008 vote" -- Elaine and Rebecca write about Ralph Nader's run. Elaine covers it from the perspective of your vote and Rebecca covered it from another aspect "and got a ton of crap over that," Rebecca says. Not from her regular readers who love it when Rebecca writes about friends (friendship has always been a strong theme at Rebecca's site and her readers enjoy it when she writes about her friends) but from visitors. Elaine says, "As usual, Rebecca illuminated a topic -- several actually -- by focusing on others and that's one of the things you may never get online about Rebecca, she's much more interested in others than she is in herself."
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