Friday, February 25, 2005

Public reply to Krista and guest list for The Laura Flanders Show Saturday and Sunday night

Krista: I read the transcript of the interview with Katrina Vanden Heuvel on Democracy Now! and I'm a big fan of Vanden Heuvel's. She's someone I never knew of until I became a part of this community and she's really become my personal hero and someone I try to read every word by. I read this part:

You know, Juan [Gonzalez]. What has to do with Bush's ongoing talk about democracy has more to do with one oil oligarch who sits in prison, who should not be in prison, but who sits in prison because of the looting of a country, stripping the country's assets for his company's use. There has been a campaign in the United States by public relations people, by lobbyists, by senators who have been contacted by those lobbyists to link that man's fate to the future of democracy in Russia. I think that most economists would argue that you need some form of bringing back those assets which were stripped in the 1990's into the control of the state. One hopes that the state would use it wisely for the purposes of the people. But where has the mainstream press been on focusing on the hundreds of thousands of elderly people, of students, of even military people who have gone into the streets in the last month, six weeks, to protest the undermining, the abolition of their social benefits. These are people whose lives were already impoverished by the shock therapy economic policies and the ruble devaluation. So I’m just saying let's focus on the range of problems in that country, and not simply on the fact that you have one oil oligarch sitting in prison, and that's where the campaign and detention in the rollback on democracy was started and it is fixated at this moment.

I feel like I should apologize for going on about what a hottie Mikhail Khodorkovsky was like I've been wasting people's time. And I really feel like I've let down the community and disappointed them.

I disagree with Krista.
For a number of reasons.
It was stated at the time that if she found Khodorkovsky attractive of sexy, great. Better that those qualities peaked her interest in something other than a TV reality show. And that it was an entry point into the story.
Krista e-mails a lot but more often than not doesn't want to be quoted because of the mix up with a name in the year-in-review. (Which was my mix up more because I didn't catch it and I should have.) And in her e-mails, she's talking about what's happening with seniors (cuts to their pensions) and other issues.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky was her entry into Russia. That was a country she hadn't given a great deal of thought to. If that was all she ever focused on, I'd still argue she was better for it because that was one person in another country that she was attempting to understand and follow.
And even just following one specific person, she would gain some sort of understanding of a country she didn't think about before.
But the point made when she first brought up Khodorkovsky was use him as an entry point. And that's what Krista has done. She's a young college student beginning to look at the outside world and she has used this an entry point.
I hesitate to speak for Katrina vanden Heuvel but from the remarks above and the other remarks in the interview, I don't think she's castigating people like Krista who are showing an genuine interest and attempting to inform themselves. (Her comments have to do with the aspects of the story the press, lobbies, et al have been pushing.)
She is pointing out that there's a growing popularity of Khodorkovsky's story that's happening for reasons other than the obvious.
That's a great entry into another focus.
And someone like Katrina vanden Heuvel provides us with a broader understanding because they want us to be better informed. There are probably very few in this country who have a better sense of the country or more knowledge of its history than vanden Heuvel. Her comments are attempts to open discussions and clarify points. She's not someone who says, "You are stupid! Butt out of this issue, you moron!"
As someone who's had so much interest in Russia, I doubt seriously that she would castigate Krista for finding an entry point into Russia.
Krista's e-mail was much, much longer and very down on herself. She doesn't need to be. She's been following not just Mikhail Khodorkovsky but other issues as well. Trying to follow current events to a country new to you is like learning the alphabet.
And Krista's original comment on Khodorkovsky that were posted here (December?) have led other members to pay attention that wouldn't. (There have been e-mails on that and I believe two people have shared their remarks with the community here.)
So Krista has gotten at least the letters A and B (I'd argue more) and helped others get those two letters as well. Now someone far more intelligent than many (including me) is assisting with teaching the other letters in the alphabet.
I responded to Krista's e-mail personally but she still wanted to share some of it here.
I don't think she needs to be down on herself.
It was Krista's entry point into a complex and foreign situation and that was noted when Krista first shared her opinion.
But there are historical issues that will not be learned overnight.
And Katrina vanden Heuvel provides three's "i"s: insight, intelligence and inspiration. Krista's started a journey and her comments that she's shared with the community have provided an entry point for others.
Someone who expresses no interest in anyone not an American or an event not happening in the United States is much more frightening (to me) than someone attempting to get a handle on complex issues beyond their immediate horizons.
Krista's followed comments here on a variety of concerns in Russia and she's been doing work on her own (which I wish she'd share with the community). In December (I think it was December), Mikhail Khodorkovsky led her on a journey to find out more. I can't imagine Katrina vanden Heuvel or anyone wanting to castigate Krista for that.
Krista wanted her comments shared with the community and usually with that, I just let a member have their say because I'm as bored with my voice as I expect many of you are.
But I disagree strongly with Krista on this and I want it to be clear to her that I'm not just saying that to her in a private e-mail.
I'm proud of Krista and I think if she were speak to Katrina vanden Heuvel, she'd find that she hadn't let down someone she looks up to.
Given the time, I could continue to say that in private e-mails repeatedly. But I'm hoping the fact that these remarks are up here, shared with the community, will get across to Krista that she's done nothing wrong and that she's actually helped not just herself but the community.
She's expressed the opinion that she'll just be a silent member now because she so strongly feels that she's let that down the community. After the mistake with a name (that I should have caught, that wasn't Krista's fault and in the correction, I took the blame for it and I made the apology for it because it wasn't her fault), there was a period where she didn't want to share her comments because she was taking a mistake so hard.
I make mistakes all the time, I make errors all the time.
That's part of life. If Krista had done something wrong, she would still be encouraged to share.
But I don't think she's done anything wrong and I'm very proud of her.
Krista (and anyone) can share only in private e-mails ( and that's fine. But I do want to be sure that she realizes I'm not just saying something in a private e-mail, I truly believe she found a starting point to begin following something and that she's worked very hard to gain an understanding. I'm very proud of you, Krista, and you have nothing to apologize for or feel guilty about. Share or don't share, but please don't beat yourself over this.
(And reread or listen or watch the segment because I think you're misunderstanding what Katrina vanden Heuvel is saying.)

Note also that Sibel Edmonds will be on The Laura Flanders Show Saturday night. In fact, here's the posted schedule for the shows Saturday and Sunday night:

The Laura Flanders Show (Saturday)
Truth-telling, people power, W’s therapy notes and more! Up first, how
W. blew off 1,000 federal whistleblowers with JEFF RUCH of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. Then one whistleblower who won’t go away: FBI translator SIBEL EDMONDS on her big win against the Justice Department. On the anniversary of the first Gulf War, STEPHEN ROBINSON, Executive Director of the National Gulf War Resource Center announces the creation of a functioning safety net for soldiers — the kind the government still won’t build. 1st Lt. JULLIAN-PHILLIP GOODRUM, U.S. Army Reserve, explains why he’s fighting a possible court-martial for checking into a civilian psychiatric ward and YOGIN RICARDO SINGH, Director of the Homeless Veterans Re-integration Program at Black Veterans for Social Justice, says the number of homeless vets is rising.
Then, pop psychologist
CAROL NORRIS shares her clinical notes from recent therapy sessions with W, Condi, Dick and Colin. Then soul-folk singer-songwriter, ALANA DAVIS best known for her cover of Ani DiFranco’s song, “32 Flavors,” joins Laura to talk about her relationship with music industry and her new album, “Surrender Dorothy.”
The Laura Flanders Show (Sunday)
Who’s the best actor? W as a pro-Democracy crusader in Europe or those Oscar recipients? And 10 years after the U.N.’s World Conference on Women and Girls in Beijing , what’s changed? And how the Right’s gotten smarter about cloaking their anti-equality policies in the rhetoric of women’s rights. ADRIENNE GERMAIN, President,
International Women’s Health Coalition, HIBAAQ OSMAN, V Day Special Representative to Africa, Asia and the Middle East and EMILY REAGAN WILLS, Code Pink o-ordinator for Global Week of Action for Women’s Rights, all weigh in.
Then, someone who knows good acting.
ANTHONY KAUFMAN, Film Editor for Time Out Chicago, tells us what to expect at this year’s Academy Awards. And TIM WISE, anti-racist activist, and author of ‘White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son’ talks with commentator and syndicated writer EARL OFARI HUTCHINSON, about what anti-racist white people can do in the 11 remaining “white history months” of 2005.