Saturday, June 03, 2006

Kat's Korner: Janis Ian blows in on a gentle breeze

Kat: What was that song?

That's what e-mails Ruth and I both received last week asked.

This song?

Come good people and gather 'round
Step out of the water before your drown
Tide is coming swift and deep
Gonna knock you off your feet
There's a tide of greed that knows no shame
and a tide of money that holds no stain
A tide of men who worship pride
and will not be denied

While politicians lie and cheat
to get to higher ground
we follow them like sheep
and salute them as we drown
but no man will be king
when all men wear the crown
and there will be a reckoning
from deep inside the rising tide
as we tear down the web
of the Great Divide

That's Janis Ian's "The Great Divide." And if you were listening to the music special on KPFA Friday, May 26th, you actually heard it on the radio. Bonnie Simmons, Jim Bennett and Luis Medina gave you a wonderful selection of some of the recent protest music. That included Josh Ritter's "Girl in the War," two selections from Neil Young's Living With War, some Bruce Springsteen (from We Shall Overcome -- The Seeger Sessions), an instrumental, jazz reworking of David Bowie's "This Is Not America" . . .

And Janis Ian.

While some were hearing Janis Ian for the first time, some of the e-mailers already knew her. Her song "At Seventeen" was a staple of seventies radio, her "Jesse" was much covered (Roberta Flack did a wonderful version on Killing Me Softly and Joan Baez on the third disc of Rare, Live & Classic; and no, this isn't the same song as Carly Simon's equally wonderful song by the same name). Some who knew of Ian may go back even further.

Lillian Roxon wrote the following in her landmark Rock Encyclopedia (1969):

This prodigious child was singing and writing songs at fifteen. By the time she was sixteen she had an album out. Her single, "Society's Child" (white-girl-meets-black-boy, girl-loses-boy, girl-blames-society) was not the sort of song the disc jockeys were accustomed to playing, and they obviously would never have done so but for the intervention of Leonard Bernstein, conductor of the New York Philharmonic, who in a TV special on rock music made a point of featuring the diminutive Miss Ian (four foot seven) and her ballad of miscegation. That was it. The record took off and so did Janis. Her songs are concerned with the hypocrisies of modern society. She has clearly been influenced by Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Tim Buckley, but her style is her own and her following, especially among earnest middle-class sixteen-year-old girls who are also concerned with the hypocrisies of modern society, is enormous.

So if you heard Ian for the first time on KPFA, you might be wondering: What happened? Drugs? Meltdown? Nope, twas success that doomed the career.

Not "excess." Janis Ian, from all accounts, didn't go the Sly Stone path. She remained grounded. But "At Seventeen" was a monster hit, not just on the charts but through repeated spins on radio. It spoke to a lot of people.

Why is that a problem? The song was tuneful as hell, Ian nailed it in her vocal. The lyrics were the problem:

To those of us who knew the pain
of valentines that never came
and those whos names were never called
when choosing sides for basketball
It was long ago and far away
The world was younger than today
when dreams were all they gave for free
to ugly duckling girls like me

If you just said, "Kat, I don't have a problem with those lyrics," let me give you a hug and congratulate you. But this song, which won Ian a Grammy and helped the album go to number one on the charts, also launched a million jokes.

Twas the era of cock-rock*, even though the Stones did a disco song (as did Rod Stewart and a host of others). Jimmy Buffet and Elton John weren't exactly turning out "The Battle of Evermore" but, hey, they were men. And apparently that's what mattered most to some. By decade's end, even the former Ziggy Stardust would be trying to butch it up -- to the eye rolls of many.

Janis Ian? Just too much for those nervous about their masculinity. Now if she'd sang about boys whose names were never called, the same crowd slamming her would be sobbing in their beer and saying, "That's deep, man" the way they do whenever "Cat's in the Cradle" pipes out of a jukebox to this day. That's "universal." That's something "everyone" can relate to. Because, despite the fact that women are in the majority of the population, when a male sings about his own experience, it's heralded as the "norm." When a female sings about her own experience, it's for a "niche" audience, it has "specialized" appeal.

Ian's "crime" was writing and singing a moving song. And you better believe that some of the smart asses cracking wise could relate to it . . . in secret. But puff out the chests, put a little swagger in the walk, and sneer. That's the way it was handeled.

Not by all men. Straight, gay, or bi, some men weren't checking for their Johnsons in alarm over the fact that they could relate to the song. Some knew that relating wasn't confined to gender. But, and if you lived through it, this will be familiar, it was The Age of Sexual Panic. Walls had been torn down and now it was be who you are -- kind of too much for some. They needed those traditional, constricted roles and easiest way (then or now) to prove your "manhood" was to piss on a woman.

Janis Ian became a target for many. She'd been an admired singer, a gifted songwriter, one of those dubbed "one to watch" for many years, gathering a larger following with each release. Then came the song that nearly everyone sang along with in 1975 as it played on the radio but, by 1976, it was time to draw the line. (Ironically, the album the song hailed from was Between the Lines.) So to Christian, who wrote to ask, "Why haven't I heard this magical voice before?" -- that goes a long way to explaining why.

Fortunately, a number of you heard her on KPFA. Her latest album is Folk Is The New Black ("cheaper than crack, and you don't have to cook"). There are fifteen songs and, no surprise, Janis wrote every one of them. In the linear notes, she writes "All lead vocals recorded live Do not try this at home." It shows. Or it "hears."

Looking at photos of her today, you see that the curly hair still curls, now it's a silver halo and that's fitting for one of the most comfortable voices in music. Janis could always caress a lyric and the only thing that's changed is she does so with an even softer touch today. "All Those Promises" is the best example of that. "Every sweet caress was just your second best," she sings from a soft place that will break your heart. As you dig deeper into the album, you'll find musical moments, vocal shadings and lyrics that surprise you because you're listening to an artist as opposed to someone showing up to lay down a vocal on top of the latest series of crafted beats.

Which isn't to say the album won't have you moving. "Drowning Man" will probably find you nodding your head in time with the rhythm. But what you'll note mainly is the care that's been put into each track and the voice that always seemed to blow in on a gentle breeze.

Patricia Snyder has done some wonderful illustrations in the linear notes and, for "Jackie Skates," she's drawn a guitar that "charms black mambo." The music could probably charm snakes. It will surely charm anyone who listens. If you're wondering if this is the album for you, listen to "The Last Train" and that'll provide the answer. If your local music store doesn't provide you some means to listen, you can hear samples of all the tracks by clicking here. In addition, at her own website, Janis Ian has a page where she provides you with the opportunity to download three tracks from Folk Is The New Black ("Joy," "The Great Divide" and "Folk Is The New Black") for free. In the title track, she sings "Download it and see, The first time is free, then you'll be hooked." See if that's not the case. Ian rightly sings of "The Great Divide," but this new album (again) proves that there shouldn't be any divide between her and music lovers.

[*Note: Mike and I touch on this period with other examples in his "My interview with Kat." You can also check out "Crapapedia: Kids don't use it to research papers!"]

Radionation with Laura Flanders marks the 50th anniversary of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl"

ah, Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe, and
now you're really in the total animal soup of
and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed
with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use
of the ellipse the catalog the meter & the vibrat-
ing plane,
who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space
through images juxtaposed, and trapped the
archangel of the soul between 2 visual images
and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun
and dash of consciousness together jumping
with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna
to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human
prose and stand before you speechless and intel-
ligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet con-
fessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm
of thought in his naked and endless head,
the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown,
yet putting down here what might be left to say
in time come after death,
and rose reincarnate in the ghostly clothes of jazz in
the goldhorn shadow of the band and blew the
suffering of America's naked mind for love into
an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone
cry that shivered the cities down to the last radio
with the absolute heart of the poem of life butchered
out of their own bodies good to eat a thousand

Kat: Now what's all that? The conclusion of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl." And we're noting it because? It's the fiftieth anniversary of the poem. I did not know that. But Laura Flanders is on the ball as always and will be noting the anniversary shortly when RadioNation with Laura Flanders begins broadcasting in less than a half hour:

Unlikely allies: Ronald Reagan's lawyer, BRUCE FEIN, will join us, fresh from giving the Congress an earful on how they're giving in to a power-grabbing executive.
And on the 50th Anniversary of Allen Ginsberg's poem 'Howl', ANN WALDMAN and ELLIOT KATZ will let us in on how a beat poet changed their world.

On Sunday, Progressive Democrat MARCY WINOGRAD will be our guest, She's waging an upstart primary campaign against California Congresswoman Jane Harmon.
And next weekend we broadcast live from our Seattle affiliate: Progressive Talk KPTK 1090AM.

Broadcasting over local airwaves on Air America Radio, over XM satellite radio and online, RadioNation with Laura Flanders can be heard from seven to ten p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Saturday and Sunday nights. And if you missed last Saturday, you missed a wonderful discussion on the war (we wrote about that at The Third Estate Sunday Review in "Laura Flanders and Anthony Arnove discussed realities about Iraq Saturday on RadioNation with Laura Flanders"). So make a point to listen.

NYT: Two press release readers from the Green Zone outed (outed by Eric Schmitt & David S. Cloud)

If you're starting late this morning, the joint entry did go up. You can read it via any of the following:

"roundtable with cedric, betty, c.i. and myself participating"
"news via Democracy Now and a conversation in three parts"
"A conversation in three parts"
"Focusing on the paper to avoid my husband"

We finished it late and it went up this morning. Participating were Cedric, Betty, Rebecca and myself. I considered doing the entry on the New York Times later, I think the joint entry's better than anything I could do on the Times, but I'll do it and get it over with.

Richard A. Oppel Jr. contributes "Military Clears Commander In Raid That Killed 9 Iraqis." The headline (not written by Oppel) is one I would expect from the AP but the Times continues it's long slide by tossing it out today. That's the talking point for the weekend, "Military Clears!" That's hardly reality -- there are three investigations and that headline applies to only one -- but, hey, way to defocus. Oppel's article notes that the BBC uncovered new evidence and that after the BBC began broadcasting it, "The Military disclosed the finding [of the investigation] in a statement issued at 2 a.m. in Baghdad." Got to get on top of the news cycle, apparently. The big news in the article is probably that Tony Snow (Scott McClellan's replacement as White House spokesperson) is disputing Iraqi prime minister (and puppet of the occupation) Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's reported statements. Which ones? As Oppel notes, Snow "said he had not determined what was reported inaccurately." And a month from now, he'll deny raising the issue, no doubt, but the "It's inaccurate!" will be out there long enough to quiet down al-Maliki's statements. We'll note Democracy Now! covering it yesterday:

Iraqi PM: US Killings of Iraqis "Daily Phenomenon"
Meanwhile, Iraq's Prime Minister has lashed out at the US military over what he has called the "daily phenomenon" of US attacks on Iraqi civilians. In an interview with the New York Times, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki said many troops "do not respect the Iraqi people." Maliki went on to say: "They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion. This is completely unacceptable."

The only thing a review, by the paper, of the translation, has found is that "daily" was actually "regular." They offer a correction to yesterday's report for that.

Lawrence K. Altman and Elisabeth Rosenthal cover Laura Bush weighing in on AIDS at the United Nations. (She's seated next to John Bolton in Spencer Platt's photo and both clutch their ears.) In her speech, according to the paper's "U.N. Strengthens Call for a Global Battle Against AIDS," she "noted that her husband had put forth a plan in 2003 that contributes $15 billion over five years to fight AIDS internationally." A plan? How much money? She doesn't want to touch that nor the fact that the little monies that did win approval are shared with the groups providing lectures on "don't have sex!" as opposed to treating and confronting a medical disease.
Hilary Benn is quoted by the paper (he's England's secretary of state for international development) stating the obvious to all but the thick headed, "Abstinence is fine for those who are able to abstain, but human beings like to have sex and they should not die because they do have sex."

David S. Cloud and Eric Schmitt do a run down on the Haditha investigation with "Initial Response to Marine Raid Draws Scrutiny." Read the article, many points worth reading. We're going to focus on this:

He ["officer, who served with the Second Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq"] acknowledged that the initial verbal reports from the field indicated inaccurately that noncombatants were killed in the bomb explosion. The Marines also issued a press release the day [that would be November 20th, pay attention to that] after the killings that said 15 Iraqi civilians had died in the bomb blast and 8 insurgents had been killed in the ensuing fight.

Why are we focusing on that?

Read the following:

* The Marine Corps said Sunday that 15 Iraqi civilians and a marine were killed Saturday when a roadside bomb exploded in Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad.
*The bombing on Saturday in Haditha, on the Euphrates in the Sunni-dominated province of Anbar, was aimed at a convoy of American marines and Iraqi Army soldiers, said Capt. Jeffrey S. Pool, a Marine spokesman. After the explosion, gunmen opened fire on the convoy. At least eight insurgents were killed in the firefight, the captain said.

That's the New York Times on November 21st, one day after the press release was issued (and rushed into the paper), specifically, Edward Wong and Hassan M. Fattah's "Road Bomb Aimed at Convoy Kills 15 Civilians and a Marine in Restive Iraqi Province." Did they speak to "Jefferey S. Pool" whom they write "said"? They may have but not for that statement. It appears in the press release (the one Schmitt and Cloud are writing of) that bears the dateline location of "Camp Blue Diamond in Ramadi." (My thanks to a friend who faxed that to me yesterday afternoon.) They know it, Wong and Fattah, it's just the readers of the paper that don't know it.

They grabbed a press release and ran with it as truth. Printed it as such. And they didn't tell the readers that Pool "said" in a press release. Is it a crime? No. Is it good journalism? No.
Is it "Reading press releases live from the Green Zone"? Yes, it is. Schmitt and Cloud just outed two press release readers.

The e-mail address for this site is

A conversation in three parts

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Rebecca: So this is a joint entry and it was planned to be C.I. and myself and then I started thinking, "Why don't we see if Cedric wants to take part?" C.I. was fine with that but said that Betty should be invited because she's "trapped under Thomas Friedman" at her sight which is very true. So we invited both and it's now a joint entry of four people. When it was just the two of us, I asked C.I., "Will this be in lower case?" That is how I do it at my site and C.I. responded, "Are you going to type it up?" So no lower case if you're reading this at my site.

Cedric: That's Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty's site is Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. does The Common Ills and is part of The Third Estate Sunday Review, and I'm Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix.

Betty: Cedric and I are helping with the note taking and typing so it's not all falling on C.I. I'm thrilled to be invited to participate and even more thrilled not to have to figure out what idiotic mess Thomas Friedman's made for Betinna to clean up.

C.I.: Betinna is the main character in Betty's online, comic novel. This weekend may, or may not be, the fiction edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review. Rebecca and I had discussed that and how a roundtable wouldn't be possible if it was the fiction edition, where short stories and other things are highlighted, and we wanted to address a few things. Cedric had noted something in an e-mail to me and in a phone call to Rebecca so we knew he was on the same page, to recap on why he was invited. Elaine and Mike weren't invited, nor was anyone else, but that was due to the fact that they have their own pattern for posting and also I'm not sure that they're posting this evening. If they do, it will be late because Elaine has plans. So they may be posting on Saturday instead.

Rebecca: Betty was our cut off. Four people we could handle. Besides the fact that she's always looking for a way to post an entry about anything other than Thomas Friedman, we were also curious about what she would think about the topics discussed. Add in that she got a promotion at her job and wasn't sure she'd be able to do a post this week as she got used to the new responsibilities and we really wanted to include her. But four is our cut-off for this. Anymore and Jim would be saying, "I think this should be a piece for The Third Estate Sunday Review."

Betty: I think the easiest way to start this off is to note Rebecca's grandmother's because she wrote about her last night in "more marine news and talking about my grandmother." As a result, I'm sure people are concerned. I read C.I.'s entry this morning and saw that everything was fine, then went to read Rebecca's entry and it still made me anxious, even knowing that her grandmother was fine.

Rebecca: She called me out of the blue and asked me to visit. We usually talk on the phone several times a week and see each other at least once a week. If she'd called Thursday about wanting to get together next week, it wouldn't have surprised me but when she called Thursday and asked me to come over that day, I was expecting either good news or bad news, and worried about it being bad. We had a nice visit and discussed a number of issues, personal ones, current events, etc. But near the end of the visit, I kept asking her if something was wrong because I was sure she had to have some bad news that she was waiting to break. When none was forthcoming, I worked myself up into a state of worry where I was convinced that she had some bad news about her health and this was one of those "Everything's fine" moments where, only after, you realize that the person was trying to say goodbye.

Cedric: But that wasn't it.

Rebecca: No. She phoned this morning and she was just very disturbed by the news of Haditha.

C.I.: Just to set the stage, November 19, 2005 something happened in the Iraqi town of Haditha. The military's official version, which the mainstream press was happy to parrot, was that 'insurgents' had attacked American troops, a roadside bomb had gone off, taking the lives of 15 Iraqis and a United States marine, following the explosion, 'insurgents' had began firing on American troops and, in responding with gunfire, eight insurgents were killed.

Cedric: Give an example of two who ran with the official version because you covered it this morning.

C.I.: Writing for the New York Times, Edward Wong and Hassan M. Fattah contributed "Road Bomb Aimed at Convoy Kills 15 Civilians and a Marine in Restive Iraqi Province" which offered nothing but 'officials say . . .' There is no correction to that item currently. If you access the article online, they've still not provided a correction.

Rebecca: And before we go any further, explain that paper's ads because I understood it in the second entry but you were on the phone with me for both entries and I don't think they were written the way they would have been if I hadn't been jawing your ear off. FYI, when I called C.I. I was blubbering and it took about ten minutes before I calmed down enough to explain that everything truly was fine, I was just filled with relief that my grandmother was okay.

C.I.: Hold on. Let me grab a paper so I can read it word for word. The ad runs all the time. It's an ad for the New York Times run in the pages of the New York Times. Okay, this is Tuesday's paper because I just looked at the backs of the sections to avoid flipping through them to find it. It's probably run since, more than once. They run it all the time. On Tuesday, the full page ad appeared on B8 which was the back page of "The Arts" section. It's a black and white ad, full page. You see the "T" and maybe the "i" of the "Times" in a square with an arrow, like the on you have with your computer mouse, resting on it. Big letters: "College students, meet your new research assistant." Smaller letters: "Looking for help with that research paper? Find it at TimesSelect, the premium service at With TimesSelect, you'll get access to 25 years of articles from The Times -- articles on politics, history, science, art, business, sports and just about any other subject you're assigned. And TimesSelect also offers e-mail alerts whenever a new article on your subject appears." Either in the same size or slightly bigger: "Find out about our special university discount for students and faculty." Then: "Visit" Then: "TimesSelect" with "" beneath it. This ad runs all the time.

Betty: So the point of the ad is that they're telling college students and, let's face it, high school and middle school students, that a subscription to the Times will provide you with accuracy but if you're trying to find out about Haditha and you search that looking for November, what you find is Wong and Fattah's article which still has no correction to it?

C.I.: Correct. And in case anyone's been asleep for the last few weeks, the official version has come undone. Civilians were killed. For more on that, you can listen, watch or read the transcript of "Haditha Massacre: Was it an Isolated Event and Did the Military Try to Cover it Up?" from Tuesday's Democracy Now!

Cedric: Before we go any further, can I ask what the service, the paper's, provides?

C.I.: I can't tell you the full service because I rarely go to the website. Links to articles we discuss each morning are usually coming from members' e-mails. There are tiers. For instance, the op-ed columns are now "behind the wall." You can't access them without paying for them. The opposite of the Wall St. Journal which makes those available to everyone at their website but makes people pay for news content. The first tier, as I understand it, is somewhere around fifty-five dollars for a year. That allows you to read the content online, new content, and allows you to search a certain number of articles, I believe. I subscribe to the print edition and the way it works for me is, if I log in, I can see anything in that day's paper with no charge, I can also see anything in the last seven days for free. After that, for anything older, I'm able to see 100 articles a month for free -- articles in the archive that I would be charged for otherwise.

Cedric: Okay. Sorry to go off topic.

C.I.: No, it's a question that pops up in the e-mails and now I can pull that post it off the computer. That's what I know of it, what little I know. I'm sure, and I'll even give the phone number out, that anyone at 1-800-698-4637 can answer any questions on it and, if I got a number wrong on that, it's 1-800-NYTIMES.

Cedric: Thanks. If anyone's wondering, my nephew's doing a college course, this summer, he's still in high school, and he's nervous about the research paper that will be a part of the class.

C.I.: Well, instead of signing up for something, just call me and I'll e-mail whatever he needs. I really do not go online that often and have never had more than ten of my hundred alloted articles for the month. So let me know, he can then look at what it has to offer, and if he likes it, you can go on from there.

Cedric: I will gladly take you up on that kind offer to test drive the Times. And I will get us back on topic by noting something, on Haditha, from the Iraq snapshot on Thursday. This was what a young girl, one of the survivors of what looks like a slaughter of Iraqis by US marines in November 2005 had to say: "They killed my father in the kitchen. They killed my mother, and my sister Noor. They killed her when they shot her in the head. She was only 15 years old. My other sister was shot with seven bullets in the head. She was only 10 years old."

Betty: That stuck in my head. More than any back and forth or "investigation is ongoing" or anything else, that stuck in my head. That little girl that Cedric quoted is only twelve-years-old. I forget her name.

C.I.: Safa Younis.

Betty: In front of her, she saw her father die, she saw her mother die, she saw two sisters die. Safa is just twelve-years-old. And that's what she saw. And if you spoke to other Iraqis, you'd probably hear some with similar stories.

Rebecca: Because this is the occupation.

Cedric: The illegal occupation. Dahr Jamail made a point on Tuesday's Democracy Now! about how this, Haditha, is getting attention but most of the other incidents haven't and, at this rate, won't. He specifically tossed ou Falluja and I want to note that. For a few reasons. First off, Jim, Dona, Ava, Ty and Jess always point to the Iraq coverage at The Common Ills as why they were reading from the first day.

C.I.: To cut you off for a second, it was the second day. There was a tiny post on a Friday, outlining the intent, as I saw it, and noting it would probably all be tossed aside quickly. Which it was. But when they say the first day, they mean the first day of real posts. But what happens is, I end up with e-mails saying things like, "It's so great that from your very first post, you were addressing Iraq." That's not true and if I come across those e-mails, I reply to correct that. So let me correct it here. It's the sort of thing that with a larger group, I'm biting my tongue on because there are more important things to discuss and everyone has a point to make. But this will go up at The Common Ills and I want it to be clear there.

Cedric: Okay, second day. What grabbed me was music. First thing I ever contributed for the site, December of 2004, was noting a song that I felt we should all take a moment to appreciate. On Falluja, all I had was what the mainstream provided. That's an issue I've learned about since. That is a huge issue to Dahr Jamail and to Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now! as well. They always note it. But the reason I'm noting it is because most people don't. That's really true. They ignore it. Or they tossed it out at the end of 2004 and 'moved on.' There are over, I googled, 200 entries at The Common Ills on Falluja. That's how you spell it, "Falluja." If you're highlighting and they spell it "Fallujah," that's how they spell it, so I also searched that. And I realize from trying to find stuff via google on my own site that google doesn't catch everything. But that's what it takes, it takes more than that probably, to get people to pay attention. You can't talk Iraq and not mention what happened in April of 2004 and in November of 2004.

Betty: I would agree with that. Rebecca called me when WBAI, during pledge week, had Robert Fisk's speech on the history of Iraq. That was a powerful speech and I was listening at work. The woman who had the desk next to me was listening and, after the speech, which may have been forty minutes long, she was asking me about Falluja. She knew the mainstream, rah-rah coverage and that's all she knew. She was under the impression that people had been allowed to leave in November, she didn't know about the April events, and that it was just Saddam Hussein's "gang" left inside. She didn't understand why "the British guy," that's what she called him, would go on about Falluja because wasn't that a "good moment" for the country?

Rebecca: So what did you tell her?

Betty: I told her about the fact that it wasn't just men. It was young boys and that many had tried to leave but were turned back. I talked to her about the use of white phosphorus, I talked about how the hospitals were under seige and not allowed to come to the aid of people. And -- are they talking about Mexico?

Rebecca: I'm listening to Flashpoints, sorry. Yes, Dennis Bernstein's speaking to a man named John about of the elections in Mexico. The election is July 2nd, by the way. Marcos and the Zapatistas.

C.I.: I'm not listening because I'm taking notes but I would guess it was John Gibler, independent journalist.

Rebecca: That sounds like the name.

Betty: Sorry to lose focus. But, just to tie what we heard in, that's on a Pacifica station. On a Pacifica station, you can hear that. You can't hear that on a lot of other stations.

C.I.: And we'll come back to that in the second half. There are three breaks planned if they're needed. This first one is the long one -- where, for Betty, she'll be sitting down with her kids for dinner.


Cedric: When we left off Betty was making a point about Pacifica Radio.

Betty: Rebecca had Flashpoints on and they were discussing the upcoming elections in Mexico in a way that was quite a bit more than the soundbyte manner of NPR. Cedric had brought up Falluja and some people have no idea of what happened in that city in April of 2004 and November of 2004 which led me to explain how I had listened at work to WBAI to hear Robert Fisk's speech on the history of invasions in and war on Iraq. A woman whose desk was next to mine before I got a promotion at work had been listening as well and what she heard was, really, a revelation to her. She does follow the news on cable, reads the Atlanta Journal-Constitution each day, tries to keep up and she was finding out that there was a great deal she hadn't been informed of.

Rebecca: Did she become a Pacifica listener?

Betty: Not yet. She has kids like I do and that's probably the biggest problem with listening online. If you're at the computer, and you only have the one computer, you've got a kid wanting to put in their Barbie game or whatever. Or else, you're all over the house running after them, in which case, there's little or no listening. But what did change was that she listens WRFG. At five o'clock, you can grab headlines, I do, from Democracy Now! as you're entering traffic after work and headed to daycare to pick up the kids.

Cedric: Could you give the information on where it is on the dial?

Betty: Sure. It's 89.3 FM, WRFG. So five to six, you've got it right there, on the airwaves and it works well there because in the morning, you're dropping the kids off and forget about paying attention to anything other than what's going on in the backseat. For me, the way it works out is that I'm alone in the car for the headlines and the first ten to fifteen minutes after depending on traffic. Then it's grab a parking spot, go inside and get the kids, come back and grab the last twenty-five minutes which, when it's hot like it is now, the kids are usually just listening along. They're tired and it's hot, in fact, today it was so hot there wasn't even any griping among them. So that's usually the whole make it home trip, that hour.

Rebecca: And your co-worker is listening to Democracy Now! through that station?

Betty: Yes. She's someone who tries really hard to keep up and we can grab that hour except on Friday when Democracy Now! starts a half-hour earlier but, to be honest, if it was on at the same time on Friday, the second hour would be lost on me in the car because there is no too tired on Friday, on Friday, the kids are always too alert, too active and too vocal to follow anything on the radio after they're in the car. Just a little over on the dial, and I'm not giving it's position, is WABE and I have no use for it. It's NPR. Drive time is the second of two hours of All Things Considered which, strange considering the title, really offers very little to consider.

C.I.: I think that works just reading, but what anyone reading will miss is that on "strange, considering the title, really offers very little to consider" was delivered in Betty's parody of NPR.

Betty: My "White voice." Everyone on NPR sounds exactly the same. And they also have this way of speaking at the end of the piece that seems to be an attempt to make you go, "Hmmm."

Cedric: No matter what the stories is, they always think they're "Things That Make You Go Hmmm."

Betty: If I can stay on that for just one more second, in Atlanta, the PBS problem, the Whiteness of it all, is brought home even more because all the programming seems geared to White people and about White people. To give an example that people brought up today at work, tomorrow there will be a special on skincare --

Rebecca: What?

Betty: I'm not making that up. The woman's name is Adrienne Denese and everyone's making fun of her at work. It's going to teach us how to avoid aging -- public monies for Mary Kay basically. But who is that audience? There's a saying, I bet Cedric knows it --

Cedric: "Black don't crack."

Betty: Right. I mean, African-Americans do get wrinkles. But it's just one more example of WPBA causes the very large African-American community in Atlanta to scratch their heads and wonder who they think watches?

Cedric: Do you watch a lot of public television?

Betty: I don't have cable. Or "satellite" since that's now the big thing. Don't have it, won't have it. If broadcast TV ends, the kids can watch their DVDs. TV's never going to be something I'm going to waste money on. Not with three kids. So when we get home in the evening, they'll watch Arthur and I'll work on dinner. In the morning, they're watching Maya and Miguel. Teletubbies is really too young for them. And I really think they should move Sesame Street much earlier. It broadcasts at ten a.m. I don't think most kids catch it.

Cedric: And it's probably the only show for kids where there's actually different races.

Betty: Right. And you get asked that by your kids. I used to lie and say Francine, on Arthur, was "mixed." But my oldest got too smart for that. With the hair on the characters on Arthur, when kids get to a certain age, they know it's drawn White. I've really gone off topic, sorry.

C.I.: Don't apologize. These are points worth making. Someone needs to be saying it and good for you for doing so.

Cedric: Because there is no "public" in public television. It's White with a few guests brought on. That's all they are, guests. And that's not how it was when I was a kid but these days you're more likely to see a Big Red Dog, Clifford, than you are to see an African-American character. And, as Ava's pointed out, Maya and Miguel is a fifties show airing today. Maya's not really that active. Miguel's the adventurous one and Maya's basically saying, "Oh you boys, be careful." There's a lot of social conditioning going on with that show. The muppet characters on Sesame Street really were a breakthrough and that's obviously one person's idea and never what PBS wanted to reflect. On their own, they go for White characters in gender roles. Even when the characters are animals, they have characteristics that clue you in that they're White, either the bits of hair that are drawn on their heads or the person hired to voice the character. But let's get back to the war.

C.I.: Wait, no. For this section, let's focus on race. At The Third Estate Sunday Review each week we've tried to fit time in to address the topic but it hasn't been possible and if it is a fiction edition, there won't be a roundtable or an easy way to address it outside of fiction, so since that's a topic that's come up, let's stay on it.

Cedric: Well, we're always wanting to discuss KPFA's The Morning Show, there are many shows but that's the program most of us have started noticing really will address race.

Rebecca: The hosts are Andrea Lewis and Philip Maldari. It's a two hour broadcast, Monday through Friday.

Cedric: I really like Andrea Lewis. Betty had a good phrase for her.

Betty: "Down home." She's just really comfortable on air. She can do the serious interview or she can be funny. She's just really down home on air and I have to say thank you to Kat here because my chances of hearing online are limited, Kat knows that and makes a point to put in a cassette most mornings and I get a weekly shipment. Kat always apologizes that she doesn't have time to turn the tapes into a weekly best of but she'll note which things she thinks I'll really enjoy. When I'm cleaning the house on the weekends, I'm listening to The Morning Show. And not to take anything away from Philip Malderi who does a fine job himself but, as a Black woman, I listen and wonder why we don't have a thousand Andrea Lewises all over the airwaves. What we get instead is a lot of women with an attitude on air that translates as, "Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to prove to you that Black women can speak and think." Andrea Lewis is just down home. Like most non-Whites, it's never occurred to her, nor should it, that we can't have an opinion and express it.

C.I.: That's a point that Ty really wanted made, when we've talked about this for The Third Estate Sunday Review. That the relationship on air between Andrea Lewis and Philip Malderi is very much an equal one, Malderi is White, and that there's a balance there that you don't get very often. For those who've never heard the show, it's two hours, like Rebecca pointed out, and it's a morning show that has news breaks, anchored by Sandra Lupien, and they have guests on who discuss issues of the day and the arts. And among the many issues they are comfortable addressing is race.

Cedric: And I agree with that summary you just gave but I want to add to it because you listen to Pacifica and when you say that, it's going to make sense to people who listen to Pacifica. They're going to understand even if they don't listen to KPFA. But if they're listening to commercial radio, they're going to be nodding, if they think they get it, and thinking, "Soul Food on the radio!" They're going to be thinking it's Tom Joyner or something where there's this one big guy, and it's always a guy, surrounded by a lot of people on air who basically say, "You are so smart, tell us more."

Rebecca: Or they're going to be thinking, it's a bunch of ha-ha, "And then I went to the beauty parlor and, girl, let me tell you."

Betty: I was just thinking that. I'd call it the shuck-and-jive hour, shows like that. And in terms of radio, that's really often all you get. The thing Ty's pointed out where the Black staff member or co-anchor is basically there to say, "You White Guy are so smart and I am so lucky to be at this mircophone with you." Where they're scraping and bowing the whole time. They may do it for jokes or, if it's a more serious program, they may do it from a kind of eternal wonder position. But that's your one model and then you have the loud laughter, "So she comes up to me in front of all the ladies at the beauty parlor saying, 'It's not a weave. I have my hair processed.' And I said process! Girl, looks like your hair done been served! Ah-huh. Ah-huh. Ah-huh." On Fraiser, they had a character called Dr. Wendy and she was that type. Look, I'm from the south. There are women like that, I know them and some of them are wonderful friends, but that's one of two types we get and there are so many other types. You just don't hear them.

Cedric: And to fall back to Tom Joyner, he does the male of that character over and over and then his voice will get a little higher and it will be the and-now-we-get-serious moment. When we were all in California, Ty would be asking, "Who is that woman?" about Andrea Lewis. Over and over. And his point was, because by the first day, he knew who she was. We'd all be listening as we went here and there and all over, but his point was, this is an African-American woman that is like many women we know, she's smart, she's funny, she's obviously educated, and where is she on the radio? She's on KPFA and good for that. But where are women like her otherwise? I'm sure there are other women like that because she's not some creature that just landed on the planet. But I mean, what we get instead is "Gossip to Go with Flo."

C.I.: Florence Anthony.

Cedric: C.I. told me last week, when I brought this up, that Flo had gone to Howard University and graduated from there and I was shocked because --

Betty: Wait! Flo, went to Howard University?

Cedric: Yeah.

Betty: What a waste. There are some people at work that listen to her "Gossip to Go" thing. She also does that magazine . . .

C.I.: Black Elegance Magazine.

Betty: That's it, thank you. But I mean, for an educated woman to be doing that? God, I'll shut up before I start sounding like Bill Cosby.

Cedric: (Laughing) I know exactly what you mean. When C.I. told me that, I was just floored, Flo at Howard University? So why does she want to come off like the loud woman screaming into her cell phone on the bus?

Rebecca: I'm sorry, I don't know her. Fill me in.

Cedric: It's just a waste of a few minutes each day as she summarizes whatever made the gossip page in the New York Post --

C.I.: Where she used to work.

Cedric: That would explain why she plugs it. It's just trash. And Betty's "Ah-huh, ah-huh, ah-huh" really applies to her. If she were in Vegas, she'd be screaming, "Drum roll!" after every sentence but she's not funny. There are women like her and they can be very nice women. I'm not picking on that so much as I'm pointing out that that's what we get instead. We get a million Flos and if there are Andreas, we have to search high and low, long and hard just to find them.

Betty: Because, and I'll wrap up on this, when that's one of two types presented and only two types are presented, Flo doesn't come off as Flo but as one more touring in a never ending minstrel show.

Rebecca: I know we want to get back to the war, but we've just talked about portrayls or, maybe, access is the better word. Do we want to talk about anything else since Betty just pulled a Dona and said "wrap up"?

Cedric: Yeah, but that would probably be better to hold on. In terms of topics. I mean, you know what we're talking about, Rebecca, but there are a lot of people who will be scratching their heads over this and thinking, "Wait? They don't all go around grinning and laughing every minute of the day?" Probably not in this community, but there are people who have really strong stereotypes. And I don't just mean racists. There are people who -- I don't know how to word it.

C.I.: How about this. Colin Powell is seen as a living miracle because he can speak and think. And it's a bit late in the game that that should come off as somehow an exception to a race. But in terms of who is given access in the mainstream media and who is denied, Colin Powell stands like a giant just for how he carries himself because, despite reality, strides made still aren't reflected in the media?

Cedric: Yes. Yes, I'd agree with that.

Betty: I would too. I'm not a fan of Powell's and I know no one here is. But he comes off as an exception only because White America isn't presented with more reality.

Rebecca: Well, if I can add on a few more seconds here, can we talk Powell without talking Harry Belafonte since, if the mainstream media created Powell as the "good one," they spent a lot of time demonizing Belafonte recently?

Betty: I'm glad you brought that up because I read C.I.'s thing responding to someone's impression that this community had a war with The Nation. I don't think there's any more ridiculous claim. But if someone wants to toss that out, I'll toss back, "Is there a war with Black people?" There's Patricia J. Williamson and then whom? And I'll be honest, that thing of Katrina vanden Heuvel's pissed me off.

C.I.: She wrote an op-ed piece for the Washington Post and an expanded version was at her blog, Editor's Cut. She's the editor and publisher of The Nation. Cedric wrote about it, so he should probably do the set up.

Cedric: Well, she wrote a piece about the way people are talking, the political discourse. And to prove that it was on all sides, she included many examples, one of which was Harry Belafonte.
You didn't agree with the column?

C.I.: Me? No. I noted that here. I don't buy into the tone arguments. People should speak in their won voices. That includes Flo. The problem is when the range of voices is so narrow that a wide variety isn't presented. But people should speak in their own voices. She was, KvH, calling out to our better natures, that was the theme of the column. More power to her but I think we need a lot more voices and they need to speak in the way that suits them. I wrote about it because she got trashed online, basically called a hypocrite, and I didn't see it, the column, as being hypocritical when contrasted with a TV appearance either the same day or the next day.
You were offended by the inclusion of Belafonte in the examples and I honestly hadn't read the examples.

Cedric: I had a real problem with that, more so than the tone argument. I didn't think it read "reasonable." I thought she'd entered into, unwittingly, racially charged territory and that it was a mistake on many levels to have included him in her call outs.

C.I.: Because he was already under attack and had been for a lengthy period. He'd even been disinvited to the Coretta Scott King funeral. So for the publisher of The Nation to join in the chorus of tsk-tsk Belafonte was upsetting.

Cedric: Right. And that sets it up. Harry Belafonte was trashed and there was no reason for someone on th eleft, considering all that he'd gone through, to engage in, "He shouldn't have."

Betty: And it's not that he's above criticism. It's that there was a reaction, which she probably wasn't aware of, in the African-American community of "back off." We were tired of it. We were tired of the nonsense. I didn't speak to anyone who wasn't tired of it and sick of it. Whether they had grown up admiring him, as I did, he's an important person in my family, or whether they didn't care for him, they were sick of seeing him trashed. To her credit, she was comfortable with him in terms of being able to discuss him as she would anyone else. You could argue, and I hate this term, that she was "color blind." I hate the term because I don't think we can afford to be because we don't have racial parity in this country. But I think she was comfortable enough with him, in terms of her thoughts of him, I didn't think she hated him, to treat him as she would anyone esle. But where she came into the dialogue, because possibly she wasn't aware of what was going in, the reaction to the trashing of him, it was, my attitude, "Back off."

Cedric: The comfort factor was something I hadn't given her credit for and hadn't thought of it so I'm glad you brought that up. That's probably true. To her, it was probably one more example of how a statement or statements, and I agree with his statements, but there's a reaction, like Betty said, that she was completely unaware of. And my attitude was, and still is, I don't need you to tell me your non-endorsing opinion of this African-American who is under attack. This wasn't Michael Jackson where someone was accused of a crime --

Betty: Again!

Cedric: (Laughing) Again. This is someone who has lived his entire life in a way that uplifts so many of us and encourages so many of us. At a time when he was under attack, I didn't think her including him was helpful, needed or wanted.

Rebecca: It was personal, the attacks on Harry Belafonte and the reaction. And it's easy to say, "Well, that's how I would treat anyone." But I don't think that allows for the reality of the attacks or the reality of the times or, for that matter, the mood of the country. I disagreed with the entire column. For me, "I'm not ready to make nice," like the Dixie Chicks sing. I have no interest in being seen as "reasonable." We don't live in "reasonable" times. My reaction was, "Why is she including him?" I didn't see his statements as equivalent to others included. And maybe I'm remembering this wrong but it seems like only days after Amy Goodman was interviewing him on Democracy Now! and he was talking about the reactions to his comments and then I got even madder that he was included in the column.

Betty: I loved that interview Amy did. But back to Katrina vanden Heuvel, I think she is trying to rally and to inspire and that is needed in these times. I don't fault her for that. I don't even think it occurred to her that including Belafonte would be hurtful, nor do I think it was intended as such. But I do think it struck many as hurtful and it's something that bothers me even now.

Cedric: Just to repeat, and then we can close, one more time, I want to thank C.I. because I was really bothered by it and thought, "Well I can't write about this. The community, and that includes me, likes Katrina vanden Heuvel. " And that only made me more upset. So I called C.I. for input and was told, "Write it. I'll link to it. Just write what you feel and speak in your own voice and it's not a problem." I appreciated the support.

C.I.: Don't be silly. We all support one another in the community. We're going to take the second break and then return to the issue of the war.

Back to Iraq

Betty: We looked over the other two sections and the first one was our intro and the second was about race. In this section, we're going back to the war. And we're going to start off with Rebecca talking about her grandmother.

Rebecca: The news of Haditha, and this was before othe incidents began breaking in the news, just really upset her. The alleged crimes upset her, but what upset her even more was the reaction. Which is "oh, that bad Bully Boy!" She wondered if this was how our own "descent into hell" as a nation really began. And she is under no illusions that the last six years have been beneficial to Americans or the Constitution or the world. There's an effort to heap all the blame on the Bully Boy. He is to blame for setting the tone and creating the conditions under which the alleged abuse would have taken place. But she's bothered that those who are alleged to have participated in crimes are not responsible for their own actions.

Cedric: Which is how it's playing out in the discussions. Not with Michelle Malkin who's on a tear that the media's just going after the military. They're not. They're not even going after the accused. We're running behind --

Betty: My fault. It was supposed to be a short break, but one of my kids had an upset stomach.

C.I.: Not a problem. I used the time to run to the store.

Cedric: Yeah, no one was just sitting there thinking, "When is Betty getting back?" Rebecca and I ended up deciding that we'd do Mike a solid and open with a Democracy Now! news item when we posted this at our sites and Rebecca also noted that if this is tagged, we should do it at the top like Betty's been pointing out for some time because long entries don't get read, although mine never get read.

Rebecca: Hold on one minute. Sorry, I wanted to check something. C.I. published and republished Friday morning while we were on the phone together and the tags were never read in terms of showing up.

C.I.: Tags, quickly. I don't mind spending time exploring the real topic but I don't want to waste it on tags. There are people who never get read and they contact Technorati and get no reply nor is anything done so that they are read. I don't like tagging, it takes up too much time and Rebecca's the one who discovered it and thought it was a way to get the word out on the community. If it's not showing up anywhere and that continues, I'll stop tagging gladly. It's been a hassle from day one. The time it takes could be spent cross-posting at the mirror site or on any other number of things.

Rebecca: Okay, so Cedric got cut off, sorry.

Cedric: No problem. I was going to note the Hannah Arendt quote that went up at The Common Ills Friday: "Where all are guilty, no one is; confessions of collective guilt are the best possible safeguard against the discovery of culprits, and the very magnitude of the crime the best excuse for doing nothing." Who is guilty? If the Haditha reports are true, who is guilty?

Betty: Because in the coverage, it's Bully Boy alone. I have no problem with directing his share of the blame to him, and it's big, his share, but at what point are we going to stop saying, "Oh, well these things happen." That's what bothered your grandmother, right?

Rebecca: Yeah. She was very bothered by that. In Abu Ghraib, it became a lot of "Oh, but we can't punish these poor soldiers because they're not responsible and they're getting all the blame."

Cedric: If I hire the assasin, I'm just as guilty as the person who did the killing. So it's perfectly well and good to portion out to Bully Boy but the idea that we're going to look the other way on the individuals who may have actually killed someone is really sad.

Betty: I think there's responsbility at both ends and on up the chain of command between. And instead, I feel like, and I'm more disappointed in the left here, there's this attitude of, "We must not criticize the soldiers involved."

C.I.: That attitude . . . One of the things that's often asked is, "Where is the outrage over this war?" A lot of people are outraged. But it's equally true that there's a lot of attempts to divert that outrage and to tap it down. Abu Ghraib was a scandal on many levels but what happened to it? It became this elephant in the room that we can only talk about in the most general terms.

Cedric: I wrote this down from something you put up on Friday: "Pay attention to what Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show this morning, Donald Rumsfeld said 'Things that shouldn't happen, do happen in combat.'" I think I got the implication but I was hoping you'd talk about that.

C.I.: What that reminded me of first of all was Rumsfeld's idiotic comment about the looting, how it was just one vase. And we know that it was easily over 14,000 pieces that were stolen. People should have been outraged about the looting but instead it became, "Oh well, these things happen in a war." These things happened because the concern was with protecting other things, such as the oil fields. By the same token, Abu Ghraib became a "these things happen." And here comes Rumsfeld to talk about an alleged massacre and to say, "These things happen." And the fear is, he'll be successful at it because no one wants to call out the individuals who allegedly did the killing. That's sad and it's honestly sick.

Rebecca: Which was my grandmother's feeling, that's what had bothered her so much and why she called and asked me to visit that day. If it's not called out, it creates another lowered expectation, another pass. We're no longer appalled by Abu Ghraib and the next massacre will be a yawn. A shrug. It's like Betty said, it's the left here that's refusing to confront the reality. They're too busy directing all the blame to Bully Boy and letting off the accused perpetrators of the act.

C.I.: And if, in the face of these allegations, can't express disgust and can't draw a clear line that says the behavior is not acceptable, for any reason, under any reason, then what are we saying about ourselves and about our country?

Betty: Well you saw, and Elaine covered this, you saw the usual bullies, and the left has bullies, come along and say, "Oh don't you dare call those men 'baby killers!' I will come after you if you do!" Well what did they do? Are we going to invent new terms to avoid calling killing "killing"? Is that where we are now? Have we all left the reality based world?

Cedric: And this on the day that someone got sentenced for Abu Ghraib.

C.I.: He didn't really. I almost included in that in the snapshot but I assumed everyone knew it. Santos Cardona was sentenced to X number of days of hard labor. I think it was something like seventy days. He'll lose about $600 dollars a month for twelve months. His lawyer is calling it a win for Cardona. And it is. It's very much a win for him. He's found guilty of a multitude of crimes and he's basically walking. I believe his lawyer pointed out that the hard labor doesn't include any prison time. While it's one thing for your heart to go out to the people put in that situation and to say that people being punished shouldn't be just the low-level ones, it's another to say, "Go torture Iraqis and don't worry because there's no real consequences." But that's the message. By the same token, this effort to point only to the top sends a message.

Rebecca: What does everyone think about the investigation into Ishaqi?

Betty: That's where the BBC just got a hold of the tape and, from the tape, it appears that a slaughter went on but that, Friday, the military finished their investigation into the events and cleared everyone, right?

Cedric: I don't know what to think about that.

C.I.: I think we were played. I think the administration knew they had a scandal with Haditha. At which point they floated to the press that there was another scandal being investigated.

Cedric: Why do you say that?

C.I.: The story for the weekend is "Military cleared!" That's the headline. Look at tomorrow's papers and see how many run with that, I bet many will. There are three scandals right now and most people are having trouble, if they're not following it closely, keeping up. They'll see "cleared" and they'll think it's Haditha or they'll think, "Oh, that's that scandal." They probably won't know Haditha by name.

Cedric: So you think it was leaked on purpose?

C.I.: I think that's very likely. You've got a scandal breaking. Suddenly you want to leak about a supposed ongoing investigation into another? No. If you wanted to leak, you would have leaked while it was ongoing. It's only after Haditha captures attention and it's known that a finding, and they knew what the finding would be, that Ishaqi is leaked. It was damage control, plain and simple. What do you think, Rebecca, you're the one with the p.r. experience?

Rebecca: I agree with that. Look at Haditha where the leaks revolve around charges. It's not completed yet but they have a sense of where it's headed. The Ishaqi one, they knew where it was headed, it was, as you point out, winding down when it was leaked. This was damage control and it's a laughable investigation and one that should have been prevented from releasing a conclusion since the conclusion was written prior to the BBC's announcing that they had just gotten a hold of a tape. That's a bit like a jury coming back in with a decision while someone who's been watching the trial stands up in the court room and screams, "It wasn't him! I killed her and here's how!" I can't imagine a judge would say, "Shut up and sit down. Jury deliver your verdict." They would investigate the person's claims. The fact that the BBC broke the news of the tape, I believe Thursday evening our time, and Friday morning the conclusions of the investigation are released indicate that it was damage control because a real investigation would say, "Let's look at that tape." But it was judged important to do damage control and the results had to come out on Friday so that all weekend people could say, "Oh, they were cleared." Confusing Ishaqui with the other two investigations.

Betty: I didn't know that the man sentenced on Friday wasn't going to be serving time. For Abu Ghraib. That's really sad. And it does send a message which says there are no serious consquences. If you're serving and you say, "I'm not going to do that because it's wrong and I don't want to go to prison," the logical reply, now, is, "Oh, but you won't go to prison." And I think that gets at the problem. When all we're doing is saying, "Oh, it's all the Bully Boy's fault!" and when we're refusing to say, "These actions are horrible, they're criminal, and they must be punished," we're saying that we'll tolerate anything and look the other way because, darn it, nobody better use a word like "baby killer."

Rebecca: I think you're exactly right and to get back to the "Where is the outrage?" -- when even the left won't express their disgust and their outrage over torture and killing, then go ahead and pack it in. Don't expect the cheerleaders for the Bully Boy to express outrage. We've gone from the nonsense of everyone is guilty, Hannah Arendt's point, to one where "Only the Bully Boy is guilty." And that's only by the left. Others don't even offer that much. So another massacre happens and people are a little less shocked, a little less appalled. The war's never going to end if we're all going to supress our outrage over crimes and make a point to say, "Oh well, the Bully Boy put them there! It's his fault!" He started the illegal war, he trashed our understanding of warfare from just and unjust wars on down the line, he set the tone. But the people participating in war crimes need to be held responsible. Whether it's someone who commits one in Iraq or Bob Kerry with his war crimes in Vietnam which we're also supposed to just forget because he gave a p.r. conference where he owned up to being "troubled." Too bad other war criminals, at other times, didn't realize all they had to do was say, "I'm troubled by my actions" and they'd get off scott free as well. There's no sense of scope or magnitude, just a lot of idiots weighing in with, "Look what the Bully Boy has caused!" Well what has he caused? Can we talk about that? Can we talk about the actual events and expect to be allowed to hear that war criminals must be held accountable at every level? I don't think so. My grandmother who can see hope in any situation doesn't either. That's why she really feels that our reaction to Haditha, as a nation, may be the real beginning of a "descent into hell." Bully Boy's done awful things but the difference here is that we're confronted with murder and our attitude is, "We can't and mustn't talk about the actions of the ones who allegedly killed. We must only talk about the Bully Boy." If that's where we are, then forget about right and wrong. People can do whatever they want in Iraq and they should know now that the right will look the other way and the left will play Pin-the-blame-on-the-Bully-Boy. It's very sad. And he may have pushed the nation into lowered expectations on accountability, but the nation's responsible for embracing it.

C.I.: Unless anyone else has a closing thought, I think Rebecca just covered it all in her summary?

Betty: Nothing to add. Thanks for inviting me.

Cedric: Just to back up Rebecca, if you're okay with this, get used to more because there was a huge failure to discuss it, just a rush to blame Bully Boy. A rejection of consequences and an ignoring of the fact that Iraqis died. Or maybe it doesn't matter when it's Iraqis? The message that was sent out was very disturbing. Can I use the slogan?

C.I.: Cedric's referring to a slogan that we avoid at The Common Ills because it's a p.r. created slogan created in order to avoid discussion and debate. Go ahead.

Cedric: "Support the troops." In what? And which troops? The left proved that they could do so blindly as they bent over bakwards to avoid discussing what happened on the ground as they rushed to carry every bit of the blame to D.C. Not a proud moment.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Democracy Now: Nukes, Gentrification

New Video Backs Claims of US Massacre in Ishaqi
New evidence has emerged in the case of another alleged massacre of Iraqi civilians at the hands of US troops. The BBC has obtained video footage bolstering accusations first made by Iraqi police that US troops murdered eleven civilians in the town of Ishaqi in March. The dead included five children and four women and ranged in age from 6 months to 75 years old. The Pentagon has insisted only four civilians died in the incident and that they were killed when their home collapsed during a gun battle. But according to the BBC, the new video shows a number of dead adults and children with visible gunshot wounds. Democracy Now covered this story in March. We spoke with Knight Ridder reporter Matthew Schofield in Baghdad. He first obtained the Iraqi police report that accused US troops of the civilian killings.
  • Matthew Schofield: "We were talking with the police officer who was first on the scene earlier today. He explained the scene of arriving. He said they waited until U.S. troops had left the area and it was safe to go in. When they arrived at the house, it was in rubble. I don't know if you've seen the photos of the remains of the house, but there was very little standing. He said they expected to find bodies under the rubble. Instead, what they found was in one room of the house, in one corner of one room, there was a single man who had been shot in the head. Directly across the room from him against the other wall were ten people, ranging from his 75-year-old mother-in-law to a six-month-old child, also several three-year-olds -- a couple three-year-olds, a couple five-year-olds, and four other -- three other women. Lined up, they were covered, and they had all been shot. According to the doctor we talked to today, they had all been shot in the head, in the chest. A number of -- you know, generally, some of them were shot several times. The doctor said it's very difficult to determine exactly what kind of caliber gun they were shot with. He said the entry wounds were generally small and round, the exit wounds were generally very large. But they were lined up along one wall. There was a blanket over the top of them, and they were under the rubble, so when the police arrived, and residents came to help them start digging in, they came across the blankets. They came across the blankets. They picked the blankets up. They say, at that point, that the hands were handcuffed in front of the Iraqis. They had been handcuffed and shot."
Marines To Be Charged in Killing of Iraqi Civilian
In another case, seven marines are being held in the brig at Camp Pendelton. A defense attorney for a US Marine has disclosed the Marines are expected to be charged with murder, kidnapping and conspiracy in the shooting death of an Iraqi man in the town of Hamandiya in April. A member of the Navy will also be charged. The victim was reportedly dragged from his home before he was shot to death. Media reports have speculated troops planted a gun near his body to make it appear he was an insurgent.

Iraqi PM: US Killings of Iraqis "Daily Phenomenon"
Meanwhile, Iraq's Prime Minister has lashed out at the US military over what he has called the "daily phenomenon" of US attacks on Iraqi civilians. In an interview with the New York Times, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki said many troops "do not respect the Iraqi people." Maliki went on to say: "They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion. This is completely unacceptable."

11th Soldier Convicted For Abu Ghraib Torture
And in other Iraq news, an Army dog handler who served at Abu Ghraib was convicted Thursday of using his animal to torment a prisoner. Sgt. Santos Cardona is the 11th soldier to be convicted for the torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib. All but one of the 11 convictions has gone to a low-ranking soldier.

US Naval Ship Leaves Olympia Following Week-Long Protests
And finally, a port in Olympia, Washington was the site of a major anti-war protest this week against a US naval ship bound for Iraq. On Wednesday, the U.S. Naval Ship Pomeroy left the Port of Olympia after a week of protests that drew hundreds of people and led to more than three dozen arrests.

The above five items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Jack, Anne, Barry, Jordan and Portland. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for June 2, 2006

- Indonesian Earthquake Toll Reaches 6200
- Troops To Undergo Ethics Training
- New Video Backs Claims of US Massacre in Ishaqi
- Marines To Be Charged in Killing of Iraqi Civilian
- Iraqi PM: US Killings of Iraqis “Daily Phenomenon”
- 6 Countries, Including US, Reach Iran Consensus
- Peru Heads Into Presidential Elections
- US Naval Ship Leaves Olympia Following Week-long Protests

Why is the U.S. Hampering a Swiss Investigation into A.Q. Khan's International Nuclear Arms Smuggling Ring?

The Bush administration is ignoring requests from Swiss officials to hand over information that would help prosecute alleged members of Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan's underground nuclear network. We speak with the spokesperson for the Swiss Attorney General, Hansjurg Mark Wiedmer, former U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, David Albright and Pakistani physicist, Zia Mian of Princeton University. [includes rush transcript - partial]

Fmr. Chief UN Weapons Inspector Hans Blix Calls for Permanent Worldwide Ban on WMDs

Former U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix called for a permanent worldwide ban on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons on Thursday. The recommendation is the central finding of a major report issued Thursday by the independent Weapons of Mass Destruction commission, which was headed by Blix. [includes rush transcript]

How One of New York City's Biggest Landlords is Systematically Driving Out Thousands of Low-Income Residents

One of the biggest owners of rent-stabilized apartments in New York -- the Pinnacle Group -- is carrying out an aggressive campaign to chase out many of its low-income and elderly tenants living in Harlem, the South Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn. Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez has been reporting on the issue for the Daily News for the past month.

Iraq snapshot. Chaos and violence.

There are at least three alleged incidents in Iraq that are under some form of investigation. (Remember that The Christian Science Monitor asked mid-week whether or not the military could investigation itself.) For two who were confused by the new ones noted last night, there is Haditha. Haditha took place November 19, 2005 and resulted in the deaths of twenty-four civilians. This is the one Rep. John Murtha has spoken of and that has had the most attention and media focus. Next, there is Ishaqi which took place in March 15th of this year. For background refer to Democracy Now!'s March report as well as the BBC's report on a tape that has turned up which appears to refute the US military claims. In that incident, the official version is that "four people died during a military operation" when a building that was on fire collapsed on them while the version put foward by Iraqi police is that "US troops had deliberately shot the 11 people." The third incident under attention currently took place on April 26th of this year in Hamandiya this is where one man died and US troops are accused of planting a shovel and gun on him while insisting that he was attempting to plant a roadside bomb. This is the incident that David S. Cloud (NYT) reported "[m]ilitary prosecutors are preparing murder, kidnapping and conspiracy chargs against seven marines and a Navy corpsman" for. Kidnapping? When Jim Miklaszewski reported it for NBC Sunday, he noted that the allegations included taking the man from his home, murdering him and then attempting to hide their own actions by planting the shovel and gun on him.

Those are the three incidents currently under some form of investigation and media light.

On the middle item, Jonathan Karl of ABC News (ABC, United States) is reporting that with regards to the events in Ishaqi, "military officials have completed their investigation and have concluded U.S. forces followed the rules of engagement." Which one is that? This is the one that BBC only recently reported having a tape of. One might argue far too recently for "military officials" to have "completed" anything that could pass for a full investigation. Or, as Australia's ABC puts it, "But a video obtained by the BBC shows evidence that the people were shot." Among the dead so-called insurgents in this incident that alleged followed "the rules of engagement," Australia's ABC reports were "a 65 year old grandmother and a six-month old baby." The Independent of London summarizes thusly: "But the BBC said its tape, which comes in the wake of the alleged massacre in Haditha in November, showed a number of dead adults and children at the site with gunshot wounds."

Pressure on the Iraqi prime minister and puppet of the occupation, Nuri al-Maliki, has led to his announcing that Iraq will launch their own investigation. As Ferry Biedermann notes in the Financial Times of London, this investigation is supposed to "look into other allegations of misconduct by the US-led forces in Iraq and the way troops behave toward the civilian population after they have come under attack." The Guardian of London reports that al-Maliki informed US ambassador to Iraq (and puppet master) Zalmay Khalilzad of this decision "during a visit to a power station."

Meanwhile, the AFP reports on a Friday lunch between Tony Blair (prime minister of England, lap dog of the Bully Boy) and Romano Prodi (newly elected prime minister of Italy). During the lunch, "Prodi stressed there was no going back on his decision to pull troops out" of Iraq. Presumably Tony Blair choked only on hard feelings since there's no report of a Heimlich being performed.

The AFP reports that at least four people were killed and fifty wounded "in twin blasts targeting a Friday morning animal market in downtown Baghdad." Reuters reports two other roadside bombs, one that wounded two police officers and the other that killed two people and injured four.

Pay attention to what Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show this morning, Donald Rumsfeld said "Things that shouldn't happen, do happen in combat."

Finally, CBS and the AP report that CBS reporter Kimberly Dozier, wounded in Iraq, has been taken "off her respirator and [is] breathing on her own" as of this morning.

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Other Items (Jim Hightower on KPFA's The Morning Show)

Germany's external intelligence service, the BND, said yesterday that it knew about the American seizure and detention of a German citizen 16 months before the country was officially informed of his mistaken arrest. It was unclear whether that information had been passed on to senior officials.
Germany had previously maintained that it did not learn of the abduction of its citizen, Khaled el-Masri, until he returned to Germany in May 2004.
The disclosure on Thursday, made as a parliamentary inquiry into the case reconvened in Berlin, adds to suspicions that European governments, or at least their intelligence services, have abetted the American practice of "extraordinary rendition." The phrase refers to the kidnapping of terrorism suspects by American agents who then secretly transport the suspects to third countries for interrogation, beyond the jurisdiction of American laws.
Any European participation in the extrajudicial seizures and detentions, not to mention the torture that is said to be involved, would constitute a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Council of Europe, which enforces the convention, is investigating the allegations of European participation in the American rendition program.

The above is from Souad Mekhennet and Craig S. Smith's "German Spy Agency Admits Mishandling Abduction Case" in this morning's New York Times. This'll be a link-fest, I'm on the phone.

Erika notes this from Feminist Wire Daily, "Progressive Groups Release Rights-Tracking Map of United States:"

Three progressive organizations held a press conference yesterday to announce the launch of a new website that tracks reproductive and sexual rights by state. Ipas, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), and SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective collaborated to create a database that evaluates states based on access to abortion and contraception; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues; and other concerns, such as abstinence-only education policies. The website has a color-coded map and each state is given a profile that explains how it was ranked. Aside from providing statistics and links to relevant articles and studies, the website also links to the section of each state government’s website that addresses reproductive and sexual rights.
[. . .]
LEARN MORE Visit to see how your state ranks.

Sounds like a wonderful resource so check it out. I don't know if it's the wonderful review ("Kat's Korner: Dixie Chicks Taking The Long Way home while NYT gets lost along the way") Kat did or the fact that we mentioned the Dixie Chicks in last night's entry but a number of members noted the following two items. Credit's going to the first person who e-mailed them. (Otherwise the list is too long.) Keelan notes John Nichols' "Dixie Chicks are No. 1" (The Online Beat, The Nation):

Cultural conservatives, who have been busy of late trying to claim that the rebellious songs of The Who are other rock groups are really right-wing anthems, have misread America's tastes in a major way when it comes to the Dixie Chicks.
Conservative politicians, pundits and political writers -- from Georgia Congressman Jack Kingston to Media Research Council president L. Brent Bozell and bloggers by the dozen -- couldn't wait to trash Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire and Emily Robison for releasing a new album that refused to make nice with President Bush and the thought police who screech "shut up and sing" every time a musician expresses an opinion.
The Dixie Chicks have for the past three years taken more hits than any other musicians because, ten days before Bush ordered the invasion and occupation of Iraq, Maines told a cheering crowd at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire theater: "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."
For the "crime" of prematurely voicing a sentiment that is now close to universal in the US--with more than two-thirds of Americans expressing disapproval of Bush--the Dixie Chicks were hit with a full-frontal assault by right-wing media. Talk radio and television labeled them the Ditzy Chicks and their popular songs suddenly were yanked from country-music playlists. Boycotts were announced.

Second popular item (not second most popular, they were more or less noted by a similar amount of people, however, this one is shorter so Nichols went first to provide set up) was first noted by Mia, Lee Ballinger's "What Blacklash Against the Dixie Chicks?" (CounterPunch):

Country radio has been refusing to play the first two singles from the new Dixie Chicks album Taking the Long Way, supposedly because "country people" are still offended by Chicks' singer Natalie Maines' anti-Bush comments made in 2003. The new album, which defiantly takes pride in still attacking Bush, has come on the album charts today at number one, selling 526,000 copies. It is also number one on the country album charts, despite the attempted boycott by country radio.
The supposed justification for this "backlash" against the Dixie Chicks is a myth now just as it was in 2003. What actually happened then when the media was filled with stories about a backlash, with allegations that all country fans and especially Southerners are rightwing rednecks, when country stars such as Toby Keith were attacking the Chicks every day?

It's a wonderful album. If you haven't heard it yet, you're missing out. Good for Ballinger for tackling the nonsense of the 'backlash.' As he's documented before, a careful planned phone campaign played in to getting the Chicks pulled from radio. But we don't ever want to talk about that in the mainstream, do we? So we're stuck with half-truths and liars.

Want to know what ABC News is now stuck with? Carl notes Roland S. Martin's "ABC anchor Gibson blasts New York Magazine for over Africa comments, says he was 'misquoted'" (The Chicago Defender):

ABC World News Tonight anchor Charles Gibson told a Chicago radio station Wednesday that he was misquoted in a New York magazine article that called into question the reporting of news from Africa.
During a 16-minute interview on WVON-AM's "The Roland S. Martin Show," Gibson responded to a May 29th article by Joe Hagan in New York Magazine titled, "
Charles in Charge."
According to the Q and A, Hagan asked Gibson if he would be traveling around the globe as much as his competitor, NBC's Brian Williams.
Gibson's response? "That's because of Katrina; you saw him going down there. Now he's in Africa. I don't know why you do that. Why the hell do you go to Africa? It's certainly an interesting choice. We'll do travel, when it warrants."
After the issue was discussed for an hour on WVON, Gibson called into the show to respond.
"This guy, who I will never talk to again from New York magazine who is something of a snake, he took my quote and I think perverted the meaning of it to indicate in some way that I was insensitive to news from one of the five major continents in the world," he said.

From Hagan's article:

[Hagan]:You were rejected for this job so recently--do you feel vindicated?
[Gibson] No, this is not vindication. It’s really circumstance. [TV news critic] Andrew Tyndall said this is a slap in the face to women, but Elizabeth has had a very tough pregnancy. The doctors said she better knock it off and get in bed.

The doctors said that, did they, Charlie? To you? What a loser. Stealing the jobs of a pregnant woman and an injured man (injured in Iraq) and then trying to act like it's all for the best. (See "TV commentary: About the women.")

Check out (LANGUAGE WARNING) "My interview with Kat" for Mike's interview with Kat.
Kayla e-mailed last night about Rebecca's "more marine news and talking about my grandmother." It's more than worth reading but for anyone worried about Rebecca's grandmother, she was fine. She phoned Rebecca this morning, after reading Rebecca's post, and stated she was just upset about Haditha and what she was sure would be more to come [she's right, see "And the war drags on . . . (Indymedia Roundup)"]. Kayla was worried about Rebecca and I was too when I read the e-mail. We were on the phone throughout last night's indymedia roundup entry and she called this morning (that's who I've been on the phone with during this link-fest) as soon as she got off the phone with her grandmother. So all is well. This evening/tonight, Rebecca and I are planning on doing a joint entry. Among the topics we hope to tackle are the issue of collective guilt. Hannah Arendt quote:

Where all are guilty, no one is; confessions of collective guilt are the best possible safeguard against the discovery of culprits, and the very magnitude of the crime the best excuse for doing nothing.

By the way, this morning's "NYT: Re: Haditha, ask the Times for a correction" -- for any who are confused, possibly they don't read the print edition -- the Times needs to offer a correction on their original Haditha reporting, that's basic. It's all the more basic when not a day goes by without the paper printing a full page for themselves saying something to the effect of "Students, meet your new research assistant." Meaning? The paper itself. If it's going to sell its own accuracy, it needs to correct its mistakes.

Remember to listen, watch or read (transcripts) of Democracy Now! today. Among today's guests are John Burroughs and David Albright. And Jim Hightower is one of the guests on KPFA's The Morning Show this morning.

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