Saturday, June 23, 2007

8 US service members announced dead in Iraq

Today, the [PDF format warning] US military announced, "An MNC-I Airman died of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle Saturday in Tikrit."
And [PDF format warning] they announced: "Four Mulit-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed when a roadside bomb detonated near a Coalition vehicle during combat operations northwest of Baghdad June 23. An Iraqi interpreter was also attacked." And they announced: "A Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldier died from a non-battle related cause June 23. The incident is under investigation." And they announced: "Two Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed and three others were wounded when their unit was struck by a roadside bomb, then received small arms fire in eastern Baghdad early June 23."

8 deaths have been announced today. The ICCC number for US service members killed in the illegal war since it started in March 2003 is currently 3555. AP is running with headlines of 7 killed (by roadside bombings) and ignoring the incident involving "non-battle related cause".

We're staying with the public account for this entry. (I'll have the normal entry -- Times, Margaret Kimberley, et al -- later this morning. Betty's working on her latest chapter right now so I'll wait to do that entry.) An e-mailer who says to call him "Mark P" is in a tizzy that Adam Kokesh uses the f-word at his site and says I have two standards.

Actually, I have many standards. But in terms of language, I'm only responsible for what's here. Here, we try to be work-safe because some community members check from work computers and some only have the option of checking from work computers. That's here and that's how it's been from day one here. Rebecca uses the f-word at her site all the time. Every community member knows it is not work-safe and I never note that when I link to Rebecca because just seeing Rebecca's name is the clue to members. When I link to anyone else in the community's site and know there's a word that might cause trouble, I will do "language warning" (in some wording) because that might not be expected from their sites. (With The Third Estate Sunday Review, if the f-word is used -- all letters spelled out -- or something else that might cause trouble -- a mass e-mail is sent out to those checking the site on work computers who have guidelines at their job.)

To be clear, my language 'standard' only applies to my not wanting anyone to be written up for something I've written. In my own daily life, I use the f-word. I have no objection to curse words. And I'm also not concerned with visitors. My only responsiblity is to community members.

As for Adam Kokesh's use of the f-word. Two obvious things there. One, if you're only now discovering that he can and will use the f-word, then let me say, "Good, you're finally learning about his story." (Did any mainstream report not stress language as they distorted his story?)
Second of all, he's a grown man and he served in the Marines. If you think he's going around saying "darn" and "shoot" no wonder you (Mark P) also write that you "still support George Bush" -- obviously reality and you have an estranged relationship.

Mark P thinks that "leftists who use swear words reveal they are not all about peace." That's an opinion and Mark P's entitled to have it (and I'm entitled to disagree). But in terms of Kokesh (the subject of Mark P's long and rather obsessive e-mail), Kokesh isn't a "leftist." He's got an education so he knows what "libertarian" is when he uses the term. (Some don't. Some here "libertarian" and think it means "liberalism" -- sad but true.) Mark Levine's Inside Scoop interviewed Kokesh for the hour. Go to the site, it's Monday's interview. Kokesh (again) self-describes a libertarian. So he is not a "leftist."

Mark P goes on to use all of the Bully Boy's pre-war lies for the illegal war and he notes he can be quoted in full. I won't quote. I do get that choice (and the choice to completely ignore an e-mail) and I have no interest in repeating lies long since revealed to be lies. He ends his e-mail obsessing over Adam Kokesh's crotch which, I will assume, is the real source of his obsession with Kokesh (even if Mark P can't or won't admit it to himself).

Also noted at the public account was Bill Fletcher Jr.'s "Choices for Black Labor" (The Black Commentator) was noted at the public e-mail account:

I came of age politically in the middle of the Black Power movement. Within the ranks of organized labor, both the Black Power movement and the Anti-Vietnam War movement had a significant impact through the mid-1970s. Caucuses were being formed to challenge the bureaucratic leaderships of many unions. Wild-cat strikes were taking place in workplaces around the country. And in some locales, independent unions were being established, where workers had concluded that the established union movement was incapable of making any significant changes to address the needs and demands of rank and file workers. At the national level, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists emerged as a major voice, arguing that organized labor needed to take a new and different look at the Black worker, a look and engagement that was based on the need for respect and equality.
As we enter the 21st century, Black labor is in disarray. Within the ranks of organized labor, the various institutions that have often spoken on its behalf, have ossified. Black caucuses in various unions have stepped back from challenging and pushing the union leaderships and, instead, have in all too many cases, degenerated into social clubs or step-ladders for individuals to get positions within the union structure. While there are greater numbers of Black staff and, in some cases, elected leaders, there is an emphasis on acceptability - to the leadership of organized labor - within the ranks of the movement, rather than an emphasis on challenge and struggle.
How this situation evolved would be the material around which a book could be written. Suffice to say that the economic crisis affecting Black America, a crisis that became very evident in the mid-1970s, cut the ground beneath a major portion of the Black working class. Combined with political attacks on Black America by the Right, we went on the defensive. In organized labor, the declining percentage of workers organized in unions, along with the brutal climate built up during the Ronald Reagan years, worsened the conditions under which struggle could take place.

That's an excerpt. It's a very strong essay. That came in earlier this week (Wednesday) and there wasn't time for it. Our focus is Iraq. Including it is another reason I'm doing this grab bag entry. ("Grab bag"? Mark P's back to drooling and dreaming of Adam.)

A college student working on a paper e-mailed to say she wants to quote from Amy Goodman's interview with Jimmy Presson about how his high school silenced and censored all discussion "and even any mention" of the illegal war but the link was not working last night. The section noted Friday and Wednesday (noted here) was from Democracy Now!'s official transcript. So unless I have a typo, you can quote that if the site's not working. (She also tried going to the Democracy Now! site last night and it wouldn't display.) DN! puts the name of the speaker (before the ":") in all caps. Anytime you see that here, it's usually a copy and paste from the transcript. If only the first letter in the first and last name is caps, that's my transcribing (either because the transcript wasn't yet up or because I didn't have time to go to the site). For more of the interivew (or to verify the transcript), on the left are the things we link to. Pacifica Radio carries the show over to their site and you're looking for Wednesday's show. WBAI, KPFK and KPFA have archives. Use the links on the left, access any archives (we even have links on the left to go straight to the archives). Most communiy members find KPFA the easiest to navigate because their archives are by day -- there's even a calander you can use to click on the day in question -- while WBAI and KPFK tend to offer a long list of broadcasts that you have to scroll down through. I'd further recommend KPFA because they are keeping their archives. Other stations are doing 90 days or less. KPFA is building an online archive. To get Wednesday's show (if you're reading this today or within approximately 90 days of this going up), you can utilize any of the Pacifica stations. After that, you'll have Democracy Now!'s website and KPFA.

She, the college student, is working on a paper currently and also thinks she could build this into a bigger topic in the fall for a journalism class she'll be taking. She wondered if there was "a hard copy of this or any other episode"? Democracy Now! offers DVDs of all their programs -- correction, they offer discs. Democracy Now! wasn't always also visual. Some of the earliest shows (it's in it's eleventh year now) are just audio because it was a radio program only at that time. But all broadcasts are available for purchase (I believe it's $30 for a disc but look that up and each purchase goes to supporting the program's continuation). You can order online or, during the week, I believe they still have a number you can call. You can also use regular, postal mail to send in a check or money order with the date of the broadcast you'd like a copy of. (The address for that, as well as the prices, are at their website.)

Democracy Now! got linked to (in this entry) and not stations or Pacifica Radio because I know that web address. (I also know Sir! No Sir! by heart.) That's probably because Amy Goodman gives it out on air. But I'm not hunting down links for what I hoped was a quick entry. (All stations mentioned and Pacifica Radio are linked to on the left of this site.)

Brad forwarded an e-mail that we addressed Thursday in "And the war drags on" (scroll down or use the weekly archive, I'm trying to finish this entry). It's also been sent to the public account so we'll note it again. I commented in "And the war drags on" so you can find my comments there. Here's the e-mail:

Dear Member of the Nation Community,
One-half million dollars. That's what the latest round of rate-juggling by the United States Postal Service will cost The Nation in the next year. Rate increases go into effect July 15, 2007. We are fighting this increase as best we can, but even if we "win," which is a long shot, we are still facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional postage. Now it's time to accept the reality: The Nation needs your help and we need it now. Click here. Here's the history of this situation:
In an unprecedented move, postal regulators rejected the rate plan submitted by the United States Postal Service in favor of a complex scheme designed by Time Warner, the country's largest publisher!
The new plan gave much lower increases, or in some cases decreases, to mega-magazines like Time Warner's own Time, People and Sports Illustrated, shifting the burden to smaller publications like The Nation.
We were given just eight working days to prepare a response to the 758-page rate plan before it was declared a fait accompli. The result: an 18% increase in postal costs for The Nation.
Please help now. For the media mastodons that increasingly control the information that gets out to you and their Washington flacks, it's just business as usual. For The Nation it's a potential disaster -- but not exactly a surprise. We have two choices: start cutting back on our investigative reporting and coverage of what’s missing in the mainstream/corporate media, and on our efforts to expand our outreach programs to students and decision-makers. Or hope that friends and supporters like you will help us fill the shortfall. Click here to help.
Given the state of things in this country at this time, and a historically decisive election on the horizon, the timing couldn't be more critical. We need your help, if you can possibly give it, and we need it now. In advance, accept our very real gratitude.
Teresa Stack, President
P.S. We will shortly be inviting you to a very special phone conference to discuss the postal rate increase issue in more depth. Join your fellow Nation readers, Nation editors and writers, as well as special guest experts and learn more about this serious issue. Stay tuned!

A visitor notes Laura Flanders' show in an e-mail (he enjoys it but enjoyed it more when it was live and three hours on Saturday and three on Sunday -- no one in this community would disagree with you on that). He's afraid that the community (or at least me) has dropped their support for the program and he says, if it continues to get support, Air America Radio will realize their mistake and return to it live and a longer broadcast. Dealing with the latter first. Air American realize a mistake? You must be a new listener to Air America Radio.

Laura Flanders anchored the weekend and was the weekend face for the network. The fact that, when they are already monkeying around with their week day schedule, they think they can also alter their weekend demonstrates that the new owners are just as lost as all the ones before. Even a minor change can cause an uproar, so you do one thing at a time and, if you're reworking the week days, you leave the weekend alone to provide consistency. It was a huge mistake on their part to mess with the show. It's also true that Flanders now freed from having to spend every weekend in the studio might not even want to return to giving up each Saturday and Sunday night.

But we still support Flanders. Hold on. Okay, checked with Jim because we've toyed with writing about this at The Third Estate Sunday Review. (It's the summer read edition tomorrow.) He said it was fine to grab the consensus for this entry because we probably won't have time to get to it anytime soon.

The Nation magazine is barely worth reading most weeks now. The idea that Flanders' program is now used solely to push that magazine has not enchanted us anymore than losing her wonderful monologues or the five hours extra it used to be. Flanders focus was wide ranging and included the illegal war. One of the biggest hits the new program takes is discussions on Iraq because the magazine isn't interested. Having to promote a weekly magazine for one hour isn't a show. There have already been guests on discussing articles that we didn't feel were worth publishing and we certainly didn't feel they were worth hearing about.
If The Nation were smart, they'd have one guest from the magazine (the show is entitled RadioNation with Laura Flanders) who came on for part of the show. They would then let Flanders do what she does so well and provide a mix for the rest of the show. That would increase interest in the magazine because, for instance, if she has Rickie Lee Jones on and someone tunes in for that and also hears from David Corn about his article in the magazine (I can mention Corn without fear of boos and hisses, can't say the same about others), then the magazine may be picked up by someone who wouldn't normally do so. As it is, the program is now an advertisement for the magazine that really is only for the devoted. (I'm speaking in terms of guest. Flanders draws her own crowd and has earned it.) Mother Jones tried this approach on Air America and it didn't work out very well.

Reducing the (now reduced to an hour) program to just the scope of what The Nation covers in print and guests to those who have articles in that week's magazine (the 'weekly' sometimes does double issues) really reduces Flanders' scope and her power and, in doing so, reduces the interest. We'll probably not hear Patrick Cockburn, Rickie Lee Jones, Kate Taylor, Phyllis Bennis, or any of the other guests we came to expect and to enjoy. And going non-live means none of the call ins, from listeners (which included, one Saturday, Susan Sarandon).

This community likes Flanders. This community is bored and angered with so many in independent media's refusal to address Iraq. At a time when Iraq is not even the focus of one independent media program, the shift to an hour long infomercial for each week's edition of the magazine (a magazine which is really not concerned with Iraq) isn't going over well. Flanders was a strong voice on the war. Having her discuss dippy, sh**ty articles on things that are not pressing doesn't fly with this community. And too much of The Nation is about follow the leader as opposed to providing leadership, too much is about responding as opposed to standing.

It is a huge mistake, HUGE, to turn Flanders' show into an infomercial. She should be allowed to do what she did. In terms of promoting the magazine, if you really want to promote it, you grasp that a mix is necessary. You grasp that most AAR listeners have heard the constant commercials and know the magazine is out there. They are not unaware of it. To make them pick up the magazine, you need a draw and a draw is not "let's review what's in this week's issue." A draw is a guest from outside the magazine that listeners will make a point to listen to. Whether it's an artist, an activist or what have you. And tuning in because you're a Holly Near fan, for instance, to hear Holly Near and then also hearing Katha Pollitt discuss a column might make you pick up the magazine. But no one's served by "Here's what in this issue and are guests wrote for this week's issue." Listeners aren't served and the magazine's not served. The program goes from a wide ranging program that could give the magazine exposure to an isolated clump of listeners who are already reading and aware of the magazine.

That's idiotic. The Nation, like Angelina Jolie, is not box office. Ava and I shared our thoughts on the movie last Sunday. But sure enough there was one of the Water Cooler Set in the New York Times yesterday calling Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie the biggest stars of the year. They aren't. Check the box office, neither can pull in an audience on their own. Brad Pitt's gotten by on the fact that people hope he is the next Robert Redford but nothing in his box office demonstrates that. Take out the group films and he's got nothing but a lot of films America avoided (Seven Years In Tibet, Meet Joe Black, etc.) . Team him with Morgan Freeman or the Ocean's crowd and he can be in a hit film. He has never, to this day, demonstrated that he can carry or open a film. Jolie is almost exactly the same. Have her in sexy garb and she stands a better chance at carrying a film. (Have her go full out, as with that film co-starring Antonio Banderas, and no one wants to see it. It's a fine line. Tease, don't show.)

The Times can pimp them as movie stars but if movie star means (as it's supposed to) filling the seats, neither has demonstrated a record of doing that. (In the tease films, Lara Croft, Jolie has a better record than Pitt.) They have demonstrated that they can interest tabloid readers and viewers of tabloid TV in their off screen lives. In fact, from Juliette Lewis, through Gwenth, through Jennifer, up to Jolie, Brad Pitt's made quite a name for himself out of who he's been involved with. (Something Redford didn't have to do in order to be famous or to be box office.) He's not made a name for himself as an actor who can get audiences to pay for what he does on the big screen. That's reality. That's reality for Jolie as well though, with the Lara Croft films, she did carry those and they did interest audiences. The bulk of her career, audiences have avoided her films and stuck to the tabloid stories.

Though heavily pimped, the Danny Pearl story will not change that. That's due to the fact that the performance isn't that interesting (and Michelle Pfeiffer may want her Russia House accent back -- Michelle Pfeiffer gave a strong performance in The Russia House) in a film that's pure TV movie it makes futher mistakes by casting Danny Pearl as sitcom nebbish. Pearl was a very good looking man. Ben Affleck could have played the part and there might be some interest in the film. No one needs that film. No one wants to see it. No one's interested in it. Jolie can work the premiere and fool the Water Cooler Set at the Times but she can't fill seats in a theater.

By the same token, a line up of guests from The Nation doesn't provide enough of a mix to make for a strong radio program. You need a mix. Interest in the program at this point is all due to Laura Flanders and how long even someone as talented as she is can keep that up while having to promote one magazine, week after week, will be answered quickly. (I believe the answer's already in.) The magazine should promote one guest and one guest only on her show and allow her to mix the rest of her program up the way she did before. That would actually draw interest to the magazine.

Lastly, a visitor wants this linked to. It's linked to. It's not excerpted. The facts in that piece are in question and go against what Adam Kokesh has stated publicly re: college to give just one example. The same visitor e-mailed that four times. It has been linked to. It will not be excerpted because, though well intentioned (and well written in other parts), the Kokesh retelling seems to be at odds with the public record. Both Kokesh and his attorney have stated that his college funds should not be effected.

The e-mail address for this site is

amy goodman
democracy now