Thursday, July 24, 2008

I Hate The War

Two years earlier a soldier like those, who openly opposes the Iraq war, quietly returned to his home in Utah. Sgt. Marshall Thompson had served in the military as a journalist for six years, previously in Kosovo, from where he returned proud of the work he had done. Returning from Iraq was a very different experience. "I just had to do something," he since said about that time. "This is an unjust war. I couldn't not do something."
What he decided to do was to set out on a 500-mile walk for peace across the conservative, pro-war state of Utah and to make a documentary about the journey. Many people who now oppose the war are branded in the media and by certain members of the government as un-American, unpatriotic, or worse, some sort of enemy of the state. It would be difficult to label Sgt. Thompson in this way. He is a devout Mormon and the son of a former Mayor of Logan, Utah, not to mention a soldier who has served for a significant amount of time. In fact, he considers himself to be very patriotic.
The film that documents Thompson's story will be screened on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Westhaven Center in Trinidad. It is being presented by Ted Pease, a journalism professor at Utah State University, who lives locally when he is not in Utah. Pease knows Thompson from the days when he was his teacher and they have remained friends.

The above is from Robyn Hillman-Harrigan's "A Soldiers Peace to be screened at Westhaven Center" (Times-Standard). Meanwhile, Edward Colimore's "A move to take care of 'stop-loss' service members" (Philadelphia Inquirer) reports on a Congressional bill 'addressing' stop-loss. Stop-loss is the (illegal) policy by which Bully Boy has extended service members' length of service. The service contract has been completed but instead of moving towards discharge, Bully Boy is claiming a national emergency and extending service. If the Iraq War has caused a "national emergency" for the United States, you certainly can't tell it by the tiny trickle of reporting on the Iraq War. So Congress has decided to 'address' it. By writing a law making clear how unlawful the policy is? No, by tossing out a few dollars at the problem -- "an additional $1,500 a month of extnded duty . . . retroactive to October 2001". If this is step-one, it's needed. It's past due. But if this is the 'fix,' it's not repairing anything. From the article:

Though also in favor of the additional pay, Kristopher Goldsmith said he would much rather see stop-loss ended. The policy, he said, nearly ended his life.
A former Army sergeant, the Long Island, N.Y., resident served in Iraq in 2005, returned home, and was called up again - under a stop-loss order - to be part of the troop surge last year.
"Instead of being a civilian again and starting my life, I was doing the polar opposite: putting on a uniform and returning to Iraq," said Goldsmith, a member of
Iraq Veterans Against the War, an anti-war group with 47 chapters across the country.
"I had come back with pretty severe PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] and depression and was having panic attacks."
He said he attempted suicide on Memorial Day last year and received a general discharge.
Such stories leave former soldiers such as Steve Mortillo, 25, of West Philadelphia, unimpressed by the extra money being sought for the troops.
"I'm glad people realize the situation soldiers are in," said Mortillo, an Army specialist who served in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 and is president of the Philadelphia chapter of
Iraq Veterans Against the War, which has 1,200 members.
The extra pay "is better than nothing, but it doesn't address the larger issue."

Now we're into the talking entry portion. Jess wrote "Dear Late To The Party" this evening. He has every right to express his opinion, he's doing me a favor by helping out with the e-mails. I'm not disagreeing with anything he wrote, but I am going to address some of what's behind it.

The Cult of St. Barack has been very illuminating and demonstrated just how many posers make up the 'left' as they repeatedly found ways to excuse the War Hawk. Jeremy Scahill 'cut him slack' for his plan to keep contractors in Iraq and savaged Hillary who was moving to the position Scahill claimed to support. Allan Nairn, pressed, had to admit that Barack took Big Money but then quickly added the ridiculous 'justification' that if Barack didn't take the money, Big Money wouldn't trust him. Poor Barack. You had Dave Lindorff nonsense that Barack should be supported as "a black candidate who has risked jail by doing drugs". You had Amy Goodman turning over her program -- and all journalistic standards -- to the Barack campaign. Pick any example but the BIGGEST ETHICAL problem was her bringing on Melissa Harris-Lacewell to discuss the New Hampshire primary and allowing MH-L to talk about the candidates (she ignored Hillary -- that would be the winner of the New Hampshire primary) and allowing Melissa Harris-Lacewell to deliver a testimonial on a Barack speech she 'just happened' to catch when MH-L has been campaigning for Barack since 2007 and Goodman damn well knew that. You do not let someone who is part of the campaign come on your program and praise the candidate without informing your audience that the person is part of the campaign. Had she been an employee NPR and pulled that stunt, it would have been grounds for dismissal. Obviously Pacifica has no standards. If you missed it, that's how KPFA offered a two-hour 'analysis' of the Texas debate that featured only Barack endorsers but Larry Bensky and KPFA failed to inform the listeners of that. Hillary lost that debate they cried (or "cackled" to use the term Laura Flanders seemed unable to stop repeating) and the listeners had a right to know that these 'independent' judgments were coming from people who had endorsed Barack. There are many more examples and you can include Robert Parry's latest attempt to scare up votes for Barack: The Supreme Court! You might get another John Roberts! Uh, Barack's adviser Cass is the 'left' voice that made Roberts acceptable.

Everyone's sick of the lies and the liars. "Alternative Media" is not supposed to translate as "Democratic Party Organ." So there is a factor of disillusionment at play.

In terms of whom Jess is replying to, we're talking about a Green who thought she had a right to butt into a Democratic primary, who practiced Hillary Hatred and who pimped Barack. As offensive as all of that is, it was her attempt to lecture Ty about how awful racism is. And her attempt to minimize Barack's use of homophobia. For the record, Ty doesn't need a White straight woman to tell him about either topic. As an African-American male, he knows racism personally, he doesn't need to hear lectures on how awful it is from a White woman. As a gay man, he doesn't need to hear the same Barack-Loving-Freak tell him how homophobia isn't that important. I got dragged into that because when she continued to persist with her e-mails, Ty was too upset to write her back.

So when she e-mailed today and Jess saw it and saw her attempting to order me to cover a topic (a topic we've covered for weeks now but why should she be more informed today than she's been all year?), he'd just had enough. None of us have ever e-mailed anyone saying, "Please highlight us." And Jess is just damn sick of all these people, especially that woman, showing up to take from this community when they never give anything.

It goes into the nonsense another woman pulled. A four day event produced many panels. We praised all but one. Instead of accepting the fact that, as critics, we're not just going to toss out roses, she went from person to person, e-mailing, trying to turn us against each other. While the panel was called out at Third, in the same edition, Ava and I included strong aspect from it in our TV commentary. So it's not as though it just got a pan. But that wasn't good enough, it had to be 100% love from us or nothing at all.

That's not how it works. We're not for sale and we don't take money from anyone.

We are responsible only for this community and only to tell the truth as best we can and as we see it.

Which brings us to that idiotic e-mail on July 4th.

ABC News reported something. Some idiot has to e-mail in (and, yes, he was speaking for the war resister in question) and scream and yell at me about how I hadn't done this or done that (I had covered the topics he said I hadn't) and yell his conspiracy theories about ABC and his nonsense about how I blindly accept the MSM.

I had made all the points he supposedly wanted made but reading is apparently too damn difficult. Now The Nation's 'online exclusive' repeated the ABC story and I seriously doubt he (or the war resister) e-mailed screaming at them.

That soured everyone. And we're still having to deal with the fall out everytime it's time to write another edition for Third. Yes, one bad apple can spoil everything for everyone. Especially when they're manipulative.

Now none of us expect thank yous or praise for covering war resisters (when they are ignored by every outlet in Panhandle Media). But we also don't expect little meltdowns from video artistes.

That goes straight to the lack of gratitude that Jess feels and that a number of others feel.

It's also irritating because this community is not for sale. No one helped build it, the community built itself. There's no pledge drives, there's no asking for money. As Gina has long pointed out, this is a private conversation in a public sphere. If you don't like it, move on to other sites.

There's another area that I'm not supposed to know about because it involves someone I know and like. But I do know about it. Despite Ruth not saying a word to me about it. Ruth called out a media critic for his silence on the sexism in the Democratic primary. As I'm guessing it happened, he e-mailed Ruth a private e-mail where he objected to her 'tone' (this part is really not guessing, she wrote about it without identifying him and implying that he might just be a drive-by, he wasn't, he was a media critic). He got the e-mail back from her where she explained (in a tone he approved of) where he was failing. She took her responses public noting at her site that if a dialogue was sincerely wanted, then have that dialogue in public where others could explore it as well. At which point, no more e-mails.

What appears to have happened is he didn't like being called out for sleeping on the job, he wanted a private e-mail exchange where Ruth would speak the way he wanted to speak. That is BULLS**T. I like him, I know him, but that is bulls**t. Don't try to shame people for calling you out for not doing your job. You want a dialogue, have one with Ruth publicly.

That's offended people. It's offended them because Marcia has let it rip on the person in question and he KNOWS to avoid Marcia because she's not going to put up with any of that s**t. Rebecca wouldn't either. And Elaine made it clear (with AlterPunk) that you snarl and hiss at her, she'll take your e-mail public and not even delete your e-mail address when she does.

You can yell and scream all you want if you've been written about. You can't try to manipulate and that's what's behind all of the anger, that some try to manipulate. The panel we didn't care for resulted in rushing to Rebecca, to Mike, to Elaine, to me. I don't know who else, but it was a long list. Trying to turn us against one another. It's not going to happen.

Ruth was really excited by an e-mail praising her work from a site we used to highlight. It was nothing but a fishing expedition. Ruth was trusting. That site is not linked to anymore by any of us as a result. Ruth and Jess are both trusting and you screw with them and you piss us all off.

FAIR wrote this site, with an apology. Jess replied for me and included a few comments on his own. I didn't ask him about the e-mail, I asked him to reply, but I never asked him what he wrote. So imagine my shock when I'm hearing about what he wrote not from him but from a friend at The Nation. I can't believe it. I insist FAIR wouldn't have forwarded Jess' e-mail to The Nation. My friend says, "Okay, check your inbox right now, I'm sending it to you." All this time later and Jess has still not gotten an apology. In fairness, FAIR -- in their apology -- was forwarding me e-mails from a journalist to them. I didn't know that and would have told Jess not to bother replying if I had known that. FAIR wanted to apologize to me and wanted to then score some brownie points with The Nation by forwarding Jess' e-mail. That's disgusting. Jess didn't say anything embarrassing. He did reveal that we would be posting our six month study on how few women The Nation was publishing on July 4th. That's why Ben rushed in with his e-mail trying to kill that story. On July 2nd. That's why Ben thought Third didn't have an e-mail address. It was briefly down when the templates switched -- something noted by Jess in his reply to FAIR.

We could go on and on with a long, long list. And I don't know the bulk of them. I haven't read all the e-mails to the public account since January 2005. It's too much for one person. Martha and Shirley give me a report and Eli gives me a report. That's how they prefer to handle it. Ava and Jess can handle any e-mail anyway they want. And if they handle it, there's no reason to even bring me in on it. If it's an e-mail from someone complaining about something that I wrote about them or their work, I will read that. And it doesn't have to be polite and I don't get my feelings hurt.

But what's really going on is the attempts at manipulation. That started very early with something Kat wrote where a man wanted her to retract what she wrote. One sentence where she said stupid Bernie can love Bob Dylan or not. And Bernie has a meltdown that she said he loved Bob Dylan. No, she said "can." Can implies ability. But Kat's attitude is pretty much the attitude non-stop in this community. We've had our say, have your say. She told Bernie she'd post whatever comment he wanted at her site. But that wasn't what he wanted. He wanted her to post these statements of praise about him -- but as if she was writing them.

That's not how it works. You cannot put words into someone else's mouth. That whole thing was so ridiculous and offensive. Kat's post only mentioned jerk-off Bernie in one sentence (the "can" sentence). He'd already responded by falsifying a sentence from her. (He took a sentence at her site and intentionally misquoted it -- refusing to correct it unless she posted his words as her own at her site.) Kat didn't give a damn what he wrote about her and he had no other blackmail so he (and his partner) slowly slinked away.

Nobody has to like us. We're not in the running for a popularity contest or the congeiality title. But we're tired of the attempts at manipulation. We're tired of the "I'll pretend to be high-minded and I want a dialogue and then when I get something like, 'Maybe you're not sexist,' I'll get my nut and blow." Ruth needs to go back to critiquing that person by name. Her critiques were valid. She was not wrong to make them. Because I know him, she felt she was in bind. She hasn't talked to me about this (and no one's run back to me to tell me) but I can tell from what she wrote what went down.

And while all this backstory intrigue plays out, what is Panhandle Media doing to end the illegal war? Not a damn thing. They have all the time in the world for their private e-mails, for their private whines. And I need to take accountability here because I did tolerate it myself and it put others in a position where they felt they had to. Mike gets screamed at by some lunatic who praised Barack on TV and Mike feels badly about that? He shouldn't have and Kat and I both told him to let it rip in response at his site because Mike was being nice. All he had to do was quote the man from that TV broadcast.

Save your firey e-mail speeches about how you don't really support Barack but if you call him out it's hard to get work and ___ won't have you on their show or ___ won't publish you or whine, whine, wah, wah. You sell yourself, that's your business. You sell yourself in the public sphere, get ready for criticism. That's a given. Don't do it in public if you can't take criticism of it.

If we're creamed at another site, we don't sob. We don't even sob when we're regularly ripped off. We don't e-mail the sites and say, "How dare you! Let's have a private conversation!" We don't e-mail at all. We're focused on what we need to do. But others have all the time in the world to devise these (not so) complex schemes of how they'll manipulate the community. "I know," some must be thinking to themselves, "I'll tell Rebecca that Elaine's not just trashing me, she's also getting her digs in at Rebecca!" Which, for the record, a mainstream reporter attempted to do. Foolish, foolish man. Rebecca, Elaine and I went to college together, we lived together, we have a decades long friendship. You're not the first man who thought you could come between our friendship, and you're not the first man to learn that, no, you couldn't. But you had plenty of time to scheme -- from your work e-mail -- and plot that out.

At this point, we really don't reply to private e-mails. For all the reasons above and many more. One more example? David Swanson showing up to tell Rebecca what a fan he was of her site and blah, blah, blah. Rebecca responds to him and then finds an e-mail from Lennox Yearwood in her inbox. She opens it. He's out of the country. He has his e-mail set up to automated reply. David Swanson 'shared' her e-mail with Yearwood without telling Rebecca. In fact, he shared it right after she sent it. In other words, he wrote Rebecca to get some information and then immediately started forwarding it. Who knows to how many? But when Rebecca calmly confronted him on it (I know Rebecca and I've read the e-mails, she was calm -- mainly because she was in shock -- she actually liked Swanson), he started denying he'd forwaded her e-mail. She was crazy! She was nuts! It never happened. But she was looking right at it (and I've seen the print out). He didn't realize that the automated reply meant Rebecca would be cc-ed. So little stunts like that, little manipulations means we're not interested in private conversations. (Yearwood is not linked to or mentioned here as a result of that. That really hurt Rebecca's feelings because she thought Swanson was someone trustworthy. Due to the fact that she'd written Yearwood to ask if he was involved in this or it was being forwarded without her knowledge, and due to the fact that he never saw fit to reply to her, I wrote him. He no longer exists to this community -- however, Betty, Cedric and Ty were already on record at Third as being tired of his s**t before that took place.)

So when the White woman who felt it was her place to both dismiss homophobia and to attempt to tell Ty how hard it was to be Black e-mails ordering me to cover something and Jess sees it today, he's had enough from her. Even with my explaining clearly how upset Ty was and why, she never felt the need to apologize to him. She is White Green, she knows all. So what if she came off racist to Ty (who was the one replying to her e-mails in the past) and insulted him. She didn't care. Not enough to e-mail and apologize. Though she's been happy to e-mail non-stop requesting links for this and links for that. And then today she decided she could try to order me to cover something. (Which I may now ignore because I don't take orders.) Jess saw the e-mail and it was the last straw for him. I don't blame him one bit.

All of the things mentioned above (and there are many more examples that could be provided) go to attempts to manipulate. You can't manipulate this community, you can't take over it, you can't control it. In the end, we will always stand with each other. It doesn't matter how 'big' you think your name is or how wonderful you think you are. If you're not a community member, you are an outsider and you do not dictate to this community.

When Panhandle Media decided that 'independent' translated as "lie for a War Hawk," we didn't drink the Kool-Aid. We didn't fret the bullying e-mails. As an outsider, you have no power in this community. And it's really amazing how so many had so much time to plot. Think about the time that went into e-mailing Mike, then Elaine (three times for Laine), then Rebecca, then Cedric, then me. Think how much time went into that "I will divide them!" plot. That time could have been better spent focusing on the illegal war. Especially in covering war resisters.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4122. Tonight? 4124. Just Foreign Policy lists 1,245,538 as the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the Iraq War up from 1,236,604.

In various forms, the talking entry has been addressed at other community sites. To put an end to it (hopefully), it's being addressed here. It has become a problem and may be one of the main reasons the writing editions for Third are taking so long. I'm not in the mood for a 36 hour writing session this weekend.

The community sites are:

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

And the community stands together.

The e-mail address for this site is