Yet, in a March 26 interview, no less an anti-war icon than Joan Baez cited Sheehan as one of a line of inspiring anti-establishment figures who plowed the ground in preparation for Obama's ascension.
"There was Cindy Sheehan, and now Obama," Baez was quoted as saying in a a recent interview in Canada's Edmonton Journal. "I've never felt that there was any government that spoke for me. Never. But you could say that anyone running for president that has the Life of Mahatma Gandhi in his top 10 book list, and puts compassion back in the English language, or considers speaking to heads of state that are supposedly "enemies" of ours, well, you have to take that seriously."
The above is from Matt Smith's "Anti-War Smackdown: Baez vs. Sheehan on Whether Obama Deserves His Own Camp Casey" (San Francisco Weekly) and we've been really, really kind and we've bit our tongues when it comes to Joan And a ___ To Sing With Baez. I'm really damn sick of Joan Baez at this point.
We could take this any number of ways. We could note how 'brave' bi-sexual Joan gets tons of snickers because it wasn't just Kim and her interest in Kim had to do somewhat with Kim also being Janis Joplin's lover. I'll set Mimi aside because I still appreciate Mimi and doubt very seriously Mimi, were she alive, would have pimped Barack. But the difference between Joan and Mimi was always that Mimi did her own work. She never needed an Ira or some other sap to give her a Little Golden Book entitled Political Complexities Made Simple.
Joan of course thrived on such things and was more than happy to let anyone and everyone else do the work for her.
Most of the time, I just roll my eyes and bite my tongue when it comes to Joan. Most of the time.
But then she decided to endorse a presidential candidate. For the first time ever. And please note, I've bit my tongue. I was asked to. I was told how hard life was for Joan these days, losing so many family members in such a short span of time, her mother moving in with her, blah, blah, blah. I even stared at Joan dumbfounded as she explained how Gabe (her son) 'brought her to Barack'. A conversion experience. That was hilarious.
So Joanie Phonie, as Al Kapp once dubbed her, found herself bathed in the blood of the War Hawk Barack and she had to testify. Sister Joan had to to convert others. So she WHORED out what little was left of her reputation, that small modicum of decency her name still carried, to endorse the War Hawk Barack.
She knows nothing about him. And best as most of us can tell, her endorsement was just some sort of penance for her continued use of the word "Negro" to describe anyone Black or African-American. She always thinks she's cute and funny when she does that. And you can tell her it's offensive and you can ask her to stop it and she refuses to. She's the Queen. The queen of what? Don't ever ask her that, she'll stare at you dumb founded. While many might take offense at many Americans thinking she was the basis for Bob Dylan's "Queen Jane Approximately" (it's not a nice song), Joan loves it. She loves it because she gets to be a "queen" but most of all, she loves it because it convinces her that even though Bob had Sarah, he must have felt something for her, just a little something. She wrote the pathetic "Diamonds and Rust" and he burned with "Queen Jane Approximately." What's really pathetic is she wrote "Diamonds and Rust" about him long after her he'd skewered her in "Queen Jane Approximately." But again, she saw the song as a compliment. It has to do with an oversized ego.
Queen? She's not a peace queen. A peace queen doesn't endorse Barack. Forget Sammy Power for a moment, forget Dennis Ross and just zoom in on Sarah Sewall and how she has worked extensively with the military throughout her adult career. Ava and I covered Sarah "Sewer," December of 2007, in "TV: Charlie Rose by any other name would still be as bad:"
For those not in the know about Sewer, when not appearing on TV to look like an unwashed freak who just pulled her hair to one side, is a Bloody War Hawk. Some call her a War Whore, but we try to avoid that term and just call her a War Hawk with an "ugly" sometimes tossed in. As a War Hawk she operates out of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy which is really just a fancy way of saying she's a Destruction Pusher. There's no place on the globe that she doesn't feel her big nose can be stuck in and should be stuck in. Granted, it is a large beak, a ski run -- if you will, and it probably is difficult for her to contain it in her so-so dwellings, but not only does no one need to see it, no one wants to.
As an Ugly War Hawk, she needs a running buddy and, as many stunted woman know, when you're butt-ugly, you hook up with someone even more butt-ugly so that you can be the 'pretty' one of the pair. Hence her hooking up with Monty who currently bastardizes and betrays the social science of anthropology in order to target populations for military operations.
Monty and Sewer teamed up with Mad Maddie Albright and other demented nut jobs to offer up the International Women Leaders Global Security Summit, which Rose was more than happy to promote. 'Global Security' isn't about peace and none of the women involved are 'leaders' -- though calling them criminals wouldn't be stretching the truth.
Monty's official bio by the org notes she's "a cultural anthropologist who works on defense and national security issues" and that she's a professor ("adjunct," not full) at the War Hawk institution John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. It's a threadbare bio but, when you're having to hawk that she published in Joint Forces Quarterly, there's not a great deal you can say about her work in her alleged field. Sewer's official bio brags about her work on "counterinsurgency and U.S. strategy in the 'long war'." It says nothing to the effect that "in her free time, Dr. Sewer likes to bite the heads off of kittens and set puppies on fire," but maybe that's implied?
Monty and Sewer worked on a little thing called the US Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. You may have seen that piece of War Porn advertised. Ourselves, we remember the third of the page advertisement that ran in the October 2007 issue of The Progressive (page 28) which included a blurb from The Problem From Hell Sammy Power. When Our Modern Day Carrie Nations is blurbing you, you know you're on the path, if not the eve, of destruction.
On that broadcast, Sarah's bragging about having Barack's ear, bragging about getting stuff in his speeches. And that is who Joan Baez endorsed, this century's LBJ.
She's still babbling about Barack because, apparently, Afghanistan lives don't matter to the 'Peace' Queen. Apparently, ending the war in Iraq doesn't matter to the 'Peace' Queen. Here's reality for Joan and her flunkies have shielded her from it but if she weren't so eager to live in ignorance, they wouldn't have been able to: She can't tour.
Joan toured Canada for a reason, she's destroyed her base in the US. In 2003, she had a very successful tour. It did better business than anyone could have predicted and it was supposed to be the comeback of Joan. She didn't just go to the safe spots like Boston, she went all over the country and she was received with this huge outpouring of love. That was in part for an incredible album (Dark Chords On A Big Guitar) which is probably the finest thing she's done since the sixties. But it was also because of who she was seen as. Her tour attracted crowds and these included large numbers of people who had never seen her live. The US had started the illegal war and people went to Joan's concerts knowing she would say something, she would speak out. And she didn't disappoint. She sewed up a fan base that should have carried her through the last act of her life.
They were there for her. And then she endorsed Barack. She's got the holdouts that will always be there. That demographic? It wasn't big enough to get her a recording contract in the eighties. Translation, twenty years ago, when she was quite a bit more fresh faced and her voice a lot more flexible, no label would touch her because she couldn't move units. Her audience was too small. She worked it up -- despite cat fights left and right. (And cat fights is the only word for it. When she can't, for example, get along with Sheena Easton, when Joan Baez feels Sheena Easton is a threat, Joan has a problem, a very serious one.) Though she'd never done s**t for any other women, she worked the 'we're all sisters in music' vibe during the 90s to try and increase her audience. But it was the Iraq War and that amazing Dark Chords On a Big Guitar album that gave her the chance to be legendary and not just weren't-you-someone-in-the-sixties?
She blew it.
She shot herself in the foot and slit her own throat.
The "Peace" Queen might endorse a Ralph Nader or a Cynthia McKinney, but she would never endorse a corporatist candidate and certainly not a War Hawk.
Joan's fans, the new ones, the ones who were going to allow her to have a career for two more decades, they're gone. They split the second she endorsed Barack. They're not coming back. The woman who stood up to LBJ and Richard Nixon, the woman who bragged that she was for peace and left or right didn't matter, peace did, that woman doesn't exist. If she ever did, current day Joan killed her off.
Now in fairness to Joan (whom I've known for many years), there was extreme pressure placed on many. And the biggest arm twisters, believe it or not, were the losers who endorsed Ralph Nader in 2000. I call them losers because they won't endorse him now. They ran from him following the 2000 election. The beared couple, the lavender one, with the infamous kiddie porn collection (they've learned to be more careful about where they have that film developed), for example. They ran from him. And they and a Jeff Chandler who fancied himself a star decided they were "Political Hollywood" and went around threatening and bullying people. (Their power has hugely eroded -- in part due to the election, in part due to box office proving they're non-stars and in part due to the fact that everyone's so damn sick of them and the orders they think they can issue. And, honestly, in part because the years are giving them bodies and faces that match their insides.) So you saw a lot of people, who quite frankly intended to stay out of the presidential race in the general election, make some mealy mouthed pro-Barack statement.
So that pressure and her own stupidity may account for why she makes inane remarks like the one Matt Smith's quoting above. But when she decided to hop on board, it hadn't come to that. She made her endorsement because she was told it would help with California's Latino vote. (She was already supporting Barack by that point, Gabe had brought her to him. When that became known, she was urged to make a public statement by several Barack Cultists at higher level. Hence her badly written San Francisco Chronicle column.) Now Hillary carried California and carried the Latino vote. That wasn't a surprise. Joan's name doesn't mean a damn thing to the Latino community because she's spent so many years avoiding it. This isn't Rita Moreno who has proudly embraced her roots and been embraced back.
Not only could she not pull in Latino support, she destroyed her own support. It was pointed out, by many, that in the Bay Area, she works with the Green Party more than any other so what the hell is she doing endorsing anyone not of the Green Party?
Her downfall is not unlike Michael Moore's. They were seen as truth tellers, not party hacks. Fat Ass Michael Moore is just an embarrassment. He's always been a bad film maker (for all the reasons Pauline Kael explored when trashing his first 'documentary') but he was seen as independent and someone who would call out anyone. Then he became a Democratic Party cheerleader. Convinced that if he didn't his career was over. He's craven and disgusting and that should have been clear to everyone when he was making 'jokes' about Mumia. They weren't jokes. Mumia Abu-Jamal is on death row and Michael Moore's writing 'C'mon, we all know he did it.' That wasn't funny. And to try to say it was a joke after? How about this, Michael, when your fat ass is on death row, we'll all make jokes about whether or not the first ten minutes in the electric chair would smell like someone was melting Crisco? Will that be funny?
Moore's no longer seen as independent (and his latest nonsense posted at Information Clearing House explains why) and he's not even seen as smart. Sicko should have been his biggest hit. It was an 'easy' topic and he had all the Democratic Party organs pimping that bad documentary. With all the easy publicity, it didn't top his Iraq film. Nothing ever will and the reason is because he has run off his audience. He did that, no one else. Now he may be able to have the level of 'success' Robert does (Robert Greenwald) in the future, but Robert's not box office. And Moore really isn't anymore either. He could have been the Hitchcock of documentaries (he certainly had the vanity for it) but instead he became a Democratic Party cheerleader.
Reality for Joan and Michael, the country has more non-Democrats than it does Democrats. That's not to say "more Republicans."
Check the voting records. See who shows up of those eligible -- not just those registered. A huge portion of Americans are not interested in the yes-you-did-no-you-didn't partisan shouting that passes for political dialogue in this country.
Joan and Michael could have been embraced by Democrats and Republicans and by those who were Greens, independents, swing-voters, etc as well as those who did not wish to participate in the election system in this country. Instead they allowed themselves to be turned into Democratic Party hacks. There's really no career in that or in being a Republican party hack. Find a Democratic Party hack with a career and chances are she (or he, but usually she) has a large, large gay following (meaning she's a gay icon). Otherwise?
There's really no career. And it's not that America abhors politics, it's that they don't care for hacks. Opposing the illegal war was never going to be a kiss of death career move. It was brave and even those who might disagree with you, could still respect you. (Provided you didn't go to Baghdad and deliver speeches asking for US soldiers to defect.) Because as Americans, we are taught to respect that brave stand. We don't all do that but enough of us do that someone taking a brave stand on the Iraq War didn't have to worry about a career ending. (Equally true is that taking a brave stand can turn a minor act into one with a lengthy career, much longer than would have taken place otherwise.)
But there are brave stands and there is cheerleading. Michael Moore's columns are 'wonderful, wonderful Dems.' His latest nonsense is praising the firing of the head of GM and, thing is, no intelligent person reading that column will not immediately wonder, "If Bush had done this would Moore be praising it or calling it a huge abuse of presidential power?" When that happens, you've lost your credibility. Truth tellers should never attempt to be party organs, it is the, roll credits, end.
This wasn't the planned entry. The planned entry was going to be about why Republicans in the Senate want Chris Hill to be the new ambassador. I may go into that in tomorrow's snapshot but may save it for Sunday night instead. But if the press trying to present Joan and Cindy Sheehan as two voices of peace with conflicting messages then it's important to stress that Joan's not a voice of peace and hasn't been for some time. She's a Barack cheerleader. That's all she is. And, no, Joan, it doesn't make up for using the term "Negro." You need to drop it, it's offensive.
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 4259. Tonight? 4263.
i hate the war