Saturday, April 28, 2007

Kat's Korner: Bright Eyes releases the studio album you've waited for


You were gone . . . you were gone from me
When I remember someone . . . I remember their dreams

Kat: The quotes from Stevie Nicks' "Enchanted," off her Wild Heart album. It's what echoes in my mind when I listen to Bright Eyes' Cassadaga which, like the quote, is haunted by what was, what no longer is. That's the thread running through song after song on the new CD.

Enclosed with the CD is a small booklet from Saddle Creek which lists various label releases including Cassadaga. They describe it: "Cassadaga brings a newfound sophistication to the Bright Eyes sound. A swirling, euphonious record, at times bursting with bombastic confidence and country swagger, and at others loose-limbed and mesmeric." I respond, "Blah, blah, blah."
But it does explain where some of the reviews are getting their cliff notes.

The first track, "Clairaudients (Kill or Be Killed)," may throw you. There's a woman (a psychic, presumably from Cassadaga, Florida) speaking and these sirens. Now that may fit the "newfound sophistication to the Bright Eyes sound" for some. Me? It only brought to mind Cass Elliot's "California Earthquake." Lyrically, it also conjures the same imagery of the end and it's an attention getting, eye opening track, no question. I don't think it's representative of the album and I don't think we're hearing a new sound.

Don't get me wrong, I think this is a great album. It will likely make my picks in December for best of 2007. But I'm not hearing a "newfound sound." What am I hearing?

Motion Sickness: Live Recordings. As I noted when I reviewed that live album in 2005, onstage, I love Bright Eyes. And maybe if you've never caught Conor Oberst live, you listen to the studio albums and are . . . well, enchanted. His song writing is certainly strong enough to fascinate. But seeing the band live and then hearing a studio release has always been, for me, like hearing a tribute band's recordings. It just doesn't make it for me.

A track here or there may. But it's all too smoothed over in the studio. That's why I loved Motion Sickness: Live Recordings and, here's the thing, that's why I love Cassadaga. I don't think the band has a "newfound sound" so much as they're finally starting to cook in the studio the way they've always done onstage.

Currently on Real Player, the most downloaded song from the CD is the second track "Four Winds." The opening track? Sixth most downloaded. When the music is really cooking, it's wonderful but, like "I Feel The Earth Move" on Tapestry, it really draws attention more than captures the album itself. "Four Winds"? It's less interested in sound effects and owes a nod to "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." In fact, due to the packaging, I honestly thought that was the song Bright Eyes was about to perform before Oberst started singing.

Let's talk about the packaging because Maggie's got the CD and had no idea about it. "Dog faced apologists pleasing themselves on the burning sand." If you have the CD are you wondering, "What the hell is Kat talking about?" There are five spaces/sleeves that appear to have a tiny design on them. The "SPECTRAL DECODER" (on an inside flap) will allow you to see the actual artwork and phrases that are on the five spaces/sleeves. You'll see a floating coffin being pushed by a hand in one illustration, a bearded man with his hand over the earth, etc. Push across the spaces/sleeves to discover that which is hidden.

"That which is hidden" may have been a theme they were going for and it may be very well be there but the songs and the notes to "Breezy" (Sabrina) do more to carry out the the album's haunted reflection/loss.

"If The Brakeman Turns My Way" is the third song (and the second most popular download at Real Player). It may make some 90s listeners a little sad. It cooks in the way that Counting Crows briefly did. They haven't been able to get back to "Mr. Jones," "Anna Begins," or "Round Here" in ages.

I hear a lot of influences on the thirteen tracks and that's not intended as a slam. When a band's cooking, they're often tossing out a nod to this influence or that. There are entire Rolling Stones' albums that exist for those nods to influences. The key is do you do anything with those influences?

On this album, they do which is why "Hot Knives"' debt to "I Got You Babe" is more than fully paid before the song's half-way over. Lyrically, it's a story song, the sort Cher rode the charts with in the early 70s ("Dark Lady," "Half-Breed," "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves," etc.). In fact, think of it as a sequel/twist beginning about mid-way through "Dark Lady," after Cher catches her cheating man with her psychic: "The Wife forgave the Mistress for she only entertained/ The pain was gone the instant she cleared her throat to speak her name . . ." Dark Lady, light them candles, indeed.

If anyone's reading this and thinking, "Kat's down on this album," I'm not. Down with, certainly. But I made the mistake of reading the reviews for this after I got the CD and what they're reviewing isn't what I'm hearing.

I'm hearing a wonderful album, absolutely, but the critics seem to be more interested in flashing their wordage and attempting to play amateur psychologist. "Oh, this song's about Winona!" or "Someone done Conor wrong big time!"

I'm not usually eager to read reviews. And I rarely do before I write my own. But this is a really wonderful album and I thought, "Surely the Stat Boys must be talking about the ins and outs, the tour through musical history, the highs, et al?" I was wrong. They're really interested in attempting to figure out who Conor's shared sheets with -- and gone on to write about -- but they don't seem to be able to tell you one thing about the album itself. They may hide this by tossing out a lyrical couplet every now and then, but they're really not addressing the music.

They're dropping back to the two last studio albums and tossing out their stats and doing everything but capturing the listening experience. A few aren't too crazy about "Make A Plan To Love Me" -- "maudlin" is a term that's been tossed around. They seem bothered by the female backup singers and, you have to wonder, have the stat boys never heard of Leonard Cohen?

There are about a dozen nods going on (musically) in each of the thirteen tracks on the album. The band (Oberst, Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott along with guests) pulls it off. And the nods make perfect sense.

Think about your first crush, your first kiss, your first anything. Chances are, a good portion of you aren't just remembering a face, you're remembering a song because a large portion of us associate songs with certain periods in our life. In the new issue of Ms. magazine (Spring 2007), Sandy Boucher notes that, in "Working-Class Hero," discussing her 40-year friendship with the late, great Tillie Olsen, who suffered from Alzheimer at the end, still "wholeheartedly sang along" whenever musicians visited. Another article I read recently -- possibly in the science section of the New York Times -- noted that stroke patients who might lose some portions of memory tended to remember songs from before their strokes.

So it makes perfect sense that songwriter Conor Oberst, who wrote 11 of the tracks and co-wrote the two others, would associate looking back, memories, with songs. So what's Conor looking back on?

I didn't really see that answered (or even noted) in the Stat Boys' reviews. He's looking back on a time when things weren't so mad. There are lyrics that address the sorry state of the country today and there are songs that address an affair that ended badly. In all of them, there is a remembrance of the hope and promise that was originally there. In fact, the relationships include his relationship with his own country.

Last week, Toni, Dak-Ho and I were again listening to the album and Toni, commenting on the lyrics, said, "It's like Bob Dylan without all the melodrama of floods and Old Testament wrath." "Or the incessant religious conversions," added Dak-Ho. And it is true, that regardless of which religion he's claiming, Dylan more and more seems only able to sing of damnation. Though that thread was always present in his writing, it's dominated for decades now. He's turned into an old crank, out on the sidewalk, screaming, "Repent! Repent, you sinners! The end is nigh, repent!" Who would ever have guessed he'd want to go out like Tony Perkins' character in Crimes of Passion?

Now Toni thinks he goes to that well (over and over) because it gives his later work the impression of gravity and depth that's honestly not there. If that is the case, he should make the time to listen to Cassadaga. "Everything, it must belong somewhere," Conor sings in "I Must Belong Somewhere" and it packs more weight than any of the Jimmy Swaggart-like scare tactics displayed in the likes of "Dark Eyes."

Dylan's limited by the fact that he was never a singer and the voice has only gotten worse. But Conor Oberst can invest a line with meaning, he can add a little vocal trick, a hiccup, that makes it much more plaintive and far less "anthemic" (or "bombastic").

There's a lot of weight and depth in his lyrics and I've avoided the temptation to just drop in lyrical quotes and let that speak because, honestly, it can't. It'll give you an idea but you really do need to hear him sing the line.

You've probably heard that and known it not to be true. It usually isn't. It's usually a cop out when some man gets called out for a sexist or racist song and he'll offer the lame defense of "You can't just go by it on paper, you have to hear it sung." And the ones saying that usually can't sing. Conor Oberst can sing and he seems to be growing a bit more comfortable with his voice (a bit -- part of the reason they always sounded better live in the past was because Oberst felt a freedom onstage that he never did in the studio). Whether that's inspiring the band or he's inspired by the band or some combination of the two, Bright Eyes has made the album that those of us who love them in concert can really listen to without thinking, "I bet this is going to sound incredible in concert."

That's the thing about Cassadaga, with nods here and there, full of references, Bright Eyes finally delivers the goods in the studio. I hate ranking so early in the year because, as I live with an album, I find things that I didn't notice before and some that improve with repeat listens. A Bigger Bang, the Stones' last album, was a CD I loved -- or thought I did until repeated listens made me love it even more. But if I had to pick right now, based on the listening experience thus far and what albums I've heard this year, Cassadaga would be number two for the year. That's not a bad rank and it's only the fact that Holly Near achieved musical perfection on Show Up that keeps Bright Eyes out of the top spot. It really is that good.

[C.I. note: This entry has been moved. Kat posted it after this morning's entry but changed the time because she wanted to be sure Laura Flanders' guests were the top post. RadioNation with Laura Flanders is now on, so I'm moving her review to where it would have been.]

NYT revises recent history

Resisting War
The council voted 8-0-1 to support a resolution from the Peace and Justice Commission declaring May 15 of every year Conscientious Objector and War Resister's Day. Councilmember Gordon Wozniak abstained.

The above is from Judith Scherr's "Council Says No to Chicks in Cages and Yes to Draft Resisters" (Berkeley Daily Planet). I'm uploading somethings for Kat's upcoming reviews (she announced what she was planning to review in her Thursday post -- but she forgot one) and that's taken about an hour. Which was fine because the New York Times, ay-yi-yi. Kat's got one review 99% ready to post (it's written, she wants to do a quick read of it later today), and I was looking for anything to avoid the Times.

So let's jump in. Edward Wong. The article's headlined "4 Iraqis Held On Supiscion Of Smuggling Iranian Arms" and it's better written than anything Gordo could do -- "The military did not provide any evidence against the men" ends the third paragraph, for instance. (Though it should probably be in the first paragraph.) But what about this:

American military officials have been saying for months that groups in Iran have supplied Shiite militias in Iraq with the bombs, which are responsible for a growing number of American fatalities.

Wong quickly notes no evidence has been presented. That's not the problem. But are we all supposed to have lost our short term memories?

That's not what the US military has been doing for months. First it attempted, repeatedly (and the paper ran Gordo's nonsense on this) to say that the Iranian government was providing bombs and training. When that laughable claim wouldn't sell (after much time and energy trying to push it), they dropped back to the default position of, "Oh yeah! Well all I know is someone in Iran is doing it!"

And that really does need to be noted for several reasons.

First off, that original, false claim was supposed to get the war drums really beating and give Americans the night sweats as they tossed and turned as if it was 2002 all over again. The administration (and make no mistake that the administration is in charge of the majority of what the military says to the press and to Congress -- though an op-ed yesterday tried to pin the blame -- laughably -- on Congress) had to back off because that claim was so unsourced and so laughable and, mainly, because the people are no longer as likely to give Bully Boy the lying room he so needs to scare the nation. Note "the people."

The paper? They were perfectly happy to run with that unsourced, unsupported nonsense. As though the mini-culpa never happened (and, let's face, it never really did -- there was never the promised follow up exploring the lies the paper printed in the lead up to war). The biggest mistake may have been going with Michael Gordon who went back into his hole when the spotlight zoomed in on Judith Miller. But War Pornographer Gordo was her partner in crime -- and his solo stories didn't bear out all that well either -- so, though he thought he was one of the many who wouldn't be called on his own Iraq lies, reality smacked him in this self-satisfied, smirking face. The administration may, at some point, grasp that Gordo's no longer a good go-to-boy. He comes with far too much baggage. There are tons of other flunkies they can go with and when the day comes that they stop outsourcing their plans to Gordo he'll fade at the Times because he didn't become a 'star reporter' based on his reporting or his research abilities.

But the first lie pushed was that the Iranian government was behind arming and training 'insurgents' in Iraq. And they (and Gordo) didn't give up that claim easily. Gordo had to be swatted on the snout repeatedly before the claim of "groups in Iran" started being advanced.

I don't think that's minor and I don't think you leave out the fact that the original claim by the US government-military was that the Iranian government was supplying and training.

Saturday. Meaning? RadioNation with Laura Flanders which airs Saturdays and Sundays from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm EST on Air America Radio stations, XM satellite radio and live online. This weekend's lineup:

Progressives are gearing up for action at this year's California Democratic Party Convention. We'll hear from RICK JACOBS from the Courage Campaign and SUE BROIDY and JAMIE BEUTLER from the Vote Blue Committee. Then, Karl Rove's missing emails could reveal fundamental GOP election fraud -- STEVE ROSENFELD & BOB FITRAKIS, (co-authors of "What Happened in Ohio?" explain how. Finally, in a week that saw more attention go to Rosie O'Donnell than to the Supreme Court savaging of Roe, MELODY BERGER & STACEYANN CHIN tell us why, in their view, the women's movement doesn't need "another wave." Editor and contributor of "We Don't Need Another Wave: Dispatches from the Next Generation of Feminists," Chin and Berger will be live in studio.

Congress is headed for a showdown with President Bush over Iraq War funding, I'll get the lowdown from Democratic Congresswoman SHEILA JACKSON LEE. The Nation's WILLIAM GREIDER and blogger BILL SCHER, (Campaign for America's Future & Liberal Oasis) review the coverage of the week. [. . .] Finally, HARVEY WASSERMAN looks into the future in his new book "Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030." We're live and left on the weekends... Call in and join the blog.

Saturday's guest, StacyAnn Chin will be participating in an event Wednesday, May 2nd at 6:30 pm, in The Great Hall, Cooper Union (NYC) where Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove will be presenting readings from their Voices of a People's History of the United States featuring music performed by Allison Moorer and Steve Earle and readings and vocal performances by Ally Sheedy, Brian Jones, Danny Glover, Deepa Fernandes, Erin Cherry, Harris Yulin, Kathleen Chalfant, Kerry Washington, Opal Alladin, Stanley Tucci and, yes, Staceyann Chin. Zinn and Arnove will provide both the introduction and the narration.

Trina, who is supporting Dennis Kucinich's presidential bid, asked that something be noted because Kucinich's website was down last night. This is "Kucinich Challenges Obama Assertion during S.C. Debate that Iran is Developing Nuclear Weapon Technology:"

Washington, DC - - Presidential candidate and US Congressman Dennis Kucinich Friday challenged Senator Barack Obama's assertion, made in an exchange with Kucinich in Thursday's Democratic Presidential Debate in Orangeburg, South Carolina, that Iran is in the process of developing nuclear weapons.
"In last night's debate, Senator Obama revealed that he has fallen into the same trap which wrongly took us into war against Iraq. In one breath he conjured Iran as a threat: ('But, have no doubt, Iran possessing nuclear weapons will be a major threat to us and to the region.')
"And in the next breath he asserted that according to experts, Iran is developing nuclear weapons. : ' . . . but they're in the process of developing it. And I don't think that's disputed by any expert.' "Where is Senator Obama's proof for such a provocative statement?" Kucinich asked.
Kucinich said that in the exchange with Senator Obama he tried to interject the fact that Mohammed El Baradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency, recently asserted " . the difference between acquiring knowledge and having a bomb is at least five to ten years away. And that's why I said the intelligence, the British, intelligence, the American intelligence, is saying that Iran is still years, five to ten years away from developing a weapon. "
Senator Obama's assertion is eerily reminiscent of the statements of President George Bush, Vice President Cheney and other top ranking members of the Bush Administration, who, back in 2002 and 2003 falsely claimed Iraq was a threat to the United States and our allies, that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons capability.
Kucinich at the time wrote and circulated an analysis of all false claims made by the Bush Administration. "Clearly all other Senators running for President failed to read the easily accessible intelligence reports, hence their alleged 'mistaken' vote to invade Iraq," said Kucinich, the only Democratic Presidential candidate to vote against both the authorization for war and any funding of the war.
"While Iran has taken steps to develop nuclear power, which is the right of all signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever they are developing nuclear weapons," explained Kucinich.
"Senator Obama's doctrine with respect to Iran is 'All options are on the table,' which is unmistakably a euphemism for the consideration of a preemptive attack against Iran, including the use of nuclear weapons, which the Administration has shipped to the region. Senator Obama's rhetoric parrots speeches given by both President Bush and Vice President Cheney, as well as Democratic Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and John Edwards regarding Iran."
"When you consider that last month the Congress took out of the Iraq Supplemental appropriation a provision that would have required congressional approval of a military attack on Iran, Senator Obama's faulty analysis and his mischaracterizations license an attack. This is the same kind of disastrous, faulty thinking that led us into war against Iraq and raises serious questions about Senator Obama's judgement on matters of national security."
Kucinich has long advocated reestablishing diplomatic ties with Iran as a means of deescalating tensions, opening up full diplomatic relations, resuming meaningful inspections of Iran's nuclear power program, and enlisting Iran's support in helping to end the war in Iraq.

From one presidential contender to another. Carl was the first to note Margaret Kimberley's "Cho and John McCain" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report):

"Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" - Senator John McCain
We usually hear little about shooting deaths unless enough people die in the same place at the same time. Every day 32 Americans are killed by gun violence. It is the act of terror most likely to be inflicted upon us all. Ironically, 32 was the number of fatalities inflicted by a gunman at Virginia Tech University.

Just as they did eight years ago at Columbine High School, the media descended upon Blacksburg, Virginia. They spoke to students about their dead classmates, about desperate efforts to save lives, and the horror of the bloodshed they witnessed. They spoke lovingly of their friends who died and painstakingly enumerated their special qualities. The corporate media have never profiled Iraqis killed by American bombs, gunfire and prisons. We never know how much they were loved and how they fought to stay alive while violent people sought to take their lives. We never hear the story of the destruction of Iraq's medical system, infrastructure and water supply. Iraqis aren't Americans, they aren't white and they were killed by our government. Those factors add up to a ho-hum attitude surrounding their deaths.
As the week wore on the enormity of America's addiction to violence against the rest of the world became painfully clear. Senator John McCain is a presidential candidate, an allegedly sane man and an influential politician. He and many other respectable Americans are also worse than Seung-Hi Cho. McCain sang his horrific little ditty about killing Iranians among a group of like minded folks, who think they have a right to bomb human beings into oblivion and to laugh while they do it.

The following community sites have updated since yesterday morning:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Kat's Kat's Korner;
Betty's Thomas Friedman is a Great Man;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally's The Daily Jot;
and Trina's Trina's Kitchen

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, April 27, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, another prisoner in Iraq dies in US custody, the death of 3 US service members are announced, Riverbend and her family decide it's time to leave Iraq, students continue their activism in the US, and more.
Starting with war resisters, Richard Brown (KXLY) profiles war resister Ryan Johnson who self-checked out in 2005 and went to Canada with his wife Jenny to seek asylum.  Johnson states, "I decided that I didn't want to participate in what I preceived to be an illegal war.  I have no problem serving my country.  I love the United States.  That's where I grew up, that's my home, that's where my family is."  Death of the party Lizzie Knudson shows up to puff out her chest and strut like any macho b.s. artist while expressing her hate and rage by declaring that she hopes he's thrown in prison for life and that she knows people who have died in Iraq.  Pass that rage on over to the Bully Boy, Lizzie, Ryan Johnson didn't send anyone into an illegal war to die.  Had Brown spent less time offering Lizzie's rants, he might have been able to provide some actual information (and it would have pleased War Hawk Liz).  He could have, for instance, noted that the Johnsons share a home in Canada with
Kyle Snyder and Maleah Friesen.  The latter are now married.  Of course their planned February wedding got put on hold when Canadian police -- taking orders from the US military -- showed up at the home to drag Snyder away in handcuffs (and in his boxers -- wouldn't even let him get dressed) with the intent to start immediate deportation on Snyder.  That's a story that would have tickled War Hawk Lizzie even if it has Canadians outraged (whether they support war resisters or not) because (a) war resistance is not a deportable offense and (b) the Canadian police is not supposed to take orders from a foreign government.  The US media continues its silence on that event and also avoids noting that US military crossed over into Canada on a search for war resister Joshua Key.  Brown does note, "In the last seven years, nearly 22,500 member of the United States military have gone AWOL or deserted and every year the numbers rise."
And as the numbers rise, more and more go public and speak out.  As Courage to Resist reports war resisters Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes, Agustin Aguayo and Robert Zabala will be speking out from May 9th through 17th in the San Francisco Bay Area.  This will be Aguayo's first publicly speaking appearances since being released from the brig earlier this month (April 18th).  The announced dates include:
Wednesday May 9 - Marin           
7pm at College of Marin, Student Services Center, 835 College Ave, Kentfield. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Pablo Paredes and David Solnit. Sponsored by Courage to Resist and Students for Social Responsibility.

Thursday May 10 - Sacramento        
Details TBA

Friday May 11 - Stockton    
6pm at the Mexican Community Center, 609 S Lincoln St, Stockton. Featuring Agustin Aguayo.

Saturday May 12 - Monterey      
7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 490 Aguajito Rd, Carmel. Featuring Agustin Aguayo and Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chp. 69, Hartnell Students for Peace, Salinas Action League, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and Courage to Resist. More info: Kurt Brux 831-424-6447

Sunday May 13 - San Francisco 
7pm at the Veterans War Memorial Bldg. (Room 223) , 401 Van Ness St, San Francisco. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes. Sponsored by Courage to Resist, Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69 and SF Codepink.

Monday May 14 - Watsonville           
7pm at the United Presbyterian Church, 112 E. Beach, Watsonville. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala. Sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Watsonville Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Watsonville Brown Berets, Courage to Resist and Santa Cruz Veterans for Peace Chp. 11. More info: Bob Fitch 831-722-3311

Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto          
7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837

Wednesday May 16 - Eureka  
7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197

Thursday May 17 - Oakland    
4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.
The are all part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Dean Walcott, Camilo Mejia, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.  In addition, the documentary Sir! No Sir! traces the war resistance within the military during Vietnam and it will air at 9:00 pm (EST) on The Sundance Channel followed at 10:30 p.m. by The Ground Truth which examines the Iraq war and features Jimmy Massey and Iraq Veterans Against the War's Kelly Dougherty among others.
From the topic of courage, we turn to craven -- taking us to the halls of Congress.  As Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today, "The Senate has voted provide nearly one hundred billion dollars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while setting a non-binding timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.".  Non-bidning timetable remains one of the most left out aspects of the measure.  Also usually left out is that Bully Boy can reclassify those serving in Iraq (as "military police," for example) and avoid the pleas for withdrawals.  (Pleas because "calls" is too strong for what is now headed to the White House for a signature.)  Marilyn Bechtel (People's Weekly World) reminds that "the Congressional Research Service said that nearly half the $94 billion earmarked in the supplemental for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would really be used for non-urgent items like sending an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, and funding a U.S.-established Arabic-language TV station.  The CRS report also pointed out that the Pentagon has funds available to continue the war until June or July."  The sense of urgency being pushed by both major parties is as much smoke and mirrors as what left Congress.  Bill Van Auken (World Socialist Web) tackles the realities, noting, "While media reports on the Congressional legislation routinely refers to it as a plan for the withdrawal of US troops from occupied Iraq and ending the war, the language of the bill makes clear that what is involved is a tactical 'redeployment' that would leave tens of thousands of US soldiers and marines in Iraq for years to come. . . .  The bill includes a provision for keeping US armed forces in Iraq for three purposes: 'protecting United States and coalition personnel and infrastructure; training and equipping Iraqi forces and conducting targeted counter-terrorism operation.'  This language would essentially allow the occupation and war to continue indefinitely, with US troops deployed to protect a massive new embassy being constructed in Baghdad to house a virtual colonial government and to guard 'American citizens' sent by the oil companies to reap massive profits off of Iraq's oil fields."
Yes, the topic of oil.  In the supposed illegal war that had nothing to do with oil.  The New York Times editorial board pimped the privatization of oil this week as did War Pornographer Michael Gordon today where he noted, "American officials" were "pressing" the passage of the law and that it's apparently so important that even General David H. Petraeus has to stick his nose in (apparently commanding the US military in Iraq allows him much free time) to share that "he considered passage of the oil law, which would distribute revenues from oil production among Iraq's regions, a priority among the so-called benchmark items that the Americans would like to see become law."  It does redistribute the monies -- redistributes them right out of Iraq and into the pockets of Big Oil which, under the proposed legislation, would receive over 70% of the profits in some cases. 
In Iraq, Riverbend (Baghdad Burning) reports that her family has decided to leave Iraq which, despite the Operation Happy Talk operatives, never achieved 'liberation' or 'democracy' (but then those were never the Bully Boy's intended aims. Noting the issue of the very unpopular wall in Baghdad, Riverbend writes: "It's a wall that is intended to separate and isolate what is now considered the largest 'Sunni' area in Baghdad - let no one say the Americans are not building anything.  According to plans the Iraqi puppets and Americans cooked up, it will 'protects' A'adhamiya, a residential/mercantile area that the current Iraqi government and their death squads couldn't empty of Sunnis. . . .  The Wall is the latest effort to further break Iraqi society apart.  Promoting and supporting civil war isn't enough, apparently - Iraqis have generally proven to be more tenacisiou and tolerant than their mullahs, ayatollahs, and Vichy leaders.  It's time for America to physically divide and conquer - like Berlin before the wall came down or Palestine today.  This way, they can continue chasing Sunnis out of 'Shia areas' and Shia out of 'Sunni areas'."
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack that wounded 2, a Baghdad roadside bomb that killed 1 and left 1 wounded,  a Kirkuk bombing that killed 4 police officers and left 5 more wounded, a Kirkuk roadside bomb that killed 1 person and left 3 wounded,
Reuters reports three people were shot dead in Mussayab and a "human rights activist was shot dead by gunmen near his home, 70 km (45 miles) southwest of Kirkuk".
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 7 corpses discovered in Baghdad. and 3 corpses discovered in Kirkuk.
In addition, Reuters reports that a prisoner at the US military operated prison Camp Bucca died "after he was apparently assaulted by other prisoners."  As Damien Cave (New York Times) noted this morning of the US military controlled Camp Cropper, "Several detainees there have died mysteriously in the past year, with the most recent death occurring April 4.  The causes of death for these detainees are rarely divulged."  The US military reports the figure of prisoners who have died in US custody in Iraq to be six "in the past year."
In other time lag news, AP reports that the British helicopter crash in May of 2006 that resulted in the death of five British soldiers resulted from being "shot down by a surface-to-air missile, using a man-portable air defense system, fired from the ground."  The US helicopters that crashed this year?  Still under investigation.
Also today, the US military announced: "Three Marines assigned to Multi National Force West died April 26 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province."  Al Anbar Province is the region that, as Anna Badkhen (San Francisco Chronicle) noted, Michael Gordon's man crush, General David Petraeus hailed as an area of progress, a "breathtaking" area of progress.  Julian E. Barnes (Los Angeles Times), reporting on Petraeus' testimony to Congress Thursday, notes Petraues' claim to be "forthright" in September when it's time to evaluate the ongong escalation.  The claim was all the more laughable considering that this was the week Congress took testimony on the lies the military spread about Pat Tilman's death in Afghanistan and Jessica Lynch testified to the lies told about her service in Iraq by the US military.  The escalation is generally stated as having begun in February (the latest wave of the eternal crackdown),  The idea that a judgement on it cannot be rendered until September goes unquestioned although few in the US are aware of jobs that come with an eight month probationary period.

On Wednesday, the US military announced: "A Soldier assigned to Multi-National Corps, Iraq, died April 24, 2007 in a non-combat related incident."  Today, (AP) reports that the soldier was Jeremy Maresh (24-years-old) and quotes Lt. Col. Chris Cleaver stating he "died from an apparent suicide."  To be clear, there have been other deaths that were ruled suicides by the US military and families have strongly disagreed with the ruling.
US troops will leave Iraq.  No matter how long Congress sits on its collective and ass and does nothing, US troops will leave.  What happens then?  Phyllis Bennis and Robert Jensen (CounterPunch) address this issue: "The first step is, of course, crucial.  When 78 percent of the Iraqi people oppose the presence of U.S. troops and 61 percent support attacks on those troops, it's clear that our presence in the country is causing -- not preventing -- much of the violence.  Pulling out U.S. troops (including the 100,000-plus mercenaries who back the U.S. military) won't eliminate all Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence, but it will remove the reasons many Iraqis are fighting.   The would take away the protective umbrella that the widely supported anti-occupation violence currently gives the real terrorists -- those engaged in killing civilians for
political or sectarian reasons.  Once U.S. forces are gone and the reason for the legitmate resistance to foreign occupation is eliminated, the ugly terrorist violence will be exposed for what it is and it will be possible for Iraqis themselves to isolate the terrorists and eliminate them as a fighting force.  But what comes after a U.S. withdrawal?  We clearly owe the Iraqi people massive reparations for the devastation our illegal invasion has brought.  Only in the United States is that illegality questioned; in the rest of the world it's understood.  Equally obvious around the world is that the decision to launch an aggressive war was rooted in the desire to expand U.S. military power in the strategically crucial-oil-rich region, and that as a result the war fails every test of moral legitimacy."
In news of student activism in the US, Justin Horwath (Minnesota Daily) reports on Monday's meeting at the University of Minnesota's Coffman Union where students who had formed a new chapter of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) met with members gathered to organize and heard Dave Biking speak of what SDS had accomplished during the 60s (when Bicking was a member).  Howarth notes that today's SDS "has 148 university chapters and 58 high school chapters nationwide."  Kyle Johnson tells Howarth, "SDS gives us the legitimacy to work on other issues, but the war is the No. 1 issue nationally, period."  Erika Zurawski states that the new chapter is about "the issues of the day" and that "[t]here's a lot of issues to work on."
Meanwhile, Arnie Passman (Berkeley Daily Planet) traces the history and popularization of the peace symbol noting, "In its Golden Jubilee year (right behind last 9/11's 100th anniversary of Gandhi creating the pledge of satyagraha--soul force), the peace symbol has weathered numerous wars -- and the best marketing opportunities money can buy. Facing today's horrors of Asian wars, increased nuclear disfunction, global warming, racial injustice, the irreversible military-industrial complex?. . ., it still calls from great city protests and hamlets to all Earth's colors and creeds for nonviolent resistance (peace marches between the 7 or 8 Gandhi statues--from Boston to San Francisco?) and civil disobedience (sit-ins at the largest defense contracting congressional districts?).  And all from the mind of one person that deep '50s, dead winter day in grimy ol' London Town--and the pioneering march through the English countryside to mad western science's Aldermaston." Gerlad Holtom was the designer of the peace symbol.
Finally, Wednesday, May 2nd at 6:30 pm in The Great Hall, Cooper Union (NYC), Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove will be presenting readings from their  Voices of a People's History of the United States featuring music performed by Allison Moorer and Steve Earle and readings and vocal performances by Ally Sheedy, Brian Jones, Danny Glover, Deepa Fernandes, Erin Cherry, Harris Yulin, Kathleen Chalfant, Kerry Washington, Opal Alladin, Staceyann Chin and Stanley Tucci.  Zinn and Arnove will provide both the introduction and the narration.

joshua key

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Gordo plays Mystery Date

The porn king, Michael Gordon, is back to drooling over Iraq. He teams up with David S. Cloud for a mutal stroke session entitled "U.S. Commander Says Fall Pullback in Iraq Would Lead to More Sectarian Killings." Now real reporters, pay attention Gordo this is reality (as opposed to the lecture you tried to offer on Democracy Now!), would take an official statement and search to check their validity. Gordo doesn't do that. He 'confirms' only that it was repeated (by David Petraues) in a closed door meeting with Congress. That's really not confirming anything and this isn't really reporting.

My hands are a bit tied because we're touching on this at The Third Estate Sunday Review but what does it mean when Petraues says that violence would increase? That's a question real reporters would be asking.

The US administration has propped up a government, when the US leaves (and it will leave), it's going to come tumbling down. More violence defined by what?

The administration has chosen sides, played favorites, throughout the illegal war. The idea that when the US leaves there will not be conflict is just nonsense. As is the idea that staying longer makes things better. The US presence breeds the resistance and the hostility.

Whatever they push through (Gordo wants what his hero wants -- right now the man crush is Petraues -- so Gordo pushes the privatization of Iraq's oil today) will only cause more hostilities and tension. The US needs to leave Iraq. When it does there will be some violence. That's to be expected from a people who have had a government not of their own making but one imposed upon them. That's to be expected when favorites have been played (and then some but this is an issue we're addressing Sunday).

Here's how 'reporting' works for Gordo. His man crush makes a statement and Gordo finds a way to write paragraph after paragraph endorsing it. No dissent, no checking out the realities of the statements (no think tanks are asked their opinion). He'd no doubt claim, "This is what a reporter does." No, it's not. A reporter takes a public statement and scrutinizes it for validity. Gordo's not interested in that.

This doesn't even qualify as he-said/she-said. It's just he said. With Gordo (and Cloud) amplifying the statement in paragraph after paragraph like good hucksters but lousy reporters.

The war can't end because Gordo can't get it up. He's hoping Iran will get his war on wagging again but he'll be damned if he lets go of Iraq which provided him with so many dirty fantasies in the non-so recent path.

Like a young girl playing Mystery Date, he flips the door with high hopes and today's hopes are pinned on Patraues. Man crushes don't make for news articles and Gordo doesn't make for a reporter.

The snapshot will most likely be late today (and possibly brief). Check your inboxes for the gina & krista round-robin this morning (seven roundtables are in it). The e-mail address for this site is

NYT: "American Colonel Accused of 'Aiding Enemy' at Prison in Iraq" (Cave)

In this morning's New York Times, Damien Cave's tasked with sorting through the dirty laundry in "American Colonel Accused of 'Aiding Enemy' at Prison in Iraq." This is about William H. Steele who is accused of many things. (We went over it yesterday.) Cave speaks with Walter Huffman ("former Army judge advocate general and now dean of the Texas Tech University law school") who rightly notes that the accusation of fratenization with a female Iraqi does not mean have to translate as sex. Nor, it should be stressed, does it mean romantic. Stressed over the phone this morning by friends serving in Iraq is that it can be a regular greeting -- the US military is discouraged (putting it mildly) from interaction with Iraqi civilians. Cave handles that well. Calling Iraq "a Muslim country"? Ten percent of the population isn't Muslim. The American orchestrated constitution enshrines Muslim as the religion of the state so that's a judgement call. Stating that men can't speak to women in "a Muslim country" really makes it necessary that you note this is only true for most of Iraq post-invasion. (And it's still not followed in all of Iraq today -- though the continued honor killings may make it true.)

From the article:

North of Baghdad, two Iraqi women and two children were believed to have been killed in an American airstrike that killed four insurgents, according to a military statement.

Actually, four suspected 'insurgents.' Cave gets credit for going over the realities of the (false) charges against James Yee. (Going over may be too mild. He gets credit for it regardless. I'm tired and "going over" will have to do.)

Already this morning, Reuters notes, "A suicide car bomb killed and wounded dozens of people near the religiously mixed town of Tal Afar in northern Iraq on Friday, police said."

Tal Afar? Martha notes Thomas E. Ricks' "Army Officer Accuses Generals of 'Intellectual and Moral Failures'" (Washington Post):

An active-duty Army officer is publishing a blistering attack on U.S. generals, saying they have botched the war in Iraq and misled Congress about the situation there.
"America's generals have repeated the mistakes of
Vietnam in Iraq," charges Lt. Col. Paul Yingling, an Iraq veteran who is deputy commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. "The intellectual and moral failures . . . constitute a crisis in American generals."
Yingling's comments are especially striking because his unit's performance in securing the northwestern Iraqi city of Tall Afar was cited by President Bush in a March 2006 speech and provided the model for the new security plan underway in Baghdad.
[. . .]
The article, "General Failure," is to be published today in Armed Forces Journal and is posted at Its appearance signals the public emergence of a split inside the military between younger, mid-career officers and the top brass.

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And the war drags on . . .

My disappointment is how we all saw how terrible Vietnam was, and yet we -- and our appointed leaders -- allowed ourselves to be drawn into the same thing. I was watching C-Span when the Democrats folded and voted in Bush's favor [to authorize military action in Iraq]. I was actually crying out, "No, don't do it!" I wenated to go into the TV, grab Hillary [Clinton], get on my knees and say, "Hillary, don't do it. I know you're a better person."

The above is Patti Smith from an interview conducted by David Fricke in the May 3 - 17, 2007 issue of Rolling Stone, the 40th anniversary issue. I have friends who used to be with Rolling Stone and a few who still are. The magazine was taken to task (righly so) here on March 25, 2006 which the friend who asked that it get a mention in the snapshot (which it did today) saw as an effort to do "an end run" around the 40th anniversary issue. If that was "an end run" (I really don't understand that term), I failed since there are no people of color interviewed and since only two women are interviewed. But it is true I do believe in the power of public shaming.

The Fortieth Anniversary issue is on sale now. It most closely resembles the 20th annivesary issue (which really wasn't the 20th anniversary but when you have a network special to promote . . .). You see some of the same people interviewed today. That's not a complaint. Jane Fonda was interviewed then (a joint-interview with Tom Hayden -- and like most of RS' joint-interviews with a man and a woman, what made it into print was largely what the man said). Her interview is one of the strongest in this issue.

Who gets invited to the table, who is allowed to speak, does matter. So it does need to be noted that 20 people were interviewed (all solo interviews) and not one is a person is a color. It needs to be noted that 20 people were interviewed and only 2 are women (Patti Smith and Fonda). If you're bothered by that, it upsets me as well.

I'm not going to excuse it (and I noted it in the snapshot). When I asked for the rundown over the phone today, I was told that a number of people have died. Hendrix, for instance. Well, Stevie Wonder's still standing, to name but one. Jesse Jackson, to name another. If it seems like I'm tossing out male names, that's because we're talking about Rolling Stone and have women really been appreciated there at any time other than during Harriet's tenure? I'm not remembering it. So the issue isn't inclusive -- not by race, not by gender.

I will note that they were looking for people they had spoken to before. (That's part of the premise of the anniversary issue and also how the magazine operates.) (And that's why I immediately tossed out the names Stevie Wonder and Jesse Jackson who were not one issue mentions but were interviewed mulitple times.) I'm not saying set the issue of inclusion aside because it's a huge issue. But even with that huge issue, Rolling Stone's done a better job in this issue of charting the realities of war and more than most of our big magazines -- big names in big media or small media. I was asked if I could give it a mention in a snapshot (and then reminded on the phone today that I had said I would). It was worth that and not a problem on my end (other than the issue of time). But I've now read the issue and think it deserves to be focused on for this entry.

Before the focus shifted to Iraq solely, Sunday night's entry focused on foreign media and Thursday night's focused on alternative media. The Thursday entry was once known as "Alternative Weekly Spotlight" or "Alternative Media Spotlight" or something similar. The truth is that once we switched to Iraq, we couldn't do that. Because alternative media just doesn't give a damn about Iraq. The weeklies are fond of their dining sections and their (White) boys' club movie slams. With few exceptions, that's all they have to offer.

Members of a certain age (including me) can remember a vibrant, active independent media scene. ("Media" refers to print unless otherwise noted. We're being "old school" tonight.) Younger members are often confused (about the independent media spoken of, the once upon a time indy media) or lament that they couldn't experience that -- an independent media that actually gave a damn about covering and weighing in on an illegal war.

You hear a lot of gas bagging about how the young people today are apathetic. They aren't. They are active. They don't get covered very often but they are out there and they are active.
They care about ending the war, they're working on that issue. Gas bags don't notice that and it's strange because the same ones who decry what gets covered and what doesn't, never seem to stop and question if the 'reality' they claim to see is reality or just a reflection of what's being covered (and not covered)?

With this issue, Rolling Stone gets more in touch with its roots than it has in years. And for those who flip in vain through one issue of, for instance, The Nation after another for coverage of Iraq would do well to check out this issue. The apathy being detected isn't in the youth today, it is in the media -- big and small.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.

-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, the American military fatality count in Iraq, since the start of the illegal war, stood at 3323 (ICCC). Tonight? 3334. Now those merry pranksters at the Council for Foreign Relations might spin that to "Only 12 more!" but the reality is 12 more US service members died in an illegal war that never should have begun and that grown ups should have ended a long time ago.

But we don't have grown ups in independent media. We have people who think independent media is a social club. They hire their friends (centrists even) to write (bad) pieces about everything under the sun. But they can't make time for Iraq. The illegal war is in its fifth year. What do they have to show for it? A lot of silly little fluff that could have been churned out by the DNC on 'soft' issues and a lot of silence on the illegal war.

That's all they have to show for it. Iraq is not the (intended) theme of the 40th anniversary issue of Rolling Stone but, flipping through the magazine, you'll find more attention paid to it in the 20 interviews than you've found in five consecutive issues of The Nation. Pick any five you want after the 2004 election.

Rolling Stone's interviewing Jane Fonda, Patti Smith, Jackson Browne, Mick Jagger, Jack Nicholson, Neil Young, Martin Scorsese, Keith Richards, Ringo Star, Norman Mailer, Michael Moore, Bob Weir, Bob Dylan, Tom Wolfe (ugh), George McGovern, Stewart Brand, Steven Spielberg and Jimmy Carter. Not everyone weighs in. Some apparently weren't programmed before delivering their robotic bits -- that will be gold-mined by the ones who see them as heroes and do so by failing to note that heroes speak out against an illegal war -- one hero in particular, has avoided doing so and, as we noted in 2006 at The Third Estate Sunday Review, the general consensus is that's because the person doesn't care about "Arabs" -- read his nonsense -- his long nonsense -- and you'll realize why so many suspect that is the reason for the eternal silence as he sidesteps direct questions, refuses to address Iraq and demonstrates that some heroes are not heroic. Their (aging) White male fan base will still rush to prop them up but the reality is they haven't done a damn thing worth noting in years.

Even with those types included, you still have people who can speak about the world around them. From page, 123, Michael Moore's interview, Moore states:

First of all, we've raised a generation of people who are much more aware of what's going on. During Vietnam, we couldn't get rid of the draft. Now they can't even think about bringing it back. They've had a relative quiet on campuses while they've conducted their dirty war in Iraq, because no one's being forced to go there. They need a draft conduct this war, but they can't do it. That is a testimony to the young people of today.
I do not have a cynical attitude, like many of my fellow baby boomers, about the young people of today; they understand what's going on. The Sixties get romanticized a lot to this generation -- it was all love and Woodstock -- but those of us who were young then know it wasn't that way. If there was a protest in town, it wasn't the majority of students attending, it was a small group of students getting things started.

With another take on the issue of draft, Neil Young from page 138:

America doesn't know it's in a war. Nobody is asked to sacrifice, except for the soldiers who volunteered. The Bush administration would rather shed American lives -- have weary, battle-worn soldiers making mistakes and getting shot -- than lose the lection because they had a draft. But as soon as they have a draft, you'll see everything change immediately. It would be like night and day. Those students are ready to rock. But nobody's pushed the button.

For the record, the protests today are further along than they were during Vietnam. Today, the numbers are larger sooner and actually started before the illegal war did. As someone who's visited campuses and spoken with students (which, despite what some think, includes listening), what I've seen was concerned and active students who waited and waited for leadership to emerge. I don't mean from the peace movement. I mean from the media. That's why politically active students have turned on The Nation. They've waited and waited for leadership on the issue of the war to come from the 'leading' magazine of the left and it hasn't. As they waited, they began creating their own groups (without big money backers who wanted to turn them into get-out-the-vote orgs) and the rumbles are out there and it's going to get a lot louder.

The mistake that is made, my opinion, is expecting young people to initiate while also failing to include them in leadership (a mistake in every movement -- and the peace movement is already on that and already addressing that). Behavior is modeled. You see someone else speak out and it creates a space where you can as well. (The counterpoint is that when a magazine like The Nation ignores the issue of Iraq it sends the message that you're powerless and there's nothing you can do so get focused on the next election cycle!) Michael Moore talks about what he observed and it was a small group of people and actions springing from that (he offers a protest over cafeteria food as an example of how it wasn't just one thing). That's very true and you've seen students (well, you may not have, big and small media hasn't been too interested) stepping up their actions. When that happens, the movement grows and they've raised the bar.

But to expect high school students and college students to take action without any real modeling is just denying what happened in the "60s." There was a large history of activism that predated the protests against the war. Students today have had to not just grab a baton and carry it for the next lap but start the race themselves. Invent the race themselves. They've given up on leadership coming from The Nation (for good reason). They've noticed that the so-called StudentNation is nothing but electioneering and that "students" aren't running that laughable page. If they're lucky, the links to student writing is updated and that comes not from their picks which they know -- many tried to submit only to learn that despite the request for submissions there was no link you clicked on -- despite the phoney claim -- that allowed you to submit a suggestion.

It's laughable and its insulting and as one student in Colorado said this week, "How stupid do they think we are? You can't call it StudentNation and not let students lead." No, you can't. You can't put the same crowd (non-students by many, many years) in charge of StudentNation and "distract" (a student in Arizona) them with your phoney pieces about elections and think they're going to be "tricked" into thinking, "This is by us and for us!" It's not. It's one more con game and it's actually increased student hostility towards the magazine -- and who would have thought that was possible?

They're headed to LA now. The Nation. That was pointed out by a student in Michigan who got an e-mail on it and noted that it wasn't about meeting anyone, it was about selling books. Students know they're not being listened to, they know that StudentNation is not just a joke but a sham. And it comes back to the "How stupid do they think we are?" question. A student this week (I can't remember the state right now, sorry) cited Naomi Klein's work (No Logo and one essay) to make a strong case for The Nation being as out of it as any corporation that thinks they can slap something on and trick people. It's a sham and it's a con job -- a belated and desperate attempt to woo the very people they've turned off. It's not working.

And you'd have to be a real idiot to think it would. They'd already insulted students with the big lie that students were apathetic. They'd made a big to do over giving an award to a student essay whose thurst was "My generation just doesn't care!" (Those suck ups always please their elders.) And now they think they can offer a dumbed down version of their magazine, by the same people that do the magazine itself, call it "StudentNation" and have students rushing to read it? The problem was never that the rag's writing was on too high a level for students to grasp (please), the problem was always the attitudes towards students, the silence on Iraq and the refusal to lead. Offering The Nation: Junior Division doesn't lessen the hostility to the rag. (It does increase the chance that we'll do a parody of it at The Third Estate Sunday Review because I've heard non-stop complaints about it all week, regardless of what campus I was on.)

He's easily the worst president in American history. I don't think that's exaggeration at all. Nobody has put us into such a god-awful mess as this one. Nobody. I read the other day that the interest on the national debt is $750,000 a day -- just on interest. You and I are paying that. Before we get up in the morning, we've got another huge increase in the debt on our backs.

That's George McGovern from page 116 of his interview. Martin Scorsese, in reply to "Today, you notice politicians always saying, 'We need to go foward.'" (page 100) states, "Forward to where? Over a cliff." He discusses the "eternal war" ("This isn't even a declared war, it's the eternal war"). As he talks about that and other topics, you may be reminded of the line Jackson Browne drew (in the 80s) between Scorsese (Scorsese believes) and another director who is merely popular. (Shhh, no names.) And you can find Jackson addressing real issues in the magazine as well. He talks about the illegal war, the need for art to cover the world around it, name checks Holly Near (which should remind readers that no female singer-songwriter is interviewed -- not Near, not Carly Simon, not Joni Mitchell . . .) and notes:

I'm trying to figure out the ending of this song I've written about the war. Somewhere in the middle I ask the question: Who is the enemy? And it's got this simple phrase: "Whatever you believe the necessary course to be/Depends on who you trust to identify the enemy/Who beats the drums of war/Even before the peace is lost/Who are the profits for?/ And who are those that pay the costs/When a country takes the low ground to war?"
By the end of the song, you know who I think it is. I mean, right away, you know who I think it is: "Who make their fortune out of fighting terror?/ Who knows how many people have died in error?" These things are going to be shouted at you.
The truth is, the people who disagree with me will have turned that off as soon as I go there. I'm just going to get as much of it out as I can before they do, and if they do happen to hear it, they might be with me at the end. It's really a good question. Who is the enemy?

Let me list credits (I'm looking at the time and it's past time to start the morning entries). Jann S. Wenner interviews Bob Dylan; Tom Brokaw interviews Jimmy Carter; Anthony DeCurits interviews Jane Fonda, Jackson Browne, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney; David Fricke interviews Patti Smith, Neil Young and Bob Weir; Peter Travers interviews Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg; David Wild interviews Jack Nicholson; Eric Bates interviews Michael Moore and Bill Moyers; Douglas Brinkley interviews George McGovern; Jeff Goodell interviews Stewart Brand; Gerri Hirshey interviews Mick Jagger; Kurt Loder interviews Keith Richards and Mark Binelli interviews Norman Mailer and Tom Wolfe.

Not everyone can address Iraq (some, pointedly, cannot -- and that isn't because they weren't asked). But in a 40th anniversary issue, the magazine's done more on Iraq than The Nation has in five consecutive issues. Now there are politicians interviewed -- McGovern and Carter -- but they aren't the only ones bringing up the issue. Nor was Iraq intended to be a theme of the issue. So what happened?

Rolling Stone turned 40 and the thing to do was to note that milestone. (That's not a slam.) To do so, they spoke to people (largely male -- all White) and they printed what was on their minds. (Again, some people have nothing to say on Iraq. Read the issue to know who those sad sacks are but -- warning -- a few man crushes may die for some. And note, there's much more discussion in the issue than what is being quoted in this entry.)

So what really happened?

Rolling Stone, which hasn't been alternative in years, presented the sort of conversations that alternative media could and should be doing. These are the sort of conversations you expected in independent/alternative media during the Vietnam era. Whether it was a politician or writer, an actress or singer, what have you, if they were profiled, you expected to hear about something other than the latest product, you expected something other than the insta-profile (Nora Ephron, in the early 70s, lampooned that crap journalism). And those who were silent back then? Their silence was noted. You knew who was on your side and who wasn't. (And you knew who traveled the squishy middle to cash in.)

Go out and get a copy and, long term Rolling Stone readers will be reminded of the magazine's glorious past. Younger readers who can't figure out how the alternative weeklies came into being in the first place, why anyone would bother to pick them up to begin with, will get a good sense of the power independent media once had.

We'll go out with Jane Fonda speaking with Anthony DeCurtis about the current political climate:

The analogy of an alcoholic is good: I think we've hit bottom. That's a time when, if you still have an intact heart and soul and mind, you can begin to recover. And I do feel that we're heading into a time of recovery as a nation. I think it was reflected in the [2006] elections. I think it's reflected in the hopes that some of the current candidates bring. And young people are hopeful.
I just saw the Dixie Chicks documentary, Shut Up & Sing, and that reinforced my understanding that there is a segment of our people who are so stuck in a toxic mind-set that there's just nothing that can be done. But they're not in the majority.

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Death threat and other 'fun' things

As Mike's "7 Roundtables and Jeremy Brcher & Brendan Smith" details, there were seven round tables for the gina & krista round-robin. Ava and I moderated one and I'm running way behind tonight (it's "tonight" until I get at least an hour of sleep). We're going to focus on Iraq (of course) and we'll be using Rolling Stone to do so. A friend (at the magazine) had asked for a plug for the 40th anniversary issue which I'd forgotten until he called again today. There are plugs I'll do. If I believe in something, no problem. There are also things that come into the public account that I will gladly plug.

There are things that will get plugged here that I know nothing about. I mention that because I've wasted two hours dealing with an e-mail to the public account. Obviously, this community does care about the conditions of/for women in the world. So when an e-mail came in asking for a link to a petition, I was all ready to copy and paste. But the name of the organization (not one I donate to) sent off an alarm. I called around and found out repeatedly why it should not be supported here. (A friend who yelled, "___, they supported the contras!" was more than enough to make sure they wouldn't get endorsed here.) But I mention that for several reasons.

1) Calling around made this entry get started even later.

2) There are questions from visitors from time to time about why something gets noted here.

3) E-mails.

(1) should be clear. (2) may not be to visitors. In the snapshot, there's nothing but plugs in one regard. If I'm speaking (and I often am), I'm especially dependent upon friends. I'll make as many calls as I can and some will promote their own outlets and some will promote that and/or
other outlets. (Independent media, real independent media, seems to have a lot more traction in big media these days.) That's how the snapshot works. We're covering Iraq. (I prefer "we" to "I" statements.) I will call friends to figure out what's going on or what's not going into a report. (Also to gripe about Iraq coverage.) And they do get links here. Snapshots can also include members' highlights as well as things that come into the public account from visitors. I can and do say no to friends. (One person is very upset that they've gotten "nothing" currently.) I also let them say "no" to not promoting certain things here.

On (3), if something comes into the public account, I do consider it. But it's not my job to e-mail you back and say you got a shout or you didn't. I'm not writing back the organization that wanted a shout out tonight. I feel no guilt over that.

There was an indy-type (on the right) who I did feel bad about last week because he had done actual work but we're not a site for the right and we're not linking to a bunch of neocons talking about the war. (Whether the indy-type was neocon or not, I don't know. The thing he wanted linked to featured various voices he'd interviewed who were neocons. I'm sure he'll find many to promote that on the right.) With him, I did feel bad because he had done a lot of work -- not work I liked or approved of -- but he did a lot of work and he was reaching out to anyone to get some attention for it. (If a right winger's e-mailing this site, he's reaching out to anyone.) So possibly the organization that e-mailed tonight will read this. (They may have e-mailed today, I didn't see it until tonight.) If so, you're not being linked to. Don't send an e-mail to this site proclaiming your support for women when you were on the wrong side during Vietnam, when you supported the contras, go down the list.

We do get many wonderful things to note via visitors e-mailing the public account and we have noted many things from it. But I want to start off on this topic because I want it to be clear that I can and do make mistakes. (I can be wrong and often am.) Tonight (this morning, actually), I saw that e-mail and what's happening to women in Iraq is femicide. The hour was late and I was going back and forth over whether or not to risk waking friends with phone calls asking, "What do you know about this group?" I did make the calls but it could have as easily gone the other way and been posted here. (At which point, friends would have called to scream later today. And been right to scream.) So hopefully that clears up something for visitors.

The public e-mail address gets many e-mails. One Martha moved to the "read" file (Martha, Eli, Shirley, Ava and Jess all help with the e-mails) was this one from "No Name Sorry" at

This is the only way I could reach you, I Want you be very
careful about this and keep the secret with you till I make out space
for us to see, You have no need of knowing who I am, where am
from,till I make out a space for us to see, I have being paid in
advance to terminate you with some reasons listed to me by my
employer, its one I believe you call a friend, I have followed you
closely for one week and five days now and have seen that you are
innocent of the accusation, Do not contact the police or try to send a
copy of this to them, because if you do I will know, and might be
pushed to do what I have being paid to do, beside this the first time i
turned out to be a betrayer in my job he gave me all information about you.
Now listen, I will arrange for us to see face to face but before that I
need the amount of $30,000.00, I will come to your home, or you
determine where you wish we meet, I repeat do not arrange for the
cops, if you play hard to get, it will be extended to your family, do not
set any camera to cover us or set up any tape to record our
conversation, my employer is in my control now, $10, 000.00 will be paid
to the account I will provide for you, after our conversation, I will
give you the tape that contains his request for me to terminate you,
which will be enough evidence for you to take him to court (if you wish
to), then the balance will be paid, beware of business associates and
friends, reply back with your phone number for easier contact as soon
as possible.

Now, normally I follow the policy posted on the profile -- that you're only quoted with permission. The above doesn't worry me. There's no way someone followed me over the last five days. I've been in six different cities, on multiple campuses and I could barely keep up with the schedule.

I'm not worried in the least but I do think it's really crappy to try to scare someone and some people might be scared by the above. If the "No Name" had written the above in a different week when I was at home and not on the road, I might take it more seriously (I doubt it) but there's no way in the world that anyone could have followed me this week (without being out of breath and drawing attention to themselves). The only thing that bothered me is that my life is apparently only worth $40,000. Now that's a bit more than the US government (under) pays Iraqis, but still . . .

As for coming to my home, you know, I have a fairly open door policy with regards to friends --who can bring their friends along -- but your 'sweet' words aren't going to win you an invite.

If "No Name" can't tell (or if any member's concerned -- don't be), I don't take you seriously. I don't take your threat seriously. You're far from the first death threat I've received in my life (you'd have to go back to the days before e-mail, way before e-mail) and most of you are just scared little creeps who get off on the thought that you frightened someone.

But I read it and laughed, was just about to delete it, when I remembered Ava's reaction to one threatening creep. E-mails like this can freak some people out. It doesn't freak me out. It doesn't scare me. It makes me laugh and that's about it. But if someone's e-mailing that to me they may be trying it on other people as well.

So it's going up here.

If you're a reporter who has e-mailed the public account, do not freak and think, "The policy has changed! My foul mouthed rant is going to be posted!" It's not. If you've been commented on here and want to have your say, go for it. But I am breaking the policy from now on in terms of death threats.

A death threat isn't "I wish you'd die." A death threat isn't "You stupid ___! I hate you! I hate you!" (The latter actually did come in from a mainstream reporter.) A death threat isn't calling me a foul name. But telling someone you were hired to kill them and if they contact the police and/or don't pay you off, you're going to kill them is a death threat. I don't think that's open to dispute. (I could be wrong, I often am.) So to cut down on these (this is the third time No Name's written or someone who writes exactly like No Name has written) the policy will be that if you make a death threat, you give up your right to privacy.

Again, that's not, "I could spit in your face" or "I wish you'd die." Or anything like that. But I'm going through the e-mails to do the "And the war drags on" entry and looking at what Martha's put in the "read" folder and I'm just not in the mood for it. The threat doesn't scare me. I know from last week's similar e-mail, it did worry Martha. My take is it's a prank or a crank or a sicko and none of the three worry me. But if it cuts down on the e-mails coming into the public accounts, then let's note it and hopefully No Name can get a life already.

If you write the public account, you get an automated message. That's all your entitled to.

The (public) e-mail address for this site is