Saturday, November 03, 2007

Ruth's Report

Ruth (of Ruth's Report): With the Pacifica stations in fundraising mode, I thought PBS would make a good topic for the report.

Marci* e-mailed on Thursday to note Expose which is a series that airs on PBS. It a joint production between NYC's WNET and Center for Investigative Reporting in Berkeley, California. The series focuses on investigative reporting and examines how a news outlet broke a story and the aftermath. If you are able to stream online, you can catch episodes that way as well as over broadcast channels if the program airs in your area. Until Mia e-mailed, I was not even aware of the series, now in its second season, so I watched three episodes on line.

Peter Zuckerman's investigative report was the focus of "In a Small Town (Part 1)" which explained how an anonymous tip led him to a court case that was sealed and hidden from the public. As he dug deeper, he discovered a pedophile scandal involving the Boy Scouts. "In a Small Town (Part 2)" deals with the aftermath which includes attacks on Mr. Zuckerman. I noted this at my site Friday and received two e-mails saying part-one just aired in their area so, please, do not spoil part-two. Therefore, I will just encourage you to check out the series.

Mr. Zuckerman uncovered a secret that was not a secret to many. The pedophile in question did not just exhibit warning signs, his past assaults on children were known. People in positions to do something did nothing. This reminded of the Pig who attacks Cindy Sheehan regularly and how the left continues to embrace him. The mainstream media has reported two arrests of Pig for seeking out sex with underage females.

For why the Boy Scouts tolerated and covered up for the pedophile, you need to watch the series and probably ask the Scout leaders. But why is it that some on the left is still embracing Pig? I thought, as I watched, about a talk radio host, on the left, who briefly, at the start of the year, raised the issue of a campaign using a song by convicted pedophile Gary Glitter at campaign stops. The host wondered what sort of embarrassment could come to the campaign and about the message this sends. While I agreed with the host, I could not help but remember that Pig has regularly appeared on that program. At what point does the left clean up their own house?

Pig is not even left. He only turned to the left after the mainstream media sent him packing when his arrest record became public. Watching the "In a Small Town" series, I was outraged by the tolerance and covering up for a pedophile but any righteous anger I might have felt was mitigated by the fact that the Pig is still promoted by the left including, but not limited to, The Nation magazine.

I really do not have strong opinions on the Boy Scouts of America other than I do not believe sexual orientation should be an issue. So I watched with a feeling of dread but also fully aware that the only covering up for pedophiles was not coming from leaders of a troupe of Boy Scouts or the Mormon Church. The scandals in the Catholic Church are well known. But I kept coming back to how so much of the left is so eager to post the bad writing of Pig. So eager to post it are they that they do not even appear to read it. GE does not own CBS and that is so basic that even a brief glance before posting Pig's writing would have led people to say, "Hold on a minute."

Throughout the first-part of the series, when the pedophile was confessing or caught, people seemed to think that the issue was now over and being addressed. It was not. He continued abusing and assaulting young boys. So at what point is Pig going to either be forced to unseal the court records or be driven out of the left?

Expose is a very strong half-hour program. In addition to the specific stories they tell in episodes, the issues themselves touch on larger that should lead you to ask questions about the world around you.

On Friday, Bill Moyers Journal addressed a number of issues including the latest push by the Federal Communications Center to further media consolidation and rob communities of local coverage and local input. "The sixth and final hearing," as the PDF format announcement words it, will take place next Friday, November the 9th, in Seattle, Washington. The timing is four p.m. to eleven p.m. and the location is Town Hall Seattle on 1119 Eight Avenue. F.C.C. commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein have issued their own PDF format statement:

At a hearing with only five days notice is no nirvana for Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. This smells like mean spirit. Clearly, the rush is on to push media consolidation to a quick and ill-considered vote. It shows there is a pre-ordained outcome. Pressure from the public and their elected representatives is ignored. With such short notice, many people will be shut out. We received notice of the hearing just moments before it was announced. This is outrageous and not how important media policy should be made.

The F.C.C.'s contact page reproduces these e-mail addresses:

Chairman Kevin J. Martin:
Commissioner Michael J. Copps:
Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein:
Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate:
Commissioner Robert McDowell:

After a report on how media does not serve Chicago with few exceptions such as WVON, the reporter of the piece, Rick Karr, sat down with Bill Moyers:

BILL MOYERS: Evidence is clear that media concentration leads to less local news and less local community service. So why is Chairman Martin rushing to closure on this before Christmas?

RICK KARR: Well, he's made it clear from the day that he became chairman of the FCC that this is something that he wanted to do, this cross-ownership, allowing newspapers, radio, and television to combine. The other thing is he has political cover from the federal courts. Back in 2003, the court said this was the one thing that the FCC could do. Didn't have to do but could do. The other thing, though, is there's a political concern here. He wants to get this done before the primary season really heats up next year. Because he knows that there are Republicans out there who don't like media consolidation either.

BILL MOYERS: Oh, yeah. There have been a lot of conservative groups that have joined in this protest.

RICK KARR: Exactly. Well, the Republicans don't want that part of their base to get excited again, get angry about consolidation.

BILL MOYERS: I would not want to run for Congress or president by -- on a platform of getting Rupert Murdoch or Time Warner or Viacom more local control over my community.

RICK KARR: Which is exactly the thing about this. There's no constituency out there saying we want more consolidation. It's essentially just the big media companies. There are no citizens groups out there saying we want more of this.

BILL MOYERS: I even saw a study this week that showed 70 percent of the respondents said that media conglomeration is a problem.

RICK KARR: Yeah, exactly. People understand it intuitively. They get it-- you know, Jonathan Adelstein of the FCC said to me when we were in Chicago, he said, "People know. They know that it's changed." They used to bump into the people who ran their local station at the grocery store, getting their car washed, whatever. Now it's some far off corporate chiefdom. So they understand.

BILL MOYERS: I mean, it isn't hard to understand why the big media companies, the news divisions and the network and so forth don't cover this so that people don't know about it because they have so much to gain from just letting it happen in the middle of the night, right?

RICK KARR: Well, and a lot of people also, you know, in the industry say this is a boring story. It's not interesting. Who cares? It's in the background. But, you know, what we're trying to do is, of course, show how it affects people's lives.

BILL MOYERS: So how do people, whatever your opinion on this issue, how do people make themselves heard?

RICK KARR: Well, get in touch with the commissioners at the FCC. You know, the FCC's Web site allows you to file public comments there. Send letters, e-mails, faxes, whatever. Also get in touch with your members of Congress. When we were down in Washington covering that press conference with Byron Dorgon and Trent Lott, it was clear that they were interested in hearing from constituents.

On Thursday, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) sat down with F.C.C. commissioners Adelstein and Copps to discuss the topic:

AMY GOODMAN: More than half of Americans surveyed said it should be illegal for a company to own a newspaper and a television station in the same market, this according to the Media and Democracy Coalition, more than half. Michael Powell got tremendous pushback. He talked about that when he ultimately left, was completely shocked by what happened. So why is Kevin Martin doing this?

JONATHAN ADELSTEIN: What's so interesting about that poll is that it's the same for Democrats, Republicans, moderates, conservatives, virtually by the same margins. They oppose newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership by two to one. 70% of the American people think that media consolidation has gone too far already. Again, virtually the same proportion for conservatives and liberals. Americans understand that we don’t want big media to get bigger. They don't trust big media, they don't trust big government. It’s in the American spirit, going back to the American Revolution, that we've never liked media to dominate the landscape. We want to hear a diversity of voices. And when either one of these chairmen go after this, they are really putting their fist right into a hornet's nest of American public opposition.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I'm sorry Kevin Martin isn't here to explain why he is pushing for this, but what is the timetable, and what kind of input will the public have? You had your hearing yesterday with the last possible notice that could be given.

MICHAEL COPPS: I think the timetable right now is known only to be chairman and has not been really made public. Everybody knows that he would like to -- like to do this [inaudible]. It's been reported that he had a plan originally that would have a vote taken place by December 18, so when everybody's busy wrapping their Christmas presents and Congress has gone home. But I don't see how that's possible right now, because we still haven't had the last media ownership hearing.
And we really have no business tackling this until we finish these other proceedings that have been pending at the commission for so long. We have had, for example, the localism proceeding pending since 2004. we have public interest obligations, especially in the DTV age. What should these DTV broadcasters be doing to serve the public? Why don't we finish those things? Why don't we figure out about diversity and what we're going to increase minority and female ownership, then do it? We've got the carrot before the horse.

AMY GOODMAN: What is your plan to do that? What is your plan to increase minority and woman ownership?

MICHAEL COPPS: Well, I think it has to be a multifaceted attack. Everybody -- Jonathan and I and many of the folks who were there yesterday would be very much in favor of Congress legislating again some kind of a tax certificate program to increase incentives for minority-owned. But there are things that we can be doing at the commission. If a woman or minority group wants to buy a station, why can't we say, well, it takes a while to raise money in this environment, why can we give that group a little bit longer to go out and raise money or extend construction deadlines? We've had committees look at this. Our own diversity committee sent tons of recommendations upstairs for the chairman to see. And basically we're stuck there for a year or two years, and then only kind of grudgingly put out for comment a few weeks ago. But we don't want just comment back; we want action.

As Ms. Goodman points out, then F.C.C. chair Michael Powell, son of Colin, attempted this earlier and the public did push back and prevent it. A new chair, Kevin Martin, is attempting it again. Not unlike the illegal war, it is the same fight all over again. Depressing as that may be, we have won before. Both on the F.C.C. issue and on ending an illegal war.

*I had typed "Mia" which resulted in Mia e-mailing to say, "Ruth, it's not me." It was Marci. My apologies to Marci.

Uncle Sam wants you . . . to stop breast feeding!

From desertion [see previous entry on John Vandiver, "Authorities investigating captain’s disappearance" about Robert Przybylski] to AWOL. Uncle Sam wants you . . . to stop breast feeding! That is apparently the message to a new mother. From Rachel Cohen's "New baby? Uncle Sam still wants you: Hayward woman called back to active duty, faces tour in Iraq" (The Daily Review):

One minute Ashleigh Higgins was planning her nearly 4-month-old baby's first Halloween and Thanksgiving. The next, the new mother was trying to figure out who is going to raise her.
Higgins, 22, was recently called up for active duty in the Army and ordered to report to Fort Jackson in South Carolina on Nov. 11. The recall orders, dated Oct. 10 but not received in the mail until Oct. 16, state that Higgins will be at Fort Jackson for up to 25 days for training for mobilization and then will support Iraqi Freedom for up to 400 days.

It's just devastating," said Higgins' mother, Pattie Hurd. "Why would anyone think you would want a postpartum mom who has a bad knee in basic training?"
But all the Army told Higgins was to file an exemption request. So Higgins and her family have been trying to gather every document possible to show that there is no one who can take care of baby Gabriela.
"You have to put in everything you can possibly think of. They can't have any new reasons added later," Hurd said.
These include a letter from the pediatrician stating that this period is crucial in development for the baby and mother to bond. Higgins' husband, Daniel Higgins, 24, just started at the six-month police academy with the Oakland Police Department, and Oakland police wrote aletter stating his hours, which change every day, make him unavailable to be able to take care of Gabriela. For the Higgins, Daniel's becoming a police officer is a career they chose as a family so that he would be able to support their child.

Read the article in full and learn that the US military's response is punishment for Higgins becoming pregnant -- push-ups. That's how the US military greeted the news: "was made to do push-ups and run, she said. When Higgins was discharged in July 2006, she also was told to pay back her signing bonus." She was placed in the IRR and is now being called back up, despite the fact that she just gave birth. But why should that matter when the US military thinks they -- without consulting her doctor -- can order a pregnant woman to do not just push-ups but to run. Does anyone have a brain in the brass?

The New York Times is full of crap this morning with nothing anyone needs to read and it's really sad that writers were put to work producing A6. The two stories above matter more than any of the official statements the Times attempts to tease out into "news." Focus on the two items above. You have an officer missing. If he doesn't turn up (and something may have happened to him, he could be wounded or worse), he'll be the first officer to be declared a deserter. (Of course, the New York Times has already falsely called Ehren Watada a deserter -- Watada did not desert, he was not classified as such by the military, he reported for duty on base every day.) In the second case, you have something that's so offensive on just about every level. They're pulling her from the IRR when we do not have a national emergency. She's the mother of a newborn (her own mother just had surgery and can't lift a baby). The military response to her pregnancy was to order her to take actions that for some (not all) women could have resulted in a miscarriage. For most women, pregnancy doesn't require bed rest (Rebecca had to be on bed rest during the first months of her pregnancy last year due to her history of past miscarriages) but intense physical activity needs an okay from your physician. Now they want to back-door draft her off to Iraq. And where's the New York Times on either story?

They repeat Bully Boy's claims of 'gains' and launch another wave of Operation Happy Talk. FYI, when a discharged mother of an infant is being recalled things aren't going well and that's just one sign for anyone paying attention to anything beyond spin.

On the issue of the conflicts and violence on the border of northern Iraq and Turkey, nothing is the US administration's plan still. Lloyd notes Karen DeYoung's "Turkey Urges U.S. To Take Action On Kurdish Violence" (Washington Post):

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said Friday that Turkey wants the United States to stop talking and start taking action to help end cross-border attacks by Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq.
"We need to work on actually making things happen," Babacan said at a news conference with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Ankara. "This is where the words end and action needs to start."

We'll also note Matthew Schofield's "Turks demand action, not words" (McClatchy Newspapers):

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday branded the Kurdistan Workers' Party a "terrorist organization" and a "common enemy" of the United States, Turkey and Iraq, but she stopped short of committing Washington to military action against the guerrilla force.
Turkey has threatened to launch military operations against the group in Iraq alone if necessary, and Turkish officials indicated that they weren't satisfied by what Rice told them in talks Friday.
"This is where the words end, and the action needs to start," Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said. "Her words were good to hear, but words offer nothing new," said another government official, who requested anonymity because he isn't an authorized spokesman.
The Bush administration has assured Turkey at least four times that it would take action against the PKK, as it's known in its Kurdish initials, but hasn't done so, in part because there are no U.S. troops in Iraq available for such a mission.

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;
Trina's Trina's Kitchen;
and Ruth's Ruth's Report

Meanwhile, the US military announced today: "A Multi-National Division – Center Soldier was killed when her patrol was struck by an improvised explosive device south of Baghdad Nov. 1."
And Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing outside a children's hospital that claimed 1 life and left three police officers wounded, an Al Mahaweel bombing that claimed the life of 1 police officer and wounded another, a Baghdad shooting the left three people wounded, and two attacks on officials -- a bombing targeted Lt. Gen. Mohan Hafidh and Maj. Gen. Jaleel Khalaf in Basra (no reported deaths) and Dr. Jabbar Yasir Al Maiyahi also survived an attack ("gunmen") on the campus of Waist University, however, three guards were injured.

Martha passes on the e-mail on Sunday's lineup for RadioNation with Laura Flanders:

This week on RadioNation: Avoiding the Toughness Trap
In order for Iran to change, the US has to change; if you want to know what's happening in a primary state, talk to a talk show host who lives there. This is the moment for an utter overhaul of US "security" policy and adults who want to help child soldiers better create a peaceful world. All that and BILLY SOTHERN on the election of Bobby Jindal -- is it the end of racism? No it's not. Join BILL HARTUNG, ARNIE ARNESON, CHARLES LONDON and others....
HARTUNG on the Toughness Trap
Don't forgetRadioNation is heard on Air America Radio Sundays at 1 pm EST and on XM satellite and non-commercial stations nationwide. It can also be heard via
podcast. To bring RadioNation to a station near you, write to
Out this week: THE CONTENDERS (Seven Stories). FLANDERS, RIDGEWAY, GOLDSTEIN AND DAN SAVAGE on CLINTON, OBAMA et al.. BUY it or ORDER IT today. For more information, go to

We noted Margaret Kimberley's latest in yesterday's snapshot but Marcia highlighted this excerpt. From Kimberley's "Obama and McClurkin" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report):

In order to shore up black voter support in the South Carolina primary, Obama or one of his very smart aides chose the least meaningful, lowest hanging political fruit. They decided to get some old time religion. Why not promote their man as a good Christian soldier and have some good Christian music to go along with the claim? The Donnie McClurkin snafu was born.
Donnie McClurkin is a gospel singer, and the pastor of a church in New York. McClurkin now sings Obama's praises, but just a few years ago he was singing for George W. Bush at the Republican
National Convention in 2004. Like all good business-minded preachers, McClurkin was fully in the Bush camp when it made good political sense.
McClurkin has his own personal issues, admitting to having sex with men but claiming that childhood sexual abuse was the sole reason for his orientation. He also claimed that gays were trying to "kill our children" while also calling homosexuality "a curse." McClurkin also opined that gays could, like him, change if they
prayed hard enough. McClurkin certainly picked the right horse in the right year, denying his own personal history in order to be in with the political in crowd.
The McClurkin controversy exposed Obama's lack of respect for the black community and also exposed his own opportunism. If he, a black candidate, is getting a lukewarm reception among his own people, it is because they doubt he is in their corner. They don't like being told that feelings of race pride can be fulfilled with a black face in a high place but only on the condition that they cease making demands on the system and make themselves invisible.

The e-mail address for this site is

Missing Army officer on the verge of being declared deserter

Robert Przybylski was a rising lieutenant when the Iraq war started, leading his airborne scout platoon through dangerous raids and at one point coming to the rescue of his injured battalion commander.
Now a captain, Przybylski was slated for another deployment to Iraq this spring as a company commander with the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment in Baumholder.But about three weeks ago something went wrong.
Today, Przybylski is the only officer in U.S. Army Europe to be listed absent without leave, a position he’s been in since Oct. 10. And in a matter of days he faces the prospect of being classified as a deserter, which takes effect after 30 consecutive days of unauthorized absence.As authorities investigate the case, the circumstances surrounding Przybylski’s disappearance remain shrouded in mystery.
"The investigation into the whereabouts of Captain Przybylski remain under investigation by CID and the soldier’s command," Criminal Investigation Command spokesman Chris Grey said in a prepared statement.

The above is the latest report on the missing captain by John Vandiver, "Authorities investigating captain’s disappearance" (Stars and Stripes). As we've said before (here and here), Przybylski may or may not be a war resister. He is, however, a captain who has gone missing, is listed AWOL and you'd think this would warrant media attention. He may be injured, for example. Certainly TV 'news' loves their missing blond females. But apparently, a missing captain -- who if not find quickly, will be declared a deserter -- is another story. As has been the pattern, Przybylski's father refused comment to Vandiver.

This was included in one entry but another story that also needs attention means the two need to be broken into different entries. The e-mail address for this site is

Friday, November 02, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Friday, November 2, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, Barack Obama sits down with the New York Times and flashes his War Hawk, and more.

Starting with war resistance. War resister Joshua Key told his story in The Deserter's Tale and now Key's book is among those optioned to tell the story of the illegal war on the big screen. Eric Jordan has optioned Key's story. Jordan and partner Paul Stephens began their producing careers with documentaries made for television at The Film Works, their Toronto based production company. Their latest release is Beowulf and Grendel in 2005 featuring Sarah Polley and many others. Josh Getlin (Los Angeles Times) quotes Jordan, "I didn't set out to make a pro-Iraq war movie or an anti-Iraq war movie. I wanted to make a movie about people under pressure, real people, and the fact that this is complex world. Just imagine what this kid went through, never dreaming he'd desert the U.S. Army. That's a great book -- and a great movie." And a story that needs to be told. Time and again, war resisters who go public cite the internet overwhelming. Helga and Agustin Aguayo have also cited David Zeiger's documentary of resistance within the military during Vietnam, Sir! No Sir! If Jordan is able to bring Key's story to the screen, it will have an impact.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters.
The National Lawyers Guild's convention begins shortly: The Military Law Task Force and the Center on Conscience & War are sponsoring a Continuing Legal Education seminar -- Representing Conscientious Objectors in Habeas Corpus Proceedings -- as part of the National Lawyers Guild National Convention in Washington, D.C. The half-day seminar will be held on Thursday, November 1st, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the convention site, the Holiday Inn on the Hill in D.C. This is a must-attend seminar, with excelent speakers and a wealth of information. The seminar will be moderated by the Military Law Task Force's co-chair Kathleen Gilberd and scheduled speakers are NYC Bar Association's Committee on Military Affairs and Justice's Deborah Karpatkin, the Center on Conscience & War's J.E. McNeil, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee's Peter Goldberger, Louis Font who has represented Camilo Mejia, Dr. Mary Hanna and others, and the Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's James Feldman. The fee is $60 for attorneys; $25 for non-profit attorneys, students and legal workers; and you can also enquire about scholarships or reduced fees. The convention itself will run from October 31st through November 4th and it's full circle on the 70th anniversary of NLG since they "began in Washington, D.C." where "the founding convention took place in the District at the height of the New Deal in 1937, Activist, progressive lawyers, tired of butting heads with the reactionary white male lawyers then comprising the American Bar Association, formed the nucleus of the Guild."

Turning to US politics. Margaret Kimberley (Black Agenda Report) summarizes the state of Senator Barack Obama's Democratic presidential primary campaign, "For months Obama was the political flavor of the month, wooed by fawning celebrities, and promoted by the corporate media. The stamp of approval from the right people had him sitting firmly atop an enormous pile of campaign cash. Now his deep pocketed contributors are showing signs of buyers' remorse, miffed because he is only neck and neck with Hillary Clinton in Iowa and trailing behind her in New Hampshire. Obama has been hoisted on his own petard. He assured Democrats that he was 'safe.' He openly scorned movement politics, and made the appeal of color blindness his calling card. He chose neo-con Bush suck-up Joe Lieberman as his Senate mentor. His criticisms of the evil occupation of Iraq focused not on murder and theft committed by Uncle Sam, but by the traumatized Iraqs' efforts to deal with an American-created hellish existence. Leaving 'all options on the table' is part of the Obama stump speech on Iran." On the subject of Iran, Barack Obama appears on the front page of this morning's New York Times. War pornographer Michael Gordon and Jeff Zeleny who lied in print (click here, here and here -- the paper finally retracted Zeleny's falsehood that should have never appeared) present a view of Barack Obama that's hardly pleasing. Among the many problems with the article is Obama as portrayed in the article -- and his campaign has issued no statement clarifying. The Times has the transcript online and from it, Barack Obama does mildly push the unproven claim that the Iranian government is supporting resistance in Iraq. Gordo's pushed that unproven claim repeatedly for over a year now. But Obama's remarks appear more of a reply and partial points in lengthy sentences -- not the sort of thing a functioning hard news reporter would lead with in an opening paragraph, touch on again in the third paragraph, in the fourth paragraph, in . . . But though this isn't the main emphasis of Obama's statements (at any time -- to be clear, when it pops up, it is a fleeting statement in an overly long, multi-sentenced paragraphs), it does go to the fact that Obama is once again reinforcing unproven claims of the right wing. In the transcript, he comes off as obsessed with Hillary Clinton. After her, he attempts to get a few jabs in at John Edwards and one in at Bill Richardson. Here is what real reporters should have made the lede of the front page: "Presidential candidate and US Senator Barack Obama who is perceived as an 'anti-war' candidate by some announced that he would not commit to a withdrawal, declared that he was comfortable sending US troops back into Iraq after a withdrawal started and lacked clarity on exactly what a withdrawal under a President Obama would mean." That is what the transcript reveals. Gordo really needs to let go of his blood lust for war with Iran.

Writing up a report, Gordo and Zeleny are useless but, surprisingly, they do a strong job with some of their questions. The paper should have printed up the transcript. If they had, people might be wondering about the 'anti-war' candidate. He maintains Bill Richardson is incorrect on how quickly US troops could be withdrawan from Iraq. Obama states that it would take at least 16 months which makes one wonder how long, if elected, it would take him to move into the White House? If you can grab a strainer or wade through Obama's Chicken Sop For The Soul, you grasp quickly why he refused to pledge (in September's MSNBC 'debate') that, if elected president, he would have all US troops out of Iraq by 2013: He's not talking all troops home. He tries to fudge it, he tries to hide it but it's there in the transcript. He doesn't want permanent military bases in Iraq -- he appears to want them outside of Iraq -- such as Kuwait. But he doesn't see the US embassy in Iraq -- the largest US embassy in the world as a base. However, he does feel that even after the illegal war was ended, US troops would need to remain behind in order guard the embassy and the staff. In addition, it becomes clear that he will keep US troops in Iraq to train the Iraqi police. Because?

The reporters don't think to ask. Here's a slice of reality, the US military is not trained to train police officers. Here's another to drop on the plate, Jordan was training them. Jordan got pushed aside around the half-way mark of 2006. If Obama wanted to pull US troops out of Iraq, the most obvious solution is to turn over the duty of training police officers to a non-military force. Along with needing those for trainers, he needs some to protect the trainers. Gordo gets to the point asking, "So how will you protect the trainers without forces in Iraq?" His answer is an embarrassment, he could keep the trainers out of potentially difficult situations. And in Iraq, that would be where? In addition, he would keep troops in Iraq for counter-terrorism (but not, he insists, counter-insurgency). If this doesn't all sound familiar, you slept through this spring and summer when Congressional Dems tried repeatedly to convince the American people that "all troops out of Iraq" could also mean that US troops stay to train, as military police, to fight terrorism, etc. While he's off talking al Qaeda in Iraq (a small number and one most observers state will be forced out by Iraqis when US troops leave) and working in more attacks on Senator Clinton, it's noted that he has "a more expansive approach to Iraq than she does in that you identify in your plan the possiblity of going back into Iraq to protect the populartion if there's an all-out civil war. . . . And providing monitors to help the population relocate and go after war criminals. Those are three elements -- those are new missions for Americans after Iraq that she doesn't postulate." What follows is a comical exchange:

Obama: But they aren't necessarily military missions.

NYT: But how do you go back into Iraq without military forces?

Obama: No, no, no, no, no. You conflated three things. The latter two that you are talked about are not military missions. Let's just be clear about that.

NYT: An armed escort is not a military mission?

Though Obama says he wants "to be clear," he refuses to answer that yes or no question and the interview is over.

So let's be clear that the 'anti-war' Obama told the paper he would send troops back into Iraq. Furthermore, when asked if he would be willing to do that unilaterally, he attempts to beg off with, "We're talking too speculatively right now for me to answer." But this is his heavily pimped September (non)plan, dusted off again, with a shiny new binder. The story is that Barack Obama will NOT bring all US troops home. Even if the illegal war ended, Obama would still keep troops stationed in Iraq (although he'd really, really love it US forces could be stationed in Kuwait exclusively), he would still use them to train (the police0 and still use them to protect the US fortress/embassy and still use them to conduct counter-terrorism actions. Margaret Kimberley (cited at the opening of this section on politics) called it correctly. Meanwhile Ruth Conniff (The Progressive) weighs in on the alleged Democratic 'debate' this week, dubbing it "pile-on-Hillary night," and wondering what the point of it really was: "But hanging over all this is the specter of the $90 million Hillary had raised by the middle of October. That huge amount of cash so outstrips the other candidates, it seems like a silly game of make-believe to pretend that a clever quip during a debate, or even the extremely important and legistimate points the candidates made last night, could change the dynamic of the race. It doesn't matter how trenchant your comments are if you are drowned out by the amplified voice of a frontrunner who can buy all the airtime that's left in this extremely short primary season." Also noting the heavy donations from big business is Bruce Dixon (Black Agenda Report), "For Democratic and Republican wings of America's permanent ruling party, the all-important selection which precedes the election isn't about poll numbers, votes or the citizens that cast them. It's about winning the favor of military contractors, the banking and financial sectors and Big Oil. It's about reassuring insurance and pharmaceutical companies, cozying up to agribusiness, the cable and telecom monopolies, allaying the fears of chambers of commerce, and wooing Hollywood." Dixon goes on to note the industries pouring big money in Obama and Clinton's campaigns, notes PEJ's tracking of the first six months of mainstream press coverage of the candidates this year -- Obama received more positive coverage from the mainstream than any other candidate for president -- almost 20% more than Hillary Clinton and approximately 19% more than Rudy Giuliani -- and concludes that the Dem presidential ticket will be Clinton-Obama (Clinton for president).

Meanwhile US House Rep and Democratic presidential nominee contender Dennis Kucinich announced that he is calling for House vote next week. On? Impeachment of Cheney. Kucinich: "The momentum is building for impeachment. Millions of citizens across the nation are demanding Congress rein in the Vice President's abuse of power. Despite this groundswell of opposition to the unconstitutional conduct of office, Vice President Cheney continues to violate the U.S. Constitution by insisting the power of the executive branch is supreme. Congress must hold the Vice President accountable. The American people need to let Members of Congress know how they feel about this. The Vice President continues to use his office to advocate for a continued occupation of Iraq and prod our nation into a belligerent stance against Iran. If the Vice President is successful, his actions will ensure decades of disastrous consequences." His office notes, "The privileged resolution has priority status for consideration on the House floor. Once introduced, the resolution has to be brought to the floor within two legislative days, although the House could act on it immediately. Kucinich is expected to bring it to the House floor on Tuesday, November 6."

Kucinich was among those participating in a bi-partisan forum for candidates (Republican John McCain participated by phone, all others were Democrats). Holly Ramer (AP) reports that the forum, geared to address concerns of the disabled community, resulted in participation from Dem presidential candidates Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton, Dennis Kucinich, Joe Biden and Mike Gravel. John Edwards sent a flack to address the group.

Turning to the Green Party. Kimberly Wilder (On the Wilder Side) has posted Cynthia McKinney's declaration of candidacy. The form shows McKinney's signature with a date of October 16th next to it and the FEC (US Federal Elections Commission) lists October 22nd as the filing date. The Green Party of the United States notes, "Always a lightning rod for those who believe a woman's place is in the kitchen, Congressomwan Cynthia McKinney was the first Black woman elected to Georgia's state legislature. With rules that required she wear a dress ont he state house floor, she chose instead to wear a smart pants suit, letting them know that the days of the 'Good Ole Boy' system were a thing of the past. Now, she may be carrying that same message about the two-party system. Controversial not only for her choice of clothing, McKinney has spoken out against the war on Iraq from the beginning, and anti-war mom Cindy Sheehan calls her 'My friend who's running for President.' McKinney is being actively pursued by the Green Party as their nominee in 2008. Local Green Party chair Gregg Jocoy has already endorsed her possible run, saying, 'We had Ralph Nader on our ballot line in 2000, and that brought us recruits and supporters who are with us to this day. I know Cynthia McKinney will bring an entirely new and energized group of people to our side. Then it's our job to show them that we mean business." At All Things Cynthia McKinney, McKinney has posted an audio clip where she explains why she has declared herself a member of the Green Party "and when I vote Green I will vote my values." McKinney was elected to Congress six times as a member of the Democratic Party (1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2004). Is McKinney running for president? She concludes her audio message with, "I promise to announce my decision in November." Along with being a leading voice against the war in Congress, the Green Party also notes, "McKinney, who served a dozen years in Congress, filed impeachment papers on President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Sec. of State Rice as her last official act."

As noted Wednesday, Ralph Nader also intends to announce his decision of whether to run for president or not by the end of the year. On Wednesday, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) spoke with attorney Carl Mayer about the lawsuit being filed regarding attempts in 2004 to deny Nader ballot access. Over the summer, Ian Wilder filmed Nader discussing the ballot access issue and Ian and Kimberly Wilder have posted the video at their site On the Wilder Side. They have also made it available at YouTube.

Turning to some of today's reported violence in Iraq . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a bridge bombing Thursday night in the Diyala. Reuters notes three injured in a Ramadi bombing and a Diwaniya roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 Polish soldiers with three more wounded. Counting today's death -- Andrzej Filipek, Poland has lost 23 troops in the illegal war. BBC reports, "The three injured soldiers are being treated in a hospital near the scene of the blast. The incident follows the attempted assassination in October of the Polish Ambassador to Iraq, Edward Pietrzyk."


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Gunmen opened fire on two pupils on Thursday afternoon near Tuz Khurmatu (south of Kirkuk) during their return from school in (Beer Ahmed) village killing one and injuring the other."


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Also today, the US military announced: "Three Airmen were killed Nov. 1 while performing combat operations in the vicinity of Balad Air Base, Iraq. All three were assigned to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations at Balad AB."

Staying with violence:

Apparently there is one set of rights for Blackwater mercenaries and another for the rest of us. Normally when a group of people alleged to have gunned down 17 civilians in a lawless shooting spree are questioned, investigators will tell them something along the lines of: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." But that is not what the Blackwater operatives involved in the September 16 Nisour Square shooting in Iraq were told. Most of the Blackwater shooters were questioned by State Department Diplomatic Security investigators with the understanding that their statements and information gleaned from them could not be used to bring criminal charges against them, nor could they be introduced as evidence. In other words: "Anything you say can't and won't be used against you in a court of law."
ABC News obtained copies of sworn statements given by Blackwater guards in the immediate aftermath of the shootings, all of which begin, "I understand this statement is being given in furtherance of an official administrative inquiry," and that, "I further understand that neither my statements nor any information or evidence gained by reason of my statements can be used against me in a criminal proceeding." Constitutional law expert Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, says the offering of so-called "use immunity" agreements by the State Department is "very irregular," adding he could not recall a precedent for it. In normal circumstances, Ratner said, such immunity is only granted after a Grand Jury or Congressional committee has been conveyed and the party has invoked their 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination. It would then be authorized by either a judge or the committee.

That's Jeremy Scahill (Huffington Post via Common Dreams) on this week's big development with regards to the mercneary company -- the US State Department's own investigators offered Blackwater 'guards' immunity (limited-immunity, they insist) for their 'cooperation' in the investigation into the slaughter. On Wednesday Aram Roston (NBC News) reported, "Federal agents are investigating allegations that the Blackwater USA security firm illegally exported dozens of firearms sound suppressors -- commonly known as silencers -- to
Iraq and other countries for use by company operatives, sources close to the investigation tell NBC News. . . . The sources said the investigation is part of a broader examination of potential firearms and export violations." Meanwhile, the only US governmental entity to hold Blackwater accountable is the IRS. To avoid paying taxes, FICA, et al, Blackwater was categorizing its employees as contract labor. The IRS overruled that. Yesterday, US Senator John Kerry notified Steven C. Preston, head of the U.S. Small Business Adminstration by letter that he needs answers regarding a Blackwater affilate, Presidential Airways, Inc, and requesting "A thorough analysis of the size determination made regarding Blackwater; The information that was relied on in making the size determination; The number of employees and independent contractors Blackwater and each of its affiliates or related companies listed in Size Determination Memorandum File Number 3-2007-3-4-5 were ddetermined to have through the SBA's analysis; The number (and location) of site visits that were done to confirm any information Blackwater or its affiliates provided; How the SBA used the Twenty Factor Common Law Test in making the size determination; Any additional materials related to other size determinations involving Blackwater USA or any of its affiliates." And on oversight . . . Jeremy Scahill addressed Blackwater on PBS' Bill Moyers Journal October 19th. He also answered questions the following week. One viewer asked about North Carolina's oversight responsibilities. Scahill replied, "I think this would be an important development. One of the interesting -- some might say distrubing -- aspects of Blackwater's presence in the US national security apparatus is its facilites. The main Blackwater headquarters in Moyock, North Carolina is a sprawling 7,000 acre private military base -- the largest of its kind in the world. The company has also been building a parallel network to the structure of the offical government apparatus. The Prince empire now includes an aviation division, a maritime division, an intelligence company and Blackwater manufactures both surveillance blimps and armored vehicles. It recently opened a new Blackwater facility in Illinois called 'Blackwater North' and is fighting back fierce local opposition to a planned 800+ acre facility in Poterero, California, just miles from the US-Mexico border. The Congressman who represents that district, Democrat Bob Filner, recently inroduced legislation seeking to block the creation of what he terms 'mercenary training centers' anywhere in the U.S. outside of military bases. While that is obviously at the federal level, it would be interesting to get basic questions answered about the legal framework for such facilities in the states in which they operate."

Turning to the continued tensions and conflict between Turkey and northern Iraq. Today Warren P. Strobel (McClatchy Newspapers) quotes Air Force Gen. retired Joseph Ralston (whom Bully Boy appointed as his envoy to address the PKK) declaring, "The U.S. government should make good on the commitments they have made to the Turks." US Secretary State and Anger Condi Rice went to Turkey for a diplomatic meeting today. CBS and AP report that Rice declared, following the meeting, the US government's "committed to redoubling its efforts" in assisting Turkey in combating the PKK -- a group the US has labeled a "terrorist" organization. Rice's words ring as hollow as Hoshyar Zebari's, noted by Glen Carey (Bloomberg News), Iraq's Foreign Minister and Kurd -- that, yet again, Iraq's central government is serious about doing something. Rice says more talks will come tomorrow in Istanbul and Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan , meets with Bully Boy in DC on Monday. Translation, nothing has been accomplished.

From do-nothing to actual action, Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) explored the latest with CODEPINK today:

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to the bigger issue of CODEPINK. Actually, yesterday President Bush invoked CODEPINK's name. Let's hear what he had to say.
    PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Congress needs to put the needs of those who put on the uniform ahead of their desire to spend more money. When it comes to funding our troops, some in Washington should spend more time responding to the warnings of terrorists like Osama bin Laden and the requests of our commanders on the ground, and less time responding to the demands of bloggers and CODEPINK protesters.
AMY GOODMAN: That's President Bush speaking yesterday. Medea Benjamin, your response?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Well, we think it's great that Bush mentioned us. We only wish he would have listened to us back in 2002, when we formed CODEPINK and said that invading Iraq would be a disaster. And, of course, we wish that he and Congress would listen to us now, when we say bring the troops home and don't invade Iran.
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the strategy that you've employed and what it means to be banned from the Capitol. In fact, it wasn't just Desiree who was banned when she approached Condoleezza Rice; you, too, were banned that day, weren't you?
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Yes. There were five of us that were pulled out of the hearing room. I was pulled out for going like this.
AMY GOODMAN: Meaning holding up a peace sign.
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Holding up my hands in a peace sign, that's right. And I face a jury trial for that unlawful conduct. And they are cracking down harder on us. We have about a dozen CODEPINK men and women right now who are banned from the Capitol, which is something we would like to get some lawyers to contest the legality of that. In the meantime, we really need more people to come forward and join us in the CODEPINK house in D.C., because we're absolutely determined that we have people in every one of these hearings where they're talking about the war. And right now, there's going to be another big moment when Bush is asking for more money for the war, and Congress is going to have to decide whether they're going to give it to him. We need to be there in their faces every single day. So our appeal to all the listeners of Democracy Now! is: come to D.C. Stay at the CODEPINK house. It's a fabulous experience. But we need you to be there when we can't.

As Ruth notes, PBS' Bill Moyers Journal, tonight in most markets Moyers examines how FCC chair Kevin Martin's push to deregulate the communications industry will threaten minority ownership and that Moyers will also provide a commentary regarding press coverage of peace rallies. PBS' NOW with David Brancaccio (also Friday night in most markets, check local listings) looks at farming and asks, "Can local farmers change course and crops and still survive in a shifting economy?" Brancaccio interviews Bill McKibben and Steven L. Hopp is also interviewed on the program while online Hopp and Barbara Kingsolver offer an excerpt of their new book. And Sunday, CBS' 60 Minutes airs Bob Simon's report on 'Curveball' -- the Iraqi exile who invented stories the administration swallowed (despite warnings) because it fit with the other lies they were using to launch an illegal war.

Kat: Book corrected per C.I. and "you'd" fixed to "you."

Other Items

As if Turkey and northern Iraq didn't have enough problems with the continuing tensions and violence across the border, US Secretary of State and Anger Condi Rice is in Turkey.

From Warren P. Strobel's "Former envoy: U.S. driving Turkey, Iran together" (McClatchy Newspapers):

The retired general who served as President Bush's special envoy to deal with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) said the United States has failed to keep its promises to Turkey to confront the Kurdish terrorist group, and Turkey may feel that it has no choice but to attack the PKK's sanctuary in northern Iraq.
Retired Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston, in a brief interview, declined to say why he stepped down several weeks ago. But published reports have said that he was frustrated by the Bush administration's failure to act against the PKK.

Strobel quotes Ralston declaring, "The U.S. government should make good on the commitments they have made to the Turks."

Daneil Dombey and Vincent Boland (Finacial Times of London) reported, ahead of Rice's landing, that an offer would be made by the US of "a package of measures:"

concrete measures to allow Mr Edrdogan to show that government-to-government co-operation against the PKK had improved, support for limited Turkish action to punish the PKK for its behaviour, and a longer-term strategy to force it to change tack. The Pentagon also says it is making efforts to provide Tukrey with "actionable intelligence" -- real time information to allow Ankara to strike PKK targets.

Erdogan is Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the prime minister of Turkey. Matthew Schofield (McClatchy Newspapers) sketches out the schedule for diplomatic talks noting that the talking:

opens when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls on Turkish officials here Friday and ends Monday when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan calls on President Bush. The meeting Monday will 'determine the steps Turkey will take,' Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babcan said Thursday.

Ankara will tell Rice that the PKK's presence in northern Iraq, which Ankara initially saw develop as a result of the power vacuum in the region after Saddam Hussein's forces were forced to leave in the early 1990s, is now tolerated and supported by the Iraqi Kurds. according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

But someone's feeling rather Alanis. Uninvited, Yusuf Kanli (Turkish Daily News) informs is the Kurdish Jalal Talabani whom some outlets call the Iraqi president but Kanli calls him "the puppet" of the US -- and who can argue with that? He also refers to Barzani as "the local warlord" and calls the US out for its inaction. Barzana runs the northern region of Iraq and is referred to as the leader of the KDP. From "What does the PKK want? What does Barzani want? What does the US want?" (Turkish Daily News):

Obviously Massoud Barzani is keeping the PKK in hand as a bargaining tool for making Turkey recognize him, namely the "Kurdish Regional Administration" as he told Miliyet's Hasan Cemal. Turkey would have perhaps lived with Barzani but as he continues to protect the PKK and to insist on Kirkuk, talks are going nowhere. Besides, isn't Barzani playing with fire while he triest to bargain by using such a terror organization? After all whether or not the PKK is the right trump card for Barzani is debatable. Does the U.S. see the PKK deal as part of the Iranian equation? At this point, the ambassador shared his opinion referring to Turkey, "I think the U.S. prefers Kurds over you."

Glen Carey (Bloomberg News) notes Iraq's Foreign Minister and Kurd Hoshyar Zebari is again asserting Iraq is doing something. It's the same assertion Zebari's made throughout the last few weeks. It's hollow and has been hollow. The northern region is not responsive to Baghdad.

Apparently there is one set of rights for Blackwater mercenaries and another for the rest of us. Normally when a group of people alleged to have gunned down 17 civilians in a lawless shooting spree are questioned, investigators will tell them something along the lines of: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." But that is not what the Blackwater operatives involved in the September 16 Nisour Square shooting in Iraq were told. Most of the Blackwater shooters were questioned by State Department Diplomatic Security investigators with the understanding that their statements and information gleaned from them could not be used to bring criminal charges against them, nor could they be introduced as evidence. In other words: "Anything you say can't and won't be used against you in a court of law."
ABC News obtained copies of sworn statements given by Blackwater guards in the immediate aftermath of the shootings, all of which begin, "I understand this statement is being given in furtherance of an official administrative inquiry," and that, "I further understand that neither my statements nor any information or evidence gained by reason of my statements can be used against me in a criminal proceeding." Constitutional law expert Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, says the offering of so-called "use immunity" agreements by the State Department is "very irregular," adding he could not recall a precedent for it. In normal circumstances, Ratner said, such immunity is only granted after a Grand Jury or Congressional committee has been conveyed and the party has invoked their 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination. It would then be authorized by either a judge or the committee.

Closing with the New York Times and this entry is dictated. Front page of the New York Times is "Obama Envisions New Relationship With Iran" -- if the text is accurate portrait of Obama's remarks, the article should receive serious attention. However, it's co-written by Michael R. Gordon. Gordo has long pushed a link between Iran arming Iraqis (be it Sunni or Shi'ite -- it's however the mood strikes Gordo). The co-writer is Jeff Zeleny who has his own struggles with the truth. If his campaign issues no clarification then -- as with Social Security -- the left has another example of Barack so desperate to find an issue that he'll go with a lie so many have been combating with the truth.

The e-mail address for this site is

Added by Dona: The friend C.I. dictated this too was e-mailing the post. Here's a link to Ian Wilder's online video of Ralph Nader discussing ballot access this summer. Ian and Kimberly Wilder's site is On the Wilder Side.

NYT's Rubin waits and avoids embarrassment

In this morning's New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin's "3 G.I.'s Die in Iraq's North; Baghdad Civilian Toll Falls" runs on A11 and, unlike some, Rubin doesn't need to wipe the egg off her face because she didn't ignore the reality that the US military regularly holds death announcements until after those first-day-of-the-month-look-back stories run. She also notes that yesterday's Diyala attack targeting police col. Faris al-Emairy "was the fourth assassination attempt on Colonel Emairy, who said he joined the police force two years ago and that he had been a member of the Republican Gaurd, an elite unit during Saddam Hussein's rule."

Right below Rubin's article is a brief AFP excerpt entitled "CBS Identifies 'Curveball'" which may be most interesting for giving the impression that Rafid Ahmed Alwan was a good student: "It said that he had studied chemical engineering but had lied about being in charge of a plant making mobile biological weapons." Really? "60 Minutes has learned that Alwan's university records indicate he did study chemical engineering but earned nearly all low marks, mostly 50s." Bob Simon's report airs Sunday on CBS.

As Ruth notes, PBS' Bill Moyers Journal, tonight in most markets Moyers examines how FCC chair Kevin Martin's push to deregulate the communications industry will threaten minority ownership and that Moyers will also provide a commentary regarding press coverage of peace rallies. PBS' NOW with David Brancaccio (also Friday night in most markets, check local listings) looks at farming and asks, "Can local farmers change course and crops and still survive in a shifting economy?" Brancaccio interviews Bill McKibben and Steven L. Hopp is also interviewed on the program while online Hopp and Barbara Kingsolver and Camille Kingsolver offer an excerpt of their new book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Also among the topics on today's Democracy Now! will be CODEPINK.
War resister Joshua Key told his story in The Deserter's Tale and Josh Getlin reports in today's Los Angeles Times that Key's book is among those optioned to tell the story of the illegal war on the big screen (Hotchkiss in the excerpt below is Jody Hotchkiss, literary agent at Jody Hotchkiss & Assoc.):

Denise Bukowski, Key's literary agent, said Key's book received heavy attention from the interantional press. It didn't blame Iraq atrocities on a bunch of a bad apples but on systemic abuses by the U.S. military. Moreover, the author came across as a decent, patriotic kid from Oklahoma who felt betrayed by his own country. "But then [Hotchkiss hit a brick wall in Hollywood," Bukowski said.
Hotchkiss heard comments that Key's book "just wasn't right" for one studio or another. He was told that the subject was too volatile, that people supported the troops and could not sympathize with a deserter.
Enter Eric Jordan, an independent Canadian filmmaker. His company, the Film Works, produced "Beowulf and Grendel," and he was eager to option Key's book. He said the tale had particular resonance for Canada, which has a long tradition of providing refuge and asylum for political refugees.
"I didn't set out to make a pro-Iraq war movie or an anti-Iraq war movie," Jordan said. "I wanted to make a movie about people under pressure, real people, and the fact that this is complex world.
"Just imagine what this kid went through, never dreaming he'd desert the U.S. Army. That's a great book -- and a great movie."

The e-mail address for this site is Yes, this entry is e-mailed. I'm unable to log into Blogger/Blogspot this morning. I'm not sure what the glitch is there.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

Credit to Arthur J. Magida for working Iraq into a column (see "Disconnect Between Anti-War Activism Then and Now" at Common Dreams) but maybe you can't really compare "then" and "now" in terms of illegal wars at a book symposium? And maybe Toad who didn't want protests at the RNC convention against the illegal war, who got his ass served to him by Naomi Klein over that ridiculous position, and Katha Pollitt who doesn't seem to be aware that an illegal war is going on now are the ones to look to for war commentary? On the latter, it was almost exactly one year after Ellen Knickmeyer's incredible article on Abeer ran in the Washington Post when Pollitt finally made time (a single sentence) to mention Abeer. I don't know where people are getting this idea that Pollitt did anything amazing (other than sign a few petitions) to end the illegal war? The topic didn't even make the phoned in "10 non-related items I string together and tell you to donate to and call it a column year after year". Vietnam made the list. During the holiday season of 2006, Vietnam was on the list. Iraq? MADRE wasn't on the list. No Iraq related charity or need made the list. Lynda noted an article (Stacy Bannerman's must-read "War IS a Women’s Issue, Senator Clinton") that I passed over to Rebecca because I knew she could write about it at length and far better than I could. (Which she has, see her "stacy bannerman & the facts of life.") Molly Ivins attempting to use her public forum to end the illegal war? Absolutely. Katha Pollitt? Please. Maybe people don't read The Nation (not surprising with the falling circulation rates) but let's no confuse snappy attitude with a desire to end the illegal war. If Pollitt wanted to end the illegal war, she has a monthly column to make that point in. Anna Quindlen? Absolutely. She wrote about war resisters -- which is a great deal more than many of the alleged left and 'to the left' can claim. Katha Pollitt?

I appreciate Madiga's column and applaud his tying Iraq into it but the reality is the magazine went downhill some time ago and Pollitt ignored Iraq. She suddenly discovered Cindy Sheehan as a topic only when Sheehan was on the verge of announcing her own run for Congress. Instead of applauding Sheehan for that, Pollitt -- who'd never devoted a column to Sheehan and had only written a single sentence about Sheehan prior -- had a ton to say. All variations on "Don't Run!"

Pollitt who does not live in the eighth Congressional district of California (nor in California) wanted to sport her lack of knowledge and facts and tell the Peace Mom she was of more value as an activist -- one that, presumably, Pollitt could continue to ignore.

Now I don't vote in NYC and I don't carpet bag into Conn. to vote for Ned Lamont. So on those areas, I'll let Pollitt cover the waterfront. But she had no point in weighing in. It's a local election she will not be voting in (unless she has more creative uses for her voter registration) and it's an area she hasn't lived in, has no knowledge of except as a tourist.

So the Bay Area says, "Go away, Katha. You've already insulted Muslims, you've already insulted the NAACP, you couldn't write about Abeer when it was needed, we've had enough of you." Now she probably passes for 'radical' in the lit set. As she garners new attention for her cyber stalking essay (more embarrassing in hard cover than it was in The New Yorker, although I did hear a hilarious joke making the rounds of Hunter College) maybe it will disguise the reality of Pelosi?

From an article reposted at CBS News:

A survey by the Field Poll in California last week showed that in her home state, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the first time in her new job has a plurality of voters disapproving of her performance -- 40 percent to 35 percent.

B-b-b-b-but, everyone loves Nancy! Or at least Katha thought so. Nancy Pelosi was a gift! Not to the Bay Area. Not to the people who have elected her. She has abandoned every issue that ranks high in the Bay Area. Now for another area, she might be seen as fairly left (I wouldn't call her that) but for the Bay Area, she's our Joe Lieberman. Although it's news to Katha, it wasn't news to anyone in the Bay Area (and we noted it here when Pollitt felt the need to offer that Cindy shouldn't run -- surely the height of faux-feminism, telling another woman not to run for public office).

As Rebecca rightly notes, there's a reason Katha became the den mother of the Mud Flap Gals. (And Rebecca's illustration of that is hilarious. I won't spoil it by noting it here, it's in her final paragraphs.) Suddenly, after ignoring Iraq, the peace movement and everything else for how long?, Pollitt rushed in to celebrate Cindy the activist and say, "Woman to woman, sister to sister, feminist to feminist, Cindy, please know your place." Again, the height of faux-feminism. Reading that ridiculous new book, you grasp that Pollitt's in the midst of her own Backlash. It's like reading The Ego Of Us All all over again, as if Pollitt's intent upon channeling TEOUA from the grave -- and succeeding.

Cindy Sheehan's not running a vanity campaign. She's running to win. And the Bay Area is fed up with Nancy Pelosi. They are tired of her turning her back on LBGT issues, they are tired of her re-invented stance on abortion (not something she'll press on as 60 Minutes noted in the October 2006 report), won't go for impeachment (which is heavily favored in the Bay Area) and has sold out the Bay Area on the issue of ending the illegal war. When Martin Frost and assorted others were bad mouthing Pelosi then trying to get the leadership role in the House, the (false) claim was that she was too liberal for the job because of the area she represented. But Nancy Pelosi hasn't represented the Bay Area for some time. For the Bay Area, she is Joe Lieberman.

And while Magida is making some strong points (and has written an enjoyable column), the reality is that Katha Pollitt hasn't used her voice to end the illegal war. Her body of work (I'm referring to her columns) demonstrates this. Had Cindy not decided to run, Pollitt might have gone through the entire decade without focusing on her for even that lousy blog post.

And confusing grass hoppers rushing from topic to topic with people trying to end the illegal war is prolonging it.

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 Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3837. Tonight? 3845. Just Foreign Policy's total for the number of Iraqis killed since the start of the illegal war stood at 1,093,978. Tonight? 1,099,372.

We're staying on the topic of women using their voices for this entry. The Bat Segunda Show was noted in the "Iraq snapshot" Tueday. From time to time, the program sends out a release. That can't go in the snapshot. We don't have that kind of room. (There wasn't even room for Blackwater today, the plan is to pick it up tomorrow.) But here's some of their latest press release:

Bat Segundo, beyond almost everyone's expectations, has hit his 150th show, thanks in part to many of your kind pledges!
The latest five installments (Shows #146-150) of The Bat Segundo Show, a literary podcast featuring interviews with today's contemporary writers, are now up. These shows include Inside the Actors Studio's James Lipton as you haven't heard him before, talking candidly about his work as one of the leading television interviewers (#150), a heady discussion about thought and language with noted cognitive scientist Steven Pinker (#147), a political conversation with Naomi Wolf about whether we are close to the end of America (#148 . . . and, last but not least, an investigation into the life of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz with biographer David Michaelis (#149).
Mr. Segundo is testier than usual these days, perhaps because he has once again been heckled by his ex-wife Doris and seems convinced, based on the ten reasonable steps outlined by Naomi Wolf, that the end of The Bat Segundo Show is fast approaching (or perhaps he's simply dismayed by anything involving steps, because it will mean that he will have to give up his tequila).
The main Segundo site can be found here: subscribe to the show with a podcatcher program (for later transfer to your iPod), copy and paste the following URL into your program:
Please note: You do not have to have an iPod to listen the show! If you go to the main Segundo site, you can save the MP3 to your lovely machine by clicking on the bat picture or, if you're the kind of person who prefers swinging a bat over clicking on one, we do have a user-friendly interface with many listening and streaming options below the capsules.Here are the details for the latest five shows.

SHOW #148 -- Naomi Wolf (50:13)
Direct Link to Show:
Condition of Mr. Segundo: Contemplating the end of The Bat Segundo Show.
Naomi Wolf
Subjects Discussed: James Madison's prescient statement about the American republic in 1829, the end of America, despotic blueprints, on the prospect of Americans taking up arms against the government, closed societies, the staging of "Mission Accomplished," the efficacy of protesting, Nancy Pelosi's ineptitude, the American Freedom Campaign's failure to adopt impeachment as a position, Andrew Meyer and John Kerry’s failure to react, paramilitary forces crushing democracy, Blackwater, the Defense Authorization Act of 2007, the failure to restore habeas corpus, enemy combatants, what’s coming six months from now, the TSA watchlist and citizen intimidation at airports, Andrew Meyer remixes, the confiscation of cameras and laptops, fear and denial, Victor Klemperer, father metaphors for the President, the justification of torture, Page Six libel, Abu Ghraib, the PATRIOT Act and Barbara Lee, the possibilities of a transparent election in 2008, Hillary Clinton's waffling, the assault on lawyers, whether progressives and the Daily [Toilet Scrubber] adequately question the Democratic Party, the abdication of paper ballots, and the Democrats raising the war debt ceiling.
Wolf: It is so important for us to look at this blueprint, because when we see all these pieces fitting together, we realize that we are in an extraordinary crisis point where we have to rise up. I would not say rise up with arms, but certainly take to the streets and press representatives and confront the abusers, like other democracy movements.
Correspondent: I suggest the rise up in arms with a certain degree of hyperbole. Because people are going to Washington. They've gone there to protest the last couple of weeks about the war. And there are people getting arrested for reading the Constitution on public property, on a place where they are supposed to have freedom of assembly. So given this, and given the fact that, well frankly, Nancy Pelosi isn't going to proceed impeachment actions against Bush, so what then can we do?
Wolf: What can we do? You know, this is a very sad conversation in a way, although it will end hopefully. Because I'll reach the answer in a minute. When I wrote this book, I thought it would be very controversial and that people would be saying, "Come on. Not America." On the contrary. What I'm finding is that Americans across the political spectrum are already there. They know something very serious and dangerous is going on. And they're saying what you're saying, which is: We tried it all. We tried democracy already. We tried the marching. We tried emailing our Congress people. Things are shifting into overdrive. And you're right to notice that. I mean, there's this horrible phase in a closing democracy, when leaders and citizens still think it's a democracy, but the people who have already started to close it are kind of drumming their fingers waiting for everybody to realize that that’s not the dance anymore.

I'm not including a bad reciter of lines who faded years ago and chose to trash feminism (not surprising, she is a Republican so bringing up that she sounds like Rush Limbaugh isn't going to be an insult to her) in the listing.

We focused on Wolf and she's been a topic on campuses a number of times this week. In fact, today she was contrasted with Katha Pollitt. (Students grasp that Pollitt's not interested in the illegal war and they grasp that The Nation isn't. The magazine has the worst rep among left college students of any magazine.) Wolf's new book is The End of America: Letters of Warning to a Young Patriot (and it will be the topic of a book discussion at Third, but not this weekend, we want to try to do as quick an edition as possible, no 36 hours with no sleep again). ["1 Book, 10 Minutes" went up today. We did it October 7th. It's up today due to reasons outlined this morning here and also outlined by Mike tonight.] It's gathering a lot of interest and attention (as it should) but the thing that came up today (and has come up before) is why does Wolf 'get it' when others don't?

Well she's smart. But that's not really it. The reason is she's not been playing desk jockey. She hasn't produced a naval gazing book because she's out in the world. If you listen to the interview (or just read the excerpt above), she's explaining what she's encountering. Grass hoppers aren't going to pick that up. They're too busy leaping from topic to topic.

When the comparison between the two women was made today, another student shared that she felt this book, Wolf's new one, was the logical sequel to Fire With Fire. That is an incredible point to make (and one I wish I had thought of). In that book, Wolf was looking at the changing landscape in the US and talking about the power we had and how we could use it. With this book, she's again exploring the landscape and she's addressing the way our power is being stolen and what we need to do to get it back.

A student who did sign up with her organization, American Freedom Campaign, and is excited about it, noted that she seems more left than the organization. As she notes in the Segundo interview, the goals and work of the organization will be decided by the members. But in terms of where she's at and where she's headed in the immediate future, you can't speak with people the way she is (or the way Matthew Rothschild does) without it waking up something in you.

When the comparison was brought up today, I asked what news source do you go to for information about Iraq? I knew what the answer would be because it's generally the first answer on most campuses: Democracy Now! [Most? We're expanding to speaking areas where Democracy Now! is not as readily available, as Kat has noted.] So why is that?

Amy Goodman's probably killing herself with her current schedule (program, show, speaking and working with her brother David Goodman on their third book) but one thing that all the meet ups she's doing does is keep her connected with the concerns of people. Not the concerns of the beltway. She's not watching the chat & chews on Sunday, asking herself, "What will I cover this week! I need ideas!" As back breaking as her schedule is, one thing it provides her with is interaction with a wide range of people, a huge spectrum.

At the same time they're making these points, the biggest puzzle this week has been, "Why don't other people get it?" And, there, they're usually speaking of parents or relatives who have some strong past moments in activism but don't appear connected today.

We're more divided today. I'm not speaking of 'polarization.' Isn't it funny how the mainstream media speaks of the Iraq War as 'polarizing'? The polls don't reflect a 50-50 divide. The polls overwhelming demonstrate that Americans want the illegal war ended within a year or less. The actual 'polarization' appears to be between Americans and the bulk of their elected officials.

But we are move divided in the sense that our public spheres are shrinking (not unlike our media choices) and we're more prone to rush back to our boxes. (Americans are working more to make ends meet than they were during Vietnam.) Mark Rudd had a wonderful point about this:

I think it's more cultural, too. I think there's an individualism and a sense that nothing can change anything, that we didn't have in the '60s. I think the civil rights movement was a big factor in raising up a generation of people who felt that what you do makes a difference. Also, and this is interrelated, but a youth culture, an anti-authoritarian culture, is very important. But now there's no youth culture--well, in indy media--but at a deeper level, the consumer culture, and the entertainment culture, has gotten so deep into people's psyche, that there's no civic culture, where it's important to get together with other people on a Friday night and figure out what we can do to end the war. That's almost unthinkable to young people today. But I did that every Friday night. It's unthinkable because the entertainment culture, and the consumer culture, is so completely and totally hegemonic. People go out for entertainment or they buy some s--t or they go online and surf or buy ... it wasn't quite like that in the '60s. We had television. We weren't in the dark ages. But there was much more of a civic idea, that it meant something to get together and do something important. I see it in my own two kids. What's important to us is a good dinner on a Friday night. That's entertainment. That's what life has become.
[. . .]
That's another thing in this society that I can point to. There's so much fragmentation in society that there's no sense that anybody can talk to anybody else who isn't exactly like them. It wasn't like that before. You could talk to anybody back then. Part of it is the subcultural fragmentation that young people experience due to whatever brand of consumerism or whatever brand of music that they get into. "I listen to hip-hop and you listen to hardcore so we have nothing in common." We had an advantage in that there was still a pop music that was broad that everyone the same age listened to. Everybody knew Bob Dylan; everyone knew the Doors and the Supremes. So here we have a culture that's so intensely fragmented--not as a conspiracy, but as a marketing tool.

Where's the link? Hopefully everyone caught the edit to make it work-environment-safe, that was your warning. Click here for the interview. We're a niche-market society today. Which is good in that tiny niches have been carved out that can offer more representation than there was in an earlier time. But we seem to be unraveling each year.

Students, as we've noted here forever, were looking for leadership. When little was offered (lots of kids-today-oy-vey, not any leadership), they became their own leaders and that process continues. But here's the thing, if on a campus they need to make a real effort to connect (and many do -- not due to any self-issues but due to the spread out, isolated nature of today) (and if I'm short on examples, Jim wants to carry a topic over to Third this Sunday so I'm trying to avoid those examples), imagine how hard it is for those who aren't on a campus during the week? That's parents, that's adults (including young people not in college). We spoke to a women's group today and one spoke of how she was invited at the last minute and was so thrilled to be asked. She knew the co-worker but they really didn't talk. They'd just bumped into one another on the way back from lunch and one had asked, "How are you doing?" The other had responded she was disgusted with the news that X number of deaths means a 'win'. That's what led to the invitation. Both women knew each other. They nod in the hall of the multi-storied building they work in whenever they pass.

The woman who was speaking has one child who started college a year ago, she got divorced three years ago. They sold the house during the divorce (and split the money from the sale), she moved into a large apartment because she had custody of her son. With her son now in college, she moved into a smaller apartment. She's had three moves in five years. Her marriage has ended, her son's going to college in another state and work is it for her.

She talked about being surrounded by people -- these are adults, professionals -- who discussed Britney Spears all day. Yesterday, as yet another round of Britney and whatever female celebrity was about to be broached, one of the women (in her fifties) in her office said, "I am so sick of that woman --" and, tongue-in-cheek ("but a little hostile," the woman confessed), she responded, "Condi Rice?" No, of course not. It was a young actress. And the sad thing is, just typing "young actress" probably has everyone reading knowing exactly who it was.

But a few weeks ago, when some of the men and women she works with went out for drinks after work, she thought, "I need to tag along." Because she really doesn't know anyone outside of work and she's feeling really disconnected. Being away from work did not elevate the conversation. "It was the same run down of what you'd get in an hour of E!" She discussed how she attempts to talk about Iraq and the result is either hostility (and blame) towards Iraqis or blank expressions.

So she was getting phone numbers and connecting with other women at the meeting (some of whom had similar experiences) but if you're a student and don't feel your parents are as active today as the stories you heard growing up indicate they should be, you need to realize that they aren't as rooted as you are today (or as they were when they were in college).

There's awakening, there's reawakening and there's renewal. (There are probably many other things. We're focusing on those three.) For Amy Goodman -- who lives on the road -- it's probably renewal. For others it's awakening or reawakening. People do care about ending the illegal war. The majority of Americans in fact. What's missing is the connection.

It's not due to the draft not being present. (During Vietnam, to repeat, women could not be drafted. College women, who were very much a part of the peace movement, not only couldn't be drafted, the majority of the men they interacted with daily couldn't either.)

United for Peace and Justice's local actions hopefully provided many with the opportunity to connect. (They certainly allowed the inclusion of those who can't afford to travel to DC to participate -- as well as those, and this was the biggest complaint last spring, who have made the journey but had to struggle to swing the expense -- which does include missing work -- 'blue laws' are a thing of the past, we live in a 7-day work week world.) And that's something to remember when you're at a rally. It's not rush in and walk out as soon as you can. It really does come down to we need to be talking with each other.

At this point, conversion's not really needed. The numbers are on the side of the peace movement. The differences today include online petitions. Used to, you went door to door or sat up outside a store or venue or whatever. (With so much of America mall-i-zed, petitions needed to go online.) You would meet all sorts of people gathering signatures. You were face to face and they felt comfortable asking questions -- about the issue, about what else they could do, about rallies, you name it.

So as 2008 approaches, one thing we can do is increase our efforts to connect. I know in this community, everyone's already doing a great deal. No one's showing up to rallies alone or with one other person. You are all making a point to invite others to go along. That's great and wonderful and something to be proud of. But we really need to work on reaching out even more. The way community member Goldie (to name only one example) does every day. We did the women's group this evening and had a students' group tonight. When we shared the story of the woman who happened to attend the Iraq discussion, it really did underscore for a lot of the students how detached so many can be. Not because they don't care but because they just aren't being invited, they just aren't being communicated with.

If you look at the polling, the numbers is not the issue. The peace movement carved out the space for the debate on the illegal war that the administration worked so hard to prevent. That is an amazing accomplishment. And people making sure they don't go to rallies alone (or alone without trying to invite others along -- obviously, you should go alone if you can't find anyone who wants to go with you) is a big thing as well. It's not about, as someone laughably suggested on one radio program -- the program itself has been forgotten, we heard it on the road either this week or last week -- because people aren't showing up to protests in suits and ties. (I would assume the male speaker meant men but maybe he wanted women to dress in suit and ties for the protests as well?) (That was sarcasm and yet another example of the sexism that really doesn't think a protest is a protest if men aren't outnumbering the women.) This is not a case of, "Oh, I am so different from those people." It's a case of word of mouth, it's a case connections. (And the notion that those active -- even only in small ways -- in the sixties would feel more welcomed if men donned suit and ties today goes to the fact that a lot of idiots are eating up limited air time. No one active in the sixties is going to throw a hand to the forehead and exclaim, "Dungarees!" -- as the non-expert seemed to believe they would. That generation smashed the dress code. Seeing it again would spook a great many -- who would assume those dressed in that manner were FBI there to spy.)

So some people are in a state of awakening to what's going on or the role they can play, some are reawakening through interaction and some are in a constant state of renewal through interaction. Though probably none of us could maintain Goodman's schedule, in our own way we can do the renewal daily. In trying to do that, we can awaken others and lead to reawakenings. And that's really where the movement is at today. It's not a case of we need to fight to be heard. (We're still not heard by the bulk of All Things Media Big and Small, but the movement has long gotten around that.) It's not a case of, after fighting to be heard, we need to fight to persuade. At this point, it's just a case of finding out how to connect and how to engage others. That doesn't require 'new slogans' or 'dress codes.' It requires face to face. That may not be as 'high-concept' as some non-experts would like, but that's reality. And it's a story that's come through all week from every group we've spoken with.

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