Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Follow up to yesterday's post

Let me start by noting I haven't read all the e-mails. I've only read the top four. (The four most recently sent when I logged in minutes ago.) Three got my point, one did not. I'll assume the fault is mine.

The confusion he had over "Should The Notion be finger-pointing? " is something I'll briefly go over again.

A) I do not "hate" Liza Featherstone. I noted that I enjoyed her book. I noted that, excepting the concluding sentences, if her "notion" had been an intro to a roundtable of peace activists or to an essay on it, I wouldn't have a problem with it. While I may the lack the sharp wit of Ava and C.I., if I had been attempting to be "funny," it would have been funny. I wasn't attempting to be "funny" and the reference to Wal-Mart wasn't a backhanded compliment or dig. She wrote a book on Wal-Mart. If you're interested in the topic (I am), it's a great book. No, I did not mention the title. I honestly don't remember the title. Last night, I was attempting to blog while waiting for a call to be returned about one of my patients. I still had to pack (provided the issue could be resolved). I assumed everyone who managed to read my online post must have some sort of computer skills and, if interested in the book, would google her name. I'm not mentioning it tonight. I'm not at home and I'm not going to google it. If you managed to land on this page and you're not aware of how to locate Featherstone's book, someone must have set your default page to this site. Call a tech-knowing friend immediately.

B) Two people isn't a great loss. There I actually thought I had explained the first person's reasons but I hadn't. (That's probably when my call was returned.) With regard to the second person's reasons (for discontinuing subscriptions to The Nation), I noted he was writing about it the gina & krista round-robin. That caused tremendous anguish for the e-mailer who, after cursing me out for the bulk of his e-mail, wondered if I could send him a copy of the round-robin on Friday?

No, I can't. No, I won't. That's a community newsletter. If you're a member of the community, you've had the option to receive it. If you're not, Gina and Krista closed it for new comers. That's their newsletter and their decision. (A wise one, I'd argue.)

With both people, the point is they didn't just start subscribing in 2006 or 2005. These are people who believe in the magazine but have grown weary of the lack of coverage of Iraq. Those who do receive the round-robin will read someone explaining his choice in great detail.

Long before this site started, and before I subbed for Rebecca, I was writing pieces (on peace and the peace movement) for the round-robin. It may be a mistake to assume that people who are interested in this site are aware of it; however, it's not a mistake to note that the people this site is intended for are aware of that.

When I filled in for Rebecca in the summer of 2005, as my substituting days drew to a close, Mike began arguing that I should do my own site and started his own Draft Elaine to Blog movement. I started the site but I've never assumed that there's anything that valuable here. I'm glad people appear to enjoy it. Most of my 'harder' pieces on peace continue to run in the round-robin because I write those for the community -- not for people who stop by at this site. (The round-robin is doing special editions on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, I have a piece that will run taking on the notion of hiding behind others to make a message more 'digestable' -- inspired by the continued claim of who has a right to speak and who doesn't -- because in a democracy, there is no one that has an "automatic right" to speak out on the issues of war and peace.)

C) It was guessed that I don't subscribe to The Nation. I don't subscribe to anything. I purchase at my local bookstore. I've noted that many times. I've noted the whys on that. I may be the only one doing a site in this community that does not subscribe to The Nation (I believe I am -- though Dona and Jim do a joint subscription); however, I have purchased every issue going back beyond the current administration in DC. If it's necessary that I do a critique of every issue, please advise as to how many years I should go back in my critique.

D) If I agree with Liza Featherstone, why do I have a problem? My problem stems from the fact that The Nation doesn't cover the peace movement. A story a year, which is basically how it averages out, isn't coverage for a weekly magazine. If anyone else at the magzine (minus one, and regulars at this site know whom I mean) had written the same words, my comments would have been the same minus noting the book and, possibly, minus stating that I enjoyed the author's work. Regardless of whom, my argument would have been the same.

If The Nation wants to cover the peace movement, I'm thrilled. But that "notion" does not cut it as coverage. If it's a seed being planted, wonderful. But based on the magazine being AWOL on the fast and additional topics this summer, I'll remain skeptical until I see something (and something in print, not online).

E) Do I support independent media? Define "support." I certainly purchase independent media and have for years. I was more inclined to be favorable towards independent media prior to this summer when Iraq disappeared from the coverage. But the reality is independent media avoids certain issues. (I am defining independent media as magazines and programs. I do visit a few websites but I don't consume enough online to offer an opinion there.) (To anyone who's bothered by that fact, I have my own practice and I don't live online.)

C.I.'s supportive of independent media in the way I believe the e-mailer means. When at all possible, C.I. will find something to emphasize that's positive about it. When members demand something be noted, it gets noted. When it does, more often than not, C.I. will not the name it -- instead a nickname will be used. To avoid calling someone out or embarrassing them. You see that in "NYT: Oppel, Wong and von Zielbauer contribute strong reports" where someone writing on a popular website wrote that Bob Watada, father of Ehren Watada, was starting a speaking tour. No, he wasn't. He had finished, weeks ago, the speaking tour. It wasn't starting.
C.I. didn't name the person, didn't name the site -- just noted that it was wrong and was linking to a newspaper account from August which was written when the speaking tour was winding down.

Or take "Watchdog" which I may end up naming here if I listen to it and they're still wasting everyone's time with nonsense. C.I.'s covered it and we all covered it at The Third Estate Sunday Review in "Yapping Watchdogs Miss The Point ."

No, I'm not supportive of bash-the-bitch. I'm a feminist. I have no problem with women being held to an equal standard, I do have a problem with women being held to higher standards than men. We can see that when people distort reality (either because they don't care about reality or because they didn't do the work required) to slam a woman. Bash-the-bitch, all this time later, allows Judith Miller to continue to be the punchline of supposed 'critics' who never got around to telling their readers, listeners, watchers about Dexter Filkins. "Post-Gazette editorializes it's time to leave, Dexy Rats Out" will go into the most recent reason that supposed press critics should be addressing Filkins. But they've given him a pass. It must be easier or more fun to haul out Judith Miller's 2003 and 2004 'reporting' one more time, in 2006, then to seriously address Dexter Filkins' propaganda. It's certainly allowed him to continue to feather his economic nest.

I saw tremendous shortcomings in independent media this summer. They had nothing to do with "money." They had a lot to do with ignoring topics and refusing to address issues. When someone wants to seriously address Dexter Filkins, I may reconsider my opinion. As it stands now, The Common Ills remains the site that's consistently addressed Dexter Filkins and C.I. doesn't ask anyone for a penny. (Granted, C.I. doesn't need money, but the point is, where is independent media on the issue of Filkins who began his worst reporting by turning the slaughter of Falluja into a rah-rah report and has continued that with his work at the New York Times?)

When the war reporting is studied years from now, you better believe critics will note Dexter Filkins. A journalist stated publicly that he cancelled an interview with the resistance in Iraq because an American military person frowned on it. The Washington Post revealed that when the US military had a story to plant, Filkins was the first reporter they went to. Filkins reported no use of white phosphorus in Falluja. When Paul Bremer's book came out, Filkins was in a tizzy because Bremer admitted things, which Filkins saw, that he wouldn't admit while he was in Iraq. But Filkins didn't write about those things. He didn't need a quote from Bremer to write about what he could see with his own eyes. I could continue but, if you're interested, you can google "The Common Ills" and "Dexter Filkins" and you should get over a hundred results. There's no excuse for the fact that the same doesn't happen if you google 'critics' asking for your money.

Now granted, I've known C.I. for years so we do know some of the people (and most people in the press, I met through C.I.) so I'm fully aware that among his mainstream peers he's been a joke since the beginning of the invasion. They laugh at his "reporting" and they ridicule the "pistol packing Dexy." But the fact that editors and reporters can, and do, ridicule him in private makes you wonder where the supposed informed 'critics' are that they can't see the same problems that his peers see?

The bulk of the criticism that will come will probably come from the mainstream because he truly is loathed. When that happens, I guess Watchdog will interview one of them and say, "Now tell us again what he did?" Because they've never noticed it. They've never challenged his reliance on Rita Katz (it was C.I. who challenged that). They've never challenged any of his nonsense. They've looked the other way for over three years.

If, by "support," the e-mailer means donate, no, I wouldn't donate a dime to any independent media because they've refused to challenge the lousy reporting that has let America think the war is 'winnable' or a corner just got turned or you name it. There has been little-to-no reality in his 'reporting.' The press 'critics' for the left have been where?

So the criticism of Judith Miller begins to look as though it had little to do with her 'reporting' and more to do with her gender.

On the issue of Iraq itself, I firmly believe independent media failed this summer on that topic repeatedly. Whether it was Ehren Watada or Jake Kovco, whether it's Darrell Anderson or the body counts, independent media took a summer break from Iraq. People sounded alarms at the silence. Jimmy Breslin was probably the loudest sounding alarms. But you didn't see the coverage pick back up when that happened. If I say "Abeer" to a roomful of people, most won't know who she was. That's a perfect example of how independent media failed. "War as an after thought" is what Mike called it and it certainly was that.

That's as clear as I can be short of noting each publication and each program and listing, in depth, what they didn't make time to cover.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, September 20, 2006. Violence and chaos continue in Iraq with the
Associated Press estimating at least 45 have died and the United Nations estimating that July and August saw the death of 6.5 thousand Iraqis; a British prosecutor argues an admitted war criminal heard the sounds of torture and compared them to a a choir singing; Camp Democracy continues in Washington DC on Women's Peace day;
and Iraqi vet and war resister Darrell Anderson discusses a planned September 29th return to the United States: "
I just want to put my uniform back on and then tell them no to their face that 'I'm not going to participate in your war. Do whatever you want to me because I'm right and this is how I feel.' I've never had the chance to do that."
AFP reports that the United Nations, noting the increase in reported deaths since the start of July, has estimated that "[a]t least 6,599 civilians were killed across war-torn Iraq in the months of July and August".
And the violence goes on.
AFP notes six dead and thirty-seven wounded in Samarra "when a suicide bomber carried out the bloodiest attack by ramming his car into the house of a tribal leader" and, in Baghdad, three dead from a "suicide bomber driving a truck" in an attack on "a police station near an oil refinery". AP notes that seven were killed in the truck bombing attack on the police headquarters and that a police officer and two civilians were killed in a mortar attack in Baghdad. AP also notes that a roadside bomb claimed one life and left "two more wounded in east Baghdad".
AP reports that "a U.S. soldier was killed Wednesday by small arms fire in northeastern Baghdad" (we'll note US soldiers' death in a moment).
AP notes the "mutilated" corpse of a police officer was discovered in Kut. Reuters notes 35 corpses discovered in Baghdad "in the last 24 hours"
Iraq in microcosm.
Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) looks at the farming of dates in Iraq and speaks to Iraqi farmer Aboud Ahdim Abbas Mohammad ("whose family has grown dates here since the 18th century") and "U.S. Army Maj. Marcus Snow, a member of the State Department Provincial Reconstruction Team in Dayala, . . . stockbroker from Lancaster, PA". Mohammad states his intent to remain in Iraq despite threats on his life and Snow can't stop raving about a desire for "better accounting, production and marketing practices . . . better packaging and transportion systems" and increasing the cost of exported dates by 10 percent. As malnutrition continues throughout Iraq (the alarming increase in malnutrition among children is only one population segment effected), the US occupation sees profit-motive and the people continue to go hungry.
Larger picture?
Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily (IPS) report on the continued destruction of Ramadi and "collective punishment of civilians in several cities across the al-Anbar province". They report on those teaching and attending the University of al-Anbar where: "Nearly every week we face raids by the Americans or their Iraqi colleagues" (a professor) and "The infrastructure destruction is huge around the governorate building in downtown Ramadi." They also quote Fayiq al-Dilaimy, an engineer "who was on the rebuilding committee set up after the November 2004 U.S.-led operation which destroyed approximately 75 percent of the city" who states:
"Infrastructure rebuilding is just a joke that nobody laughs at. People of this city could rebuild their city in six months if given a real chance. Now look at it and how sorrowful it looks under the boots of the 'liberators'."
In England, a court martial goes on against seven British soldiers. One, Donald Payne pleaded guilty to war crimes yesterday. The
BBC reports that Payne, while copping to war crimes, "denied a further charge of perverting the course of justice." Devika Bhat (Times of London) notes that the argument made today was that Payne "enjoyed beating his prisoners until they became a 'choir,' of pain". The BBC quotes prosuctor Julian Bevan telling the court martial Payne was the "conducter": "The choir consisted of Cpl Payne systematically assaulting each detainee in turn by, for instance, hitting in their stomachs, kicking them and punching them wherever on their bodies, causing them to shriek out or groan in pain, their various noises constituting the music".
As noted above, a US soldier died from "small arms fire" in Baghdad. This is in addition to ones noted earlier today. Prior to the one who died from "small arms fire," as
David Rising (AP) notes, "the US military [had] announced the deaths of four other soldiers in Iraq. On was killed Tuesday by a suicide car bombing, which also wounded two other soldiers. Antoher two soldiers were killed Sunday -- one by small arms fire and the other by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. A fourth soldier, assigned to a medical task force, died Monday of non-combat related injuries in the capital." Those four, the one who died from "small arms fire" and "an American soldier was killed by a roadside blast northeast of Baghdad on Tuesday." The current total of American fatalities since the beginning of the illegal war is 2691. Proving that he can at least recognize an increase, Giddy in the Greenzone William B. Caldwell IV has noted the obvious --- "Attacks against U.S. troops have increased".
In peace news,
Armina Ligaya (Globe & Mail) spoke with war resister Darrell Anderson who was "one of the first of about 225 U.S. soldiers to flee to Canada since 2004". Courage to Resist has noted that Anderson is planning to return to the United States. Anderson explains to Ligaya that there are options prior to his planned return to the US which could explain Canada granting him refugee status or approving his sponsorship claim (Anderson is married to Canadian citizen Gail Greer.) Anderson doesn't have hopes of either happening by September 29th.
Today is Women's Peace Day and
NOW and CODEPINK are joint-sponsoring events at Camp Democracy which is where the Troops Home Fast ends today on Day 78. An estimated 5,023 people are participating today and people have grabbed one-day only, one-day each week and longterm fasts through the 78 days. In addition, The Feminist Wire notes: "Other activities on Wednesday include a discussion on how to end violence in Iraq, an update on the violence against women in Juarez, a panel discussion by military women, and a history workshop led by Howard Zinn."
Tomorrow (Thursday Sept. 21st) is International Peace Day and
Camp Democracy notes: "We will encourage Camp Democracy participants on this day to engage in activities organized by the Declaration of Peace, including a press conference at 10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. followed by an action at the White House."
Actions will be going on around the US (
Corvallis Gazette-Times notes a gathering Thursday, Sept. 21st, at the Benton County Courthouse, 120 N.W. Fourth St., Corvallis, OR) and around the world.)
A complete schedule can be found
In California,
Martin Snapp (Contra Costa Times) reports the the Berkeley City Council "unanimously passed a resolution supporting Lt. Ehren Watada, an Army officer who is facing a court martial for refusing to go to Iraq." George Coates (Berkeley Daily Planet) writes of Berkeley mayor Tom Bates: "Now Bates is up for re-election at a time when many high school-age students are learning that the U.S. military is monitoring their MySpace pages and targeting potential recruits. The plight of soldiers like Lt. Erhen Watada, the first commissioned officer to go AWOL from duty in Iraq, has also triggered fears that a national draft could be reinstated if the number of volunteer enlistments continue to decline as the war threatens to widen. Progressive Berkeley City Councilmember Dona Spring's effort to pass a resolution in support of Lt. Watada is important because if it succeeds the city will have deepened its stance against the war and candidates for mayor will have heard the message: Sanctuary for war resisters is a local issue that no serious candidate for mayor can evade."
More information on Watada can be found at
Courage to Resist and