Saturday, December 09, 2006

Danny Schechter on John Lennon

Saturday morning, early. I'm not much of a blogger ("Blogger by demand" should be my title) on a good day, so this will be another of those posts that has people wondering why they ever rallied behind Mike's efforts to get me to start a site of my own. (Nod to Virgina Wolfe.)

"Bush Now Says Its 'BAD' in Iraq" (Danny Schechter, News Dissector, Media Channel):
Can we all spend a few minutes thinking about John today, John Lennon, the artist who urged us to IMAGINE a better world. Today's the day he was struck down outside of his posh apartment building, the day we realized that artists and maybe even art itself were at risk in this maddening world of ours.
I was privileged to have met him, to have visited with Yoko and him at their white on white pad in the Dakota overlooking Central Park. I was once so excited interviewing him for WBCN, back in the day in Boston, that I forgot to put my microphone in my tape recorder. He pointed it out to me with a big smile. A photo of that embarrassing encounter can be viewed online.
But to me he and his music don't belong to the past and in an age when so many abandon their idealism, its reassuring that Yoko has not and is still putting up WAR IS OVER billboards and taking out fill page ads in newspapers to call on all of us to embrace John’s call. Amen Sister for keeping his spirit

C.I. e-mailed that to me Friday with a warning in the e-mail title ("It's about John Lennon"). I was sad, but not surprised, when Kurt Cobain died and, on the wrong day, a Cobain story can still wreck the whole day. ("Not surprised" doesn't mean Cobain "had it coming." Nor does it mean that his 'lifestyle' meant he was going to die young.)

It also may have had something to do with the fact that John Lennon's death was such a shock. I'm actually reminded of something Ruth wrote filling in for Kat. "Guns and Butter (Ruth)" I think we can 'adjust'. Lennon's shocking death 'adjusted' me.

In this day and age, for younger people, it may not make sense. It may seem like another pile on the coverage moment because someone famous died. There are some people who just loved his music. Some of them preferred the older stuff, some of them the later Beatles work, some of them certain portions of his solo work. There are some who loved it all. (I would be one of those.) But for a lot of us, it wasn't just his music.

I can toss out five musical deaths from the last ten years that are supposed to be 'moments' and 'touchstones.' I didn't see them that way because, while I enjoyed the music, that's all they offered to me. John Lennon made artistic contributions, no question. His public life was much more than just that. He stood for something. He and Yoko stood for something (and Yoko continues to stand for it). The art created blows me away.

But at a time when so few even try to stand, I'm not really sure if it can come across now, what a blow his death was?

The 'celebrity' factor wasn't all he had to offer for public life. That seems all many today are capable of and we're supposed to be thrilled by the invitation to get caught up in their shallow lives. They're 'entertainers,' they aren't artists.

To be fair, there are artists today. But there was a time when the hitmakers could be more than just entertainers. I'm trying so hard not to be cruel or pop anyone's bubble here about someone they enjoy listening to.

But without an example, maybe my point's not clear?

The American Idol set, the Disney kids, take your pick. There's not a one of them that has anything to say. Clay Aiken is today's Barry Manilow. (Though he may not write whatever hits he has.)

Here's another example, the Dixie Chicks. They're the alternative to the fluff. They've provided hits that people know and love. But years from now, there will always be a place in many hearts for them, through the natural ups and downs of a career, because they did speak up.

The fact that they did and were made to pay for it only makes what they did all the more important.

They could have rallied around the Bully Boy -- the way many did. But a war was about to start, a war that's still going on. They didn't bore you with their divorces or break ups. They didn't 'slim' down for the cover of a magazine about how they were 'rebounding from heartache.'

I don't think, personally, that Natalie Maines felt there would be any fallout (or wouldn't be) for her remarks. I think she just spoke what she was feeling.

Putting it out there is what an artist is supposed to do.

Once it was out there, there was an attempt to demonize them. Diane Sawyer repeatedly attempted to shame them. They didn't back down.

At a time when many backed down from a much smaller backlash, they stood strong.

They're now not just a group that puts out an album. (The Long Way Home shows just how much what they went through helped them creatively.) They are a group that demonstrated they were a part of this world and willing to offer something to it.

All the hits in the world won't redeam the ones who stay silent. They're today's 'hitmakers' who will be gone in the blink of an eye. Brought back at a later date for kitsch value, possibly. But they've got not legacy.

John Lennon did a great deal more than music and, I think, those actions spurred the music on. It's why he continued to have songs that you moved after the Beatles broke up and Paul McCartney just had hits. Paul has no "Imagine." He can point to "Band on the Run" or "Maybe I'm Amazed." I like both songs and others, but they're just hits and I won't be torn apart when he dies.

He's a businessman and that's all he is.

Lennon had many Dixie Chicks moments. They made him a part of the world.

It's like Britney wanting Madonna's early impact but not being willing to take on all that Madonna (up through Erotica) put out there. It's play acting for Britney. (It was probably a manipulation on Madonna's part but she didn't manipulate safely.)

So they fade and you don't really care.

We used to call that "plastic" and "plastique" and "white bread" and a host of other names. The point was that, whether they were Cowsills or whomever, they churned out their hits and they faded -- with most never missing them. They provided product, they didn't make history. That takes more than a hit single or celebrity for celebrity sake.

Blink-182 was always a Green Day clone. They produced Green Day-lite with 'naughty' little songs that you could enjoy but they really didn't move anyone. They played it safe then and the members still do now that the group's disbanded. They might have provided a background soundtrack, but they created no bond beyond that. Green Day's American Idiot commented on the world around them and, despite the fretting by some, they ended up with one of their most popular albums. I think that's because people want something more than just celebrity. Lennon provided so much more.

Did it destroy my day? Reading Danny Schechter? No.

I thought he said everything that needed to be said. I probably should have just included his excerpt and left out my rambles.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills)
Friday, December 8, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; US war resister
Kyle Snyder continues speaking out against the illegal war; Bitter, bitter, bitter, bitter Peggy Poop demonstrates that not everyone ages well; over 200 protest the war in San Francisco;
you know it's ugly when the US military dubs children 'insurgents'; and the Rumsfled has one more persona to test before he bows off the public stage.

Starting with peace news within the United States.
Kyle Snyder is currently traveling the West coast speaking out against the illegal war. Snyder was heavily and repeatedly targeted by a recruiter who promised the moon and delivered nothing. Because verbal agreements can be broken . . . on their end. On leave from Iraq, Snyder self-checked out and went to Canada in April of 2005. Happy there, speaking out, a job he enjoyed working with disabled children that paid well. Snyder began to consider returning to the United States. As October drew to a close, he did just that and on October 31st, turned himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering that the military that lied to him before had lied yet again.

KPFA's Flashpoints yesterday, Nora Barrows-Friedman interviewed Snyder. Barrows-Friedman noted his Army Corps of Engineers training and Snyder explained that he thought he'd be in Iraq doing construction "asphalt and concrete, laying foundations for schools, hospitals, roads." Instead, they made him a gunner and "an escort for high ranking officials." He saw a number of things in Iraq, reconstruction wasn't one of them.

Kyle Snyder: The things that I saw there for instance, you know, when we're told that we're liberating the people of Iraq and we're doing positive things you know I expect to at least see the civilians and stuff, you know, accepting us more. And basically accepting what we're doing. But children were flipping us off, they were begging for food and water almost all the time when I was out. I had seen people killed, I had seen people injured and it's just basically what led me to leave the war in the first place were the policies that drove the war. You know, when the Bush administration in 2004 and 2005 were saying 'We're liberating the people of Iraq' like I said I expect to see some of that happening. You know, no matter what rank you are, I think that we deserve to know why we're fighting. And basically it felt like a lie. It felt like a lie. And mainly because we couldn't explain what the mission was.

Despite a warrant for his arrest, Snyder's "going around speaking to povertized areas, mainly African-American and Latino communities, around the country because they're targeted by recruiters and I think that recruiters should tell people the truth." He didn't have that himself. No one was warning him. The mood of the country then was still Rah-Rah, he was targeted heavily in high school (recruiter evern came to his graduation) and he grew up in foster homes. Snyder knows what it's like to think some adult's really interested in you, really concerned about you, only to realize after they were just trying to hit their month's target goal.

Nora Barrows-Friedman: And Kyle, if you were speaking with a young person who was considering joining the military right now, they were weighing their options, what advice would you have for them and what would you talk about with their families?

Kyle Snyder: . . When a recruiter comes up and talks to you, it's not because you're a special kind of person. It's not because you have any type of thing that some other human being doesn't. And a lot of 17 and 18-year-olds assume that, you know? 'Oh a recruiters talking to me because I have some kind of special ability that no other person has.' And they over-glorify it making you know basically the Army into Rambo-like figures and things that you know are in action movies when that's not the case. They really need to look at what they'll be doing. . . . You're a gunner, medic, driver or, you know, an escort. Those are the only four jobs that are in Iraq regardless of what you sign up to do. I'd say, you know, if somebody signed up no matter what branch of service, I'd say it's about an 80% chance you're going to Iraq as long as the Bush administration is in power. So they really need to look at that and understand that, yes, they're going to Iraq as long as, like I say, the Bush administration has their say, the war's going to last. So they just need to understand that. And I can understand people that do join the military and that believe in what they're doing but they need to understand people like me as well --that are lied to to get into the military. And, you know . . . I don't know. That's basically all I can say.

Kyle Snyder is a public US war resister. He is part of a resistance movement within the military that also includes Darrell Anderson,
Ehren Watada, Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Agustin Aguayo, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman. Those are some of the war resisters who have gone public and over thirty US war resisters are currently in Canada attempting to be legally recognized.

When asked to speak about this movement, Kyle Snyder noted, "There's over 8,000 AWOL soldiers in the United States right now, 200 in Canada, 38 have applied for refugee status in Canada and I'm hoping, you know, that they start coming out. And I know that some of them are going to be coming out in the next few months. . . . I could use Bush's words, 'Are we going to solve this problem now or are we going to wait for the next president 5 years from now, 10 years from now when 8,000 Iraq veterans are homeless or hiding in a corner because it wasn't taken care of like it could have been?'"

Rebecca wrote about Snyder's interview here.]

Information on this movement of war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress next month.

Tina Kim (WorldNow) reports on Appeal for Redress and notes that Jonathan Hutto and others involved with the appeal will be holding a news conference next Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. to raise awareness on the project which is gathering signatures of active duty service members calling for the US troops to be brought home. The appeal will be presented to Congress in January. Jonathan Hutto was a guest last week on WBAI's Law and Disorder. [Mike noted it here.]

Today begins the National Days of Action to Support GI Resistance, called for by
Courage to Resist, which run through Sunday the 10th. Indybay IMC notes: "Other Bay Area Events: On Friday, December 8th, 7:30pm at the College of Marin in Kentfield, segments of the film 'Ground Truth' will be shown, and Iraq combat veteran-turned-war-resister Darrell Anderson will speak. Also that evening, at 7:30pm at the Buena Vista United Methodist Church in Alameda, the film 'The Ground Truth' will be shown, and there will be a panel with Rev. Michael Yoshii, and Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi. That night in San Jose, there will be a reception and fundraiser for Kyle Snyder at 6pm at the San Jose Friends Meeting House. On Saturday December 9th, there will be a peace vigil in support of Lt. Ehren Watada, in front of the MLK, Jr. Library in San Jose from 12-4pm. Read more about these events."

Sunday, the 10th, is also Impeachment Day and click
here for David Swanson's overview of the goals and list of events. Action is needed to end the illegal war. And each day it drags on, more and more are wounded, more and more die.

They Kill Civilians, Don't They?

CBS and AP report that, on Friday, "20 insurgents, including two women," were killed in a US airstrike (in the Salahaddin Province). The US military has a breathless press release on it that's all blah, blah, blah until this line: "Coalition Forces also found that two of the terrorists killed were women. Al-Qaida in Iraq has both men and women supporting and facilitating their operations unfortunately." And children too, right?

CBS and AP note that the area's mayor, Amir Fayadh, says that "seven women and eight children" were killed. AFP reporters "found and photographed relatives weeping over several mangled bodies, including those of at least two children, near the ruined homes." AFP also notes that the US military's flack Christopher Garver denies children were killed, even when presented with photographic evidence by AFP. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports that the "charred and bloody blodies laid out" were covered with blankets and "An AP photo showed an Iraqi man who had pulled back one of the blankets and uncovered the face of one of the dead, who appeared to be a boy about 10 years old". Ibon Villelabeitia (Reuters) reports that "grieving relatives showed the bodies of five children wrapped in blankets to journalists."


CNN reports a bombing in Tal Afar that left three dead and a mortar attack in Baghdad that claimed four lives and left eight more wounded. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports: "On the outskirts of Baghdad, three mortar rounds hit a Shiite residential area, killing 25 men, women and children, and wounding 22" according to police.


Reuters reports that Human Nuri ("head of customs in the city of Najaf) and his brother were shot dead in Baghdad while in another Baghdad incident an unidentified person was shot dead and three more wounded.


Reuters reports 18 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Today, the
US military announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division -- Baghdad patrol, killing two Soldiers south of the Iraqi capital Dec. 7. The Soldiers were conducting a dismounted patrol responding to a possible IED, south of the city, when a roadside bomb detonated, killing two Soldiers and wounding two others." And earlier today, the US military announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier in the Iraqi capital Thursday. The combat patrol was conducting joint operations with the Iraqi Army to prevent sectarian violence in a western neighborhood of the city when the bomb exploded near one of their vehicles."

And the
US military boasted of entering Falluja General, a civilian hospital, on a whim. Blood donors were needed . .. maybe 'insurgents' were present! Screw the rules guiding civilian institutions in warfare, lock and load, baby, lock and load. And it's those incidents and many others that explain why the war is lost.

In legal news, Cindy Sheehan, Medea Benjamin, Patti Ackerman and Missy Comley Beattie are on trial for excercising their right to free speech. To summarize the case so far, a dramatic recreation
based upon the reporting of Samuel Maull (AP).



Typical municipal courtroom. Well, maybe not 'typical,' it is Manhattan.

We see the DEFENSE TABLE where FOUR WOMEN listen: PATTI ACKERMAN, MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE, MEDEA BENJAMIN and CINDY SHEEHAN -- attracitve women all. They stare ahead intently

FOUR WOMEN'S P.O.V. -- a gnome-like woman, in a faded, tattered Kerry-Edwards: 2004 t-shirt, BITTER PEGGY KERRY, sputters on the witness stand in front of D.A. HAN who smiles and nods in sympathy.

I was on my way to meet the group, to take their
petition -- then I saw --

Bitter Peggy begins sobbing. hands her a tissue. Bitter Peggy looks over at the defense table and glares.

Then I saw -- Peace Mom!

Bitter Peggy points a menacing finger. Cindy waves and grins sheepishly.


Free speech, peace doves, compassion
Peace Mom
Passion, peace sign, bravery
Is Peace Mom
She's tinsel on a tree . . .
She's everything an American should be!
If you find one to emulate
Only one to emulate
Let it be Peace Mom . . .
Peace Mom!*

Han smirks to the defense table as DEFENCE attorney rises and walks to the witness stand.

Bitter Peggy Kerry, you agree that you were
notified that a petition would be dropped off?

Yeah, so?

And you agreed to accept the petition?

What of it?

You were on your way to accept the petition and
then something stopped you.

Peace Mom.

Just the sight of Cindy Sheehan was enough to
make you break your agreement?

Damn right. "Peace"? Please. I'm bitter
and angry and mad at the world. Keep Peace Mom
away from me. Every where she travels, there's always
a chance that, at any minute, peace could break
out! I hate her. I hate her! I hate her!

Bitter Peggy goes into spastic convulsions while Defense looks on. Alarmed, D.A. Han leaps to her feet.

Your honor, a recess?

I'll get that Peace Mom. I'll get her. I hate
her. I hate her like I hate kittens and puppies.
And Christmas! And peace! I hate peace!
War! I must have war! I do want war, I do!
Screw Peace Mom, find me Kill Mom! I want
Kill Mom. Kill mommy! Kill mommy!


So ends the docu-drama recreation. [*Earle Hagen and Sam Denoff wrote the theme to the TV program That Girl starring Marlo Thomas -- who also was the executive producer of the show.]

In other news of courage,
Steve Rubenstein (San Francisco Chronicle) reports on the 200 plus people march yesterday from Grace Cathedral to the federal building downtown which was led by Bishop Marc Handley Andrus to protest the Iraq war. The Bishop was among those arrested and he stated, "God is with all who have suffered in Iraq. This war needs to be opposed. Even though there is widespread sentiment against the war, we need to continue to push for peace. There is good reason to believe this is an unjust war." Zach notes that Wendell Harper reported, from the protest, on yesterday's The KPFA Evening News.

And finally, he's been the White Queen, the Scold, the Nag and, on his way out the door, the soon to be former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld decided he wanted to try on one more persona: Axel Rose.
Kristin Roberts (Reuters) reports that the Rumsfled thinks what the world . . . needs . . . now . . . is just a little patience. Just a little patience.
The tragically unhinged Rumsfled declared that Iraq was still 'winnable' "if we have the patience and only if we have the staying power." Rumsfled's "staying power" -- obviously in question now -- can surely take credit for the 655,000 estimated Iraqis killed during the illegal war. To the would-be-Axel-Rose, the world responds, "There's no room for you here, go away, girl, there's no room for you here" (White Stripes).

kyle snyder