Tuesday, May 29, 2007


And I confess I was one of millions who got caught up in the Sanjaya phenomenon--fascinated by how he snubbed Idol conventions and flaunted his notorious Mohowk updo, amused by Howard Stern's silly campaign to use Sanjaya to discredit Idol, and the sweet taunting of Simon Cowell. He became an emblem of something--a desire for something less formulaic, more in-your-face, in a winner-take-all culture. And maybe Sanjaya's success exposed how mediocrity, with a dose of flash, rises to the top--in our culture as well as politics. As conventional wisdom has it, the finale came down to the singer vs. the entertainer, 17-year old Jordin Sparks vs beatboxing 20-something Blake Lewis. A record 74 million voted. (By the way, who's making the big bucks off of the text-voting?) But to dissent from conventional wisdom, I think Jordin Sparks won not only because she's a talented singer, the youngest-ever finalist and winner, but she is a woman who represents the demographic and geographic future of this country.

No, I am not confessing that. I'm an adult, a grown woman. Unlike Katrina vanden Heuvel (who penned the above crap), I have no desire to return to the 'tweener' days. I also am not a couch potato and really don't watch television very often. The saying used to be: "Crap in, crap out." As a result, I'm really not surprised to learn of vanden Heuvel's TV addiction. (Actually, she's addicted to reality TV and I knew that some time ago -- it's been the source of many jokes behind her back, as Rebecca's mother-in-law can tell you -- for at least three years now.) A grown woman writing about what is nothing but the return of The Gong Show, writing about Howard Stern and generally embarrassing herself?

For those who missed it (and many may have), Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote the Thursday that our Congress got behind buying half-ownership of the illegal war from Bully Boy. Instead of writing about that, this is what the woman who runs the biggest political weekly in the country thought was important? Thought it was so important, so political, so necessary to our lives, this is what she wrote about.

Now, to be clear, you can cover TV in a responsible way. For instance, every week at Third Estate Sunday Review , Ava and C.I. offer their feminist critique of TV. "TV: Friendly faces aren't who we meet" is their latest and it's epic. While Katrina vanden Heuvel elected to gush over a nonsense, non-reality based, Queen for a Day type TV show, Ava and C.I. were hitting hard on PBS -- on a laughable 'documentary' on Tony Blair, on Charlie Rose, on Washington Week, on NOW. Read "TV: Friendly faces aren't who we meet" and look at the issues being addressed: war, health care, Big Business, the safety net and a great deal more. Read it and enjoy the critical observations, enjoy the humor. You will not find either trying to pass themselves off as 12-year-old glued to her TV set cooing over cute boys.

Let's be really clear, in terms of the TV critics, no one touches Ava and C.I. They have their off weeks (they think every week is an off week and, as usual, they hated this week's commentary) as will be expected when you cover it every week, week after week, for over two years -- when you groan at the thought of making the time to turn on the TV. (vanden Heuvel apparently lives in front of her TV.) But my goodness, what they have accomplished. Most weekends, I just hear the frustration and the weariness in their voices when they announce they've got to go attempt to "pull something together." But I have also seen them, in California, in DC, in NYC, in Mexico and in Texas break away to write those commentaries. They never think it will be any good. They never think it will be worth reading.

They know readers of the site love their commentaries and they know it's the drawing card. When they're done, they always trash what they have written. They insult it, they downgrade it. But if you ask them why they even bothered, they'll bring up one thing. It may not be the thing you notice when you first read it. But it's always an important issue. Due to the popularity of their commentaries and the ability to make that one political comment (they make many more than one but they're always trying to work in one), they'll keep "plugging away." They aren't satisifed with it. They're writing that at four or five in the morning, Sunday morning. After having been up since Saturday morning. After a busy week for both of them. (C.I. speaks all over the country about Iraq. Ava speaks about Iraq and she also is very involved in the immigration rights movement in California.) They are exhausted and they could kick back like Katrina vanden Heuvel. They didn't go to court to get their money but they have more than vanden Heuvel and, unlike her, having worked their butts off the last few years, no one who knows them would object if they took six weeks and did nothing but lay out by the pool sipping margaritas all day.

The work habits of Katrina vanden Heuvel amaze me. If she didn't want to be in charge of The Nation, why did she buy her seat at the table? I grew up with money. I didn't lodge any lawsuits to get my inherentence, but I've got a sizeable amount. So I'm not slamming her for having money. I am slamming her for using it to get a position that once she had, she decided to do nothing with.

I am also slamming her, a grown woman (who I didn't like she was a tot, true), for conducting herself in a self-centered, self-serving manner. C.I. didn't say it but I know it almost made the snapshot. (I know C.I. well enough to read between the lines.) So I will say it, the wrong bloodlines are coming through. She flits around like her father, with none of the precision of the maternal side of her family. (I knew her maternal grandfather, he was a wonderful man.)

She is an embarrassment. As the editor and publisher of The Nation, she is an embarrassment. As someone who bought her way in, she is an embarrassment. The only one who can change that is her. I can point it out, and have no trouble doing so, but she's the only one who can turn it around.

If she has any brains, if anything from the maternal side of her family (and her mother Jean is a wonderful person) seeped through those bloodlines, she can save herself and save her reputation. If that wasn't the case, if she's all Daddy's Girl, we're going to see a lot worse in the coming months.

Please read "Ruth's Report." It is wonderful. Poor Ruth thought it was being held (she wrote it Saturday) because C.I. was offended by it. C.I. hadn't read it. Kat came up with the idea (a wise one) that her review, Ruth's report and Isaiah's comic should be held for Monday and then C.I. could actually have an easy day (or, as some might consider it, Katrina vanden Heuvel's life). It didn't work out that way due to e-mails and issues that were coming up. Kat [Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)] persuaded C.I. to hold things for this week and if C.I. was in a rush or short on time (or just tired), they could be posted those mornings and C.I. would just have to do one morning entry (as opposed to two). We have all been urging C.I. to take some down time. If you read "Cindy Sheehan," you'll see the need for down time and for walls. I have tremendous respect for Cindy Sheehan. I have no ill will towards her or her decision to take time for herself. I wish her all the best and all the rest. She has earned it because she has worked herself beyond the point of exhaustion. Had others tried to do even some of what she was doing, she might have been able to take time along the way. But Cindy Sheehan knew if she dropped the ball, there were not a lot of people there to pick it up.

In this community, we always talk about how you can do more and most of us can do more. I also always try to note the need to take care of yourself. If you're feeling tired and that you just can't do it anymore, that's your mind and body telling you that you need to take a break.

There is nothing wrong with taking a break. Living your life on a break, that's sad. But we all need to take the time we know we need. As I noted on Friday, I've insisted C.I. put up some walls. If you have a friend who is working themselves beyond the point, please consider urging them to do so. I hope Cindy Sheehan had people around her urging her to take time for herself. (I'm sure her sister urged it.) But I know she was a focal point and I know how easy it is for those people to get used. "Oh sure, you need a rest. Just show up for this one thing and then you'll be done and can take a rest." That one thing is followed by another one thing, by another one thing, by another one thing . . . . It's a treadmill. Cindy Sheehan ran one publicly from, I believe, April 2005 through last weekend. I hope she finds the joy in waking up as opposed to what I fear was mornings of hearing the alarm and wondering how she was going to make it through that day.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, May 29, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces 10 deaths, the peace movement gets mainstream media coverage (so you know something bad has happened) and we love our Canadian Dahr Jamail . . . Wait. Dahr Jamail's not Canadian! He is to Jane Perlez. All this and more.

But starting out with the violence.


CNN reports "at least 38" Iraqis dead in two Baghdad car bombings. CBS and AP note that the death toll from the two bombings reached forty. Reuters notes the count has risen to 41 with 109 more wounded. AP notes that the first bombing "occurred about 1 p.m. in an area filled with bus stops and shops".


Reuters reports two police officers were shot dead in Shirqat (three wounded).


Reuters reports that 21 corpses were discovered in Baquba and 4 in Suwayra.

Today the
US military announced: "While conducting a combat security patrol in the southern section of the Iraqi capital, two Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers were killed when an improvised explosive device detonated May 28." And they announced: "Six Task Force Lightning Soldiers were killed when explosions occurred near their vehicles while conducting operations in Diyala Province, Monday." And they announced: "Two Task Force Lightning Soldiers were killed when a helicopter went down in Diyala Province, May 28." The last two announcements are connected.

CNN reports that after "a U.S. helicopter was shot down" -- killing the two -- the six died as they rushed "to the helicopter crash site [and] were hit by exploding roadside bombs, killing six soldiers and injuring three". The ten announced deaths bring the current ICCC count to 3467 US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war and brings the month of May death toll to 116 -- and May's not over yet. With 116 announced deaths, May is the deadliest month thus far of 2006. 116 is also more than were announced dead in any single month of 2006. 116 is also more than were announced dead in any single month of 2006. You have to drop back to November and April of 2004 (137 and 135) to find months with higher totals. May 2007, not yet over, is already the third deadliest month for US service members.

Also today, the
UK Defence Ministry announced: "It is with deep regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that a soldier serving in the 1st Battalion the Royal Anglican Regiment was killed on the morning of Monday 28 May 2007, in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan." This should bring to 150 the number of UK soldiers killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. In addition the BBC reports that "four bodyguards from security company GardaWorld and a finance expert" -- all Britons -- were kidnapped in Baghdad today. The contractors have an unexpected cheerleader. In a snapshot earlier this month, we noted British War Cheerleader Andrew White. Deborah Haynes and Stephen Farrell (Times of London) report that White has e-mailed the paper an "urgent prayer request" stating "Four of our security guards have been kidnapped along with one other British client. They were taken from the Ministry of Finance, which is Shia controlled." "Our," Canon White? White sometimes plays the "our" card and sometimes plays the "I am here in the Green Zone to lead St George's Church . . . except when I'm at my home in England or jet setting for meetings or on a book tour or . . " Today, White writes of "our" contractors. On Sunday, Michael Smith (Times of London), who broke the news on the Downing Street Memos, reported that prime minister heir-to-be Gordon Brown has has alarmed "senior army officers" who fret that "Brown is preparing to speed up the pull-out to draw a symbolic line under the Blair era." On Sunday, Steve Fainaru and Saad al-Izzi (Washington Post) reported on the mercenaries Blackwater who "shot and killed an Iraqi driver Thursday" and will face no legal fall out because that's the way it's set up. Pray for them to Canon White?

In other kidnappings,
CBS and AP report that 40 Iraqis were kidnapped in Samarra. Strangely, no word on whether Canon White has sent out e-mails expressing shock over this kidnapping or referring to them as "our" people.

Meanwhile, the refugee crisis in Iraq (approximately 4 million when you put together internal refugees with external refugees) receives attention from
Katherine Zdepf (New York Times)reports on the realities for many female refugees -- prostitution. Zdepf zooms in on the 16-year-old daughter of Umm Hiba who now works "at a nightclub along a highway known for prostituion."

Staying with the New York Times, Jane Perlez who did some fine work on the tsunami (end of 2004, start of 2005) apparently decided today to illustrate Laura Nyro's "Money" ("I found the system and I lost the pearl"). That's the best logical explanation for "
An Assault in Iraq, a Stage Hit in London" which mangles every known fact in the supposed search of a play review. Fallujah is playing London and that may be one of the few things Perlez gets 100% correct. She describes Dahr Jamail as "a freelance Canadian journalist." Is that for comic effect? Jamail grew up in Houston, Texas is a Lebenese-American who was born in the US. Jamail's reporting from Iraq is used for one of the character's lines. We don't have time to go over all of Perlez' errors. We will ask did Perlez measure US v. British sentiment with a dipstick when determining "deeper" and when was she last in the US? And we will note that she's surprised "The Guardian, a liberal daily" did not care for the play while even the Telegraph of London (conservative) did. The Guardian is the bible of Tony Blair and New Labour, buy a clue Perlez. Blair is a war monger and the Guardian of London works overtime to avoid pointing that out (just like it ignored the Downing Street Memos). She notes allegations of napalm use in Falluja "never substantiated." Napalm was used in Iraq. The US State Department and the Pentagon both admitted to it being used early on in the illegal war. The charge of napalm, remember Perlez is assigned to London, came, in England, from the Sunday Mirror, not "left-wing critics" as Perlez wants US readers to believe. Sunday Mirror political editor Paul Gilfeather wrote, on November 28, 2004, "US troops are secretly using outlawed napalm gas to wipe out remaining insurgents in and around Fallujah. News that President George W. Bush has sanctioned the use of napalm, a deadly cocktail of polystyrene and jet fuel banned by the United Nations in 1980, will stun governments around the world. And last night Tony Blair was dragged into the row as furious Labour MPs demanded he face the Commons over it. Reports claim that innocent civilians have died in napalm attacks, which turn victims into human fireballs as the gel bonds flames to flesh." Now maybe Perlez would prefer to argue that was all from the white phosphorus which, for the record, her paper didn't report in real time, denied when Democracy Now! reported it and then Scott Shane out with the big mop to yet again clean up. If Perlez was starting out at the paper, this article and all of its errors (big and small) would probably mean she'd be cleaning her desk right about now.

Turning to peace news,
Iraq Veterans Against the War continued bringing the war home last weekend:

NYC Operation First Casualty a Success!

"By reenacting what we've been through in Iraq we hope to inspire more of our fellow Americans to act to end the war now," said IVAW member Adam Kokesh. Actual veterans of the conflict in Iraq played their part of American service members, dramatically interacting with non-veteran supporters playing civilians. In full uniform IVAW members performed searches, detentions, squad patrol, and crowd control operations in locations that included Central Park, Times Square, Union Square and Grand Army Plaza...
Click here to see photos of this action.
Read more of this item -->-->
Click here for more IVAW Updates

Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted, "In New York City, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War re-enacted scenes from occupied Iraq in a series of street theater actions. The veterans wore camouflage fatigues and pointed imaginary guns at a crowd of protesters playing Iraqi civilians" and that the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Friday found students and faculty booing, holding signs and protesting Andrew Card, former White House chief of staff, who got a honory degree in . . . There is audio of this but it's hard to make out due to the loud booing so let's all just assume Card was awarded an honorary doctorate in War Crimes. He certainly earned it.

Meanwhile Joshua Key's
The Deserter's Tale has won another strong review for Key's story of serving Iraq and what led him to realize the war was illegal, self-check out and move his family to Candad. Ying Lee (Berkeley Daily Planet) who notes the difference between earlier wars and this one (as well as his own experience growing up in Shanghai during the Japanese occupationg): "Now we have the details, a book, a deserter's story as told to a Canadian journalist and writer. It is a simple story told simply: of how our soldiers in Iraq (and Afghanistan I would suppose) are trained, what they do as an occupying army, and how war affects them."

There is a growing movement of war resistance within the US military that includes Joshua Key,
Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Now for the topic that everyone's talking about in the press, Cindy Sheehan has stepped away. (This is also the thing that is the biggest topic in e-mails from members. I am pressed for time but I will try to note all subjects Martha and Shirley told me were in the e-mails. Also note, some of this was
covered yesterday.) In an article that's gotten more attention from the mainstream media than any she's written before, Sheehan observes that "when I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause started to erode and the 'left' started labeling me with the same slurs that the right used. I guess no one paid attention to me when I said that the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of 'right or left,' but 'right and wrong.' . . . The most devastating conclusion that I reached this morning, however, was that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His precious lifeblood drained out in a country far away from his family who loves him, killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think. I have tired every since he died to make his sacrifice meaningful. Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives."

More about American Idol than about the dying? Couldn't be, right? Except of course Katrina vanden Heuvel -- who does not edit & publish Teen Beat nor TV Guide but who does edit & publish The Nation -- spent last week -- in her position as the woman who runs the largest circulated political weekly -- gushing over American Idol. If you check in at her blog Editor's Cut, you won't find it. Did
Ruth get it wrong? Did Mike dream it up? No.

Apparently even
the Peace Resister is capable of some shame or at least wanting to rewrite history. The post, which originally appeared at her Editors Cut no longer shows up. However, it ran May 24, 2007 -- the day, as Mike pointed out, when most of the left were up in arms over Congress caving on Iraq. On that day, the most important thing to Katrina vanden Heuvel, alleged editor and publisher of a political weekly, was to gush: "I have a not-so-secret addiction. American Idol. My colleagues know I've watched every week, all of 19, checking out all of the theme nights . .." Trina addressed how strange it was for the non-60s teen Katrina to cite Smokey Robinson (well, he was a womanizer) and ignore Diana Ross but we all know that, under vanden Heuvel, The Nation loves to ignore women. Regarding that embarassing post, Trina wrote: "Knock-knock, is there a grown up home? Judging by her post, no there's not. Just a little girl trying to look cool and failed because as the Washington Post noted yesterday, American Idol had six million less viewers than the year before. Woops! It's as though she bought a pair of blue jeans to fit in only to find out that she bought the wrong brand! Maybe next time she can just try acting her age."

Laura Flanders used space and time that Thursday to urge people in the US to call their Reps and Senators and demand that they not cave, Katrina vanden Heuvel winded down her (now vanished but click here for Google) ode to American Idol with: "I'm pushing this, I know. But, hell, the Idol season is over -- so why not?" Why not? Why not? Because you're not a TV critic. Because you're not 15. Because you're a grown woman who supposedly edits and publishes a politically weekly. Because it is painful to watch you embarrass yourself. Because "Idol Chatter" is beneath the publisher of The Nation, whomever occupies that position. Because Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive, spent the same day writing about the cave, not some crappy TV reality show. And because -- though no one would know it to read most issues of The Nation -- and illegal war is dragging on.

Cindy Sheehan notes: "This is my resignation letter as the 'face' of the American anti-war movement." Sheehan notes the very real attacks on her and notes that has included some at Democratic Underground. Nikki Stone 1 (Democratic Underground) has written "I support Cindy Sheehan" and the bulk commenting on this thread are in strong agreement. Attacks came from all sorts of supposed friends (Skinner, lead administrator at DU, has a statement up). But let's get real about the attacks. "You have Cindy Sheehan running around, a symbol of the peace movement. A symbol of what? Who is she? Who nominated her to be the spokesperson? She did one brave thing. I'm all for what Cindy Sheehan did last August. But people say, 'She sacrificed so much.' She didn't sacrifice anything." That lovely statement was made (or snorted) by the pig Scott Ritter when speaking to Colorado Springs Indy (an alternative weekly) in 2006. From his stye, he snorted that and he snorted a lot more. For some reason, Ritter is built up as a hero by some 'left' types.

Apparently heroic is having the mainstream media report that you, over 40 years old, were twice arrested for trying to arrange meet ups with underage girls? That is the reality of the Scott Ritter (and when CNN offered him the opportunity to explain the first arrest, he refused to do so). Here's another reality of Scott Ritter: Katrina vanden Heuvel keeps publishing him. In the magazine and via Nation Books, she publishes Ritter who does not move books. Now you may, as some wrongly do, assume Ritter is a lefty. Until 2004, Ritter admits he voted Republican every time -- which he will no doubt return to doing in 2008 but how 'nice' of The Nation to give a twice busted Republican an outlet.

Now here's how polite society worked once upon a time, when someone was reported to have been twice busted for pedophilia, that was really it for them. They didn't get write ups, they didn't pen op-eds. They weren't invited on programs to chat. But for some reason, Pig Ritter is seen as a voice the 'left' needs to adopt. Scott Ritter was allowed to repeatedly attack Cindy Sheehan on his joint-tour in 2006 (The Sky is Falling Tour -- DVD set retails for $19.99 unless you're going for the NC-17 version) and everyone looked the other way and most of the press (big and small) just chuckled. That's why he felt brave enough to issue the nonsense in an interview proper (and one that didn't require him to be handcuffed -- how novel that must have been for him).

The peace movement needs to be inclusive, no question, but that doesn't translate as: "Because we have the Peace Mom, we need to have the Pedophile Man." That's not inclusion, that's stupidity on ever level (including legal liabilities should anything happen to an underage female). We washed our hands of him a long time ago in this community. He is "pig" when noted here for any reason. His name is being mentioned here (for the first time since he went public in attacking Sheehan) only because there are some who seem unable to believe it could be true. Well it is. And it's equally true that you need to ask your outlets why they have repeatedly featured a man who will not explain his criminal busts and allows to stand the mainstream media's reporting that they were for attempting to hook up with young (underage) girls online. It is amazing that the same independent media that wants to scream 'crackpot' and 'crazy' to make sure they are not associated with certain groups is perfectly happy to break bread with a pedophile. Repeatedly.

The Nation managed to cover Sheehan (in print) once -- a (bad) cover story including Cindy Sheehan in the summer of 2005 yet, somehow,
The Progressive was able to feature Cindy Sheehan's writing this year (April 2007 issue). And while Katrina vanden Heuvel wants to jaw bone today about "imagining" possibilities -- quick, get thee to the new age retreat! -- it's Matthew Rothschild who yet again has to play grown up and note Sheehan's announcement: "We all owe Cindy Sheehan a huge debt of gratitude for all that she has contributed. I wish her happiness and comfort and relaxation and love and laughter in her days ahead. And I look forward to joining hands with her again somewhere down the road."

Today on Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman noted, "And we have Cindy Sheehan, in this Memorial Day letter, saying she's going home and that, well, she expected the attack from the Republicans. It was the Democrats that hurt her the most as she criticized them." Norman Solomon noted, "Well, she's undergone and shouldered, of course, a huge burden on so many levels of human existance". Solomon was on to discuss War Made Easy, not the book, the documentary which Sean Penn narrates and is available on DVD. Like the book (this isn't a PowerPoint presentation passing as a documentary -- this is an actual documentary) it is based upon, War Made Easy traces the ways war is sold, the way propaganda is used and the willingness of big media to 'enlist'.


joshua key

matthew rothschild

iraq veterans against the war

amy goodman

democracy now

norman solomon

the washington post

cindy sheehan

the new york times

ruths report

trinas kitchen

mikey likes it

katrina vanden heuvel

the world today just nuts