Friday, August 26, 2005

Cindy Sheehan, Joan Baez, recruiting, C.I.

Good evening. Hope you're surving the heat. Tony told me in class that he heard it was a 101 in Crawford Texas and I can't imagine how Cindy Sheehan and the others handle the heat constantly at Camp Casey. You have to believe, really believe, in what you're doing and Cindy Sheehan does. Let's get started with Democracy Now!

Camp Casey Vigil Heads to Washington Next Month
In the United States, Cindy Sheehan has spent her second night back at Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas and announced she will take her vigil on the road next month, following President Bush in Washington. She said she would launch a bus tour from Crawford starting on September 1 that will converge on Washington, on September 24 in time for the major antiwar rally planned for that day. On Thursday, the American Friends Service Committee presented Sheehan with the boots of her son Casey who was killed in Iraq. His boots have been part of a traveling memorial to soldiers killed in Iraq called "Eyes Wide Open." Mark Andersen of the American Friends Service Committee presented the boots to Sheehan.
Mark Anderson: "Too many people have died, both military and civilian. This travesty must end, and our brave and dedicated troops must be brought home and brought home now. Cindy, I want to know that it has been a profound privilege to care for these precious boots of your beloved son, Casey, and I now return them to you, so they may serve as a guiding light to carry your message forward, so that together we can continue the struggle to end this war."
Meanwhile, Cindy Sheehan is striking back at the smear campaign being waged against her by several powerful media personalities and the Bush administration. She directly confronted those who claim that her son would be against what she is doing.
Cindy Sheehan: "I know my son. I know him better than anybody else. And, he wasn't married, we were very close. He called me everyday when he was at Fort Hood. We talked about all of his life, all of my life. And, I lost my best friend when I lost my son. But I know my son. And, I know he would say 'I don't want anymore of my buddies killed just because I am dead; I want my buddies to come home alive.' And I know when I get up to greet him, when it is my time, he is going to say 'good job, Mom.' He is not going to accuse me of dishonoring his memory. And, anybody who knows my son better than me, would like to come forward and tell me something different, I would be glad to hear their voices."
As Sheehan settles in at Camp Casey 2, which is closer to President Bush's property than her original location, prowar activists are making their way to Crawford for a rally on Saturday. Sheehan and other antiwar military families have invited prowar families of soldiers killed in Iraq to share a meal with them this weekend. One of those parents has challenged Sheehan to a debate, while others have set up a new site called "Camp Reality." Meanwhile, the Rev. Al Sharpton has announced he will travel to Crawford this weekend for a prayer service on Sunday.

I just think Cindy Sheehan and all the people at Camp Casey are amazing. That's the ones who are there because they lost a loved one, the ones who are there because they have a loved one in Iraq, the ones who are there to show support . . . Every single one of them is amazing.

Some people have been saying some really rude things lately and it's not just the usual Ditto Head idiots but some people who are supposed to be left or at least Democrat. I called C.I. today to talk about that and C.I. said that the thing is "these people are America. Others can gripe and try to 'steer' the message, but they're rejecting America. What we've seen is people from all walks of life take part in democracy and activism and now some people are offended that this group is there or that is group is there. Too bad. This is America and everyone who went down there, to Camp Casey, to show support is okay in my book."

I couldn't agree with that more. (And I got C.I.'s permission to quote.)

But some enemies of democracy, even if they call themselves Democrats, talk about how "the message is off" or "lost." I asked C.I. for a quote on that.

"Their message is off or lost, not Cindy Sheehan's, not Camp Casey's. A number of people wanted to use the memory of Casey Sheehan and the activism of others to push their 'fine tune the war' message. They lied about Cindy Sheehan, they made her about to be this shy little thing. When they found that not only couldn't the right intimidate her but they, the centrists, couldn't force her to play the role they wanted, they decided it was hissy fit time. Now they whine about the peace activists at Camp Casey or run down Joan Baez. The reason is they don't want peace. They want the war to go on but to be 'fine tuned.' They are an embarrassment and should be ashamed of themselves for trying to distort Cindy Sheehan's message. I'm not a big fan of Todd Gitlin, disclosure on the I-know part, but I was impressed with his comments during this. What I've seen or heard is that it's not the people of Gitlin's generation that are lying about Cindy Sheehan but people who were teens in the 70s or laters and want to prove what bad asses they are. 'Dig me, I'm so damn tough.' America's not saying, 'Fine tune the war!' They're saying they want out. That politicians have been few to step forward is embarrassing. That chattering heads on the left and 'left' have tried to deny reality is shameful."

When I asked C.I. if it was okay to quote, C.I. said sure and that this might be an entry at The Common Ills tonight but it was doubtful due to "time constraints."

I hope C.I. writes about it because I think it needs to be said.

Here I'll do my part by noting that the people my age are disgusted with the war. Even the middle of the roaders are. They won't call it illegal or immoral but they will say it's time to get out. And there are a lot of people that have a platform and could be advocating that but they won't and instead they trash the peace activists.

They're acting like it's fall 2003 or 2004 and America hasn't turned against the war. They think they look reasonable but they just look cowardly and mean spirited.

Things are going to get more active. And when that happens, I hope all you will speak out and take part in demonstrations. But I also hope that ten years from now you aren't like these idiots who go around putting other people down. Like that Bob Dylan song says "Get out of the road if you can't lend a hand."

I don't think they know where the country's coming from. They've spent decades playing it safe or justifying bad policies because a Democrat pushed it. They've compromised themselves so much that instead of hating peace activists, they should hate themselves.

I got 15 e-mails asking about Joan Baez's CD Joan so I'll make that the e-mail discussion.

I'm not smart like Kat who knows so much about music so don't expect much. The CD has a pretty cool sound. Dad told us last night it was called 'baroque rock.' And I think it's called that because of the instrumentation which is like chamber music instruments playing rock.

Joan does the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" and I always like that song by the Beatles and I think she does a pretty good job of it too. "Turquoise" is my favorite song on the CD. "Take care with my heart, oh darling, she's made of glass." That's from that song. Ma said Donovan wrote that song and he's the guy that did "Mellow Yellow" but that's all I know about him.

I do know Nina and I thought it was a really romantic song. "Take care how you fly my precious, you might fall down." It's one of those songs where you just reach over and grab your baby's hand. (Baby can be female or male so apply as needed.)

When Joan does one of the "Take care" lines her voice just swoops in and gets so strong. I also really love the song "La Colombe - The Dove" and Ma says Judy Collins does that song too. I'm not a big Simon & Garfunkel fan and that's probably cause I heard them all the time growing up. Dad loves "Cecilia" best and Ma loves everything they did. So I knew the song "Dangling Conversation" but I really like Joan's take on it best. The music is more complex and she sings it like she's telling you a story. "Be Not Too Hard" is another great song on the CD.

Dad pulled out the record they have and we were flipping through the CD booklet and looking at the record jacket and all. There are two extra songs on the CD and the front cover of the record is the back cover of the CD booklet. (It's the same photo on the front of the CD but it's got more color.) There's an essay in the booklet but I haven't read it yet. I usually wait to figure out what I think of a CD before I read about it. (Unless it's one of Kat's reviews.)

This is a really good CD and I'll say thank you to Dona because she's the one who told me to start with this one. If you're thinking about getting it and thinking, "I need to write the title down," just remember that it's Joan Baez's first name, Joan. That's the title. And Joan Baez has a new CD coming out September 6th, Bowery Songs. It's a live CD and we'll be listening to it around my house.

If you read The Common Ills this morning, you probably saw where C.I. linked to a story on recruting and I'll pick it up here. It's by Karen Houppert and it's called "Who's Next?"
and here's a taste of it:

The Army, which missed its recruiting quotas in four out of the six months ending in July for active-duty troops--and nine out of the past nine months for the Army National Guard--is getting desperate. Still more than 16,000 recruits shy of its 2005 goal, and with disaffected teens plentiful but skeptical, the Army brass has added 1,000 new recruiters to pound the pavement--or linoleum hallways--in the past year. New Junior ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) programs are being introduced in high schools across the country, and lately kids as young as 11 are being invited to join pre-JROTC at their elementary and middle schools. The Army has increased its recruitment campaign budget by $500 million this year, and it is slated to introduce a new ad campaign in September emphasizing "patriotism." (In the past, it has focused on job opportunities and personal growth.) The Army hopes Congress will agree to a slew of new signing benefits designed to raise average enlistment bonuses from $14,000 to $17,000 (with some recruits getting as much as $30,000 for hard-to-fill specialties and some re-enlistment bonuses spiking as high as $75,000).
Sometimes the Army gets even more creative. On the sly, recruiters have helped high schoolers cheat on entrance exams, fudge their drug tests and hide police records, as the New York Times reported in May. The Times exposé revealed that the Army investigated 1,118 "recruiting improprieties" last year, ranging from coercing young people to lying to them. It substantiated 320 of these.
That such tactics are deemed necessary says a lot about the recruiters' desperation despite their extensive opportunities to engage students at both the college and high school levels. Recruiters' access to college campuses has been protected since 1996 under the Solomon Amendment, which ties federal funding to schools' willingness to permit recruiters on campus. And the military is taking full advantage, especially at community colleges, where students with fewer choices are more likely to consider a military career. Now the military has gained free access to high schools as well, under a little-known clause in the No Child Left Behind Act. Nestled among florid tributes to education reform and clunky legalese is a brief passage stating that all public schools are required to share students' names, addresses and telephone numbers with recruiters. "They have unrestricted access to kids in the schools, cafeterias and classrooms," says Hany Khalil, an organizing coordinator at United for Peace and Justice, a national antiwar coalition. "They've even brought Humvees onto campuses to make the prospect of going to war seem sexy and exciting."

I told Elaine that I was just doing the one thing from Democracy Now! today because I wanted to talk about the dopes knocking peace activists and also cause Nina and I are going to the movies tonight. Be sure to read Elaine to see what the Democracy Now! story made her think about.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

3 things from Democracy Now! and Donald Rumsfeld's diary

Good evening. We'll start with Democracy Now! and tonight Elaine and I will be commenting on the same three items from Democracy Now! again.

Amb. Joe Wilson Defends Sheehan
With the stage set for a possible show down in Crawford this weekend, more prominent figures are lending their support to Sheehan. In recent days, musicians Joan Baez and Steve Earle have performed at Camp Casey. Veteran civil rights activists and many veterans of the Iraq war are camped out there. On Wednesday, former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson issued a statement saying "The Bush White House and its right-wing allies are responding to Cindy Sheehan and the military families' vigil in central Texas in the same way that they always respond to bad news -- by unleashing personal attacks and smears against her."

As the victim of a smear campaign, Joe Wilson can tell when one's going down. I think it's really great that he spoke out. And I think it's great that people like Joan Baez and Steve Earl have visited Camp Casey to make sure that it had attention while Cindy Sheehan was taking care of her mother. Joan Baez is just cool. I knew of Steve Earle but I didn't know his music until Democracy Now! played one of his performances at Camp Casey (on Monday's show) and I ended up getting his The Revolution Starts Now CD today. I also got Joan Baez's Joan. I called Dona and asked her which one to get because she and Ava have just been digging into Baez's whole collection since last fall. Dona said she thought I'd like Joan best. I come home with it and my sister's all, "What did you get?" and we're setting the table for dinner when she finishes her part and grabs the bag. Dad and Ma came in as she was pulling out the CDs and it turns out that they have Joan on record. We're all going to go into the living room when my girlfriend Nina gets here and just listen to Joan and Earle's CD.

White House Denies Bush on Vacation
Meanwhile, the White House is denying that President Bush is on vacation. Administration spokesperson David Almacy said the reason that Bush is in Crawford, Texas, is due to the renovation of the West Wing of the White House. Almacy said "He's operating on a full schedule; he's just doing it from the ranch instead of from the White House." He continued, "The only week he had officially off was this last week.'

Why lie? Because America's noticing that all he does is take vacations. After almost five years in office his vacation time is almost one year. Econonmy's tanked, prices are rising, people are dying in Iraq every day and he's on vacation. It doesn't look good for him. Dad said George H.W. Bush was ridiculed for taking vacations. So you'd think that the cracked brain of Karl Rove would have factored that in.

This latest lie is so outrageous that you have to shake your head as you keep laughing. Ma had a good point but told me not to make it until the vacation is over. It's a strong one but it will be more obvious then so we'll wait until September for it.

MSNBC Journalist Calls Crawford Protesters 'Anti-war Extremists'
As the American Legion declares war on peace activists, President Bush and his allies continue to find support among some in the media for what many see as a smear campaign against Cindy Sheehan and other antiwar military families. On Monday's edition of MSNBC's Hardball, White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell labeled anti-war demonstrators at Bush's property in Crawford "anti-war extremists." The comments came in an exchange with FBI whistleblower turned Congressional candidate Colleen Rowley:
MSNBC's Hardball:
O'DONNELL: You're a Democrat running for Congress. It was reported that Republican leaders in your state were just thrilled that you had decided to align yourself with anti-war extremists. Do you think that this could affect your race for Congress?
ROWLEY: Well, I will quickly correct the record that they are not anti-war extremists. The majority of the people I saw down in Crawford were actually veterans groups. There were military families and --
O'DONNELL: But, Colleen, they do oppose the war in Iraq, do they not?
ROWLEY: Yes, they do. But that does not make, I guess the term extremists. They're really, I think, reflective of mainstream America in many ways."
FBI whistleblower Colleen Rowley responding to MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell. Thanks to for posting that clip.

Norah O'Donnell is a joke. C.I.'s talked about her and the way she spins (talked about her at The Common Ills). Ma says O'Donnell got a pass and she was front and center pushing the Bully Boy agenda morning after morning on The Today Show. I was listening to Democracy Now! today and didn't see the video but Tony saw it and was making jokes like, "Norah O'Donnell? She looked like Rosie O'Donnell!"

Nobody disagreed with my advice the other day so I'm going to close with a thing C.I. did. I'll do e-mails tomorrow but today was too hot and I'm lagging big time so I doubt I could offer any real advice anyway. I hope everyone else is surviving the summer heat. Remember to drink lots of water. People always go "liquids" and I love my Pepsi but those and other cokes will dehydrate you. So drink some water. Stay cool. And here's C.I.'s thing from yesterday which made me laugh when I read The Common Ills this morning.

"Rummy wants to get historical . . . on some things"
From today's
Democracy Now!:
Rumsfeld Compares Anti-War Activists to Backers of Stalin
Meanwhile the Bush administration appears to have launched a coordinated effort to discredit the anti-war movement. On Tuesday, President Bush, White House spokesman Trent Duffy and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld all took jabs at critics of the war. Duffy described the critics as people who don't believe the U.S. must win the war on terror. And Rumsfeld compared anti-war activists to American supporters of Joseph Stalin. He said "Throughout history there have always been those who predict America's failure just around every corner... Many Western intellectuals praised Stalin... For a time, Communism was very much en vogue... thankfully the American people are better centered. They ultimately come to the right decisions on big issues. And the future of Iraq is a very big issue."
So Donald Rumsfeld wants to go "historical?" Well he really doesn't need to go that far, does he?If he wants to talk about people appeasing tyrants, he doesn't even have to crack a book -- well, possibly his diary.
What was the year that Donald Rumsfeld, grinning, met with Saddam Hussein? Shook his hand, joked with him, made nice?
If that memory has fogged over the last twenty plus years, Rummy can open his diary and look for the entry for December 20, 1983.
How might that entry read?
Dear Diary,
There are knowables and unknowables but oh boy do I now know Saddam! He's so groovy and rules with an iron fist. There's no leader I'd rather embrace!!!!!
He's a strong presence. So strong that my knees went a little weak. That's why I didn't bring up his using chemical weapons on Iran. I'd thought maybe telling him how that blew me away, but when we embraced, the only thing I could think of was Sergio Mendes' "Never Gonna Let You Go." That song totally rocks! And I can tell me and Saddam are going to be tight for years to come.
He likes good music too! He taught me to do the robot to Eddy Grant's "Electric Avenue!"
He is so cool! Boy, am I glad we've kept him in power!
He told me I reminded him of Anthony Michael Hall in The Breakfast Club and I was all, "Oh my God! I was just thinking how you were Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club!" He was all, "No way!" and I was all, "Totally way!"
I told him we saw the Persian Gulf like detention and we needed a strong guy like him, or Judd Nelson, to protect our interests. For a second, he freaked me out because he made this totally mean face and started snarling, "Don't you ever talk about my friends. You don't know any of my friends. You don't look at any of my friends. And you certainly wouldn't condescend to speak to any of my friends. So you just stick to the things you know: shopping, nail polish, your father's BMW, and your poor, rich drunk mother in the Caribbean. "
At first, I thought, "Good God, he really is a madman!" Then I realized he was quoting Judd Nelson from Breakfast Club! He rocks!!!!!!
We had our picture taken together and I'm pasting it in here, Dear Diary, but I'm not real crazy about the way the flash makes my shirt look like it's pink!!!! But I like the way it makes my hair look shiney like Brooke Shields in those Wella Balsam commericals.
Joyce keeps telling me I'm losing my hair but what does she know? At the White House, they all tease me about my full head o' hair! Jealous much? They're all upset because with the soft shimmers and the way I wear it, I look like a cooler Alex P. Keaton!!
As long as I have my health and my hair, I'm unstoppable! Some day me and Saddam are going to be sitting on top of the world, controlling everything! I just know it!!!!!!
Dear Diary, you know how I am always the ultimate judge of character and I am telling you that Saddam Hussein is a stand up guy. This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!Does he really want to go "historical?"

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Democracy Now! and my interview with Ty

Good evening. We have three stories from Democracy Now! and Elaine and I are going to do the same ones and see if one of us notices something or makes a point the other doesn't so check out Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude where Elaine's been filling in for Rebecca. And at the end, we'll have my interview with Ty of The Third Estate Sunday Review.

Bush: Sheehan Is Advocating a Policy to "Weaken" The Country
President Bush has dismissed the ongoing anti-war vigil in Crawford Texas initiated by Cindy Sheehan. He claimed she was advocating a policy that would weaken the country. "I think those who advocate immediate withdrawal from not only Iraq but the Middle East would be -- are advocating a policy that would weaken the United States," Bush said. "So I appreciate her right to protest. I understand her anguish. I met with a lot of families. She doesn't represent the view of a lot of the families I have met with. And I'll continue to meet with families." Bush's comments came during a last-minute trip to the Idaho resort town of Donnelly. The trip was scheduled after hundreds of military families, veterans and anti-war protesters began camping outside his 1,600 acre estate in Crawford Texas.

C.I. nailed that nonsense this morning at The Common Ills:

Really now, Bully Boy? And when will he find time to meet with Patrica Roberts? As noted on Democracy Now! ("Mother of First Soldier from Georgia Killed in Iraq Also Demands to Speak with Bush"), "Her son Jamaal Addison was killed in Iraq in 2003."
PATRICIA ROBERTS: My son was with the 507 Maintenance Company. He died with Jessica Lynch and the P.O.W.s. He was the unit that took the wrong turn. He was one of the 11 that got killed, the first Sunday, which they call that day the "Bloody Sunday."
[. . .]
YORUBA RICHEN: You haven't been able to meet with President Bush. Do you want to, and what would you say to him?
PATRICIA ROBERTS: Yes. I do want to meet with President Bush. I feel that President Bush owes me a personal condolence, being again that my son was the first soldier to die for Georgia, and when I watched him go to church and do other things with the soldiers that were alive and the other people that he was commending for what they had done, I felt that he owes myself and every other parent the personal respect of saying to them face-to-face, knowing who their soldier is, knowing the parents and saying, "My condolences for what your son did for me and our country." How he goes about choosing which parents he talked to, because I don't know why I haven't gotten the opportunity to talk to him. So I would like to know how he goes about it. Is it the ones that support the war? And that's the ones that he's talking to, those soldiers that survived? Are he talking to the families that once their child is gone, that they still support him? Are those the families he's talking to? I don't know who he is talking to. All I know is that he is not talking to me.
Exactly when will the Bully Boy make time for Patricia Roberts? It's over two years after her son, Jamaal Addison, was killed. What's the time table Bully Boy's working from? Are all those vacations leaving him little time to work? (Will he hit a full year of vacation before Dec. 31, 2005? Magic 8 Ball says, "It is possible.")

The only Americans Bully Boy will meet with are the ones who support him. He seems to forget that the nation is not his fan club and that he works for us. But he just wants people to puff up his ego because deep down inside he's got to know he is as disgusting, weak and pathetic as most people are saying.

200 Protest Bush in Tiny Idaho Town of 130
In Idaho Bush is staying at Tamarack Resort, known for its world-class ski mountain, its professional golf course and the beautiful Lake Cascade. Meanwhile anti-war protesters met Bush in Idaho. Even though the tiny town of Donnelly only has a population of 130, some 200 protesters took to the streets Monday night. Protests were also held in Boise. There were reports protesters planned to issue a citizen's arrest warrant for the president. Laura McCarthy, whose son is in Iraq, said at a rally "President Bush probably breathed a sigh of relief when he landed in Idaho last night. But no matter where he goes, he's going to find a Cindy Sheehan in every community across the United States. The name is going to be different, but the message is going to be the same."

These are the people Bully Boy won't meet with. These are the ones that don't count as citizens. Anyone could go see Bill Clinton but Bully Boy has to have his audiences selected because he can't take any reality creeping in. That's why he's had to take a vacation from his vacation.

He's a coward and I hope protesters follow him everywhere he goes. He needs to know that the country isn't pleased with the crappy job he's been doing.

And the mothers and fathers need to make him see that he has destroyed their families with his illegal war. He needs to see the pain he's caused and if he wants to make a joke about it, like he did with Karla Fay Tucker, then that shows you what a creep he is.

Bush's Approval Rating Plummets to New Low of 36%
Meanwhile opinion polls show President Bush's approval rating has dropped to a new low of just 36 percent -- according to the latest survey from the American Research Group. Bush's approval rating is now lower than Richard Nixon's was at the height of the Watergate scandal.

See? Nobody likes him. He can't even fool us anymore. He's just a big idiot screaming "Stay the course! Stay the course!" trying to make it seem like 9/11 and Iraq are related. His tricks are old and people aren't falling for them lately. Bully Boy has dropped to a new low in the polls but in events he always finds a new low to drop to. When our grandchildren are taught about this time, they'll wonder how America came so close to being a dictatorship.

I hope he gets impeached but if that doesn't happen, I hope we all wake up to the Bully Boy family and that the vote count rigged "dynasty" ends with Bully Boy. No George P., no Jeb, just jeer anytime one of them says they'll run. Two of them were enough to destroy the country, we don't need anymore of them in the White House. So if they run, anyone from that family, I hope that protesters show up early, like in the primaries and boo, hiss and heckle them.

I'm sure Elaine will have a better way of telling this tonight so make sure you check out her post.

No e-mails this evening because it's Wednesday and that means it's time an interview. This week's victim :D is Ty of The Third Estate Sunday Review.

What are you reading?

Ty: What are you reading? (Laughs) We're laughing because we're both reading Tariq Ali's Street Fighting Years. Want to talk about that?

Man. Last week when Betty said "My copy won't be in at the library until Friday," I was like "Thank God."

Ty: I know. Dona's like a speed reader. And C.I.'s usually already read the book.

Right, I think the only book that C.I. read for "5 Books, 5 Minutes" or any book feature was What's My Name, Fool? by Dave Zirin. So it's like "Cool" about whatever gets picked but I'm always like, "5 books?"

Ty: I know. I picked up Tariq Ali's and I was hoping there would be drawings or photos inside.
It's a great book but it's a long one when you're trying to do five books in one week.

What do you read for yourself?

Ty: Nothing when we're trying to do five books in a single week. But I like a lot of different stuff. I like theory and I like fiction, a lot of the same books Folding Star would praise at A Winding Road were books I'd read and enjoy. I'll read anything and that comes from my grandparents always telling me to stay informed. My grandfather hands you a book on flowers or botany and you say, "I don't want to look at this" he'd tell you that was exactly the reason you need to read it. So I'm open to basically anything. I'll give pretty much anything a chance. I may end up hating it but I'll put in some time to find out.

You like Stephen King books.

Ty: Yes. I grew up reading those books. I can remember being told it was bedtime and I'd just not be ready. So I'd grab this little flashlight, go on to bed, get under the covers, and with the flashlight, I'd read my Stephen King book under the cover.

Why Stephen King?

Ty: I guess because it's . . . His books, his best ones, are something more than just scary and there's the whole leading character who is misunderstood and what kid hasn't felt like the whole world misunderstands him or her?

What's been your favorite thing, I think I know the answer to this, about doing The Third Estate Sunday Review?

Ty: Well it is fun. I get tired and I fell asleep during the news review Saturday. Dona just let me sleep.

I know. We were all going, "Do we wake him?" Jim was saying your thing was too important and Dona goes, "So is sleep. People are tired of all nighters and they have their own lives. Let him sleep."

Ty: I woke up feeling great but I did wonder if I should feel guilty.

Nah. Everybody knew you had a long day and been rushing around.

Ty: I just knew my loud snore was going out over the phone lines.

Cause we're on the phone during that. A lot of people wrote in, I did this sort of look at the making of the news review, and they said why is Dona whispering to C.I. to stretch and all and the reason is because at least half of us, maybe more are on the phone. I'm on the phone. Elaine's on the phone, C.I.'s usually on the phone, Cedric's on the phone . . . But we heard a few snorts from you maybe three times, four tops, otherwise no snores.

Ty: But it's fun and we all learn something each time. There's the exchange in the roundtables that readers see but that same thing happens when we're writing something, we're saying, "I think . . ." or whatever and debating something as we are writing it. And, I'll go personal details here, as you know and everyone helping Saturday, Friday I had my first big intense romantic breakup and I was pretty much out of it from Friday until Sunday.

That was weird to me because we spoke on the phone Saturday morning, you and me, and I was thinking, "Wow, Ty can go through something like this?" because you seem to be so smooth.

Ty: What can I tell you, we're all human.

Well, when I brought up the question, I was actually thinking in terms of your favorite thing that's been done at The Third Estate Sunday Review?

Ty: Hmm. There's a large number of things. I liked the whole summer edition, where we had the creative writing pieces.

And you came up with the idea for "K-Boy Tries To Get Back Home (a horrific parable)."

Ty: Yeah. We were talking about Stephen King before and that's where you were headed, I get it. I wanted something spooky and I did think up the idea but I didn't know where it was going. It was a group effort but I do like that story and I am glad for my part in getting the basic idea. I also liked the sixties edition too. Those things take a lot of time and you can't do them every week but I think they contain some of our better stuff because we're doing something that's creative and works off the interplay between us. Also there's not a lot of creative writing going on at political sites. C.I. does it. Like "Rudith Miller" or "COUP: Today Show Seizes Control of the New York Times' Front Page" --

Or my favorite "Clubbing With the New York Times."

Ty: Yeah that's hysterical but it takes a lot of work to do something like that. So at The Third Estate Sunday Review we don't usually have the time for a special edition even though we all are really proud of them when we do them.

I've interviewed Dona, Jim, Ava and now you, so Jess is next and I'm wondering if you had any questions I should ask him about?

Ty: Well Jess, Jim and I all share an apartment. So I could probably give you some good questions for both of them.

I'm thinking of one bit of news that's not "known."

Ty: I know what you're thinking of. I bet he'll bring it up on his own.

Well Ty, thank you for agreeing to the interview. I hope we can do a follow up.

Ty: Sure thing. Just holler.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Joan Baez, Lynn Woolsey, Lance Armstrong, Suzie's in love with her new step-brother and more

Good evening, we're starting off with Democracy Now!

2,000 Protest Bush in Salt Lake City
While President Bush was speaking, anti-war demonstrators gathered outside calling for the troops to be brought home from Iraq. Protest organizers in Salt Lake City had taken out a permit for a one-thousand person protest - but more than twice that many took to the streets. Celeste Zappala - who co-founded Gold Star Mothers for Peace with Cindy Sheehan - addressed the crowd. Her 30-year-old son Sherwood Baker died in Baghdad last year.

2000 people is just incredible. Can you imagine seeing that number in 2002? Probably not because they would have all been carted away or hidden away. There's a change going on. I see it on campus and at work and it's like things are getting worse for Bully Boy each and every day.
People are catching on to how empty he is and how much damage he's doing to our nation.

Remember "Scattered Thoughts?" The thing I copy and pasted yesterday that C.I. wrote over at The Common Ills? Think about what C.I. was saying in that and how far we've come. We've gone from a nation afraid to say that the Emperor has no clothes on to one that says, "He's naked and, oh gosh, is he ugly!"

Joan Baez & Others Rally At Camp Casey in Crawford, TX
Meanwhile in Crawford Texas, military families, veterans and anti-war activists are continuing their vigil at Camp Casey outside President Bush's 1,600-acre estate. Folk singer Joan Baez spoke to reporters on Monday. "I think the question that nobody wanted to deal with is the question that they're posing - why did my kid die in vain," Baez said. "Because the answer is too awful." Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and actress Margot Kidder have also stopped by the Crawford protest site. Kidder - who is best known for playing Lois Lane in Superman - said she became a U.S. citizen last week in order to be able to protest the war in Iraq without facing the possibility of deportation.

I wouldn't know who Margot Kidder was if Ava and C.I. hadn't mentioned her in their review of Smallville that they called "TV: Super Stripper or Super Chicken, we weigh in on Smallville." So I won't claim I know a lot about her but I will say, "Outstanding" for her going to Crawford and outstanding to Sheila Jackson Lee too. She's a Congresswoman from Texas. Joan Baez?

Ava and Dona and Jess and Rebecca and C.I. are huge Joan Baez fans. My parents have some of her stuff too. So I know who Joan Baez is and I think it is so great that she went to Crawford. She was there Sunday and Monday. She's a classy lady and a great singer.

And if you don't know her, you should read Kat's "Diamonds & Really-Reals:"

Chill, cats, chill. I thought I'd have some fun and read some e-mails and there are forty-three of you asking where my review of Cass Elliot's latest collection is. It wasn't going to run on Monday. And I knew that so I'd asked C.I. to hold it to give me time to rework a section of it.I'm reworking it right now. If I finish, it'll be up tomorrow morning at The Common Ills. If I don't it will be Wednesday probably.
If you missed it this afternoon at The Common Ills, Joan Baez has a live album due out. It's called Bowery Songs and it comes out on September 6th. I don't know whether I'll review it or not (that depends on if it speaks to me) but I will be buying it. I hope you'll think about it too because Joan Baez never sits on the sidelines or waits to see which way the wind is blowing. She's been a brave independent voice for decades and we need to support artists who are like that. Notice that I said "artists." If Baez didn't have that goods, I wouldn't bring it up. But she's a strong singer and I actually prefer her voice as it's matured. I know a lot of people who say they miss that early sixties purity but I think she gets the songs across better now that her voice is lived in.
If Joan Baez is someone you've only heard of but never heard (she is mythic and legendary) then Bowery Songs is a chance for you to sample her.
And for all you kids out there that don't listen to Bob Dylan but pretend you do because he's "cool," you should pick up Joan's album because she lived the life Dylan sang about.
Dylan's not able to hold my interest for much of his eighties out output and after the eighties I'm really lukewarm on him. If anything, I listen to his more recent albums and wonder what Phil Ochs would be recording if he were still alive.
Dylan also has a tendency (after the motor cycle accident or "motor cycle accident" since no one knows for sure what happend) to get way too Old Testament for my tastes. It's the same way I feel about Leonard Cohen. It's just a little too "The end is nigh!" for my tastes.
A good example of that sort of song would be "Dark Eyes." Judy Collins recorded it on her Judy Sings Dylan: Just Like A Woman album of the nineties and she really managed to put it across.But with the Dylan whine and surrounded by more bleak, despair, get in the Arc 'coz the flood's a' coming! songs, it really didn't work on his Empire Burlesque. I think Judy and Joan both do a better job with Dylan's songs than Dylan does himself. That's got nothing to do with range. Judy Collins & Joan Baez have strong vocal ranges, true. But Dylan's never really had one. (Except when he tried to sing on the breath during his Nashville Skyline period and tried to pass it off as "My voice changed 'cause I stopped smoking" nonsense. Though nasal, Dylan always sung in his thoat, forcing the notes out. Critics who fell for the "I stopped smoking" crap didn't know the first thing about singing. Dylan had obviously been working on breath control and was singing on the breath. That's why his voice sounded that way.) Not having a range didn't hurt him in the early days.
But the difference was that he seemed to believe in what he was singing then and sang it with force. Too many songs since have not reflected that he believed in what he was singing. Or he's gotten so lost in his (Old Testament) imagery that he's forgotten how to connect with an audience.
Joan Baez is the Howard Zinn of the music set. I say that because she's political but also because she's something of a historian herself. She's pursued the traditional folk songs and kept them alive for new generations. She's also recorded some of her own songs (I love "Diamonds and Rust" and "Sweeter For Me" to name just two) beginning in the seventies. But something she's done almost from the beginning is to record songs by current writers. Besides exposing Bob Dylan's work to a large audience in the sixties, she's also recorded Phil Ochs, Richard Farina, Natalie Merchant, Ryan Adams and many more.
I'm not saying she doesn't have a clunker in her catalogue, but I am saying that her albums overall are a historical source for strong songs -- traditional ones, her own and some of the best of other writers today.
In an ever more plastic world where "singers" are embarrassed by their belt buckles singing and "enhanced" in the studio by digital tricks, Joan Baez is one of the really-reals. She's authentic and she's true. So consider checking out Bowery Songs September 6th.What am I listening to? Well I was listening to her live CD From Every Stage (one of my favorite live albums) when I started this but now the Beatles' Abby Road is playing.
Speaking of really-reals, I want to note something that C.I. wrote last week. Mike really wanted it to be a Blog Spotlight at The Third Estate Sunday Review in their latest edition. Everyone got behind that idea except C.I. who feels that other people need to be spotlighted more. So a thing by Jess (which is great) got spotlighted instead. Dona and Jim both kept going "We can have more than one Blog Spotlight." But C.I. said no, to give the focus to Jess. So I'm posting "Scattered Thoughts" in full here. From a really-real, a strong and true voice. We need more of them in all areas.

Kat goes on to post "Scattered Thoughts" like I did yesterday which I think is so great because we really need to make sure people know about that thing.

Now for the third thing I want to note from Democracy Now!

Rep. Lynn Woolsey to Hold Hearings on Iraq Exit Strategy
In Washington, Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey of California has announced she will hold hearings on Sept. 15 on how the U.S. can leave Iraq. She said the hearings will be modeled on the one organized by Congressman John Conyers about the Downing Street Memos. Woolsey said, "We'll hear from academics, military personnel and other experts about strategies to achieve military disengagement while still playing a constructive role in the rebuilding of Iraqi society." The hearings will come a week before the major Sept. 24 anti-war rally in Washington.

Thank you to Lynn Woolsey who's got guts, courage and everything else that this country needs.
I'm so happy that someone's got the guts to push this forward. We want it, us unelected people. It's only our officials that won't deal with it and make it happen. Lynn Woolsey is a hero in my book and we don't got a lot of those.

Take Lance Armstrong who's going to trash his own achievements by going down in the history books as Bully Boy's little buddy. If you don't believe me, check out Dave Zirin's "Pedaling Away from Principle:"

"The Tour de Crawford." The words blared from a red, white, and blue piece of spandex that George W. Bush presented to Lance Armstrong at his Crawford, Texas ranch. The gifting followed a 17-mile bike ride where they gazed at the landscape that Bush calls "my slice of heaven." Armstrong gushed about Bush's riding prowess afterward, saying to ABC News, "That old boy can go ... I didn't think he would punish himself that much, but he did." By the way, the war and occupation of Iraq "never came up."
This is bitterly disappointing. Armstrong took a strong stand against the war right after his amazing 7th consecutive Tour de France victory. With the sweat still pouring down his face he said, "The biggest downside to a war in Iraq is what you could do with that money. What does a war in Iraq cost a week? A billion? Maybe a billion a day? The budget for the National Cancer Institute is four billion. That has to change. Polls say people are much more afraid of cancer than of a plane flying into their house or a bomb or any other form of terrorism."
Armstrong's Texas Toady Two-Step is even more maddening given that Crawford is not exactly neutral vacation space for George W. Bush these days. In fact his five-week siesta has been gloriously disrupted by the real world. Cindy Sheehan lost her son Casey in the Iraqi carnage, and came to Crawford to make her anguish Bush's problem. She has requested an audience with
the President, and legions of supporters have flocked to her side. Sheehan, with striking moral and political clarity, is demanding not only answers, but immediate and total troop withdrawal from Iraq. She has garnered international attention at a time when Bush's poll numbers have never been lower. Yet Bush scoffed at the idea of meeting with Cindy, saying, "I need to get on with my life."
This is the political hornet's nest Lance Armstrong biked into. This is where Lance had an opportunity to to not just talk the talk, but also walk the walk. But Armstrong neither talked nor walked. Maybe its unrealistic to think that Lance could have suggested a bike detour to Camp Casey. Perhaps it's a flight of fantasy to imagine that Lance would organize a Critical Mass Bike Ride to jam the gates of Crawford. But his utter silence, given both what he knows about Iraq, and the presence of Camp Casey, spoke volumes.

"That old boy can go?" You know where Lance should go? To get there, he'll have to pull his lips off Bully Boy's butt first. Disgusting.

Bradford e-mailed me about that and said that Lance Armstrong is beyond disgusting. Which brings us to the e-mail asking for advice. The one that's standing out to me is Suzie's (and that's not her real name).

Suzie is 16 and she's got a new stepfather as of June. She likes Step-Dad and thinks he's nice and makes her Mom happy. But what's bothering her is that because Step-Dad got married, his ex-wife has just sent his kids on over to live with them. That's three kids. 1 of them is a 17 year old son. Tom (not his real name) is really cool, Suzie says. He's funny and smart and makes her laugh. She also says he looks "really hot:" "like Ashton Kutcher without the bad parts."

Suzie's problem is she's really attracted to Tom. And he is now her step-brother so she's wondering how "gross am I?" 1 of the 2 other kids told her that Tom likes her too. Suzie wonders if she should say something or do something?

Here's my advice and anybody who wants to weigh in can do so and we'll put it up Thursday (tomorrow I do the interview with Ty of The Third Estate Sunday Review). Suzie, I don't think it's gross because you two didn't grow up together and all. You're 16 and he's 17 and you're just meeting.

But before you start locking lips you need to think about the fact that you are living under the same roof and that will probably bother your parents a lot. While they want you to get along, I doubt they're wanting a couple. So if something happens and you sneak around, it's going to get out. And once it does, they're going to be very suspicious about what's going on in the house.

My advice to Suzie is to mention to her mother that she thinks Tom is hot. Mom's reaction will determine what happens next. If she hits the roof, Suzie knows to chill. If she thinks it's "cute" that the families are getting along so well, Suzie will know that too. And if anything happens, Suzie can say, "I told you I thought he was hot!" So then it's not like Suzie was pretending or trying to fool anyone.

But I do think that if something does happen (sex or just kissing), Suzie needs to think about the fact that there's no escape from Tom. It's not like she and Tom can fight and then avoid each other for a week or something because they live in the same house. I really don't think the risks are worth pursuing a relationship but if Suzie does, that's her business. But she needs to make sure her Mom knows, this is the first thing, that she likes Tom.

Suzie should also be prepared that Tom might not like her that way and that the more she gets to know Tom (they met at the wedding and haven't seen each other since this week when Tom and his 2 siblings moved in) may mean she finds him less attractive and interesting.

Monday, August 22, 2005

News and explaining the process for The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review

Good evening. Let's start off with some news from Democracy Now!

U.S. Drafts Plans to Keep 100,000 Troops in Iraq Until 2009
The Pentagon is drafting plans to keep over 100,000 troops in Iraq for the next four years. Gen. Peter Schoomaker told the Associated Press, the Army is already making plans for troop deployments in Iraq through the year 2009. He admitted that keeping over 100,000 troops in Iraq that long is a possibility but he described it as a "worst case" scenario. This comes as a high-ranking Republican Senator has publicly compared the war in Iraq to Vietnam. "We are locked into a bogged down problem, not unsimilar, dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam," said Hagel. "The longer we stay, the more problems we're going to have."

That's one of the things we covered in "The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review." Bobbie e-mailed asking why I didn't deliver a report in that Sunday feature? Last week, Elaine lost out on her story and Cedric's got slashed to an announcement. So Betty, Jim and me decided to focus on helping with the behind the scenes stuff. Dona is like the producer. She's making sure that it doesn't run long and telling C.I. to extend or hurry based on the time and whether or not someone going next has their report ready. And based on the time, she and Jim are looking at what people have ready for their report and helping them cut it if time is short or helping them extend it if there's more time. But there's usually not more time. When you read it and C.I.'s talking about something and asking questions, Dona's telling C.I. to extend because the next report isn't ready. C.I. hates being the anchor but everyone thinks C.I. does a great job, except C.I. Like Dona said here last week, you need someone who can think on their feet and who knows stuff because if she's saying, "Stretch this out" then the anchor's got to be able to say something more than, "So how's your day?"

How does it start? We're usually finishing something and Dona will say, "News Review in 15 minutes." Which means we're all tossing out ideas for topic for like 5 minutes and if someone hears a topic they like, they grab it and leave before that 5 minutes so that they can get their thing started. People will toss out sources and stuff to use like, "We haven't used ___" or "We should use ___." And 5 minutes before it's time to start, Dona will ask who's got something ready and is ready to go? C.I.'s usually helping someone with their report at that point. Then it's right before it's time to go and Dona will tell C.I. who the first person up is and the topic of their report. Then we're transcribing it in real time.

Elaine went first and we were glad because she didn't get to go last time but there was time needed to stretch because Ava's thing on Pittsburgh needed a little more time and Dona had her planned for next. So C.I. tossed out a topic to Elaine that she had written about and it reads like it was planned but it wasn't. It's time for the next segment and Jess goes next to give Ava more time and Cedric's not ready cause he is trying to find more sources for his story. Jess was way cool and had more stuff than he planned to use which was good because Dona was going stretch and I was helping Cedric and Jim and Betty were helping Ava. We couldn't find an additional report so Cedric worked that into his report. And that's how it moved along. Then I went to help Dona because Kat had a huge report and was asking for help on cutting it. She was going to include the news about Barbra Streisand's new song but we had time to watch the first 40 seconds of the video while Cedric and C.I. were stretching. It's not a pro-war song but it's not an anti-war song. Kat cut out this long thing she had on that. And there was other stuff that got dropped too but we were all the most depressed about Streisand's song because the stuff Kat found made it sound like it was this really deep song about peace and that's not what it is. It's a nice song, don't get me wrong, but it's not this amazing peace statement like we were all thinking. And while all that's going on, Ava, Jim, and Betty have gone ahead and included London in her report which made it even stronger and a strong way to go out.

That actually answers Tony's questions as well and just leave Damica's question which was what is C.I. told about the reports ahead of time? Dona gives a brief sentence like "Kat's going to go over music, she's got a Garth joke in there." Or Dona will tell C.I. "You're going to Jess next and he'll be talking about Cindy Sheehan and he has material to extend with if it's needed." That's it.
When she's saying that C.I. is either listening to someone give a report or speaking to them and she really couldn't give much more detail without it being confusing probably.

Damica wondered if C.I. and Ava had worked out their exchange during Ava's report because it flowed so well and, no, they didn't. But Ava and C.I. work well together. They do the TV review together and all and they think a lot alike so that's probably what you're seeing when you read it. I also think C.I. doesn't worry about tossing what could be a curve ball to Ava because they know each pretty well and know what each other can handle.

That's going to count for digging into the e-mails this entry. Now back to Democracy Now!

Anti-War Protests Grow In Crawford Texas
In Crawford Texas, anti-war protesters have begun their third week of vigils outside President Bush's 1,600-acre estate. The protest began on Aug. 6 by Cindy Sheehan - whose 24-year-old son Casey died in Iraq last year. But the protest has rapidly expanded. Military families, veterans and anti-war protesters continue to travel across the country to Crawford to take part in the demonstrations. On Friday a second protest camp was opened next door to President Bush's property. Over the weekend musicians Joan Baez and Steve Earle performed before hundreds of people. The protesters are vowing to stay in Crawford for the rest of the month until President Bush ends his five-week summer vacation.

I want to quote something C.I. e-mailed which is Dave Zirin's "In Defense of Felipe Alou:"

So you say you wanna be a racist? Put down that burning cross! Rip up your white hood! Throw away your CD of "Trent Lott's Favorite Negro Spirituals!" The quickest way to be branded a racist is to stand up to racism. Just ask San Francisco Giants' manager Felipe Alou.
Last week, KNBR's Larry Krueger called the Giants a team of "brain dead Caribbeans." Alou straightened his spine and said, "Hell no." In the ensuing storm, Krueger was canned. Now Alou, in the eyes of a whole strain of the sports industrial complex, is the bad guy and Krueger has morphed into Mario Savio with gravy stains: a free speech martyr sacrificed on the altar of "political correctness."
When Krueger got the boot, Alou was sympathetic but remained firm. "I feel bad about people being fired. It wasn't my intention, but I didn't start it and I took a stand. I want people to understand that [racism] is a social issue. I want to make people aware of that so they will know that in the United States, it won't be tolerated."

Remember that we did a review of Dave Zirin's book What's My Name Fool? at The Third Estate Sunday Review.

From CounterRecruiter, I want to be sure everyone's got the news about Pittsburg that Democracy Now! noted today, "Pittsburgh Police Use Tasers at Counter-Recruiting Demo:"

Pittsburgh Indymedia has more coverage on the protests including video of the shooting. At least five protesters were arrested and two were hospitalized. One woman was bit by a police dog. A second woman suffered injuries after being shot with a 50,000-volt Taser stun gun.

Last thing for tonight is a full entry. At The Third Estate Sunday Review, we were all trying to pick the Blog Spotlight or Spotlights and we were really wanting to go with a thing by C.I. We went with something else because C.I. wanted it spotlighted and I'll spotlight it here tomorrow but this is something I thought was pretty important and Elaine and I discussed this and both agreed to note it at our sites today.

Here's C.I.'s "Scattered thoughts:"

Tonight, when things appear to be improving in the United States in terms of debates and discussions, I want to drop back to how things were not all that long ago.Following 9/11, debate was hushed by the mainstream media and certain gatekeepers. That's not something unique to our times but hopefully online sources will help it be remembered. Bartcop and other sites that were around then have real time discussions on the climate in this country at that time.Why is that important?
When we look at the internment of the Japanese-Americans in this country during WWII, for instance, we're shocked and it seems so against the fabric of our society that we have a hard time comprehending how it could happen.
In our country we saw Muslims rounded up, we saw secret deportations and numbers of other activites that wouldn't seem to fold easily into the fabric of the United States. But they happened with little outcry registering.
When the issue did resonate, outside the mainstream media, and the events were spoken of, sometimes there was a tendency was to put it in the perspective of Germany as Hitler rose to power. That offended a number of people. (That's not my slamming anyone who made that comparison -- people making such comparisions were usually doing so in a solid manner despite the whines and slams from the right.) But we really didn't have to go other shores ("we" being American community members, apologies to our members from other countries, I'll probably continue to use "we" as I rush through this).
We've had witch hunts many other times. McCarthyism is but one example.
What bothered a number of people (rightfully so) besides the actions following 9/11 was how little discussion there was of them. We take our cues, as a nation, from our media. (A point that shouldn't be controversial whether someone's a reader of Noam Chomsky or Marshall McLuhan or In Style.) And we found ourselves faced with a media that was owned by or in part . . .
(If your new to this topic, refer to this web page from NOW with Bill Moyers which has a drop down menu you can use.)
We link to many independent media sites (I'm not providing a ton of links in this entry so use our permalinks on the left) like The Progressive, The Nation, Democracy Now!, BuzzFlash, In These Times, Ms., The Black Commentator, CounterPunch, Indymedia, Pacifica, Clamor, LeftTurn, etc. They exist, they are out there. (Along with many others.) But we're more apt to have Fox "News," MSNBC, or CNN in our homes than a magazine on our coffee table. (We as a nation.)
In his book, A Matter of Opinion, Victor Navasky explains that he sees the importance of The Nation and other opinion journals as presenting ideas to a wider audience. (That's my bad summary of a major point in his book. My apologies.) It's the point of this community in terms of trying to hook members up with voices that speak to them. As FAIR has documented repeatedly since it's inception, the voices presented by the mainstream media grow narrower and narrower each year.
If tomorrow an apple is used as a weapon and fright wing senator goes on Meet the Press to call for banning all apples and hawkish Dem is the "opposition" arguing that we should instead implement a testing procedure for apples, to the public, that's the debate clearly drawn. That's the debate the mainstream media popularizes and gets behind. And if you're thinking there must be some other idea/plan or even thinking, "We're talking about one apple here!" you're left with the impression that you are so out of the norm that no one else in the country shares your opinion. It's not on the TV, it's not on the radio. So it must be you going out on limb all by yourself.
And the result may be that you dismiss your own opinion and attempt to get with the program. Even if you don't, you may feel you're the only one who would ever think that way, so what's the point?
Following 9/11, you 'got with the program' in some manner or you were demonized. (Susan Sontag, et al.) And we need to remember that because people will ask, "How did this happen here?" They'll ask that about the secret deportations, the roundups, the practice of torture and rendention and a host of other things.
People being frightened does play into it and for that you need national hysteria. The lack of serious debate and a limited number of opinions and voices reaching out through the mainstream only aid the creation of a national hysteria. If, in the future, we attempt to answer how we entered a period where secret hearings, et al. were suddenly "American," we won't have to look to Germany to explain what happened here. We'll merely need to note that few people in power used their power (most abdicated it) and the press didn't do their job (ditto). And maybe, if we can all remember that, it can serve as a lesson the next time a similar event pops up (and they always do). Laura Flanders says, "Don't leave politics to the politicians."
You can't. They're not going to advocate (with few exceptions) anything that they're not being pressured to do. Possibly, that's understandable. You are a representative of a certain area and if the citizens in your area aren't pushing for action, it may be "smart" not to take any.
The myth of the brave press isn't reality. At best, we've been able to count on a few strong voices in any era. To use McCarthyism, the press largely took a pass on the witch hunts in real time and, like politicians, waited for the mood of the nation to change. That might have been "smart" as well. They are selling papers, magazines or commercial time.
But what's smart business isn't smart democracy. And if there's a lesson from our recent history, hopefully it will be "Speak out soon and speak out often." The only way ideas will get traction is if they're heard. Too many times, I heard someone say, "I'd say something but I'm the only one who feels this way." (And when this site started, that feeling of "I thought I was the only one who thought that" has been a constant in e-mails.) If you see something you think is wrong, dig in your heels and stake out your position. Don't wait for an editorial in a paper or for backing from a politician. Don't wait for the "mood" of the nation to shift.
Even shut out of the mainstream media, your ideas can still take life in the people around you. And if media consolidation isn't dealt with, we're going to need to be very aware of what power we do have and we're going to need to be willing to use it.
When an anchor person (Dan Rather) goes on a talk show (Letterman) to say he takes his marching orders from a president, we need to realize that regardless of the anchor, regardless of the person in the oval office, there's a problem. When an anchor (future at that point, Brian Williams) goes on a talk show (Leno) to say that he's interested in his broadcasts being kid friendly, we have a problem. In the first example, a person with a huge say in what will make the evening news is implying that he'll present what's approved by the White House. In the second example, that mythical large number of children tuning into the evening news are used as an excuse for watering down content. The result of both statements is not an endorsement of journalism (or even an appreciation of it). Nor are they new attitudes. However, in the past, when they've been expressed in similar terms, they were usually expressed following an actual event. For instance, apparently looking over the crayola scrawled notes of seven-year-olds, Peter Jennings once expressed concern over his decision to show a Lebenese child on a stretcher. In the talk show remarks noted at the start of this paragraph, there was no specific incident that either anchor was responding to. These were pre-emptive statements volunteered by the two men.
The fact that the statements weren't greeted with loud criticism from the mainstream is troubling. If you watch the news with your child (if), you're agreeing to see the news. Not just the pretty things. We heard, during the impeachment, people moaning that now their kids were talking about blow jobs. Taking them at their word (for some reason Nielsen hasn't registered any significant number of children watching the evening news broadcasts, but whatever), you tell your child to leave the room or you turn off the TV. If the child is saying "blow job," you tell the child to stop. If the child's at an age where s/he repeats everything heard then they probably shouldn't have been watching a news program to begin with because they're probably not at a level where they can handle it.
But we were all infantilized by the mainstream media. Whether it was hidden coffins (the administration's policy could have been gotten around, as was demonstrated when the photos finally did break) or not showing pictures of the graphic violence. Note, that's pictures of the graphic violence. Photo journalists capture what they see. They don't create it (if they do, they aren't photo journalists).Yes, you had a few pieces here and there. We can note, for instance, R.C. Longworth's "War from 30,000 feet: Whipping Up a Crisis" which ran in the Chicago Tribune March 23, 2003. After noting FDR's "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," Longworth wrote:

. . . Bush is using fear as a weapon, not to build courage among Americans but to stampede them into endorsing a case for a war that has been built literally on a grab bag of possibilities, contingencies, ifs and maybes, of things that haven't happened but could happen, of bad guys who might hit us if we don't hit them first.
This is a created crisis. Now that the crisis is upon us, we can only hope that it passes quickly, with minimum loss of life on either side, and that our native skepticism prevents it from happening again.

"National hysteria" is a term Longworth uses and you need that hysteria before you can bring out the nails and the wood or the bonfires necessary to conclude the witch hunts with.
National hysteria is what whips us up and silences us. An independent press is needed in any time period to combat that.
The mainstream press' consolidation is a concern today but it's a mistake, my opinion, to assume the mainstream media was ever that independent to begin with.
In terms of today, it will be interesting to watch the coverage play out in the next few years. There will, if history holds, be the usual "We were all wrong." Some will point to a Longworth at their paper as an example that they did "cover" the issues with little accountability for the fact that a Longworth was the exception and not reflective of the overall tone.
It'll also be interesting to see how some cheerleaders (water carriers) for the current administration (I'm not speaking of columnists, I'm speaking of reporters) minimize their own part in the hysteria, the witch hunts and pressing (not reporting) the administration's agenda.
Will Judith Miller (who, from her actions in Iraq, appears to have foolishly believed some of the claims she reported on) be the scape goat that allows everyone else to emerge with a pass?Martha e-mailed about an online transcript (at the Washington Post) with James VandeHei entitled "White House Insider" and wondered what world he lives in? Here's one section:

San Francisco, Calif.: Why doesn't the press refuse to take briefings from Scott McClellan, who either lied to them about the Plame incident, or was lied to by the administration? Isn't his credibility shot?
Jim VandeHei: Scott took a good beating when it was learned that the White House knew much more about the Plame leak than he and others let on last year. It's not entirely clear how much he knew about the involvement of other officials. But Scott has a lot of credibility with reporters. He is seen as someone who might not tell you a lot, but is not going to tell you a lie. more broadly, we go to the briefings if for no other reason to hear the White House spin on world events. they rarely figure into our daily reports because we will talk to Scott and others one on one and not in front of a crowd.

He's not going to lie, according to VandeHei, and yet "we will talk to Scott and others one on one and not in front of a crowd." The daily briefings "rarely figure into our daily reports." But he's not "not going to tell you a lie." Even overlooking the apparent contradiction in VandeHei's statements (if he's not going to lie, why are the daily briefings of no value to the Post?), what exactly is VandeHei doing making these remarks? Why is he vouching for "Scott" in such a personal manner?
I wonder how the remarks made in the transcript will play out (that's not the only section that should raise eyebrows)? It's as though there's not an even an effort made any longer to appear impartial as reporters name drop "Scott" and leave their role as reporter to peer inside "Scott" and vouch for him. It's doubtful VandeHei will get any flack for the remarks or be reassigned but the remarks do raise questions. Or would if anyone wanted to ask serious questions about the role of journalists today.

Here's VandeHei quoting "Scott" on the expulsion of the Denver Three in "Three Were Told to Leave Bush Town Meeting" (March 30, 2005):

Scott McClellan, Bush's press secretary, said it was a volunteer who asked them to leave "out of concern they might try to disrupt the event." He said the White House welcomes a variety of voices into events but discourages people from coming to heckle the president or disrupt town hall forums. "If someone is coming to try to disrupt it, then obviously that person would be asked to leave," he said. "There is plenty of opportunity outside of the event to express their views."

Does VandeHei really believe that "the White House welcomes a variety of voices into events"? Is that a sign of "Scott"'s credibility?
We'll hopefully continue this but I know I missed posting Tuesday night because of wanting to say more so this will go up as is.