Thursday, May 18, 2006

Surprise interview

Good evening. Almost the weekend! Got a surprise so stick around. Let's kick things off with Democracy Now!

Senate Votes To Build 370-Mile Border Fence
The Senate has voted to build a fence along parts of the Mexico border to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country. In total, 370 miles of triple-layered barriers would be added near San Diego and in the Arizona desert. Senators also approved a provision that would prevent illegal immigrants from petitioning for a guest-worker permit without the sponsorship an employer. And in a unanimous vote, Senate accepted an amendment that would bar granting work permits to undocumented immigrants convicted of either a felony or at least three misdemeanors. The measure would effect even those who ignored a court-deportation order.

Bully Boy obviously believes that fences make for good neighbors which only demonstrates that he's never lived next door to anyone like himself. :D

Wally's got a hilarious thing on a story that might not get a lot of attention. Check out "THIS JUST IN! DESPERATE CONGRESS MEMBERS!" Here's the short story. The Senate Judiciary Committee met today. Arlen Specter, who is the chair, wanted to force the bill banning same-sex marriages out of committee. Specter claims he didn't support the measure but he had the hearing moved to another place where there would be less people and press with access to observe the vote. Russ Feingold basically called it bullshit (which it is).

If there's another attack on this country, remember that while there were real issues to address, Arlen Specter was worrying about gay marriage. While claiming he doesn't believe in the bill that he forced out of committee. So Russ Feingold and Arlen Specter exchanged words and
the delicate flower Specter told him, "If you want to leave, good riddance" but Russ was already leaving and ended his reply with "See ya." Add the "wouldn't want to be you!" :D

One more thing, on the fence nonsense (nonsense was the hallmark of the day), if you watched Democracy Now! today, you know that Alberto Gonzales, the attorney general, is first generation to this country. So he's been asked did his parents come into the country with documentation and going through the process? He can't give an answer, says he'll have to get back with the press on this. Wonder if Bully Boy's INS agents will be as patient?

At Least 50 Killed in Afghanistan Clashes
In Afghanistan, more than fifty people were killed in fighting between Taliban members and Afghan and foreign forces in two southern provinces Wednesday. The dead included a dozen police, a Canadian soldier and more than 30 militants.

You know what? 370 miles may not be a big enough fence. If you think about how Bully Boy's exported violence and destruction around the world, leaving one mess here and one mess there, never doing anything to help the people needing help, 370 miles may not be a big enough fence for him.

Now here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Chaos and violence was the rule on Wednesday and remains so today. Wednesday, as noted by Bassam Sebti and Debbi Wilgoren, car bombs and gun shots resulted in the death of at least 16 people. As noted by Sabrina Tavernise and Qais Mizher, two corpses ("handcuffed . . . shot in the head") were discovered in Baghad and "[f]ifteen members of the Iraqi Olympic Tae Kwon Do team were kidnapped." The BBC notes that $100,000 is what kidnappers have set as the ransom for the release of the atheletes and CNN notes that the kidnapping took place on "a road between Ramadi and Falluja." The AFP reports Peter Pace (general), testifying to Congress yesterday, stating that "No, sir," there is no prospect of American troops being "withdrawn from even Iraq's most stable regions."
In Baghdad, the
BBC reports, at least three police officer are dead and at least four civilians wounded from a roadside bomb. CNN, in a later report, notes that seven have died and four are wounded. Another roadside bomb has killed at least four and CNN identifies them as "4 U.S. soldiers" in the headline but as "Four Multi-National Division" in the text. AFP identifies them as American soldiers -- an Iraqi interpreter died in the bombing as well. CNN reports the death of "six car mechanics" who were attacked by assailants while on their way to work.The AFP reports that, in Kirkuk, "local leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Nejmeddin Abdullah" is dead from a drive by shooting as he left "his Kirkuk party headquarters" while "a teacher and a student" were also dead as a result of a drive-by.
Associated Press notes the discovery of a corpse ("beheaded"; "woman labor activist affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party").A high school teacher was killed in Karbala, Reuters notes.In Baqouba, the Associated Press reports the destruction of "a small Sunni shrine" as a result of bombing.
In Basra,
the Associated Press notes that "police chief Gen. Hassan Swadi narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when a roadside bomb hit his convoy as he was heading to work." This would be the same Basra that Des Browne, England's new defense minister, visisted yesterday to declare, "Basra is calm, and British forces are working hand in han with their Iraqi and colation partners. Suggestions that the city is, in some way, out of control are ridiculous." Browne made those comments on Wednesday, the same day, as Reuters notes, that Nazar Abdul-Zahra ("former member of Iraq's national soccer team") was killed.
Though the American press apparently doesn't give a damn about the death of troops in Iraq who aren't American, the issue of Jake Kovco's death and what followed is still a big issue in Australia. Kovco's father-in-law said, regarding the latest developments, "
Because of the way everything has been bungled, Shelley and her two kids have had to go through this death three times." So what's the latest? The investigation into the events of Jake Kovco's death and the time afterward (when another body, Juso Sinaovic's body, was shipped to Australia instead of Kovco) someow resulted in "[h]ighly sensitive information about the bungled repatriation . . . [being] left in a computer at an airport."
The report "
ended up in the hands of broadcaster Derryn Hinch" and has resulted in John Howard (Australia's prime minister) issuing yet another apology to the family (from Chicago, which is where Howard is currently). As a result of all that Shelley Kovco is being put through (not just 'has been,' is being), the Federal Opposition is saying that "extra compensation to the family of Private Jake Kovco" should be paid.
Jake Kovco's body, following the mix up, was finally
laid to rest on May 2nd. Kovco died in Iraq on April 21st. The investigation is supposed to help determine the cause of the death and to help determine how his body and Sinaovic's were mixed up.

Okay, my plan is to come back and put in links at some point in the future but Cedric suggested I do the following (and he's doing it at his site):

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim;
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally of The Daily Jot.

If you're confused, use those links for now as you read along.

And now? Surprise. C.I. agreed to this but said not to put it out because "What if I'm just too tired or you are?" So I was supposed to interview C.I. awhile back. I strong armed and charmed that interview. Then Cedric had switched to a different site for his blog and C.I. said that I should interview Cedric to steer some attention his way. There was talk about the interview being later but I really thought it was off. I'd joke and kid about it and was surprised when C.I. told me Sunday we could try to do it this week. First there was a limit of ten questions. Then it was, "How about we don't worry about the questions and just set a time limit?" Which is pretty much how it happened.

Mike: Glad we're finally doing it.

C.I.: No problem.

Mike: So you're in DC, what's that like?

C.I.: Depressing. It's easier to think that something beneficial really happens there until you're present.

Mike: And then?

C.I.: And then you grasp that it's a bunch of people scared to do anything that they think might hurt their chances of election and you also grasp how little they know. That's not to slam necessarily. They're going to briefings, they're working on legislation, it's a bubble. From the constitutents, from the real world especially outside the United States.

Mike: You don't seem very "positive"?

C.I.: I never am in DC. I'll snap out of it. As soon as I leave. Factor that into anything I say. At another time, in another place, I'd be more positive and less disenchanted.

Mike: You offered something on Hillary this week --

C.I.: Which people can look up. You have classes tomorrow and work so don't do a huge number of links. People need to be adults and do their own homework.

Mike: I'll grab that excuse and ride it through Blog City! So you offered an opinion that Hillary was like Joe Lieberman in 2002 or 2003?

C.I.: I think, I believe, I said 2002. But the point here is, there's no "lock." If there's a "lock" there's no story. Hillary's the press front runner. If Hillary stays the front runner day after day, there's nothing to report. Picture the headlines: "Hillary still in the lead!" Day after day, after day, after day. People's opinions, I'm talking about voters not reporters, influence it and other things influence it as well. But the front runner rarely remains the front runner. That's before the actual campaign starts, John Edwards had a huge write up in Vanity Fair in a similar cycle, last time and was seen as a front runner by some. He didn't get it. Lieberman was stressed, he didn't get it. Once the primaries were only months from beginning, Howard Dean was the front runner. He didn't get it. So there's no "lock" at this point, no matter what a gas bag says.

Mike: Hillary herself?

C.I.: In terms of a news cycle, she's always lacked the drama that's surrounded her husband. The "Will he implode?" drama that added interest, and allowed New Hampshire to be played as a Bill Clinton win, isn't something she's ever had. At her best, she's consistent and steady. To dub her the front runner now is to kill her campaign. There's no drama if she stayed in the lead and there needs to be the daily news cycle. Bill Clinton's press persona was "the comeback kid" -- what's her's? I could offer a negative one here about triangulation, which wouldn't sell but she may get branded with, due to her own actions, but I'm not in the mood.

Mike: Okay, I hear what you're saying but for someone like me and my friends, we keep hearing "It's Hillary!" and it's hard to believe people would say that if it weren't true.

C.I.: Well you're talking about conventional wisdom and that always flies out the window when a real race begins. There needs to be drama to hold interest. The first one with drama in the race, provided Hillary wins, will become a tidal wave that overpowers her campaign. Slow and steady may win a race, or may not, but it doesn't make for good press or good chat & chews.

Mike: Okay, I asked Elaine to give me something and she said to ask about music. Specifically, Liz Phair and Aimee Mann.

C.I.: I know why she said that. I love Aimee Mann and have the CDs but I don't listen that often because her songs tend to stay in my head, I'm always humming them or singing them to myself. Today it was "That's Just What You Are." Liz Phair is the opposite. I pushed Exile in Guyville off on a friend. One of those, "You have to listen!" And when it doesn't happen, you end up holding the phone up to the speakers. The friend and I ended up making spur of the minute plans one July 4th. By this time she loved Phair's CD. I never travel on a holiday because of the traffic jams. But it was spur of the moment and "fun," she swore. We ended up stuck on an interstate for hours and the only thing she had was Phair. Over and over. Over and over. Hour after hour. I've never wanted to hear Liz Phair's Exile again after that. It's like a brand of chips that a group of us took to a rock festival years and years ago. I burned out on those chips, they were new at the time, and as we made our way back after something like thirty-six hours of music, I never wanted to see those chips again. I still don't. That's how I feel about Exile. I think Elaine paired them up because, in one case, you're dealing with something I will not listen to (Phair) and in the other you're dealing with something I love but don't listen to because it's already playing in my head.

Mike: Cedric's writing his thoughts about the time involved in posting things and will be addressing the issue of November 2008.

C.I.: When a number of us pack up shop.

Mike: Yeah, so do you really think that will happen?

C.I.: I don't know. Some may continue.

Mike: Do you really think you'll stop?

C.I.: Yeah, I want my life back.

Mike: Cedric says it's like a thing in The Godfather movies where Al Pacino says, "Everytime I think I'm out, they pull me back in."

C.I.: On him or me?

Mike: You.

C.I.: I've heard that before but I really want my life back. This takes up way too much of my time and . . . I'm talking negatives. A community was created and that's amazing. I had no idea that would happen. I was surprised when anyone other than friends read.

Mike: You didn't even tell Elaine when you started.

C.I.: I didn't tell anyone. I probably wouldn't have at all if people hadn't e-mailed and posted on the second day.

Mike: First real day of posting.

C.I.: It's not what I thought it would be, but on the plus, it's become more than I could have dreamed. I'm a member of the community, the same as anyone. It's a wonderful community, I'm glad to be a part of it. I've learned from it the same way any other member does.

Mike: How did you think it would be?

C.I.: I don't think I thought daily. I don't know. I thought . . . I thought I'd write about things that concerned me --

Mike: Water rights.

C.I.: Correct, a very serious problem and one that despite the attention it has received will probably emerge with people asking themselves, "How did that happen?" It's happening. Corporations are getting water rights at the expense of people. For those in the United States, it's really easy to think, "Oh well, that's over there, not here." But I doubt they know the deals their own municipalities have made, guarantees to supply this community or that. Or the issue of the depletion or a host of other issues.

Mike: So you'd write about that.

C.I.: Right and I'd learn about blogging. And write about other issues and it would be very much a Daniel Okrent type thing, a "What I wanted to write about" as he said in one of his last columns. Okrent was the first public editor of the New York Times.

Mike: You took him to task for outing the reader.

C.I.: The reader, of the New York Times, could have sued. Anyone can sue, but it would have been interesting in the current climate, interesting considering Okrent's stated policy, interesting because the person was not a public person, had written a private e-mail to Adam Nagourney and was held up to public ridicule in one of the biggest newspapers in the country. Okrent, to Business Week, made statements that revealed malice. Malice can be hard to prove. Thanks to Okrent shooting his mouth off, that was taken care of. But the thing was, when I wrote it, I was tackling the Okrent issue due to a member, Rob or Rod, I don't remember now, I'm tired so my apologies to both of them. Whichever it was, he'd been writing repeatedly. There were two Okrent pieces on the same Sunday. One dealt with the poor job he'd done representing the readers -- and put to the rest that Okrent wrote about Iraq for any reason other than he was caught breaking his own rule and called out on it by readers -- and the other dealt with the man that he'd more or less destroyed.

Mike: Did you know the guy?

C.I.: No. But, I think this is December when they went up, and in January he found it and e-mailed. When I wrote about the topic after that, I always tried to make sure that he got a heads up. He's a private person, or was until Okrent's malice turned him into a public one, and I've never used his actual name at the site for that reason. Just because Okrent destroyed his privacy didn't mean I needed to follow suit.

Mike: Summarize NPR because that's where a lot of people got to know The Common Ills.

C.I.: The issue of their ombudsman? Okay, but just to back up, Okrent's behavior was remarked upon by journalists but they wouldn't go public. People I knew and that's why I tackled the issue of the outing of a private citizen. Jeffrey Dvorkin was the NPR ombudsman -- not "ombudsperson," you'll note. Robert Kagan, whom I know, was on NPR evaluating John Kerry's campaign as the election approached. That was a potential appearance of conflict. His wife, Kagan's, worked for Dick Cheney while Kagan was critiquing John Kerry. Listeners should have been told that by NPR. I don't believe I slammed Kagan for that and I still say it was NPR's responsibility. Listeners heard Kagan express confusion about Kerry's 'message' and listeners had a right to know that they were hearing this from someone whose wife was part of the administration, working for Dick Cheney. They weren't informed of that. My mouth dropped when I heard that critique because NPR made no effort to disclose that. Then a member wanted me to address it, The Common Ills didn't start up until after the 2004 election. So I did it when the issue was raised, after the fact. Most of the pieces that people enjoy are the result of members asking for something, suggesting something. And you have to stay on my case and keep reminding me because I've got a million things to do and it's easy to just say "Sure" and then forget.

Mike: One thing that you tackled then and now as Iraq. Talk about that.

C.I.: It's easy to forget now, when the country's turned against the war, but after the 2004 election, we were all supposed to just find other topics to discuss. I didn't agree with that, I didn't endorse it or support it.

Mike: We were supposed to worry about what you dubbed 'vangical voters.

C.I.: Right. See that's the press at their worst. Cokie Roberts tosses out conventional wisdom and others run with it. The data hadn't been crunched, scientific polling not what the Times does, and it hadn't been examined. But they wanted to act as though there was a trend, probably out of a need to fill a news cycle and offer an explanation at a time when people were rightly questioning the turnout.

Mike: You did something like three entries in one day on the report on that polling.

C.I.: Right and never again. That demonstrated all that was wrong with "reporting" on polls. Polls can demonstrate something, plural. If a finding repeats over a time, you have an actual trend in opinion or voting or belief. The junk science that made it into the paper of record makes a joke out of polls. Just briefly, they paired up some answer categories, sometimes. And if they'd paired liked findings throughout, they wouldn't have found some nonexistant trend on attitudes about gays and lesbians.

Mike: Back to Iraq. You tackled Dexter Filkins right off the bat. How come?

C.I.: His reporting was already a joke among many reporters. I avoided reading it for that reason. He had a reputation. Then the site started and he had an article about Iraq that was such rah-rah nonsense. He won an award for it, by the way. But, yes, we called Dexy out on being the ultimate embed before it was fashionable. It's only going to become more fashionable. Reporters I know think he's a joke. History will tell on his Falluja reporting. And a year or so ago, I thought history would be off in the distant future but he's very disliked and he'll see the criticism, he's already seeing, come more and more.

Mike: Felicity Barringer.

C.I.: Hmmm. We critiqued an article she wrote and she disagreed. That's her right. But what I give her credit for is she was the first and still only one with the paper who wanted to make their case publicly and not just complain, gripe or threaten in e-mails. I obviously disagreed with her but she's entitled to her opinion and she may be right and I may be wrong -- wouldn't be the first time. But I do give her credit for taking her case public. By the way, those were all of her words. She didn't decide she wanted to go public and then say "Pull this" or "Take out that." I could care less if someone disagrees in an abusive way. She didn't. But I could care less. I'll assume they're upset and that the voice they're using is an honest one. But there was a reporter who wanted his statements up and then changed his mind because he wanted this pulled and that pulled. He just ended up being ignored. And on the topic of when they're mad, there are many who've written that have written nice e-mails or angry ones that made me laugh. There's a reporter with a very good sense of humor.

Mike: You don't respond to them.

C.I.: No. With Barringer, I brought in a member to reply to her and check to see if she wanted it up. Which she did. But I have enough conflicts of interest without adding to them. I've only replied to one and that was one of the worst Saturday/Sunday of my life. I was tired, we'd had strong words at The Third Estate Sunday Review and that's when I announced that in November of 2008, The Common Ills folds up the tent and moves along. This person e-mailed and I went into the account, the public account, and read the e-mail. I replied. That's the only time. Now, if it's a reporter or someone discussed at the site, Ava and Jess usually handle the reply by e-mailing a response that went up at the site in reply to the e-mailer's e-mail.

Mike: With Barringer, the community was outraged that you didn't offer a reply and go through her statements line by line.

C.I.: Right. I'm just a member as well. But I'm not interested in a back and forth. I felt the original critique, by me, stated it's case, Barringer stated her's and people could think about both and decide what they thought.

Mike: Is it a pain when you've got e-mails griping.

C.I.: You mean from members? Well, it's a sign of how much it means to them and a reminder that I'm just a member as well. But there was a Friday where I just mentioned that a radio program would be airing. I didn't know the topics. It's one the community likes. I was irritated by the response to that, as I noted in the column at the gina & krista round-robin. But again, it's just a reminder that it's not about me or "my blog." It's a resource/review and I'm just one member.

Mike: What would you do different now? If you were starting the site up now, what would you do different?

C.I.: Nothing. It grew the way it did because of what it was. Mistakes, strong points, it's all a part of it. I could start a site now and know what gets attention from outside the community. I could do that but I don't see the point.

Mike: Why?

C.I.: There are too many bright spots. The things that Jim used to get on my case for, he's seen that those are the things that draw in the people who become members. I could do entries in the inverted pyramid form, for instance, I know the form. But I'm not interested in that and the result is that we have members who were more interested in someone talking with them as opposed to talking to them. It's very interactive. By the way, I'm not slamming Jim. Jim's been very upfront about wishing that this entry was done differently, journalistically. If I'd wanted to do that, I would have pursued a career in journalism. I'm not interested in that.

Mike: You grew up around it.

C.I.: Yeah and here's my only comment on that. When reporters are upset, that was the level I was used to. They may think that a slam from me is the worst thing anyone's ever said. They should be a fly on the wall when people higher than them discuss their work. I don't just slam, Yazz complains about my "in fairness." I have no problem noting something worthy and I'm sure I've noted things that were just adequate.

Mike: Let's talk about the reviews.

C.I.: Ava and I do the TV reviews over at The Third Estate Sunday Review.

Mike: That's it?

C.I.: What else do you want?

Mike: Well, how about not reading the e-mails?

C.I.: I'm not big on fan mail. I read members e-mails at The Common Ills. I was just someone helping out at their website. There was no need for me to read the e-mails. When we did a piece on the e-mails in 2005, we did read those.

Mike: Some were really threatening.

C.I.: Nick Lachey and other boys trying to be men have a very dedicated fan base. Ava was reading the e-mails and there were threatening ones. Including one where the guy had either followed her or guessed lucky. It was a violent e-mail detailing how he would dismember and kill her with a knife, a butcher knife, I think. That bothered her because, among other things, he referred specifically to a sweater she wore. It freaked her out and that's when the decision was made that Ava didn't need to read the e-mails on the TV reviews.

Mike: Most people, if you or Ava or both know them, aren't bothered by them.

C.I.: I think the worst crime would be to be boring. If you can make the people we know laugh, they can usually take it with a grain of salt or even say it was funny. That wasn't the case with "The Loop."

Mike: Did you apologize?

C.I.: No. Ava didn't either. They wanted a good review and apparently thought that resulted from knowing us. That's never been the case. Some people we know and like have seen their shows crucified. A review isn't just a review of the show. It matters what's going on in the world around it at that time. It matters whethere you're in a good mood or not when you write it. If you disagree, that's your right and you can certainly share, but it's not my job to read it. I don't read any of it, the positive or the negative. I don't have the time.

Mike: Rebecca said to ask you about the first time you heard Ani DiFranco.

C.I.: Okay. I come in late on Ani. The CD is Living in Clip. Several friends had insisted that I listen to her but I hadn't up to that point. People can ruin someone for you by hyping them constantly. Dave Matthews Band is an enjoyable band and there's art there but that band was so hyped that I avoided it and couldn't get into it forever. Overhyped by friends. With Ani, a wave was coming through friends, not overhyping, just "You have to check her out!" I did the day that came out. And, here's why Rebecca wanted you to ask it, that was the last day of me-time I've had. It's been a roller coaster ever since. But on that day, I got the CD and went out to eat and read, Chinese, while I listened. It's an amazing CD and she's an amazing artist. That was a really great day. And, to give an example of reviews being effected by outside things, we, a group of friends and I, saw a film and I was so-so on it. That evening, we saw it. When it came out later, I loved it. But on that day, Ani had set the mark too high for anything else to register.

Mike: I was told it was the last free day. What's that like?

C.I.: Maddening. At times. But I don't have to feel, "If only I'd . . ." I've tried everything I could think of. In 2004, people kept saying "blog" so, after the election, knowing nothing -- and still knowing nothing about it -- I started The Common Ills. The difference between it and speaking is that I'm not playing catchup for a few months. We all know the things, the community, that are going on as they happen.

Mike: You were speaking out before the site, since February 2003, and you're speaking out now. Do you think the war's ending November 2008?

C.I.: No. I don't think so. I don't think we've had enough happen yet to galvanize the cry "Troops home now!" The support is there. The mood of the country has turned against the war. That's not going to change. But it requires more than a lot of people saying, "The war is wrong. Hey want to go to a movie?" Iraq has to be more on the front burner than it is in most people's lives. Now another Cindy Sheehan type moment and that could speed things up but, as it stands now, we've passed the 2500 mark on American troop fatalities by the way, it's more of an "I'm against the war" period. That's what people are comfortable with, as a whole. I'm not trashing that or minimizing that. It's a huge accomplishment and it wouldn't ahve seemed likely right after the 2004 election. But it's not enough.

Mike: Do you think the rallies and marches are pointless?

C.I.: No. Anytime people come together for a common purpose, it's not a waste. The marches and rallies continue to grow. United for Peace and Justice, ANSWER, CODEPINK, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families and others have done a wonderful job and continue to do so. It raises awareness. If you go to a march, you know this, when you meet up with friends later in the week or the next week, they want to know about it. Even if it's downplayed by the media, it does get enough attention that peple do know things are going on. It serves a purpose that shouldn't be underestimated. There's a frustration with where we are currently -- you've got the country against the war and yet the war ---

Mike: Drags on!

C.I.: Right. So there's a second-guess factor that's going on. And a need for blame. The blame isn't the people who've been standing up. The blame is, my opinion, partly the fault of the liars who said we had to stay. The liars on the left and play like they're on the left.

Mike: I may tick you off here. Elaine outed you on something, something I hadn't even known about. You send stuff to soldiers in Iraq.

C.I.: As do many people. It's no great thing, I'm not a better person because of it, I'm not suddenly noble. I have some friends serving over there, stuff was needed. End of story. I wasn't mad at Elaine for writing about that. But the point is "SUPPORT THE TROOPS" -- the banner -- is a dead end and was designed to be a dead end. I don't use the phrase in my own life. But that nonsense, slogans designed to silence dissent, is the sort of thing that the peace movement had to go up against, part of the climate. Still part of the climate. So it's not surprising that there have been so many obstacles to the peace movement. The surprise is that through the hard work of so many, the slogans have been sidestepped. I don't think "overcome" because you still hear people try to respond to the slogan. If it had been overcome, if we all realized it wasn't about the troops, the slogan, but about silencing people, I don't think we'd still be using it ourselves. That's my opinion, others are free to disagree.

Mike: Why don't you write about that?

C.I.: I'm sure we've taken on the nonsense of the slogan at least once.

Mike: About the . . . care packages.

C.I.: I'm not Baby Cries a Lot. I don't need to hide behind others to prove my worth. Baby Cries a Lot may, in fact, have greater personal worth than I do. But we've never decorated the site with flags or hidden behind religion or any of the other things that make you "safe." We've questioned the war without hiding or trying to market. It comes down to that.

Mike: Talk about that in terms of Jane Fonda.

C.I.: This is the conversation that your father, Jim's father, Jess' mother and I had in DC at the big rally, right?

Mike: Right.

C.I.: I love Joan Baez and I'm not taking anything from her or trying. She spoke out against the war then and now. But when she did it, for some, her message was easier to swallow because she was "the madonna" and she was, later on, a mother. Jane Fonda stood up as an independent adult and that was threatening. It's still threatening to many. She didn't have a role that a lot of people could cast her in. It made the right uncomfortable, it still does. She as an independent woman and there was the shock factor because people knew her in two roles. Not just as Barbarella or the other films made with Vadim, they also knew her from the comedies that were hits here. It was a bit of shock to some to see Cory Bratter, Barefoot in the Park, speaking out against the war. Actively working to end the war. What we were speaking of was the fact that she could have won some over or lessened the criticism that followed her then and now by playing a role. She didn't do that. It was a brave thing and it helped. Tremendously. The dikes were being bombed, she brought awareness to that. She did a wonderful, amazing job. That the right's bothered by that isn't surprising, that some on the left and some who play at left want to prove how "reasonable" they are by trashing her is sad and a reflection on them -- either their own shallowness or their own ignorance -- not on her. They need to know the times, what was going on, what was being reported, what wasn't. Give this war ten years and see what some Americans will be doing. She was trying to stop the war and her actions did help end the war.

Mike: How do you think she's used?

C.I.: To score points by the wishy-washy crowd. In an "I'll conceed Fonda" kind of way. Those who lived through it were not screaming for her head on a stick. The right was. Or some of the right. But they kept using her as a target and the usual cowards thought, "Oh, it's eaiser to conceed than to fight." So instead of saying "Excuse me, Jane Fonda didn't send anyone to war"
you get the wishy-washy crowd saying, "Well I would never . . ." whatever. No, you wouldn't. And you didn't. You sat on your fat ass while people were dying. How proud that must make you feel. She's a lightening rod. Unlike her, I don't believe that comes from the right. I believe it comes from cowards who can't say, loudly and clearly, "Jane Fonda didn't start the war, didn't plan it." You're upset that people died? Take it up with the presidents who started and continued it. We conceed far too much. And then we wonder, "How did the right get this far?" Whether it's the lie that Vietnam was "winnable" or the war on evolution or what have you, it started because of the "I will conceed" types. The people who couldn't take a stand even at gun point. They are to blame adn they are to blame for the current illegal war because they wanted to conceed. Because they didn't want to talk about the realities of Vietnam. The realities are the realities. Pretending Rambo could have altered the course of the war isn't reality. Allowing people to wallow in "feel good" because you don't want to rock the boat isn't reality. But they get away with that and they come back with something else. Then three, four, five years on down the line, you're suddenly shocked that things have changed.

Mike: You've made it clear that you don't care for the "Iraq will do this and will do that" proposals.

C.I.: If it ends the illegal war and occupation and brings the troops home, great. But I'm bothered, only more so this week, by the idea that Iraqis, living under an occupation, are the ones who "need" to do. Where's the responsibility for the occupying power? Where's the outrage over the malnutrition of Iraqi children? We went over there, lied into war, with our own demands and we've continued to make demands. I think it's past time for people to be asking, "What should the occupying power be held accountable for?"

Mike: Talk about Democracy Now! and or Pacifica Radio.

C.I.: Well, this is a common feeling in the community, the same sources that lied us into war get attention from the left, not in terms of criticial attention -- just "go here!" -- and you have to wonder at what point people realize that we're falling into the same trap? Amy Goodman didn't cheerlead the war. She didn't stay silent either. So this nonsense of linking to every Ray McGovern interview but the one she and Juan Gonzales did is nonsense. Whining about the state of the mainstream media is pointless if you're not utilizing the media that's out there. If everyone that watched ABC's World News Tonight or CNN during the leadup to the war had been following Democracy Now!, instead or in addition to, we wouldn't have been so quick, as a people, to accept the lies that were shoved off on us. "We were all wrong!" cries the mainstream media. As though everyone was, everyone wasn't wrong. As though the truth wasn't being told in real time. Pacifica Radio was out there trying to get the word out. NPR wasn't. Unless something's changed since last summer, they've done one program, only one, on war resistors. That doesn't cut it. When people are being sentenced to jail terms or leaving the country, this one program doesn't cut it. Public radio is supposed to exist, their mandate, to offer an alternative, to offer things you can't find in commercial radio due to the dictates on their content. It is supposed to give airing to views that might not be popular. NPR doesn't do that.
Spetember 2005, the big rally in DC. They did story on it ahead of time. Where they interviewed Cindy Sheehan and a guy who's be protesting against her. They gave the guy, who had, at most a few hundred people with him, more tiem than they gave to Cindy Sheehan. That's not cutting it. NPR isn't cutting it. So it irritates members when they read something from the left that is always "Great story on NPR! Great article in the New York Times!" Where's the support for independent media? Why isn't that being utilized. By the way, that's a point Janeane Garofalo has long made. She seems to be vanishing from some minds, in terms of the credit she deserves, so let's take a moment to note that she stood up and she spoke out when it wasn't easy. She has continued to speak out. A list of voices who warned before the war isn't complete without her on it -- though sexists insistent upon noting every male who did have been happy to make lists without noting her or any other woman.

Mike: I know you have to do the entry still so I'll wind down. You're saying that you don't think the war will be over in 2008? But that could change?

C.I.: Right. We need more Cindy Sheehan type moments. We need more non-Cindy Sheehan type moments. We need a wide range of voices, speaking in their own voice, being active. We also need to not buy into the lie that "We were all wrong" or play strategy games. Want to debate something? Debate the legality of the war. Quit accepting it by going into military jerk offs and war pornography -- let the ex-generals play that game, it's theirs. But don't pretend like "More troops" then or now is a criticism of the war. It's accepting the war and dickering over the particulars of it.

Mike: Since I'm tossing out half my questions due to the late hour, can I have a follow up?

C.I.: It may take a year, but sure. And let me add Dahr Jamail, Brian Conley, David Enders, every one at Pacifica, everyone trying to get the truth out, should come to mind when it's time to toss out links. Christian Parenti, Naomi Kleine, Arundhati Roy, Laura Flanders, The Black Commentator, of course, Danny Schechter, it's a long list. It doesn't include this CNN anchor or that one. At some point, let's do a feature at The Third Estate Sunday Review where we note those people because it seems a number of people are caught in the haze of occupation and seem to be forgetting those who took stands and spoke out. Final thought, it's very rare that the nation has a moment like it currently has. We can make some changes right now. We have power that will only increase. We can change our concept of the media, we can make a difference in terms of the next illegal war someone wants to start, go down the list. But that's not going to come by appeasing or selling out. Or being wishy-washy. It can come from being aware of what is going on and working to change it. Not just sitting around and waiting or, when the war does end, returning to a land of fluff and apathy.

Mike: Okay. I'm posting this as soon as I get it typed and I'll go back over time and do links. Including links to my interviews with other community members.