Friday, August 12, 2005

Cindy Sheehan, Bully Boy goes we're not withdrawing, Zogby and other things

Good evening. We'll kick things off with Democracy Now!

Bush Won't Meet With Sheehan, But He'll Talk About Her
President Bush emerged from his ranch in Crawford, Texas yesterday and addressed for the first time the rapidly growing antiwar protest outside of his property. What began as a one woman vigil has now grown into the central antiwar action in the US. Before this week, there was very little coverage in the corporate media of antiwar families whose loved ones have been killed in Iraq, but now Cindy Sheehan--whose son Casey was killed in Iraq-- has grabbed international headlines by camping out in Crawford.
President Bush, speaking to reporters on Thursday:

"This is America. She has a right to her position, and I thought long and hard about her position. I've heard her position from others, which is: Get out of Iraq now. And it would be a mistake for the security of this country and the ability to lay the foundations for peace in the long run if we were to do so."
President Bush has thus far refused to meet with Cindy Sheehan at his ranch, instead sending emissaries. Sheehan has vowed to remain in Crawford until Bush agrees to meet her. She has also indicated she may camp out at the White House once Bush returns from yet another vacation. He has taken more than 320 days of vacation since assuming the presidency 5 years ago.

I want to jump in here on this. 320 days of vacation when there are like 365 days in a year. So for working five years he basically gets a year off? Has he done a great job? Okay, take Afghanistan where parlimentary elections are coming up and the violence is only increasing and we're losing troops there. Like John Kerry pointed out, we didn't finish the job there. Now take our occupation of Iraq, did he do a good job there? No and only like 38% of us approve of the job he's doing there. Okay well what about keeping us safe? The warnings that an attack may be coming should remind us all that 9/11 happened on his watch. So did Enron's collapse. His people outed Valerie Plame. I see a lot of mistakes and I'm sure they cause a lot of grief and stress but I think most people that screw up like that get fired and not a year's vacation. And he's not done yet. He'll take his Thanksgiving vacation and his Christmas vacation. Just like he takes his daily naps when he is working. "It's hard work" he likes to tell us. If he's working hard it still ain't doing no good because he keeps screwing up. And he's too chicken to meet with Cindy Sheehan.

Now let's go to another thing from Democracy Now!

Bush Denies Iraq Withdrawal 'Rumors'
On Iraq, Bush said he has made no decision on whether to increase or decrease U.S. troop levels there, calling reports of coming reductions "speculation" and "rumors." But he did say that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is looking at whether to add troops at the time of the next scheduled Iraqi elections in December. Bush also predicted that the draft constitution would be finished in time for a Monday deadline.

Flip-flop, flip-flop, and it don't stop. We're not withdrawing. I told you we weren't. Bully Boy can't admit a mistake. C.I. passed me a Zogby poll and there were questions in there about do you support a draft or a requirement for national service and should it be tied into attending college or to getting student loans. So don't think the draft isn't being thought of. Need to see the Zogby questions? Here they are (courtesy of C.I.):

Are you aware that a part of the "No Child Left Behind" education act of 2001 requires secondary schools that receive federal money, to release personal information about their students to military recruiters?
Not sure
Do you agree with this provision?
Not sure
Are you aware that you can opt your child out of this only by making a request to your school district in writing?
Not sure
Are you aware that the Pentagon is creating a database that will contain names, contact information, and other personal details about approximately 30 million 16-25 year olds for military recruiting purposes?
Not sure
Do you support the development of this database?
Not sure
Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree that such a database is a violation of a child's right to privacy?
Strongly agree
Somewhat agree
Somewhat disagree
Strongly disagree
Not sure
Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree with re-instituting the draft as a source of additional military troops?
Strongly agree
Somewhat agree
Somewhat disagree
Strongly disagree
Not sure
If Americans were under attack on our home soil, would you then support a draft?
Not sure
Some have suggested that two years mandatory military service in the armed forces should be required of all American citizens upon graduation from high school. Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree with requiring mandatory military service?
Strongly agree
Somewhat agree
Somewhat disagree
Strongly disagree
Not sure
Some have suggested that two years mandatory national service in a variety of settings, such as the armed forces, national parks, health clinics, and failing schools should be required of all American citizens upon graduation from high school. Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree with requiring mandatory military service?
Strongly agree
Somewhat agree
Somewhat disagree
Strongly disagree
Not sure

Would you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose making national service a requirement for college admissions?
Strongly favor
Somewhat favor
Somewhat oppose
Strongly oppose
Not sure
Would you strongly favor, somewhat favor, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose making national service a requirement for college loans?
Strongly favor
Somewhat favor
Somewhat oppose
Strongly oppose
Not sure

So let's dip into the e-mails.

Sondra writes in about her boyfriend and says she hopes "this isn't a silly question." I like silly questions. She says her boyfriend's not bow legged but lately "like yesterday afternoon, we're standing outside waiting on the bus and he's got his feet planted way apart and I started thinking how he's been doing that a lot lately so I ask him is there a reason you know like you're hurt and he shakes his head and doesn't talk about it."

Sondra, this is my guess and my guess only. I'm basing it on what I do. If I'm outside and wearing jeans or pants and not a pair of shorts, I'm burning it up and that includes my groin. Like especially my groin. If I'm standing for a bit outside in the sun, I'm not keeping my knees together because the heat's just too much. I've got to spread my legs out some to lessen the heat.

That's my guess and I'm going by what I do. I'll toss this out to see if anyone else has any other ideas. Part of the fun for me is taking questions like this. I don't think it's silly because it made Sondra wonder and I bet worry if she asked her boyfriend if he was hurt.

Mick wrote to say he will hang tough. He goes he wishes he didn't have to and that recruiters would take a no for an answer but he can hang tough as long as he has to.

I want to pass on something from Michael Bronner's "The Recruiters' War" from Vanity Fair:

In June, the Pentagon went a step further, contracting a private marketing firm to compile a databse of high-school students aged 16 to 18 and all college students -- listing personal information from birth dates to Social Security numbers, grade-point averages, ethnicities, e-mail addresses, and interests -- to help identify potential recruits. There is a growing opposition among parents to these lists, but recruiters consider them invaluable. Not that they helped Lowry much -- it seemed he just couldn't connect with the local kids. But he wasn't allowed to leave the office and go home to his wife. Natalie, and their baby until he had at least three appointments confirmed for the following day, a task which often took as many as 150 calls. The threat of being fired hung constantly over his head.

So that explains why they call like they do and pester like they do and you gotta be like Mick and just hang tough and say "no" over and over.

I'll be working with The Third Estate Sunday Review tomorrow. I'm hoping to get something up tomorrow or Sunday. But if I don't, everybody have a great weekend. And if I didn't plug my buddy Cedric already, get over to his site and check out his "Anybody talking about John H. Johnson? Why not?"

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Cindy Sheehan & John H. Johnson

Good evening. As usual, I'll start things off by noting Democracy Now!

Cindy Sheehan Vigil Gains Support From Congress
Meanwhile, in Crawford, Texas Cindy Sheehan is continuing her vigil outside the ranch where President Bush is once again vacationing. And her campaign is gaining momentum and support. Sheehan, of course, grabbed headlines in recent days since she began camping near President Bush's ranch. She is the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. As more military families arrived from several states to join Sheehan, 38 members of Congress signed a letter asking Bush to meet with her. On Saturday, National Security Advisor Steven Hadley and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Joe Hagin met with Sheehan briefly, but she called the exchange "pointless" and has said she will stay in Crawford until the president meets with her.

Rumsfeld Planning 9-11 Party/Country Music Concert
For many, the upcoming September 11th anniversary will be a time for somber reflection. Apparently not for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. This week, he announced the Pentagon will hold a massive march and country music concert to mark the fourth anniversary of 9/11. Rumsfeld is calling the event the "America Supports You Freedom Walk." The march will start at the Pentagon and end at the National Mall with a show by country star Clint Black. Black is the man behind the song "I Raq and Roll," a song that conflates Saddam Hussein with "the devil" who attacked the United States on 9/11. One verse of the song goes, "We can't ignore the devil, he'll keep coming back for more ... If they won't show us their weapons, we might have to show them ours. It might be a smart bomb -- they find stupid people, too. And if you stand with the likes of Saddam, one just might find you." The announcement of this 9/11 celebration and concert outraged victim's family groups and veterans organizations.

Cindy Sheehan, man are people starting to talk. I got up this morning telling myself I'd be a pest and bring it up with people I'd already talked about it with and on top of that with anyone I passed. Biggest surprise to me was that I really didn't have to start the conversation. People were bringing it up to me.

At work this old guy, I know he was retired, brings it up and says to me he voted for Bully Boy and he can't believe how "disrespectful" he's beeing to Cindy. He said Bully Boy was supposed to be a straight talker and there he was "hiding from a woman in pain, reminds me of the way he hid behind that Harris woman during the Florida thing." (He means Katharine Harris during the non-recount in Florida.) He said "there's no fool like an old fool and boy was I an old fool for voting for him."

I got the feeling this guy didn't get to talk much because he had a lot to say. Or maybe the people he usually talks are people he's not comfortable saying he made a mistake voting for the Bully Boy too. But he let it rip. He was furious. He said he believed until the violence kept up after the elections in Iraq and now he's just "p.o.ed" and Bully Boy won't bring "our sons and our daughters back, and what a coward, he's gotten our girls killed too" and he won't meet with Cindy who "lost her boy." He goes he's washing his hands of the Bully Boy and he's not giving to the RNC. He goes he gives every election cycle and that's Congressional and presidential but he's had enough. "They've screwed our country, excuse my language."

About Rummy's concert. That Clint Black is a joke and so's his dopey wife. They're both tools and they should be ashamed and embarrassed to let themselves be used to act like Iraq was involved in 9/11 and to act like everything's cool. They are disgusting.

Let's dig into the e-mails. Robyn e-mails to say that she feels like Cindy Sheehan's doing something really important and that things are changing. I agree with you Robyn and so does
Terry who says that his whole family is behind Cindy Sheehan and Terry's got a big family. He's one of eight kids. Bonita says that all the talk from me, Elaine, Kat, Cedric and C.I. have made her bring up this topic everywhere and that the more people she tells about Bully Boy's refusing to meet with Cindy Sheehan, the more people are disgusted with him. Bobbie says that now that she's more comfortable with herself she's talking to people about everything including Cindy Sheehan.

So what about the rest of you? Are you doing the same? Terry was the only guy who wrote in.
So fellows, are we going to let the women do all the work or are we going to do our part too?

Today's August 11th, Cindy's planning to stay down in Crawford all month. And look at all the people taking part and joining her too. This is a movement.

I want to close by noting my buddy Cedric's "Anybody talking about John H. Johnson? Why not?" (Cedric's Big Mix):

Did you know that Peter Jennings died? I guess you did. I guess you couldn't listen to the radio or the TV without knowing about it. I guess you think he's the only one who died in the last few days. There were actually quite a few people who died.
One of them was John H. Johnson.
He started and published Jet and Ebony. Now I'm guessing if you never heard of them you don't get that those were important magazines. They helped fight stereotypes and they also helped people see what blacks could be and were. Back in the day, you didn't have Dr. Huxtable and the Huxtable clan. You didn't have a Denzel or anyone like that. If you saw a black person on your TV set they were usually a criminal or a maid or some servent. Now maybe they were a guest star on a musical special. That's about the most that could be hoped for.
My grandparents can tell you about it, my mother can tell you about it. (My father could tell you about it if he were still alive.)
You know when you pick up People Magazine and all the people in the ads are white? That's pretty common. Ebony & Jet were important enough that Johnson could get advertisers to use black people in the ads.
And not only did they uplift a people and inspire by offering something other than the usual stereotypes, the magazines could also address politics and civil rights. All of this was dreamed up by John H. Johnson. He knew we could support a magazine, support more than one magazine.

Check out Cedric, he's completely cool and tells it like it is. And keep getting the word out on Cindy Sheehan.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Democracy Now!, Dahr Jamail and my interview with Jim

Good evening, let's kick things off with Democracy Now!

More Military Families Join Cindy Sheehan in Texas
In Texas, more military families are heading to Crawford to join Cindy Sheehan in an ongoing vigil in Crawford where President Bush is vacationing. Sheehan has threatened to stay in Crawford until the president agrees to meet with her. Sheehan's son Casey died last year in Iraq. He was 24 years old. Military families from Washington, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Alabama, Missouri, Georgia and Arkansas are expected to join Sheehan at the vigil site. "He doesn't have any children in harm's way. You know, if there are more soldiers and marines killed today, it's not going to worry him if one of them is his daughter," said Sheehan. "I mean, he's insulated. He's safe. Nobody in this administration has to worry about their children. And if I have to stay out here all month in this heat, it's nothing compared to what our soldiers are going through or what the people of Iraq are going through."

Poll: 57% of U.S. Says Iraq War Has Made Nation Less Safe
Meanwhile a new poll by USA Today in this country has found that 57 percent of respondents believes the war in Iraq has made the United States more vulnerable to another terrorist attack. Only 34 percent said the war had made the country safer.

People are getting wise. We need to make sure we get the word out on Cindy Sheehan. Remember that the rumor is they may try to arrest her tomorrow. Tell everyone you can about Cindy Sheehan. I was talking about it when I stopped for lunch between work and campus today.

Now let me give some good news, The Third Estate Sunday Review is working again. Not because of anything Blogger Support did. They never replied to the e-mails and they never fixed anything. Jim was trying this evening and before I phoned him and it still wouldn't work. I go, "What about C.I.'s suggestion?" Jim didn't talk to C.I. but the light was blinking on the machine. So I called Jim back after he had a chance to listen to the message. C.I. said just try a test post and see if that goes through and knocks everything up. It did.

I want to note something C.I. did this weekend, Dahr Jamail's latest, which is "What Have We Done?" and worth reading:

Camilo Mejia, an army staff sergeant who was sentenced to a year in military prison in May, 2004 for refusing to return to Iraq after being home on leave, talks openly about what he did there:
"What it all comes down to is redemption for what was done there. I was turning ambulances away from going to hospitals, I killed civilians, I tortured guys…and I'm ashamed of that. Once you are there, it has nothing to do with politics…it has to do with you as an individual being there and killing people for no reason. There is no purpose, and now I'm sick at myself for doing these things. I kept telling myself I was there for my buddies. It was a weak reasoning…because I still shut my mouth and did my job."
Mejia then spoke candidly about why he refused to return:
"It wasn't until I came home that I felt it-how wrong it all was and that I was a coward for pushing my principles aside. I'm trying to buy my way back into heaven…and it's not so much what I did, but what I didn't do to stop it when I was there. So now it's a way of trying to undo the evil that we did over there. This is why I'm speaking out, and not going back. This is a painful process and we’re going through it."
Camilo Mejia was then quick to point towards the success of his organization and his colleagues. "When I went back to Iraq in October of 2003, the Pentagon said there were 22 AWOL's. Five months later it was 500, and when I got out of jail that number was 5,000. These are the Pentagons' numbers for the military. Two things are significant here-the number went from 500-5,000 in 11 months, and these are the numbers from the Pentagon."
While the military is falling short of its recruitment goals across the board and the disaster in Iraq spiraling deeper into chaos with each passing day, these are little consolation for these men who have paid the price they’ve had to pay to be at this convention. They continue to pay, but at the same time stand firm in their resolve to bring an end to the occupation of Iraq and to help their fellow soldiers.

Now I want to get started with Jim because he's got stuff to do and I'm running late for a date. I noted trapping bears last night and I was referring to a story that C.I. had e-mailed me about yesterday afternoon that was going to be in today's paper, John Holl's "As Bear Complaints Rise, New Jersey Considers a Hunt" because Jim is interested in this topic. In New Jersey there's concern by some that there are too many bears and some say it's not a problem.
So let me get this interview with Jim started so we can both get on with our nights.

The bear situation, what do you think about it?

Jim: I think it's really nonsense. I think we're seeing something that is alarmist. If it is a problem, the answer's not to hunt them. Put 'em in a zoo. There are zoos all over the country and there are cut backs and the economy is in the toilet. I read Holl's article this morning and almost missed it so thanks for the heads up but it seems that just as easy as it is to kill a bear, we could trap it and get it to a zoo. But kill, kill, kill seems to be the answer to everything. These are bears native to this country so there should be a reason for zoos to want to preserve them. Maybe it's not as cute as some panda from China, but it is a native animal and at a time when our eco system is under attack and we are losing so many species, you'd think people would be saying, "Okay, if we do have a surplus, let's get some into a zoo."

Right. I thought the bear in the photo in the New York Times today was pretty cute but it looked sad. There was something in one of it's eyes.

Jim: Yeah, made it look like it was crying.

Why do you think the answer is "kill, kill, kill"?

Jim: Because it's always easier to destroy something. Easier than preserving, easier than maintaining, easier than saving. Kill, kill, kill. It's that blood lust that Elaine's talked about.

Right. Cindy Sheehan is a big topic this week and your thoughts?

Jim: Well she's doing what we should all be doing. She's expecting our government to actually be accountable. She's making a difference. That's why we all said, "This is the editorial!" Saturday night when we were going over topics. This is someone doing something amazing and it's so amazing because she has to know the attacks that will come. But the thing everyone's been stressing, you, Elaine, C.I., Cedric, everybody is that if we get the word out, this will have impact. Every little bit has helped us get where we are and what Cindy Sheehan's doing can take our country even further towards an honest discussion. But only if we get the word out and only if we stand up for her and stand with her.

What's the other big topic this week?

Jim: Sadly, Peter Jennings death. The death is sad as it is when anyone dies but let's be honest ABC turning over World News Tonight to the story of Peter Jenning's death was not news. It was not good journalism. It was maudlin and it was self-serving. And meanwhile real stories and tragedies were going on. Note his death in the last five minutes, no problem. Lead with the story, devote the first segment to it and come back to it after the first break . . . That's overkill on any story and the death of a news personality doesn't warrent it.

Do you think it will stomp other stories?

Jim: I think it already is. C.I. has a thing up at The Common Ills about John H. Johnson. I forget how many excerpts there are in that thing --


Jim: Seven. And C.I.'s noted that death on Monday and on Tuesday. But where are you seeing it? This is a little more than a news reader. Johnson was active in the civil rights movement, Johnson's Jet publicized the Till story. This is a big story and it's a big story on campus. Not with only African-American students. And yet to look at the news on TV or to hop around the net and it's not a big story and it doesn't seem to matter. It does matter.

Cedric's writing about it tonight. I talked to him today.

Jim: Good, he should. We should all be writing about it. We'll note it this weekend. C.I.'s comment was so on the money. It is another missing blonde girl. You've got two men dying, both from the world of journalism. One gets headlines and nonstop coverage and the other is largely ignored. I'm glad the New York Times covered it. They did the obit that C.I. noted earlier this week and they did the story from the arts section that C.I. excerpted today. But I'm not seeing any TV coverage. And the blog world seems to be ignoring it over all. It's hard to believe that race isn't playing into this. Good for C.I. for, as usual, stating what no one wanted to say.

C.I. made a comment about a special on Peter Jennings and I bring that up because there is one and it's starting now.

Jim: I know, I don't know if that was something someone had passed on to C.I., if it was stating the obvious, or if it was one of those synchonistic thoughts. I haven't spoken to C.I. about that so I don't know and if I did know and didn't have permission, I wouldn't speak about it.

I interviewed Ava already, so you're now my second interview.

Jim: I know, I laughed at Ava's interview. I think she enjoyed it because it read like she did. So are you going to work your way through The Third Estate Sunday Review each Wednesday.

That might be an idea. I don't have anything scheduled for a specific day the way C.I. does with the "rest of the world reporting" thing on Sundays, the Indymedia on Thursdays, etc. So yeah, that might make for a pretty good idea. I should have noted that I'm talking to Jim who's part of The Third Estate Sunday Review that publishes their edition each Sunday.

Jim: Well don't forget Cedric, Kat, Betty, Elaine and Rebecca.

What's on deck for this week's Third Esate Sunday Review edition?

Jim: I honestly can't tell you because we don't have anything planned. We've been busy wondering if we were moving the site somewhere else. And trying to get it fixed. We will do something on Johnson because it's honestly disgusting that he's been so ignored this week. Dona's gone with Ava to the group Ava's putting in all the time with --

On the Save Roe thing?

Jim: Right and when they get back and I tell them about the site finally working, we'll start brain storming. I know C.I.'s wanting a book review thing and wanting Edith Wharton's Custom of the County but I'm not sure how many people have time to read so I guess we'll be pulling it all together Saturday night.

I like it, it's exciting.

Jim: I like it too. I like pushing that deadline and that feeling that we might miss it. I think we get more passion in our writing that way. We may miss typos as we rush around but we get more passionate writing. And I just find it a lot more exciting. But, Mike, I think we are in the minority. People have stuff to do on Sundays and the all night sessions wear people down.

So what's the answer?

Jim: Maybe there's no answer. Or maybe it's to start earlier or get more stuff in a final draft form earlier.

I like how a piece goes through everyone. We're all tossing stuff in and then when it's typed, it's still not done unless it's a roundtable or a transcript. I'm rushing for time and so are you but do we have time to talk about the news review.

Jim: We better make time. C.I. wanted that noted in our "A note to our readers" and I blanked on it. We were trying to do something different because two things weren't working and we killed those pieces. You know there was a feeling that since one was hard hitting we should have something heavy in news. Then Dona said, "Let's do Democracy Now!" and we really got behind that idea. It was a way to use Kara's thing and not just repost it as a blog spotlight. C.I. didn't want to be anchor but we thought that would be better and less stressful since we were pulling it together at the last minute. But Ty and Maria were the sacrificial lambs and they went first to get something up and then started helping all of us with our bits. We did that "live." That's a transcript and Dona was keeping time the entire time. You know how crazy it was. And the thing with Betty and C.I. on Marilyn Monroe, the conversation they go into, worked so well. I was surprised by that because, you know this, nothing was ready to go yet so Dona starts going for C.I. and Betty to stretch that part out. And it reads perfect. We're all Democracy Now! fans and we have so much respect for what Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalaz do. But it was really amazing to try to do it in our own way and really get what they do each day.

I wish I could have been there in person. C.I. was and that's okay to note, right?

Jim: I hope so but I'll note it anyway. I think the thing is not noting when travel's taking place and there's a reason for that. But I think it's fine to note it after. C.I. was speaking in the area and swung by to help out in person. And I think it needs to be noted because there are people complaining about weekend posts at The Common Ills, feeling like there should be more. And the simple fact is that C.I.'s traveling a lot and people need to be glad there's anything up there at all. We always enjoy it on phone but when C.I.'s there it's usually more fun. And if C.I. hadn't tossed me the Vanity Fair after we started that thing, I wouldn't have had a story. I hadn't even thought of what I was going to do.

I got the issue today for the recruiter story and I just read the Sibel Edmonds thing. I think you did a great job summing up a very long story.

Jim: Well it was an experiment and we all had a lot of fun with it and hopefully covered some topics that might not get noted otherwise.

Jim, thank you.

Jim: My pleasure, Mike.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Talk about Cindy Sheehan!

Let's kick things off with Democracy Now!

U.S. Prepares to Send More Troops To Iraq
The Pentagon is preparing to send more troops to Iraq ahead of a scheduled vote in October on the new constitution and elections in December. The U.S. currently has 138,000 troops in Iraq. The total jumped to 160,000 ahead of the elections earlier this year. Pentagon spokesperson Lawrence Di Rita said, "It's perfectly plausible to assume we'll do the same thing for this election."

More troops to Iraq? Well where are they going to get them? Recruiters can't get bump those numbers up. But how long ago was it that Bully Boy was floating the "reduce troops" angle?
Last week.

We have to increase troops to reduce troops. Dad said that sounds like "we had to burn the village to save the village."

There are no answers from the Bully Boy cause he's got none. Instead he hides out from the press, the people and Cindy Sheehan. Tomorrow's supposed to be the big arrest day for Sheehan. That's what they're threatening. And they're calling out all the usual smear tactics to question her and make people back away to look resonable which is the same old bullshit they do every time. I try to keep the language clean here for Ma but bullshit was she said when she heard some of the attacks on Cindy Sheehan. Ma's not much on cursing. I think I heard her curse four or five years ago when she was slicing an onion and cut herself real deep. C.I. had a thing up that was talking about these tactics and how it's important we combat that by getting the word out to everyone. Not just the people who pay attention to the news but to as many people as we can. Like C.I. said, we need to get the word out because people need to know about the brave stand Cindy Sheehan has taken.

If a brave stand takes place and people don't know about it, it's still a brave stand. But the more people who know about it, the more people it influences. You know about Cindy Sheehan and you start thinking, "Cool." And you start thinking about stuff you could do too.

So I'm asking readers here to do the same thing C.I. asked last night and that's talk to everyone about this. Get the word out on this like nothing you've ever gotten the word out on before. We're all doing that in my home. Dad's telling his friends and people he works with, same with Ma, they're both telling people at the church and my sister's copied and pasted C.I.'s thing and turned it into an e-mail chain. At work and on campus today, I was talking about this.

A lot more people know about it than I thought would. But most don't. And some who do know just know that she's outside Bully Boy's ranch. One guy in class said, "But she's there to support Osama." I took 10 minutes with him. He's not a bad guy, he just doesn't get information. After we started talking he was like, "Her son died there?" And I told him about how she was doing this to get an answer for why we're over in Iraq, why we got people dying over there. He went from knowing of some woman outside the Crawford ranch that he thought was for bin Laden to knowing Cindy Sheehan as a person making a brave stand.

Be pushy. Talk about this. Bring it up. Don't wait for someone else to.

Let's say Cindy Sheehan gets arrested tomorrow, okay? (I don't think Bully Boy has the guts to do that.) If she's arrested and it makes the news, we want everyone to know how outrageous this is. This isn't about going to your friends who you can usually get to do an e-mail to a Senator or to sign a petition, this is about talking to everyone around you.

People need to know what she's doing. They need to know that she's asking for answers.

So start talking. Or e-mailing friends or instant messaging them or calling them but tell everyone you can think of. Let's get a movement behind her.

I'll dip into the e-mails now. Mick e-mailed because there's this recruiter that won't stop bothering him. It's only going to get worse for Mick and for everyone else. They want to put more troops in Iraq and they got to get them somewhere. So Mick, hang tough. Hang up on the dude's phone calls. Walk away from him if he's stopping by. And everyone else, if you're in high school or college, you better get used to it because they're going to be bothering you too.

I talked to C.I. on the phone today and we were discussing an article I hadn't read yet. C.I. ended up typing up a section and e-mailing it to me so I'm going to share it with you here. It's
Michael Bronner's "The Recruiters' War" from Vanity Fair, the September, 2005 issue but the article's not available online. C.I.'s going to write on it tonight so check out The Common Ills.
Here's the section, C.I. sent and I'll try to remember to pick up the issue tonight after my date:

In the spring of 2000, just out of high school, Tim was working part-time with his mom at the trout plant and taking welding classes at the community college. One morning, two Marine Corps recruiters arrived on campus in their dress blues and set up a "fruit stand" (a recruiting table). They rarely made the trip all the way out to Andrews, Tim's hometown, but one of the administrators at the college was an old Marine Corps master sergeant, so they were always welcome. That morning, they caught Tim Queen's eye. "I think I may be joining you soon," he announced.
Tim caught the recruiters' eyes, too. It was crunch time, a couple of days before the end of the month, and they needed one more body to "make missions" -- their monthly quota. Timmy Queen would be that body.
The trip to Tim's school was a training run for the younger Marine, Sergeant Jimmy Massey, who'd been on recruiting duty less than a year. He was out with his gunnery sergeant, Tim Dalhouse being shown the ropes. Massey wasn't new to the Marine Corps. He'd been in for eight years already, several of them working with new recruits as an infantry instructor at basic training at Parris Island. He planned to retire from the Marine Corps an old man; he was in for the long haul, and for many career Marines, doing a tour on recruiting duty is a gauntlet worth running, a roll-of-the-dice that can fast-track your career, all but guaranteeing promotion if you're good. If you're not, however, it can be a career-ender.
[. . .]
On that spring day in 2000, Tim Queen was impressed by Massey and Dalhouse. "They were always saying things like 'Semper fi' and all that stuff, and it was definitely encouraging to be around. They seemed to me to be true and hard-core people, and I liked that."
[. . .]
Over his three years on recruiting duty, Massey developed such a knack for scooping up questionable new recruits that he earned a nickname: "Jimmy the Shark." By his own account, he entlisted kids with asthma, illegal-drug users, kids with criminal records. He'd coach most to lie to military doctors during their physicals. He'd advise some to stop taking prescription medications like Ritalin and antidepressants -- which could disqualify them -- without consulting their doctors. "The Marine Corps will be your backbone now," he'd explain. He was investigated for badgering a high-school student for lack of patriotism in the wake of 9/11. He was cleared (though he told me he taunted poolies all the time). "If it comes between a recruiter's word and some kid's, the recruiter wins every time," he said. He received a dozen or so recruiting awards. He was promoted to staff sergeant. None of his methods were new, however, or unique to the Marines. Rather, they are well-worn tricks of the trade passed down by veteran recruiters in the strip malls where military recruiters of all stripes share real estate.

The kid got accepted, Tim, and guess what, he shows up for training and he's accused of lying to his recruiters and doctors and they end up slapping a dishonorable discharge on him. Tim wanted to serve. He didn't lie. He told his recruiter. And his problems were visible, this twitch he had, the doctors should have seen it when they were evaluating him. But, pay attention to this Mick, they don't care. The recruiters don't care. They just need to make their monthly quota. They do that by signing you up. After they've signed you up, they don't care if the military takes you or not. They've made your quota.

The only way to fight lies is with truth and where you can tell the truth right now is to get the word out on Cindy Sheehan's bravery. Elaine's getting word out Cindy Sheehan, Cedric is, Kat is and Betty said she'll post the editorial tonight. So do your part and talk to the people around you.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping to have an interview with Jim. We may talk about trapping a bear. We may not. (No we're not hunting a bear.) But we will be talking about Cindy Sheehan. Make sure you are too.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Cindy Sheehan

Good evening, let's kick things off with Democracy Now!

Mother of Soldier Killed in Iraq Protests Near Bush's Ranch
In Texas a mother whose son was killed in Iraq has begun a month-long protest in Crawford in an attempt to meet with President Bush who is vacationing there at his ranch. Cindy Sheehan was joined on Saturday by 50 other anti-war activists. The Secret Service blocked the group from approaching the President's ranch and they were forced to gather four miles away from the site. Sheehan's son Casey was killed last year in Sadr City at the age of 24. She told reporters, "I want to ask George Bush: Why did my son die?"

We're going to pick back up on that topic at the end but right now, we're going to the e-mails.

I have one from a mother with a 15 year old son and she doesn't want him "on those lists" but isn't sure where to go. Here's where you go, Leave My Child Alone. Sign up there to opt out of the recruiters lists and out of the Pentagon's list.

And while you're there, check out The Daily Texan article (link to a link to get there), JJ Hermes' "Teenage Hearts and Minds:"

Over the last few semesters, volunteers with the Austin organization Nonmilitary Options for Youth have taken to local high school lunchrooms in an effort to provide students with a different perspective from military recruiters.
While their impact on the student body is far from quantifiable, their work has brought forward an interesting record of student opinion concerning the war in Iraq. With some parents opting out of the provisions in the No Child Left Behind act which allow recruiters to contact their children, and recruiting goals going missed, winning over the hearts and minds of graduating seniors has become one of the greatest focuses for our all-volunteer army.
NOY has helped to illuminate students' pulses by soliciting responses to three basic questions concerning the current military situation:
"What do you think about the war in Iraq?" "What is your opinion about military recruitment in your school?" and "What do you think about the possibility of enactment of a military draft?"
On its Web site (, the group posts the reactions it receives. All responses are anonymous, and so far more than 450 students have responded from 11 schools in Austin Independent School District.

While we're in the e-mails, Bobbie writes again. Readers know Bobbie's lost her desire for sex with her boyfriend and we've attempted to offer suggestions here. She wrote that she appreciated the feedback but we'd been no help to her. However, when Lachelle wrote in with a similar problem and readers weighed in on that, Bobbie thought she saw something helpful. She wrote today to say that she broke up with her boyfriend Friday and Saturday went to a gay club. Bobbie says she always knew but she just wouldn't accept her sexuality. She says to tell Lee Anne "big thank you." See, you never know what will help or what you'll find here. Keep us updated Bobbie. (E-mail address is

I want to talk about The Third Estate Sunday Review because the problem they're having is a problem with Blogger (the program). The error message tells them to contact Blogger. That happened Sunday morning at four a.m. An automated reply was all they got. They wrote again at five a.m. They wrote Sunday evening. They wrote this morning. I just got off the phone with Jim and they've still got no reply and when they try to republish or index their site they still get the same error message. So they wrote again this evening. Right now, they're wondering if they need to move their online magazine somewhere else? If the problem continues this weekend, they'll use one of our sites. Probably The Common Ills. Whichever site they use, we'll all do an entry at our sites to let you know where you need to go to read their magazine.

I'm going to highlight the editorial. I worked on this and so did C.I., Kat, Elaine, Betty and The Third Estate Sunday Review (Ava, Jim, Ty, Jess and Dona). So here's their editorial and the link takes to you The Common Ills because when it wouldn't show up at their site, C.I. posted it at The Common Ills.

"Editorial: Cindy Sheehan puts most of us to shame:"

The angry mother of a fallen U.S. soldier staged a protest near President Bush's ranch Saturday, demanding an accounting from Bush of how he has conducted the war in Iraq. Supported by more than 50 demonstrators who chanted, "W. killed her son!" Cindy Sheehan told reporters: "I want to ask the president, 'Why did you kill my son? What did my son die for?'" Sheehan, 48, didn't get to see Bush, but did talk about 45 minutes with national security adviser Steve Hadley and deputy White House chief of staff Joe Hagin, who went out to hear her concerns.
Appreciative of their attention, yet undaunted, Sheehan said she planned to continue her roadside vigil, except for a few breaks, until she gets to talk to Bush. Her son, Casey, 24, was killed in Sadr City, Iraq, on April 4, 2004. He was an Army specialist, a Humvee mechanic.
[. . .]
"I want to ask the president, `Why did you kill my son? What did my son die for?" she said, her voice cracking with emotion. "Last week, you said my son died for a noble cause' and I want to ask him what that noble cause is?"

The above is from Deb Riechmann's Associated Press article entitled "
Mom Protesting Iraq War Meets Bush Aides."

Cindy Sheehan (
Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families For Peace) has stood and been counted for many times before. At the John Conyers hearing on the Downing Street Memo, Sheehan spoke:

The deceptions and betrayals that led to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq cost my family a price too dear to pay and almost too much to bear: the precious and young life of Casey. Casey was a good soldier who loved his family, his community, his country, and his God. He was trustworthy and trusting and the leadership of his country seemingly betrayed him. He was an indispensable part of our family. An obedient, sweet, funny, and loving son to myself and his father, Pat, and an adored big brother to his sisters, Carly and Jane, and his brother Andy. And the beloved nephew to my sister, Auntie, who is here with me today. Our family has been devastated and torn asunder by his murder.
I believe that the reasons that we citizens of the United States of America were given for the invasion of Iraq have unequivocally been proven to be false. I also believe that Casey and his buddies have been killed to line the pockets of already wealthy people and to feed the insatiable war machine that has always devoured our young. Casey died saving his buddies and I know so many of our brave young soldiers died doing the same thing: but he and his fellow members of the military should never have been sent to Iraq. I know the family of Sgt. Sherwood Baker, who was killed guarding a team that was looking for the mythic WMD's in Baghdad. The same WMD's that were the justification for invading Iraq as outlined in the Downing Street Memo. Sherwood's brother, Dante Zappala, and his dad, Al Zappala are here with us today. I believe the Downing Street Memo proves that our leaders betrayed too many innocents into an early grave. The lives of the ones left behind are shattered almost beyond repair.

Her letter to Bully Boy, "From Cindy To George," is legendary and
appears in CODEPINK's Stop The Next War Now:

Dear George,

You don't mind if I call you George, do you? When you sent me this letter offering your condolences on the death of my son, Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan, you called me Cindy, so I naturally assume we are on a first-name basis.
George, it has been seven months today since your reckless and wanton foreign policies killed my son in the illegal and unjust war on Iraq. Casey, my big boy, my hero, my best friend.
Casey was always a good boy. He could play for hours by himself. He loved Nintendo, GI Joes, the World Wrestling Federation, baseball (especially the Dodgers), his church, and God.
He joined the Cub Scouts when he was in the first grade, and he eventually earned the rank of Eagle Scout. He became an altar boy when he was eight, and he continued serving his church for the rest of his life. He never talked back to his dad or me. He rarely fought with his brothers and sisters. He loved our animals and he loved little children.
Everyone assumed Casey was going to be a priest because he was so faithful to God and to the church.

Democracy Now! has noted her fight for truth and justice many times.

From "
Pentagon Turns Away Mothers of Soldiers Killed in Iraq" (Januaray 21, 2005):

CINDY SHEEHAN: Hi. I have had a very busy day today. Well, yesterday I was with Celeste when we tried to get a meeting with our Secretary of Defense, and we have been trying for weeks. We have been emailing, writing, calling. They finally stopped taking our calls. And I just saw all of these people today cheering for them and their policies, and I think if I had like $25 grand, I would probably have access to everybody in this administration, but I have paid a price that is priceless. You cannot put a price on what I have given to this country. I gave them my only -- my oldest son -- not my only son, but my oldest son, and they don't even have the courtesy to reply to us to say, no, we're not going to meet with you, or, you know, maybe later, or would you like to meet with another aide. They don't even have the courtesy to meet with Gold Star Families. I was on "Good Morning, America" this morning, and they asked me why I opposed the inauguration, and I said, “While these people are partying tonight, there's going to be more bloodshed. And I just think it's very inappropriate to celebrate when there's millions of people in harm's way."

From "
Thousands Protest in Fayetteville in Largest Army Base Demonstration Since Vietnam" (March 21, 2005):

CINDY SHEEHAN: I often get introduced as a mother who lost her son in Iraq. I didn't lose Casey. I know right where he is. He is in a grave in Vacaville, and I know who put him there: George Bush and the rest of the arrogant and ignorant neo-cons in D.C. who murdered my son and tens of thousands of other innocent people. Before I temporarily leave that subject, why are they still in our Capitol? Why are they still running our country? From state-sponsored terror and sustained torture, we have to face it: We're governed by psychopathic killers who need to go. On a very personal note, I told [inaudible] today it has two anniversaries. One is a second anniversary of the so-called shock and awe. Today is also the first anniversary of when my son's deployment began in Iraq. In 16 days, my family will suffer the one-year death-iversary of Casey. Casey was a brave, honest, loving, kind and gentle soul who was needlessly and senselessly killed for lies. Since this war is based on lies and betrayals -- this is very awkward -- not one more drop of blood should be spilled, not one more penny for killing. If our Congress votes to give Mr. Bush $81 billion more, they should soak their hands in blood and not ink from sham elections in Iraq. On this day, we should remember the terrible loss of our country that we have suffered and the devastating losses, too, of the Iraqis, especially we families who have paid the terrible price for our leaders' recklessness. I have a challenge for George W. Bush. [inaudible] democracy, why doesn't he march his daughters over there. I'm done. But if he won't send his kids, he should bring our kids home now!

From "Mother of Soldier Killed in Iraq: 'The Best Way To Honor My Son's Death Would Be To Bring The Troops Home'" (June 29, 2005):

AMY GOODMAN: Your response to President Bush addressing U.S. service men and women and what his message was.
CINDY SHEEHAN: Well, first of all, I think the best way to honor my son's death would be to bring the troops home, and that's what we in Gold Star Families want our children to be remembered for: peace and not war and hatred. For him to use my son's blood to continue the killing, to me, is despicable. I don't want one more drop of blood spilled in my son's name or in my name. We never should have been there in the first place. It was a mistake. It was a mistake when we invaded. It's a mistake now, and I want my son’s sacrifice and the sacrifices of the other brave Americans to stand for peace and to bring peace to the world and not to spread more hate. You know, he said that my son died to spread freedom and democracy in that region. We're spreading imperialism and death and destruction everywhere we go. And, no, not one more drop of blood in my son's name or the names of any other of our brave young people who have made the ultimate sacrifice for basically nothing.
[. . .]
CINDY SHEEHAN: Actually, I met with the President in June of 2004, a couple of months after my son was killed. We were summoned up to Fort Irwin, Washington state, to have a sit down with the president. So my entire family went. And I was on CNN last night with Larry King talking about this, and there was another mother who had met with him, and she said that she supports the war and the President, and she said he was so warm and everything and gentle and kind, and when my family and I met with him, I met a man who had no compassion in him. He had no heart. Like Karen said, he cares nothing about us. We tried to show him pictures of Casey. He wouldn't look at them. He wouldn't even acknowledge Casey's name. He called me "Mom" through the entire visit. He acted like we were at a tea party, like it was something fun, that we should just be so pleased that we got to meet with the President who killed our son.

When others might back down, Sheehan continues to persist. She wants answers and she wants justice. She's not waiting for someone to speak for her or to plead her case. She's making it herself, this time in Crawford, Texas. The high today is expected to reach
95 degrees. There may be rain. But that's where Cindy Sheehan is because she refuses to go along or back down or make nice or simply be silent while others debate "fine tuning" the invasion/occupation.

Thaddeus DeJesus' "
Mother of slain soldier demands audience with Bush" (Waco Tribune-Herald):

Cindy Sheehan shrugged off the Texas heat Saturday afternoon as she sat in the shade a mere four miles from the Western White House.
"It's hot in Iraq and our children are suffering there, and the Iraqi people are suffering," said Sheehan, whose son was killed in action in Iraq. "If they can do this day after day, month after month, then I can stay here for a few weeks. This is nothing compared to what they're going through."
Sheehan, 48, of Vacaville, Calif., vowed to stay in Crawford through August until she could get an audience with President George W. Bush, who is spending the month vacationing at his ranch nearby. Earlier in the day, she lead a group of about 50 anti-war demonstrators calling for an end to the war in Iraq.

When she spoke at the Conyer's hearing, she spoke plainly and to the point. Hopefully, she realizes how many people she's touched and how important her voice is at a time when leadership is largely silent.

Maybe the Bully Boy will meet with her, maybe he won't. But she's demanding answers (something the D.C. press corps should have done long ago -- in fact, they should have done it before the invasion began). Make sure you're aware of her bravery and make sure your friends are. Her refusal to back down deserves our attention and our applause and it will inspire other actions.