Noting thanks

Elaine here on what may be my last poll as Rebecca returns Monday from her vacation. I would really love to be able to do a post this weekend but The Third Estate Sunday Review takes a lot of time and energy and I've already committed to helping them (gladly committed).

Barring a time miracle, this will be the last post. I want to again thank everyone who e-mailed and offered support throughout. As a Common Ills community member since November (third day, would have been sooner but C.I. didn't breathe a word of the site until the first e-mails started coming in), I knew that members were smart, funny and interested in the world they live in. After a while you know that, for instance, Lloyd's going to highlight Ruth Conniff at The Progressive or that Cedric loves Colorado Indymedia or that Erika's going to say something profound and make you laugh or that . . .

Grace Lee Boggs was someone I knew of but I had no idea she did a column every other week until Liang spotlighted her for Women's History Month. You learn things about members and you learn about the world so I didn't think, when C.I. started forwarding the e-mails, that I was in for any surprises; however, I was wrong. As committed and passionate as I knew the community to be, I still didn't realize the depth of that committment or the depth of the passion.
So I really want everyone to know that I appreciated the support.

I want to thank a number of people but let me, for Mike, first note Democracy Now!

Top City Official Blasts FEMA: "This Is A National Disgrace" (Democracy Now!)
The head of New Orleans' emergency operations blasted the federal government and FEMA for its slow response. The official Terry Ebbert said "This is a national emergency. This is a national disgrace." Ebbert went on to say "FEMA has been here three days, yet there is no command and control. We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can't bail out the city of New Orleans." Ebbert said "It's criminal within the confines of the United States that within one hour of the hurricane they weren't force-feeding us. It's like FEMA has never been to a hurricane."

Put the above with the item below.

Bush Officials Criticized For Staying On Vacation (Democracy Now!)
Criticism is also mounting over the Bush administration's handling of the crisis. President Bush didn't return from his vacation until Wednesday and several other top officials remain on summer breaks. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice had been vacationing in New York City but returned to Washington on Thursday. Meanwhile Vice President Dick Cheney has been in Wyoming and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card has been in Maine.

Who's working here? Where are the adults in the administration? There's a reason it's a Bully Boy administration as opposed to a Bully Man one. Operation Enduring Falsehood continues and Bully Boy can't be bothered with what's actually going down here. Nor can his administration because they take their cues from the top.

Let me now return to thank yous. These are in no particular order. Gina and Krista were not just supportive in the gina & krista round-robin, they were also supportive in e-mails and on the phone. When, after a week, I confessed that I thought my lack of experience was hurting Rebecca's site, they listened, at length, and gave me the push to keep going. Thank you.

Cedric gave me a piece of advice early on that he got from Kat: If due to time or any other reason (including having nothing to say), you're not wanting to blog, don't do it. I thought it was good avice. I ignored it the night I attended a vigil in my area for Cindy Sheehan. The next day was a haze. Cedric didn't say, "I told you so." He didn't even bring up the advice when, a few days after, I mentioned it to him. But it was good advice and the only other time (last night) when I was too tired to do much, I heeded it by adding in Kat's advice of "It is what it is." Cedric was a great sounding board and always there to ask how I was holding up. Thank you.

Kat, the groovy Kat. If there's an experience that can't be related through a song, it hasn't had enough publicity to reach Kat yet. She helped me soar on the few times I really reached a level I was proud of and she helped me accept that "It is what it is" on those times when I felt I'd really stunk up Rebecca's site. Kat, if I can speak for the community and not just myself, we are not worthy. Thank you.

Betty never let me forget that life comes first. Which is strange coming from Betty who invests more time in an entry than anyone else I've spoken to. Each entry goes through mulitple drafts and Betty's never satisfied with the end results (I think they're glorious entries). One night when I was having the worst time pulling together what I wanted to say, Betty called and asked, "Can I run something by you?" Her issue struck me as relatively minor, though she would swear today that it wasn't, and I think she was checking up on me. After we discussed her entry, she immediately asked what I was working on and talked me through a problem I was having with a paragraph. She did this while dealing with two kids fighting and rocking a third. Betty, you amaze me. Thank you.

Jess, Ty, Jim, Dona and Ava of The Third Estate Sunday Review seemed to spend the first two weeks of my blogging on suicide watch. "Is she okay?" I imagined them asking as they drew straws to figure out who had to call me that day. Each of them brought a gift with their advice. If I were to boil it down to one piece from each one, it would read like the following: Dona gave me the gift of "no set length." A short entry can be as powerful as a long one. Say what you need to say. Ty gave me the gift of "say it from inside yourself and it'll come out true to you." Ty stressed that the only great wrong was writing about something you only half-cared about.
Jim gave me the gift of "speak frankly." Jim truly believes that people should either like what you say or not like it. He feels there are more than enough timid voices making passive statements. Jess gave me the gift of expressing righteous anger. He repeatedly stressed that a committment to peace didn't mean I had to sound like a Zen master and that came in very handy. Ava's gift (one she shares with C.I.) is getting you to talk out the issue and figure out what you really think. A phrase, a key word, would end up being the guide I needed when I found myself lost. Thank you.

Dallas gets a special mention because I had a huge link problem one day. Half the entry was one link. There were supposed to be three links in that half but the whole thing ran together as one link. Stressing, I went to the e-mails and saw Dallas' e-mail. We'd spoken during all night sessions for The Third Estate Sunday Review and I knew he was the "link king." He responded immediately to my SOS and talked me through the problem. Thank you.

Which brings me to Mike and, as Dorothy said to the Scarecrow, "I think I'll miss you most of all." (Or something like that.) I am positive, 100% positive, that Rebecca asked Mike to check in regularly. Mike would deny that. (Rebecca denies it.) In the midst of a draining day when I didn't see how I'd have anything in me worth saying by the evening, my assistant would either tell me Mike was on the phone or, if I had been in a session, that he had called. The first thing out of his mouth, after "Hello", would always be the funniest story that would make me laugh and energize me. Mike has many gifts that he shared but the gift of laughter is what I'll remember most. Thank you.

So who does that leave?

C.I. What can you say about someone you've know for years and years and years and years and . . . We've been friends forever. We're still friends despite the fact that C.I. had to hold my hand via the phone to get me through the earliest entries. I do not mean, "Let me read this to you and give me feedback." I mean, "Stay on the line because I'm about to start writing." Anne Sexton and Maxine Kumin used to do that while writing poetry during the day. I don't think I reached either Sexton or Kumin proportions; however, what I did reach (and the fact that I continued) owes a huge debt to C.I. staying on the phone.

A number of us have suggested, at various times, to C.I. the need to take a break. Substituting for Rebecca, I understood why a break from The Common Ills has been impossible thus far. I had only one thing I planned to write about, CODEPINK's Stop The Next War Now and I only got to that this week. Why? Because there are things that members feel are important. As someone who's often disappointed in my party's leadership (or lack of it), I understood when e-mails were forwarded to me that would ask me to address something.

I've read all the e-mails forwarded and I think everyone of you has what it takes to run a site. But I do understand shyness and people worrying about not using the correct grammer, etc.
What I got most clearly, however, was that there are issues that matter to you and you need to have them validated. Where I could, I did. Where I couldn't, I plead time constraints.

Near the end there were usually a little over fifty e-mails a day. I addressed what I could. I understand now how, with multiple daily entries, C.I. still can't address every issue raised.
(And why, despite the fact that water rights is one of C.I.'s big issues, there's still not been time to go into that at The Common Ills to any real degree.)

I told you earlier that C.I. didn't tell anyone about the site going up until people started e-mailing. There's a post on the second day that C.I. rates as the worst. It's the one about the e-mails that have just come in. I didn't think it was embarrassing (and am unaware of anyone saying to C.I. "You should be embarrased by that") but when you all started e-mailing, I grasped how much that meant. I wasn't flying blind the way C.I. was (as noted in the thank yous, I had plenty of people with experience that I could ask advice from). Even so, when I had e-mails forwarded on the second day, it did mean something to me.

The point of the previous four paragraphs is that you are the voice of The Common Ills. It's your interests and feedback that shape the community. I'd read C.I. writing about that (I think C.I. uses "input" in place of "feedback") repeatedly and think, "Right because they suggest articles to be linked to . . ." But it is a great deal more than that. When C.I.'s said to me that water rights will be the issue of an entry the next day and I've gone over there to read that only to find no mention at all of it, I didn't get how much you determined what was covered. (That's not to imply that the community doesn't care about water rights.) Time and again, your e-mails noting something that you don't feel is being addressed results in it being addressed at The Common Ills.

Whether it's the passing of John H. Johnson or, this week, the coverage from Mexico in the New York Times, you're determing where the community heads. That's why C.I. still reads every members e-mail (even if Ava or Jess has additional time and respond to those e-mails). "Couldn't you just get a summary of the e-mails?" is a question Jim, myself and others have asked at various times. No.

There are e-mails where a person may discuss for the bulk of an e-mail one topic and then, almost in a sotto voice, add something important in closing. You have to know the members to know if the closing is going to be where the big issue for them is. Krista and Gina are suggesting a cap on membership and I favor the idea only because the volume of the e-mails have already reached the point where they're really too much for one person.

But I do understand why they have to be read and how much members are shaping the community. I had an e-mail early on from Sherry about an issue that was quite important to her and she expressed the importance clearly. It became a topic here as a result. Mike's on a campaign to convince me to start my own site. To be honest with you, I'm not sure that I want that kind of responsibility. "Want that kind of responsibility." I could handle it, I'm not sure I want it.

People are looking for voices that address issues that matter and not in a "Hey, here's a groovy Republican saying a great message so let's be good lefties and give it up!" I know from the e-mails I've received how upset that makes you. You have voices, from the left, that speak to you and are looking for additional ones. So when a blogger steers you to a neocon or worse (if there is worse), you feel disappointed and let down.

You're also very tired of, and C.I. had told me about this in May but I saw with the e-mails how true it was, "brave voices" that would be brave if this was March, 2002 perhaps but, considering the mood of the country, are only currently slightly to the left of Joe Lieberman.

There was a time when, for instance, sexism is something you would put up with because the voices you knew of were limited to a small number. Now someone makes repeated rude jokes (or, to be C.I., "jokes") about women and you realize there's a whole world out there of other voices. You no longer have to put up with comments about Michelle Malkin's making sense or any other nonsense. (Yes, that's a reference to "Booger." As someone who got the full break down via West and other members contacted -- I can risk the ire of C.I., we've been friends for years -- about West by the "Booger," I've written that site off. As I think has the entire community. What's gone up here by Rebecca and at the other community sites was a limited version because until Gina and Krista posed the question of "Did anyone else here from the Booger?" there was no idea that the Booger was actually slamming West to strangers in e-mails and attempting to find out personal details about West. Possibly Booger would do better work if he weren't trying so hard to work a personal vendetta.)

The tide has turned, as the Rolling Stones would sing (for Kat), and weak, timid voices saying, "Come on guys, here's how we can please the right!" just don't cut it anymore. (And as C.I. noted in May, didn't we already try that in 2004? Water ourselves down with the hopes of stripping off voters? Didn't we see how that worked out?) The left didn't vanish or suddenly go extinct. It did lose public voices and public outlets.

A message of "We're like them except for one or two key issues" is not a message of hope. Americans are concerned with the increasingly lowered standard of living wage. Americans are concerned with the quagmire that's taken too many lives. Presenting fine tuning instead of honest alterntives isn't a message of hope. It's not a message that will inspire. Out flanking doesn't build up a base but it can decrease one.

As Wally wrote, "If you think about it, at some point, Cokie Roberts must have made some people think she had to something to say." Now she's a dinasaur and those who feel the need to push, for instance, the Bull Moose, will find themselves in the same stomping grounds as Cokie.
David Brock has a transformation, an awakening. The Bull Moose just appears to be someone who had a few peeves with his own party and now wants to dub himself an independent so exactly why some on the left and on the "left" want to rush to kneel before him is beyond me.

I've never been able to figure out if those types were psuedo left or just plain stupid.

People can change and I'll be the first to applaud anyone who truly changes, like David Brock. But the gushing over the Bull Moose and the eagerness to listen to his constant water-down advice is troubling. (Yes, Wally, Sherry, Rhonda, Zach, Rachel, Liang, Keesha and Brad, I'm specifically speaking of the person you asked questions about. As I said in the replies to your e-mails, I have no idea why someone feels the need to get in bed with the Bull Moose but let's hope they use condoms.)

When the same person urges that we treat James Dobson with respect (hours after C.I. does the "Focus on the Fool" post), I undertand why so many of you have turned against that voice. Let's do a little check list for a minute. The person brags over Simon Rosenberg and, when called on that, expresses surprise that Simon Rosenberg supported (and supports, at least at that point) the war on Iraq, the person's in bed with the Bull Moose, trashes Victoria Hooper (because she's from "Hollywood" and, probably, because she's a woman), and also wants people to stop making jokes about James Dobson you're left with a voice that has little to say to the left about the times we live in.

Which brings us to the final thank you, Rebecca. Our warrior woman of the left. Kicking ass and taking names. Rebecca, as she herself has noted here, went through a very dark period after a personal tragedy. Instead of allowing it to break her, she found strength (and, judging by the phone calls, she's found even more strength while on vacation).

Whether taking on "centrists" like the whiner Ed ("How dare you write that my hair looks like my mommy cuts it with a bowl!") or The New Republican, Rebecca's not afraid to call it like it is.
She was the assistant Selena Kyle some years ago, now she is our Catwoman. (The Michelle Pfeiffer version.) The wrong community member running a site was dubbed the "catfighter" (no offense to C.I.), the catfighter is Rebecca.

What? A dog fight is something noble but a catfight is something to run from? Forget the stereotypes (and sexism) involved in the labels, a cat (be it a house cat or a panther) fights deadly and so does Rebecca.

Two female bloggers e-mailed me during Rebecca's absence and noted how much they missed her (I did too). That's because, if you're a woman, you appreciate her take no shit attitude. She's not ego stroking the half-comptent male with any hopes that she can make him "better."
If he's a nit wit (yes, Centrist Ed, you'd be near the top of that list), she has no use in making him feel that it's okay that everything he pushes goes against what we believe in.

Centrist Ed was shocked, shocked!, by the way she ran her site. To quote Demi Moore in The Butcher's Wife, "You should get out more." Your ideal of 'the little lady' is your concept, not her's. She won't wear the Scarlet Letter for you. She won't play your sin-eater or tell you it's okay that you want to privatize social security or whatever other public good you're trying to put on the chopping block.

And she'll speak straight from the heart and in a way that her readers can relate. None of that, "I'm sure ___ means well; however, . . ." She'll call you on your bluff, she'll call you on your ego.
Judging by the reactions of so many men, she should change the title of this site to "Rebecca Winters Can't Say That! . . . Can She?" Of course she can. And does.

I thank her for being the brave voice she is. (And I thanked her for that even on evenings and nights when I cursed her for leaving me in charge while she was on vacation.)

I like Lizz Winstead. But when Lizz had a problem with a comment I posted (a pro-peace comment) and attacked, on air, another poster because she wrongly thought they had posted it,
Rebecca started this site. People asked what I thought about, about the reason behind Rebecca's site? I thought it was perfectly in keeping with Rebecca.

My comments were the ones attacked and, to me, it was something to shrug off. To Rebecca, it was the final straw because you don't do that to her friends. A few years ago, you could. But where others would face despair and cower, Rebecca came out of it roaring.

She's spoken of her abortion here. As much as her ex-in-laws will allow her too at any rate. Which I think is crap, if you want my opinion. I'll give my take and they can be mad at me because I truly don't give a damn. Rebecca and her then husband wanted children. She got pregnant. A few months into the pregnancy, tests revealed that the child would be born with a birth defect that would mean the child would be in severe pain the brief time the child would be alive. Rebecca worked really hard to nail that post and saw it as the most important thing she'd ever write, just to explain one more reason why choice is not the business of the government or anyone looking in from outside.

When she finally thought she had nailed it, she sent it to her ex-husband who had no problem with the post and told her she was very brave to share what she was sharing. Then her ex-in-laws (mother-in-law and father-in-law) read the post and told her there was no way it was going up as is. They began "editing" it and gutting everything to the point that if she'd posted it, you would know she had an abortion, that the decision was difficult for her to reach for some reason that was no longer included in the post and a few lines about how important it was to save reproductive rights.

Though her ex-in-laws may not realize it, they put her in a situation she had struggled to emerge from: a sense of powerlessness. She wrote very frankly about the debate she had with herself over her options and explained why she made the choice she felt she had to based on all the medical evidence and not wanting to bring a child into the world when the child's life would be brief and would be filled with multiple operations.

Having set all that down in the frankest language, that very difficult decision that she would still make today, she now once again found herself forced into a decision -- whether she hurts her ex-in-laws or shoves down the story. This came at a time when a number of issues were already perculating (like the attack on West).

That's the reason she went on the vacation. The drama the ex-in-laws created over the post brought the whole sense of being pushed against a wall back to her. In one of the first lines they gutted, Rebecca had written that she had a decision to make, not a choice and that until you're in that position you may not grasp that. Once again, she was put into a situation where she had no choice, only a decision.

Rebecca was as frank about that as she could be here and a number of you have written asking if she's okay. She is okay and she sounds ready to take on the world. I missed her and I know you did as well. But on Monday, when she returns, you'll see that she's recharged and ready to take on the world once again.

Rebecca of Sunny Brook Farm is what many of us used to call her when I first met her. That was partly due to her name and a great deal more to do with her outlook and disposition. If you'd ask me then how she'd handle difficulties, my prediction would have been way off. Some people have inner strength all along and some people gain it. Rebecca falls into the latter camp and I think when we read her, we grasp that and respond to it. She's proven herself not to be a victim. She's also proven herself not to be a survivor. She's a thriver who picks up a layer of strength each time others might go under.

There's nothing in this post that will surprise her because I've made similar comments to her for many months. But the people who get Rebecca, really get her, pick up on that and respond to it.
(Ask Mike.) I think it shines through in her posts where she doesn't try to pretty things up but never loses hope in the fact that we can fight anything if we fight it together. I've known Rebecca since high school and I'm truly amazed and surprised by her strength.

There are any number of ways I could say goodbye to everyone who's stayed with the site during Rebecca's vacation but I wanted to go out saying my thanks to those who helped and encouraged and to take a moment to honor Rebecca because I don't think she gets a fourth of the credit she deserves for what she does.

(My other best friend, C.I., is also very strong. But C.I. asked that I focus on the community, which I've tried to do. Tip for everyone, if you're planning on singing C.I.'s praises, keep it under wraps and don't post that it's coming up ahead of time or you will be asked not to do so.)

Rebecca's a very special voice and a needed one. We've all missed you Rebecca! We're glad you're coming back.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center)
In the struggle rewards are few. In the fact, I know of only two, loving friends and living dreams. These rewards are not so few it seems.


Late post

Elaine here with you until Labor Day when Rebecca returns from her vacation. Looking at the e-mails that Ava's forwarded, I created a bit of an unintentional stir yesterday. No, there wasn't going to be a special gina & krista round-robin today or an early one. I just got my days wrong and thought, last night, that tomorrow was Friday. I do have an essay thanking everyone who e-mailed their support as I filled in for Rebecca in the forthcoming gina & krista round-robin which will go out Friday.

I hope my confusion didn't create problems for anyone. (Gina wrote that it just built more suspense and excitement over their upcoming round-robin. I know she's being kind.)

I will be blogging Friday. Monday, I'll be at a party Rebecca's throwing. She's invited a number of people over and I'll be over first thing to catch up and to help out with the party which starts mid-afternoon. If that includes blogging, I'll be happy to do it. However, I know her intent right now is to blog on Monday.

E-mails have asked me to weigh in on the reason this site was created and I'll do that tomorrow due to the late hour tonight. A few weeks ago, Sherry pointed out that would be a nice entry to go out on. Since then others have e-mailed asking for that as well.

My pick yesterday of "Should This Marriage Be Saved?" being one of my favorite entries C.I.'s done at The Common Ills resulted in a few people thanking me and saying they had missed that entry because they were newer members of The Common Ills. I'm honestly amazed, but not surprised, at how much The Common Ills community continues to grow. Wally, however, did e-mail a list of his favorite entries at The Common Ills. If it weren't for the fact that he cited fifty-one entries (and that it's so late), I'd note everyone of them here. But there are many entries, I agree Wally, at The Common Ills that speak in a way that you won't find anywhere else. That's what's so great about C.I. and why people (including myself) kept telling C.I., "You need to blog!"

C.I. was speaking out for the last two years in a variety of forums and on campuses and, though there probably wasn't time to do a site, we were all saying, "You need to blog. We need a voice like this out there." What sort of voice is that? If you read The Common Ills, even if you're a causual reader and not a member, I think it becomes obvious fairly quick. C.I.'s not playing sit on the fence about the invasion/occupation. C.I.'s not playing "Let me kiss ass to the Democratic Party leaders" which way too many so-called left sites are doing.

A lot of people are doing that. They're trying to set themselves up in some manner. (Bob Somerby of The Daily Howler appears to think that certain reporters who censor themselves are attempting to set themselves up for institutional careers. I think that may be true of certain bloggers as well.) You know when someone's raising an issue that matters and when someone's trying to spin you and there are a number of spinners.

So as I wind down my duties here at Rebecca's site, I'd urge you to continue to question the voices that try to play gatekeepers and the ones who either don't know their facts or distort them for their own aims. The Bully Boy has made a mockery of Americans by using words that mean nothing. We don't need that from the left. We also don't need an echo chamber on the left. You fight lies with truth, not by matching it with spin.

Poor Are Greatest Victims (Democracy Now!)
As with most natural disasters, the poor are paying the heaviest price. With the financial world buzzing with talk of insurance payouts set to exceed $25 billion, many in the most devastated areas have no insurance and cannot afford to leave their homes behind. Many do not own cars and had no way to escape the hurricane.

This is always the case with disasters and it's always rare for the press to note it, the mainstream press. Democracy Now! isn't the mainstream press. It's the brave press and thankfully there are people like Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez who are interested in truth.

That difference was on display in Thursday morning's New York Times where they rushed to assure you that there was no need to worry about toxins and pollutions in New Orleans.

Toxic New Orleans: 'The Worst Case' (Democracy Now!)
The Washington Post points out that New Orleans is now flooded by water spiked with tons of toxic chemicals and contaminants ranging from heavy metals and hydrocarbons to industrial waste, human feces and the decayed remains of humans and animals. Experts say the contamination will continue to poison the Gulf of Mexico region for more than a decade. A senior policy analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency told the Post "This is the worst case... There is not enough money in the gross national product of the United States to dispose of the amount of hazardous material in the area."

While Democracy Now! reported that, the New York Times, relied on officials to say there was no problem. They did the same thing about Ground Zero after 9/11. Then, in editorials, they wanted to act shocked that they were lied to. The Times likes to say that it presents things that are facts. That's never true when they have an official spokesperson. With an official spokesperson, they feel no need to use terms such as "claims" or "maintains." They present the claims as facts. So if the Times later finds out different and editorializes about how the government lied, let's hope readers of the paper hold it acountable for passing on those lies not as claims but as factual.

"Editorial: Let Cindy Sheehan be the spark that gets your own passion burning" (The Third Estate Sunday Review)
Ruth called it Saturday at The Common Ills in her latest Ruth's Morning Edition Report: The Summer of Activism. That's what we're seeing.
While Matt Taibii and others sneer, pockets of activism have been springing up all over the country. Cindy Sheehan's month long vigil at Camp Casey (I & II) in Crawford, Texas finally pushed the issue into the national discussion.
The invasion/occupation wasn't a topic that Americans were unclear on. Polls have consistently demonstrated that the people have turned against the war. But the corporate media found little use for discussions other than to note, usually in passing, the polls on attitudes towards the war.
Brave independent voices have spoken and kept the issue alive for some time. They include, but are not limited to, the passionately pro-peace The Nation (take that George Packer!), Amy Goodman, Dahr Jamail, Matthew Rothschild, and a host of others.
Did we mention Amy Goodman? Let's note her again. While surveys show an erosion of the public's faith in mainstream journalism, Democracy Now! has gone from the little engine that could to the news program that can. Available on radio, television and the web, Democracy Now! has grown and continues to grow. Whether on campus, at church, at a peace rally, in the grocery store, or where ever, it's becoming harder and harder to find ourselves in a conversation with someone where they don't bring up Democracy Now! at some point.
As Luke noted this summer at wotisitgood4, Goodman's become the equivalent of a rock star. If you're "in the know," you're following Democracy Now! in audio, video or transcript form. There's a reason for that. Besides being a daily information packed news hour, Democracy Now! didn't rely on generals and government spokespersons to discuss the invasion/occupation. Not before we went into Iraq and not during. While the mainstream media sucks the collective thumb of "we were all wrong," the fact of the matter is "we" were not all wrong. What happened was voices were shut out of the debate in the mainstream media.
While it's true that the occupation has blown up in the faces of the Bully Boy, it's also true that it's blown up in the faces of the mainstream media who, as a group, acted as cheerleaders for war. While they repeatedly wash their hands like Lady MacBeth, the public notes that they were all wrong. The fact that they are still commenting and, in many cases, arguing that the "war can still be won" with a little fine tuning, only deepens the distrust.
People like Amy Goodman have kept the truth alive in the darkest hours. Light bulbs have come along. Bright Eyes performance of "When A President Talks To God" was one example. Jane Fonda's statement about the war, and the loud applause that greeted it, on the David Letterman show in April was another. Pacifica's live coverage of the John Conyers, Jr. hearing on the Downing St. Memo and how we were lied into war was another. Bit by bit, these moments began to register and build. And as we saw the reaction, the nation started to realize that, as the polls had demonstrated, the whole country wasn't lined up behind the pundits and the press in blind support for a continued occupation.
With all of that building, Cindy Sheehan sets up camp in Crawford and becomes, as she'd hoped, a spark that finally turns private conversations into a national dialogue.
The dialogue's started. We've moved beyond the national lethargy. Let this Summer of Activism spill over into the other seasons. The dialogue's begun and we'll need to be able to count on all the people who are already on board but we need to realize that others have joined the cause. Still others would if they knew the issues at stake.
This is where you come in. You've got to continue to take the lead on itiating the dialogue and discussion in your own circles. Cindy Sheehan can be the spark, she can't be an entire movement.
As Elaine noted Friday, let Sheehan's actions motivate you take ownership of your own life. That's what a democracy should be about.
[This editorial was written by the following: The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ty, Jess, Dona, Jim and Ava, C.I. of The Common Ills, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Kat of Kat's Korner, Elaine subbing for Rebecca at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude and Mike of Mikey Likes It!]

That says pretty much what needs to be said.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center)
Youth is the first victim of war; the first fruit of peace.It takes 20 years or more of peace to make a man; it takes only 20 seconds of war to destroy him.
King Baudouin I, King of Belgium


Eve Ensler excerpt from CODEPINK's Stop the Next War Now

Elaine with you, winding down my substituting duties for Rebecca who will be back from vacation next week. One thing that I wanted to do during this time was to note CODEPINK's Stop The Next War Now.

Each day, something would come up. I'd discover the case of Kevin Benderman or something else that I really wanted people to be aware of. Sometimes it would be something that someone passed on an e-mail. (Thank you for all the support in e-mails. I've written a thank you essay for gina & krista's round-robin that goes out tomorrow. You really made this a lot easier with your encouragement and kind words.)

But the biggest surprise was that Monday through Friday each week there was always something to write about. In fact, there was always too much. I started filling in for Rebecca on July 19th and it's over a month later (about six weeks, I believe). There was never a day when I started to write and wondered what to write about. I always wondered how to write it and possibly failed at that more than I succeeded. But one thing I wanted to write about was CODEPINK's Stop The Next War Now so as I wind down my substituting duties, I want to do that.

I recently got an e-mail from one of my sisters in Iraq, Yanar Mohammed. When the occupation of Iraq occurred, there was the promise, as there was a promise in Afghanistan, that women would be liberated. Well, in occupied Iraq, women are worse off today than they were under Saddam Hussein, and it was pretty terrible then. In the name of occupation, with the lawlessness and the rise of fundamentalism, roughly seventy women a month are being abducted and sold and raped. Women are not leaving their houses. Those who were once doctors and lawyers are too frightened to go to work.
I am obsessed with the notion of occupation. I think about it every day. The word means "to invade or enter a country by force or as an army, especially in order to conquer it." I am obsessed with this because I am obsessed with women and violence and rape. And rape is, of course, the ultimate invasion, the ultimate occupation. Women's bodies around the world are being invaded and occupied and devastated. In the name of silencing women and the earth, in the name of undermining the power of life, of birth, of mystery, of passion and ambiguity, there is this occupation and invasion.
The concept of empire, the concept of corporations determining reality, and the concept of invasion, occupation, domination are central to those in power today. But millions of us know in our bodies, in our minds, in our spirits and that another paradigm is desperate to emerge on this planet. I believe we can feel it in every fiber of our beings. And with a little courage, with a lot of unity, and with faith that paradigm is going to emerge.

The above is from Eve Ensler's "The New Paradigm We Hold Within." I could pick practically any section of this book and find something that speaks to me. That was one of my difficulties with doing this. Then C.I. grabbed another section of the book and this was just one after where C.I. left off, so I selected it. Eve Ensler isn't just a playwright, she's someone who's making a difference in the world. What she writes above (which is an excerpt) speaks of terrorism, something women have lived with.

Robin Morgan's made that point before (and far better than I could). When you hear reports on Iraq, I hope you will ask yourself, "Where are the Iraqis?" They usually aren't present for the reports. Why is that? What attitude, forget the administration, I'm speaking of the media here, allows us to think it's okay to provide reporting that doesn't illuminate the conditions and effects that Iraqi live under and with? Where do we find the right to reduce them to faceless, nameless people (or as C.I.'s has said, render them extras in the stories of their own lives)?

The attitude that allows us to do that is the same attitude that allows to invade them. It's the same attitude that says, "We have to stay now because we have to fix our mess." Because, apparently, the Iraqis are children who can't do anything without wonderful us. We are causing more strife and more tension, enflaming the region. We can't fix the problem we've caused because we haven't changed a damn thing about ourselves.

We went over there with the attitude that we had a right to do so. Now we think we have a right to "fix" the problems. The only people we see with rights over in Iraq are Americans. We render the Iraqis invisible (when not portrayed as terrorists). Simple children who need us to fix it.

Have you ever thrown a party? If so, you'll probably be able to relate to this story. After a year in practice, I decided I was going to have my dream home and that, foolishly, included white carpet in the living room. One glass of spilled red wine and that was it for the carpet. But when the person spilled it, I didn't want their help in "cleaning it up." I wanted them to step away and let me try to fix my own carpet. It couldn't be cleaned up so I had to replace it.

So here's my point, we've ruined their white carpet and while they're doing a slow burn over that, we're saying, "Hey, we can fix it." They just want us out already.

If that's too difficult for someone to grasp, I'd suggest they read "Should This Marriage Be Saved?" Of all C.I.'s entries, that's probably my favorite. In that one, C.I. uses the reference point of a bad marriage to address the issue of America and Iraq. At some point, you can't fix it and the smart thing to do is to be mature enough to realize that and make the break that's the only healthy thing you can do.

I really hope you already know about CODEPINK's Stop The Next War Now but if you don't, please pick it up. We need new paradigms and we need to reclaim some old ones that we've lost as the Bully Boy has blustered and bullied for five years now. In addition to the entry last week, there have been other entries by C.I. (and one by Mike) on this book. I'm going to copy and paste a paragraph C.I. has that will give you the option to read excerpts from other sections of the book:

For those keeping track, we've now excerpted from Mary Ann Wright's "Essential Dissent," Cindy Sheehan's "From Cindy to George," Nancy Lessin's "Breaking The Code Of Silence," Camilo Mejia's "Regaining My Humanity," Arundhati Roy's "Introduction," Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans preface, and Alice Walker's foreword. Mike (Mikey Likes It!) covered one section of the book and the link for that is: "Mike on Marti Hiken's 'Understanding The U.S. Military' from CODEPINK'S Stop The Next War Now." In addition, Dallas has provided a list of all the contributors to CODEPINK's Stop The Next War Now.

Now for Mike, we'll note two items from Democracy Now!

FEMA: This Is the "Most Significant Natural Disaster to Hit the U.S." (Democracy Now!)
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is making unprecedented preparations to house at least 1 million people in the region whose houses were damaged or destroyed. FEMA's Bill Lokey called the hurricane "the most significant natural disaster to hit the United States."

How much of a disaster is the tragedy? Bully Boy cut his vacation short today. Yes, they've stopped denying (for the moment) that he was on vacation. Finally, Bully Boy had to step down.
Finally. What is it, two days after he should have done something? But fishing and biking were more important. Can anyone explain why John Kerry windsurfing is cause to make fun of him for the shorts but Bully Boy on a bike, with those knobby knees, isn't worth commenting on? (Except by Isaiah who always draws Bully Boy with knobby knees.)

But at least, while the Bully Boy was vacationing, we had the National Guard out in full force, right?

6,000 Local National Guard Members In Iraq (Democracy Now!)
While the National Guard has been taking part in rescue operations and law enforcement, some 6,000 members of the Louisiana and Mississippi Guard have been forced to watch the catastrophe from 7,000 miles away in Iraq. 40 percent of Mississippi's National Guard force and 35 percent of Louisiana's is in Iraq. Over the past eight months 23 members of the Louisiana National Guard have died in Iraq - only New York's Guard unit has suffered as many deaths.

The nation's left unready because of the illegal invasion/occupation. On the radio, I believe it was the mayor of New Orleans, was saying that they expect of find bodies floating in the water, dead bodies, or in the attics. How many people might have been saved if we had a National Guard to do the job that's the reason they exist for?

Now we're at the point where I usually do a peace quote. Instead, I'd like to excerpt a section of Eve Ensler's poem "This Will Be Our Revolution" (which is also in CODEPINK's Stop The Next War Now):

You are forgetting as I am speaking
You are wiping off the blood,
spraying air freshners
to cover the smell of rotting corpses
They are holding invisible unidentified people
in filthy pens
in Guantanamo Bay
You don't remember them
or why they are there
or the leash around the naked crawling
hooded Iraqi man's neck
or the Iraqi boy lying on a cot
with no sheets, no arms, no lges
and these are the images of what was only
momentarily remembered.
The images of the rest --
melted children
screaming fathers
abducted daughters
collapsing grandmothers
sodomized little boys.
There was a war on Iraq
There was a war on Iraq
Thousands are dead,
the rest are drugged
or wrestling in their beds.
It doesn't matter if you remember it,
it remembers you.


Eve Ensler, Kevin Benderman, Mike ...

Elaine with you, winding down as Labor Day approaches and Rebecca returns. Are you excited? I know I am. I know she's been missed and I've missed her too.

I was talking to Mike before I logged on and he's as sweet as he is handsome. Everyone's been so supportive in e-mails and I thank you all for that. I also think C.I. who listened and listened as I periodically blurted, "I don't know what I'm doing!" or "How do I make this point?" So I'll thank C.I. who's an old frined. I'll also thank Mike who I know Rebecca had to have asked him to check up on me. He's been a wonderful resource and a great guy.

Tonight, he was asking me about blogging and would I think about doing my own site. I really don't have time for it. If Rebecca needs another break, I'm happy to help out. I'm also happy to help out C.I. provided it's understood that I'm not going through every e-mail that comes in at common_ills@yahoo.com. But Mike was so sweet on the phone. I told him he reminded me of Goldie Hawn and Cactus Flower which he doesn't think he's seen. But in it, Goldie's asking Ingrid Bergman where will she go, what will become her? That's what I thought of while I was on the phone with Mike because he really is the sweetest guy. I keep stopping myself from typing "kid." But he really is the sweetest kid. I mean that as a compliment.

So let's move on because there are several things I want to note tonight.

New Anti-Recruiting Coalition Forms in Los Angeles (Democracy Now!)
In Los Angeles, a new coalition announced plans for a national campaign to fight military recruitment of students of color in the nation's schools. Members of the coalition include Latinos for Peace and the Coalition Against Militarism in our Schools. The groups made the announcement at Salazar Park on the 35th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium, when 20,000 protesters took to the streets of Los Angeles to protest the disproportionate number of Latinos being killed in the Vietnam War. Salazar Park is named after journalist Ruben Salazar who was shot dead by police after covering the Moratorium. The coalition is calling on students to sign forms that would block the military from receiving personal information about them as well as not to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test.

Mike's cover counter-recruiting at his site and will continue to.

20,000 people is a huge number. Also, what a great way to honor the late Ruben Salazr's activism.

The issue of recruiting is one that's been slowly planting roots for some time. It's not going away and the Bully Boy better get used to that fact.

As the number of young men and women continues to fall off what will Bully Boy do when a voluntary force no longer can make the targets? The first thing, which they've done already, is to lower the targets. But that doesn't hide the reality that people don't want to sign up. The next move may be to change it from voluntary to compulsiry.

ACLU: FBI Has Designated Activist Groups as Terrorists (Democracy Now!)
The American Civil Liberties Union has obtained internal government documents that show the FBI designated two Michigan activist groups as potentially being "involved in terrorist activities." One of the groups is the anti-war organization Direct Action. The second group is called By Any Means Necessary - it is a national organization dedicated to defending affirmative action, integration, and other gains of the civil rights movement. ACLU staff attorney Ben Wizner said "When the FBI and local law enforcement identify affirmative action advocates as potential terrorists, every American has cause for concern." The ACLU has been conducting an investigation into whether the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces has been engaged in political surveillance. As part of this investigation the ACLU has learned that the FBI has collected thousands of pages of documents related to other activist groups including Greenpeace, United for Peace and Justice, Code Pink, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

"Letters from Fort Lewis by Kevin Benderman" (Kevin Benderman Defense Committee)
There comes a time in a person's life when they have to re-examine the course they have set for themselves to see if it best for them to continue. I was a US soldier for ten years of my life and after I had experienced war first hand, I came to a personal crossroad.
The decision for me was rather complex as there were many factors that had bearing on my course of action. One was the fact that there had been a member of the military in my family since the American Revolution. Also, the area where I was raised has a strong sense of the military as being one of the most honorable things you can do. Being a soldier in the service of your country is a proud tradition for many American families; it cannot be denied and it is most definitely not to be discouraged.
But isn't it time we reconsidered war as a way to settle differences among nations? When are we going to realize that creating and using weapons that are capable of killing scores of people in a single blow is a rather barbaric and outmoded way in which to solve our differences?
If as much effort were put into solving our differences with positive resolutions as the world has put into developing weapons that are able to wipe out entire countries at a time, war could have been eradicated decades ago, as were various other diseases that we have worked to eliminate. Make no mistake, war is a disease that threatens all of humanity. Isn't it time to dedicate energy, efforts and resources to eliminate this scourge of mankind? I believe it is.

"A Letter to America" (Eve Ensler, Not In Our Name)

I am longing to reach you -- crossing this river of indifference and consumption and denial. I am trying to find you, reaching out through the desperate limitations of words and descriptions, swimming through the rhetoric of terror and God.
I need you to wake up. The house is on fire and you are still sleeping, lulled by the intoxication of smoke and mirrors. I need you to wake up and I know that shaking you, scaring you will only make you cling to your sleep and sleep more.
How then do I tell you what's going on? How do I tell you about the one hundred thousand dead Iraqi people that you and I are responsible for murdering.(1) Each one of them valued their life, longed for their morning, cherished their first cup of milk or coffee or tea. In what way shall I deliver what I learned? The substance identical to illegal napalm that melted tender five year old skin; the cluster bombs that have left their murderous and disguised offspring, throngs of bomblets set to explode, scattered on the Iraqi earth; the depleted uraninum from the Bunker Busters we dropped that now lives in lungs and livers and soil. (2)
How do I tell you about the strategic planning of such atrocities in the boardrooms, the backrooms, the back seats of limos, the organized take over and looting of Iraq right out from under the terrorized, hungry, thirsty Iraqi people. (3) How do I get you to listen to the stories of our solidiers who are trying to kill themselves now, longing to escape the madness of murdering and maiming for no reason. (4)
Please don't go back to sleep.

[. . .]

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center)
The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.


even with some "liberals" helping, the smear tactics against Cindy Sheehan didn't work

Elaine here until Labor Day while Rebecca's on vacation. I hope everyone had a great weekend.
Saturday evening, night and Sunday morning were spent with The Third Estate Sunday Review.

I don't know how they do that every weekend.

They is Jess, Ty, Ava, Dona and Jim as well as C.I. (The Common Ills) with help from Betty (Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man), Mike (Mikey Likes It!), Kat (Kat's Korner), Cedric (Cedric's Big Mix) and Rebecca. Each weekend they pull together to produce an edition.

This Saturday was a long, long one. And there were times that I think probably everyone involved wanted to just give up. But they stuck to it and should be really impressed with the results. I'll try to post some items from this Sunday's edition during the week. Tonight, at the end of this post, I'll post their news review.

But first I'm going to start with two items from Democracy Now! Mike called and we're going for the same items again so to get his views, check out Mikey Likes It! today.

"Shiites and Kurds Agree on Constitution; Sunnis Reject Draft" (Democracy Now!)
In Iraq, Shiite and Kurdish members of Iraq's constitution drafting committee have agreed on a draft charter but Sunni Arab lawmakers have largely rejected the document. Some members of the drafting committee signed the draft charter but in a surprise move the full National Assembly never took a vote. A nationwide referendum on the constitution is now scheduled for Oct. 15. On Sunday President Bush attempted to downplay the Sunni opposition to the draft constitution. "Some Sunnis have expressed reservations about various provisions of the constitution, and that's their right as free individuals living in a free society," Bush said. "There are strong beliefs among other Sunnis that this constitution is good for all Iraqis and that it adequately reflects compromises suitable to all groups. Sunnis are warning that the constitution could lead to civil war because it will allow Shiites to create an autonomous government in the oil-rich south.

This is actually something that Mike reported on for the news review and that he and I discussed during the news review. Since then, Bully Boy has attempted to draw a happy face on a powder keg. What's interesting to me is how we're seeing some reporters, in the mainstream, attempting to draw happy faces as well. It's their duty to inform the public but instead they act like a state run media reporting on Stalin.

There's a great editorial at The Third Estate Sunday Review and I wish that we had seen the way this would be covered because it's not just that they got it wrong in the lead up to the invasion or that they continue to report badly from the occupation; it's also the fact that they act like a state run media. They take the Bully Boy's statements and present them as "he said" with no fact check even in a piece labeled "news analysis" that I saw today.

"Thousands Rally At Camp Casey in Crawford Texas" (Democracy Now!)
In Crawford, Texas, the anti-war vigil led by Cindy Sheehan has entered its 24th day outside President Bush's 1,600 acre estate. Over the weekend thousands of military families, veterans and anti-war activists gathered for the final weekend of the vigil. Former U.S. diplomat Ann Wright -- who has been running much of Camp Casey -- is now estimating that up to 10,000 people have visited the camp since the vigil was launched on Aug. 6. This is Iraq War veteran Sean O'Neill: "I know too many good men that died out there who left behind families, widows, children that will grow up without their fathers. And for what?"

There's so much talk from some on the right about the "liberal media" showering Cindy Sheehan with praise that I wish they'd do me a favor and tell me what they're watching or reading because I could really go for some liberal media on TV or a daily paper that provided that "liberal media" view.

There hasn't been any support for Cindy Sheehan in mainstream print, by a reporter -- not a columnist -- that I've seen and I don't watch a great deal of TV but I haven't seen any support there either.

So what are they talking about?

It's "work the refs" to be sure, but I think it's something else too. Usually, when someone speaks out against the Bully Boy and the smear tactics start, they're toast by now.

That really hasn't happened in the way it usually does. Oh sure the usual crop of so-called "liberal" losers like Marc Cooper have come along to trash Cindy Sheehan. They always join in whether to make money and set themselves up or because they're just that disgusting.

But the smear tactics didn't work with the people.

And the press knows that there's a limit to which smears they can repeat about Cindy Sheehan.

So since mainstream reporters aren't filing stories with lurid sex rumors or character assasinations, some on the right may feel it's the "liberal media" again. They've grown so used to their daily faxed GOP talking points working their way through the echo chamber and then infecting the mainstream media that when it doesn't happen, they probably are shocked. They've become so used to setting the agenda that it's a huge shock to them that they're echo chamber can fall apart.

In the face of an honest voice who won't back down, the echo chamber's useless. Even with the usual "liberal" losers like Marc Cooper grabbing the carving knives.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center)
The point of nonviolence is to build a floor, a strong new floor, beneath which we can no longer sink. A platform which stands a few feet above napalm, torture, exploitation, poison gas, A and H bombs, the works. Give man a decent place to stand.
Joan Baez

"Third Estate Sunday Review News Review 8-26-05" (Third Estate Sunday Review)
C.I.: Good morning and welcome to The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review. Today we focus on the Iraqi constitution, the situation in Iraq, human rights issues, music and entertainment news. But first, we take a look at activism with Jess of The Third Estate Sunday Review. Jess, what's happening in the realm of activism?

Jess: While various gatekeepers of all stripes play the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike and attempt to stop the leakage, the peace movement moves on. The United Kingdom's The Independent reports that MP George Galloway will accompany Jane Fonda on the upcoming speaking tour in the United States. Andrew Buncombe notes that "Stand Up and Be Counted, starts in Boston on 13 September and will end at a rally scheduled for 24 September in Washington." September 24th through 26th will see numerous rallies and activism in D.C.From United for Peace & Justice's "September Mobilization:"
Saturday, September 24
Massive March, Rally & Anti-war Festival
Gather 11 AM at the Washington Monument
March steps off at 12:30 PM
Sat., Sept. 24 - Operation Ceasefire Concert
Sun., Sept. 25 - Interfaith Service, Grassroots TrainingMon., Sept. 26 - Congressional Education Day and Mass Nonviolent Direct Action and Civil Disobedience Linking Anti-war and Global Justice Protests
Leave no military bases behind
End the looting of Iraq
Stop the torture
Stop bankrupting our communities
No military recruitment in our schools
Activism continues at Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas. In addition, it continues across the country.
Friday, across from the federal courthouse in Richmond, VA, Richmond Indymedia reports that forty activists held a protest against the war. Participant Christie Burwell stated "you can really see the change in perceptions; people are reacting more positively than a year ago." Aaron Samsel quotes a Navy veteran who participated in the protest asking,"If the war is based on a lie, what does it mean to continue fighting?"
San Diego Indymedia reports that the Bully Boy goes to Phoenix this Monday and to San Diego Tuesday. Protests are being organzied for both events.
The vigil continues at Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas. However, Cindy Sheehan is looking to the future and, as she explains at BuzzFlash, that includes three buses on a tour with stops for rallies and to visit:
"every Congress person, pro-peace or anti-peace alike, Republican or Democrat, and ask them the same questions we are asking the president. Except with Congress, we are going to add one more thing: 'Since there is no Noble Cause, you need to develop a speedy exit strategy and bring our troops home as soon as humanly possible.'"
Additional information can be found at www.BringThemHomeNowTour.org.
One Congressional member they might want to visit is Hillary Clinton. As the Sunday Times of London notes, Hillary Clinton has offered no public statement of support to Cindy Sheehan and, remaining on the sidelines, "[t]he risk she runs is that another Democrat will become the voice of anti-war protest and might overtake her in the 2008 presidential primaries."

C.I.: Thank you, Jess. In the past, you've had a Washington Post article you've wanted to comment on. Do you have one for today?

Jess: I sure do. The Washington Post again embarrasses itself, today with an article by Petula Dvorak. Commenting on the events in D.C. in September, the Defense Department's Freedom Walk and the peace rallies, Dvorak creates a problem by noting that the Washington Post had originally signed on as a co-sponsor to the Defense Department's event. After noting that the Post pulled out, Dvorak then quotes another co-sponsor on why it's not a 'political' event. Where is the statement from the paper? Dvorak then notes that "many" support the headliner Clint Black but "others" criticize his inclusion due to the song "I Rag and Roll." Of the song Dvorak writes:
But one of Black's signature songs, "I Raq and Roll" -- with lyrics about "a high-tech GI Joe" with "infrared," "GPS" and "good, old-fashioned lead" -- makes others cringe.
Should they cringe? Dvorak chops up the song to include little that demonstrates why "others" cringe.
As noted by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, the song is about Iraq. The Defense Department event, we're told repeatedly including in Dvorak's article, is about 9/11 and not an attempt to tie the together. When carefully selecting what to include from the song in her report, Dvorak somehow missed:
"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."
Will Black be performing that song? Will Black issue a "correction" to his song since Iraq didn't have WMDs? Dvorak could have told readers what the song said. She didn't. Her article is journalistically embarrassing.

C.I.: Thank you, Jess. Now for a look at Iraq we have Elaine who's substituting for Rebecca at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude on the invasion/occupation and Mike of Mikey Likes It! on the developments regarding the constitution. First we go to Elaine.

Elaine: The official fatality count for US military in Iraq is 78 for the month. When the invasion began with propaganda of "roses thrown at our feet" and greeted as liberators, we didn't see that number. In our first month, March, the fatality count, official, for US troops was 65, in April of 2003, the second month, we reached 74. Then the count dropped to below fifty for each month until November of 2003 when it soared to 82. Eight months later and the fatalities continued with the number actually rising. The total count, the official count, for US troop fatalities now stands at 1877.
Knight Ridder Newspapers ran an article Friday by Tom Lasseter entitled "Iraqi forces may need years of preparation." From Lasseter's article:
Three weeks of patrols and interviews in restive Anbar province suggested that Iraqi security forces will need years of preparation before they're ready to take charge of the complex and violent tribal areas of western Iraq. President Bush has said repeatedly that U.S. troops will withdraw only when Iraqi troops are ready to take over.
Many of the Iraqi troops were in poor condition, unable or unwilling to complete long foot patrols without frequent breaks. They often didn't know what to do in complicated situations, standing back and letting American Marines and soldiers take the lead.
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reports that the US has begun bombing al-Qaim which is west of Bahgdad. Water and electricity have been cut off and one witness says the streets are filled with corpses. We previously 'took' the city this year while claiming that foreign fighters were present. Residents said they saw no evidence of foreign fighters.

C.I.: Which is a point Christian Parenti notes in his book, the "foreign fighters," The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq. He's reporting on Falluja but he notes that claims of foreign fighters in the area aren't backed up. And he notes why residents might tell the military foreign fighters were present, because they weren't going to say, "No, its us Fallujans who are shooting at you." Let's bring Mike in and, Mike, why don't you begin by noting where things stand with the Iraqi constitution.

Mike: Well talks of the future constitution of Iraq are still problematic. The Associated Press reports:
"Five of the top Sunni Arabs in Iraq's government spoke out Saturday against the draft constitution, delivering a major blow to last-minute efforts to craft a document that can win the backing of all ethnic and political groups."
Aljazeera reports that Shia and Kurds maintain that they offered amendments after hearing Sunni proposals but the Sunni negotiator, Fakhri al-Qaisi maintains Sunni concerns weren't addressed. Noting that the interim constitution required that a new constitution be "presented to Parliment" on August 15th, Juan Cole has pointed out that, by the interim constitution, parliment should have been disolved and new elections held. Since that did not occur, Juan Cole states that, "The rule of law is no longer operating in Iraq, and no pretence of constitutional procedure is being striven for. In essence, the prime minister and president have made a sort of coup, simply disregarding the interim constitution." The BBC reports "that [a] revised constitution will be put to MPs on Sunday" but Jon Brain, their reporter on the ground in Baghdad, "says prospects of agreement thus look remote, despite Mr Hassani's upbeat assessment. " Hajim al-Hassani is the Iraqi parliment speaker. The BBC also reports that the Arab Leauge has "described the Iraqi draft constitution as 'dangerous'" for not declaring Iraq an Arab nation. Instead it delcares that although the nation is not part of an Arab nation, Arabs in Iraq are part of the Arab nation.

C.I.: Kurds aren't Arabs, to offer one group in Iraq that's non-Arabic. Is the statement seen as a sign of federalism on the part of the new Iraq?

Mike: Canada's CBC reports that Sunnis maintain the proposed amendments do not deal with their concerns regarding federalism. Nabil Herbo told Aljazeera that, "Geographical or ethnic federation would leave the third ethnic group in Iraq as a minority in a Kurdish federation. Even though we are a majority in several parts of Iraq such as Talafar and Kirkuk." The Guardian reports that Sunnis are opposed to the constitution which "they said would break up the state and sandwich Sunnis in the centre, where there is no oil, between an autonomous Kurdistan in the north and a Shia region in the south."

Elaine: Because the Kurds already have autonomy and the Shia's want it for their region as well. The two are considered oil rich properties.

Mike: Correct and the BBC reports that the Sunnis say "they will reject federal Iraq."

Elaine: What I found interesting, and Mike and I working from different sources, so I'm interested in his take on this, was the fact that civil war seems inevitable. Whether you're reading an article on what might happen if Iraq becomes a federation or on what might happen if the constitution proposal fails, it's suggested that a civil war will be the result.

Mike: Yeah, I saw that too. I wondered about that through the third or fourth article. Then I figured that the reporters were noting it in relation to what they were reporting on.

C.I.: It, "noting it," being a civil war in the making?

Mike: Correct. But, and I think Elaine will agree this, I think that's because no matter what option is taken, civil war seems very likely.

C.I.: And do you agree with that, Elaine?

Elaine: Yes, I think we all do, all of us working on this news review. And agree that our continued presence in Iraq only fans the flame. Iraqis have repeatedly voiced a desire for us to leave. Some people, in this country, act like this is a recent development but it's not. And while it may be hard to get that point into the mainstream media loudly, I'd argue that the Iraqi soccer team did just that during the Olympics. So any surprise over our presence being a continued soure of conflict strikes me as willful denial for anyone who's paid attention to the press.

Mike: I'd agree and I know Ava's going to do the human rights coverage later and hope I'm not stealing from something she plans to report but we're releasing 1,000 prisoners from Abu Ghraib according to The New Zealand Herald. In this country, we've all heard the right-wing argument that any torture that did occur was due to the fact that these were the worst criminals.

Elaine: Right, the argument that behavior on our part had to be placed into the context of these are "really bad people." Another lie bites the dust with the mass release, at Baghdad's request, of 1,000 prisoners.

C.I.: Thank you, Elaine and Mike. Iraq, previously, had been a part of the pan-Arabism movement that seeks to unite the Arab world. Similar in some ways to the pan-African movement. Now Ava of The Third Estate Sunday Review has a human rights report.

Ava: To start with, Australia's ABC reports that Terry Hicks no longer believes that his son will be set free. David Hicks was captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and he has been held in a in the United States for over three years. Terry Hicks feels that the military tribunal will not bring justice and notes:"Regardless of what evidence or anything that David or the defence comes up with, it won't stand up because the President of the United States, he's the head of the military and he has the final say."
Indymedia reports that in Manila, garmet factory workers are occupying the Manila Labor Department and that they have "condemned the anti-worker 'Assumption of Jurisdiction' that Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas had recently declared to ease out the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) deadlock between the union and management."
In China, Xie Shinguang has died of leukemia, the BBC reports. Shinguang was sent to prison four seperate times, for a total of 28 years, due to the fact the he would not renounce his faith, Roman Catholicism.
Australia's ABC reports that "The United Nations says the gap between the world's rich and poor is widening," has greatly increased in the last ten years and that the development must be addressed.
In Iraq, Safia Taleb al-Souhail isn't pleased over the Iraqi constitution developments, The Independent reports. Safia Taleb al-Souhail was one of the people featured when elections took place and, after waving her ink stained finger, she was brought to the United States for the Bully Boy's February Operation Happy Talk speech and seated next to First Lady Laura Bush.The former Iraqi exile Souhail now serves as Iraq's ambassador to Egypt told The Indpendent that "we thought we were going to improve rights and the position of women. But look what has happened: we have lost all the gains we made over the past 30 years. It's a big disappointment. Human rights should not be linked to Islamic sharia law at all. They should be listed separately in the constitution."
While there are human rights issues in every country, I'd hoped to highlight Haiti with a story published Saturday but searching various news sources turned up very little. What did turn up was dubious.
So I'll instead note a report from Friday's Democracy Now!:
The U.N. mission in Haiti recently launched an inquiry into the massacre of at least 20 people last weekend in the Port-au-Prince slum of Martissant.During a soccer game on Saturday funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the US-backed interim Haitian government, hooded police and men with machetes attacked people they called "bandits." This according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, Haitian priest Father Gerard Jean-Juste remains in prison and is still suffering from injuries inflicted during his arrest in July. Father Jean-Juste is now considered the prime candidate to run for president on the Lavalas ticket. He told the Associated Press earlier this week that he may run if his candidacy is approved by ousted Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide who was overthrown in what he calls a modern day kidnapping in the service of a coup d'etat backed by the United States.
And I'll follow that up by noting The Haitian Information Project on the same slaughter:
Eyewitnesses described to a group of human rights agents today this super t.v. drama styled event. As fans were being entertained during one of the breaks in the soccer game--highly attended because national league players had joined the local teams--a group of police and men wearing red tee shirts and head bands entered the playing field and took over the microphone from the announcer. The people in the crowd at first thought that this was a friendly show of security by the police. But that idea was immediately dashed when the red shirt announcer stopped the music being played by the DJ and then demanded everyone to lay on the ground. A shot was fired into the air and people began a panicked response. Some tried to run away, some tried scaling the walls to escape and several of these were shot. Others tried running into the adjoining rooms of the stadium and later were found hacked to death. The red shirts, backed up by the police began demanding specific individuals lying on the ground if they were affiliated with Aristide, asking for confirmation from others whether these people were "bandits". Then without mercy these red shirts either hacked their victims to death or hacked them and then had their victims shot by the police. According to eyewitnesses and the family members of the victims interviewed today, the victims of the executioners were innocent people and were attacked only because they were allegedly Lavalas supporters.
Here in the United States, charges against the Tucson Raging Grannies have been dropped, the Associated Press reports. The five women, whose ages range age from 65 to 81, were charged with trespassing when they take to their protest against the war into a recruiting center and insisted that they be signed up to go to Iraq as opposed to the nation's children. The city prosecutor had this to say on the dropping of charges:
"Essentially, by the time the police arrived, 10 minutes after the initial call, they had already left and were back at their protest on the sidewalk. Proving they did not leave after they were requested to leave would be difficult."
The Raging Grannies maintain the protests at the recruiting center will go on "until there is no longer a need to be there."

C.I.: Thank you, Ava. The July 13th arrest brought international media attention to the Tucson Raging Grannies, as Arizona Indymedia reported, and found them fielding interviews with everyone from the BBC to The Today Show in this country. Now we go to Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man for entertainment news.

Betty: C.I., a press that was largely silent on the passing on publisher John H. Johnson now comes alive as they attempt to portray a fight between Chicago Defender editor Roland Martin and media giant Oprah Winfrey loosely basing their "reporting" on Martin's column Friday. An Associated Press article circling the web screams of Oprah being "furious" That Martin called her out. Despite what the AP reported, it was not just for not attending Johnson's funeral. Martin had checked with the family of John H. Johnson and they told him they'd had no contact from Oprah. Oprah states that she sent flowers and a note. She further states that she will honor Johnson in a program when she returns from her vacation.

C.I.: Your take on it?

Betty: The same media that didn't see fit to note Johnson's death in great detail is now interested in what they see as a "black on black" battle helped out by the fact that one of the parties is a media titan. If there's a story here worth circulating, it's that Oprah will be honoring Johnson in an upcoming program. Instead the "black on black" battle is played up. In other news, playwright August Wilson announced Friday that he was dying from liver cancer. Wilson'splays include Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Fences. Fences won both the Pulitzer and the Tony. NPR has revived the fifties radio series This I Believe. Knight Ridder Newspapers reports that NPR has already recived over 3,000 essays and that those selected will be posted at NPR's website.

C.I.: Thank you, Betty. NPR's This I Believe series has already featured Gloria Steinem, as Christine at Ms. Musing noted last week. You can listen to Steinem or read the transcript of her essay. Also, let's take a moment to note And we'll note that in honor of Women's Equality Day, Ms. is offering subscriptions at half-price, $12.50, through Wednesday, August 31st. For our final report, Kat, of Kat's Korner, will bring us to speed on the music world.

Kat: Fiona Apple's long supressed album, Extraordinary Machine, will be released October 4th. Track samples are available online at her web site. The album Sony had to be forced into releasing by Apple fans will be released in the dual disc format. Other upcoming albums include the September 6th releases of Joan Baez's live CD Bowery Songs and Another Run Around the Sun by Ben Taylor, son of Carly Simon and James. From the Joan Baez web site, September 30th, she will performing in concert at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz, CA. followed by performing at a free festival on October 1st at the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Baez spent several days last week performing for free at Camp Casey in Crawford, TX. Photos from Camp Casey can be found at the Not In Our Name web site. In other upcoming album release news, October 11th brings the release of Alicia Keys' MTV Unplugged album featuring Common and Mos Def. Rolling Stone reports that August 30th, when Kanye West's Late Registration is released, West will be at Tower Records in NYC signing copies. Spin reports that Slash and Duff of Guns 'n Roses have sued Axel Rose over Rose's attempt to get ASCAP to send royalties due Slash and Duff to Rose. Spin also reports that Bjork has donated the swan dress she wore to Oscars in 2001 to Oxfam for a charity auction. As reported by the Buffalo News, Ani DiFranco has cancelled her tour which was due to begin next month due to tendonitis. She will be taking a year off from touring. Professional nuisance and one time acne medication schill, Pat Boone has taken to denouncing Cindy Sheehan. Whether that will win back any of his small number of fans is unknown though it's hard to think they've forgiven Bafoon for his desperation foray into heavy metal in 1997. Message to Baffoon, Jesus forgives but Rock 'N Roll never forgets. Pat Baffoon hasn't had a political crush like the one he has for Bully Boy since Nixon was in the White House.
In the real world, as ABC reports, the most requested video on MTV is Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends." October 13th, Wilco will play a benefit concert for Riley Hospital for Children reports Indianapolis' The Indy Star. Finally, the latest issue of Rolling Stone which features a cover story on Jack White of the White Stripes also features a sixteen page fashion layout featuring the Black Eyed Peas. It also contains an article by Matt Taibii where he once again makes a complete ass of himself.

C.I.: Taibii recently won praise for addressing the Ohio voting issue after dismissing it. What's your opinion of the article itself?

Kat: Junior gatekeeper has mistaken himself for a voice of authority. A beat at the New York Press don't impress real much. He can be funny but he's pulls whatever brain muscles he does have when he attempts actual thought. Confronted with actual Americans, on both sides of the issue, Taibii runs like a scared rabbit while attempting to toss off pithy remarks over his shoulder. It's the worst article Rolling Stone has run since their hideous Bug Chasers article a few years back. Hopefully, readers will weigh in and inform Jann Wenner that Rolling Stone doesn't need to attempt to fill the pomposity vacuum created by the retirement of William F. Buckley and that pieces like this don't belong in the magazine.

C.I.: Thank you, Kat. And thanks to Dallas for hunting down links and to Ty, Jim and Dona of, The Third Estate Sunday Reivew, who supervised and researched, edited and kept the news review flowing and on track.