Sunday, July 31, 2005

A note to our readers

We think this is a pretty strong edition and that it will make you laugh or make you angry. We're covering a few things here.

We have a roundtable that's using the framework of the Mamas & the Papas to comment on many other issues. We have an interview with Mike to note the fact that his site is now one month old. We have an essay and an editorial.

Thanks to Francisco and C.I. for permission to reprint the collection of news from Democracy Now! this week. And Ava and C.I. address Veronica Mars in their TV review. Thanks to Cedric and Kat for allowing us to reprint their work. We also thank Dallas for always hunting down our links.

And we thank Elaine who's subbing for Rebecca at Sex And Politics and Screeds and Attitude for participating in the roundtable, the editorial, the essay and the interview. We thank Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man for her help in the four features as well. And Kat for the same Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills). With Mike, we thank him for participating in the roundtable, essay and editorial and for granting us another interview, Mike of Mikey Likes It!

We thank Ava and our unofficial Third Estate Sunday Review member C.I. (The Common Ills) for their excellent TV review.

And we thank the readers who keep us sane and the ones who drive us crazy.

-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava

Editorial: On Guantanamo, Carter, Falluja, Fonda and the "moderates"

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said Saturday the detention of terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay Naval base was an embarrassment and had given extremists an excuse to attack the United States.
Mr. Carter also criticized the U.S.-led war in Iraq as "unnecessary and unjust."
"I think what's going on in Guantanamo Bay and other places is a disgrace to the U.S.A.," he told a news conference at the Baptist World Alliance's centenary conference in Birmingham, England. "I wouldn't say it's the cause of terrorism, but it has given impetus and excuses to potential terrorists to lash out at our country and justify their despicable acts."

The above is from the Associated Press' "Ex-president goes on the attack" (The Globe and Mail) and we couldn't agree with Carter more. We're glad he said it. It needed saying. He'll be attacked for it, but it needed saying.

Here's something else that needs saying -- Jess' parents sent us a Mother Jones article by David Enders' entitled "We Regard Falluja As a Large Prison" and we're just wondering if we'll have to wait three or so years before Falluja can get some serious attention. From the article:

Eight months after the second invasion of Falluja, there is hardly a street that does not still feature a building pulverized during the assault. I had not been in the city since last July, when I was escorted out by three cars of mujahedeen — that's when things were still relatively nice — and though I had expected it, the destruction was still shocking.
[. . .]
I have heard Iraqis make comparisons between their occupation and the Israeli occupation of Palestine, but it wasn't until I saw families walking through the kilometer-long checkpoint, from a parking lot outside Falluja to one on the other side, that it seemed apt. Once inside, seeing the life continuing amidst the rubble, it was harder still to ignore the physical similarities.

This is the city that we've invaded twice now. (The first time Dexter Filkins turned the deadly and destructive invasion into a "Way Cool, Dude!" video game.)

Is there any chance that we'll get a serious examiniation of Falluja? At any point in the near future? Or will we just continue to act as though what has gone down there hasn't happened.

Jane Fonda's about to begin a speaking tour. We need it. As a nation we need it. And to the "moderates" who have started the trash talk on her, how about you see if you have the courage to address the issue of Falluja? And address it in something beyond the bromides of "Things happen in war time."

Instead of predicting sure failure for the Democrats in 2006 because Jane Fonda's speaking out, why don't you do some speaking out too? If you really think she, or Carter, isn't up to addressing the topics, why don't you lend your voices to them?

Of course that would mean dropping the war postures you've adopted. And maybe that's what goes to the core of your trashing of Fonda? You've adopted postures and any reality could shatter your pose.

The news will shatter that pose. With Bully Boy pulling a page from Nixon because Americans have grown weary of Operation Happy Talk, it's time for truth.

And as Elaine rightly pointed out, truth isn't "jokes" that Ted Kennedy will be Fonda's bus driver. We got to hand it to you "moderates," you "rescued" that lame joke. Maybe now you can get to work on rescuing the truth? But if that's too hard, you just continue trashing the people who will speak out and making yourself less and less revelant not only to the Democratic Party but to the issues we are facing today.

Essay: Just a few questions

As the press coverage on the IRA's announcement last week played out, we saw repeatedly one notiong, "Bad IRA! You and you alone have brought tragedy on a people." We saw no efforts to explain the roots of the conflict, such as a desire for self-rule or the partioning off of the country or the long term patterns of discrimination.

What we saw was that the problems, if the press is to be believed -- and would they lie to you? -- were all the fault of the IRA. Occassionally, in passing, you might discover that the 1994 peace process was derailed by someone, someone who's not of the IRA but there were no real efforts made to address that or to explore it.

Today we get David Mckittrick's "US presses IRA over foreign operations" (The Independent) commenting on the White House's position:

Confirming this, the White House said: "Consistent with the IRA's commitment, we understand that the IRA and its members will no longer have any contact with any foreign paramilitary and terrorist organisation." The Bush administration is strongly supportive of the conduct of the peace process by London and Dublin, but IRA contacts abroad are seen by the US as potentially an American national security issue.

Let's turn now to "Man shot over 'paramilitary feud'" (

A man was shot today at a house in north Belfast, in an incident which locals claimed was connected to a loyalist paramilitary feud.
There were unconfirmed reports that the victim was dead. The man, the third victim of a loyalist paramilitary feud, was gunned down at a house in Wheatfield Crescent.
Locals identified him as Stephen Paul.
The Ulster Volunteer Force was being blamed for the attack.
There have been tensions between the Ulster Volunteer Force and the rival Loyalist Volunteer Force which have resulted in two people being killed already this month.

Let's Gomer Pyle it: Weeeelllll goooollllyyyyy.
The UVF? Excuse the heck of out of us, New York Times, but you didn't inform us about the UVF this week, did you? Who are they?

They are the Protestant paramilitary group that's committed more killings "than any other Protestant paramilitary" group (according to Wikipedia).

Well golly gosh darn, wasn't the IRA the only paramilitary group? Wasn't that the tag from our press for weeks and months . . . You mean to tell us that while a dope named Paisley is quoted at length in The New York Times about how he doubts that the paramilitary IRA will disarm, there are armed paramilitary groups that are Protestant?

Geez, how did that detail get missed? And weren't they offered up in the paper. It's all so confusing to those of us who think we're getting complexities and realities from The New York Timid. But we trust The Timid because outside of a few "printing errors," they always get the facts right. Right?

But as C.I. noted Saturday morning, the letters section of Saturday's paper contained more information and context than anything making it into The Timid during the week:

Unionist party members have said they will believe the statement when there is evidence that the I.R.A. has destroyed its stores of arms. But nothing has been said about disarmament of loyalist (Protestant) paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland: the Ulster Defense Association, the Ulster Volunteer Force, the Ulster Freedom Fighters and others.At various times since 1968, members of those groups were killing more people than the I.R.A. was.


But I am disappointed that Prime Minister Tony Blair's comments and the White House statement, as reported, make no mention of the need for loyalist paramilitary groups to follow suit.

Did you know paramilitary groups other than the IRA were armed in Ireland? Times readers did, if they read the letter page. If they counted on "reporting" to tell them about it, they missed out on that very important angle.

But hey, it's not like petrol bombs were hurled at a Catholic Church in Ireland and The Timid forgot to tell anyone about that, right? Oh wait, it is exactly like that. Three of them. Hey Timid, what does it take for your editorial staff to use the term "bully" because it seems like you're more than eager to trot it out for Catholics. You just seem reluctant when Protestants are the ones acting like bullies.

But hey, it's not like the UVF and LVF were in the news last weekend, right? Oops, wrong again. They were in the news, if not in The Timid. MLA Naomi Long said:

If they are openly and brazenly stating that that they are no longer engaged in moving away from paramilitarism and criminality and instead are intent on escalating their killing spree with the LVF, Peter Hain (Northern Ireland Secretary of State) is now under a moral obligation to declare their ceasefire to be at an end. If he fails to do so he jeopardises the basis of the entire political process.

Woah! That sounds like something The Timid might say about the IRA. That Naomi Long has to be off her rocker, right? Because if something like that was happening in Ireland, we'd hear about it in The Timid. They wouldn't leave us hanging because they're very interested in telling us about bullies and terrorists in Ireland and covering threats to the ceasefire, right?

When you start thinking about it, actually no. Actually it looks like The Timid has spent a great deal of time sweeping the activities of Unionists under the rug while decrying the IRA as the only "bullies" in Ireland.

Now why do you suppose that is?

Not The Timid will care about this because the source is Catholic World News, but we'll note it anyway, July 27's "Wave of attacks on Catholics in Northern Ireland:"

Police on Tuesday called a recent spate of attacks on Catholics in and around Ballymena, a mostly Protestant town northwest of Belfast a wave of intimidation attacks.
The Associated Press reported that loyalist extremists planted a homemade grenade outside a Catholic family's home in Ballymena. The bomb detonated, causing minor damage. Arsonists badly damaged one Catholic-run pub in the village of Martinstown, and caused minor fire damage to the outside of another pub in nearby Rasharkin with two gasoline-filled bottles. In addition, two Catholic churches in Ballymena were vandalized with paint-filled balloons and painted-on anti-Catholic slogans. No injuries were reported.

Here's The Globe and Mail's July 27 Associated Press article "Protestant extremists strike in N. Ireland:"

Protestant extremists attacked two Roman Catholic-owned pubs and a Catholic family's home Tuesday in Northern Ireland while defacing two Catholic churches, police said.
No injuries were reported in what police called a wave of intimidation attacks in and around Ballymena, a mostly Protestant town northwest of Belfast. Catholic leaders appealed to the area's Protestant politicians to do more to challenge the extremists, who frequently threaten Catholic homes, businesses and churches in the area.
A homemade grenade detonated outside a Catholic family's home, causing minor damage and forcing police to empty about a dozen nearby houses in Ballymena, police said. Arsonists badly damaged one Catholic-run pub in the village of Martinstown, while two gasoline-filled bottles caused minor fire damage to the outside of another pub in nearby Rasharkin.
Two Catholic churches in Ballymena were struck by paint-filled balloons and daubed with anti-Catholic slogans, the police said.

But that didn't make The Timid this week. Why is that? These are questions people have been asking about the paper for months. At some point The New York Timid might want to consider addressing them.

TV Review: Veronica Mars is from Mars

Feel for Kristen Bell. Really feel for her. She's twenty-five and stuck playing a headstrong and plucky high schooler. On TV -- which means her character, Veronica Mars, is a real drip. As if a 25 year-old trying to portray Shirley Temple sans curls isn't difficult enough, it gets worse, oh does it get worse. Sexual tensions flies all around Veronica, but none of it is aimed at her. She's like a straight woman hoping for a hook up at a Cher concert.

Veronica Mars, for those who've missed it, airs on UPN although Friday night an episode we like to call the "Knock Down That Closet Door, Mary!" aired on CBS. Since this is no Joan of Arcadia, you can forgive viewers who were caught unaware and left to wonder if same-sex flirting is the new machismo for the young male set?

Like a less disrobed version of Oz, Friday night was all about the boys. The episode offers a poker game before the main titles which allows the fellows to get to know each other. Weevil catches your attention early on. (No, we're not making that name up.) Played by a 22 year-old Francis Capra, all we can say is he's a long, long way from his great-grandfather's It's a Wonderful Life. Right away, Weevil sets the tone telling a cigar sucking Logan, (23 year-old Jason Dohring) "You look pretty comfortable with that thing in your mouth."

We're imagining the usually staid CBS Friday night viewers asking one another, "Honey, did I hear that right?" Yes, you did. And hold onto the bran, there's more coming. Banter, the type one may be more used to coming from the mouths of Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, gets tossed around quicker than the cards in said poker game. The climax to the scene, or maybe just more intense foreplay, is Weevil winning only to find that the five thousand dollars is gone. He's starts making noises about turning the other boys upside down ("and inside out?").

Weevil's supposed to be bad ass. He works hard to establish that point and possibly he could frighten a few on Rodeo Drive -- which must be the "street" he hails from. Here's a tip for Weevil, a pout is not a sneer no matter how many times you utilize it.

So this "bad ass" has just learned he's out five thousand dollars. Thinking things are about to get nasty? Maybe, but not in any traditional way that the CBS viewers are used to. No fista-cuffs, no blood shed. But clothing, that gets shed.

Weevil insists that the four boys strip. And naturally, none of them have any objection to that because Straight Outta Malibu might get all . . . what exactly? on their asses.

The camera's on their asses. Or on two of their boxer clad asses -- Logan's and Duncan's (Teddy Dunn, age officially unknown but we're told he's 24) . The camera really lingers on the cheeks before pulling back to note all four boys standing in boxers (apparently they phoned one another that morning in a "Boxer or briefs?" conference call) while Weevil pouts at them, making noises about how he will get his money out of them one way or another, and Sean (Kevin Sheridan, 23 years old) moans, "This is the worst game of strip poker ever!"

Before you get your hopes up (or other things) calm down and remember it's not HBO, it's broadcast TV.

But don't get too disappointed, all that's happened before the credits will be relived repeatedly in flashback as various boys get to retell their version of Chippindales Poker.

Take for instance Logan, who we see, in Weevil's flashback, on his knees before Weevil at school.
The opening line to this curiously staged scene? Logan to Weevil, "If you're asking me to the prom again, the answer is still no." Weevil's explains this -- and much, more more -- to Veronica who's obviously on The Case of the Homoerotic Subtext.

All she need do is keep her eyes and ears open. Because shortly after Duncan suspects Logan of being the thief (it's very Postman Always Rings Twice as the fellows turn on one another) the drama flares up as Duncan ends it with Logan:

Duncan: And I'm over it.
Logan: What, are we breaking up now? You want your best friend charm back?

Apparently tired of the boys having all the fun, Veronica hunts down the fifth hand in Chippindales Poker, Connor (Travis Schuldt, 31 in September but he's playing a non-high schooler) on the set of the movie he's starring in. A lot of talk is wasted by Logan and Veronica about Connor's "six pack" -- there's not one. So we're guessing that what has Veronica slack jawed is Connor's erect nipples -- nipples which seem to greet her as she bends and leans her head towards his torso for a closer look.

We're trusting that you're getting the point so we're leaving out the whole narrative of how when Logan was ten, Rosie Perez came to his birthday party to wish "Lauren" a happy birthday and brought a purse as a gift for "Lauren." The boys may have only one thing on their minds but we're not guessing it's "girls."

We're not knocking it, we just wish they'd upfront it. We're expecting that the CBS viewers were deeply, deeply confused when this show popped up Friday night.

It's hard not to be confused. Veronica's mother is dead. In this episode. Later it will turn out that she's still alive. Logan's parents have a whole Cheaters melodrama brewing and his father Aaron (Harry Hamilin) is a movie star while his mother Lynn (Lisa Rinna) is fond of boozing it up as Aaron beats Logan with a belt. Considering that Rinna's lips appear to have swollen up even more than when she was last spotted on Melrose Place, we're wondering if there's an as yet unrevealed subplot where Aaron uses the same belt on Rinna's mouth?

"This is confusing!" we hear some of you saying. We're not done yet. Duncan's parents? Somehow involved in Veronica's mother's death. (That's not a death, but you don't find that out until after this episode.) While Veronica's chasing down The Case of The Jock Itch Blues, her father (Enrico Colantoni) is actually a private investigator and Lynn's hired him to find out which one of Aaron's extra-marital affairs has resulted in death threats.

Veronica will figure out the twists and turns of her case before her father susses out his. At lunch, she'll announce that she knows who the thief is and all she needs to prove it is for another poker game to be called. All boys will keep their pants on in this one, but then, there is a lady present.

Prior to Veronica's announcement, Logan will join Sean and Duncan at the table. As Logan grabs a slice of pizza, Duncan will stand and huff causing Sean to ask, "Will you guys kiss and make up already?" The impish Logan will blow Duncan a kiss. And, later on, Veronica will note of Duncan's iced tea, "How very musical theater of you!"

Is your mind reeling? Let's cut to the chase. Before the episode comes to a close, we'll learn that rich boy Sean isn't rich and that he stole the five thousand (Weevil will disappear with him briefly -- presumably to work out some payment agreement despite the fact that Sean is dirt poor and has shoplifting charges), Veronica will scream at Duncan's father about the fact that he had something to do with her mother's death (or "death"), Duncan's father will confront his wife and pull her out of the party. Rinna will grin throughout all of this (she paid a lot for those lips, people!) up until Alex is stabbed, Logan will watch his father bleeding and hesitate before calling an ambulance.

"Woah!" you sigh thinking you've digested it all. Not really.

See the whole season, Veronica's on the trail of the person who killed her best friend Lilly (who, unlike Veronica's mother, will stay dead) as well as trying to determine who date raped her ("her" being Veronica, not the friend -- we know, it is confusing).

If you're thinking that it's all very Lace ("Which one of you bitches is my mother?") and Lace II ("Which one of you bastards is my father?") let's underscore that by noting that the date rapist is revealed to be . . . Duncan! Drugged with GHB by Logan! And that Duncan broke up with Veronica because of the fact that she may be . . . his sister!

Paternity is solved by the finale which also informs us that Logan's dad Aaron (Hamlin) was the person who killed Lilly! Veronica also, in that episode, will kick her mother (remember, she's come back from the "dead" by then) out of her life because Mom can't lay off the booze! As though this life and death and back to life thing were easy!

What was CBS thinking when they made the decision to spring this show on Friday night viewers only recently weened off Nash Bridges? And what is Bell thinking with the hair style?
It works for Patricia Arquette on Medium because she's playing a busy mother of young children. On Bell, it never quite works.

Nor does the wants-so-bad-to-be-Twin-Peaks vibe when it's combined with the sort of knowing, insider commentary by "high schoolers" last heard on Dawson's Creek. It's honestly as though they attempted to combine everything they could think of ("they" starting with creator Rob Thomas -- no not that Rob Thomas) starting with the banter of screwball comedies, the pulp of film noir, the scandal of a page turner you're embarrassed to be caught reading, "topical," "teenagers" (played by adults) and a heaping dose of homoeroticism. The latter was the only thing that actually held our interest.

Bell didn't. On the episode we watched, it wasn't that she was too glum which would, all things considered, make sense. She was, after all, the victim of a date rape with a then still dead mother, a dead best friend and suffering from questions of paternity. What we couldn't take was Little Miss Plucky seeming to forget any and all long running sub plots from scene to scene. Yes, it's a hell of a lot to keep with up but Bell didn't seem able to and the character lacked a gravity that recent events seemed to dictate that she should have.

Too many plot lines and too little attention mars Veronica Mars. On UPN it may develop a cult following but if it wants to play on the big three, it needs to work on reigning in the hyper activity and Bell needs to work on creating a character whose suffering plays like something more than "I so cannot believe he sprung a pop test on us!"

Mike of Mikey Likes It!: One Month of Blogging

C.I. pointed out that Mike had just celebrated his first month of blogging. Besides being worthy of note, we also thought it merited checking in with Mike. Mike started blogging on June 20th. We first interviewed Mike on July 3rd so as we close out the month of July, we sit down with Mike again.

One month and what have you learned?

People like to talk about sex. Seriously. Even if they say they don't like sex, they want to weigh in and all. This comes up because the middle half of my posts are usually where I dip into the e-mails and note something someone's written.

Sometimes you provide an immediate reply and other times you just note the question and open it up for people to weigh in. Is this because you're uncomfortable with a question or because you're not sure you can weigh in?

Sometimes but sometimes it's also, honest, because I've got to get out the door for a date. Cedric's attitude is if he's got a date, he's got a date, so the blog can wait. I try to blog Monday through Friday and some on the weekends. Usually what happens is I've worked and gone to school that day and I come home and eat dinner, then hop in the shower, towel off and sit down and type up an entry. If I'm moving quick, it's a longer one but if I'm slow, it's a shorter one.
And honest, a lot of times, it's tossed out just because I don't have time to deal with the question because it deserves more thought than I have had time to give it and all.

What's been the biggest surprise?

From readers or like a technical thing?

Start with readers?

That they share so much. I summarize their e-mails when I note one but they go into real detail and stuff. I'm glad they feel comfortable sharing stuff with me.


How much work the whole thing is. I mean like links. You've got to find what you're linking to, copy and paste the quote or quotes, then make the hyperlink and if you've got several in one entry that can take a lot more time than I ever thought it would.

We're lucky because Dallas helps out every weekend by looking up our links. The other thing that takes up a lot of time are fixing the spacing or punctuation on something you copy and paste.

Right because like punctuation, if they use a certain font, you fix it or you end up with little blocks or question marks where quotes should be. And like spacing gets completely tossed out the window a lot of times when you carry something over with a copy and paste.

Which is why we understand Cedric's decision to use Blog Spot and not Blog Drive.

Yeah, like he post one of Isaiah's cartoons and he just has to run the mouse over it and hit copy, then goes to his page and click paste. It's up. But like in Blog Drive, we have to either e-mail it to our site or use the thing where we insert it in an entry which means finding out the web address, clicking on the image icon, waiting for the next page to load and it always drags on my computer, then putting in the web address, then clicking done and waiting and waiting for it to pop up in the post. And it's the same for Cedric with text. He just has to copy and then paste. He doesn't have to fix it up or anything.

Cedric's talked about how his starting blogging meant you were no longer the newbie. Do you feel that way?

Yeah cause I mean I was always asking C.I., Jim and Rebecca questions, for instance. And it's nice to be on the receiving end some. A lot of the questions I would ask weren't technical and that's how it is with Cedric. He'll be like, "Can I run something by you?" and that's cool. I really consider him a bud. I know he runs stuff by C.I. too and I'm really glad that he wants my input too which is mainly just saying, "'Yeah, I can follow that' or 'Wait, you lost me.'"

You'd spoken before about how your parents read your blog and how your mother was fine with any topic if you made it funny. We noticed that this week she weighed in with some advice to your readers.

Oh yeah, that was so cool. It was on crotch rot. (Laughs.) That was an issue that had been raised twice by readers and I'd dealt with it and all but like Ma had another point of view on it that I'm glad she shared. Like the smell factor can also be caused by your drawers. And I didn't even think about that because I live at home and we got a washer and dryer. But like if you're living on your own and you're having to pay every time you wash or dry a load, you may be tempted to scrimp and just pull the clothes out when they're done. Ma's point was that sometimes underwear's not dry. This really applies more to guys because their underwear is usually thicker, I guess. I mean y-fronts and boxer briefs and stuff like that usually have more layers than say a thin pair of boxers or most women's panties. So like the pouch can take a little longer to dry. If it's not dry and you're tossing it in the basket and heading home, you really need to hang those up to dry all the way out or they will mildew and they will smell. You might not even notice it. But I love that Ma weighed in.

You're also noting Democracy Now! each day.

Yeah, that came up here and I thought, you know I should do that. Because we do have the power over our own sites. So like I can complain about how this mainstream thing or that got it wrong and give them a link which adds to their traffic or popularity or I can steer traffic and help the popularity of something I believe in like Democracy Now! and even if people don't go there, they're aware of it and it does add to their online popularity. But that point really made sense to me and I try to do that. If I believe in a site, I want to make sure that people know it. I don't want to be one more blogger going, "ABC News reported today" or something. That's cool if someone likes ABC News but I don't.

You're also noting other community sites a lot lately.

Yeah, Rebecca called me and asked me to do that while she was on vacation and I'm happy to do it. She did that at her site and she believes in it so I'm doing it. She knows that links can be a pain in the butt and she didn't want to put more pressure on Elaine. So I told her sure thing. C.I. wrote about feeling bad this week that it wasn't happening over at The Common Ills but I mean, the computers got screwed up, C.I.'s got work and volunteer stuff on issues and there's only so much time in the day. So I'm happy to fill in for Rebecca.

What are your feelings about Kevin Benderman's sentence?

Private Benderman cause they busted him down from Sgt. which was disgusting in and of itself.
I think Elaine called it right two Fridays ago when the larceny charge was tossed and she noted that this didn't mean to get excited. They, the military and the administration, wanted to make an example of him and they did. But the thing is, he'll get through this and he's the one setting the example. The administration just looks petty and vindictive.

Other than sex, what do you readers like to talk about?

Recruiters. I don't think a lot of people get how mad people my age and younger are about them being on their college and high school campuses. And like this past week, the DLC was calling for something like unfettered access for the recruiters. It's hard for me to believe that they're that unaware because most of that group's so old that they can remember the protests from the sixties over recruiters on campus. I think it's just that, as usual, the DLC is out of touch. And they honestly don't care about actual people, just about how they look, you know? But my readers are really bothered by recruiters and there have been some blistering e-mails about the DLC this past week. Which is good because that group's dying out and when they do something idiotic like they did, it just makes it even more obvious to people my age that the DLC stands for nothing.

We got positive feedback on the "1 Book, Ten Minutes Amy & David Goodman's The Exception to the Rulers" from last week.

Me too. You know I posted it over at my site and people were really interested in that book. Hopefully, that means a few more people read it. And great if they bought it because the money goes to support Democracy Now! but the message is so important that it's great if they just pick it up at the library and read it.

You really enjoy participating in the discussions.

Yeah. Even if I'm just listening. I just like the give and take and how someone sees something that somebody else might not notice or when someone builds on a point that someone else's has made. I just really enjoy that. They're fun to do and fun to read when they go up. I know they take up a lot of time and it's a lot of work for Dallas to hunt down the links and for Ava and C.I. who are doing transcriptions. And then there's the editing and all. Like tonight that whole point that C.I. had about The Times that got taken out --

C.I. took that out.

Right. Thought it was way off topic. But I really liked that and thought those were strong points. I wish C.I. would speak more and all but I know there's the "I don't want to dominate the discussion." But it's like there's thought behind it and all. And like, I'm a Common Ills member and there's stuff that comes out in the roundtables and all that won't make it over to The Common Ills. That's another thing about the give and take. Because there are other people present, I think everyone's a lot freer in their comments. When we're doing our sites and stuff and writing stuff, there's this attitude of, "Wait, am I being clear?" Or "I need to make sure to point this out." But when it's a group, you can usually count on someone else clarifying something if you've been confusing or making a point you might have forgotten. So that's really cool. But I did like C.I.'s comments about The Times and I know they won't make it over to The Common Ills. I was also expecting Jess to make his point that we're all like the Mamas and the Papas of the internet in his opinion.

Jess: I completely forgot about that, Mike. Sorry.

It's cool. But I really liked that point because we do believe in peace and like Cass Elliot was political and a lot of people don't seem to know that. But she was and so were the others. And I like seeing us like that, you know? We're just doing it our way and if someone likes it great, but if not, we ain't sweating it. And Kat would say we're very "organic."

Kat: (laughing) I'll get you for that McKinnon!

But we are. We're just doing our own thing. And I mean Elaine's really a strong voice.

Elaine: Thank you.

I'm serious. You are bringing up issues like war lust and peace and you're just so focused on that. I really respect what you're doing. And I think your voice makes a difference. And like if you put all of us together as a group, we're covering so much and all. Like Cedric's post that you're highlighting and all. I mean Cedric just let it hang out and I respected that. And like Betty's offering that humorous, ongoing critique about neoliberalism and colonialism. I mean there are just so elements that, as a group, we cover. So I really do like the idea of us as the Mamas and the Papas of the internet, keeping it real and standing for peace. It's like you got a bunch of Beach Boys or somethings trying to make justifications for the war and doing all this blind flag waving and then you've got us over here the hippies and peace lovers. And like how dare anyone trash people like Jess's parents cause they stood for something and stand for something. And Jess is so cool today because he was raised with some real values. So yeah, put me in with the Mamas and the Papas because I think that's a supreme compliment.

When you spoke of the documentary, renting it with your sister, you said that you ended up dreaming you were in a band. The documentary on the Mamas and the Papas.

Yeah. That was a pretty cool dream. I wish I'd have it again. It was Jess on guitar and stuff. Kat was doing keyboards. Me and Ty were drummers. (Laughing) The band had two drummers! Jim was on bass. And like Rebecca, C.I., Betty and Ava were singing.

Jim: What about Dona?

She was producing the album.

Jim: I can see that.

Now Cedric's joined the "group" so if I have the dream again, I'll need to figure out what he's doing. But it was a pretty cool dream. One of those dreams where you wake up with one eye and since you don't have to get up right away, you shut your eye and try to go back to the dream. Pretty cool.

Well before we close, we need to discuss the Chinese Zodiac because we've found out more about your sign the Ox.

For real?

No, we're joking.

Thank God because that really did freak me out last time.

Musical Roundtable on the Mamas and the Papas, Cass Elliot, hippies, Jane Fonda, gatekeepers and CJR

Dona: I'm the moderator of this roundtable because I will impose time limits. Taking part in the roundtable are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ty, Jim, Ava, Jess and C.I. who is also of The Common Ills along with Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Kat of Kat's Korner, Elaine who's subbing for Rebecca at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man. This is a musical roundtable but we'll veer off. Ava will provide the basic framework we'll be returning to as we leap around. Ava?

Ava: This week one of the e-mails that came out noted that Hip-O Select will soon be releasing a new collection which, among other songs, will include Cass Elliot's "Different." In an earlier feature, "Five CDs, Five Minutes," we'd discussed Dream a Little Dream: The Cass Elliot Collection and C.I. and Jess had addressed the fact that there's a great wealth of Cass songs that are not currently in release. C.I. had noted "Different" in particular.

Jess: We continue to get e-mails on that with people weighing in on Cass tracks from her solo albums that haven't been collected on a best of. We really touched on something there.

Jim: Which honestly surprised me. I had e-mail duty the Monday after that feature was published and I'm going through the e-mails and noting the usual right wingers who feel the need to weigh in each week --

Ty: Because those are the people you write back!

Jim: True. And there's the usual group of Ava & C.I. fans and haters. But there were probably ten e-mails on Cass's music. And Ty had mid-week and found the e-mails were holding steady on that, right?

Ty: Right. There's a lot of love for Cass. And it continues to be something we get e-mails on each week.

Jim: Which is weird because C.I.'s always asking that if we note a song, we provide info about what album it can be found on because C.I.'s the one that the usually gets the e-mail asking, "Hey, the song that got discussed, where can I find it?" And it's really with people weighing in on Cass or on Cass and the Mamas and the Papas that we've experienced that kind of interest on something we've done musically.

Jess: Well, C.I.'s always done music over at The Common Ills. And with Kat's space there for album reviews, members know that no one's going to slap down a ruler and say, "Excuse me! We are discussing electoral politics!"

Betty: Kat, great review of Carly, by the way. [Kat reviewed Carly Simon's Moonlight Serenade last week.] Though I have no man in my life currently, I bought the CD because of your review and it works just as well for those of us not involved.

Kat: Thank you. But let's jump back for a moment because part of the reason C.I. gets those e-mails is because C.I. answers those e-mails. But it is true, obviously, that there's always been a place for music at The Common Ills.

Jess: "Here Comes the Madmen."

Kat: Right. Or the thing for Liang, "Where Are You Now, My Son?" or "Mama Was a Heavy Weight." Or any number of entries that all went up long before I started doing the Kat's Korner feature.

Ava: And music pops up all the time there. We almost did "The Common Ills Songbook" entry last week where we were going to pair up things like "Bullies Without Borders" and "It's Only a Summer Scandal."

C.I.: Note that Dallas wrote "Bullies Without Borders" and that, as usual, he's hunting down links that Ava and I type in requesting while this is going on.

Dona: Correct and we thank Dallas for all of his help.

C.I.: And while it's true that I enjoy the entries that can be framed with a song or that can end with one like Nina Simone's "Ooh Child," it's also true that when there's been a lyrical cutting here, there have been e-mails.

Dona: Good point. Because the point is that the e-mails started, on Cass and the Mamas and the Papas, after "Five CDs, Five Minutes" went up and they've only continued to come in. That is the larger point.

Ty: And the reason, we decided to pick up the topic again.

Ava: And of course Jess selected the Mamas and the Papas Deliver as his favorite CD from the sixties in our "10 CDs, 10 Minutes."

Jess: Right and Mike just bought the boxed set The Mamas and the Papas Complete Anthology so set it up Mike.

Mike: Yeah and like I told you guys awhile back, I rented the documentary on them with my sister, the one PBS was playing, because you guys had made me interested in them from what's gone up here and at C.I.'s and Rebecca's as well as from conversations. And I really liked that documentary and we ended up watching it, my sister and me, and then I watched it again, because I walked in the living room to find my parents watching it. And Betty had e-mailed me about the boxed set, saying I should get it.

Betty: My brother is heavily into boxed sets and he's also someone who goes through phases where he's starting over by moving somewhere. This is one of those periods. So he's made me custodian of all his boxed sets. Which includes the James Brown boxed set and a Stevie Wonder one that didn't surprise me but all the others as well. I was looking through them, which is okay, he's said to listen to any I want, and I saw the Mamas and the Papas one that Kat, C.I. and Jess had been mentioning, The Complete Anthology.

Mike: Which is an import and you could also get it by pledging a set amount to PBS which is how Rebecca got it, right?

Elaine: Actually, correct me if I'm wrong on this C.I., but my understanding was that Rebecca's ex-husband pledged and did it because he figured Rebecca would enjoy the boxed set.

C.I.: I think that's right. But you got it from pledging, right?

Elaine: Yes.

Jess: Kat, C.I. and I all got it through Tower so people can check there or check Amazon which carries it as an import. Michelle Phillips has said that there are no plans to release it domestically. My parents may have gotten it by pledging to PBS, I'm not sure. They do have it.
And when I told them about "Different" being on the upcoming boxed set, they were really excited.

Dona: Which is something that's popped up in the e-mails repeatedly, how excited people still are by Cass, Michelle [Phillips], Denny [Dougherty] and John [Phillips]. They've had staying power. It's not just the people like Jess' parents who were into them at the time they were together, they continue to gain new fans today. Some of that results from people doing what Ava and I've been doing which is educating ourselves on music from other periods, like Joan Baez, but it's also from what could be seen as accidents --

Kat: Or fate.

Dona: Or fate like with Betty.

Betty: They come up in discussions here and I was always a little lost to be honest. When I put on my brother's boxed set, I knew songs like "Monday, Monday" and "California Dreamin'" that I didn't know I knew. I think I know "California Dreamin'" from a movie, probably Forest Gump. But listening tot he boxed set, what stood out to me were other songs.

Kat: And I'll toss in that Complete Anthology includes every track from a Mamas and Papas album. You have Jess' favorite Deliver, as well as the first album If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, the second album which is self-titled, the third album The Papas & the Mamas -- C.I.'s favorite, the live album Historic Performances Recorded At The Monterey International Pop Festival and the album from the seventies that they made to avoid lawsuits, People Like Us. So you have all of that as well as a sample of their solo work and some unreleased tracks.

Betty: Right. The boxed set says on the front that there are a 101 tracks. There's a lot on here. And I think Jess mentioned "String Man" in "Five CDs, Five Minutes" and the vocals on that. I was listening to it and right away got just what Jess meant. But the other songs that really stood out were things like "Got A Feelin,'" ""Safe In My Garden" and "Do You Wanna Dance." I love their harmonies.

Kat: Or "Midnight Voyage" where the harmonies are just so pure and so intense. When there's the break in that where they're talking and then they all come back in on the same note, it's just so powerful, like during "I Saw Her Again Last Night."

Betty: They just had so much power, even in the quiet moments. And when Cass wants to belt, she can really belt like "Sing For Your Supper." Or the second half of "Dream A Little Dream Of Me."

Elaine: And it's so hard not to respond to their music and what you're responding to in many ways is a group that's very much going up against previously accepted notions, not just in terms of their look, but also in terms of what music was.

Betty: Right. I'm a Diana Ross fan and Motown fan and I'm used to the call and response parts of songs like "Back In My Arms Again" but there really was a tendency to have a spotlight voice and the background voices are much less important than they are in, say, a Ray Charles song. Here we're talking about the voices being really integrated in a way that I'm only used to in jazz groups or Sweet Honey In The Rock. Take "Do You Wanna Dance" which can be seen as a Denny spotlight except for the fact that the vocals get turned over to everyone by the last third of the song. There's so much power in these vocals. And it did kind of take me by surprise because I wasn't really expecting that. There a lot of complex arrangements and you don't hear that often. Like Elaine said, not just in that time period but also today.

Jim: And they were one of the first truly integrated by gender groups.

Betty: Right. It wasn't like the Platters with a girl singer or Gladys [Knight] with the Pips.

Mike: And I mean they're cool. They're cool coming out of the speaker and I was thinking about the thing we did where we talked about Jess' parents and how they were hippies and how there's this "To Cool For School" among some that makes them not just dismissive of that period but down right nasty.

Elaine: Right. There's this attitude of "Look at me, I'm no hippie! I'm so much better than that!" And I read that nonsense and think "Oh yeah, peace, love, music, that's something to really distance yourself from."

Jess: Because they want to appear "hard" and "tough." We saw it on a different level this week with the attacks on Jane Fonda and you wrote about some of that.

Elaine: Moderates trying to brandish their "I'm not like that!" cards. It's disgusting and I want to turn over to C.I. on that point because we discussed it at length.

C.I.: Elaine and I feel that this underscores the split in the party that's ongoing. You've got one group pushing to go right and you've got the grassroots saying, "Woah!" The attacks on Fonda this week from the "left" and the moderates were all about proving "I'm not like that!" Just like the move away from support of reproductive rights and of gay rights and of civil rights and anything else that the right tries to tar and smear. Instead of standing up for beliefs, the softies accept the distortions and lies and quickly move to distance themselves because it's easy and it doesn't require any work. From a different angle, Bob Somerby's The Daily Howler addresses this. It's easier, for instance, to laugh along with the Al Gore "jokes," to repeat the distortions or accept them, than it is to say, "Wait that's not true." If you read Somerby regularly, you get that point. People want to take the easy road.

Elaine: And it's true of any attack. You always find people who rush to go along.

Ava: Let's take that point, it's a good one, and put it with an example.

Elaine: No problem. Let's say you love a rainy day, okay? And I hate the rain. You're talking about how great the other day was when it rained and rained non-stop and after you're done, I go into a tirade about how I hate the rain. Now a well adjusted person can take that in and respond with "I disagree" or blow it off. But there are people who will immediately respond, "Oh, I'm not that crazy about rain." You can hear it in conversations all around you. There are people who live to back down and won't stand up for anything. Make it about food, make it about a pie or cake, make it about a travel destination.

Jess: And what we saw after Fonda announced her speaking out tour was the usual and not unexpected attacks from the right, but we also saw the soft underbellies roll over and join in. And it goes the "red" state myth problems that C.I. noted, how people would use that myth, and they ended up doing it, to justify that the party needs to move right.

Kat: The attacks on Fonda were disgusting regardless from where they came but they were especially disappointing when coming from people who present themselves as "left" or "left-leaning." And left-leaning, what is that? Are you a person or a dick?

Betty: Kat always makes me laugh! And it's a solid question.

Kat: Because Jane Fonda's been tarred and feathered by the right, you rush to prove how "reasonable" you are by distancing yourself and knocking her. We saw that shit with Susan Sontag and we saw it with the Dixie Chicks. I'm sorry, I have no respect for people who let the right set the agenda for them. And that moderate voice that Elaine was writing about was an idiot. Reading his nonsense, I wanted to e-mail him and say, "Oh go back to jerking off to Rambo movies, you ass wipe."

Mike: And what's up with that or the attacks on hippies? I really don't get it. I was talking to my mother about this, hi Ma, she'll read it. I was talking to her and I said "What was so awful about the hippies?" And she said, "Awful was the yuppies and their obsession with greed and money." Look, I'm sorry, I'm a Catholic, I was raised Catholic, I don't see this obsession with the material as a good thing. The hippie ethos, as I understand it, was far more noble than the assholes selling out our country to corporations.

Betty: Well what I get from the songs on the boxed set is this sense of freedom. And I really think that has a lot to do with the attacks. "Go Where You Wanna Go" is obviously going to that but there's an exploration and a freedom in the music that goes against strict constructions and I think that's just too much for people who need clearly drawn lines and nice little boxes that they can put everything into.

Elaine: Exactly. And the nation's been encouraged to be that way by the Bully Boy. We've been told "with us or against us." C.I. had a hilarious thing on that idiotic book Reinventing Government, remember?

C.I.: No.

Elaine: It was like a decade ago.

C.I.: About there are "three" ways?

Elaine: Yes.

C.I.: I won't do it funny now, I barely remember it. But the basis of that sell out your nation and privatize book was that there was the government's way of doing things, the corporation's way of doing things and that, big surprise, the authors had a "middle ground." It was the usual dualistic argument and to some of lesser knowledge, the polyblend was seen as some sort of novel invention. It wasn't. It was dualistic thinking, not integrated thinking. It was saying, "Some simple-minded people only do it A and some only do it B but we can do it at the mid-point of A and B" as though there wasn't an entire alphabet, and then some, of choices. But when those manuals, I really don't think of them as books, pipe through into "conventional wisdom" the reason is usually because they are in fact so simple-minded with their band aid "fixes" that fix nothing and don't get to the core of any problem or issue. The manuel took off more in the public admin set than it did in poli sci because public admin requires completely ditching everything every few years while screaming the praises of yet another false messiah. However, we're seeing quite a few begin to seep into the poli sci area as well these days.

Ava: The manuel writers make me think of "Doesn't have a point of view, knows not where he's going to."

Kat: I was just thinking that! One of the tracks previously unreleased that's collected on the Complete Anthology is the Mamas and the Papas performing "Nowhere Man."

Jim: Good point and I love their version but it ends too soon for me. But I want to get back to what C.I. was saying because I think it's an important point. And Dona, I want more time added to this discussion.

Dona: Fine.

Jim: Okay, so when you're saying simple-minded, I think I understand what you mean but we've talked about this before.

C.I.: Okay, well to clarify, the "sages" pushing these manuals, their applause and their endorsements of the latest hula hoop fad are neither historically informed nor are they politically aware, my opinion. I wonder, because a number of them present themselves as "experts," how many have any background in poli sci. My background included a heavy load of courses, undergrad and grad level, in political theory. And the fads they push, these "quick fixes," are against everything that anyone grasping political theory would ever put forward. It's the most simplistic nonsense and they get their panties in a wad over it. It fits their conventional wisdom view so they assume it must be true but it's not. And I'm really tired of "experts" endorsing something from an "expert" view waving their degree that is, in fact, not a poli sci degree.

Ava: Background. We did an interview here, or started it, with an economics major. About five minutes into it, C.I. "remembered" another engagement. We lasted about fifteen more minutes before we realized that a) there was no other engagement and b) that the guy had no idea what he was speaking of.

Ty: Right. And I set that up, so I'll say I'm sorry to everyone. The guy seemed to have these solutions, or he was always saying he did. Then in the interview it was all about profit motive.

Ava: And for a change, Jim was the one smoothing over because Dona jumped the guy's ass.

Dona: Well I mean he was just so full of it. "We don't need mayors, we need city managers. We don't need an elected council, all we need is to put business in charge." The guy came off like a libertarian despite claiming to be a progressive. And when Jim asked the question about parks and the guy said that monies should be charged to attend them, we're talking about a space here, not a national park, a little plot of land with swings, for God's sake, I just lost it.

Jim: Because his bottom line was economic and not public good. And I'm not sure how many economics classes he had taken because earlier when C.I. brought up macro versus micro, he didn't grasp the point. Mainly he just referenced accounting classes. Right?

Dona: Right. Number cruncher. C.I. why did you walk on that when you did?

C.I.: His "theoritical" explanation of terrorism. Which was not political and not anything that any scholar would endorse. It was conventional wisdom. I was stting there trying to figure out which "theory" he was basing his comments on. It wasn't Theda Skocpol, it wasn't Charles Tilly or Max Weber. And then it became obvious that the "theory" was nothing more than the usual hot air dispensed on chat and chews. It may make everyone feel good but don't pass conventional wisdom off as political theory.

Elaine: I should point out that prior to The Common Ills, C.I. usually didn't discuss politics with a great deal of people.

C.I.: Right, not a deep discussion because you end up having to give them so many building blocks because they just aren't up for it. Mike wrote about something similar in terms of why he hates to talk sports because in the middle of the conversation, he realizes that the people don't even understand the sport.

Mike: And sometimes they think they do and sometimes they just pretend they do because they're guys and think guys are supposed to talk sports. And you're really excited and get all the sudden that before you can make the big point you have to pull back and explain the basics to the person cause he doesn't understand.

C.I.: Exactly. People think I'm hard on the Chat & Chews. If I am it's because journalists are not poli sci majors. They may be political but, more often than not, they aren't unless they're op-ed columnists. And as they "explain" this or that, the approach is not based in reality, it's based in conventional wisdom. So I do get irritated when someone speaks from on high telling us that we can't do that or we must do this and their basis is conventional wisdom or some hula hoop.

Jim: What's strange, to me, is that in conversations you can go deep into the theoritical but you don't do that at The Common Ills.

C.I.: Because that's not the basis of that site. We're a resource/review. And we're going for common sense. But yes, theoretical does come in. It came in on the coverage of Northern Ireland which is an area that begs for theoretical explanations. We approach it via common sense, not conventional wisdom. And maybe those who twist and turn in the wind repeatedly do so because they have no core beliefs, only conventional wisdom. Maybe a little political theory education would teach them the dangers of blind embraces and they'd be better informed. And by the way, these comments are actually nicer than anything Elaine's ever heard me say.

Elaine: Right, C.I.'s ripped apart people who misapplied theories.

C.I.: To their faces. I have a low tolerance for fools who mistake marketing for theory. And let me clarify something in case any community members aren't clear. At The Common Ills, we're common sense based. I've had no problem with members. I'm speaking of people who attempt to play gatekeeper and set themselves up as experts when their knowledge base is, in fact, in question by their own simplistic statements. That's why the chats and chews are impossible for me to watch. It's just too irritating to see these hacks present themselves as political experts as they resort to talking points that have no basis in anything other than whatever current point, I won't call it "thought," is being pushed.

Ty: I'm sitting here and thinking, "Gee, C.I.'s talked to me about politics."

C.I.: The period Elaine's referring to is largely having to do with impeachment nonsense. When people couldn't grasp the concept of high crimes. But they could repeat whatever right wing talking point was being pushed that week. That was when I didn't have time for gas bags releasing their conventional wisdom and passing it off as fact. And we're way off topic and it's my fault which is why I tried to keep my answers brief.

Dona: No, that's fine. The topic is a jumping off point and you were asked. And I know Jim and I have been very bothered by CJR recently and knew that was the magazine you were referring to two weeks ago when you said "it's not one on our permalinks."

C.I.: Talk about that because I didn't finish the issue and that's rare for me but I was that bothered early on by the issue.

Dona: They're opinion pieces are opinion pieces and do not reflect the stance of CJR. That's understood but the cumalitive effect of recent pieces easily leaves you with the impression that there is a backing off from the First Amendment. As a journalism bible, they should be a lot more clear about where they stand on the First Amendment considering the current climate.

Jim: And a lot less likely to run pieces that read like, "I didn't break the hostage story because one of my friends was a hostage. So I sat on it." Which doesn't say one thing about responsible journalism if you really think about it. What it says is that if you're a friend of a journalist, you'll get special treatement. That's not all that surprising but that is one of the op-eds that Dona and I note when we talk about the direction that CJR seems to be headed these days.

Dona: With journalism under attack, CJR should be standing up for principles. And you'll see that in a story on the whole Dan Rather mess, for instance. But there's so much that has nothing to do with journalism lately but has a lot to do with feelings. I guess I'm just not grasping why "feelings" are so at the heart of a journal that's supposed to be offering a critique of mainstream journalism.

Jim: And the letters pages contained some really nasty responses this time.

C.I.: Thank you! I think that bothered me the most. This whole "last word" jostling. With Felicity Barringer, I disagreed with her point. There was no need for me to do a point by point rebuttal. She's entitled to her opinion, we were happy to be able to put it up. She may in fact be right. She weighed in, she gave her permission to be quoted, it went up. That should be the end of it.

Jim: I don't know whether David Blum just has more tact or if it was that they didn't want to risk the ire of 60 Minutes, but I did notice he was the only one in the issue that didn't feel the need to reply with an insult to a letter. I hope it's that he had more tact. But Dona and I were reading that issue in bed together and just wondering what the hell was up with CJR.

Dona: So when you mentioned you were pissed off by one of the three magazines you were currently reading, right away we knew it had to be CJR.

C.I.: And I almost wrote about the letters and another thing I found irritating but I still feel bad for the "Dart" for Gloria Cooper.

Jim: Really?

C.I.: The Darts & Laurels demand that Gloria Cooper act as Vanna White applauding each one that steps up to do something. She's not offering a career overview or analysis, that's not how the section is set up. So with Daniel Okrent, she was doing what she does every issue which is to find things, negative and positive, to stress. But it was so disappointing, and still disappoints me, that Okrent was never addressed in CJR for outing a reader over the reader's objection, from a private e-mail. When Business Week is addressing this journalistic issue it seems that CJR should weigh in.

Jim: And they don't appear to know about the Night Letter.

C.I.: That was another thing that bothered me. I don't know the lead time on this issue. Jon Lee Anderson's New Yorker article was in the June 3rd issue so it's very possible that it hadn't been published when CJR wrote their editorial on the Newsweek controversy.

Jim: Lead time or not, when they're writing about the Newsweek controversy and they're on the stands now with that issue but they're accepting the blame Newsweek for the riots in Afghanistan, there's a problem.

Ava: Let me jump in because readers of this may not be aware what we're speaking of. "Editorial: What Howard Didn't Say About a Free Press in Wartime" was about an appearance Howard Fineman made on Imus in the Morning where he rolled over on the issue of a free press. The editorial offers that he should have countered Imus's points with do you want a free press or not.

C.I.: Right and this was an editorial so from that stand point, they're still supporting the First Amendment strongly. But those "touchy feely" pieces Dona's talking about can leave doubt in some readers' minds.

Dona: But then they refute that strong position by bringing up a Reporters Without Borders study in the same editorial and using it to clobber someone over the head with.

Jess: That struck me as cowardly. That struck me as they were attacking Linda Foley for expressing her opinions on the state of journalism just to cover their own ass. Foley's opinion is not discredited by some "extensive study" from Reporters Without Borders. They don't cite the study, in CJR, which is bothersome. They don't even give a date for the study. In fact, let's quote from April 6, 2005's "CBS freelance cameraman shot and wounded by US soldiers:"

"Once again the US forces have targeted a journalist just doing his job," the press freedom organization said. Reporters Without Borders pointed out that this was not the first time that US soldiers shot a cameraman after mistaking his camera for a gun. Mazen Dana, a Palestinian working for the British news agency Reuters, was killed in a similar fashion on 17 August 2003 in Baghdad. The US army claimed that the US soldiers involved had acted according to the rules of engagement.

Jess (con't): The whole thing was sloppy. They don't know about the Night Letter so they accept the false premise that Newsweek's Koran in the toilet started riots in Afghanistan, they don't seem to know what Reporters Without Borders has said. If they've got additional information, they need to provide it to the readers. And there's no reason to slam Foley other than that CJR wants to look "reasonable." 'We'll defend Newsweek, without knowing the important facts that would really defend them, but to prove that we're not some zealots, we'll say that Foley should be under attack.' For anyone who doesn't know, Linda Foley is the president of The Newspaper Guild. CJR wants to atack her and say she's wrong and couch their attack in an extensive study by Reporters Without Borders that they won't name or give a date for. You just have to take their word for it. And these days as feelings checks overrun the periodical, it's very hard to take their word on anything.

C.I.: But let's say there's a study. Let's say there is. Does one study prove anything? I don't think it does. The Pentagon has refused to cooperate with information requests and that is known and that is public record. So any study is going up against that. If there is a study. And this brings us back to the whole issue of gatekeeprs who try to appear moderate by attacking others. "Oh, I'm not like Linda Foley!"

Jim: Exactly.

Dona: And we have ten minutes to finish this up. I extended the discussion by a half-hour at Jim's request but that's it. Mike, why don't you set us up again.

Mike: Well I'll add again that I like the discussions best because they're so free flowing and it's fun to just listen to them, let alone take part. But to get back to the Mamas and the Papas boxed set and music, the point that came through to me, or points, in the dicussion were that their music was about freedom and breaking down barriers. One of the songs I enjoyed best was "Too Late" which has the lines: "When the mind that once was open shuts and you knock on the door and no one answers anymore."

Betty: That is a great song. I didn't know the title. I'm always singing along with that part and always mean to look up the title but I never do.

Kat: I think I'd rate that song as one of the underated and little known Mamas and Papas gems. I'll throw out another favorite here, "Dancing Bear."

Elaine: In my freshman year in college, I dated a guy who loved that song. I had a cassette, a best of, of the Mamas & the Papas. And that's really how I knew them. He was always going on about that song and I'd tell him, "I don't know that song" all the time, but he wouldn't believe me.

Ty: I hear the boxed set constantly because Jess plays it constantly -- Jim, Jess and I share an apartment aven though Jim's never there. For me, there are two songs that especially stand out and they are "Here In My Arms" which is like "No Salt On Her Tail" and "Rooms." Of Cass' solo tracks, "The Costume Ball" was one I don't think I'd heard before.

Betty: That was like a James Bond theme. To me. I really enjoyed that song. And "Something to Make You Happy."

Jim: I enjoyed the live tracks from Monterey because I've always heard they were awful and I was curious about that. I didn't think they performed bad. They hadn't rehearsed and that's obvious but I thought they had an energy that made up for it. And I've always thought the live version of "I Call Your Name" was better than the studio one. Cass seems more comfortable and seems to enjoy playing to the audience.

Ava: I've enjoyed everything that's been mentioned but the surprise for me was Michelle Phillips' tracks. "Aloha Louie" was a complete surprise and I really enjoyed it. Michelle only got one solo track on the double disc Creeque Alley: The History of The Mamas And The Papas. So I was surprised to hear "Aloha Louie" and really enjoyed it as well as "There She Goes." Of Cass's tracks, I really felt like the two that Ty named were worth including but I did wonder why something like "He's a Runner" or "I'm Coming To The Best Time Of My Life" wasn't included since "It's Getting Better" and "Make Your Own Kind Of Music" are both also on Creeque Alley. I'm not a big fan of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil outside of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" and I really didn't need their two songs on this album.

Kat: I'm impressed that you know of Mann & Weil.

Ava: Dona and I are trying to educate ourselves on musical periods. Which has meant telling Jim that we already get Pink Floyd, thank you, we have other things to listen to. And we do utilize the list you compiled.

Ty: I refer to it too. That's how come I listen to Richie Havens now. And while there's Van Hunt and Bright Eyes and a few others like that, the music scene, as played on radio, is so desolate that I think that's one reason people responded to the thing on Cass. She didn't make her name by strutting around in a push up bra and having some electronic device smooth out her vocals. She made it by keeping it real and people respond to that.

Dona: Jess gets the last word.

Jess: Well Ty made a strong point and I want to note that. I'll also say that as a child raised by hippie parents and pretty much a hippie myself I do take offense at these "moderates" and "centrists" who do these broadside attacks on hippies that seem to be based, as Ava and C.I. would say, on some notion of hippies derived from a Hawaii Five-O episode. It's insulting and that they want to push the right's stereotype speaks more about how little backbone they have.
As for the Mamas and the Papas and Cass herself, I think they have a timeless appeal that goes to the magic of the music. There's a quality to the songs and vocals about exploring and searching and I think that's something that people can identify with a lot easier than songs today tossing out brand names and trademarks in place of anything deeper. And I want to close by noting that Jane Fonda is someone I applaud. I know we all do here but the attacks on her this week were disgusting. And "moderates" only proved themselves to be the first to stick the knives in our backs with their attacks. There was one mouthing off about how her decision just handed the 2006 elections to the Republicans. As I remember the 2004 election, one of the problem most people on campus cited was that Kerry wasn't calling for an immediate withdrawal and seemed to want to follow Bully Boy's plan only to do it "smarter." That didn't reach out to our age group. If Fonda can get Iraq on people's minds, and I think she can, she's increasing the dialogue. But maybe what "moderates" don't want to admit is that they're hawks and that's why they spit on the the hippies and peace groups. They've got the war lust as Elaine would say.

C.I.: And I'm going to jump in even though Dona wanted Jess to have the last word because Mike just wrapped up his first month of blogging and I think that deserves to be noted.

Dona: Agreed. We need to thinkabout whether there's a feature in that.

"Encuesta: 64% sostiene que Bush carece de estrategia definida en Irak" (Democracy Now!)

"Encuesta: 64% sostiene que Bush carece de estrategia definida en Irak" (Democracy Now!)

Francisco: Hola mi amigos y gracias a Maria para todo su trabajo dedicado. De parte de "Democracy Now!" doce cosas que vale hacer notar este fin de semana.

Encuesta: 64% sostiene que Bush carece de estrategia definida en Irak
Mientras tanto, una nueva encuesta del Pew Research Center reveló que el 64% de los estadounidenses creen que el presidente Bush carece de una estrategia clara para lograr que la situación en Irak culmine exitosamente.

Convención de AFL-CIO pide poner fin a la ocupación en Irak
Bajo presión de sus miembros y de los sindicatos disidentes que abandonaron la federación, la Federación Estadounidense del Trabajo y el Congreso de las Organizaciones Industriales (AFL-CIO por sus siglas en inglés) aprobó una resolución que pide el retiro inmediato de las tropas estadounidenses que actualmente se encuentran en Irak. La resolución se tomó durante la convención nacional del grupo en Chicago. El sindicato estadounidense contra la guerra US Labor Against the War, calificó la resolución como "un gran cambio en la política". Los grupos afirman que el Consejo Ejecutivo General de la AFL-CIO intentó aprobar una resolución que no establecía claramente el llamado a la inmediata finalización de la ocupación. Este intento no prosperó luego de que uno de los líderes de US Labor Against the War propuso incluir un artículo en el que se exigiera poner fin a la ocupación. Escuchamos al coordinador del grupo, Gene Bruskin: "La resolución fue histórica ya que puso fin a décadas de silencio por parte de los movimientos de trabajadores y de apoyo al gobierno de Estados Unidos en cuanto a sus políticas exteriores. Como dijo Henry Nicholas, presidente de la federación 1199 AFSCME de Philadelphia, en su discurso para condenar la guerra, 'este es el momento de mayor orgullo en mis 45 años dentro del movimiento de trabajadores. Finalmente nos hemos levantado contra esta guerra diciendo"ya es suficiente'".

Informe de GAO indica que Estados Unidos desvía fondos de ayuda humanitaria para seguridad
Un nuevo informe de la Oficina de Responsabilidad del Gobierno (GAO) publicado ayer demuestra que millones de dólares destinados a proyectos de reconstrucción y ayuda humanitaria en Irak son desviados para operaciones de seguridad, utilizando dinero destinado a la reconstrucción de redes de agua, electricidad y salud. En muchos casos, la seguridad implica más de un tercio del presupuesto destinado a proyectos individuales y Estados Unidos paga a agentes de seguridad hasta 33.000 dólares mensuales, unos 400.000 dólares al año, por guardia individual. En algunos casos, los proyectos humanitarios fueron cancelados para liberar fondos para operaciones de seguridad en otros lugares.

Benderman sentenciado a 15 meses
Un mecánico del ejército estadounidense que se negó a ir a Irak y solicitó objeción de conciencia, fue absuelto ayer del cargo de deserción pero fue declarado culpable de un cargo menor por una corte marcial. El Sargento Kevin Benderman fue sentenciado a 15 meses de prisión por desobedecer órdenes de emplazamiento, se le dio la baja deshonrosa del ejército y fue degradado a soldado raso. En caso que hubiera sido declarado culpable por deserción, podría haber sido sentenciado a cinco años de prisión. Sin embargo, su sentencia parece ser la más dura aplicada a alguien por resistirse a combatir en Irak.

Lanzamiento oficial de nueva cadena de televisión de América Latina
Esta noticia está relacionada con los medios de difusión, ya que el gobierno venezolano lanzó oficialmente Telesur, una nueva estación de televisión satelital de América Latina. El presidente venezolano Hugo Chávez expresó que el canal le dará a América del Sur una voz independiente de los conglomerados mediáticos como la CNN. En la ceremonia de lanzamiento el domingo, Chávez indicó que, "esto es producto del despertar de nuestros pueblos". El canal será lanzado con la ayuda de otros gobiernos latinoamericanos, incluyendo a Argentina, Cuba y Uruguay. Entre los miembros del directorio se encuentran el actor Danny Glover, el escritor Tariq Ali y el Premio Nobel de la Paz Adolfo Pérez Esquivel. El nuevo canal no es bien recibido por Washington y la semana pasada la Cámara de Representantes sancionó una enmienda solicitando que Estados Unidos comience a transmitir su propio canal en la región para que compita con Telesur. El congresista republicano de Florida, Connie Mack, afirmó que el gobierno de Estados Unidos debería "iniciar transmisiones de radio y televisión que proporcionen a Venezuela una fuente de noticias coherente, precisa y objetiva". Mack agregó que esto es necesario para contrarrestar lo que describió como el "anti-americanismo" de Telesur.

Hombre inocente baleado por la policía británica en el subte de Londres
Asimismo, la policía británica reconoció haber matado el viernes a un hombre inocente en un vagón del subte de Londres, en su búsqueda de sospechosos. Jean Charles de Menezes, un electricista brasileño de 27 años de edad, recibió cinco disparos en la cabeza por oficiales de policía encubiertos. En un principio la policía sostuvo que Menezes estaba vinculado a los atentados, pero más tarde reconoció que fue un error. A pesar de la muerte, la política del "gatillo fácil" permanece vigente en Gran Bretaña. "Debemos considerar lo que hubiera ocurrido si los oficiales no hubieran disparado y el hombre hubiera sido un atacante suicida, hubiera ingresado al subte y los oficiales hubieran tomado la decisión equivocada. Eso hubiera sido terrible", manifestó el Jefe de la Policía Metropolitana Ian Blair.

Brasil criticó muerte de brasileño por la policía en Londres
La familia del hombre brasileño expresó que posiblemente presente una demanda contra la policía británica. El canciller de Brasil Celso Amorim también criticó la muerte y afirmó que, "la reacción de nuestro país Brasil es la que ya he expresado, conmoción y perplejidad de que una persona inocente sea atrapada en la lucha contra el terrorismo". Amorim agregó que, "por supuesto que apoyamos la lucha contra el terrorismo, pero considero que se debe ser cuidadoso de no matar personas inocentes."

Funeral del brasileño asesinado por policía británica
En Brasil, prácticamente todos los 6.000 habitantes de Gonzaga, asistieron a ofrecer su respeto al joven emigrante brasileño asesinado por la policía británica tras los fallidos atentados de Londres a comienzos de mes. El cuerpo de Jean Charles de Menezes llegó el jueves a Brasil, seis días después de que recibiera los disparos en la cabeza que le causaron la muerte en el subterráneo de Londres. Muchas personas de la multitud que asistió al funeral usaron brazaletes negros y portaron banderas de Brasil, símbolos de protesta que fueron adoptados en ese país luego del asesinato.

Familia del brasileño cuestiona versión oficial
Mientras tanto, los familiares de Menezes cuestionan la versión oficial de la historia. Afirman que no vestía una chaqueta que pudiera ocultar una bomba y que no saltó por encima de la barrera cuando fue detenido por oficiales vestidos de particular que portaban armas. En conferencia de prensa tras la reunión mantenida con la Policía Metropolitana, Vivien Figueiredo, prima de Menezes, condenó la política del "gatillo fácil" que llevó a su primo a la muerte y abogó porque el crimen no quedara impune. Afirmó que: "a pesar de que atravesamos circunstancias similares a una guerra, no deberíamos exterminar personas injustamente". En la conferencia de prensa habló junto a la abogada de la familia, Gareth Peirce y a la activista contra la guerra Bianca Jagger.

Encuesta: Los estadounidenses quieren que se vaya Rove
Una nueva encuesta realizada por CNN/USAToday/Gallup informa que la mayoría de los estadounidenses piensan que Karl Rove debería abandonar la Casa Blanca por el papel que desempeñó en la revelación de identidad de la agente de la CIA Valerie Plame. Sin embargo, sólo la mitad de los encuestados reconoce haber seguido la historia de cerca, mientras que la cuarta parte afirma nunca haber oído acerca de Karl Rove. Por otra parte, el National Journal informa que Rove y otros asesores cercanos al presidente Bush recibieron 4.000 dólares de aumento el año pasado. Rove percibe actualmente 161.000 dólares.

Lance Armstrong criticó costo de guerra de Irak
El campeón de ciclismo Larce Armstrong, quien acaba de ganar el Tour de France por séptima vez, criticó públicamente la guerra en Irak porque impidió que el gobierno destinara más dinero a la investigación del cáncer. Armstrong expresó a la revista Time que, "es difícil conseguir fondos [para la investigación de cáncer] hoy en día. La peor desventaja de la guerra en Irak es lo que se podría hacer con ese dinero. ¿Cuánto cuesta la guerra de Irak por semana? ¿Mil millones? ¿o quizás mil millones de dólares por día?". Agregó que, "el presupuesto destinado al Instituto Nacional de Cáncer es de cuatro mil millones. Eso ha cambiado. Es necesario que vuelva a ser una prioridad. Las encuestas indican que la gente le teme mucho más al cáncer a que un avión se estrelle en su casa o que explote una bomba o cualquier otra forma de terrorismo. Es una prioridad del pueblo estadounidense".

Tribunal italiano ordena arresto de otros seis agentes de la CIA
En Italia, un tribunal federal ordenó el arresto de otros seis agentes de la CIA vinculados con el secuestro de un clérigo egipcio en las calles de Milán. Un total de 19 funcionarios de la CIA son requeridos en el caso. El clérigo habría sido secuestrado en una calle de Milán en febrero de 2003, luego fue trasladado a una base aérea en Alemania y finalmente a Egipto, donde supuestamente fue torturado. La operación habría sido parte del programa de "rendición extraordinaria" de la CIA, en el que los sospechosos terroristas son trasladados a terceros países sin la autorización de un tribunal, sometiéndolos a posibles torturas.

Francisco: Hello friends and thank you to Maria for all her hard work. Here are twelve stories from Democracy Now! this week. Try to get the word out to at least one person that Democracy Now! is providing their headlines in Spanish and English, in text and audio. Help get the word out.

Poll: 64% Say Bush Has No Clear Strategy in Iraq
Meanwhile a new poll by the Pew Research Center has found that 64 percent of Americans believe President Bush does not have a clear strategy for bringing the situation in Iraq to a successful conclusion.

AFL-CIO Convention Calls for End to Iraq Occupation
Under major pressure form its membership and dissident unions that pulled out of the federation, the AFL-CIO has passed a resolution calling for a "rapid" return of all U.S. troops currently in Iraq. The resolution came at the group's national convention in Chicago. The group US Labor Against the War called the resolution a "major shift in policy." The groups says that the AFL-CIO General Executive Council had tried to push through a watered-down resolution that did not clearly call for a prompt end to the occupation. This attempt was headed-off after one of the leaders of Labor Against the War put forward an amendment calling for an end to the occupation.Gene Bruskin, US Labor Against the War:The resolution was an historic one because it ended decades of silence from the labor movement and actual support for the U.S. government on the issue of foreign policy. As Henry Nicholas, president of 1199 AFSCME of Philadelphia said when he rose to the mic to condemn the war, "In my 45 years in the labor movement, this is my proudest

GAO Report Says US Diverting Iraq Humanitarian Funds for Security
A new report by the Government Accountability Office released yesterday shows that millions of dollars designated for reconstruction and humanitarian projects in Iraq are being diverted for so-called security operations, draining money from efforts to rebuild water, electricity and health networks. In many cases, security accounts for more than a third of the budget for individual projects and the US is paying individual security contractors up to $33,000 a month. That's nearly $400,000 a year per individual guard. In some cases, humanitarian projects were cancelled to free up funds for security operations elsewhere. moment. We have finally stood up to this war and said, 'Enough is enough.'"

War Resister Benderman Sentenced to 15 Months
A US Army mechanic who refused to go to Iraq while he sought conscientious objector status was acquitted yesterday of desertion but found guilty of a lesser charge during his court-martial. Sgt. Kevin Benderman was sentenced to 15 months in prison on the charge of missing movement. He also was given a dishonorable discharge from the military and a reduction in rank to private. If he had been found guilty of desertion, he could have faced five years in prison. Still, his sentence appears to be the harshest yet given to an Iraq war resister.

New Latin American Television Network Officially Launched
In media news -- the Venezuelan government officially launched Telesur -- a new Latin American satellite TV station. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said the station will give South America a voice independent of traditional media conglomerates like CNN. At a launch ceremony on Sunday Chavez said "This is part of an awakening of our peoples." The station is being launched with help from other Latin American governments including Argentina, Cuba and Uruguay. Board members include a group of international supporters including the actor Danny Glover, the writer Tariq Ali and Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel. The new station is not being well-received in Washington. Last week the U.S. House passed an amendment calling for the U.S. to begin broadcasting its own channel into the region to counter Telesur. Republican Congressman Connie Mack of Florida said the U.S. government should "initiate radio and television broadcasts that will provide a consistently accurate, objective, and comprehensive source of news to Venezuela." Mack said this is needed to counter what he described as Telesur's "anti-Americanism."

Innocent Man Shot Dead in London Subway by UK Police
In addition, British police have admitted they shot dead an innocent man inside a London subway car on Friday during its hunt for suspects. Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27-year-old Brazilian born electrician, was shot five times in the head by undercover police officers. Initially police maintained Menezes was connected to the bombings but later admitted it was all a mistake. Despite the killing, a shoot-to-kill policy is still in effect in Britain. "We have to consider what would have happened if the officers had not shot and that man had been a suicide bomber and had got on the tube and the officers closed and the officers taken the wrong decision. That would have been absolutely dreadful," said Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair.

Brazil Criticizes London Shooting
The Brazilian's man family has said they might now sue the British police. Brazil's foreign minister Celso Amorim also criticized the shooting. "The sense of the reaction in Brazil is the one I gave already; it's shock and perplexity that an innocent person should be caught in fight against terrorism," said Amorim. "Of course as I said we support the fight against terrorism but I think even there you have to cautious not to take away innocent lives."

Funeral for Brazilian Shot by UK Police
In Brazil, almost all of the 6,000 residents of Gonzaga turned out to pay their respects to the young Brazilian emigrant killed by British police after the failed London bombings earlier this month. The body of Jean Charles de Menezes arrived Thursday in Brazil, six days after he was shot dead in the head in a London subway. Many people in the funeral crowd wore black armbands and waved Brazilian flags, taken up as a protest symbol in Brazil since the killing.

Family of Brazilian Challenges Official Story
Meanwhile, Menezes's relatives are challenging the official version of the story. They say he was not wearing a heavy jacket that might have concealed a bomb, and did not jump the ticket barrier when challenged by armed plainclothes police. Speaking at a press conference after a meeting with the Metropolitan police, the man's cousin, Vivien Figueiredo condemned the shoot-to-kill policy that had led to her cousin's death and vowed that what she called the "crime" would not go unpunished. She said, "Although we are living in circumstances similar to a war, we should not be exterminating people unjustly." She spoke at a news conference with the family's lawyer, Gareth Peirce, and antiwar activist Bianca Jagger.

Poll: Americans Want Rove Gone
A new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll has found that a majority of Americans believe that Karl Rove should leave the White House for his role in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. But only half of those surveyed say they are following the story closely, while a quarter said they had never even heard of Karl Rove. Meanwhile, the National Journal reports that Rove and other top aides to President Bush were given $4,000 raises from last year. Rove is now paid $161,000.

Lance Armstrong Criticizes Cost of Iraq War
Cycling champion Lance Armstrong - who just won his seventh Tour de France --has publicly criticized the war in Iraq because it has prevented the country from spending more on cancer research. He told Time Magazine, "'Funding [for cancer research] is tough to come by these days. The biggest downside to a war in Iraq is what you could do with that money. What does a war in Iraq cost a week? A billion? Maybe a billion a day?" He went on to say " The budget for the National Cancer Institute is four billion. That has to change. It needs to become a priority again. Polls say people are much more afraid of cancer than of a plane flying into their house or a bomb or any other form of terrorism. It is a priority for the American public."

Italian Court Seeks Arrest of Six More CIA Agents
In Italy, a federal court has issued arrest warrants for six more CIA agents in connection to the kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric from the streets of Milan. A total of 19 CIA operatives are now wanted in the case. The cleric was allegedly snatched on a Milan street in February of 2003, flown to an air base in Germany and then to Egypt, where he reportedly was tortured. The operation was allegedly part of the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program, in which terror suspects are transferred to third countries without court approval, subjecting them to possible torture.
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