Sunday, January 15, 2006

Five Books, How Many Minutes?

Jim: Book discussion time. Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and me; Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude; Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man; C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review; Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills); Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz; and Wally of The Daily Jot. Our first book is by Robert Parry. Before we begin that discussion, we should note that we reviewed Parry's Fooling America: How Washington Insiders Twist the Truth and Manufacture the Conventional Wisdom on the 18th of December and received a number of e-mails on that, the most in fact on any book we've discussed here. Since it's not readily available to purchase, we're glad to know both that so many libraries carry the book and that so many of you sought it out. A number of you wondered in e-mails about the use of libraries.

Dona: If someone has the means to purchase a book or books, by all means do so. But a number of you seemed to feel guilty about using your library systems. You shouldn't. The library has purchased the book. In some cases, it may stay on the shelves for years. In other cases, it may stay only as long as their is interest in the book which is based on how often the book is in circulation or checked out. Regardless, to focus on Robert Parry because a number of you were reading him for the first time, if a book of his goes into heavy circulation at Library X, when a new book by Parry comes out, or a revised edition, Library X is more likely to order a copy of it realizing that there is interest in his writing among their patrons.

Ava: Stepping away from the issue of any single author, utilzing your library is important. With the Bully Boy economy, everyone's attempting to make cuts and one thing that can go on the cutting block is the funds to libraries. Most libraries keep track of the number of patrons who visit each day. Many break it down further by the hour. When cuts are proposed, libraries can point to these figures and demonstrate how many people would be effected by such cuts. Libraries are a public good and we need to support our commons. One way to do that is by utilzing your local library.

Jim: Which brings us to the first of five books we're discussing this week. Robert Parry's Trick or Treason. Cedric, set us up.

Cedric: This book came out in 1993. It addresses the issues of the October Surprise. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter was running for re-election and one of the issues facing the country was the American hostages held in Iran. Running against Carter was B-movie actor Ronald Reagan with George H.W. Bush as his running mate. As Carter attempted to work towards the hostages release, did secret negotiations take place between the Reagan - Bush campaign and Iran to delay the release of the hostages in order to influence the outcome of the election?

Wally: The hostages would be released as Reagan was being inaugurated. If such a deal did take place, the actions to delay the release of Americans held captive for one's own political gain, would be treason.

Betty: And when people talk about "October Surprises," like in the last presidential election when people were wondering what potential last minute surprise Bully Boy might have planned, they used the term "October Surprise," they're referencing this incident.

Ty: The book provides you with a look at the past that you may not be familiar with. It provides context for some of the struggles that continue to this day.

Rebecca: I've got the excerpt so let me read it, this is from pages 267-269:

Although our investigation continued to inch forward, the climate for examining the October Surprise questions had changed. The double-dip "debunking" by the New Republic and Newsweek embolded Republicans to demand that all further congressional inquiry be dropped. Republicans denoucned the Democratic congressional staff and any member of the news media who still dared consider the possibility of a GOP-Iranian deal in 1980.
The New Republic had cast a cloud not only over the story with its personal attacks on witnesses -- Ari Ben-Menashe, in particular -- but also over the investigators, from Gary Slick to me. The nastiness scared away many who were examining the issue. To continue an honest inquiry opened journalists and government officials to ridicule sufficient to put a person's career at risk.
In the Senate, Republicans stepped up their attacks, filibustering a bill that would have authorized an official investigation. When the Democrats tried to break the filibuster, Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole invoked strict party discipline. Dole demanded that all Republicans oppose the Democratic attempt to force and up-or-down vote. President Bush personally joined in the legislative strategy meetings to kill the investigation. The Republican filibuster succeeded when the Democrats could muster only 51 votes, nine short of the 60-vote super-majority needed for cloture. The Democrats then withdrew the resolution.
Despite the Republicans' floor vicotry, an informal investigation was started by the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on the Middle East. The panel's Democratic chairman, Terry Sanford of North Carolina, and the ranking Republican, Jim Jeffords of Vermont, agreed that the October Surprise allegations should be settled, one way or the other. They used modest funds available to the panel to hire an outside counsel to do a limited investigation.
On February 5, 1992, the political fight shifted to the Democratic-controlled House, where partisan battling had long ago left the institution divided into two bitter camps. On one side was a strident band of Republicans, led by the likes of Minority Whip Newt Gingrich, and on the other, Establishment Democrats under the timid leadership of House Speaker Thomas Folely. For the October Surprise floor battle, the GOP members rose to rail against a wasteful investigation into a discredited conspiracy theory. They armed themselves with posterboards highlighting the articles from Newsweek and the New Republic.
"This is about as smelly as it gets around here," complained Rep. Bob McEwen, the Ohio Republican who got the assignment to lead his party's charge. "What we are going to do is another political effort to do a very partisan act in violation of all basic common principles and decency."
McEwan saw the real target of the probe as President Bush, who faced re-election in November and was slipping in the polls because of a stubborn recession. "Suppose they find out something. What do they intend to do with it?" McEwan asked rhetorically. "This select committee cannot legislate, and so it is a platform established for the partisan purpose: to smear George Bush so they can take every incomptent imposter and fraud, and let me quote the New Republic, the key sources, on whose word their story rests, are documented frauds and imposters representing themselves as intelligence operatives."

Rebecca (con't): That's a long excerpt but it touches on a number of issues. One of the issues that may to come to mind is how Jim Jeffords broke from the Republican party and became an independent when Bully Boy, newly installed, repeatedly rebuffed him. The Bushes hold their grudges and Jeffords stance in support of investigation into whether or not Poppy violated laws may have been held against him.

Jim: Another reason for the long excerpt was that a number of e-mails have come in during the last six weeks about The New Republic with people saying that they had always seemed it was a magazine of the left because that's how the mainstream media portrays it.

Rebecca: The impression is that the left with that magazine in it's glory days left and became neocons. A close examination of the magazine over the last twenty to thirty years, something I wouldn't advise -- but if you do take it upon yourself to study, note the back cover, full page ads for Calvin Klein underwear featuring Antonio Sabato, Jr. so that your study is wading through one piece of trash after another -- you'll notice that the mag/rag cheered the contras, cheered the Reagans, cheered this privatization policy and that policy, and you'll quickly realize that with the exception of a few writers, who left the rag rather quickly, the tone of the magazine has been consistently opposed to the left.

Elaine: And let's bring this into a modern day focus because the point's been made by Rebecca at her site, early on when she first started blogging, but it needs to be made again. I have no idea what title Martin Peretz holds currently, it may just be "owner," but he supported the war in Iraq and did so beyond the pages of his rag. He was part of the neocons pushing Bully Boy to go to war with Iraq in the wake of 9/11.

Rebecca: Right and he was also one of the PNAC. Let's provide a list of the people who signed on to that.

C.I.: Great. Before you do, let me just disclose, again, that I do know Robert Kagan.

Elaine: But do not agree with Kagan on anything political.

C.I.: Correct.

Jess: Here's the list, via Global Research which reprints the September 20, 2001 letter.

William Kristol, Gary Bauer, Jeffrey Bell, William J. Bennett, Jeffrey Bergner, Eliot Cohen, Seth Cropsey, Midge Decter, Thomas Donnelly, Aaron Friedberg, Hillel Fradkin, Francis Fukuyama, Frank Gaffney, Jeffrey Gedmin, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Charles Hill, Bruce P. Jackson, Eli S. Jacobs, Michael Joyce, Donald Kagan, Robert Kagan, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Charles Krauthammer, John Lehman, Clifford May, Richard Perle, Martin Peretz, Norman Podhoretz, Randy Scheunemann, Gary Schmitt, William Schneider, Jr., Richard H. Shultz, Henry Sokolski, Stephen J. Solarz, Vin Weber, Leon Wieseltier, Marshall Wittmann.

Jess: Peretz likes to draw the line between his rag and The Nation with statements of how, since he took over the rag, unlike The Nation, The New Republican has supported every military intervention and war.

Kat: But people who e-mailed, it's not just the mainstream media, the rag portrays itself as the left when it buys ads on Air America Radio. "This is Stephanie, publisher of The New Republican and we're a brave magazine for the left . . ." or some silly crap. They're deperate for readers and willing to try to play the unsuspecting for suckers. As Parry chronicles in his book, The New Rag slammed PBS' Frontline for its October Surprise investigation without even seeing the investigation. The New Rag worked over time to ridicule Ted Koppel for probing into the October Surprise as well. This magazine is a danger to the left and its history needs to be known.

Jess: If it and Newsweek hadn't provided cover for Poppy and screamed, "Conspiracy! Conspiracy!" while distorting the actual facts, Poppy might be in prison and we all would have been spared the reign of the Bully Boy.

Rebecca: Which is why it's so disgusting when someone who knows the rag's history attempts to prop them up. And to that person and/or his fan club, stop writing me. I'll toss this in here because we won't have time for a roundtable. Thursday night, in the round-robin, I made a comment in passing. C.I. phoned after midnight when my comment fully hit to ask me what was going on. What's going on is I was supposed to be going away this weekend. My ex-husband, "Fly Boy" as Mike calls him, and I were going away. I was way behind in my e-mails and asked him to log into the account and print them up. He saw one from a guy who had e-mailed repeatedly. Thinking it was a reader who enjoyed the site or one of the kooks always e-mailing wanting me to send them a nudie of myself, he read it and he became enraged. I want to apologize to C.I. because, due to the call, C.I. got dragged into a three hour discussion on this and at the end of it, Fly Boy wanted C.I. to post an announcement the next morning at The Common Ills. C.I. worked forever on that announcement and then, right before posting, called back to make sure there were no second thoughts on it. Fly Boy was in a more forgiving mood, for now, and C.I. deleted the announcement. I didn't go away this weekend because I'm not going to run from my stalker who seems to think we have some relationship. Fly Boy was enraged because he thinks the guy is nuts and potentially violent. I've never had any contact with the nut job. I don't even read his lame e-mails. I know of the first two because they were mailed care of C.I. and C.I. advised me of the contents and read excerpts. I've never replied to him or attempted to have any contact with him. But we didn't go away this weekend because the nut job seems to think I need him in my life. I don't. And I won't go away in fear. I'm not scared of the nut job. He should take a hint and get the fuck away from me. If he doesn't do so, Fly Boy's already talking about "financial fall out" for nut job. If you depend upon bookings for your money, you depend upon owners and you don't want to piss of my ex-husband or his family unless you want to find yourself blackballed. C.I. and I both spent hours convincing my ex that the nut job was a nut job but harmless. I don't know about C.I., but I won't take the time to defend the nut job again. So if he continues his stalking, he can deal with the fallout.

C.I.: I won't defend him. I wouldn't have at the time but Rebecca was so upset about the whole thing. We're way off topic.

Rebecca: We are but "Sheesh" to my obsessed stalker. Learn to fucking read, you idiot. We've never had the connection you wrote to C.I. about us having. I quoted a Joan Baez song, and it's up on my site, because C.I. suggested that song when I was attempting to figure out how to write on a topic that was having difficulty addressing. That's not to push my stalker off on C.I. but despite that being up at my site, the stalker is under some impression that we have a "bond" because he and his buddy had just been talking about Joan Baez the week before or something, I forget the excerpt C.I. read.

C.I.: I think it was the week before.

Rebecca: And immediately the stalker feels the need to contact C.I. for my phone number which C.I.'s not giving out to anyone, nut case or not. When some nut case is going on about a connection that we have, we don't have one asshole, and talking like lunatic, they're not going to get a reply from me or be read by me. I'm not scared of the nut case, he sounds like a rather sad person from the excerpts. Fly Boy believes that my ignoring the nut job has made him cross from obsessed and love crazed to obsessed and lethal. This has gone on for almost seven months now. He needs to stop being obsessed and find a woman in his own world. I have no interest in him. He's pathetic and his continued pursuit only makes him more pathetic.

Jim: Okay, I know who's being spoken of from discussions this summer when his efforts to contact you and find you creeped you out, but I had no idea he was still "in pursuit." I'm with your ex-husband, this guy is sick and I think something needs to be done.

Rebecca: He's a tough talking coward and he doesn't scare me. He needs to get the message and get a fucking life. But, if it helps you, Jim, Fly Boy has hired a body guard that will be with me until Fly Boy grasps that the pathetic creep is just pathetic and no danger.

Jim: That does make me feel better.

Rebecca: I love Robert Parry's writing so let me get back on topic and note that this is a great book. It debunks the debunking and does so with research and facts. Read it. Also Robert Parry's writing can now be found at the news website he created Consortium News.

Ty: A pall has settled over the discussion.

Dona: Well, I think we're all in shock and bothered by the news. I knew Rebecca was ignoring the freak this summer but, having heard nothing else on it, I assumed he'd taken the hint and moved on.

Mike: I found out about it Friday evening because Rebecca and Fly Boy were having dinner with us before they were leaving on their trip. They cancelled the trip but still came by for dinner. I wasn't in the mood for blogging and I think it shows in the Friday entry. And I called Elaine to tell her.

Elaine: Fly Boy read one of the two most recent e-mails to me over the phone. Fly Boy is furious and keeping that one on him. He's spoken to the local police about the guy. He is taking this very serious and I'm not so sure he's wrong to do so. The guy is convinced, from his writings, that he and Rebecca have some sort of bond or relationship and yet Rebecca has never acknowlged his attempts. I think the guy's disgusting. And I'm sorry because I said that to Fly Boy and Rebecca called me later to say "Thanks a lot" in a non thankful manner because it brought the issue up all over again.

Rebecca: Look he can bluster and threaten and whatever it is he's doing in his most recent e-mails. I don't care. Elaine will cringe at this, but I do have a gun and I do know how to use it and if he shows up, I will shoot him with no reservations. I'm not going to live in fear or take him seriously. He's an asshole, tiny prick, who needs to go away. And, getting back on topic, what readers need to do is read Robert Parry's Trick or Treason. What's the next book?

Elaine: Before we move on to the next book, I want to repeat a point that Rebecca made. Like Rebecca, this is not to push the stalker off on C.I. but it is to make the point that the bond the stalker felt he had with Rebecca never existed. Rebecca is a fan of Joan Baez's music, she did not, however, come up with the idea of using the song, or any song, for the entry that the stalker feels was evidence of a bond between himself and Rebecca. C.I. suggested it and provided her with the lyrics to it.

Dona: Okay, well those of us who are just learning that the stalker hasn't faded away as we would have hoped are shocked. But let's move on and move quickly through the next books. Never claim that the book discussions don't make for lively reading, by the way. Mike, set up the next book.

Mike: Okay, it's The Fox In The Henhouse: How Privatization Threatens Democracy. This book, by Si Kahn and Elizabeth Minnich is an important book. It looks at the effects of privatization not in terms of one segment or industry but in terms of the overall impact on society. What happens when this theory is carried over?

Elaine: This is a book that will make you think. It's a connect the dots sort of book that takes what you probably have already considered about one area and connects it with other areas you may not have made the connection with. If we do not have public commons, what do we have access to? The meeting places, the places where we gather are then private property and that has effects on our right to free speech, as evidenced by the guy busted in the mall a few years back for wearing a "Give Peace A Chance" t-shirt, and it has effects on those who cannot afford private property.

C.I.: This is a book that should move to your reading lists immediately. When neoliberals and neocons mate, privatization is the off spring. The hideous Reinventing Government that was the rage in the early nineties contnued a trend pushed by the right which argued that government was ineffective and that private companies could do the business of government and do it for less money, while turning a profit. Our general welfare isn't a for profit concern.

Mike: They make strong points about school systems and how privatizing them is not the answer and will only create greater gaps in education levels. I would add that when everything is for sale, nothing seems to matter. You reduce the civic pride when a price tag can be put on everything.

C.I.: Water rights, a big issue with me, and other topics are addressed. I'm going to suggest that Ava read the excerpt now because there are long pauses between Mike, Elaine and my comments as we wait for others to jump in but no one does.

Ava: The excerpt is from page 232:

When a government established to promote the public good is "shrunk," so is the possibility of acting for, preserving, and enjoying the rights conferred and backed up by that government. This is obviously reason to be deeply concerned about privatization. But to understand fully what we lose with the increase of privatization, more of us need to realize that whether we have or lack public rights has great effects on all aspects of our lives.
If we do not have the legal, political rights that protect free and equal public lives, we also do not have the rights that protect private lives. And without protected private lives, our personal lives are not safe, not free.
People who are enslaved have no public life, no rights. They cannot go where they will, do what they will, say what they will. Because as slaves they have no public standing, they also have no private life. They have no place of their own, no doors they have a right to shut that can protect their privacy. Slaves were raped and "bred" and their children taken from them. Not being public "persons," they also could not legally marry. They were vulnerable to intrusion at all times: no public life, no private life.
In ancient Greece, warriors captured in battle could be enslaved -- turned from a citizen of the polis or the city-state for which they had fought into a resource to be owned and used for someone else's profit. Some slave owners treated their slaves, their private property, better than others. But they did not have to. Those who have no public rights can only hope for mercy. They cannot demand justice.

Ava (Con't): And sorry for my own lack of participation but I am shocked. Oh, empahsis via italics are in the original text.

Mike: I'll introduce the next book. It's Donovan's The Autobiography of Donovan: The Hurly Gurly Man. Donovan came to fame in the sixties as a British folk star and followed that early fame with songs that many of us still know like "Mellow Yellow" and "Sunshine Superman."

Rebecca: I'll offer a negative criticism, my only one of the book, and that's this: St. Martin's Press is not a small independent press, can they not afford to spell check names for a book they're bringing out?

Jess: Right. You're talking about Cass Elliot, Mama Cass of the Mamas and the Papas and we have a section of that for our excerpt. Unless Donovan was corresponding with her, there's not necessarily any reason he should know how to spell her name. But the publisher should have caught it. Donovan was one of the pioneers of flower power before it took hold and he influenced many groups and solo artists. There's a tendancy on the part of some to either erase him or deride his contributions. In addition to the songs Mike listed, I'll add "Season of The Witch" which I grew up thinking was a Doors song. I was probably half way through elementary school when my parents finally got it through my head that it was Donovan and not the Doors. I bring that up because the artist had many sides and the harder edge sound of "Season of The Witch" is an example of a sound that many forget or are unaware of. Betty's got the excerpt.

Betty: Right. Um. I enjoyed this book. I felt that it was on the level of a conversation and that might leave some readers wanting. But he has a pretty clear grasp on events and can actually remember what happened which puts him way ahead of many artists who write biographies. If he skims, it's on the depth of feelings, and I felt that with the exception of Linda, the woman he loved deeply, he did skim some on the feelings. But he can chronicle the times and this is a really nice read that will not leave you bored. The pacing is good as well. The excerpt is from
pages 135-136:

After each night's performance I would meet up with my new friends. I got on really well with John Phillips and Cass Elliott of The Mamas and the Papas. John had had a previous career in the folk group The Journeymen. We both appreciated a wide range of folk classics and guitar styles.
As I write in a secluded cover in the west of Ireland, a squall of rain falls, chasing the old billy goat to seek shelter. Looking out on the winter sea, my memory moves over those early days. And you, Cass, now singing in heaven no doubt, how you made this "Celtic Cutie" welcome with your large heart. You know how I wrote "The Fat Angel" for you before you went "over the top." It is with fond memories that I recall your dulcet tones, charming us all with your songs.
Where in heaven's name is that drawing I made of you, Cass, as a fat angel with wings, reclining in the long grass? I guess your man at the time of your passing gathered up a few things in the house before the sharks arrived. Hey, if anyone has it, let's see it again to remind me of Cass Elliott, a lady indeed. The San Francisco band, The Jefferson Airplane, appear in this song. They also recorded this song and called it "Trans-Love Airways."
Well do I remember sitting with the lady of the canyon herself, Joni Mitchell, watching the animated film The Wind in the Willows with Cass cheering along with Toad in his new car, his bug eyes rolling at the thought of driving down the highways, not a care in the world. Cass pointed out that Toad was us musos.
"Only wanted to see what was on the other side of the hill, m'lud. Honest, I didn't mean any harm, and the keys were in the car."
Oh, Cass, how right you were.

Mike: Again, it's Cass "Elliot." The publisher should have caught that mistake.

Kat: Is there time for additional comments?

Dona: Go for it, we'll wrap this up in three minutes.

Kat: Betty makes a good point about how he seems aware of the events he's writing about. There shouldn't be any rumors, as there were about a minor sixties performer, that the author had to be hypnotized to recall the events from the time period. I agree with Betty in terms of wanting or wishing that the book went a bit deeper but what I wondered was, if I were to reread this book, would I gain additional understandings? Anytime you re-read a book, you get a better understanding. But in terms of Donovan, the way he used words in his lyrics, I wondered if there might be a similar usage in this book that I rushed to read between following the hearings, reading the other three books, I'd already read one, and doing my own things.

Rebecca: That's a good point and, time permitting, we might want to revist this book in the future. Betty, do you want to introduce the Anais Nin book?

Betty: Sure. This is Henry & June and it's a great read. And actually, I think I'm going to pass this on to Elaine because I believe in a past book discussion, she and C.I. spoke at length about Nin so she, or C.I., would probably be able to do it better justice.

Elaine: Okay. Anais Nin was a writer of many forms. She did criticism, short stories, novellas, novels, go down the list. In the sixties, she went from underground writer to best seller with the publication of her diaries. The diaries were heavily edited due to the prospects of litigation and the amount of frankness that the times could tolerate.

C.I.: Just to add to that, also the level of frankness that her own life could take. By this point she was living with, the point when The Diary of Anais Nin vol. I appears, two men, one on the west coast and one on the east coast. Hugo was her long term husband of many decades. Rupert was the man she had married in the fifties. And, no, you did not read that wrong, Anais Nin was married to two men at the same time. Ava, you want to jump in?

Ava: After we read A Spy In The House of Love for a book discussion this summer, Dona and I began reading through Nin's journals and diaries. The diaries are the ones published largely during her life that she had a hand in the editing of. One was published posthumously. The journals come after her death and are supposed to be unexpurgated. Dona?

Dona: For awhile there, we were worried what would happen, Ava and I, as we got nearer to the end of the diaries and journals and then we read Fire, an unexpurgated journal and I was honestly soured on Nin. For some time.

C.I.: I belive that's the one that soured Patricia Arquette as well. What do you mean by "for some time"?

Dona: Well, not to give away the information in that book, it honestly, a part of it, disgusted me. Then, over time, I realized that it was her life and her business. Now I'm more bothered by the fact that the journals appear to have ceased publication.

Cedric: What happened in Fire?

Dona: It has to do with a sexual partner, a male sexual partner, and that's all I'm saying. If you're interested, read the book.

Ty: So what we're dealing with here is Henry & June, the first of the unexpurgated journals. This one chronicles her fascination and involvement with Henry and June Miller in Paris during the years 1931 and 1932.

Jim: Henry Miller of Tropic of Cancer fame. A reader, Juan, who noted the we preferred nonfiction to fiction, suggested we read this to offer a more literary feel to our discussions.

Betty: And the book is worth reading. Her writing is very lively and descriptive.

Jess: And I picked the excerpt, this is from page 95:

Letter to June: "This morning I awakened with a profound and desperate desire for you. I have strange dreams. Now you are small and soft and pliable in my arms, now you are powerful and domineering and the leader. At once mothlike and indomitable. June, what are you? I know you wrote Henry a love letter, and I suffered. I have found at least one joy and that is to be able to talk openly about you to Henry. I did it because I knew he would love you more. I gave him my June, the portraits of you I wrote down during the days we were together. . . . Now I can say to Henry, 'I love June,' and he does not combat our feelings, he does not abhor them. He is moved. And you, June? What does it mean that you have not written me? . . . Am I a dream to you, am I not real and warm for you? What new loves, new ecstasies, new impulses move you now? I know you don't like to write. I don't ask for long letters, only a few words, what you feel. Have you ever wished yourself back here in my house, in my room, and do you have regrets that we were so overwhelmed? Do you ever wish to live those hours over again and differently, with more confidence. June, I hesitate to write everything, as if I felt again that you would run downstairs to escape me, as you did that day, or almost.
"I'm sending you my book on Lawrence and the cape. I love you, June, and you know how acutely, how desperately. You know that no one can say or do anything to shake my love. I have taken you into myself, whole. You need have no fear of being unmasked, only loved."

Dona: And we really need to wrap this up. We'd thought that by picking the excerpts far ahead of time, we'd be way ahead of the game but something always derails us. Which isn't a complaint about what Rebecca shared. I'm glad she shared it. But we're now way behind. I could be wrong because I am still overwhelmed by the news of the stalker, but, uh, I think Wally has spoken the least. It's him or it's Cedric. So I think they should have the last book to discuss.

Cedric: She means quickly, Wally. She didn't say it, but she means quickly.

Wally: I got that feeling as well. How about you introduce, I'll make a comment or two and then you can read the excerpt that you picked?

Cedric: Sounds good. The book is by Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon and it is entitled Adventures in Medialand: Behind the News, Beyond the Pundits. Molly Ivins provides the introduction to the book and you've got chapters on various topics that are then broken down into sections such as "The Media Elite," "Now It Can Be Told" which was my favorite section, and "Press and Prejudice."

Wally: This is a good book and, although it's not put out by FAIR, it is a collection of writings done for FAIR. It's engaging and it will increase your knowledge and make you a better news consumer, one who will think about how something is being reported and not just be a couch potato blindly absorbing what you are being fed. On introductions, we should note that The Fox In The Henhouse contains a foreword by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! FAIR is a media watchdog that I only really became aware of when Ruth began regularly highlighting their radio program CounterSpin. I know they have a book on Rush Limbaugh but I'm not really sure I could stomach fat boy for a full book. But reading this book and, earlier, The FAIR Reader: An EXTRA! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s, I am interested in reading more of their books.

Cedric: And here's the excerpt. From "Is Anti-Arab Bigotry Acceptable to News Media?" pages 92-93:

If a former U.S. secretary of state flatly declared that "you can't really believe anything an Arab says," would that be big news?
Or are we so accustomed to anti-Arab prejudices that this statement by Henry Kissinger -- first publicized in the article you're now reading -- won't be considered newsworthy?
Time will tell.
We have obtained a tape recording of Kissinger's comment, made at a fund-raising event which the New York Times termed an "Israel benefit."
Kissinger, who sits on the CBS board of directors, was joined in the panel discussion by two prominent CBS News employees -- anchor Dan Rather and Middle East analyst Fouad Ajami, described by Rather that evening as "a very long-time CBS News consultant, one of our in-house wise men."
But neither the anchor nor the "in-house wise man" uttered a word of objection when -- during the $250-a-plate dinner in New York City for the Jerusalem Foundation on June 3, 1992 -- Kissinger seemed to render his verdict against an entire ethnic group.
Imagine if a former secretary of state had publicly declared, "You can't really believe anything a Jew says." Or, "You can't really believe anything a black says." It's hard to believe the CBS News anchor would have let such a statement pass without challenge.
But among the many U.S. news outlets with a routinely anti-Arab tone, one of the most flagrant is "CBS Evening News" -- where the task of denigrating Palestinians and other Arabs often falls to a man considered by many Arab-Americans to be the equivalent of an Uncle Tome, the Lebanese-born academic, Fouad Ajami.
At the Jerusalem Foundation event, Ajami drew laughs by making fun of Bedouin Arabs. He belittled the Palestinian cause, and repeatedly proclaimed that Arabs were incapable of practicing democracy.
Ajami explained his participation in the Israel benefit with these words: "I was imply drafted for this assignment by two people I can never say 'no' to, and that's Marty Peretz and Mort Zuckerman." Ajami was expressing an affinity with two of the most fervent Israel-can-do-no-wrong magnates in the media: Peretz of The New Republic and Zucherkman of U.S. News and World Report.
Kissinger's ethnic slur that night may have raised few eyebrows in the room because it was in sync with the tenor of the entire evening.
Peretz led off by lauding Kissinger and Ajami: "No two men have taught us more clearly . . . the unflinching hard realities of the Middle East than our two speakers today." Then, to loud applause, Peretz praised Dan Rather -- "the moderator, the chairman, really, of this evening" -- as "my favorite newsman."
More than 10,000 words of unmitigated praise for Israel followed, along with recurring mockery of Arabs. Martin Peretz's "favorite newsman" took turns with Kissinger and Ajami in playing to the prejudices of the audience.

Jim: And that will wrap up this week's book discussion.
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