Sunday, May 21, 2006
Sunday. One of us, me, Jim, got sick early this morning. (Stomach flu?) And what was a nearly complete edition became another overly long session.
Music Spotlight: Kat's Korner: Springsteen's Seeger Sessions
Blog Spotlight: Rebecca with the latest on Ruth and on Elijah
UNICEF: 25% de los niños iraquíes padecen desnutricion
Blog Spotlight: Mike interviews C.I.
Blog Spotlight: Kat on two radio programs you should be checking out
Humor Spotlight: Betty on Thomas Friedman's Blonde Brain
Humor Spotlight: Wally on the do-as-I-say or as-he-meant-to-say Bully Boy
Humor Spotlight: Betty on Thomas Friedman's leather Prada pumps and tears
Humor Spotlight: Wally on Desperate Congress Members
Humor Spotlight: Attn Pat Robertson, Rebecca Winters has a warning
Recipe Spotlight: Cole slaw in the Kitchen
We thank everyone for allowing us to repost those entries. We had a huge problem with e-mailing them and had to go back to copying and pasting some (those are the ones without the annoying "Do you Yahoo!" message at the bottom). That was time consuming but we were so far ahead of schedule that we thought, "Oh who cares?" Then I got sick and we were delayed, which resulted in some planned highlights not being noted. Our apologies to those who weren't highlighted (Cedric, Elaine and C.I.).
Contributing to new content this edition were:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim;
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
and Wally of The Daily Jot.
Thank you to everyone.
"'We were all wrong!' Not so fast" Mike and C.I. brought up this idea. A lot of people who weren't wrong aren't getting the credit they deserve. We're hoping to do this at least once a month (if not more often) and then pull it all together for a longer list. The links take you to some interesting content. (Only one is mainstream, a CNN report.)
"Radio highlights for Sunday" we were pulling this together when I had to run off and throw up (the first time). They pulled it together without me and did so quickly. A rare thing: we note a cable program.
"Laura Flanders spoke with Penny Lang about the importance of music and much more" --
Flanders is back and last night she spoke with folk singer Penny Lang whom we wrongly billed as "Peggy" in the original title (it's been corrected). If you missed it, why!!!! We roughed this out in terms of quotes ahead of time but it was an entry we were intending to finalize later. Jess, C.I., Kat, Ava and Dona added musical information that wasn't on the program and really rounded out the entry. If you enjoy it more than you usually do our highlight of Flanders, credit them for that.
"Into the e-mails" was an attempt at a fast, quick entry. It ran a little longer than expected but still had us on target. (Thanks to Dona for insisting we make it the first thing we worked on.)
"Can an unindicted co-conspirator remain at the White House? Personally, I don't think so." The most recent news on Plamegate and a mini-primer if you've blanked on the story. (The mainstream media appears to have blanked.)
"Senate plays "Don't Spook the Spook" with Michael Hayden" -- thanks to Isaiah for allowing us to use his comic. This was something we were thinking of as a mini-roundtable but my illness left us with the only the rough draft of.
"TV Review: Will & Grace -- goodbye, good riddance" -- I think we all laughed and enjoyed the series. I know no one who enjoyed the finale. Ava and C.I. go beyond the "I hated it!" response I heard repeatedly on campus Friday. If you didn't enjoy it and haven't been able to quite figure out why, they provide the answer.
"Editorial: Here it comes, here it comes again" -- We'd pulled some articles to note. And that's basically it. It was very rough. I read that between groans after it went up and said to Dona, "Wow, we're really disagreeing with C.I." The points we're disagreeing with (about the media not really dropping Operation Happy Talk, just lowering the volume)? Dona said they were done with the editorial when C.I. said, "Wait a minute!" Those were C.I.'s points so C.I.'s disagreeing with C.I. (C.I. said the entry at The Common Ills is 'insta-analysis' done during a quick read through and that the points made here, the contrasting ones, are stronger.)
We'll see you next week.
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.
It pounds in your head like hammer blows.
Comes on gentle and smiling
And it likes to leave a scar.
-- "Here Comes That Sinking Feeling," written by Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox, on Eurythmics' Be Yourself Tonight
What's it mean when even the usually compliant press can't outright pimp another wave of Operation Happy Talk for the Bully Boy? Maybe that the whole farce has been exposed?
We've been told that a change was coming, a corner about to be turned (or turned!) so many times that even the press has grown immune to the minute cosmetic changes made an attempt to hide the realities on the ground of the illegal occupation.
Having missed his own self-imposed deadline, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki couldn't miss the constitutionally imposed deadline (tomorrow) to get his cabinet together. So he got it together.
Kind of, sort of. If getting the cabinet together means leaving posts vacant.
From "Iraq Gets New Government as Bombs Kill 24" (Reuters via Truth Out):
Iraq's parliament finally approved a new national unity government on Saturday, ending months of deadlock as bomb attacks that killed 24 people served a grim reminder of the security challenges it will face.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's cabinet was approved by a show of hands, minister by minister, after a turbulent start to the parliamentary session, when some minority Sunni leaders spoke out against the last-minute deal and several walked out.
Eleventh-hour battles over the key posts of interior and defense left those jobs vacant for now, filled respectively by Maliki, a tough-talking Shi'ite Islamist, and his Sunni deputy premier, Salam al-Zobaie.
Or take this news of Sunday in Baghdad "Bomber Kills 12 in Baghdad Restaurant" (Associated Press):
A suicide bomber killed at least 12 people and injured 14 after detonating his explosive vest inside a downtown Baghdad restaurant popular with police officers, police said.
B-b-but, they just formalized their cabinet!
And it doesn't mean a damn thing's changed.
A lack of cabinet was as unimportant to reality as people waving blue fingers at the cameras. The occupation is the problem. An illegal war led to an illegal occupation where oil fields can garner protection but the people are on their own. Actually, the occupation has alternated leaving them alone with attacking them. Attempting to decimate the unions, attempts to destroy the food subsidies programs, no urgency to address the very real problems of a lack of potable water . . .
But there was time for the occupying powers to court corporations, to hold trade conventions, to install exiles into powerful positions as though anyone who lived in Iraq and stayed in Iraq lacked the competency for leadership.
As one exile after another came to power, it's no surprise that the occupying power's puppet government had little legitamcy (or does now). Just as Iraqis weren't judged comptent enough to rebuild their country (contracts went to foreign companies), they weren't judged competent enough to lead.
But Bully Boy & co. want to wonder why the Iraqis haven't gotten on board with their plan -- "their plan" meaning the American administration's plan.
As Iraqis continue to flee their own country, we're left with reports (applauded by some) stating the known and the obvious -- such as the fact that Bully Boy's 'plans' didn't include the needed training for police officers. Applauding that crap (which runs in this morning's New York Times) is like applauding the nonsense as anything coming out of the Bully Boy's mouth.
The corpses turning up didn't just pop up. They were part of the "Salvadorian option" the adminstration began speaking of in 2004. This nonsense about front paging that Bully Boy didn't plan for the security 'after the war' ignores the reality that the war was built on lies and ignores the realities of who is killing whom.
The mainstream press may be too smart to once again spin the wave of Operation Happy Talk in terms of turned corner -- but what they offer is dickering attempting to pass for real critiques and real explorations.
It's not. If you got a $750 utility bill, wondering if you should switch to a soft light bulb isn't addressing the problem. It's a smoke screen that pushes the spotlight elsewhere.
Which is what the mainstream press does today. Still refusing to acknowledge the illegal nature of the war, still refusing to acknowledge the illegal nature of the occupation and still refusing to acknowledge the lies that got us into war (and acknowledge them as lies).
What they dole out today is small portions of reality, just enough to make readers think the press has woken up. They haven't. Consider it Operation Semi-Happy Talk -- we now know (in the fourth year of the invasion) what we did wrong! We can fix it!
Considering that every "fix" (including the original one -- the invasion) has only made things worse, the current press coverage doesn't strike us as reality. An approximation perhaps, but not reality.
"UNICEF: 25% of Iraqi Children Suffer Malnutrition" (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile, a survey carried out by the Iraqi government and UNICEF has concluded a quarter of all Iraqi children suffer from malnutrition.
For us, the funniest plot revolved around Rosario (Shelley Morrison) and Val (regular guest-star Molly Shannon). Having fought Grace, stalked Jack and been knocked out by Karen, it was past time Val set her eyes on Rosario.
"Hey, Nutso!" Rosario cried catching Val watching her wax the floors of Karen's mansion, "if you get off on household fluids, go stalk Mr. Clean!"
Of course Val did no such thing, but she did provide Rosario with a scheme to oust Karen (Megan Mullally) from the manse and make it her own. It was hilarious, and a long time coming, to see Rosario get the upper hand.
Meanwhile, Grace's water broke just as Leo (Harry Connick, Jr.) showed up and learned he was the father of the baby. Accompanying Grace (Deborah Messing) and Will (Eric McCormack) to the hospital and listening to them bicker throughout the labor, he finally had to face the reality that, while there was a place for him in Grace's life, the friendship bond between Will and Grace will never fade or die.
Jack rediscovered the joys of performing when a recently out of the closet Harlin (Gary Grubbs) returned to announce he's purchased a legitimate theater on Broadway which will be where Just Jack: 2010 will debut. "Oh my God," Jack will realize, "that only leaves me four years to pull my act together!"
Best line in the subplot was probably when Harlin explained to Jack why it took so long for him to realize his own sexuality, "I'm from Texas, Jack. We watch a lot of football. Took me forever to realize it wasn't the cries of 'Hut one! Hut two!' that were getting me excited. It was the the buns in the air on the guy crouched over --"
"That's great," Jack replied. "Now about my revue. I see sequins. I think it's important to sparkle when I move."
Which leads him to recruit Bobbie Adler (Debbie Reynolds) to help him with arrangements and choreography -- a post she readily accepts because she's determined to sabotage the production in order to take the lead in her own show Menopause or The Men All Paused: Bobbie Adler's Salute to Rocking Pop Classics of the '80s and Life Changes.
Best of all may be the moment when Rob (Tom Gallop) and Ellen (Leigh Allyn Baker) put Leo straight: Will and Grace and Leo, without the buffer zone of Will & Grace, is just Rob and Ellen.
"Long term marriage without the sex," Ellen explained.
"Long term marriage without the sex, Leo," Rob confirmed nodding agreeably.
"That's what I just said, Rob!" Ellen snarls at her husband.
It was hilarious. It wrapped up threads and points you might have feared were forgotten.
It was a classic series finale . . . if, like us, you provided your own finale.
If, however, you merely watched the two hours on NBC (one hour of tribute, one hour of show), you should probably immediately head for the nearest police station -- you were robbed.
You were robbed of laughter, you were robbed of joy.
Someone thought that instead of wrapping up details, we need an "experience." Despite having an hour, the laughs were in short supply -- but then when you time travel forward over eighteen years offering "experience" there's so little time for anything else.
You read that correctly. Will & Grace, the show that could utilize multiple minutes with the game of Hate Her/Love Her (where Will and Grace flipped through a magazine noting celebrities) suddenly decided it really needed to say something.
What it had to say wasn't funny and, hate to break it to them, it wasn't worth hearing.
We expect to hear from friends involved with the show about this review. If the critique hurts, consider the pain you inflicted on the viewers with that finale and accept the review as payback.
What was the heart of the show? Will & Grace, their friendship. Early on in the finale, that's destroyed. But, good news!, in two years time they make up! Of course, with the good comes the bad -- basically the full hour episode -- which is they then avoid each other for about fifteen years.
This is an ode to friendship?
This wasn't about fate -- a concept the cynical Will & Grace would normally sneer at before a half-hour episode's end -- it was saying that the friendship was too intense and needed a long rest. That was the message from beginning to end of the finale, belabored, underlined, highlighted and spelled out. If Grace hadn't broken with Will, she never would have been happy! Nor would he!
So we ask you, dear readers, are you unhappy?
A little or a lot?
Maybe you're just bored?
Well, look to the person nearest and dearest. That friend, the one that you think has helped pull you through? No, no, no, he or she has pulled you down. For years. And years. You must break with him or her.
Considering that we're talking about a show with two gay characters (and Karen), Will & Grace has seldom had anything to say about or to a community. What it has offered is the importance of friendship. It spits on that concept with the finale. The message is, if Will and Grace had moved out on each other sooner (and stopped being friends), they would have actually gotten on with their lives.
Maybe that message seems familiar? If it does, it's probably because the show has floated it before. As early as Jack and Rosario's wedding (season one finale), Will and Grace were splitting up. That moment repeated throughout the life of the show. But the thing was, the characters, all of them, knew that wasn't reality. Reality was that Grace could never make up her mind about men. (She was breaking up with Ben until he beat her to it and suddenly she had to have him. That's the basic Grace storyline throughout the show.) Reality is that Will couldn't have a successful relationship because NBC worried that gay love scenes would freak out viewers.
This is the post-Ellen show. And it did very little for gays and lesbians by comparison. Ellen ended with a roar. Will & Grace came along with the producers repeatedly belaboring that they weren't Ellen. And they weren't. They had to have many years of ratings success before they'd finally attempt a same-sex kiss that wasn't played for laughs. Will & Grace was some sort of regressive Hokey Pokey television program, you take two steps back and inch your big toe forward, you take three steps back and . . .
But on the show, we were supposed to believe that Will's relationships died because he was too controlling. For most of the series, we were told that and not shown it because the men were all offscreen (such as Michael) or the romantic/sex scenes happened out of camera range (which is also true of the bulk of Jack's love life as well).
As early as the show's seventh episode, Grace was blaming Will for the state of her romantic life.
Season two had them encountering the bitter, angry Joseph and Sharon -- a possible fate that awaited them both. This happened repeatedly, these warnings, and always the characters rejected it. The characters, like the audience, understood the importance of friendship. A full hour and over eighteen years to cover might have seemed like the perfect time for a 'life lesson' to the producers, but it spat on the audience who made this show a hit by embracing 'the destructive power of friendship' message as the show faded to black.
Until the last episode, the jokes were always there, the timing was always there and it was all built on the bedrock of the two main characters' friendship. On the finale, they decide to pull the rug out from under the audience.
What falls to the floor is their own understanding of what made the show a hit.
Refuting everything the show's endorsed didn't leave them any time to be funny. If, like us, you see the episode as one producer's attempt to demonstrate that he and his own Grace couldn't cut it as friends, but that doesn't mean they weren't important to each other, you may wonder why he can't grasp what the audience long had -- Will & Grace left the world of mortals some time ago.
No one needed someone's sorry reality to go out on. No one watching needed to wipe some bitter producer's spit off their face. Will and Grace surpassed their prototypes years ago (probably somewhere around the taping of the first episode), to drag them back down to someone's ugly reality wasn't funny, wasn't entertaining and wasn't worth watching.
Ty says we (Ava and C.I.) got a number of e-mails on Friday complaining that last week we didn't tell readers the character of Eric was returning for the final episode of the other Thursday night finale. We didn't. We told you that That 70s Show paid up the debt to the viewers. We hinted several times. But they were attempting to keep Topher Grace's return a secret so we weren't going to spoil it.
Normally, we'd stand by that decision. However, having watched as puke was hurled from the screen on NBC, we think now that maybe we should have headlined that piece, "Watch That 70s Show season finale -- Topher Grace returns!" The surprise we may have spoiled for some would have been minimal compared to the damage Will & Grace did to its loyal viewers in the lousy, disgraceful finale.
The only good thing about the ending is we don't have to fear Will & Grace: The Reunion. Not just because the earliest they could do an update is about twenty years from now. But also because, who the hell would want to watch? In one hour, they destroyed all the good will they'd built up.
The thing with actors in comedy roles is that they some times get a little itchy for 'drama' to prove to everyone they can 'act.' Possibly that's why the actors didn't scream when they got the script? They should have screamed. They should have said no. The network couldn't. It was the final episode, they had no say other than to air or not air (they shouldn't have aired it, or else burned it off during the summer). The actors were the audience's last line of defense and they failed the audience.
Friday, friends started calling to ask "What the hell was that?" Good question. Hope no one involved with the show is dreaming Emmy wins because most of the people who would normally vote for the show and its team are pretty disgusted with the sh*t that made it on air -- maybe that'll fade by nomination time but right now the mood is disgusted.
It had nothing to do with the characters or with the audience, it had to do with one drama queen (with a St. Elmo's Fire fetish) wanting to work through their own personal issues. As a friend in programming said, "That's what therapy's for."
If you missed the finale (consider yourself lucky) but watched at other times, let's explain to you what you were spared. Having already had a dream sequence (that was actually funny) where the characters aged, you might have thought makeup wouldn't be overly taxed for the rest of the episode but you'd be wrong. We had to see three attractive performers "aged." (Three because the joke for the character Karen was that she avoided aging through repeated surgery -- the same joke they trotted out in the dream sequence.)
Deborah Messing, if you really look that way in 20 years, avoid the cameras. Really, no one needs to see that. And the thing is, these days most people don't see that. Not because of plastic surgery (though that helps some people) but because the boomer generation broke the concept of what middle aged looks like. But not on this show. On this show, finding the characters in the near future means finding them fat, tired and ugly. Which, by the way, wasn't played for laughs.
Now when you're sleek, shiny and pretty much all surface (Will & Grace was) appearance matters. The show that never wanted to say anything that couldn't be prefaced with a pop cultural reference suddenly had a "message." The message was that when a gay man and straight woman are friends, they will always stand in the way of each other's happiness and only by ending the friendship (sixteen years is ending, not a "break") can happiness be brought about. It's an ugly message and a bit like The Andy Griffith Show deciding to go out with a hard hitting look at police abuse. It was unneeded and unwanted.
Val? If you're wondering, she wasn't on. Nor Rob or Ellen. Who has the time to provide characters the audience loved, let alone laughs, when you've want to preach the sort of hate that usually comes out of Jerry Falwell's mouth?
Sure, Will kissed a homophobe in a hospital (don't ask, it wasn't funny, it was just preachy -- the whole hour played as though everyone had just graduated from some right-wing divinity school). But the real message was -- and Falwell, Dobson, et al can take comfort in this -- a friendship between gay and straight only brings misery. We've gone beyond the stereotpye that gays will lead unhappy lives to a new one that says not only are they prone to unhappiness (such as breaking off friendships), but they're bound and determined to drag down every straight person who befriends them.
The producers were right the first year when they told Entertainment Weekly that they weren't making Ellen. Where that show (with the coming out) offered a look that went beyond the stereotypical, Will & Grace didn't. If the same-sex possibilites (largely off screen) bothered you too much, you only had to wait a moment or two before Karen was using some stereotypical insult for gays and lesbians. Or maybe Jack would launch into yet another attack on lesbians -- fun for lesbian-haters of all orientations!
A braver show on friendship, Sex in the City, didn't feel the need to trash friendship as they offered up their final episode. Detractors may argue that Karen and Jack demonstrated the counter-opinion -- that a straight and gay could be friends and helpful to one another. Anyone making that argument has a very elastic concept of straight considering Karen's sexual history.
So here's what happened. You spent eight seasons celebrating friendship only to learn in the last episode that, indeed, the friendship held the main characters back, prevented them from living.
It's an ugly message and it's really too bad Will & Grace bothered to come back from the nonsense (and laugh killer) of Grace as fashion plate. They did come back from that. But now our attitude is why did they even bother? Over a year ago, we wrote "We Will Miss Will & Grace." The last episode made letting go so easy.
It also made us fear tonight's finale, another show going off after eight seasons. We worry that if we watch the final episode of Charmed, we'll be informed that Piper could have had joy, happiness and non-stop good times if only she hadn't been held back by those two sisters (Phoebe and Paige currently; Phoebe and Pru originally). If Will & Grace can use the last episode to destroy all they stood for, sky's the limit for the super natural sisters of Charmed.
Michael Hayden did a little dance for the Senate last Thursday. He'd speak . . . when he wanted to. If you followed the hearing, you may have been suprised by how often Hayden interrupted and cut off senators (often with remarks to the effect of, he wanted to add something). The spineless Congress that can't stand up to the Bully Boy can't even stand up for themselves when someone appearing before them (APPEARING BEFORE THEM) disrespects them not only via evasions but also by dismissing them as though he was conducting the interview.
It wasn't like any job interview we knew of.
"Hayden Defends Domestic Spy Program At Confirmation Hearing" (Democracy Now!):
General Michael Hayden appeared before Senate Thursday for the first day of his confirmation hearings to become the new head of the CIA. The former director of the National Security Agency repeatedly defended the legality of the NSA's secret warrant-less domestic eavesdropping program that he helped design.General Michael Hayden: "When I had to make this personal decision in early October, 2001 -- and it was a personal decision -- the math was pretty straight forward. I could not not do this… We knew that this was a serious issue, and that the steps we were taking, although convinced of their lawfulness, we were taking them in a regime that was different from the regime that existed on 10th September." General Hayden refused to answer questions during the public portion of the hearing on a number of issues including interrogation methods, secret CIA prisons and the true extent of the government's surveillance program.
C.I. shared thoughts on Thursday:
KPFA is providing live coverage on the Michael Hayden confirmation (or not) hearing for the CIA -- Larry Bensky and Mitch Jesserich are anchoring. Quick impressions?
Mike DeWine is the Joe Biden of his party (DeWine is a Republican). He demonstrated a grand love affair with his own voice this morning. Hayden needs to be probed as to the responsibilities he has to citizens. That's who they all work for.
On damage done, he stated that if the NSA is exposed (for violating the rights of citizens) all that happens is "all they lose is a frequency" but that the CIA could lose lives. We all lose a great deal when the rights of citizens are trampled on. For someone who wants to argue that what he did he was legal, it's rather surprising that he told Kit Bond (Repube Senator) that "It was a personal decision" on his part. Ron Wyden did the best job I heard. Probing him and not taking easy answers. Pat Roberts, "scrub" (to use his word of choice today), equated US national security with Israel's.Hayden kept conjuring up "October 2001" (which I'm sure lap dogs in the media will fix for him to "Sept. 11th") and wanted to whine about the NSA, "They're doing their job . . . during a difficult time." I thought he said the worst that could happen was the NSA lost a frequency? What's so difficult about that?
They should be doing their job. During a difficult time or a good one. That's what they're paid for, that's what they're hired for. Hayden can try to make the Gladys Kravitzes out as heroes but they're doing the job they were hired for. (And quite a bit more since Bully Boy's decided that laws are apparently as "quaint" as conventions.)He's really doing lousy but he's aided by the fact that Dems are doing a pretty poor job. Such as DiFi who apparently has tried to drop the genteel mask of "miss diane" and come off like a beer commercial with remarks to the effect of "So that's all good." The "BURP" was, apparently, implied. (It's all good, DiFi.)
Elaine offered her thoughts on Saturday:
What is with this "personal decision" talk? First off, I thought the Bully Boy had already declared himself "The Decider." Is Hayden trying to usurp the Bully Boy and steal the title?Second of all, procedures and guidelines (and laws) are in place to be followed. There's no "personal decision" making. The thing is supposed to run like clockwork.
I find Hayden disgusting. Sunny was listening to the Pacifica coverage of the hearing (Thursday) and, between sessions, I kept rushing over to hear bits and pieces. I found it very disappointing. To the point that I kept expecting someone to ask, "Do you need a break, General Hayden, to go to the bathroom?" To which he'd then reply, "I belive that would be better discussed in closing hearings this afternoon." Maybe if the questioneer was Ron Wyden (Democratic Senator from Oregon who did show some life, by the way), he'd follow up with, "Well do you think, if you needed to use the bathroom, you would need to do number one or number two?" Only to have Hayden reply, "I think we need to be very careful about the information we give out to our enemies." It was such a joke. (If Russ Feingold was present, I'm sure he did a wonderful job. He can usually be counted on. Sunny did ask me if he was there because she was impressed with one Democrat's questions, in addition to Wyden's, but I was in a session and she'd missed the name of the senator.)
Pacifica did a great job with the hearings. Larry Bensky and Mitch Jesserich anchored them. The guest who impressed Sunny and I the most was Chip Pitts. We were both listening and I had an hour before the evening session was due to start. When Pitts came on (and C.I. knows Pitts but I don't before anyone thinks I'm praising Pitts just because he's a friend, I don't know him, have never met him) we agreed that was the high point and shut down the computer after he was done. (Sunny, who'd been listening all morning, said that if it weren't for the analysis and the anchors, she couldn't have made it through the hearing -- due to the lack of spirit, spine and life on the part of the Democrats.)
I'm looking at my notes right now and realizing, they're brief, that I have no idea what most of this is about and should have written something while it was fresh. But let me note that Carl Levin had at least one good question (maybe more, but I heard a brief section of his exchange with Hayden). Levin asked, "Does that mean your answer to my question is yes?" I think that perfectly captures how Ollie North-like Hayden was. Pitts noted that Dianne Feinstein made a comment he wasn't sure anyone heard. Feinstein, according to Pitts, had asked at least one question regarding Guantanamo and, at one point afterwards, Feinstein said, "He didn't answer any of them." "Them" being her questions.
I don't care for Feinstein and I don't care for the way she conducts herself in hearings. She always plays it off as though she's just 'the little lady' making comments about how she's not a lawyer so blah, blah, blah. She's a "law maker." As a member of Congress, she's a law maker. She needs to take her position a lot more seriously. And if she felt her questions weren't answered, she needed to do something more than chuckle.
To the above, we can only add, thank God for Pacifica. While NPR thinks America can't live without That Not So Fresh Air and other assorted gasbags KPFA and the Pacifica website provided live coverage.
We can wonder what makes a Senate committee so gladly accept being dismissed and dissed publicly? (Sado-masochistic desires?) We can wonder why there aren't more objections to the militarization of the CIA (that's what Hayden's confirmation will mean)?
Barbara Olshansky noticed what was going on and called it out Tuesday on KPFA's The Morning Show:
One of the things that I think is underling this type of authorization [. . .] is this notion that this presidency has, that this administration has, that the commander-in-chief powers which are supposed to be used outside the United States in a zone of miltary hostility . This president says, we can turn that power inside, into the United States, into the domestic, civilian, civil society and use that power here. And that underlies everything that this president is doing. . . What's really troubling is when you think that we're now going to appoint military people to fundamentally civilian posts. It adds even more structure to that idea that we can operate militarily inside the United States. That's something that [. . .] in the history of this country we have never abided. It's something the Framers, way back, were concerned about and it's something the courts have been really clear about and yet that is what this administration is completely -- using the military powers inside the United States to justify all of these violations.
But apparently civilian control of the government is not that important these days? And the military spying on protestors during the sixties and seventies not worth remembering, let alone remarking upon?
The mainstream press had a strange way of covering the hearing and Hayden himself but, then, when you've been a valuable resource/source for the press in the past, they probably figure you're appointment will provide them with even more information, right?
The illustration is Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts and perfectly caputers the I'll-stick-my-neck-out-this-far-and-only-this-far Hayden performance. Silly Senators, thinking that their questions were worthy of answers. Silly Americans, thinking that their government owed them answers.
That's the question a source asks Kenneth R. Bazinet and James Gordon Meek in their report "Ex-deputy secretary of state new figure in CIA leak probe" (New York Daily News). Who are they speaking of? Who do you think -- Karl Rove.
The issue's Plamegate (the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, by the administration in an attempt to retaliate against her husband Joseph Wilson). Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's second hand when Powell was Secretary of State, has, reportedly, been speaking with Plamegate Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald "since day one" according to one of Bazinet and Meek's three sources. Armitage also, reportedly, was attempting to dissaude the press from running with the information that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent.
If true, it may not be surprising to all.
If you're lost and wondering "Plamegate?" -- first, we'd like to say, "Good morning, welcome to the real world." If you need some background we'll steer you to, no surprise, Democracy Now! -- "Exclusive: New Information May Reveal Key Details on Judith Miller's Role in the Rove/CIA Scandal" (August 4, 2005):
JUAN GONZALEZ: In July 2003, Wilson published an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times that forced the current Bush administration to admit that a key justification for its invasion of Iraq was false, namely the allegation that Iraq was attempting to import uranium from the African nation of Niger, an allegation Bush made in his January 2003 State of the Union address.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
AMY GOODMAN: Those 16 words provided one of the lynchpins of the administration case, but Joe Wilson knew it was a lie. He knew because he had been sent by the C.I.A. to Niger to investigate those claims before the invasion began, and he found them to be baseless. In July, Wilson decided to out the Bush administration by publishing the Op-Ed entitled "What I Didn't Find in Africa." Within days of that article's publication, the so-called Plame scandal, which some call the Rove scandal, was in full motion. By July 13, Valerie Plame was outed in a column by right-wing columnist, Bob Novak, and Joe Wilson began receiving calls from journalists. This is how Ambassador Wilson described the story when he joined us in our Firehouse studios May 14, 2004.
JOSEPH WILSON: Sure, a week after the article appeared, and before I had responded, I was not going to respond to Novak's article publicly. I was not going to comment and did not comment on my wife's employment, other than to say, hypothetically, if she was what Novak asserts, then he might be in violation of the law and refer all questions to the C.I.A., which was appropriate. So, I was laying low. But the communications office was calling around all these journalists, and over the course of the weekend, I was getting calls every day from people saying -- the first call was 'The White House is telling us so many off the wall things, we can’t even go with them, but we'd like you to come on so we can ask you some questions.' I didn't rise to that bait. Andrea Mitchell called me and said, 'The White House is saying that the real story here is Wilson and his wife.' And then, finally, Chris Matthews called me and said, 'I just got off the phone with Karl Rove. He says,' and I quote, 'Wilson's wife is fair game.'
From the start Karl Rove has been mentioned. He was named by Time's Matt Cooper who claimed a brand new release (one that Rove's attorney disputed) as his reason for finally coughing up the truth that Rove had spoken to him about Valerie Plame and advised him that she was CIA.
Robert Novak's column was published in July of 2003. It's now May of 2006. If the administration had nothing to hide one wonders why Alberto Gonzales (then the White House counsel) allowed a lag time before advising those working at the White House that they could not destroy e-mails, notes, logs or correspondence now that an investigation was ongoing into the outing of a CIA agent?
Another question worth asking is why three years later we're still getting to the bottom of what Bully Boy said was a process that would involve cooperation from the White House? If Bully Boy really wanted to get to the bottom of the outing of Plame, all he ever had to do was get to the bottom of it. Instead, it appears the White House has provided many obstacles and generally hoped the investigation would go away. No such luck, Bully Boy.
On October 28, 2005, Fitzgerald held a press conference.
"Libby Resigns After Five Count Indictment in CIA Leak Case" (Democracy Now!):
For the first time in 130 years, a White House staff member has been indicted for crimes committed in the office. On Friday, Lewis "Scooter" Libby was indicted on five counts of obstruction of justice, perjury to a grand jury and making false statements to FBI agents during the CIA leak investigation. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines. Until Friday Libby was a central figure in the Bush White House holding three top positions: chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, national security adviser to the vice president and assistant to the president. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald announced the indictment on Friday. President Bush's chief advisor Karl Rove has so far escaped indictment for his role in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson. But Rove remains under investigation. On Sunday Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called on Bush to apologize and for Rove to resign. Bush and Cheney have both praised Libby for his service. The top candidate to replace Libby is David Addington who currently works as the vice president's legal counsel. Three years ago he wrote a memo that asserted the war on terrorism renders obsolete the Geneva Convention's limitations of questioning detainees. Ambassador Wilson accused Libby and the White House of outing his wife, Valerie Plame. He said, "Senior administration officials used the power of the White House to make our lives hell for the last 27 months. But more important, they did it as part of a clear effort to cover up the lies and disinformation used to justify the invasion of Iraq. That is the ultimate crime."
The investigation goes on.
Some distinguished themselves in the coverage including but not limited to BuzzFlash and David Corn who were among the first to realize the significance of Robert Novak's column and pursued the issues involved not just when others didn't notice but when those who did notice tended to dismiss the importance of the issue. Murray Waas has broken a number of stories on this case including the news that Scooter Libby told the grand jury that he gave out information only with the permission of Dick Cheney.
However, a number of journalists embarrased themselves including Matt Cooper and the oh-so-wooden Woody. Bob Woodward, the stenographer posing as reporter, able amass pages of pages of "he saids" (never even rising to the level of He Said/She Said) and always hiding his failure to sift through the transcripts and public record with the 'reasoning' that he just reports what he's told. It was his defense for the book Wired.
Maybe if people hadn't been so quick to dismiss the ones complaining, sources for the book, on Wired, it wouldn't be such a shock for them to learn that the same Woody who went on cable chat and chews and NPR to dismiss the outing of Valerie Plame was, in fact, aware of the outing
(June 27, 2003), a party to the outing -- by his silence -- when people in the administration revealed Plame to him prior to Robert Novak's column being published. Since that's come out, Woody's offered a shifting rationale for his silence, sometimes contradicting himself repeatedly in a single interview.
When you consider all the silence and dismissals by so many big names in the media, it amazes us that Jason Leopold, who has broken many stories on Plamegate, is suddenly the object of derision by some. If Leopold's report of an impending indictment of Karl Rove was incorrect, it was incorrect. His sources lied to him. It's happened before (if it happened) and it will happen again. It's happened to big names and to small names. When the Yes Men played their hoax on the BBC we're not remembering the same types tearing apart the BBC. More importantly, many big names have 'reported' not on what sources told them but what they supposedly witnessed with their own eyes -- and gotten it horribly wrong (often intentionally wrong). That calls into question their skills. If Leopold's story is incorrect (again, if) all it means is that sources who've previously been accurate were wrong.
The until recently lionized PRESS GOD Bob Woodward didn't always get it right in the Watergate reporting he did with Carl Bernstein. Does that shock you? It shouldn't. It happens.
And if Leopold was misled (if), we're not shocked. We're not shocked that a devious administration that's declared war on the press would be able to hatch a plan that they hoped would disgrace a reporter. We're also not so sure that there may not be some stalling going on between Rove's camp and Fitzgerald -- talk of an agreement, then dickering over the details to push back the indictment.
The reality is that the independent media has covered this story from the start. The corporate media? They haven't cared. While Robert Parry has provided context and perspective at Consortium News (and has enough for another strong book), big media's shrugged. They've tried to downplay it, they've offered Vicky ToeJam plenty of space and airtime to flat out distort repeatedly.
After Woody, the biggest dismisser has been nonPulblic Broadcasting System's Gwen Ifel who dubbed it (in July of 2005) merely a "summer scandal." Oh, Gwen.
Say, it's only a summer scandal
Bully Boy will soon have the handle
He's the king of the make-believe
Do you believe in me?
Yes, it's only a scandal de sum
Reporters move on if we play mum
King George of the make believe
Do you believe in me?
. . .
It's a Bully and Cheney world
Just as phony as it can be
But it wouldn't be make-believe
If you believed in me
Gwen wanted to believe that, Woody wanted to as well. They weren't alone. Matt Cooper resisted giving up Karl Rove for over a year (even though he'd already rolled over on Scooter Libby). You have to wonder what impact this story would have had on the 2004 election had Rove been outed before the election? But despite the deepest desires and wishes of the administration, the story goes on. Or as Debra Winger says in Black Widow, "The truth it, it's not over."
Betty: Yes. The only thing I'm trying to structure right now is the real Thomas Friedman's vacation that's coming up and figuring out what point I want Betinna to be at when he starts his vacation in real life. Trina's already guessed one of the plot points and I think it's obvious to most people. But it will, hopefully, still be funny while being a little darker. There is no return after the fight and Betinna's about to start learning a few things about her past.
Jim: For Wally. "Is it hard being funny?"
Wally: Yeah, it can be. I'm like Betty in that I usually don't post until I've read it to C.I. I did this week due to C.I. being in DC and as soon as we talked, C.I. suggested I go in and drop one word to replace it with another. I did that and it made the thing work for me. But there are days when I'm tired and just thinking that as soon as I'm done with classes I'm going to have to search through the news for a topic and find some way to be funny are intimidating and I'll freeze up. If a friend's around, I'll usually talk to him or her and they'll give me the pep talk. By the way, I talked about this with Mike for an interview but just to be clear, after the Alito confirmation, I really did feel what's the point and it was thanks to Kat and C.I. and everyone here that I was able to do any posting again. And thanks to C.I. that I found a new direction for the site. I really didn't know the show Laugh-In and C.I. gave me some DVDs and we talked about that. By the way, I'm not saying I'm as funny as that show, I'm just saying I'm kind of modeling The Daily Jot after it.
Jim: Elaine, a woman wrote to ask that we highlight an entry you did this week and one Cedric did. She felt that "We hold the Iraqi government and the occupiers responsible for this brutal atrocity" and Cedric's "Dry Drunk Bully Boy" really spoke to her. She wrote she was very upset by the UNICEF report and didn't see a lot of people writing about it, let alone talking about how upset they were.
Elaine: Well thank you to her. And can we get that item in here via Democracy Now!?
"UNICEF: 25% of Iraqi Children Suffer Malnutrition" (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile, a survey carried out by the Iraqi government and UNICEF has concluded a quarter of all Iraqi children suffer from malnutrition.
Elaine (con't): One thing I think this community has always been great about is not pretending. When someone's mad, they say so. Cedric's done a wonderful job exploring grief and I just don't feel the need to pretend that something doesn't upset me to my core when it does. The occupation, illegal occupation, has not made life better for Iraqis. That doesn't surprise me. I may even be at a point where I'm growing a little numb to it, sadly, due to the fact that what happens is not surprising. But with the false claims the administration likes to make, it did shock me that even with regards to children they've failed. I shouldn't be. They fail the children in this country. But the malnutrition rates are something the occupation could have addressed. Even children are meaningless to the administration. I believe, obviously, in processing what you're feeling. I don't shove something inside in my own life and bury it, I don't do it my site. I'm glad the woman responded to it. She shouldn't feel she's alone. I've talked about that story with many friends since it broke and it is distressing for everyone who hears it.
Jim: If you missed it, Mike got an interview with C.I. this week -- "Surprise interview" -- and we got a lot of e-mails on that. Here are the top three questions. 1) Why did Mike get it instead of us? 2) How did you decide what to ask? and 3) Any questions you wish you'd asked?
Mike: I got it because I begged and charmed and begged some more. Really, I was doing everyone in the community --
C.I.: You still haven't interviewed Kat.
Mike: For real?
Mike: My bad. I'll do that this week. But I was going through the community and just doing a once a week interview. C.I. was next up and had agreed only because it was something everyone was doing. Then Cedric moved his site and C.I. suggested I grab Cedric for that week. I think that was the back out. But, for whatever reason, Sunday C.I. said, "If you want to do it still, let's do it Thursday." I had a ton of questions written down ahead of time. During the interview I thought of a few more. I also asked everyone for one question at least and everyone helped there. There were some really strong questions. Elaine and Rebecca's were interesting and brought a different thing, I thought. I also knew C.I. was tired, and sounded tired, so I was trying to get some heavy questions in and some lighter ones too. I have a verbal promise of a follow up interview at some point and hopefully will be able to address other things then but I'm really pleased with the interview. I left out two sentences that I need to put in. Ma pointed that out to me when she said, "Mike, there seems to be something missing in this answer. Is this exactly what was said?" So I had to grab the tape and listen. I'll try to fix that when we take a break tonight.
Jim: Next question is for Kat and it's about both something that appeared here ("Shame of the Week (Musical)") and an entry Kat did this week (""Helen Reddy, Burger King, Music"). Monty thinks that you and we have been too harsh on Helen Reddy and brings up the issue of parody.
Kat: Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman" is being used in a Burger King commerical with different lyrics but the same music. I've heard the nonsense of 'parody' before. I'm don't think parody covers what was done since it is being used to sell a product. That's believing that Helen Reddy's not getting any financial compensation for the ad, Reddy co-wrote the song. The argument is that Reddy is an innocent bystander and that Burger King's using the music without her permission and justifying it on the ground of "parody." If you buy that argument, the next question is why doesn't she sue? The Beatles, prior to Michael Jackson purchasing their catalogue, were very protective of their work. If parody is grounds for use then what's to stop a medication for urinary tract diseases from using the music to "Here Comes The Sun" and imposing a jingle of "Here Comes The Urine" over it while arguing it's parody? I don't think parody covers this. They are mocking the reasons for the song and if Helen Reddy didn't profit from its use and agree to it, she needs to stop hawking her lousy book with the tale of an ex-lover whose nose came off on the pillow due to cocaine use long enough to file a lawsuit. If she was used, I'll note it at my site. But if she didn't give her consent, she should sue. I realize that not everyone has the violent reaction that John Fogerty did when he heard "Revolution" in a Nike commercial but for, many of us, songs that had meaning aren't to be turned into commercials. That was once Reddy's stance on this song. I don't feel I have anything to explain. If the reader wants an explanation, Helen Reddy's the one he needs to seek out.
Jim: Ty replied to this already but Dona thought it was interesting question. A reader wondered if Ty, Betty and Cedric worked out ahead of time, in roundtables, who would cover what?
Ty: We are the three African-American or Black participants. The e-mailer felt like one week Betty might hit the issue hard in a roundtable and then at another time it might be Cedric or me. We don't work that out ahead of time. When someone's speaking strongly on any issue, this is true of every roundtable and everyone who participates on any topic, the rest of us try to stay out of the way unless we disagree. So, like last week, Betty was the first to really hit on the topic of racism. When she did that, for me, it was listen to her and add anything she hasn't covered. Cedric?
Cedric: Yes, I'd agree with that. And Betty hit it hard. I wasn't even planning to discuss the first book but she was hitting on the topic so hard that I wanted to jump in. Mainly so that if someone took offense they couldn't scapegoat Betty and say, "Oh, that's just her."
Ty: These days, for books or roundtables, we usually note our main point ahead of time and let Dona know so she can make sure during the roundtable that everyone's had a chance to speak and that each person's main point got noted. That's the only planning.
Jim: Betty, anything to add?
Betty: Just that readers who want to gripe about race being raised as an issue live in some world that I've never visited because race is still very much an issue.
Jim: Rebecca, you'd already answered this at your site Saturday, so let me know if you want to pass on it, but Wesley wondered if "rebecca winters has a warning" resulted from a busy day or if you're planning on dong brief entries in the future?
Rebecca: I do discuss that post in "the ruth & elijah report" but, briefly, I've been baby sitting a small child. I was tired and intended to post again later but ended up falling asleep. As for brief entries, I was talking to Cedric and we both think we may try them more often in the future. I think, and Dona and Cedric agree, that sometimes we all feel like we have to do an indepth entry and that blogging might be more fun if we varied it up a little more. Just something being considered to avoid burn out.
Jim: Jess, a question directed to you was if "you" knew "you" "ripped off" the musical Funny Girl in "Head on Home (a musical in four scenes)."
Rebecca: Five Stocky Men sing " What are you/Blind?" in their first appearance and Barbra Streisand sings that in "I'm the Greatest Star" from Funny Girl. I actually put those four words in and did so with a nod to Funny Girl which I love.
Jess: I wasn't aware of that but it wasn't an attempt to rip off by anyone involved. We need a rhyme and Rebecca came up with one. It's two lines, four words, that happen once and only once. My grandfather's answer to everything is, "What are you? Blind?" and I believe it's just a saying. I don't know that the line was invented for Funny Girl. But thanks for reading it. C.I., Rebecca, Kat and I started that idea, but we all wrote it. There are songs that the four of us wrote which didn't make the cut because there wasn't time to do a more fully developed musical.
We did work bits and pieces of what we could into those four scenes. I think the most fun we had was with the character of Senator which Kat was the one to realize we needed for an antagonist. Rebecca was the one who came up with the idea of modeling the character after Hillary Clinton. I came up with "Now tell me/ Will you vote for me?/ You know I'm going to run?" I knew it needed an opening but I could think of what. C.I. came up with "constituents" that leads into it and that became a regular part of most of the Senator's songs. I'm really pleased with how that turned out.
Jim: Common Ills community member Brenda writes in to tell Dona that she used to think that I, Jim, did all the work behind the scenes, but now she realizes it's Dona who keeps things moving and running and I'm just the pretty face.
Dona: Brenda is exactly right. I do everything. Jim is just the pretty face. Seriously, when we were doing the news feature or the roundtables, e-mails always came in saying someone didn't speak or didn't do this. And one time I completely forgot Elaine hadn't spoken when I shut down a discussion. Those are things I try to catch and that's pretty much what I do behind the scenes.
Jim: Dona meant to add "And he's not just a pretty face, he's got a cute ass." Cedric, regular reader Martin wonders about you. He feels like you're off "on your own thing, doing your own thing." [Mock serious voice] Is that true?
Cedric: Interesting. Martin's probably right. I do, at my site, write about stuff that interests me and it may be less political at times. That's just because that's what I've got to offer that day and C.I. told me, repeatedly, not to try to do what anyone else is doing and to do what I wanted. I think all of the sites have their own perspective and unique voice but C.I. really did encourage me. It might mean I have some harsh words for someone C.I. thinks highly of, for instance, but there's never been, "How dare you!" And, if I've checked ahead of time, it's always been, "Cedric, just write what you feel and be true to yourself." So that's what I've done. Or tried to. And the community has been very encouraging about that as has everyone here. For me, the moment when I really got that it was okay was in a news roundup when I was supposed to do a straight report and C.I. tosses to me and I'm coming back with humor. I wasn't sure how that would go over but the second C.I. started playing along, I knew it was okay to just be me and the me at that moment, if I was feeling silly or sad or whatever.
Jim: I remember that news roundup. Dona and I were both asking each other "What?" because we thought you were being serious. If Cedric was a pitcher, his speciality would be the curve ball and we're all glad for that, if I can editorialize for a second. Dona was talking to community member Shirley on the phone and she wanted to leap ahead of everyone with a question for Ava. Shirley's entitled to that. She's a regular reader here and a longterm community member. Her question was about how Ava, when this site started, felt "a little bit to the side of everyone." The rest of us were pretty tightly knit and Ava really only knew Dona. Has that changed?
Ava: I did feel like everyone knew each other and like they were a tight group. I don't know if I could have gotten through the first edition if C.I. hadn't been physically here with us. Everyone was, rightly, carving out their space and I was feeling like they're all on Manhattan island and I'm off in Jersey. Early on, I really did have to fight to get any sentence in as is. It would always get reworded, unless C.I. ran interference -- which happened often. My mistake was in assuming that everyone was paying attention then. I'm serious here, by the way. Everyone was concerned that when the edition was complete, they could point to something and say, "I did that." I was just as guilty of that. But what happened over time, and fairly quickly, was that we all started listening. We'd had the moment of "That's mine!" pride and now we may listen too much and write too little if the only concern is the final product -- I don't think that's the only concern or that it should be -- and it was being able to say, for instance, "Jim, I don't like that." And Jim would listen. It might or might not get pulled from a piece, but he'd listen. And that brings us to the question for Jim which Dona slid to me.
Jim: I didn't realize I had a question coming to me.
Ava: You do. Lorenzo noted mulitple pieces including, the most recent one, Mike's "Surprise interview," and wondered what you really think when you read me or C.I. or anyone noting a disagreement with you?
Jim: I'm not bothered by it at all. I think it's honest. We have all had serious disagreements and I think we have enough respect for one another that we can do it openly here. Or, if it's Ava, a few days later when she's in a place where she can talk. Ava really will avoid it at the moment.
Ava: Because there's not much point in us getting into what will be a lengthy discussion when everyone's trying to focus on the latest edition, finish it and get some sleep.
Jim: I know. But even then, Ava won't pussy foot around. She'll let me know a day or two later that she's upset and we'll talk about it. Often I'll end up apologizing because, this shocks me too, I can be wrong. It's okay to disagree and the feedback I get on that is usually positive. People are glad it's not "Oh we never argue! We all get along every second of every day!" If you've got friends, you've got disagreement. If you want consensus, sign up for cloning. C.I., want to add to that?
C.I.: Is that my question? I think you covered it already. There are e-mails that come into The Common Ills expressing what Jim just stated. It does reach people who are afraid that if they aren't agreeing with everything a friend says then maybe they aren't friends. Personally, I would've preferred, I believe Ava agrees with me, that when Ava and I didn't want to write a feature it hadn't been discussed here and at other places. I didn't stop that and it's not my place to stop it but I felt as though the talk would be one more thing that would pull attention to an upcoming commentary and distract from "Darfur."
Rebecca: But by the same token, it also resulted in a lot more attention for that edition, the advance talk.
Jim: I'd agree with that. I'll say for the record that Ava and C.I. were correct that the feature should have been done, if done, for another edition. It did overwhelm the rest of the edition.
Here's the question for C.I. It's from a guy named Bundy. Is he a member of the community?
C.I.: No. I'm not familiar with that name.
Jim: Well he's a reader and one who enjoys The Common Ills. He wonders why you've never "missed a day."
C.I.: Well, I started in November of 2004 before Thanksgiving, a week or two, and I posted an entry on Thanksgiving, maybe more than one. The response from a few was that it meant something to them. As Christmas 2004 approached, others weighed in on the fact that they didn't celebrate that holiday or that they would be alone on that holiday. I had thought I'd take many days off including holidays. But it was explained in various e-mails at that point how many sites closed down on the holidays. For those who needed it, I felt the site needed to be there. The original plan was that I'd take some days off in January of 2005 but then there were some e-mails that came in about how much they depended upon the site. At any given moment, there are members dealing with much more in their own lives than most could handle. If being able to log in on a bad day and get some comfort from something I've written, usually badly written, helps anyone, then that's something I need to take seriously and I try to do so.
Jim: Any regrets on that?
C.I.: I'd love to really sleep in. Not oversleep, as I've done some mornings, and then rush to do an entry. But just to sleep in, knowing ahead of time that I'm getting up very late, and then rise long after the sun's up. Usually, I'm posting first thing in the morning, then working out and by the time I'm showered and dressed, I've been up several hours. But you know, whine on. Some people have serious problems, this isn't one of them.
Jim: And that ends what we hope was a quick entry in Dona's eyes.
And, in the third hour, which Flanders always devotes on Saturdays to music, poetry, film or another art form, you got Penny Lang. Lang's been performing professionaly since 1963 and, last night, she performed a number of songs from her upcoming album (already released in her native country of Canada) Stone & Sand & Sea & Sky. (June 13th is the release date for it in the United States.)
Of Phil Ochs, Lang said, "He wrote songs that are revelant to the world today, not just your country, but our's [Canada]" and then went on to perform, live in the studio with Flanders, a moving version of Ochs' "When I'm Gone:"
I won't breathe the bracing air
When I'm gone
I can't even worry about my cares
When I'm gone
Won't be asked to do my share
When I'm gone
I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here.
It's a wonderful song and Lang found a way to make it her own. (We really feel that if David Letterman can release CDs of performances for his show, Flanders and Air America might look into putting out a CD with some highlights from RadioNation.)
Flanders wondered, "Can we sing louder than the guns, do you think?" Lang replied, "I think we have to" and added, "I think we got to stop watching TV so much. Get out there and start meeting people. . . . " Reconnect (or for some connect for the first time) with the world around you was the way Lang saw it.
Flanders asked, "Who do you think gave you permission in your life to be who you are, to pick up an instrument . . . to keep coming back after being kicked down so much?" That included a stroke Lang had six years ago.
The reply? "The passion . . . I always come back to this because it really truly is where my heart is."
She noted that for her family, music was a way of communicating and that its power including the ability of reaching us "and in a very special way moves us."
A working mother (her adult son Jason was with her in the studio), Lang spoke of the problems we face today when "play" is no longer free form but something restricted and regimented. Today, she explained, when you think of the word "play," you think of coaches and teams. It's highly organized.
"I think parents are too uptight about their children being perfect instead of enjoying them at their play," she said. "A child sings a tune and a parent says 'Oh that was out of tune, how horrible.'"
Her committment to song was noted in another song, "Yes," which included the line, "I will sing until I die." "Careless Love" was another strong song, one with (as Flanders pointed out) a bluesy feel.
When you think of White blues singers, you probably think of Janis Joplin and Lang had a Joplin story. Ken Pierson, the Hammond organ player in Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie band (her final band, the one she recorded Pearl with) was a friend of Lang's and, since Joplin wanted to learn more about playing the guitar, Lang, it was decided, would teach her. Unfortunately Joplin would pass away before the lessons took place. Lang noted that "Janis wanted to play the guitar real bad. They pulled the mike off onstage" when she tried to play along with "Me & Bobby McGee." (Joplin played guitar on the demo for "Me & Bobby McGee" and that can be heard on the boxed set Janis -- where she stops the recording because she can't hear the guitar and notes she should be able to hear it "even if I don't play so good." For those interested, she starts the song over and it's a wonderful document of how she originally worked through the "La-la-la"s of the song.)
She also has a connection to Leonard Cohen in that she was approached to record the song "Suzanne" with a band (for Warner Bros. Records) but declined. She jokes that a stronger manager would have talked her into doing the song. (This would have been recorded before Judy Collins offered her own wonderful interpretation on In My Life.)
Tonight, Flanders intends to discuss the results of the New Orleans mayoral race (Nagan won) and to speak with Sara Jean Rohe, the student who stood down John McCain at the New School Friday. She'll also be speaking with Greg Palast and, in her media roundtable, speak with Bruce Shapiro and Christy Hardin Smith about recent media coverage.
NYC-ers, if you're feet are itching and you don't think you can stay inside your home tonight
Penny Lang will be performing at The Living Room -- eight p.m., 154 Ludlow Street, NYC -- corner of Stanton and Rivington. It's a wonderful place to see musicians (as anyone who saw Anais Mitchell perform there in December can attest).
If you missed Lang, you missed some wonderful music and wonderful conversations. Don e-mailed and wrote, "Okay, if nothing else, I'll make a point to listen to the third hour on Saturday." Don had written us a month or so back (right before Flanders took a leave to finish the book she's working on) to ask why, on the weekend, he'd want to follow current events by listening to any program including RadioNation with Laura Flanders? We're glad he's now on board for the third hour (last night was his first chance to catch the third hour) and we hope overtime he grows curious about the other five hours offered each weekend.
Sidebar, Myles Cameron (we think that's how it's spelled) actually did a strong job on the newsbreaks Saturday. Not an ounce of fluff. We'll note that since we've noted his performance previously. (The news breaks come on the hour, every hour.)
Sunday, May 21st, 6:30p.m.
A special profile of 20th century musical icon John Lennon.
Act One Radio Drama
Sunday, May 21st, 7:30p.m.
A showcase of Arthur Miller and his plays, including:All My Sons, The Crucible, and A View From The Bridge.
On Air America Radio, RadioNation with Laura Flanders (7:00 pm to 10:00 pm Eastern):
What does it mean to be a friend of America and citizen these days? Do good fences make good neighbors? Our Media Roundtable includes Nation contributor BRUCE SHAPIRO and blogger CHRISTY HARDIN SMITH of Firedoglake. And GREG PALAST on why Bush loves $3 a gallon gas, war-mongering with oil-producing nations and other sordid tales from his new book, "Armed Madhouse: Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf? China Floats, Bush Sinks, The Scheme to Steal '08, No Child's Behind Left, and other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War."
Plus Sara Jean Rohne who gave the pre-rebuttal to John McCain Friday at the New School.
Now, final note, if you have HBO, Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Iraq Uncensored" (The Nation) notes a documentary airing tonight (and repeating through the week, it's HBO):
The Bush administration has censored photographs of the wounded, body bags, and flag-draped coffins. Imagine its fears over large numbers of Americans viewing Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill's new documentary, Baghdad ER.
Airing Sunday, May 21, at 8:00 PM on HBO, Baghdad ER examines the 86th Combat Support Hospital which the filmmakers chronicled for two months. One nurse, Specialist Saidet Lanier, describes life at the field hospital this way: "This is hard-core, raw, uncut trauma. Day after day, every day."
If you don't have HBO, you can go to Democracy Now!'s "Baghdad ER: Documentary On US Military Hospital in Iraq Gets Cold Reception From Army" and listen, watch or read (transcripts) about the documentary (clips are included -- at least if you listen or watch).
Here's our first ten.
1) Janeane Garofalo, actress, comedian, co-host of Air America's The Majority Report, author
2) Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!, author
3) Laura Flanders, host of Air America's RadioNation with Laura Flanders, journalist, author
4) Naomi Klein, journalist, author
5) Arundahti Roy, author, speaker
6) Alice Walker, author, poet, essayist
7) Dr. Helen Caldicott
8) Maxine Hong Kingston, poet, author
9) Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK and founding director of Global Exchange
10) Ani DiFranco, singer, musician, songwriter, producer
Maybe you noticed something about the above list? They're all women.
Guess what? There area lot more women as well who spoke out against the war before it started. But recently a lisping scold made his own list and despite exceeding the limit he'd set (by noting runner ups), he couldn't find one woman worthy of noting.
For that reason, we've made the first list one devoted to ten strong women (and there are many more strong women) who spoke against the war. These are ten voices that reached us and came to our mind quickly. If there's some that spoke to you feel free to e-mail and we'll see if they fit the criteria. (Hint, Pat Buchanan was against the war in Iraq. He is, however, not of the left. So he and others like him will not be noted here. We're a site for the left.)
Kat's Korner: Springsteen's Seeger Sessions
Kat: If you're a Bruce Springsteen fan, you know he's worth listening to and you live for the moments where he is more than that. The Nebraska moments, the Born in the U.S.A. moments, The River moments. Those are the highs. Though some might disagree, I've never really noticed any lows. At his "worst," he's still listenable. With or without the E Street Band, you can toss him on the stereo -- pretty much blindly -- and know you won't have to grab the remote and stand close by to avoid the groaners.
For me, there's one "worst" album in the Springsteen canon: Greatest Hits. Now true, I don't care for repackaging studio cuts, but I found little on that album that was worth getting excited about. It was the dullest, safest mix and it's probably the only one that I've never popped out of the case and played again after the initial hearings.
He's got a new album out, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. Seeger being Pete Seeger, the legend, the pioneer -- add your own adjective of choice. He's not with the E Street Band and if you're thinking that means you're getting Nebraska or The Ghost of Tom Joad, you're mistaken. On this album, he plays "guitar, mandolin, B3 organ, piano, percussion, harmonica, tambourine" and contributes backing vocals as well as leading vocals. A far cry from Nebraska which was was recorded by Springsteen on a really crappy tape recorder and finally released with a few tweeks after attempts at re-recording the home recordings never captured the hypnotic and powerful quality he'd created more or less by himself -- chiefly with his vocals and guitar playing. In addition to the variety of instruments he plays this go round, thirteen people contribute assistance. It's a loud album. Loud's not bad. But it's one that you may need to listen to repeatedly in order to appreciate.
You think "Pete Seeger," you usually picture a solitary man, onstage, with his guitar. Springsteen could have done that. It was probably wise not to. The point of the album is not just to provide a tribute. There's nothing wrong with the concept of a tribute album (though the execution of one is often frightening -- such as a Jimi Henrix album released not all that long ago). But at best, what happens is that a few fans of the artist, or artists, doing the tribute end up learning of a musician. A few may even seek out the artist receiving the tribute's own recordings. Springsteen's doing something similar here to Dolly Parton's recent Those Were The Days. It's a louder, muscular version and that sometimes turns off people. It's why some refer to his music as "jock rock." But like Parton, he's digging into the past to comment on the world now.
Here are some of the gripes I've heard about this album.
"It's not Pete Seeger's songs!"
It's called the Seeger Sessions and for those not familiar with folk tradition, Harry Belafonte, Malvina Reynolds, Miriam Makeba and others were doing something new when they began performing original songs. (Yes, this predates the emergence of Bob Dylan as a songwriter and, yes, it's overlooked in the rush to holler, "Praise be to Dylan! God of all music!") In the mid-20th century, folk artists usually went to the "roots" which meant traditional folk songs that might have been forgotten were the artists not there to bring them to the attention of a new generation. So these are songs Seeger has recorded (and a few of them are ones he had a hand in writing). "It's too loud!" It's a look at America and, in case you missed it, we're rarely seen overseas as reticent. Hearing the power in his voice as he sings "John Henry" is something you'll either enjoy or you won't. I have a hard time figuring out how you sing "Erie Canal" without using a powerful voice. (Though a stark presentation might work as well, the song -- with repeated cries of "low bridge" -- really requires a powerful reading.) The loudness critique actually came from a twenty-one-year-old friend who is devoted to "hardcore." (Sh, don't tell him it's died.)
The reason he thinks it's too loud? "I bought this for a relaxing listen." This is an active listen. It's not the sort of CD you put on at the end of a long day when you're relaxing before bedtime. It's a blood pumping CD.
"It's too fussy."
That actually may be the most apt criticism for those who like their Springsteen stripped down (Nebraska, The Ghost of Tom Joad). (For those who like their Springsteen really stripped down, he used to favor blue briefs.) He's working with a large band and those not familiar with the hootenany form will be left scratching their heads. Hopefully the success of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack provides some form of a starting point for those asking "Hoot-a-what?"
"We Shall Overcome" is the song that's getting most of the ink. It's a quieter version that you may be used to, one that vocally recalls Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia." Most friends really enjoy the album but they have issues with the track order. Sumner, for instance, thinks "Jesse James" should have been the opener because it starts off soft (as most people probably expect) and transitions quickly into the group effort present on the album. But even those who would rearrange the track listing, can't stop listening (even if they use the program function on their CD players to put the disc in the order they wish it came in). A few listens and I'm guessing you will too. He's not coasting and using "tribute" to hide behind uninspired. He's fully committed to the music and, for Springsteen fans, that's probably all they need to know about We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions.
we shall overcome
we shall overcome the seeger sessions
the seeger sessions
cedrics big mix
the third estate sunday review
the common ills
let me give an update.
ruth will probably take off next week. she's thinking about that which will mean the whole month of may and feeling bad about it.
she doesn't need to.
this is really the 2nd vacation she's had for her. i'm not counting vacations with her family though she enjoys those and would count them.
for visitors - what the hell are you doing here? ruth does ruth's public radio report at the common ills.
so ruth's had 1 real vacation since her husband passed away and that was when her friend treva insisted she take a road trip. ruth did and will tell you that her heart wasn't really in it, it was too soon after the death.
ruth still misses her late husband, of course, but she's gotten back into the 'swing of events' (a quote - and this is written with her permission). this road trip with treva has been amazing and kat and i have both told her that with pacifica radio in fundraising mode for this month and with community sites noting it, she needs to take some time for her.
before the vacation and currently, c.i.'s encouraged ruth to take as much time as she needs.
so ruth's probably off next weekend as well. (her report usually runs on saturdays at the common ills.)
i've been watching elijah, her grandson, during the day. which ruth said 'needs to be noted' and if it wasn't, 'i'll come back just to note it.' so i told her i'd mention it here.
that wasn't the original plan but the person lined up fell through at the last minute due to a family emergency. i called ruth about her report that had just gone up and to wish her well on her trip that she was due to leave on in a few hours with treva when she said she was probably cancelling it. ruth's children and their spouses work and her grandchildren are in school. if it was the summer, you better believe tracey and jayson could cover for her.
but ruth had just gotten the call that the family friend had to go to florida due to some 1 from their own family having had a stroke the day before. i know tracey and jayson from the various protests that we've attended like dc and nyc and had been helping 1 of her ruth's daughter-in-laws with a cause near and dear to us both. of course in california, we were all there including elijah so i wasn't a stranger to him.
i was nervous about offering because, though i knew ruth would be fine with it, i did wonder if i'd hear back 'we really don't know you well enough.' that would have been understandable but they were desperate enough and i had enough 'ins' that i passed the muster. (i have no idea what the saying 'pass muster' means - do you?)
so that's what i've been doing during the week.
ruth asked, 'tell the truth, rebecca,' if the reason my thursday post was so short was because elijah had exhausted me?
probably. i'd actually planned to do 2 posts thursday. i knew mike was doing the interview with c.i. and that mike is a really, really slow typist. so i figured i'd get something up and come back later and do another post. but i ended up posting and then sitting down to read a book.
ruth has some great books in her house. this was a big, thick 1 that i wasn't aware of. it's the price of power: henry kissinger in the nixon white house and you may know the author - seymour m. hersh.
it's an involving read. i made it to page 52 and fell asleep.
elijah is a handful. a wonderful child. with more energy than you'd expect from such a small person.
i have no idea how ruth ever manages to write down things to quote during the day.
the only problem we've had was on the 1st day. elijah kept walking over to the stereo and pointing.
i put on some of the children's cds thinking that's what he wanted. he wanted the radio on, i finally realized. he misses ruth, it's obvious, but from the beginning, it was obvious that you better have his grandmother's radio on. i laugh every time i think about it.
but it wasn't a laughing matter the 1st monday because he was mad. i kept trying cds and thinking, 'okay, he was happy to see me when he was dropped off this morning, what have i done wrong?' he wouldn't look at me after the 3rd attempt at a cd. he grabbed some of his toys and parked himself as far away from me in the living room as he could.
i tried talking to him but didn't intrude on his space but he just ignored me. finally, i turned the cds off and i could tell he was watching me but he would turn his head everytime i looked over at him. i grabbed a magazine and sat down on the couch at which point he gave me the dirtiest look - a look i'd never expect a child to give.
and he didn't hide it or turn around. this was a long, dirty look.
we just stared at each other for a bit and then he went back to playing with his back to me.
'are you hungry?' got no answer.
then around 10:00 a.m., bored, i grabbed the stereo remote and turned on the radio. when it came on, he turns around and looks at me. he picks up all the toys he's carried over to the wall furthest from me, drops them near the speakers and stands there just looking at me like, 'well?'
i got off the couch and walked over. he sat down and started playing and offered me a toy to play with (not his teddy bear, ruth had warned me, no 1 touches his teddy bear unless he offers it). so we sat there playing and were off to a fine start. when ruth called to check that night, i told her the story and she couldn't stop laughing. she told me that the cabinet under the stereo has pens and steno pads as well as his coloring books and crayons so to take those out at some point and he'll be happy.
i did that the next morning and ended up writing a letter to my grandmother because elijah kept looking at me while he was coloring and i got that i was supposed to be putting something on the paper in front of me.
the backyard is his favorite place and he will let you know when it's time to play in the backyard. 'backyard' is not a question.
during the week, i've been staying here and i'm here this weekend because ruth was still considering coming home this weekend. she decided mid-day friday ('if you're really sure it's not a problem'). so that's what i have been doing with my time.
fly boy's over this weekend (with permission, before any 1 thinks the baby sitter's gone wild!) because i had already made plans to be here this weekend since ruth might be coming in.
sometimes we go to the computer, elijah and i. he likes that and moves the mouse himself. he also insists we use ruth's ipod to listen to. (as ruth often does when she's home.) when she calls, he gets very excited to talk to her. 'what you doing?' is usually his 1st question.
it's been a lot of fun but he does have a lot of energy and the 1st thing i learned quickly is no high heels because forget those when you're keeping up with him.
if he has his coloring book and i'm actually writing something on a steno pad, he'll watch me and keep coloring. but if i put the pen down and look around it must be some sort of sign that we can move around. then he wants to show me something or go to the backyard.
he loves giving me a tour of the house and showing me which rooms are which. 'this is daddy's' room he's told me at least once a day on the tours.
ruth has called each day before nap time to talk to him and to tell him of some treat he'll have after nap. she doesn't tell me where the treat is but right after nap time, when he's fully awake, he'll walk over to something, today it was the hall closet, and wait for me to open it so he can get his treat. i asked ruth if i needed to get some things to hide for next week but she said she'd prepared for 3 weeks because c.i. had told her she would have so much fun with treva that she would take a 2nd and 3rd week off. she didn't believe it, but she stocked up just in case.
so today (or friday, it's saturday now) was a little monkey. he had to show me the sounds a monkey makes. he has a doctor's appointment this coming wednesday and ruth said to remind tracey because she was planning to go with. so that's what i've been doing and there's no need for a thank you because it's been a lot of fun. ruth's children have insisted i come to dinner each night and tracey says it's not a case of 'it's your turn!' which i hope is the case. she has a really wonderful family. (every 1 of which says ruth has more than earned the right to take a lengthy vacation - so ruth better take the full week next week or face the wrath of her family.)
i'm tired but wanted to get in a post so i could sleep in. tracey's coming over at noon and she, fly boy and i are going to see a movie. so if i didn't post this morning, i wasn't going to get five in for the week.
fly boy found an interesting interview with norman solomon (a favorite of ruth's and of many people) so check that out. that's at truth out and, no, there was no announcement that karl rove was indicted friday. i was wrong about it coming friday. but i still have faith in jason leopold's writing and will take a wait and see attitude. by the way, big thanks to c.i.
i asked c.i. to write something about it and c.i. did. (if you missed it, read it.) and c.i. linked to truth out. c.i. was in dc and very busy so i appreciate even more than if it had happened during 'normal busy.' but that did lead to a funny phone call the next morning when i was having my coffee (thursday) as c.i. informed me 'i did do the thing, i did link. guess who forgot to link?' it was me. i hadn't added truth out to my blog roll. i rushed to the computer and did that before elijah's mother dropped him off. i'd intended to do it right after i posted but got lost in wednesday's post and forgot.
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