Sunday, June 11, 2006

Truest statement of last week

"We have got to wake up in America."
-- Dalia Hashad of Amnesty International (expressing her own opinion and not necessarily those of the organization) on WBAI's Law and Disorder last Monday.

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
Blogger/Blogspot was a nightmare. We couldn't post what we'd written and what we did manage to post went up in any order it wanted. We think we've fixed the order.

First thank you to everyone for allowing us to repost the following highlights:

Music Spotlight: Kat reviews Free Design's Kites Are Fun
Teniente del Ejército se niega a ser trasladado a Irak
Blog Spotlight: Rebecca covering Dahr Jamail and more on Flashpoints
Ruth's Public Radio Report
C.I. talking about the willfully useless
Times critique by C.I.
Humor Spotlight: Thomas Friedman is the Jayne Mansfield of NYT
Humor Spotlight: Wally explaining Nouri al-Maliki
Blog Spotlight: Elaine on tuna and Cat Radio Cafe
Blog Spotlight: Kat covers the California elections and Guns and Butter
Blog Spotlight: Rebecca takes a pass on the overpriced coffee mugs
Blog Spotlight: Cedric discussing Law and Disorder
Blog Spotlight: Mike on Iraq

If you notice different fonts and sizes in them, you're not crazy. When we realized we could have everything posted by seven a.m. EST, we divided up the highlights and various people e-mailed them to the site. Different e-mail services provided the different looks.

Unless otherwise noted, all new content was written by the following:

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.

We thank Dallas for his helps with links and more.

"Truest statement of last week" -- we think we'll do this each week. This wasn't supposed to be the top post. It was supposed to come before the radio highlights. However, we like the way it looks. This week it's the top item. Next week, the 'truest statement' will probably change.

"Editorial: Administration attacks the American Way of Life" -- we were looking for a feature.
C.I. said it was the editorial. We started writing it and it became obvious it was. This was completed at two a.m. and usually the editorial is the last thing, other than the note, we work on. We were moving, we were going to be done at a decent hour . . . Then Blogger/Blogspot laughed.

"TV Review: Windfallen Perry and Gedrick" -- Ava and C.I.'s latest offers up a few lessons for pin ups of the moment. Laugh and nod.

"Strange people (fictional recreation of reality)" -- this is Cedric's story paired with another. They are fictionalized version, both stories, of reality. Our apologies to Cedric for not making time for his last week (in the fiction issue, especially after we asked him to hold off writing about at his own site so that we could use it here).

"New York Times kind-of, sort-of reports the death of civilians" -- the death of civilians. Dropped in a reporter's lap. He notes it, he doesn't investigate it. And he wants to call himself a "reporter"?

"E-mails" went up instead two features in the print edition. We've done this tonight. A number of e-mails came in during the day and we try to address the topics being raised.

"Katha Pollit on Radionation with Laur Flanders today" -- If the most e-mailed question was "Where's Ava and C.I.'s piece?" -- the second biggest topic was this feature. (By the way, we just noted that we mispelled "Laura" -- our apologies.) If you haven't read it, read it. A number of e-mails coming in. A lot of "YES!"es, a few complaining. Good. That's what we go for.

"Radio (online and over the airwaves) highlights" offers you some listening suggestions.

That's it for this week.

-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Administration attacks the American Way of Life

Three Guantanamo Bay detainees hanged themselves with nooses made of sheets and clothes, the commander of the detention center said Saturday. They were the first reported deaths among the hundreds of men held at the base for years without charge.

The above is from Andrew Selsky and Jennifer Loven's "U.S.: 3 Gitmo inmates hanged themselves" (Associated Press). The reporters estimate the number held at Guantanamo, the PRISONERS, number 460 and note that only ten of them have ever been charged with anything.

While the American spokesperson comes forward to spin, there's really no spining it.

Navy Rear Adm. Harry Harris declares, "They have no regard for human life. Neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation but an act of asymmetric warfare against us."

What dream world does Harris live in?

What's gone on at Guantanam (and Bagrham and a host of other prisons) isn't rooted in the American system of justice. Our system is based upon the concept that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Harris can pretend that the suicides are an attack on America (and no doubt a few Kool Aid drinkers will buy it) but that's not reality.

Guantanamo Bay is an attack on America.

The people held there are not "Detainees." They are prisoners. They are prisoners who have been held with charges and have not been given the right to trial.

The America hating administration can shred the Constitution in any number of ways and have but one of the biggest historical stains on our nation from this period will be Guantanamo.

There's been a huge p.r. build up from the beginning of how these people are "the worst of the worst." That's never been reality, but the nonsense has been maintained.

It's allowed for people who know better, Americans who believe in the American system of justice, to look the other way and avoid addressing the ugly reality of what has been going on.
By frightening Americans into thinking that only the bars of Guantanamo seperate America from another attack, they've allowed needed questions to be silenced.

For over 200 years now, the American system of justice has (with few exceptions) been rooted on the premise that accusations are not convictions, that everyone has the right to a trial. Over the years, just as many innocents have been convicted in our far from perfect system, many have walked who were guilty. Some have walked due to technicalities. For example, if the police violated the rights of a suspect, the entire case, regardless of the evidence, could be tossed out. Why?

Because the system of rules and regulations, intended to honor the rights of all Americans, was too important. It was more important than a single conviction. The system has now been trashed. With Jose Padilla, John Ashcroft (then attorney general of the United States) hoped to test the waters for similar actions -- this time an American citizen was being held with no access to the courts.

What happens "over there" effects of all us. It not only puts a stain on our nation's character, it also allows our concepts of justice and the legal system to be trashed. It lowers the standard for a nation that Bully Boy insists fights for "freedom."

Guantanamo Bay (and the case of Jose Padilla) are not about freedom.

They're about stating that one person (a king) can make the determination of guilt or innocent, that juries and judges are unneeded. If you're happy about that, wallow in the slience that's become part of this nation's character. There's a word for upsurping the legal system the nation is built upon and the word is "tyranny."

Justice would be not just the Bully Boy impeached but thrown behind bars (after a conviction won in the American courts). This is not "law and order." This is an abuse of the legal system.
Were those held at Guantamo guilty of anything, they should have been charged and tried in an American court. But Bully Boy has no respect or belief in the American system of justice; therefore, a new system was created.

There's a great deal of talk about how Bully Boy's a lame duck at this point in time. (That talk hasn't been absorbed by the majority of elected Democratic Congress members obviously.) There's this concept of "Oh, they've really shot themselves in the foot this time."

The machinery that put Bully Boy into office didn't do so because they loved them some Bully Boy. They did it because they believed in what could be done. How the lines could be crossed and the implications for the future. It was never about one person holding office, it was about destroying the country they give lip service to loving.

There are cheeers over the defeat of the proposed amendment to defeat same-sex marriage, over the defeat of the repeal of the estate tax. Those are the toppings. What was wanted, and they've been very upfront about this, was to subvert the American system.

They have done so. They've reduced supposed proud Americans into a nation of scared sillies who will give up any right or abandon any foundation out of fear. Too many years of smarting over the fact that Congress (and the Supreme Court) held a previous Bully Boy, Tricky Dick, in check, fueled their anti-American revolt.

Anti-American? It's very anti-American. Disenfranchising voters is unAmerican. But they continue to do so. For the first time in 67 years, "the Florida Leauge of Women Voters announced that it was stopping all voter registration efforts" ("Block the Vote, Ohio Remix," The New York Times, June 7, 2006, A24). Why? Because the Republican state legislature passed legislation to suppress the vote. It's not just Florida. It's not even just Ohio, but those making the call in that state are not concerned with fair and free elections either.

"Ohio Sec. of State Accused of Disenfranchising Voters" (Democracy Now!):
In Ohio, the state's top electoral official is being accused of trying to fix the upcoming November elections. Democrats and voter-registration groups charge Secretary of State Ken Blackwell has drafted draconian rules that could easily lead to penalties against people who register voters. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now -- known as ACORN -- says the rules are so vague the group has cut back its voter-registration efforts while lawyers review the new guidelines. Democrats say Blackwell is attempting to prevent black, low-income and Democratic voters from voting in his upcoming gubernatorial race against Democratic Congressmember Ted Strickland.

At this rate, how long before we bring back the poll tax? Sound ludicrous to you? It's been floated. The Bully Boy is the figurehead, the "elves" (as they famously dubbed themselves during the witchhunts of Bill Clinton) are the ones doing all the work. Time and again, revelations that come out much later can be traced back to the elves.

America is under attack. Not from secularists or same-sex marriage or any of the supposed panics. From the elves. People for the American Way identified some of them in profile positions. But most eleves labor in their secret toy factory (Viet Deim, John Yu, etc). What happens when America gets a good look at an elf? Revulsion judging by the reaction last week to Ann Coulter's attack on 9/11 widows.

Now watching Coulter implode this week (continue to implode) may mean we're reaching some sort of a national revulsion moment similar to the mood that finally took down McCarthy. But the failure to connect the dots (or even explore some of them -- for instance, the mainstream press dodged seriously addressing "good guy" John Roberts' Federalist Society connections and he's now the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) means, at best, one is sent packing while others fix their makeup to a slightly different shade.

Whether Bully Boy's the global village idiot or a little more on the ball than some give him credit for being, he's no lawyer. The attacks on the America system of justice aren't originated by him, he lacks the knowledge to launch them. And while he might grasp instictively that a frightened nation is a stupid one, we're not sure he could do much with his limited insight without the help of elves.

"American Bar Association to Investigate Bush for Violating Constitution" (Democracy Now!):
The American Bar Association Board of Governors has voted unanimously to investigate whether President Bush is violating the constitution by issuing signing statements to bypass new laws. The Boston Globe recently reported President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey an unprecedented 750 laws enacted since he took office. Among other laws, Bush has said he can ignore Congress' ban on torture as well as Congressional oversight of the Patriot Act.

That's the illegal administration. Three people have hanged themselves rather than to continue to be held without trial, without charges and with no hope of ever leaving. That's blood on the hands of the administration. Harry Harris sees it as an attack on "us." What he means is an attack on the administration. Whenever reality, ugly reality, emerges as to what the administration has done or is planning, it's seen as an attack. The exposure is never the attack -- it's what's being exposed, what's been plotted, that has been part of a continual attack on democracy.

As Dalia Hashad said last week, "We have got to wake up in America." To which we'd add "while this country still resembles America."

TV Review: Windfallen Perry and Gedrick

The primetime soap opera has returned. NBC's Windfall (Thursdays nights) isn't body wash operetta. Nor is it laden with dull moments that water cooler critics will rush to see symbolism in. It's pure soap opera.

Like most soap operas it offers an escape. Instead of watching the rich live it up high on the hog (the economy doing so poorly, someone grasped that wouldn't sell), it's about twenty people who hit the lotto. Viewers might lose themselves in the show. Should they?

The poor people's tax (aka the lotto) allows those who play the prospect of dreaming from the moment of purchase until the numbers are announced. (Longer if you wait to look up the numbers.) The show? The message here is (and it's the message for the full summer season), "Oh, see, money just complicates things." More reassurance that, as Sharon Lay once tried to convince the nation, the rich really suffer.

Now the Red Cross never needed to airlift anything into the Lay's various residences but it's a nice little myth that allows the average person to feel that even though they're being screwed by taxes, the economy and the always present attacks on unions and wages, "We are so lucky to be working class!"

The reality is that money, despite the fictional testimonials otherwise (in various mediums and from the mouth of Sharon Lay), doesn't hurt. People have the same human problems regardless of assets. But even with those same problems, money always means better health care, better living arrangements and, if the car goes dead on the freeway, you're not trying to juggle a number of bills just to get it fixed.

Those with money aren't to be pitied because they have money but it's a nice little fairytale that keeps those being screwed over from asking too many obvious questions. (Or tries to.) How much will the message sap the show? A lot.

But what you've got right now is a fast paced show (which slows a little this coming Thursday) that frequently rescues misguided performances with quick edits. It will keep you from dozing off and, hey, at least it's not reality TV. (Or a "franchise.")

There is one potential winner (it's not the audiences, but let's not get ahead of ourselves). Sadly, that's about all the kind things one can say about Windfall.

Let's dumpster dive in.

If the message the show hopes to impart is that "money is the root of all evil so be glad you don't have any," the message they broadcast (unintentionally) is that life ain't all that for former pin ups either.

Take poor Jason Gedrick whose nude scene in Backdraft continues to have a freeze-frame life online. If more people have seen his naked ass than his acting (and they have), it stands to reason that there may be a very good explanation for that and there is: he's not an actor. He was a beautiful poser. When hottie goes chunky, TV is the last stop. Gedrick has arrived and, unlike a few years back, holds no return ticket to films. No more will anyone, as they once did, confuse Jason Gedrick with Jason Patric. Talent should have ended the confusion. But what talent couldn't do, time did.

Now Gedrick's left to play a middle-aged bad boy professor in love with his best friend's wife (and his own former girlfriend). There's something rather sad about a "middle-aged bad boy" and that's long before you tack on "professor." In the pilot (or what aired last week -- the actual pilot was pitched to Fox this time last year), he got ready to move out of town and before he could leave, he had to tell the former girlfriend that he never "loved" his wife the way he did her. That would be his present wife, his living wife. He never "loved" her. Loved, past tense. It's the sort of thing an actor would have noticed, Gedrick didn't.

He dumps that on Lana Parrilla's Nina. But, thanks to a lotto win, he doesn't have to leave to town. So Nina's left to wonder how many betrayals does it take to hop into the sack?

There's the fact that he's married, the fact that she's married. Too many facts and, frankly, not enough heat to justify the tears she works up over the whole non-tragedy.

You'd be crying too if you were caught in a lose-lose triangle with Gedrick and Luke Perry. Perry plays Nina's husband Peter. Perry hasn't ballooned the way Gedrick has. He more or less looks the same. Even his "hair" more or less looks the same. (We feel like we may be spoiling Christmas for a few die hards, but it does require comment.)

Some might argue he's "still the same." He does do exactly the same thing in this role that he did in the one that brought him to national attention -- which is sad not only because the two characters have different names but also because they have very different life experiences.

When he shot to fame, Perry was bad boy Dylan on 90210. He (wisely) left the show when he got tired of too many "Let me explain the moral" storylines. He (unwisely) returned to the show. Here he (unwisely) uses the same squint, pursed lips and head tilt. The three externals are pulled out of mothballs but he's never thought of exploring the interior which is why his performance is as hollow as a chocolate Easter bunny.

It's not the role of a young man beginning a journey but Perry plays it as though it is. It wasn't all that convincing on 90210 but, for the first seasons, the pull-her-pigtails-and-smirk non-performance benefitted from his co-star Shannen Doherty who brought a lot more to the scenes than she was ever given credit for. "We work together," Perry once infamously replied when asked what his relationship with Doherty was like. And did he like her? "We work together," he repeated.

Parrilla is who he works with now and there's nothing but dialogue between them onscreen. It's a bit hard to get worked up over Nina's 'conflict' of whether she should leave her boring husband for a boring ex-boyfriend but the editing may distract some. When Perry begins slamming fists and doing his earnest, slow, loud voice, water cooler critics may hail it as "acting" and start humming "Papa Has A Brand New Bag," but the reality is that Felix has the same bag but far less tricks.

The real winner in this lotto is D.J. Cotrona. Rudy e-mailed Friday and Ty passed it along to us. Rudy had a request: Please don't call Cotrona "handsome." Rudy's read several (print) reviews of the show and every one called him "handsome."

Rudy, first off, he's called "handsome" in some of the press material sent out with the show so male critics might be typing "handsome" because they're aware they rave over the looks of far too many women while never commenting on the looks of men. Second, not being middle-aged males, we won't call him "handsome." Cotrona isn't "handsome."

He's shiny, he's glossy (like the lipstick he needs to lay off), he's got one eyebrow that's naturally higher than the other which may be the most interesting thing currently about him. The word is "pretty" -- which doesn't have to be a bad thing. Johnny Depp started out pretty and has remained so.

Countless pretty boys who achieved some level of fame, during the mid-eighties and since, probably think they're only one lucky break from Depp's career. Cotrona may kid himself that Depp's career is the natural arc he'll be on as well.

It's not that easy. Depp has talent. Depp had talent as Tom Hanson, Jr. on 21 Jump Street. Though a feast for the eyes (then and now), Depp always had a lot more going on than that. Cotrona has high cheekbones but that's due to his current weight, not to a gift of genetics. That matters and if anyone doubts that -- look at Jason Gedrick.

Hopefully, Cotrona will. He'll look at Gedrick and he'll look at Perry and realize that's the work life for 'successful' faded pin-ups. One thinks he's still got it (he doesn't) and the other really wishes he could act (all these years later) but can't.

Cotrona's hit the lotto. He's face to face with the reality Freddie Prinze Jr. is currently attempting to cope with. This is his moment and he can see what happens after the moment -- just by looking around the set.

He can't act currently. He's getting by on his looks. (When he loses the stubble, he loses the purported 'bad boy' charm.) Looking around will demonstrate where that road leads. Does anyone give a damn about former pin ups other than a sliver of their most devoted fans? If they did, wouldn't Scott Wolfe be starring in Lost right now? Matthew Fox can act. He could act when all the young females and males were screaming, "Bailey!" Wolf could have used his moment for something other than photo sessions and interviews, but he didn't. There's a lesson in that too.

Cotrona could clean up big if he wanted. Mia Farrow in the sixties, Keanu Reeves in the nineties, both didn't play the p.r. game, both are still working, and both still got the covers at the height of their fame. Cotrona would be wise to learn from that and spend some of that "promotional" time actually working on his craft.

Odds are that he'll be like the characters on Windfall, he'll blow his opportunity. If that happens, if he ends up, for instance, working at Home Depot in ten or twenty years, he may, as one does currently, say, "Oh, this is so much better. I'm happier now." It's a lie, kind of like the premise of the show that will give him his moment.

The show's trash. But it's watchable trash. It deserves an Emmy for editing -- which is where the performances, such as they are, get pieced together. Should you watch? If you're buying lotto tickets and losing (the odds are, you're losing), the intended message may reassure you that you're better off. As the corporate salaries continues to rise while the workers real wages drop, you may need some sort of Platonic noble lie to avoid reality. Windfall will provide you with that if not a great deal more.

Strange people (fictional recreation of reality)

Sun streaming down on a bright weekday afternoon, he was one of many on the benches in the park eating his lunch. Nothing very unusual about that, nothing out of the ordinary . . .

"Goddamn candy asses! That's what they are! Vicky, it's what they are! Goddamn candy asses!"

All eyes turned to a woman walking past, a metal traveling cart trailing behind her. Speaking into something in her hand.

"No, no, Vicky!" the woman insisted. "They're crazy if they think they can screw with me."

Just another person talking on a cell phone. The lunch crowd returned their attention to their meals.

"That will make you sick! That is the plan!" hollered the woman storming past again.

"They are brothers," she insisted stopping a few feet from the benches. "They are too! Bill Clinton and George Bush are brothers. I have the DNA proof!"

Those on the bench exchanged a look. All but one made a determined effort to ignore the woman on the cell phone. He didn't. He studied her and noticed that, out of the corner of her eyes, she was watching everyone.

He noticed something else. She didn't have a cell phone. What she held in her hand was a busted TV remote.

"Vicky. Vicky. Vicky! I have to go. I have another call. Hello?"

She was being a little more obvious now about watching those on the bench. All but one ignored her. She stepped a few feet closer and turned up the volume.

"Candy asses! They aren't stripping me of my benefits!"

A few looked over for a moment.

"I served! Unlike those damn candyasses, I served! I was in the second wave at Iwo Jima!"

He noted that the last remark caused those on the bench to lose interest.

She noticed it too.

"No, you listen to me! I served my country! I fought and died for my country! I'm the one who served the poison jello to Hitler! They should be wiping my butt with their tongues! Stupid candy asses!"

He thought a few things. First, he thought how interesting it was that in her imaginary conversations she was always arguing. Second, he thought how much her voice sounded like Lily Tomlin and wondered if the comedian was trying out a new character? She had Tomlin's build. The hair was blonde but it could be a wig. Was it just a character or was the women for real? The third thing he thought was that the easiest way to hide out admist a group of people was to be loud and draw attention to yourself.

She was outside smoking. Reviewing the day thus far and making mental notes of what still needed to be done. For a few minutes of silence, she'd even turned off her cell phone. Promising to quit but needing the nicotine fix to carry her though the day, she took another drag and looked upwards.

"Hello," said a short, strange man who suddenly appeared. "I know you. You're against the war."

He wore a dark suit and tie. His hair, what there was of it, was clipped close to the scalp. He had the complexion of someone who pushed papers for twenty out of every twenty-four hours.

She couldn't place him.

"Yes," she finally replied.

"Right, right," he said quickly with a greasy smile an insurance salesperson wouldn't try to pull off. "Yeah. I'm against the war too."

She nodded to him and took another drag from her cigarette.

"So," he said drawing out the syllabels to fill the silence. "I've been thinking about what you said about overthrowing the government . . ."

"What are you talking about?" she interrupted.

"No, no, it's cool," he said looking around. "I'm for overthrowing the government too. I listen to Al Franken. I'm a big lefty too."

She knew now that she'd never met this man before.

"I don't know what you think you know or who you are, but you need to get the fuck away from me," she advised him.

He tried a new tactic.

"Well, I've been thinking about things and I really see that overthrowing --"

"I said, 'Get away from me!' I will call the cops."

"Right, right, we can't talk about it in public," he said looking around. "But you remember when you said that violence was what it would take?"

"I never said anything like that. I don't know who you are or why you're still standing here."

With that she dialed 911 on her cell phone.

"Yes, he won't go away and, yes, he looks dangerous."

He looked angry but he moved on.

Who was he? No one she knew. No one she'd ever spoken to. Someone who thought the left was Baby Cries a Lot. Someone who wanted her to admit to saying something she'd never said. Why?

New York Times kind-of, sort-of reports the death of civilians

[A raid], in a village not far from the spot where Mr. Zarqawi was killed, appeared to cause a number of civilian deaths.
[. . .]
[. . .] General Caldwell said [t]he soldiers arrested 25 people and killed one [. . .].
That account was disputed in a village north of Baghdad, where Iraqis said American commandos killed five civilians in a Friday morning raid.
In Ghalibiya, near the scene of Mr. Zarqawi's death, a local Iraqi interviewed by telephone said American commandos dressed in black had raided the hamlet around 4 a.m. The Iraqi, a farmer named Mustafa Muhammad, said a group of local Iraqis, standing guard to protect their predominantly Sunni village from Shiite death squads, fired their guns into the air.
"They thought the Americans were a death squad, dressed in black," Mr. Muhammad said.
The American commandos threw a hand grenade in response, he said, killing five villagers.
"The people were saying that the Americans were looking for Zarqawi loyalists," he said.
Mr. Muhammad said a group of American soldiers wearing regular Army uniforms came to Ghalibiya later in the day to apologize. They promised to provide compensation for the dead Iraqis, he said.

The above appears in yesterday's New York Times. The thirty-seven paragraph article is by Dexter Filkins and entitled "U.S. Says Zarqawi Survived Briefly After Airstrike." By Dexter Filkins, so of course the above is buried in the story. C.I. pulled the information from eight of the thirty-seven paragraphs. Filkins didn't even lead with this event.

That's not surprising. The "award winning" Dexter Filkins went into Falluja in November 2004 and emerged from a slaughter with nothing but Happy Talk. (That's how awards are won!)
Instead, Filkins' focus is that Zarqawi (or "Zarqawi") didn't die in the explosion but in the aftermath. Day three of Zarqawi.

Day one was Thursday. John F. Burns wrote of the death first on Thursday morning -- the article was available by seven a.m. EST at the paper's website.) Friday, as C.I. noted in "NYT: Everybody wants to be a war pornographer," the paper ran not one, but four reports on the man, the myth. For the third day in a row, the paper wanted to offer nonsense about Zarawi. Filkins teased a reported death upon a stetcher into, more or less, a thirty-seven page article.
In addition, Michael Slackman (perfect last name for a Times reporter) wrote of Zarqawi's family ("Clan Calls Death of 'Martyr' a Blessing," June 10, 2006, A7).

Zarqawi (or "Zarqawi") died and the paper of record makes it the focus of three days of coverage, seven stories. They have an incident where civilians may have died and the military is denying it. Instead of reporting on that, they bury it within an overlong, overstuffed non-report. However, we're sure, should the story get traction, we can expect to read many stories in The New York Times, months from now, containing the sentence: "As The New York Times first reported . . ."

There is an obvious conflict between what the US military spokespeople are saying and what people in the village observed. That is a story. A reporter, knowing of the conflict, would pursue it. Not only does Dexy not pursue it, he buries the actual story, the only thing newsworthy, in his yada-yada nonsense that's not worthy of much more than a paragraph in the paper's "World Briefing" section. (And as a "Note to the Readers" in the corrections since the latest update contradicts John F. Burns' earlier reporting.)

This is a story. What really happened? Who is telling the truth? Real reporters would want to find the answers. Real reporters are in short supply in the Green Zone. The deaths will be "compensated" Filkins' article informs us.

What the price for a life of an innocent Iraqi? Utilizing David S. Cloud's "Compensation Payments Rising, Especially by Marines," C.I. estimates it's $2,500 a person. A miserly sum under any circumstance but when you consider the 1990 estimate on Iraqi family size (7.1 members per family), you're left with a little over four hundred dollars to each immediate member. Not exactly NBC's Windfall, is it?

But it does tell us the actual price the US government has placed on civilian life. Only the Kool Aid drinkers will be surprised.


Since the edition went up online, we've had a few e-mails. As C.I. noted, Blogger/Blogspot was the problem. The print edition has to go out at a certain time. Ava and C.I. dashed off a few "thoughts" on TV (that we may put in next week's online edition). What they'd written, what everyone had, was trapped online and we couldn't get in.

Beau suggested that we post over at the mirror site for The Common Ills and we tossed that idea around as well. But to do so, we'd have to be able to access the original. In the past, when we've had problems, we've still been able to view (in Blogger/Blogspot) the original pieces. Had that happened this morning, we would have done as Beau suggested. But we do have a print edition and we we focused on that.

Another e-mailer wondered why C.I. was able to post. The entry on the Times was e-mailed (six times, says C.I.) as was Isaiah's latest comic. Our problem was "page not found" no matter how many different computers (and hook ups) we used. We couldn't e-mail posts we couldn't read. But we were also facing a cut off announced by Blogger/Blogspot during which Blogger/Blogspot would be "down" to retool. If the problems hadn't surfaced, the edition would have posted on time. We knew of the cut off, we worked nonstop to have everything ready. (When we started posting highlights, we had completed the edition.)

Lauren e-mailed to tell us that she got the"stupid survey" when she attempted to listen live to Air America Radio. She copy and pasted it:

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She notes at the bottom, right-hand corner, "in ligher and smaller print than anything else on the page is" this statement: "No Thanks, just take me to the stream."

If you get the message/survey and don't want to fill it out, don't. Consider it to be the online equivalent of a telephone survey and feel free to hang up. (We would if someone opened with, "Your age?") If, as the statement says, it's not being sold to third-party vendors, then it's strictly to help with advertising ("We have X number of listeners who are __ years old, X number who are female, X number who are male . . .").

We wouldn't give out any personal information to a stranger. We'd honestly encourage you to do the same. There's enough information available (online and off) as it is. Use the corner option if repeated attempts to reload or enter the site another way prove futile.

Lana writes that she knows which program we were referring to when we spoke of withdrawing our endorsement. She is of the opinion that the post should be deleted. Two of the six of us (Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.) feel the same. As noted in the feature, those two say it's not over yet. They may be able to convince the rest of us. Currently, we're leaving it up.

Why not name it? A number participating in the edition last night (the six of us plus others) feel that the host was not intending to provide happy talk. That may be true.

Regardless, we don't endorse lies being broadcast without questioning. We don't endorse a "conversation" about Iraq that includes only participants who want to preach the stay-the-course crap.

Lana brings up the issue of the callers and we will address that. There were four. Three rally around the Bully Boy's and a fourth man. The man was highly offended by the nonsense being broadcast. The host deserves credit for taking the call. The host deserves credit for allowing the person to speak.

The host deserves no credit for joining Bully Boy supporters (and the American guest) in laughing at the caller.

The caller's voice was shaking from the beginning. He was obviously very upset. When he was interrupted (only once was it excuseable when the host was asking that the sound be turned up -- though listeners could hear the caller just fine) repeatedly, he grew angry and signed off with something to the effect of if the Iraqi had any guts he'd be holding some sort of gun and using it in Iraq.

This shocked the other three callers. It shocked the host, it shocked the guest.

It could have been worded better. The man was obviously upset.

But the fact of the matter is that people are holding guns in Iraq. (Foreign fighters, such as American forces, resistance fighters, terrorists and others.) If the host, the guests and the later callers are shocked that anyone suggests someone hold a gun in Iraq -- they need to open their eyes because many already are. The statement shouldn't have been shocking. (Whether it was approved of or not.)

The treatment of the caller (after he was no longer on air) is a big reason we withdrew our endorsement. If you're a host and you take calls, when someone calls in very upset, you owe a little more than let them say their bit. But you certainly don't have a right to turn them into a running gag after they're off the air unless your going for a Rush Limbaugh crowd.

There was no attempt to understand why the caller was so upset. That may be the most disappointing thing of all. We don't intend to highlight the show again. If the two can persuade the other four of us, the feature will be deleted. It was a mistake to write in and we regret it.

To repeat, we do not endorse any program that pushes the war, tries to sell audiences on the myth that democracy's a-blooming. We do not support male guests pushing those lies and no one bringing up the very real reality of the destruction of freedoms for women in Iraq.

Male or female, there's not one of the six of us (or anyone participating in these editions) who doesn't self-identify as a feminist. That wasn't true of all when we started this site. But we've all learned the importance of the term, the need to use it and the continued need for and power of the feminist movement. We all freely use the term now and encourage others to as well.

Katha Pollit on Radionation with Laur Flanders today

Sunday on RadioNation with Laura Flanders Katha Pollitt will be a guest. We plan to listen and hope you as well. Tonight's show? We'll catch it in the archive.

Reasons? Commercials and news breaks, honestly.

To be clear, C.I. intended to note (at The Common Ills) the guests for Saturday's show. (C.I. got caught up in helping a friend realize that a "second act turning point" -- or something -- was actually the "mid-point" and congratulations to you if you grasp that, we don't claim to but will ask about it when the edition winds down.) However, there were serious questions about spotlighting RadioNation with Laura Flanders this week among those participating here.

That had nothing to do with Flanders or her staff or the quality of her show.

What's the problem?

Don't make me come to Vegas
Don't make me pull you out of his bed
-- "Don't Make Me Come To Vegas" written by Tori Amos, off the album Scarlet's Walk

C.I. truly does not read the op-ed pages. Any doubt of that vanished with Saturday's entry commenting on Adam Nagourney's nonsense in the Saturday New York Times. C.I. missed Maureen Dowd's column (which non Times subscribers can read for free by clicking here).

We almost wrote about the nonsense last week when we repeatedly heard the ads. Then Air America Radio began promoting it as a premium service (the network's sought out donations from listeners if you're not up to speed).

We're not that crazy about the network. Randi Rhodes we can support and enjoy because she's an independent voice. Even if you disagree with her, you know the playbook she's reading from is her own. Otherwise? (We would say the same of Mike Malloy, by the way.)

Baby Cries a Lot is the obvious pull down. There's the disappearance of Lizz Winstead. There's the hiring of Jerry Springer. There's been a preponderance of White males.

Flanders show has guests of both gender, of all races. That's not true of all the shows who regularly book guests. We like Janeane Garofalo but we gave up on The Majority Report during her long absence. If we wanted to hear a moderate White Male (Sam Seder) talk to other White Males about issues through a White Male framework, we'd listen. We see no value in that.

We don't enjoy the digs Seder gets in at Garofalo's expense (and never have). The segment with her father always struck us as some sort of Melissa Steadman (thirty-something) reduxe. Single woman trying to talk to Daddy. We doubt it was intended that way but, week after week, hearing Sam chuckle at the foibles of the single woman while he apparently floats on some sort of Rob Petrie cloud didn't engage us.

There's also the nature of Seder's whine which, when he solos, rises and rises until dogs howl and people cover their ears. It's not attractive radio.

But we mainly don't care to hear a bunch of White Males Sitting Around Boasting.

And when Janeane is on, we don't chuckle at the efforts to silence her, efforts (that anyone listening can tell) frustrate her to no end.

They frustrate us too. Were Seder as amusing as he thinks he is, his career might have taken off. Now he's pushing a book which will probably sell more copies than Baby Cries A Lot's recent book but, as Baby's fortunes have fallen, that's not saying a great deal.

We're tired of the weekend "ghetto." Flanders carved out a spot there with a show that should air five days a week. (In a just world.) But largely, it's become the place where Air America Radio, more recently, attempts to prove it's not just the White Male Radio Network. The truth is that if they took the weekend schedule and put it in play during the week, there would be more worth listening to.

When the network started, Marty Kaplan aired between Randi Rhodes and The Majority Report. It was a nice show, one worth listening to and one that eased you from Rhodes' drive time (which she does very well) into the evening. Rhodes' (deserved) success seems to have left the implication that all anyone needed to do was to ape what they thought her style was.

Seder thinks he has it down. He is mistaken. Rhodes knows her facts and can marshall them with ease. She's not stammering and stuttering while her voice soars up many octives as she attempts to remember the article she wanted to discuss. More importantly, she knows radio.

She has a voice that's a natural for radio. It sounds perfect coming over the radio. Seder's not blessed with the same equipment (even when he keeps it in a lower range). But radio's not standup and Seder's still shaping his anger performance as though it is. Between rage fits, he mocks in the superior tone that's a turnoff to most listeners. After ten minutes, you find yourself wishing someone would slip him a Ritalin already.

Baby Cries a Lot enough has been said of already. (In fact the network spent far too much time pushing him, that started before his lousy show even began airing.) So let's move on to Rachel Maddow who wishes the world could be as smart as she thinks she is -- and proves that desire every broadcast.

You can't talk Maddow without talking Lizz Winstead. The two, with Chuck D, co-hosted the cancelled Unfiltered. The show aired for exactly one year. Back when the nonsense of "family" was being pushed. Unfiltered wasn't perfect but we've been challenged by a reader to acknowledge the disappearance of Lizz Winstead. We have Dallas hunting down other links, but we're pretty sure that was addressed here in real time. If not, we know for a fact that C.I. and Rebecca addressed it at their sites.

Shortly before the show went off in March of 2005, Lizz Winstead suddenly vanished. She wasn't on the show. And she wasn't to be mentioned. A LIE was started by some at Air America (behind the scenes people) that Lizz was ill and had left the show for that reason. They showed up (AAR staff) at various websites posting that nonsense.

Winstead left because Jerry Springer was given Unfiltered's time slot and she didn't feel the need to spend the next few weeks chirping like an idiot and lying to the show's fans. On the show's blog, in its final weeks, the question of Lizz refused to go away (no matter how many staffers wrote idiotic things like "Lizz left because she is sick! We need to respect her privacy and drop it!"). Rachel Maddow refused to address the issue. Finally, forced to do so she offered some nonsense. (It was nonsense before the legal actions started.)

On the final show, Lizz was back . . . briefly . . . as a guest. Maddow also didn't announce the show's impending cancellation when she knew of it. Once it was announced, the obvious pressing concern was Rachel with even her own father showing up at the show's blog to insist that fans write Air America Radio to get them to keep Maddow.

(Elaine followed the Unfiltered blog regularly. It no longer exists. Rebecca and C.I. both have some copy and pastes from pages of the Unfiltered blog that Elaine e-mailed them through the life of the show. Elaine also verified the identity of the male who is still offended by the way Lizz was treated -- if it helps, we are as well -- a long term listener and frequent poster on the Unfiltered site.)

Chuck D wasn't going to carry water for the suits. There was a desire for him to be on everyone of the final shows with Rachel but Chuck wasn't going to play that game. (Good for him.) What the disappearance exploded was the myth that there was a "family" at AAR. Probably a good thing but still painful for many listeners.

The explosion of the myth allowed Seder to scream at a caller (we believe it was John Walsh who writes for CounterPunch) that he just does his show and doesn't follow what other people do on their shows. We'll applaud him for being honest. It's too bad so much time was wasted convincing everyone that this was any sort of a family.

Randi Rhodes earlier dispensed with that notion. While she can be supprotive of her co-workers, she can also toss out a line or two about Baby Cries a Lot tired shtick. Her audience has greatly expanded but it was there before the network started and she knows how to keep it real. (She most famously dispensed with the notion on the 2004 election night coverage when her displeasure with the mindlessly chattering of Maddow and the on-air-Patricia-Heaton-of-the-network led to a lot of nonsense while the election was being stolen. Time and again, Rhodes attempted to discuss what was happening in Florida but apparently the NPR crowd brought that mindset with them to Air America.)

Without Lizz Winstead at her side, Maddow revealed how boring she could be. One failed show led to a new one and the only consistents are the fact that she's still boring and that any show she's involved with feels it has ownership of things Lizz Winstead developed for Unfiltered.

That's really surprising considering how the network has fought against honoring Winstead's contract. Winstead wasn't just a voice at a mike, she helped develop the network. She was instrumental in the interview process, in devising the concept and so much more. She also brought her successful comedic experience (The Daily Show) over to Air America Radio. Having decided that a "name" like Jerry Springer could pull in more viewers than an integrated show (two White women, one African-American male), the thing to do was to honor the contractual agreements they had made with Winstead. Instead the result has been legal filings.

That's really sad. Winstead was hired for a reason and lived up to what she was hired to do (and then some). It was a mistake to cancel Unfiltered. Failure to honor Winstead's contract goes beyond "mistake."

What was Unfiltered? A three hour morning show where Arianna Huffington could stop by and speak without Baby Cries a Lot making what he thought was a funny sex joke. It was a place where Amy Goodman could speak, or Medea Benjamin, without being cut off. It was a place where women weren't the token guest. (The way Christy Harvey is squeed in each week on Baby Cries A Lot.) When Chuck D was on (he wasn't on every broadcast), neither Winstead nor Maddow would play TV sitcom wife giving him all the funny lines and tsk-tskining "Oh you" with the implied head shake.

You had three people discussing issues. Lizz wasn't going to throw reproductive rights into the back of the closet now that some "leaders" were pushing it as something to abandon, Maddow wasn't going to play nice while attacks on same-sex couples were launched (Maddow is open lesbian) and Chuck D wouldn't allow the very real issues of rrace to be forgotten. It was a lively mix. Unlike The Majority Report, there was no attempt to prime the online pump by chasing after various (Male) bloggers. It was an interesting mix of comedy and politics that actually informed you.

It wasn't without its faults. For instance, a "peace activist" translated as someone from Op-Truth (an organization supporting the war, only bickering over the how-tos of it). That was a critique often raised on the show's blog. The "rainman" moment when a male who had apparently beat his wife was awared with not one but two appearances on the show (in the same week) was among the more embarrassing moments. The failure to note guest' Nicholas Kristof's attacks on feminists was a mistake. That's really all that comes to mind. (And among all participating, we probably heard every episode of the show.) That's saying a great deal.

There were individual faults. Maddow could usually be counted on to speak of story in "yesterday's" whatever that was in fact from a Saturday paper (a bit of problem when the day in question is a Monday or Tuesday). Maddow often played "big brain" (as Rebecca dubbed it at the time) when there was little evidence that she grapsed what she was speaking of (though we understand she tests well). Winstead could usually bring it back to reality (and no one on air could explain Medicare as well as Winstead).

But you had a pretty interesting mix. "The Pap Attack" got it's start there and was actually funny and informative. ("Pap Smear" sent the man in question into a nervous frenzy.) Ambrosia sang the news, wonderfully, every Friday. And Kent Jones was always humorous. (Maddow's carried him to ever program she's done since. He's not as funny now because the mood is not there to set up his bits. It's like pulling Phyliss out of The Mary Tyler Moore Show where she works perfectly and trying to impose her into Everybody's Bored With Raymond.)

Apparently grasping how deadly dull Pacifca-hater Maddow is solo, they've tired to recreate the magic of Unfiltered by teaming her with another male who is African-American. He's a nice enough personality, he's not Chuck D. It makes for tepid radio at best.

At a reader's request, we wrote an article about the state (health) of Air America Radio. We're covering all of this at another reader's request. (And largely at the insistence of Elaine who states Unfiltered had few stronger supporters than this man.)


Laura Flanders leads the excellence that is the weekend programming. (New shows airing on the weekends.) Randi Rhodes got the national prominence that she was denied but deserved all along. Mike Malloy will never be bought by anyone.

The other shows? The Majority Report lost us when Janeane was doing the West Wing. We can't take coming home to hearing a squeaky voice screaming for three hours (when not being so amused with his own self). If the original balance was restored to the show (and Seder stopped treating Garofalo as a joke), we'd listen and grimace over the fact that so few women in the world do so little in someone's eyes (judging by the guest line up). We'd still miss the days when real conversations took place. (They've been replaced with Seder's rants and monologues.) Jerry Springer? While he has every right to run for office (and should if he wants to), don't kid that his hiring didn't turn the network into a joke and a freak show. Maddow's show? If a stick of Blue Bonnet margarine could speak, this is what it would sound like. Baby Cries a Lot? May he whimper for many years . . . in silence. The man who uses his own children as an example of why we have to stay in Iraq (his children who are not serving in Iraq) knows no shame. But, as he infamously admitted, he's not really that liberal. No, he's not. And since his 'comedy' no longer plays on TV we'll apparently be served the tired routine daily on the radio. (As we write this, his show is being rebroadcast for anyone in a lesiure suit, gold chains and a shirt unbuttoned to the waist to enjoy.)

We have a number of issues with what's going down in Vegas (and think the bed analogy via Tori Amos plays quite well) and weren't in the mood to hear a bunch of commercials about it or possibly news breaks on it. Like most conventions dominated by White Males, we're sure it's a "hoot and holler" and think the setting is quite appropriate for the embedness, the corruption of it all. As C.I. wrote Saturday morning: "So in the city only the foolish want to visit (Las Vegas), where dreams die quickly, Adam Nagourney finds his natural resting place. It's almost poetic."
The morality the city was built upon makes it the perfect setting for the death of the once indepenent blogs. (A rebirth? There's always hope but we don't think hope comes on the wigs of Henry Hyde associates or DLC pushers.)

Endorsements are tricky things. We're glad that some no longer see themselves as citizen journalists or journalists of any sort. (Maureen Dowd covers that in her column.)

And endorsment was actually the issue that had us opt out of listening to Saturday's show. That had nothing to do with Flanders and we're sure it was a show worth listening to. We'll probably note Katha Pollitt's appearance next week. But last week, we had a comical short story based on Laura Flanders up against the world. It was funny and we enjoyed writing it but then, as Dona pointed out after the fact, Flanders' does not "preach love me. Her whole thing is about you empowering yourself."

We have no problem endorsing her program and if she ran for office, we'd all be behind her. If she annouced her candidacy for president tomorrow, C.I. would be break the no-candidate-endorsements-from-me that is in place at The Common Ills.

But we've praised another program. We got a number of e-mails complaining about that endorsement which took place weeks ago. We think a lot of the e-mails resutled from the fact that, although C.I. weighed in on Thursday, C.I. didn't name the program. Here's what happened. Two men pushed the "democracy is taking in hold" lie in Iraq. The host allowed it to be pushed. The issue of the undemocratic nature in the attack on women's rights was not addressed. No guest was present calling for an end to the occupation because we must fix what we broke (that was the message, it's bullshit and we'll say so).

We have no problem providing readers with "coming up" notices. Maybe it will be a good show, maybe it won't. We're not responsible for the content. We don't make the shows. Nor would we ever guest on them -- this weekend has driven home the correctness of C.I.'s repeated refusal to grant interviews as "C.I. the blogger" -- which is how the press requests usually refer to C.I. Even if they got off on the right foot (The Common Ills isn't a blog), C.I. would still turn them down. We dealt with why we would awhile back. This weekend drives home why independent media does not need to court approval from the mainstream. Independent media should not be a launching platform for the next Cokie Roberts (though it's already become that).

In the early days of Jess and Ava helping out with the e-mails at The Common Ills, they'd tell us, "Guess who asked for an interview?" and we'd listen and then reply, "Surely that's one C.I.'s going to do!" Nope they all get turned down. C.I. doesn't even read the e-mails before Jess and Ava (they work the public account more than C.I. does) decline the offer on C.I.'s behalf. [C.I. notes the only decline that resulted ina b it of a quandry came from a woman writing for a serious periodical (not a magazine) due to the nature of the periodical and the fact that it was a female journalist.]

It's each person's decision whether to self-market or not. ('Some' live their life never self-marketing, as Rebecca points out before adding, 'some' never had to which has a reply from C.I. that's unprintable. And, for the record, that has nothing to do with blogs.) As asprining journalists (some of us, Ava's announced that she'll not enter journalism this week as a reporter, she'll be in the "business" thanks to another job -- she was set professionally before her first class as a result of her family -- noted with her permission), we (Jim, Ty, Jess and Dona) wondered where the line was on helping actual journalists and on being the subject. We think we've seen it this weekend and it's rather repuslsive. When Ava and C.I. were asked to help a journalist a with a story focusing on TV a few months back, they went back and forth over the issue and finally decided no because it was likely that they would be the story and not be helping. (C.I. notes that was a request for assistance of some form and not a request for an interview or it would have been turned down outright.)

It's a line that's been blurred as famous for being semi-famous lands you a chat and chew gig or a shouting match invitation. We'll again note that Jon Stewart did not go on Crossfire and criticize Tucker Carlson only. He criticized the entire debased system of posers screaming at one another. Just as some on the left treated Baby Cries a Lot's whimpering to Bill O'Reilly as 'tearing into' O'Reilly, some on the left want to act as though Tucker Carlson was the only host of Crossfire.

So the news that telepunditry classes were being offered in Vegas struck us as really sad. (Okay, we all laughed first. It is laughable to think of a Squeaky Mouse getting ready for his close up.) Those hoping to land that "gig" will, like many before them, find themselves co-opted by a system or shut out from it.

Do you really think that any of them have more to say than Gloria Steinem? (When's the last time Meet the Press had her on? Go back many, many years.) More than Danny Schechter? More than Robert Parry? More than any of the number of people who have something to say worth hearing? We think not as a whole. We think some individuals may have and that those individuals will quickly learn that they either play the game or lose their spotlight.

We don't play a game here. We don't seek access. Or links. Or attempt to kiss ass. We'll endorse the work of Flanders and Amy Goodman because we believe in it.

But while Flanders was on vacation (no offense to her guest host but she makes the show for us and we couldn't take listening in with her gone) we endorsed other programs.

One of those has bit us in the butt with the Iraq coverage. Though some involved are willing to allow for anyone having a bad show, others note that on the next show a Cokie Roberts of this century was praised (the Cokie was not present). This led to a heated debate about one reader's e-mail requesting that we delete the feature. We've never deleted a feature. Our policy? It never came up. We post it and if we look smart, whatever, if we look stupid, whatever. It's there and someone can agree or disagree.

But the reader said the feature was an endorsement. The reader is correct. That was an endorsement. It made us take a look (as did other things) at what we'd done recently. The feature on Flanders last week is bad writing. (That's not withdrawing our endorsement of Flanders. That's noting that we can and often do publish bad writing. We're a weekly online magazine and we piece it together as we go along. Often scrapping something at the last minute -- the Flanders piece did run in the print edition -- and reworking it or quickly grabbing a new issue or topic to write about.)

We can't endorse anyone who presents propaganda about the illegal war and allows it to go unchallenged. It's up there, the endorsement of the show. Short of Naomi Klein being a guest on it, we don't intend to ever mention it again. It was bad radio (we can all agree on that).

But it's up there and we're not going to pull it. If we could all agree that the host is responsible, we'd do an update. (And just writing that sentence led to a huge argument.) We'll stake our on endorsements on the likes of Goodman or Flanders (or Michael Ratner, Dalia Hashad, Heidi Boghosian or Michael Smith) because they're working from a strong place. They're not changing with the wind. Otherwise, we'll just note. We may shake it up and do a highlight of Democracy Now! or of Law and Disorder (no links, Ty's typing this up and advises that the piece may be so long as it is that adding links will slow things down even further -- they're so slow that Ty's several words ahead in typing before anything displays onscreen).

But what happened on Thursday and then on Friday made us agree that we needed to rethink our own notions of endorsement. Since it was highly likely that ads or news breaks would cover a convention that we find repugnant we all (except C.I. who was not around a radio and announces would have listened if it were possible to). That's probably not fair to Flanders (and we agree she deserves better). But the show is archived at The Nation. and, as we were having this conversation late Saturday afternoon, Dona read an e-mail from a reader asking the same questions that we were asking.

We don't endorse Air America. We don't have a "war" with it (before that e-mail comes in). We just think most of it is useless as anything other than fundamental politics (we almost typed "intro" but then someone pointed out there was a class lower than that). We've noted the exceptions. We've explained our problems with it. (And hopefully where we stand.) We'll take a look at future coverage and attempt to avoid cheerleading (even for the left) when we write about radio. We're not deleting the entry but, as a group, we are withdrawing the endorsement of the program we covered while Flanders was on vacation. We do not and will not support any program that presents lies about the illegal occupation. The fact that one of the guests is a (pampered) Iraqi (Male, naturally) doesn't excuse not challenging the guest's lies. Some of us would add or booking two guests who are known ahead of time to be liars.

No matter who you are, an endorsement has weight. Whether you're giving it to your friends or online or in print. We will try to be much more selective in the future and we all (as a group) regret the endorsement that has bothered so many. (And to the one who asked that we delete it, two of the core Third Estate Sunday Review -- tow of six agree with you and say this issue s not dead.)

Radio (online and over the airwaves) highlights

An interesting mix on the radio today (all programs can be listened to online with no charge and no registration -- three e-mails came in last week complaining about a form you were requested to fill out to listen to Laura Flanders, if you come across that form -- asking for year of birth, etc. -- click "back" and try to enter again -- we're told it was popping up at random). You have writer and feminist Katha Pollitt discussing her new book, you have a discussion of Leonardo da Vinci, music, post-traumatic stress disorders and more.

Coming up on WBAI today:

11:00-noon: The Next Hour
Author/actor/raconteur and Green Party person Malachy McCourt holds forth on this pre-Bloomsday edition.

6:30-7:00 pm: Equal Time for Freethought
The Da Vinci Fraud: Why the Truth is Stranger than Fiction. Was Leonardo Da Vinci a member of the "Priory of Sion," a secret society reaching all the way back to the Crusades? Does his famous painting, "The Last Supper," contain a hidden code about this society's most precious secret?

9:00-11:00 pm: Everything Old is New Again
Jazz and the Broadway songbook. Some of the perfomers who will be part of the mix: Oscar Peterson, Jessica Molaskey, Andy Bey, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Peter Cincotti, Ella Fitzgerald, Ralph Brande, Annie Ross, Jimmy Scott and many more.

Coming up on KPFA:

Sunday Salon
Sunday, June 11th, 09:00a.m.
Hour 1:
The controversial California High School Exit Exam;
Hour 2:
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East

Act One Radio Drama
Sunday, June 11th, 7:30p.m.
Aliens in America, written by contemporary satirist Sandra Tsing Loh.

Against the Grain
Monday, June 12th, 12:00p.m.
Aaron Glantz, author of "How America Lost Iraq," talks about the massacre by US troops of Iraqi civilians in Haditha.

[C.I. adds that Jeff Chester is scheduled to be on KPFA's The Morning Show Monday.]

Coming up on Air America Radio's RadioNation with Laura Flanders:

On Sunday: The America is Purple tour turns to Oregon with:
ERIK STEN, Portland City Commissioner. MARCY WESTERLING of the Rural Organizing Project. JOANN BOWMAN of The Money in Politics Research Action Project. JEFFERSON SMITH of The Bus Project.And KATHA POLLITT, the Nation columnist on her new book, "Virginity or Death!"

Music Spotlight: Kat reviews Free Design's Kites Are Fun

Kat: If you're one of the small number dedicated to the belief that Free Design's first album Kites Are Fun is a masterpiece of artistic achievement, you can stop reading now. It's not and nothing I have to say will please you.

"Small number?"

Free Design was a group that emerged in 1967. They had some local success but were largely undermined by a lack of strong distribution. For the first album, that was far from the only problem.

I actually enjoy Kites Are Fun. I enjoy it the same way as I do the closing songs in those big studio films of the late sixties where some guy has had a coming of age experience or a some mismatched couple is playing us against the world. The song is pure vocal and it's lah-lah-lah as the credits roll and maybe someone runs across an empty beach or up a hill. It's the sound that Simon & Garfunkel should have demolished with their more complex work on the soundtrack to The Graduate -- yet somehow the earlier sound managed to hang around for a few more years.

On a shady, lazy day, I enjoy putting on this album, the vinyl version. I wasn't even aware the album had been released on CD until an e-mail came in asking if I had any thoughts on it?

The good news first. Wonderful remastering by Light Sound Attic. There's a booklet that will please the dedicated but probably not many others.

At this point in time, Free Design was three people: Bruce, Chris and Sandy Dedrick. Sandy, the sister, is easy to pick out in the photos. If you don't know the group, you may look at any of the four photos inside the booklet (there are also reproductions of album covers) and wonder, "Wait, which one is Chris? Which one is Bruce?"

1967 was the year Lou Adler, Michelle & John Phillips and others staged the Monterey International Pop Music Festival. Janis Joplin, the Jefferson Airplane and Jimi Hendrix would be among the ones who would rip apart the stage and capture the fascination of America's record buying public. That's important to remember when trying to figure out why Free Design never made it to the ranks of hitmakers -- let alone super groups.

The original cover (also used as the cover for the remaster) shows you the three siblings wearing what might have been considered "with it" clothes in the early sixties. By 1965, forget 1967, the only word for the look was "square." (The group would change their look on later albums.) Looking like the last refugees from the folk coffee house circuit, the boys sport turtle necks and Sandy, in a striped shirt, wears her long hair as if she'd just had her photo taken for the 1963 yearbook.

1967 was a year when image mattered. When cues were sent via image. Janis was letting it all hang out and adorned in feathers and fringes. The Mamas and the Papas had long since smashed the cookie cutter mold with their outfits. Here's a vocal group where the men are wearing turtlenecks and chinos with hair cuts that Mike Love would term "conservative." The times, the hair was flowing. Along comes Free Design with a look that no one was wearing. It hurt their credibility.

Another minus was Sandy being surrounded by her brothers. Free Design was going for an intelligent crowd -- read "older" than those who might spin the Archies. Just as, in the seventies, Donny & Marie were dubbed "sexy" only by the young; those actually having sex were kind of grossed out by the closeness factor of the squeaky clean Free Design. You better believe that hurt.

Know what else hurt? The new liner notes tell you how artistic and talented Free Design was.
It wasn't that talented. They could hit notes. There's no question of that. But mechanics doesn't mean great singer.

A great singer doesn't sing "kites are fuuNNNNNNN . . . kites are fuuNNNNN" because a great singers knows that vowels sing, consonants don't. But there's Free Design on the closest thing they had to a hit singing "NNNNs" over and over.

If you're confused, the Beach Boys sang "fUn, fUn, fun, 'till her daddy . . ." They didn't sing "fuNNNN, fuNNN, fuNNNN, 'till her daddy . . ."

For all the praise heaped on the group's debut album, all the talk of how talented they were, how trained, how their background is strongly in music, they didn't know the first thing about singing. That's a problem when you're a vocal group.

At a time when Hendrix and Pete Townsend were about to change the landscape with the guitar work, the da-da-da, crisp, quick, stacatto vocals backed up with a gentle acoustic/chamber music sound were as retro as Tiny Tim. (But he had a visual which helped carry him to fame.)

Songwriting? "When Love Is Young," credited to "S. Zynczak & S. Dedrick," is the strongest original composition. Not, as we're led to believe "Kites Are Fun." The latter track is supposed to now be seen as the sort of thing Brian Wilson could have written. Possibly . . . on a really, really bad day.

If the only thing amazing about Wilson's growth as a songwriter had been that he had started writing about childhood, he wouldn't be remembered today. It was how he wrote about it.

I like flying
Flying kites
Flying kiiiiites
Flying kiiiiiiiites
Kites are fuNNN
Kites are fuNNN
See my kite is fuNNN
See my kite is green and white
Laughing at it's distant flight
All that's between us is a little yellow string

That's not a song, it's a commercial for a hobby. The apparent 'rebellion' comes in one line, repeated throughout, of how, tragedy, "Mom and Dad and Uncle Bill don't realize" that, of course, kites are fuNNN.

It's a piece of fluff, fun fluff, but it's not even a distant family relation of the songs of Brian Wilson.

With few exceptions, that's the entire album. Along with "When Love Is Young," the song "Make the Madness Stop" is evidence of songwriting talent. "Kites Are Fun"? It may have made Alex Wilder, writing many years later in the New York Times, "weep," but it will more likely lead you to roll your eyes or burst out laughing.

"Corneilus (Keigo Oyamada)," writing in 2003, tries to group them in with the Beach Boys and the Carpenters. That may be the first comparison of the Beach Boys and the Carpenters I'm aware of. The comparison is ill suited on every level; the Beach Boys were aiming for the kids, the Carpenters (a favorite band of Tricky Dick's) were parent-pleasing.

So is Free Design. You can picture a mother picking up a vinyl copy while taking the Singer in for repairs and saying to her teenage son (who carried the sewing machine into the store), "Why can't you be more like these kids? Look at them. They bathe, they have short hair. They're so clean cut!" And you know what, it was probably those moments more than sorry distribution (the album actually was distributed at Singer sewing machine stores) that killed any chances of success for this album.

"So you're saying avoid at all costs?"

No. It's a nice piece of fluff. They'd change up on later albums (adding a sister and losing a brother). I might try to note one or more of those albums in the future (maybe the pyschadelic children's album they did). In terms of this album, if you get the giddy rush you're supposed to when some big-budget, youth-geared film rolls the credits, you'll get a rush from this album.

My brother gave me this album. He'd just turned 13 and was being picked on for having it in his collection. I'll never forget his face as he handed it over and asked me to take good care of it. Reminded me of the face of my sister when she decided she was too old for Barbies. Kites Are Fun is a wonderful toy. You can have fun with it. It's just not art. No matter how hard the liner notes try to convince you otherwise.

In fact, dropping back to the general time period these notes were written in, what it reminds me of is all the children of stars that were attempting to become famous. Most didn't have the goods to (and faded into other work) but since they couldn't do anything but hype the supposed talent, the press would tell you about their "pedigree." The liner notes for the CD attempt to do the same. They try to convince you that this was just too good, too wonderful, too classically trained for success.

That's not reality. Which, if you think about it, makes the liner notes perfect for this CD release.

Teniente del Ejército se niega a ser trasladado a Irak

Teniente del Ejército se niega a ser trasladado a Irak

Francisco: Hola mi amigos y amigas. Aqui estan 10 noticias de "Democracy Now!". Buen fin de semana.

Teniente del Ejército se niega a ser trasladado a Irak
Mientras tanto, un oficial del Ejército estadounidense anunció que se niega a ser trasladado a Irak, lo que estaba programado para fines de este mes. El oficial, primer teniente Ehren Watada, dice que primero pidió autorización para renunciar a su cargo en enero. En dicha ocasión, Watada escribió: "Me opongo por completo a la permanente guerra en Irak, al engaño utilizado para librar esta guerra, y a la ilegitimidad que ha invadido todos los aspectos de nuestro liderazgo civil". Se cree que el teniente Watada es el primer oficial en actividad en negarse a ser trasladado a Irak desde que comenzó la invasión. Se espera que quienes lo apoyan lleven a cabo hoy conferencias de prensa simultáneas en su estado de origen, Hawai, y en Olimpia, Washington. Funcionarios militares le dijeron a Watada que no puede asistir a la conferencia de prensa porque tiene prohibido hablar en público sobre su caso mientras esté cumpliendo servicio en la base.

Estados Unidos muestra fotos del cadáver de Zarqawi
Las Fuerzas Armadas estadounidenses mostraron el jueves imágenes del cadáver de Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, el hombre más buscado de Irak, poco después de anunciar que había sido asesinado en una ataque aéreo. Las fotos mostraban a Zarqawi con cortes y moretones visibles en su cara. Los gobiernos iraquí y estadounidense dicen que fue asesinado cuando aviones de combate estadounidenses arrojaron un par de bombas de 227 kilogramos en un refugio en las afueras de la localidad de Baquba. Para muchas personas, Zarqawi era la cara de la resistencia iraquí; fue acusado de llevar a cabo innumerables bombardeos, asesinatos y otros actos de violencia, incluyendo la decapitación de rehenes en Irak.

Mueren 31 personas por violencia; se prohíbe el tránsito de vehículos en Bagdad
Mientras tanto, al menos 31 personas murieron el jueves en tres atentados con bombas en Irak. En el peor ataque del día, trece personas murieron en un ataque contra un mercado de frutas de Bagdad. El gobierno iraquí impuso una prohibición de vehículos de un día en Bagdad, para prevenir represalias violentas por la muerte de Zarqawi.

Líderes del Senado y de la Cámara de Representantes acuerdan destinar 65.800 millones de dólares a las guerras en Irak y Afganistán
Mientras tanto, los legisladores culminaron un acuerdo presupuestario que destinará 65.800 millones de dólares para las operaciones militares en Irak y Afganistán. El acuerdo presupuestario surge mientras una nueva encuesta muestra que el 59% de los ciudadanos estadounidenses creen que comenzar la guerra contra Irak fue "un error".

Soldados estadounidenses acusados de nuevas matanzas de civiles
Mientras tanto en Irak, soldados estadounidenses son acusados de un nueva serie de asesinatos a civiles iraquíes. El miércoles, el Partido Islámico Iraquí -el principal grupo sunita de Irak- dijo que tenía pruebas de que soldados estadounidenses mataron a más de dos docenas de iraquíes en incidentes ocurridos el mes pasado. Según el grupo, el ataque en el que se registraron más muertes ocurrió en una casa en Yusifiyah, al sur de Bagdad, y dejó un saldo de trece muertos, hombres y mujeres.

Investigación indica que catorce países europeos están involucrados en operaciones de la CIA
El principal organismo de vigilancia de los derechos humanos de Europa determinó que catorce países europeos estuvieron implicados o fueron cómplices en las operaciones secretas que realizó la CIA desde los atentados del 11 de septiembre. Dick Marty, presidente del Comité de Asuntos Legales y Derechos Humanos del Consejo de Europa, acusó al gobierno de Bush de adoptar un enfoque jurídico que es "completamente ajeno a la tradición europea". La investigación de Marty se centró en la práctica de Estados Unidos de rendiciones extraordinarias en la que funcionarios de la CIA secuestran a individuos y luego los trasladan a otros países para interrogarlos. Según el informe, España, Turquía, Alemania y Chipre proporcionaron lugares para las operaciones de traslado. Italia, Suecia, Bosnia y Macedonia permitieron el traslado de residentes desde su territorio. Gran Bretaña, Irlanda, Portugal y Grecia, proporcionaron aeropuertos utilizados por la CIA, mientras que Rumania y Polonia permitieron que la CIA operara prisiones secretas dentro de su territorio.

Activistas por la paz de Vermont interrumpen discurso de Negroponte
En Vermont, dos activistas por la paz fueron arrestados el lunes por interrumpir el discurso inaugural del Director Nacional de Inteligencia, John Negroponte, en la Academia St Johnsbury. Momentos después de que Negroponte comenzara su discurso, un manifestante se puso de pie y exclamó: "En nombre de la democracia me opongo a que hable este hombre. Tiene las manos manchadas con sangre por su trabajo en América Central e Irak. No debería estar en el estrado, debería estar en prisión. Es un criminal de guerra". Mientras el manifestante era escoltado hacia la salida, Negroponte dijo: "Ahora es mi turno". Pero antes de que pudiera continuar, otro manifestante se puso de pie y lo acusó de supervisar la tortura, los asesinatos y las violaciones en Honduras.

Estados Unidos se niega a ayudar a víctimas vietnamitas del Agente Naranja
El Secretario de Defensa, Donald Rumsfeld, está viajando por Asia esta semana. Durante su visita a Vietnam, oficiales militares estadounidenses reconocieron que Washington no indemnizará a millones de vietnamitas que sufren los efectos del Agente Naranja, utilizado por las Fuerzas Armadas estadounidenses durante la Guerra de Vietnam. Mientras tanto, Rumsfeld viajó a Indonesia para conmemorar el reestablecimiento de los vínculos de Washington con el gobierno de ese país.

Censo en Nueva Orleáns indica que población negra disminuyó 15%
En Nueva Orleáns, un nuevo censo de los cuatro meses siguientes al huracán Katrina concluyó que la población de la ciudad se volvió mayoritariamente blanca, envejeció y se empobreció. La población del área metropolitana de Nueva Orleáns disminuyó en más de la mitad. La población negra se redujo de 37 a 22 por ciento, mientras que el porcentaje de personas blancas aumentó de 60 a 73 por ciento.

Billy Preston murió a los 59 añosBilly Preston, el prolífico tecladista conocido como el "quinto Beatle", murió el martes a los 59 años. Preston tocó en varios éxitos número uno para los Beatles y los Rolling Stones, y tenía tres simples número uno de su autoría. Tocó en lo que terminó siendo el último recital de los Beatles, la famosa actuación en el techo de un edificio en 1969.

Francisco: Hello friends. Here are ten headlines from this week's Democracy Now!

Army Lt. Refuses Iraq Deployment
Meanwhile, a US army officer has announced he's refusing his deployment to Iraq slated for later this month. The officer, First Lt. Ehren Watada, says he first asked for permission to resign his position in January. He says he wrote: "I am whole-heartedly opposed to the continued war in Iraq, the deception used to wage this war, and the lawlessness that has pervaded every aspect of our civilian leadership." Lt. Watada is believed to be the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq since the invasion. Simultaneous news conferences by his supporters are expected to be held today in his home state of Hawaii and in Olympia, Washington. Military officials told Watada he cannot attend the news conference because he is barred from speaking publicly about his case while on duty at the base.

US Shows Images of Zarqawi's Body
Shortly after announcing he had been killed in an air strike, the US military displayed images Thursday of the body of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- Iraq's most wanted man. The pictures showed Zarqawi with visible cuts and bruises to his face. The Iraqi and U.S. governments say Zarqawi was killed when U.S. fighter planes dropped a pair of 500 pound bombs on a safehouse outside of the town of Baquba. To many Zarqawi was the face of the Iraqi resistance. He was accused of carrying out countless bombings, murders and other acts of violence including the beheading of hostages in Iraq.

31 Killed in Violence; Vehicle Traffic Banned in Baghdad
Meanwhile, at least 31 people were killed Thursday in three separate bombings across Iraq. In the day’s worst violence, 13 people were killed in an attack at a Baghdad fruit market. The Iraqi government has imposed a daytime vehicle ban in Baghdad in anticipation of violent retaliation for Zarqawi's death.

Senate, House Leaders Agree on $65B for Iraq, Afghanistan Wars
Meanwhile, lawmakers have finalized a budget agreement that will provide $65.8 billion dollars for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The budget agreement comes as a new poll shows a record 59 percent of Americans believe going to war against Iraq was a "mistake."

US Troops Accused of New Civilian Killings
Meanwhile in Iraq, US troops are being accused of a new round of killings of Iraqi civilians. On Wednesday, the Iraqi Islamic Party, Iraq’s main Sunni group, said it had evidence US troops killed more than two dozen Iraqis in incidents last month. According to the group, the most deadly attack occurred in a house in Yusifiyah south of Baghdad -- killing 13 people, including women and children.

Probe Says 14 European Countries Involved in CIA Operations
Europe's leading human rights watchdog has determined that 14 European countries have been involved in or complicit in secret CIA operations since the Sept. 11th attacks. Dick Marty, chairman of the Council of Europe's committee on legal affairs and human rights, accused the Bush administration of adopting a legal approach which is "utterly alien to the European tradition." Marty's investigation focused on the U.S. practice of extraordinary rendition where CIA officials kidnap individuals and then transport them to other countries for interrogation. According to the report, Spain, Turkey, Germany and Cyprus provided staging posts for rendition operations. Italy, Sweden, Bosnia, and Macedonia all allowed the rendition of residents from their soil. Britain, Ireland, Portugal, and Greece all provided airports used by the CIA. And Romania and Poland allowed the CIA to operate secret prisons on their soil.

Vermont Peace Activists Disrupt Negroponte Speech
In Vermont, two peace activists were arrested on Monday for disrupting a commencement address given by National Intelligence Director John Negroponte at St Johnsbury Academy. Moments after Negroponte began his address, a protester stood up and yelled: "In the name of democracy I object to this man speaking. He has blood on his hands from his work in Central America and Iraq. He shouldn't be at the podium, he should be in jail. He is a war criminal." As the protester was being escorted away, Negroponte said "Now it's my turn." But before he could continue, another protester stood up and accused Negroponte of overseeing torture, killings and rape in Honduras, where he served as ambassador in the 1980s.

U.S. Refuses to Help Vietnamese Agent Orange Victims
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is traveling to Asia this week. During his stop in Vietnam, U.S. military officials admitted that Washington will not compensate the millions of Vietnamese suffering from the affects of Agent Orange, used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. Meanwhile Rumsfeld traveled to Indonesia to mark the restoration of Washington’s military ties to the Indonesian government.

New Orleans Census Shows 15% Drop in Black Residents
In New Orleans, a new census covering the fourth months following Hurricane Katrina has found the city has become considerably whiter, older and less poor. New Orleans' metropolitan area has shrunk to more than half its size. The black population has dropped from 37 from 22 percent, while the percentage of whites has increased from 60 to 73 percent.

Billy Preston Dies at 59
And Billy Preston, the prolific keyboardist known as the "Fifth Beatle", died Tuesday at the age of 59. Preston played on several number one hits for the Beatles and Rolling Stones, and had three number one pop singles of his own. He played at what turned out to be the Beatles' last concert, the famous rooftop performance in 1969.

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