Sunday, November 12, 2006

Truest statement of the week

There's nothing on earth
As unholy as war,
The rich sacrifice the poor.
If I had a heart I'd cry.
In fairy tales the good go to heaven
And the evil go to hell,
Ring the funeral bell.
If I had a heart I'd cry.

Lyrics to a new Joni Mitchell song. As C.I. noted:

Starting with news not coming out of Iraq, the current issue of Rolling Stone (Jon Stewart cover) notes that Joni Mitchell is recording another album of her own compositions. Uncut reports on the upcoming album and quotes Mitchell stating "when the world becomes a massive mess with nobody at the helm, it's time for artists to make their mark" and noting that the albums is an attempt to provide "courage through tough times." Mitchell's official website notes one song on the upcoming album entitled "Holy War" [. . .]

Best news we saw last week. (What? You thought we'd join the Gas Bag set pinning all their hopes on politicians?)

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --

This is a mini note. The plan is to be more later. When we don't know. We're exhausted.

The Beta switch for this site has caused problems -- with posting, yes. For readers as well. Which is why we're doing this mini-note. We didn't grasp what some of the e-mails were talking about until we were working on this edition. A note is needed to reference features due to all the mix-ups here as a result of the switch.

And here's we start expanding the note.

E-mails since we switched Thursday were complaining about not being able to find features. What were they talking about? Ava and C.I. found out when they were finishing their TV commentary. They do their own links and were going to offer several to previous pieces in their current commentary. They don't. They offer the Mad TV review and that was almost it. They couldn't find their commentary where they noted an improvement with Mad TV. They knew the week they did it but when they'd click on that week's link, they were taken somewhere else.
There's some feature reader Len was trying to access that he bookmarked months ago. He wrote that he re-reads it about once a month and when he goes there now, he's got some right-wing rant against Hugo Chavez that's from another website. (After 20 minutes, they gave up trying to find the How I Met Your Mother review which they know they reviewed as a Monday night thing. They also note, in reply to Stuart's e-mail, that yes, someone in that show is supposed to have "crazy eyes." They don't think the actress does. They're talking about Amy Poehler in this week's review, not a character she plays. The comment on no one having "crazy eyes" on How I Met Your Mother, refers to the actors, not the characters they play.)

Mindy e-mailed that doing a search of our site (with the little square at the top of the site) returns searches for our site and other sites. But Ava and C.I.'s problem was the one most readers were complaining about. They click on a week's archive and they often end up elsewhere. Sometimes that's another week of our features, sometimes it's another site.

Why? We have no idea.

It's the Beta switch. We switched the site over Thursday after Rebecca attempted to switch her site Wednesday, after the text that said it would take just a few minutes, and it took over nine hours for her to switch. We don't want to be in "Beta." But Blogger/Blogspot is switching all their sites to Beta. Right now, it's a choice (for some). We figured better to switch now and get it over with to avoid problems. We had no idea that it would be all the problems that it was.

The Common Ills can't switch. The site is too large. C.I. will have to wait for when Blogger/Blogspot switches every site (when they do that switch themselves). Rebecca, Mike and Trina have switched. Wally, Elaine, Cedric, C.I. and Betty haven't. (Kat's site hasn't been switched though C.I. intends to do that for her when there's time.) (Kat's still in Ireland.)

Our illustrations are usually e-mailed to Rebecca who then photoshops then, mails them to her site using a program called Hello, and then we grab them from there. The Beta switch, pay attention, meant that she couldn't mail them to her site. She didn't know that until she tried. C.I. ended up e-mailing them to The Common Ills and we grabbed them from there.

Remember "pay attention"? There are no highlights. We e-mail them and doing so takes a little over an hour. We'd be spending much longer if we attempted to copy & paste them. (There are no breaks for paragrpahs when we copy and paste -- everything runs together -- so we have to space them out if we're copy and pasting.) So there are no highlights. There was nothing in the directions about the Beta switch warning us that switching meant we couldn't e-mail to the site.
Fred had it all figured out and e-mailed this afternoon to suggest we switch back from Beta. We didn't do that because you can't. Blogger/Blogspot wants everyone using their Beta program and, once you switch, you can't switch back.

Now let's note who worked on this edition:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and, me, 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;
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 all of them for their help. We thank Dallas for his help. He hunted down links and had huge problems due to the fact that it was near impossible to locate past features this site had done. (For the same reason that readers were complaining -- everything's mixed up since the switch to Beta.)

New content:

Editorial: Now what? -- The elections. Now what? Says it all

Truest statement of the week -- Joni Mitchell recording a new album of her own songs is news. We're really excited about that. More so than the elections.

TV: Saturday Night Dead -- Due to the content for this edition, I (Jim) asked Ava and C.I. to hold off on reviewing the show they'd planned to. Ava will tell you that I made that request on Friday at ten-thirty p.m. What would they review instead? One of their friends at Mad TV has been on their back to review SNL for months. They weren't keen on doing that. Along with the reasons they note in their review, it's also true that it was the TV equivalent of their "safety school." If there was nothing else, they could review it. But they reviewed it and there are already 230 e-mails (Ty counted). One has a complaint. "Saturday Night Dead," Benny informs, has been used as a headline before. Blame me (Jim) for that. They didn't have a title and I slapped that on it so it could be posted. If I'd known that was a common headline, I would have made it "Dead and Dying" or something else. (When it was a "common headline," I wasn't reading because, during some of that, I wasn't born and, during other parts of it, I was too young. Other than Benny's complaint, everyone loved it and Cal e-mailed to explain that the show really is that bad "which you can prove by going to their message boards where only two people posted about the show. A few years back, I'd go there and post and I'd be part of many. Now days, no one watches and no one wants to talk about how bad it is."

The Full Brobeck -- The illustration is finally showing up. Kylie saw the illustration at The Common Ills and wondered where it was at this site. It showed up in the "compose" mode. It just didn't show up when it was posted. We gave up trying to fix it. When we logged on this evening, it was there. Right now, this is the second most popular feature. (You know the most popular, it's always Ava and C.I.'s commentary.)

Remember Ehren Watada? -- When news didn't get covered. On the illustrations. We avoid using photos that we didn't take. Why? Copyright issues. We used a public domain photo of Abeer for our feature on her. We would have used a copyrighted one on that just to put her face out there. When Darrell Anderson was preparing for his return, we were already talking about increasing our visuals here. Dona argued that we needed to do Anderson and Watada to have something to use as an illustration to put a "face" on the issue. We couldn't get one of Ehren Watada we were pleased with. This one? Our apologies to Watada. It looks enough like him, we decided, and short of someone adding more hours to the week, we'll stick with it.

You gotta' stay loose, limber and prepared -- Ty wanted this illustration done. We painted it second. In the print edition, it's paired with a poem we did. We weren't thrilled with that so we worked out some text to run with it online.

Go down, Dexy -- the most popular illustration and the third most popular feature. A question popping up is are those daisies or stars where Chalibi's eyes are? They are what you ever you see them as.

Junior campaigned in strange places -- we don't intend to use photos that are copyrighted. This one is. We've altered it by zooming in on the key section. We think it is educational. We considered doing a painting of it or turning it into some sort of collage (both of which would free the copyright restriction). But we knew people wouldn't believe it. KC e-mailed that even after seeing it, he's still shaking his head. He can't believe "that a candidate would be so shameless." We can't either. We think it needed to be noted. We ran the photo for educational purposes. We hope not to have to do that again. Providing a link for people to check it out themselves wouldn't have worked because when The Times archives a story, the photo doesn't go with it. (Check anything a few months old.) So it's up. For educational purposes. We're getting real tired of hearing about poor Junior. We'll put out concern into people who don't pose in front of Confederate flags.

10 CDs we listened to during the writing of this e... -- Dona was reading over Ava and C.I.'s TV commentary (at their request). That is an epic. It also put them way behind both because the show aired late Saturday and because they ended up making phone calls. They hadn't planned on that because they didn't know the show would suck as bad as it did. It was a very different way of working for them. Usually, they've watched ahead of time and toss things around before writing. This one was written immediately after the show went off and delays in writing were caused only by their attempting to figure out who they could reach at the late hour to get background from. They were able to reach two friends with the program, four who were once with the program and one at NBC. When they finished it they were exhausted and pissed as hell when they found out that very little had been done by the rest of us while they were gone. Pissed at Beta Blogger/Blogspot which was the reason nothing was going up. At one point, while they were in another room, one of them yelled the F-word and Rebecca (and everyone else) heard because those not present were on speaker phone. At that point, Rebecca gave us some advice which we greatly appreciate. "Start picking up." We're usually all in C.I.'s room (the core six, Kat as well when she's here) working on the edition. (If we're all together, everyone helping plus the core six and Kat, we're in the living room.) As the edition goes on and on, you've got The Times, The Washington Post, several California papers, magazines, CDs, books and other things strewn all over. Rebecca's advice was to pick up the mess. She said turn the music up higher and pick up the mess. Everyone was close to the edge and her advice was helpful. John Mayer's Continuum is mentioned at least three times this edition. That was the one we put on as we all started picking up. It put us behind in time, but it helped us all bring it down several notches. We even stopped at one point to replay track seven and dance.

Just FYI -- letting you know what was going on.

Highlights -- what we offered due to the fact that we couldn't post highlights in full.

So that's it. We'll see you next week. C.I.'s considering dropping Sunday morning entries at The Common Ills due to the problems with posting here. Why? Beta's a pain in the ass. We're having more problems than we did before the switch. C.I. thinks it makes more sense to put those on hold until we can figure out how to get around the problems. So if you're unhappy about that, blame us.

See you next week.

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

Editorial: Now what?

The Democrats control both houses of Congress come January when the newly & re-elected are sworn in.
It should be an improvement. But some are saying that, exit polls be damend, "We know what voters voted on, but what they really meant was . . ." That's the tired 'go to the center' arguement that's always trotted out when Democrats win by the mainstream.
It's as laughable as the special advertising section for big business that The New York Times ran in Wednesday's paper the day after the election. Did big business really think the paper of record needed a reminder who provided the bread & butter that rescued it oh so long ago or who keeps it alive today?
The 'move to the center' is always a faulty argument. It sets up Dems to look like liars.
Right now, while expectations are still high, all eyes are on the Democratic Party. If it doesn't produce, that will be noted.
"Bipartisanship" is being tossed around as the buzzword not only by the mainstream press but also by some 'leaders.'
Those citing the war in Iraq in exit polls as a reason for their vote (six out of ten) aren't going to be thrilled if the new leadership decides to let the war ride out. It won't build anger at the Bully Boy and the GOP. It will discredit the Democratic Party.
For all the smears tactics from outside, nothing hurts the Democrats more than their own leaders. They appear to not only follow their own press but get taken in by it. Tubby Russert isn't the party's base. Early indications suggest that along with the base, they grabbed a number of swing voters (and first-time and non-voters). Those people didn't flock to the polls to say, "Can't we all just get along?"
They want change. They've handed the ability to make those changes to the Democratic Party.
"Bipartisanship" indicates that now the Dems can give a little and the Repubes can give a little which will make everyone happy.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Republicans were rejected. That wasn't a request for a brief detour, it was a request that the car be turned around. Failure to do so will be seen as an indication that someone's unable or unwilling to drive.
"Power is made, by power being taken" -- "Vultures" written by John Mayer Pino Pallidino and Steve Jordan, off Mayer's Continuum.
For six years, elected DC Democrats have refused to take and own the power they did have. Stands taken ended up being brief ones. One moment they were lip synching to Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down," the next it was Brenda Lee's "I'm Sorry."
Despite that, enough people in this country were willing to hope that this just resulted from the fact that the party wasn't in power. A party that won't lead will make a mockery of that hope.
It's equally true that if Dems hadn't buckled during Iran-Contra, it's unlikely Bully Boy would be occupying the Oval Office right now. If Poppy Bush had been exposed, the son couldn't rise off the backs of Supreme Court Justices. There's a whole crop of junior league Bushes today. George P. may be the 'star' they flaunt, but there's a whole crop. Failure to hold Bully Boy accountable means we'll see more of the same and see more pardoned felons returning to the White House.
It's the Dems to blow it. Based on past history, we won't be surprised if they do. But we hope we're wrong.
Failure to do so will be noted.

TV: Saturday Night Dead

Here's a fact: those working in comedy can be the most thin-skinned. That may surprise you because they're so quick to laugh at others (we are as well, before anyone thinks we're condemning). But that's reality. In July of 2005, we (Ava and C.I.) reviewed Mad TV. One friend with the show still harps on the review. He's not "angry," he's not "mad." He's "more peeved." And for the last sixteen months, it's come up repeatedly.

We'd noted here when Mad TV actually invented characters as opposed to yet again spoofing the over spoofed. We'd said we'd take another look and do a review because sketch comedies get stronger and get weaker all the time. He didn't want that. He wanted us to review Saturday Night Live.

We weren't interested. As he pointed out, we like Tina Fey. He took to calling us "Tina-sters" which, we thought, indicated why Mad TV so often fumbles the joke -- "Feysters" would be much more amusing. Saturday morning, he was on the phone griping that Mad TV had "gotten the treatment" but not SNL. To get him off our backs, we agreed to watch that night's live broadcast.

How bad could it be? Yes, Fey was off the show doing 30 Rock, but they had a few episodes under their belt, things should be gelling, right? And Alec Baldwin was hosting -- for the 13th time. (They said on the show it was the 13th time. A friend swears it was Baldwin's 14th time hosting.)

Actually, he wasn't so much hosting as he was standing around. That was due to the fact that SNL played out like it was in its final season. The shovel's been grabbed many times, the plot dug, but it's bounced back before. If it does, even slightly, this time, without major staffing changes, it will be a shock.

Let's be really clear for our Mad TV friend who plans to stay up until our review is posted, SNL today makes Mad TV look like the Gilda-Curtain-Belushi years of SNL. Now he can go to sleep and dream happy.

For the rest of you? (Which includes two friends with SNL.) We could start with the low point except for one thing -- there were multiple low points. So let's start with the high point. The musical guest who performed three songs. The first opened with something like, "Heeeey-aye-eeh-ooh-woah-wooh" and that was just the just first word.

Ladies and gentleman, representing Team USA in the vocal gymanstic, Christina Aguilera. Aguilera was in heels, hat and suit. The song was your basic nonsense but she, her four dancers, three backup singers and nine-plus-member band turned it into an event. The second song featured her showing off her softer side and high-range. It was marred only by the fact that the lyrics to the song appeared to come straight out of the spiral some tenth grader used as a journal. (Not as a poetry book, as a journal. End rhymes and meter were tossed aside for free-association rambles.) Her last performance was a duet with Tony Bennett, the master of understatement. Aguliera was at her best when she was shaking her hips and making fun of that move.

We're not fans of vocal gymnastics (Aguilera does have the pipes, there hasn't been anyone like her since Mariah Carey first hit with "Vision of Love") and we actually groaned when we heard her named as the musical guest. But she put on a show. She's matured into a strong live performer. Now if only someone could explain to her that running the scales isn't required for every song.

The writing of the skits ran the scales too, in it's own ways. It didn't take you to heights of new laughter but it did try to squeeze in every reference someone could think of -- shout outs passing for funny lines.

How awful the writing is was driven home in a skit where Baldwin played Saddam Hussein. This wasn't a 'comment' on the trial -- the days of that sort of bravery ended long ago and Jim Downey would probably tender his resignation (yet again) if someone even tried to address the realities of the trial or to mock the way it was played out by the mainstream press.
What was it?

Saddam meets with two of his lawyers. If you're thinking one is Ramsey Clark, don't say that too loudly. Those involved in the skit would probably shoot back, "Who's Ramsey Clark?"

Early on, Saddam/Alec said, "I feel like a contestant on American Idol and all the witness are Simon." Did you chuckle? Probably not. And that line may have been the funniest of the shout-outs. They also got in shout-outs to Welcome Back, Kotter, Law and Order, O.J. Simpson and Boran. They just didn't make room for any jokes.

Someone felt Saddam saying "Welcome Back, Kotter" was, in and of itself, so delightful that it needed to be repeated multiple times and actually creating a joke or a sketch was unnecessary. They were sadly mistaken.

Name dropping also was supposed to replace the need to be funny in a skit where Alec Baldwin and Kristen Wiig played two co-workers who car pooled. If hearing claims that Celine Dion rescued a teenager or that Bobby McFerren raped a grandmother tickles your funny bone, then you may have laughed loudly and frequently. The rest of America was probably reaching for the remote.

Many years ago, Nicole Kidman and Mike Meyers played children and this skit was an attempt to ape that one but with adult characters and without humor.

TV Fun House we'll take a pass on because describing it to anyone who didn't see it may leave them with the mistaken impression that it was wild, zany and funny. It was none of the three.

Another staple, of course, is Weekend Update. Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers now co-anchor. On a recent episode of How I Met Your Mother, the topic of "crazy eyes" was discussed (watch out for the dates with crazy eyes). Though no one on that show had them, Poehler does. She always looks like someone who's been off her meds for at least 16 days. Despite that, she got a laugh for a well crafted line about the elections: "In an ironic turn around, Iraq brought regime change to the US."

The rest of the time she continued her annoying habit of popping her eyes and bearing down on words as though thrusting them at an audience makes them funny. Meyers seemed to think a squint was funny. It wasn't and it played out like Chevy Chase: The Middle Years. Jimmy Fallon, young and bone-thin, could get away with the little boy quality. Meyers is too old, too thick and not cute enough. Wardrobe also needs to help him find a jacket that fits.

What's most wrong with the current show is awful writing. It's not a question of timing or performers needing to grow comfortable with one exception. Wiig needs to. She was flat out awful throughout most of the show and we'd still be wondering how she got hired were it not for her character Aunt Lynda (Culture Critic) during Weekend Update. Give her funny lines (which will require new writers) and Wiig may actually have a great deal to offer.

We could give you a rundown of every skit and what was wrong with it and why. We could offer, for instance, that Amy Poehler saying "Dang!" a lot with a bad wig on her head doesn't make her Britney Spears and doesn't make the skit funny (especially when played opposite a bump on a log). We could explore how the fact that K-Fed and Britney were the topic of two bits indicates that the writers need to consider reading something other than Page Six of the Post. We could note that we were told "The Out of Breath Jogger from 1992" wasn't even funny in dress and no one knows how it made to air (panting "George Bush totally barfed on that Chinese Dude . . . Crystal Pepsi!"). We could note that the funniest performers they have on the show were the most underutilized (including Maya Rudolph and Will Forte). We could note that a skit that's not funny with Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin doesn't become funny by adding Martin Short and Paul McCartney to it nor by name checking Tom Hanks, John Goodman and Paul Simon. However, it does, yet again, underscore the fact that women are rarely multiple hosts. Lily Tomlin hasn't hosted since the 80s. Her crime must have been actually being funny.

But we want to zoom in on why the show sucks. The spirit of Amy Poehler.

With Fey to prop her up, they made history as the first woman-woman anchor team for Weekend Update. Fey's no longer around and every skit Poehler's in plays out like that embarrassing, laugh-free, never ending interview she did with Janeane Garofalo on The Majority Report. Garofalo, who is funny, tried to save her repeatedly even as the listeners who blogged were calling for Poehler's head with the kind of venum not present since Peaches bombed on the show. Poehler wasn't grabbing any life preserver, thank you, she was bound and determined to sink all on her own. "Hey lighten up guys, politics is dumb." That's not a direct quote. That is the attitude she exhibited while attempting to make jokes (about everything but politics) on a political talk show and boring the hell out of every listener she wasn't angering.

We winced when we heard that interview and watching the show, we were reminded of it because Poehler truly is stupid and she embodies all that is wrong with the show. (Jim Downey assists with that.)

During Weekend Update, Poehler told a joke about how the meeting between Bully Boy and Nancy Pelosi this week had gone well, "though, just to rub it in, she left early to have an abortion."

Did you chuckle?

Well if you did, congratulations. SNL is back to the Norm McDonald/Jim Downey crap. You remember that, right? The unfunny attacks were only surpassed by the Colin Quinn period which seemed to think the Clinton Chronicles were factual. Let's clear it up for Poehler who read the joke, Nancy Pelosi can't have an abortion. At sixty-five, she no longer ovulates. Nancy Pelosi has never stated she has had an abortion so we'll assume she hasn't had one. The joke wasn't funny.

And here's the thing, when it was Republicans, the joke was about something they actually did. Donald Rumsfeld, being moved out of his office, said, "You go into a moving job with the movers you have." That's a reference to his real-life groaner about going to war with the military you have. See that's what Poehler and the other idiots on the show do. When it's time to spoof Republicans, they are fact-based.

When it's time to spoof Democrats, they aren't. They're so tickled with their lame stereotypes (as Poehler was when Garofalo was interviewing her) that they don't think it has to have any resemblence to real life. (Polar said as much in that interview.) It's the kind of thinking that leads them to think having Saddam Hussein shout out "Welcome Back, Kotter" is somehow funny.

And it goes to what was the worst skit of the night. The opening.

Nancy Pelosi (played by Wiig) is delivering a speech. It has nothing to do with Pelosi (other than Wiig putting on a wig and being called Nancy Pelosi). It was a bunch of cheap shots that even Rush Limbaugh would hold his nose at but because, like Polar, they're kind-of left and kind-of concerned about the world around them, they think they can get away with this shit. So they flash photos of Pelosi's supposed picks for committee chairs with 'funnys' like for "agriculture, this naked hippie . . . and his old lady" or "another Black guy."

The shit included an assistant for Pelosi, Dana. A man in S&M drag towing his "slave" on a leash
-- his slave who is "a human ashtray." It's as though they heard the right-wing and mainstream cry of "San Francisco Democrat" and thought, "Okay, we're kind-of left, we can go to town here."

The jokes about the administration had to come with the ability to be foot noted and fact checked. With the Democrats, they just went to town inventing things. Which is how you got Pelosi, a woman too old to get pregnant, rushing off to have an abortion.

Tina Fey isn't Hannah Arendt, but she does have a mind and she does use it. She brought SNL back to the living. Polar & co. seem to think that the height of topical comedy would be to do a Brady Bunch sketch that they could insert Britney Spears into. Fey (remember, we've been dubbed "Tina-sters"), appeared on the show in the opening monologue with Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan. No surprise, that was actually funny. It was also a promo for 30 Rock which, in five minutes, provides more laughs than were to be had in the 90 minute Saturday Night Live.

The problem isn't a rhythm. So the solution isn't, "Give it time." The problem is the writing. It's not funny. It's doing what Square Pegs was accused of which is sprinkling in pop-cultural refs to grab laughs it didn't earn. What was false about Square Pegs is true of the current Saturday Night Live and Lorne Michaels & co. should be embarrassed . In 1985, Michaels returned to producing the show and scored a ratings and critical hit with the season premiere -- a hit he didn't feel comfortable with because the humor came from the host, Madonna, and the episode existed as a show case for her (including Madonna doing a parody of a Joan Collins type -- with chin thrust far out to minimize sagging). He was right. He didn't deserve the praise. When the following episodes were broadcast (without Madonna) the show sucked.

But Alec Baldwin, who has been funny consistently on the show, was reduced to the nice tour guide this go round. He was likeable. Tony Bennett, in a skit, got in a funny ad-lib and Baldwin's spark was there. The rest of the time? Cut out the likeability and he could have been Freddie Prinze Jr., MC Hammer, Linda Hamilton, Robert Conrad or any other host that the cast had to work around because the host just wasn't funny.

When they're wasting Alec Baldwin, there's a problem with the writing. We're told that the problem is known. Knowing it and even publicly admitting it may be a first step in some program, but doing nothing isn't fixing this program. Poehler needs to go. Not just from the anchor desk, from the show and she needs to take Grandpa Armisen with her. (Forty next month, so much for the once young-and-hip show.) His I'm-so-funny routine might hack it on The Carol Burnett Show where breaking character and cracking up on camera was seen as 'delightful' but isn't that among the reasons Horatio Sanz was fired?

We missed Grandpa's bit as Hugo Chavez earlier this year but two friends with the show swear the skit would have been funny if Armisen and Poehler (as Kim Jong Il) hadn't blown it by repeatedly finding one another so damn amusing.

Poehler's not the only one who needs to go. Seth Meyers needs to leave the anchor desk as well. He's not suited for it. You either make your mark or you don't. Recycling Chevy and Jimmy bits doesn't cut it. Turn the desk over to Rudolph, Forte or Andy Samberg who, though lost for most of the show, had a moment with Baldwin that carried weight. (Samberg also played the out of breath 90s guy. The skit wasn't funny but, it should be noted, he committed to that character as well.)

None of the above matters if you don't fire some of the writers (Meyers is head writer). They aren't cutting it. Lorne Michaels is now producing everything he once hated. He is part of the very thing that he once rebelled against. Pink slips are coming, but he's fooling himself if he thinks he can't wait until the end of the season.

Until then, the joke is Saturday Night Live -- that anyone thinks it's worth watching. The only one that's happy about that is our friend at Mad TV.

The Full Brobeck

Ehren Watada should have been in the news last week but largely was ignored. We don't mean by the mainstream media, we're talking independent media. We've got a feature on Watada this edition but C.I. dubbed the silence on Watada "the full Brobeck."

What's the full Brobeck?

Let's start with Ivan Brobeck, US war resister, 20-year-old son of Arlington, Virginia. Brobeck was deployed to Iraq. He spoke of his experiences with The Pacific News Service:

I was in the Marines. I joined in June 2003, and after boot camp in March of 2004 I was sent directly to Iraq. This wasn't at all unsettling to me. You see, I went into the Army because I wanted to fight the bad guys. In school during history classes I learned that the Army and Marines had done all these wonderful things, and it all sounded so patriotic and I wanted to do the same. I wanted to fight for freedom.I didn't care, and I still don't care, if I died fighting for a good and noble cause which is what I wanted to do.
In Iraq, I found myself being the problem instead of the solution. A problem in a normal town, in the life of normal people, like the people here in Toronto, trying to go about their life and risking getting shot at by me. Innocent people getting killed for misunderstandings, and for even more trivial things. I found myself in situations with my partners where we had to shoot at speeding cars, at people that probably were just trying to get out of our way.
All these insurgents, as they call them, they're not. They're people who have nothing left. There was this guy who was mad at us because we had killed his family. Wife, children, everybody but him had been killed. He was seeking some kind of retribution. That is not an insurgent, that's a desperate man.

After serving seven months in Iraq, Brobeck returned to the United States and decided to self-check out. In April of 2005, Ivan Brobeck moved to Canada. From an e-mail alert sent out by Courage to Resist:

Since I was not willing to return to Iraq, the only option I saw was to go to Canada. I have spent nearly two years there living, working, and married to my wife (who is six months pregnant).
Now I feel that I am ready to return to the US and face the consequences of refusing to participate in a war that I do not believe is right.

War Resisters Support Campaign (a Canadian organization that assists war resisters) notes this statement from Brobeck, "Going AWOL is always a hard decision because it means leaving everything and everyone you know. But having an option means that I can get on with planning what I want to do with my life without worrying about life and death."

As difficult as the decision to self-check out was, Brobeck made another difficult decision. In the wake of Darrell Anderson and Kyle Snyder (two war resisters who returned from Canada -- to very different results), Brobeck made the decision to return as well. The first Friday of November, Jim Fennerty was on Democracy Now! with his client Kyle Snyder. Fennerty also represented Anderson and was able to speak with the military and iron out an agreement that both sides agreed to and that was followed. With Snyder, something quite different happened. We've heard conflicting stories as to why it unfolded the way it did. One person pins the blame on a "gung-ho screwball who wanted to mess with Snyder" and another says that it was always understood the agreement wouldn't be followed (by the military). The fact that two persons serving at Fort Knox, who should be "in the know," have two different stories of how it went down means that it will probably be some time before the truth is known and only puts any future agreement into question.

What is known, as Synder explained on Democracy Now!, is that he turned himself in, was asked not to make any statements during the process and was then supposed to begin a process similar to Anderson's (dishonorable discharge); however, Snyder was then informed the process was off and he was being returned to his unit. Screwed again by the US military, Snyder decided to self-check out again. He is now underground and his attorney is attempting to figure out what, if anything, can be done.

Fennerty mentioned another client to Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Brobeck. Brobeck was planning to return but the details of his agreement would be different because the Marines handled things differently and Fennerty thought it very likely that Brobeck would face a court-martial and time behind bars.

Monday of last week (Nov. 6th), Brobeck was interviewed by Nora Barrows Friedman on KPFA's Flashpoints who asked him about what he hoped his decision to turn himself in would say to his soon-to-be born child as well as to other men and women serving in the military? Brobeck responded, "I'm sort of trying to teach them to open their eyes. It's easy to forget basic stuff in Iraq."

Courage to Resist issued a press release Tuesday November 8th to note Brobeck would be turning himself that day, election day. Election day?

Yeah, independent media can't stop jaw boning about Iraq -- or at least mentioning it right now. Iraq and the elections go together they tell you, over and over. (The polling data -- both before the election and exit polling afterwards -- backs that conclusion up.) But somehow in the jaw boning, they can't mention Ivan Brobeck, or that he turned himself in at Quantico Marine Base in Quantico, VA on election day, or that before he did he released an open letter to the Bully Boy and Congress:

I came back from Iraq in October of 2004. I was willing to stay in the military and put the events that happened in Iraq behind me, but when I heard rumors of us returning to Iraq the stress and anxiety of what happened there started coming back to me. I was not willing to go back and fight a war that I did not believe was right, and I didn't want to put myself in a situation were I would possibly kill an innocent civilian. So, I went AWOL and hid out at a friend's house until I figured out what to do. While I was AWOL my mom took me to a therapist who diagnosed me with PTSD.
Since I was not willing to return to Iraq, the only option I saw was to go to Canada. I have spent nearly two years there living, working, and married to my wife (who is six months pregnant).
Now I feel that I am ready to return to the US and face the consequences of refusing to participate in a war that I do not believe is right. When I return on Election Day, I face a court martial and a charge of Missing Movement with punishment of up to one year in jail.
Please, President Bush: do what is right. And do everything you can to bring our troops home from Iraq.

You didn't see a story at any of the link-fests (Common Dreams was the only one to carry the press release), you didn't hear about it on Democracy Now!, you didn't read it at The Nation's website or The Progressive's. You didn't hear about it on KPFA's The Morning Show which you'd think would be more than willing to promote that one of their own programs (Flashpoints) had an exclusive interview with him.

The Full Brobeck? That's what it is when independent media elects to black out a story. We're not saying they censored out of malice or a desire to surpress Brobeck's story. We are saying they just don't give a damn.

And if that seems harsh, forgive us but we're feeling a bit like Sally Hyde in Coming Home. The scene where Jane Fonda's character is attempting to get coverage of the disable veterans and is told they're not interested in covering it:

Ass: I don't think that that's our function, Sally, I think that we're more a base gossip sheet. You know, fun and games for the fellas?

Sally: I-I just, I want to say that I'm really shocked, I'm just shocked that you'd rather write about a goddamn baseball homerun then what's going on in this hospital. I mean you wouldn't feel that way if they were your husbands.

We noted that exchange in the editorial that recived more positive feedback (more feedback period) than any editorial we've ever done, "War Got Your Tongue?"* That was December of 2005. Have you seen any increase in coverage on Iraq or related issues in independent media?
Don't kid yourself that jaw-boning last week with a shout-out to Iraq counted as coverage. It was just an excuse for people who'd rather write and talk about anything except Iraq to gas bag one more time and make it 'fresh' by tossing out "Iraq" in the midst of their usual commentary.

Last Sunday, we added a "breaking" feature to note that US war resister Joshua Key's application for refugee status in Canada was turned down. We thought we'd read and hear more about it. We were wrong. In fact, the only independent media we're aware of that took the time to note Key was Raw Story. We saw silence on Ivan Brobeck and continue to get silence, even as the jaw boners rush from show to show, churn out online copy at magazine websites, chattering away about "Iraq" and "election" but never able to note, "Hey, a US war resister turned himself on election day while calling on the Bully Boy and Congress to end the war."

What happened at the end of the week (if silence can be termed a "happening") is even more disgusting. The Full Brobeck is the term for when a story that independent media should be covering is ignored completely. Doesn't even qualify for what Rebecca's termed the baby-cried-the-day-the-circus-came-to-town, one-day coverage.

Maybe you know about that kind of coverage. Maybe you heard voices in independent media pat themselves on the back and criticize big media during Katrina? Talk about how they weren't going to drop the story, how that's what independent media could do?

Could do. Should do. But, as Diana Ross sang in an early seventies hit, "I'm still waiting." Know the song? It's written by Deke Richards and it first appeared on the album Everything Is Everything. Here's the chorus:

And I'm still waiting
I'm waiting
Still waiting
Ooh, still waiting
(I'm just a fool)
Ooh, I'm a fool
(I'm just a fool to keep waiting)
To keep waiting
(I'm just a fool)
for you.
(I'm just a fool)
Ooh I'm waiting
(I'm just a fool)
I'm still waiting
. . .

Like Ross sings in the song, we're still waiting. We're waiting for the coverage to improve but it's not happening. Not only is it not happening, it's getting worse. Ivan Brobeck, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada -- what did you hear about them last week?

Chances are, not a damn thing.

Trina had an e-mail this week from the family of a war resister. They have family, they have friends. They aren't invisible -- not to the people who know them and often not to big media (big media covered Watada last week). But when it comes to independent media, war resisters are the Invisible Man. Not the H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison's Invisble Man. Unlike Welles' character who is expermenting on how to be unseen by the naked eye, Ellison's character is visible, he's just ignored and overlooked by society.

From the last page of Ellison's novel:

Being invisble and without substance, a disembodied voice, as it were, what else could I do? What else but try to tell you what was really happening when your eyes were looking through? And it is this which frightens me:
Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?

We think war resisters do speak for many. We think they deserve to be heard and that their stories need to be told. We don't think the coverage is up to it. How bad is the coverage?

I am posting on this board because I am not quite sure how to get ahold of you. I am the wife of Darrell Anderson, an Iraq war veteran who chose to go AWOL rather than do another tour who recently turned himself into Fort Knox to face his punishment, but was given a very lenient sentence. Darrell has received extensive international coverage for almost two years now, and is a dynamic speaker with a moving view point on America's situation in Iraq. I invite you to explore the possibility of having Darrell on your show, as I think he is more than a match for Mr. Colbert, and would make an interesting guest.I also invite you to view part of the speech Darrell made at the press confernce held shortly before turning himself in several weeks ago, available through this link:

Also, feel free to enter Darrell's name in any search engine for further back-story. I guarantee you will be intrigued. Darrell was recently interviewed by Amy Goodman, who appeared on your show not too long ago. If you are interested in pursuing an interview, please feel free to contact me at *********
Thank you for your consideration!

Gail Greer, Darrell Anderson's wife, posted that at Comedy Central at the end of last month. (For the record, Anderson has yet to appear on The Colbert Report.) That's what it comes down to, so little interest on the part of the media in telling their stories that family members have to pitch them. It's a good thing Greer is willing to do so. Maybe it will get some attention to the issue. But how sad that it's come to that.

We've deleted Greer's e-mail because we have no interest in her receiving hate mail. Jess and Martha, working the public account for The Common Ills last week, kept track of the hate mail coming into C.I. for keeping war resisters in the coverage. They counted 1023 e-mails. Now note, Ava, Shirley and Eli didn't keep track of the ones they read, nor did C.I.

Jess and Martha each had one they wanted us to print. C.I. agreed to one going up here. (While noting that it's hardly original but typical.)

How can that f**king coward sleep at night, or worse yet, live with himself?
Tell me how you sleep at night or live with yourself?
You're a stupid bitch. Live in fear, c**t, I'm coming for you. I will slice you open so you can feel some of the pain that this cowards ex-brothers are feeling in the nearest military hospital.
You're going to receive special treatment. I'll cut out your tongue so I don't have to listen to you scream while I f**k you up the ass. Then I'll jam a broken beer bottle up your c**t. That's just how it's going to start bitch. I'll be looking you in the eye the whole time, enjoying your pain. You will die slowly.

Maybe that's it? You get a little hate mail from a nut-job and start thinking, "Well, I can't cover this. Some stranger might write nasty, threatening things to me!"

We wish that were the case. Cowards? We can laugh at them. People wanting applause for their 'bravery,' but running scared are a comic delight. You can even feel sorry for them between chuckles -- if you're so inclined. But we don't think that's it.

More and more, we suspect it's that they just don't give a damn. It's really easy to say "We're against the war" and run an editorial about who should be voted for in an election. It's a bit harder to put yourself out there in any sort of meaningful way that matters. Easier to slam a peace rally you did nothing to promote than to actually cover the peace movement.

In Fire This Time, Alison Bodine notes Ivan Brobeck stating, "In Iraq, I found myself being the problem instead of the solution." It takes a lot more courage to take a stand than to cover it. That's why we don't think The Full Brobeck results from someone being scared, we think they just don't care. We'd love to be proved wrong on that, but "War Got Your Tongue?" ran December 9, 2005 and what's really changed in all that time?

[*For the lazy who have e-mailed non-stop asking which editorial Ava and C.I. were referring to in "About the TV reviews" -- "War Got Your Tongue?" is the editorial. Regular readers knew right away which editorial they were speaking of and had long ago rightly identified the show mentioned in the editorial as ER. Also note C.I. insisted this entry be work-safe for community members and though "bitch" passes the test for most, "c--t" doesn't so we've edited the fan mail noted above.]

Remember Ehren Watada?

Hey, remember Ehren Watada? In June, he was news. Carried on a little throughout the summer.
The Nation even did two pieces on him (online 'exclusives' -- translation, not a worthy topic to print). Truthout, BuzzFlash, Common Dreams, Democracy Now! and others were all over this.
Now in August, he had an Article 32 hearing. By that point, even The New York Times had written an article about him. He is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Watada, rightly, feels the war is illegal. To go to Iraq would be to participate in war crimes and risk that those serving under him participate in them as well.

How did he come to that conclusion? By following a superior's advice, after Watada learned that he was going to Iraq, and studying up on the war.
So he does so and discovers that the war is illegal. He repeatedly attempts to resign. The US military is having nothing to do with that. In June, he publicly announces he will not deploy. His unit deploys and Watada doesn't.

He's a US war resister and, in the beginning, it looked as though independent media might be interested in the story. Then came the August 17th Article 32 hearing. And where was independent media?
Early on, the US military was attempting to force reporters to offer testimony. Is that what spooked indymedia? We have no idea. (Our guess is that they just don't give a damn.) But the one-day hearing was worth covering. Both for the fact that he was facing the equivalent of a grand jury hearing to determine whether or not he would be 'indicted' as well as the three witnesses that provided testimony for the defense and what they had to say. [Swiping from C.I.: "For details on Ann Wright's testimony, click here, Dennis Halliday click here, and here for Francis A. Boyle.]

Independent media's lack of interest should have been obvious then. The hearing took place on a Thursday. Amy Goodman did include in headlines on Democracy Now! . . . on a Tuesday. Five days later. Sounded like it was trying to be sneaked in. Whatever the reason, the way it sounded made many think the presiding officer had reached a recommendation. (He hadn't. It would be two more days before his decision was announced. By which point, one indymedia journalist, writing at an indymedia site, would go on what he thought he heard on DN! and have published -- before the recommendation was announced, that Watada was going to be court-martialed.)

Some never even bothered to announce it that the one-day hearing took place. When the recommendation came back it was in favor of a court-martial. That was in August. Carolyn Ho, Watada's mother has spoken publicly repeatedly to raise awareness on her son. Ehren Watada's father, Bob Watada, and his step-mother, Rosa Sakanishi, have basically been living on the road with breaks between their tours to raise awareness on Watada.

The only independent media outlet that we're aware of interviewing Bob Watada in all this time (when he was more than willing to grant interviews as the mainstream press can tell you) was KPFA (Philip Maldari interviewed him for The Morning Show.)
Waiting for the world to change? We'd be happy if independent media would change. (Yes, that's at least the third John Mayer ref in this edition, we've listened to Continuum nonstop.)

Thursday evening, the US military announced they were moving forward with a court-martial. Some how The KPFA Evening News reported it and C.I. were able to note that on Thursday. Others weren't. Well, there was Friday, right?

Oh, cookie, you gotta' lose that cherry. Rebecca's "remember the ladies? forgotten at the democracy now round-table" surveyed independent media outlets Friday to find out who was noting it and, later that day, Mike's "Ehren Watada's going to be court-martialed and indymedia doesn't bother to tell you" provided an update. (No on Democracy Now!, Common Dreams, BuzzFlash, Truthout, The Nation, The Progressive, . . .) Somehow, mainstream press outlets in Hawaii and Seattle were able to report on it Friday. The Associated Press started noting it Thursday and that story was picked up pretty much everywhere in big media. CBS ran it here.

Well Saturday, surely, Saturday would be different, right?

Again, you're going to have to lose that cherry.

Trina's "Turkey in the Kitchen" looked into our indy outlets and found the same thing Rebecca and Mike had the day before: Nothing.
Does this cut it? We don't think so.

As C.I. noted Friday, it was part of a pattern:
War resister Ivan Brobeck returned to the US from Canada to turn himself in Tuesday and he didn't even make the indy headlines. (Nora Barrows Friedman did interview him on Monday's Flashpoints.) It's not cutting it. Not for Brobeck, not for Kyle Snyder who's also been ignored after returning to the US and, on October 31st, turning himself in at Fort Knox only to self-check out again after discovering the military had lied yet again. Not for Joshua Key who learned that the Canadian government was denying him refugee status.
So somehow, in June, when he took a stand, he was news. But when the stand results in a court-martial, there's no time to even note that?

It's a real shame that independent media lacks both Watada's strength and his committment.
We deal with the issue of coverage elsewhere in this edition ("The Full Brobeck"). For now, let's just note that it's becoming impossible to get current news on war resisters. Again from C.I.:

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Appeal for Redress is collecting signatures of active duty service members calling on Congress to bring the troops home -- the petition will be delivered to Congress in January.

You gotta' stay loose, limber and prepared

You know it never has been easy
Whether you do or you do not resign
Whether you travel the breadth of extremities
Or stick to some straighter line

-- "Hejira," written by Joni Mitchell, off the album of the same name

The illustration above came about when we took a trip upcoast to visit a friend of C.I.'s. Noting the boxing area on the sand, the sky behind it, the trees around it, Ty demanded we look close and said this was an image we should remember when we pulled out the paints this weekend.

To please Ty, we made this the second illustration we painted (the first was Chalabi). We had various ideas for what to do with the illustration and one of them, a poem, runs in the print edition.

Ty wanted something more and as we've attempted to finish this edition by getting things posted (not any easier this weekend despite switching the site to Beta mode on Thursday), we've all looked at the illustration and made several comments.

What is capturing is two men. One is boxing. They aren't sparring. It's a boxer and a trainer. The boxer's got gloves, the coach has punch mitts. (If you don't know that term, most of us didn't. We had to ask.)

You gotta' stay loose, you gotta' stay limber, you gotta' be prepared.

That's what we were told.

And we think it's true.

For every day life.

Especially if you "do not resign."

Last week, we heard a light weight, amatuer gas bag who wants so badly to go pro on the radio. Gas baggy has pontificated in the past about those mean, nasty bloggers who just attack the mainstream media. Don't they know that it could go under, don't they grasp that they are doing the right-wing's work for them?

Gas baggy appears to be trying to set up their own end with the mainstream.

The reality is the mainstream press does some strong work at times and does some lousy work very often. That's true in any time period, sorry to shock Gas baggy.

Online latter day Dylan all but sings "The day the press died" day after day, week after week, year after year and pinpoints it as when Bill Clinton emerged as a contender for president. That is the breaking point!

Of course, Robert Parry can tell you all about working for AP and Newsweek before and during Iran-Contra which kind of blows latter day's theory out of the water. And the hit job LA Times and Newsweek did on Jean Seberg is forgotten only by the dumb and stupid.

Danny Schechter, who has a longer range view, was on KPFA Friday talking about how his film was crucified in the San Francisco Chronicle. We all missed that. We were in the car listening and when we got back, the paper had already been tossed out. We weren't interested in reading it to fact check Schechter, we believed him. We agree with him that there are some films, such as his documentary In Debt We Trust, that too many finanical institutions have an interest in dismissing lest people catch on. We're all aware of the trained monkeys who did the work of nuclear industry in smearing The China Syndrome (hey, Georgie Will, we do not forget you) when it was released as pure fantasy, not possible, dangerous lies, etc. Of course, reality fact checked the liars when, a few weeks after that film opened, Three Mile Island occurred. (Georgie, we're still waiting for your correction.) We're also aware, from two movie critics, that they were instructed to slam a non-political film in 2005 due to one of the people onscreen. They slaughtered it. They're embarrassed by that. But they had their bosses.

So Gas babby should shop the theatrics somewhere else. We ain't buying.

In the week that we were all supposed to be overjoyed with the Democrats and bask in their success, we're aware that only Voices of the Middle East (on KPFA) bothered to take a moment and note what was done to Cynthia McKinney by that 'brave' party this year. How her own party turned on her (again). The hit wasn't surprising. (McKinney herself noted that.) Especially when you consider that Nancy Pelosi, remember she'll be the new Speaker of the House in January and is just so brave -- we were told all last week -- refused to restore McKinney's senority after she was re-elected in 2004.

So you can be soggy like Gas baggy and wait around for someone to save you (insert Michelle Pfeiffer line from Batman Returns here) or you can focus on saving yourself. "Save my soul, save myself," Tracy Chapman once sang and we thank it's good advice. Much stronger than a Gas babby fretting over what might happen to big media if the criticism doesn't go away?

What might happen? It might go under, it might get better. We doubt either. That's not our concern or interest. Our interest is in doing our part to make people question, to make them be something more than input receivers. Long before there was a Murdoch, there was a Hurst. Long before there was a Coulter, there was a Booth Luce.

Possibly the criticism took out Cokie Roberts? If so, we've noted that quite a few new Cokies have sprung out -- many who once, and sometimes still, claimed to be independent voices. Possibly the criticism took out Judith Miller? Dexter Filkins remains 'respected' by far too many.

As Art Carney's Ira tells Lily Tomlin's Margo in The Late Show, "Back in the Forties, this town was crawlin' with dollies like you. Good-lookin' cokeheads tryin' their damnedest to act tough as hell. I got news for you: they did it better back then. This town doesn't change -- they just push the names around. Same dames... screwin' up their lives just the same way."

In this instance, substitute "press" for "dames." Add in Gas baggy.

Us? We'll keep telling our truths. We'll keep speaking our peace.

You've got to shake your fists at lighning now
You've got to roar like forest fire
You've got to spread your lightl like blazes
All across the sky
They're going to aim the hoses on you
Show them you won't expire
Not till you burn up every passion
Not even when you die
Come on now
You've got to try
If you're feeling contempt
Well then you tell it
If you're tired of the silent night
Jesus, well then you yell it
Condemned to wires and hammers
Strike every chord that you feel
That broken trees
And elephant ivories

-- "Judgement Of The Moon And Stars," written by Joni Mitchell, off her CD For The Roses.

Go down, Dexy

The New York Times Sunday Magazine for November 3, 2006 sported the headline "About that war he worked so hard to sell . . ." and "Dexter Filkins."

But before you get your hopes up, it wasn't an expose on the US military's pet stenographer Dexy. It was Dexy. Writing about Ahmad Chalabi.

Dexy's out of the Green Zone these days and eager to do some rehab on his own image. So he pens an overly long, finger-pointing essay which brings up everything but the fact that the war is illegal.


Judith Miller is named. When you're a lousy reporter who knew better, you grab the stick and bash the bitch to make yourself look better.

Judith Miller's accused of many journalistic sins.

"Liar" is one of them and we're having a hard time buying that in relation to everything she wrote in the lead up to Iraq because she had the passion of a true-believer. As she 'commanded' a brigade in searches for WMDs, do you really think Scoop Miller would be wasting her time in Iraq if she didn't think a front pager was in the making?

"Wrong" is a nice way to put. "Foolish" is probably more accurate. "Liar"? We're not opposed to the use of the word, we just think it needs to be noted that "liar" applies to specific details and not to the overall belief in the war and the stated reasons for it. The stated reasons, like Miller, have been, to invert her infamous phrase, "proved f**king wrong."

She's now the joke, now the jester. Everyone takes their poke even those who best her.

Take little Dexy. As 2006 draws to a close, he not only wants to give you a glimpse at the con-man Chalabi, he wants to share some of the fun stuff he knew and observed in 2004 and 2005. Now Dexy didn't write about it in real time.

Who's the liar?

Judith Miller or Dexter Filkins?

While revisiting 2004, Dexy avoids the month of November. He has to. That 'award winning' piece shouldn't have held up in real time and it certainly doesn't hold up now what with the revelations about D.U. and white phosphorus being used in Falluja -- the place Dexy was reporting from -- supposedly so well that it justified an award.

No, Dexy's doesn't want to go there. But the wanna-be Angie Dickinson of the B-movie that was and is the Green Zone, pistol packing Dexy, has no problem burning his co-workers. It's not just Miller.

If Dexy can get a little cred, he'll burn anyone. He burned the entire Baghdad bureau in a speech to the Committee to Protect Journalists:

The most that Times reporters can do these days, said Filkins, is "very carefully set up an appointment with someone" using back channels and meet with them under tight security. "We can't go to car bombings anymore," he said, describing how even getting out of a vehicle to report would expose a Western journalist to mob attacks and kidnapping. As a result, the paper increasingly relies on its 70 Iraqi staffers to go out into the streets and do the actual reporting. These Iraqi journalists, both Sunni and Shiite, do "everything" according to Filkins, and are paid handsomely (by local standards) for their efforts. But they live in constant fear of their association with the newspaper being exposed, which could cost them their lives.
[. . .]
American journalists, he said, spend their days piecing together scraps of information from the Iraqi reporters to construct a picture, albeit incomplete, of what life is like these days in the war-torn country. But he says that the work is slow and difficult, and it is hard in such an atmosphere for reporters to nail down specifics. "Five people doing a run-of-the-mill story takes forever," he said.

Take that Damien Cave! Take that Sabrina Tavernise! Take that Richard A. Oppel, Jr.! Dexy's got places to be and he can't there with his own baggage so he's out to out you all.

Dexy learned to pull his own ass from the fire when he reviewed Paul Bremer's book. In that review, Dexy took Bremer to task for not coming clean sooner -- and revealed that he (Dexy) knew about it in real time but also didn't come clean. C.I. called him out. Danny Schechter called him out. CounterSpin managed to give it a few seconds where they noted that he shouldn't be dependent upon an official source to report what he's seen with his own eyes.

Maybe you missed the book review? Here's a taste of "Desert Sturm:"

But [Paul L.] Bremer bears a heavy responsibility for keeping silent -- and so does General Sanchez. If we can ssume that Bremer's recollection is correct, then General Sanchez's remarks indicate that Baghdad was indeed out of control, that both he and Bremer knew it and that without more troops, it was likely to stay out of control.
[. . .]
By staying silent, Bremer ensured that there would be no public debate on the merits of deploying more Americans troops. By staying silent, he ensured that there would be little public discussion over the condition of the Iraqi security forces, whose quality he doubted.

By staying silent? Dexy wants to lecture about staying silent? As C.I. observed the day the review ran, "He can pretend like the only one staying silent was Bremer but it was him too. Had the Times written the truth about the occupation long ago, America might have woken up sooner."

The lies that got us into war need to be explored. So do the lies that kept us there. Chief among the liars, Dexy. As Christian Parenti once explained to Laura Flanders (when it was titled The Laura Flanders Show), Dexy in print and Dexy in person are two different people. Well thank God for that. (Parenti's point was that Dexy didn't believe everything under his byline.)

That's the Dexy who was due to interview someone from the resistance but, always eager to brag, shot off his mouth to the military who, according to an embedded reporter present, gave him a frown and Dexy dropped the interview immediately. The military's go-to-guy, outed this year in The Washington Post, couldn't very well bite the hand that feeds him.

The "award winning" piece? From C.I.'s entry the day it ran in 2004: "The rah-rah piece carries the dateline "Nov. 18" in this story published in the November 21st edition. Allowing for the time needed to put together a Sunday edition, I'm still questioning that. The story was filed on the 18th (Thursday) and pops up on the 21st (Sunday). And there's the added detail, not provided in Dexter Filkins story, that Lance Cpl. William Miller died November 15th ( we're all supposed to count the 'eight days after the Americans entered the city on foot'?" You'd have to. When did Dexy write the piece and why did it take so long for it to appear in print? Was it, as some suspect and suggest, vetted by the US military before it even made it to the paper?

That's the sort of question Dexy's avoided answering for some time. Easier for him to distract from his own misdeeds by pointing fingers at Miller, Chalabi and Bremer. But, though he doesn't want to address it, Dexy had a role in it too. Though now that Dexy's out of the Green Zone, it's common to read a piece in the paper that notes the reporter was unable to verify something that happened or wasn't present. That didn't happen with Dexy even though by the time of his 'award winning' piece, the Green Zone was the only safe place unless you had a military escort.

This month Dexy's all mean and nasty about Chalibi. There was a time when he (Dexy) swallowed. Now he appears more interested in snow jobs.

We're all supposed to be grateful that Dexy finally told the truth. On one aspect. He still can't get honest about Falluja. He still can't get honest about a lot of things. So much so, in fact, that we're guessing in three years, Miss Rona will pen another tell-all that will include Rita Katz the apparently Muslim phobic non-'expert' who would provide Dexy with questionable translations that would make it into the paper. Word for word.

We're not fond of Katz. We believe she's as destructive as those in the 50s who saw Communists in every nook and cranny, every community meeting, every family. Even so, we'll give her a tip: Don't just watch your back.

Watch your back is the minimum. Dexy's burned anyone and everyone as he's tried to paint himself as a truth telling voice of honesty. He will burn again. Those who fed him information should be prepared for that moment with a Dexy dossier that they can immediately distribute. "He said what? Well, let me share with you September of 2004 . . ."

Judith Miller may never work for a reputable press outlet again. We're not shedding tears. But we think it's rather sad that so many others have been let off the hook.

Junior campaigned in strange places

Who is that young man in the ball cap standing in front of a large, painted on the side of a building, Confederate Flag?
Would you believe it's the failed Senate candidate from Tennessee Harold Ford Jr.?
One Junior got spanked in Tuesday's election, one didn't. The photo, which we've enlarged part of to make sure everyone zoomed in on the flag and Ford, is from P4 of The New York Times, Wednesday, November 8, 2006. We're running it under Truthout's reasoning: "In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. t r u t h o u t has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is t r u t h o u t endorsed or sponsored by the originator." We do think this is educational.
We think it's a lesson that a lot of people missed and we think they need to be informed. Take Kirk Clay, for instance.
He appeared on Democracy Now! Friday and had quite a bit to say, including some of the following.
KIRK CLAY: Well, you know, oddly enough, for African Americans, this is sad to say, but, you know, we’ve seen these kinds of politics, especially in a red state like Virginia. I mean, you know, we do need to look at this. I mean, we're talking about the South. We're talking about a state that at one point refused to open their public schools, you know, because integration was being enforced. So, we sort of -- I mean, that wasn't -- it was an issue, because we understood it, but a lot of people in our community had known a lot of these things a long time ago. You know, when he was first running for office, we knew that this guy, you know, had a noose in his office at one point and that this guy used to walk around with the Confederate flag pin. So, some of these issues, we had already known. [. . . .] You know, even Harold Ford, I mean, and some of the things that happened to him, which is so disappointing for us. You know, we have to do better in places like Tennessee. I mean, campaigning like that and airing ads like that, very nasty partisan ads like that, you know, that’s just not the way to go. But that is the positive things.
Oh, yeah, poor Harold Ford Junior. We addressed him last week when the silly-Sallys were still gas bagging on how it was Willie Horton time that a White woman was used in ad to portray a Playboy Bunny. (Playboy Bunnies are stereotyped as White and blonde.) While Horton served time for rape, the Playboy Bunny wasn't a rape victim. She wanted to see him again. ("Call me.") We were all supposed to be outraged that Ford's visit to a Playboy party after the Superbowl resulted in ad accusing him of some sort of consensual contact with a White woman.
You know, maybe we missed that week's memo, but were we supposed to be offended by an interacial interaction of some form? (There wasn't even anything to suggest that they'd had sex. Only that the Bunny was highly interested in him after the party.)
So there was Kirk Clay, on Friday, offering as an example of racism (and we agree with him on that) someone (White) wearing a Confederate flag pin on his lapel.
Anyone want to explain the photo of Junior?
It's Getty Images and The Times caption reads: "LAST-MINUTE ROUNDS: Harold E. Ford Jr., a Democratic congressman from Tennessee who was running for a Senate seat, at a late campaign stop yesterday outside the Little Rebel Bar and Grille in Jackson. Mr. Ford was in a tight race against Bob Corker."
Check the body language of the Whites in the photo (there are three). Two have the arms folded in what might be seen as hostile body language. One has their back turned to him. But there's Ford in some sort of cap (perfect for duck hunting with the Klan?), trying to good 'ol boy it at the Little Rebel Bar and Grille which, just so happens, has a Confederate flag painted on the side.
Now some might argue that the stop was a snafu on the part of someone in the campaign?
Possibly, they forgot Harold Ford Jr. was African-American? (Ford's been accused of forgetting that himself.) If it was a snafu, a candidate gets the hell out of there, they don't walk around to campaign and meet & greet.
Ford did.
He even allowed his photo to be taken in front of the Confederate flag. What message does that send out?
In a 2003 Democratic presidential primary debate, Howard Dean's past statement of reaching out to the "guys with Confederate flags on their pickup trucks" became an issue and he had to publicly apologize for his word. Ford put those words into action apparently. Al Sharpton's take on Dean's original remark (which first popped up in an interview in February of 2003) was the following: ""If I said I wanted to be the candidate for people that ride around with helmets and swastikas, I would be asked to leave." Maybe, if Junior wants to run again, he can attempt to build his 'base' by going after the helmets and swastika crowd?
"Disappointing for us," Clay? Betty, Cedric and Ty note that Junior's actions have always been disappointing for their race. They feel that his photo-op pictured above took it to a whole other area of disappointment and disgust.
That's not to suggest that Junior can't be the victim of racism. He has been before and, the way the country still is, he will be again. But maybe the next time people want to get bent out of shape (on the right or left -- the right got bent out of shape over the use of the word "slavish" to describe an African-American Republican's devotion to the Bully Boy), they should remember that elected officials and candidates for office are supposed to be big boys and girls?
Meaning? Al Shaprton's been on the receiving end of some very vocal racism when running for office. Racism played a huge role in the hit on Cynthia McKinney. But there wasn't any rush to defend either by many of the ones who wanted to wring hands over a silly point. [As we noted last week, for a discussion of the actual racism in the ad, see Jeff Birkenstein's article at CounterPunch.] "I like football, and I like girls," was Junior's explanation for attending a Playboy party after the Superbowl.
"Girls"? No warning flags went up on that? It's fine for a thirty-plus US Representative to refer to women as "girls" and to attend a Playboy party. It's just, apparently, not fine for an ad to attempt to remark on it. Doing so is suddenly accusing Junior of being Willie Horton?
Junior went to a Playboy party. An ad remarked on his decision. It wasn't the end of the world. It's hard to call that aspect of the ad racism. (Though racists would be bent out of shape -- the way some on the left got -- by the suggestion of interracial contact.)
As so many 'brave' voices rushed to defend Junior, we didn't hear much from Junior on the topic.
We think time would have been better spent focusing on real issues instead of propping up a candidate who pushed privatizing Social Security, was anti-choice, spoke of loving the Bully Boy, had nothing to say against the illegal war, and was for the bankruptcy bill that is harming, and will continue to harm, many Americans. This year, The Black Commentar concluded a review of Junior's record by noting: "Will Ford be transformed into a dependable, honest, progressive politican, somebody Black folks can count on? Not a chance. Harold Ford cannot be trusted." We'd agree and think one of the many tragedies of this election was all the time wasted trying to prop up Junior.
Another tragedy? Despite our predictions over a year ago, one of the Junior's got elected.

10 CDs we listened to during the writing of this edition

These are the 10 CDs we listened to during the writing of this edition. (Dona notes this is an intended short piece and when Ava and C.I.'s epic posts, you'll understand her concern for short pieces.)

1) Ani DiFranco's Reprieve

2) Ben Harper's Both Sides of the Gun

3) Michael Franti & Spearhead's Yell Fire!

4) the Rolling Stones' Let It Bleed

5) Jefferson Airplane's Crown of Creation

6) Carly Simon's Hotcakes

7) David Rovics' Halliburton Boardroom Massacre

8) Neil Young's Living With War

9) Diana Ross' Anthology

10) John Mayer's Continuum

E-mails continue to arrive about our retrospective on Tina Turner. Fingers crossed, Kat will be with us next weekend and we'll do something similar. We're glad it's been so well received.

Just FYI

Highlights is up twice. Why? This message the first time:

We're sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.

We got it again the second time and Dona said, "Check and see if highlights posted." It did.

Beta problems. (We're cursing ourselves for switching.)


We have switched to beta mode for Blogger/Blogspot (on Thursday). It's resulted in many problems as we attempt to publish today. One of the problems appears to be e-mailed posts which is how we do most of the highlights.

We recommend the following:

Rebecca's "remember the ladies? forgotten at the democracy n..." -- an explosive post from Rebecca. You won't want to miss it. Earlier in the week, we felt she'd written what we'd highlight but Friday came this manefesto.

Mike's "Just sharing post" -- we're a sucker for Mom posts.

Betty's "Thomas Friedman, trained in gas baggery, not economics" -- Betty's latest post is funny and offers a critique of where Friedman fits in the larger system of press/gas baggery.

Elaine's "Iraq, CounterPunch, Ruth" -- Elaine interviews Ruth.

Wally's "THIS JUST IN! RUMSFELD TALKS!" -- joint post. Wally and Cedric 'create' an interview with Rumsfled.

Cedric's "Rumsfled sits for an exclusive (humor) " -- see above.

C.I.'s "Bully Boy plays 'Flee on My Rums-fled'" -- the title is a play on Anne Sexton's "Flee on My Donkey." Rumsfled is an ass. Get it?

Ruth's "Ruth's Report" -- read Elaine's interview with Ruth and then read this.

C.I.'s "Resistance is futile -- or at least the independent media coverage is" -- saying what needs to be said.

Trina's "Turkey in the Kitchen" -- well worth reading and, as C.I. notes, you never know what you'll learn from Trina. (Ref to gravy incident.)

At Kat's site:

"the never ending beta switch on blogger/blogspot (rebecca)"
"Pancake (Ruth)"
"Retail and the economy (Betty)"

Apologies to readers who love highlights. We've attempted for three hours to get them up. This will have to do.


We have switched to beta mode for Blogger/Blogspot (on Thursday). It's resulted in many problems as we attempt to publish today. One of the problems appears to be e-mailed posts which is how we do most of the highlights.

We recommend the following:

Rebecca's "remember the ladies? forgotten at the democracy n..." -- an explosive post from Rebecca. You won't want to miss it. Earlier in the week, we felt she'd written what we'd highlight but Friday came this manefesto.

Mike's "Just sharing post" -- we're a sucker for Mom posts.

Betty's "Thomas Friedman, trained in gas baggery, not economics" -- Betty's latest post is funny and offers a critique of where Friedman fits in the larger system of press/gas baggery.

Elaine's "Iraq, CounterPunch, Ruth" -- Elaine interviews Ruth.

Wally's "THIS JUST IN! RUMSFELD TALKS!" -- joint post. Wally and Cedric 'create' an interview with Rumsfled.

Cedric's "Rumsfled sits for an exclusive (humor) " -- see above.

C.I.'s "Bully Boy plays 'Flee on My Rums-fled'" -- the title is a play on Anne Sexton's "Flee on My Donkey." Rumsfled is an ass. Get it?

Ruth's "Ruth's Report" -- read Elaine's interview with Ruth and then read this.

C.I.'s "Resistance is futile -- or at least the independent media coverage is" -- saying what needs to be said.

Trina's "Turkey in the Kitchen" -- well worth reading and, as C.I. notes, you never know what you'll learn from Trina. (Ref to gravy incident.)

At Kat's site:

"the never ending beta switch on blogger/blogspot (rebecca)"
"Pancake (Ruth)"
"Retail and the economy (Betty)"

Apologies to readers who love highlights. We've attempted for three hours to get them up. This will have to do.
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