Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
Sunday morning and we want to scream, but the edition's up.

Let's note who participated:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava;
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
Wally of The Daily Jot;
and Ruth of Ruth's Report

Woah! say you. Where are Jim, Dona, Ty and Jess?

All are with their families and that was the plan. But we didn't realize that the plan was also the weekend off. Dona had said she was taking the weekend off. Ty we were hoping would. (He hits the e-mails harder than anyone else. He's off e-mails until the new year.) We thought it would be: Jim, Jess and C.I. steering this edition. Jim had a family emergency/drama come up and Jess ended up God knows where but out of cell phone range. Mike and Wally figured out that it would all fall on one person.

One of us (Ava) was scheduled to work on the TV pieces and nothing else. When Mike and Wally pointed out the obvious, it became an Ava and C.I. edition.

Let's note what we've got.

Highlights -- Kat, Mike, Rebecca, Elaine, Wally and Betty picked those out and wrote this. Thank you guys for that. Thank you for your help as well and thank you to Dallas for soundboarding and link hunting.

Applause to Amy Goodman -- Dona says "short pieces!" and usually remembers that in the final moments. With the good role modeling she has set as an example, we got our short pieces out of the way early. This was one.

Applause to Rolling Stone -- and this was another. RS covers Watada.

TV: Victoria's Real Secret -- reading the e-mails here this week, we found Theresa's. We weren't planning on reviewing this, and then CW aired. We wrote her and told her we would be grabbing the trash. We also e-mailed this to her ahead of time to make sure she was okay with the mentions from her e-mail. (She'd said she was but it's one thing to say "Use anything." It's another to see it used. Fortunately, she was fine with the review.)

The Nation Stats -- a short feature that, if nothing else, gives us reason to continue the subscriptions.

The One about Keefer Madness and CJR -- again, we read the e-mails this week. We agree that Keefer Madness is a horror. We also agree that his 'work habits' are as well.

The Nation's Slap In The Face to women -- we think the title says it all. Ava: "Ironically, C.I.'s big concern when I showed up was that the edition planned was too light. Too light? I looked at what was planned and what was written, I arrived after the writing for this edition had started, and said, 'No, it's not too light.' And I felt this was but one example." C.I.: "Thank you to Ava for changing her plans but she did not have to."

The story of 2006 -- Rebecca said, "Don't you Robert Parry this!" Meaning, don't act like it didn't happen. (Robert Parry warned everyone about Robert Gates for weeks before the confirmation hearings. He hasn't said it, but should, he was right.) Rebecca wanted us to note, for the first time ever, pieces were going up at 7:00 a.m. EST. And we're not even on the east coast. So we said it. When Rebecca pointed that out, we asked if everyone was up a bit more. They were and we wrote this piece. (Rebecca photo shopped illustrations, thank you, Rebecca.)

Mr. Tony's appointment -- Mr. Tony. Might make a good hairdresser but a lousy, lousy prime minister.

Roundtable -- our roundtable and Elaine says everyone's going to ask why we (Ava and C.I.) didn't talk more. We're always the notetakers. We think this is a strong roundtable and we know readers enjoy them.

TV: Looking forward . . . by looking backward? -- what is I? That's what Ty kept asking us. We had no idea. E-mails kept bringing it up. It's a network and some people have a show or two on that they enjoy. Some wonder if they should watch. So we took a look at it. By the way, on Charlie's Angels, if they stay in order, they're in season three right now. Charlie's Angels? We always want to write about that show and we agreed to do I just so we could. Is the review any good? We don't know. We don't care. We're exhausted. We consider the big achievement the Charlie's Angels cards that illustrate the story. Those are via an actress friend. We asked late and the answer was, "Do you know how late it is?" Yes, we did. We said, "Never mind, someone's got the card with Cheryl Ladd holding the palm tree branch over her naked body, so we'll use that instead." We didn't have that but we knew that would have her hauling her cards over pronto. She has the full set (including never peeled stickers) and, before anyone writes, they aren't for sale. She's currently attempting to get the van to compliment the dolls (TV show, not movie). We thank her for the use of the cards and she also picked the ones to use out. She would want it noted that there are five shots of Farrah Fawcett, five of Kate Jackson and five of Jaclyn Smith.

Editorial: 2007? -- what's 2007 going to be? That's up to all of us. Take ownership of it.

And that's it. Hopefully something's of use. We're just glad it's over. We have one feature in the can for next week. It's a lighter look at a topic. So we finished on time (actually early since we now go by PST time) and actually have one feature already ready for next week. Not bad for flying by the seat of our pants.

If you're celebrating the holidays, happy holidays. If you're not hope you have a good week. Barring the other four reading this edition and asking, "What the f**k was that?" we'll see you next week.

-- Ava and C.I.

Editorial: 2007?

The illustration is how Isaiah summed up 2005 ("Bully Boy Exposed"). 2005 was the year Cindy Sheehan went to Crawford, set up Camp Casey and got the peace movement kick started. It was also the year that the 1,000 mark was passed for US military deaths in Iraq.

The inept (and criminal) response to Hurricane Katrina exposed the Bully Boy, the illegal, warrantless, NSA spying on American people exposed the people, his refusal to meet with Cindy Sheehan and answer her question of what 'honorable cause' her son, Casey, had died for exposed the Bully Boy.

The nation was turning against the illegal war and against the Bully Boy. The opinions on both

only hardened in 2006, though for most of the soft ball coverage, you'd never know.

But that's the reality we're at today.

2965 is another reality today. That's the current total of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of Bully Boy's illegal war. (Over 655,000 Iraqis have died since the start of the illegal war.) The 3,000 mark is just on the horizon. For the 'cakewalk.' For 'liberation.' For any of the lies that Americans used to believe in large numbers but no longer do.

And here's the new reality, via Isaiah's "Condi Rice for LIAR-ALL Bully Products," Condi as oblivious as possible saying that the illegal war is worth it. As the Guardian of London reported, Condi thinks the illegal war "was worth the cost in US lives and dollars."

This from a womn with a tanker named for her.
As laughable as her idiotic statement is, the reality is that whether she's lying to herself or just Americans, she's on the defensive. She has to defend the illegal war.

There's no defense for it but that's what's happened in 2006, even the War Hawks are on the defensive.

The peace movement did that. 2005 saw Cindy Sheehan bring it back to life. 2006 saw US war resisters go public in larger numbers. 2007? Sky's the limit and, chances are, even Condi knows that. From exposure to defensive posturing. 2007 can be about ending the war.

TV: Looking forward . . . by looking backward?

Once upon a time, there were . . .

Wait! Let's start over.

Once upon a time there was a proselytizing net-lette. Bringing in the sheeves, if not the dough. But now high ambitions and 'moral character' matter less than just staying solvent. Now it's called "I."

It's the "I TV Network." "I." Formely Pax TV. We were honestly unaware of it until Ty kept telling us it was repeatedly coming up in e-mails.

In a world where the choices are Pax TV or I, we'd argue the newer version is the less damaging. That's largely due to the fact that, unlike Pax TV, there are no sappy, moralizing dramas created for the network currently. Not only that, they aren't currently planning to make any.

Like Pax TV, I exists to sell you religion -- a peculiar strain -- but it's also got to make money -- something Pax forgot.

So during the week, Monday through Friday, they offer up an hour of Green Acres repeats (some Fridays, they air The Partridge Family and The Monkees in this hour), an hour of Growing Pains repeats (Welcome Back Kotter on Fridays), an hour of Mama's Family repeats, an hour of Diagnosis Murder repeats and, here's the shocker, an hour of Charlie's Angels repeats.

Sometimes you get a movie tossed in. Most of the time, the other hours are filled with infomercials and 'inspirational' programming. The hope is that . . . Well, let's let the netlette tell it as they explain why they went from Pax to I:

The new network name is a reflection of our expanded program offerings and renewed focus on delivering timeless, diverse entertainment to viewers of all ages. Throughout the broadcast day, the network delivers a mix of original series, classic TV favorites, movies, specials and sports the whole family can enjoy.

"Throughout the broadcast day" really just means primetime. Otherwise, you're more likely to stumble across end of timerss Dwight Nelson and Doug Batchelor, et al. I, like Pax before it, and Jehovah Witnesses most weekends, just wants to get inside your homes. So much so, that they're willing to offer up the program for which "jiggle TV" was coined, Charlie's Angels.

Once upon a time, there were three little girls . . .

And the I ads agree as they show Farrah Fawcett, Cheryl Ladd and Tanya Roberts. They're epecially fond of the cleavage shot where Julie (Roberts) is on top of a speeding car. Shots of all three are chosen for the jiggle factor.

Is that a White Flag waving in the cultural wars or just another sign of hypocrisy?

As you ponder that, ponder Charlie's Angels. The ABC powerhouse ran five seasons and, like too many shows today, there are seasons you're better off skipping.

The first season, the one that took the successful TV movie and made it into a phenomenon remains the best. Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith play Sabrina, Jill and Kelly -- former police officers who became private detectives and work for an unseen Charlie. The humor (or, some would argue, what passes for it) is a bit more adult so are the situations. That includes not just the infamous "Angels in Chains" episode but also adult characters -- Sabrina's divorced (Bill Duncan, played by Michael Bell, appears twice in season one) -- and the adult settings (massage parlor, adult films).

Jackson, Fawcett and Smith were news. Three women headlining an hour drama was news in the fall of 1976. Not all that much has changed all these years later.

In 1976, along with the jiggle factor, the other primary criticism was that the three detectives weren't independent since they 'took orders' from Charlie, an unseen male. Took orders? Charlie's heard at the beginning and the end of most episodes (an exception being season four's "Toni's Boys"). At the beginning, he discusses the case, at the end, he discusses the case. For the rest of the hour, the Angels, with comic foil Bosley (David Doyle, present for all five seasons), are acting on their own. To get how revolutionary that was -- and still is -- for TV compare and contrast it with the likes of Alias where a woman is surrounded by men -- a Queen Bee idea that was tired long before Police Woman went off the air. Jill, Sabrina and Kelly worked together.

We aren't saying the first season (or, indeed, the concept) wasn't worthy of scrutiny or criticism, but we are saying that, considering all that's come since, Charlie's Angels is far from the worst offender. And on that first season, you had three adult women playing three adult women. All three were near thirty (Fawcett and Smith were born in 1947; Jackson in 1948) when the series began airing in the fall of 1976, all were more athletic looking than emaciated looking, and, though they'd laugh at each other's jokes, they weren't bumbling airheads.

The first season is the strongest. After that, Farrah Fawcett leaves the show and ABC decides to go "young." That meant moving the show to an earlier time slot (and the hours mattered in those days -- the later you aired, the more adult you could be) and it meant adding Cheryl Ladd to the cast.

Ladd playing Kris, younger sister to Jill, brought the smut factor with her. Kris would voice the lines about where to hide a gun in a bikini, Kris would go to a nude beach (in her series debut) and Kris would always be 'pretty.' Farrah Fawcett was (is) amazing beautiful. That didn't prevent Jill from going undercover as an athelete. With Kris the series went to Candyland. Seasons two and three contain strong work by Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith. Jackson was given many more situations to shape in the first season but her deft touch is still present in seasons two and three. (She's the only actress nominated for an Emmy -- twice in fact -- for the series.) Moving to an earlier time slot meant losing a lot of Kelly's wisecracks and it's to Smith's credit that you don't immediately grasp how radically her character has changed. But you do grasp that it's kiddie time as Ladd's every moment, for two years, is spent pleading "Like me." (Most noteable in the phoney laugh Ladd utilizes throughout both seasons which tends to end as a question mark. Even in laughter,'lil Kris begs permission.)

Season four is generally considered the worst (though it did better in the ratings than the fifth and final year). Kate Jackson leaves the show and any Shelley Hack shows up as Tiffany. Much is made of Hack as the problem for season four but the real problem lies with Ladd who suddenly drops Kris' 'like me' young girl attitude and has nothing to replace it with (though she appears to be chafing to fill Sabrina's role as team leader). Had Ladd kept the persona, Hack might have fit in better. Though inferior to season one, season four's actually one of the stronger ones overall. Before you scoff, do you remember the episode where an Angel's strung out on smack? That's season four and Jaclyn Smith pulls it off. By the final two-parter (an ambitious, soapy storyline for the show), Kelly and Kris are at odds and, though it doesn't feel like Charlie's Angels, it showed more daring than anything the writers had tried in years. Naturally, all of that will be forgotten before the opening of the fifth season.

Season five is when Charlie's Angels turns itself into a joke. Before, all three lead characters were trained detectives (with police experience), in season five, Julie Rogers is added -- apparently for cup size -- to the team. On Sunday nights or Saturday nights, audiences didn't give a damn about the psudeo-empowerment of "Any idiot can be an Angel."

The first season spirit is what Drew Barrymore brought to the two films Charlie's Angels and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. Three adult women work together and enjoy working together.

We think, if nothing else, I can remind (or show for the first time) TV audiences of that concept. It was revolutionary. There's a TV critic still at his same post (you knew it was a 'he,' didn't you?) who trashed Charlie's Angels from the start -- the TV movie that preceeded the film -- and possibly a feminist critique in the future could focus on the critical reaction to the show? Male critics really didn't like the show. Give 'em a Honey West or Emma Peel (or later a Sydney) surrounded by men and that they could enjoy -- but three women seemed to frighten them. So you got criticism revolving around the hairstyles of the leads and that sort of thing.

The TV landscape since Charlie's Angels hasn't shown much improvement. You've got your all male cast action shows and you're all male plus token woman action shows but, with the exception of Charmed, you really haven't had anything else. (Buffy fans -- everyone was support to Sarah Michelle Geller -- as the title signaled, it was a one-woman show.) Watching Charlie's Angels on I may make you appreciate even more what Rose McGowan did as Paige. Like Ladd, McGowan came into an existing show replacing an audience favorite. Like Ladd, McGown came on as the younger sister. Like Ladd, she utilized humor. Unlike Ladd, her first two seasons do not play like one long prat fall.

The I lineup is interesting because it offers examples for today. Watching Mama's Family will demonstrate that there is no life for King of Queens in the future -- both shows feature a lot of yelling, a lot of bad attempts at humor and a cast that never takes off. Growing Pains will explain to you why so many sitcoms should die (boring performers, boring writers). Green Acres will demonstrate that My Name Is Earl is hardly breakthrough TV.

And Charlie's Angels? Already it's too much for I -- which was originally airing it after Mama's Family but had to move it to the last hour of primetime due to concerns over the 'racy nature.'

It's sad statement for our society that thirty years later, Charlie's Angels can still cause a panic.

All those years ago, ABC's big concerns was with the team in the field -- who would rescue the Angels? The suits weren't reassured by the response that the Angels would rescue themselves.

Not a lot's changed in thirty years.


Ava: This is a very casual roundtable. Do not expect much. A bit of background on this edition, we always mean it when we say, "Take time off if you need it." We mean that for the ones who help out and we mean it for the core six. Due to the holiday and bad planning, this is one where a lot of the core six took time off. C.I.'s steering this edition and the only reason I'm anchoring this roundtable is to make sure that's stated. Jim, Dona, Ty and Jess are off this weekend. We were a bit too casual in our planning and, had we checked in, we would have handled that differently or else made this the long promised edition where we posted favorite pieces from the past. Participating in this roundtable are Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man; Mike of Mikey Likes It!; Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Wally of The Daily Jot, Ruth of Ruth's Report and C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review.

Wally: And you.

Ava: And me. This time last year, we did a roundtable, so we thought we'd do a similar one this year. As with last time, we'll start with Ruth for what stood out in 2006?

Ruth: I think it's been said at all the sites this year, but it's true -- there is really only you. I think 2006 exposed how little support for ending the war the media, big media and independent media, intends to provide. I think when most people pick their own success stories, they'll be more likely to pick something they did on their own, nothing that got championed by independent media.

Rebecca: Because where was independent media?

Ruth: Exactly.

Mike: No where when it came to war resisters.

Elaine: Which actually reminds me of the radio program. C.I., you highlighted it Thursday, Sunny and I caught that during lunch Friday at work.

C.I.: Community member Joan highlighted it. Town Square, which aires on Hawaii's Public Radio, KIPO. December 14th, Beth-Ann Kozlovich, the host, devoted the program to Ehren Watada's case and he, Bob Watada, Carolyn Ho -- those are Ehren's parents, and Ann Wright were among the guests.

Elaine: Thank you, during the interview, Ehren Watada's talking about the time before he took his stand. He and his friends are looking around wondering where the person is that's speaking out for them? They're not seeing anyone like that. Ehren says that that's when he realized he was going to have to. That really seems to me to capture 2006. Quit waiting around. Quit thinking big media or small media gives a damn or wants to lead.

Wally: And realizing that doesn't have to be a bad thing.

Kat: Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose, as Janis sang.

Elaine: That's really the way I see it. Like Wally, and I think this touches on the editorial we did in 2005, "War Got Your Tongue?", knowing is actually better than not knowing.

Ava: Okay. First, help me out on this, is that where we quote Shampoo? I remember the editorial but I'm thinking of the lines in Shampoo.

C.I.: That's an editorial on the Democratic Party.

Ava: Thank you. It's late. Um, well, I think the illusions, all of them, have faded. And while I agree with Wally, Elaine and Kat that it can be empowering, I guess my question would be . . . Studs Terkel's book, Hope Dies Last. So what do we have now?

C.I.: I'll grab that because we've got a pause, and it is late. Correct me if I'm wrong, Ava, but you're tying this all together -- the illusions fading about the Democratic Party's leadership on the issue of Iraq, the illusions fading about big and small media's leadership on the issue, and you're asking when it's all gone, what's left, is there any hope? Correct?

Ava: Right.

Ruth: Well, the point earlier. The hope is the people. Mike and I both have groups in our area that meet each week to discuss Iraq and that's because there is not a lot of focus we're able to find on that topic.

Mike: Yeah. There's interest. If there wasn't, our groups would have faded away by now.

Ruth: And your group has actually had to split off into other groups because it has grown so much and continues to grow.

Mike: Yeah. What I find is what Ruth's talking about. If you're wondering where the hope is, like Ava's doing, it's not on your TV screen or on the printed page in front of you, it's face to face. That's where the work's being done. And, this is true for Ruth too, what you find is that with a group, there are going to be all these points and incidents you missed and others did as well, but someone caught.

Kat: Because it's so diffuse. There's not a clearing house. There's no program, all these years after the illegal war began, that follows the war exclusively.

Mike: Yeah. So you've got each other and, you know what, that's pretty powerful. More powerful than The New York Times.

Ruth: I'd agree because what I keep coming up against, what I keep bumping against and then hurdeling are all the false notions.

Rebecca: Like "No one cares about war resisters."

Ruth: Uh-huh, because that is someone's belief. If it wasn't, independent media would cover them. But the weekend of activism and awareness that Courage to Resist called for war resisters, in my own neighborhood, the disinterest was disproven.

Ava: I know you've written about that and I enjoyed it, but for those who missed it, walk us through some of the basics including the t-shirts.

Ruth: Tracey, my granddaughter, wanted us to make t-shirts for the get together. We decided on a get together for the neighborhood, my Friday group. We thought there was a lot to cover and that a relaxed social setting would be the easiest way to do so. So we had a cookout, my sons handled the grill, and my grandchildren, including Tracey and Jayson, and my study group, wore t-shirts we'd done transfers for. Some had concepts or organizations on them, some had war resisters. And we all had these little badges we made, like at a food place, that said "Ask me about" whatever our topic was. So we'd move around --

Rebecca: I want to just say this wasn't a few houses, this was pretty much several blocks in Ruth's neighborhood.

Ruth: Yeah. This really was a get together. My sons and daughters-in-law picked up the tab on the food. Early on, my group was attempting to figure out how much we needed to chip in and my oldest son ended up saying forget about it because they'd pick up the cost as their contribution to the effort. We had a huge spread, we had all these tables set up in my backyard. It was packed. So those of us in t-shirts would wander throughout with our "Ask me about" badges, moving from group to group and we would get asked. We'd answer questions and explain. There was a very huge interest in war resisters. There was interest in the position, the standing up, but there was also this huge interest in the people themselves and how their decisions impacted their personal lives and those of people around them.

Wally: And Ehren was the one most had heard of.

Ruth: Right. If they knew someone, especially if they knew the resister by name, it tended to be Ehren Watada. Hearing about him and others, especially in the sort of setting we were in, really seemed to register. They were receptive and responsive.

Kat: Which really demonstrates that there is an interest in the topic, even if the independent media isn't interested in covering it. Talk about the fascination with Kyle Snyder.

Ruth: "Fascination" is a good word for it. People were really fascinated by the fact that he'd served in Iraq and then self-checked out. He'd gone to Canada, and they could follow that. Then he came back to the United States in October to turn himself in which they could relate to because they'd heard at the gathering about others who had done that.

Wally: Darrell Anderson.

Ruth: Darrell Anderson. Ivan Brobeck. But Kyle's story was different because he gets screwed over. The military says, "Look, we said we were just going to process you out, but guess what, we've decided we're sending you back to Iraq, here's your bus ticket, we're dropping you off at the Greyhound station" --

Rebecca: And Kyle self-checks out again.

Ruth: Which they found very interesting and the fact that he spent Thanksgiving week working on repairs from Hurricane Katrina down in New Orleans and speaking out before and after while there was an arrest warrant out for him. His story, so far, doesn't have the end point that others may have.

C.I.: Darrell Anderson was discharged, Ricky Clousing was released from the brig yesterday. Kyle Snyder's story as a war resister is ongoing.

Elaine: Ruth left the photos with Rebecca so Mike and I were looking at them Friday night and my favorite is the reaction on people's faces when these sort of stories are being shared. You can see the interest on their faces. In some cases, disbelief.

Ruth: There really was a strong interest and certainly, as the polls repeatedly demonstrate, the country's in a place where these kind of conversations can take place. It's not 2003 anymore.

Ava: Except when it comes to our independent print media.

Mike: Which is just a coward and I'm speaking real slow to keep from cursing, but it's a coward.

Wally: Whipped puppies, that's all we've got. Little scared babies who think doing what they did in 2003 is brave three, almost four, years later. There is no leadership from the independent media as a whole. That's true when you have no single program that makes Iraq the focus, that's true when you've got The Nation acting like it's the Democratic Party while it attempts to figure out if it's 'safe' to cover this topic or that topic.

Mike: And people want to slam students, slam the left media. Students are involved. What's the left media doing? The new issue of The Nation has how many articles on Iraq?

Ava: Was that rhetorical or a real question?

Mike: Real question.

Ava: C.I.?

C.I.: The January 1st issue, January 1, 2007, offers an editorial on labor, a comment on Pinochet, minimum wage, Dennis Kucinich, David Corn writes about Iraq, Alexander Cockburn writes about Iraq, Katha Pollitt offers a list of where you can send money -- no organization listed has a thing to do with Iraq, the cover story on the mayor of Salt Lake City, 2 articles on Hurricane Katrina --

Elaine: Let me stop you there. Two articles on Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Katrina has probably been covered as much, if not more, than the war in Iraq and that's pretty damn shameful. I also don't consider the Kucinich article to be about Iraq because John Nichols drags in Obama for God knows why and pretending Obama is trying to end the war is the sort of thing that makes The Nation a joke. CounterPunch doesn't insult it's readers like that.

Betty: Jumping in.

Ava: Jump. I should explain that Betty had to put the phone down right before we started to deal with one of her kids who'd woken from a bad dream. Everything fine there?

Betty: Too many hopes and nerves over Santa's impending visit. It finally boiled down to, this was my youngest son, the fact that he might not be getting anything because it was him and not the cat that knocked over a picture frame in the living room. Guilt was eating him up and fear that the whole thing had him on Santa's "naughty list." So the topic's Obama and I know Cedric's feelings are the same as mine and he'd say "Betty!" to me if I didn't weigh in. What does Barack Obama have to offer? In January, he'll have finished his second year as a Senator. And now he wants to be the boy president or wants us to think that and the media can't shut up about it? Speaking as a Black woman, when the media gloms on this, we, Black people, generally get the point, "He's the way you should be." Thanks for the advice but I'm not seeing anything in him that impresses me. He is good looking. If he asked me out, I'd probably blush and giggle. But in terms of his politics, what are they? He doesn't make waves. That's leadership. It's the sort of leadership White America likes. They'd have loved it if Dr. King hadn't made waves. If, after the initial protests in the south, Dr. King had said, "Everything's fixed," well they'd have loved him like crazy. But they didn't. Because he wouldn't stay silent. He wouldn't appease. He took on the war, he took on the racism in the north and he led. To White America like The New York Times, he was a pain which is probably why they offered not one editorial or op-ed about Coretta Scott King when she passed. But Obama? He doesn't lead. He whips the White audiences into a frenzy. And then there seems some irritation that we, Black people, don't want to embrace him. They're making him their 'rock star.' That term alone tells you there's a problem because if he were a Black leader coming up from Black people, he wouldn't be called a 'rock star.' Rock isn't the end all be all in Black culture so right there, the tag the media's given him, demonstrates that he's a White manufactored leader and not one who's risen up from the people.

Kat: Great point! All of it, really, but especially the "rock star" thing.

Betty: Well Cedric and I were talking about that for the last two weeks. We were both like, "Rock Star"? Since when was that a big thing with Black people? Or, African-American. Cedric uses that term, I use Black. He's not come up, he's been imposed. And the effect is a souring. Cedric's seen it at his church during the hoopla and I've seen it at mine. Our congregations didn't see him as a leader prior to the annointing but we thought he was just your average politician. Then he was used as a club and I guess you'd say his 'negatives' have risen. My choir director says everytime Obama opens his mouth, Chicken Soup For The Soul spills out, and that's not intended as a compliment. That's what happens when you offer nothing but platitutdes. Is he a motivational speaker or a member of the Senate? He's a Teacher's Pet. No, he's a Media Pet. And it's not playing well outside of White America. And I should say "a segment of White America." It's not all of White America.

Kat: How insulting is that?

Betty: Pretty insulting. I mean, the subtext is, "This is the type of Black person that the dominant culture can get behind." And so the message is, if you're half-White and half-Black, you can be endorsed. That really doesn't do anything for Black people. It may for biracial but not for those of us who are Black. I found it interesting that in the same issue where John Nichols has to bring him up -- apparently it's a LAW that he be brought up -- the editors have that note where they say Obama's playing the triangle in their illustration because he's a triangulator. Look, that's what he is. That's what he does. So what's with the gushing from Nichols? Would a White triangulator get the same pass? I doubt it. So on the one hand you have the mainstream holding him up as how Black people should be and on the other you have The Nation all over the map -- he's a hope! he's a triangulator! He's all things to all people! To me, he's boring and he's a coward. I also loved how his experience is seen as a given. There was some show, I believe it was CNN, my father had it on, and we were watching as the 'experts' were discussing a match up between Hillary and Obama. Hillary, we were told, really doesn't have experience. She's only been a senator for X number of years. Obama? They just breezed over that. Hillary's got four more years of experience as a Senator than Obama but somehow that point didn't get made.

Rebecca: Would you vote for Hillary?

Betty: For the Democratic nomination for president?

Rebecca: Yeah.

Betty: If it was between her and Obama. Hmm. Based on everything I've seen thus far, yes, I would. Between her and Obama, I would vote for her. I wouldn't be thrilled with the vote but she's got more experience and I think I'd at least know what I was getting. Obama? What's behind the Hallmark sentiment? I have no idea. If you throw Kucinich into the mix, he gets my vote. I would prefer to vote for someone against the war and wanting to end it.

Rebecca: I'm glad you added the wanting to end it because that goes to the points Wally and Mike were making.

Wally: Right. "I'm against the war." That's so 2004. "I'm against the war" isn't even controversial. The whole country's against the war. I don't want a candidate who's going to fight it 'smarter.' I want the war over.

Mike: But who's going to say that. Russ Feingold but he's taken himself out. So there's Kucinich and who else? I'm not going to vote the lesser of two evils in 2008. I know that.

Rebecca: Is that Elaine's doing?

Mike: Well, I mean, we've talked about that a lot. And no, I'm not interested in voting out of fear. I'd love to vote for the Democrat but I'm not voting for a War Hawk. And I want to spin this around now, if I can, to talk about The New York Times. They really are selling the war again. In their reporting. A few have started to notice, C.I.'s noticed it for some time, but a few more are starting to comment. But one of the most disgusting features about their new efforts to sell the war has to be the way they ignore or bury the number of troops who die each day. Dad called Saturday morning to tell me that was the topic that people were most vocal about in Friday's group. Right now, Elaine and I are skipping the group and going to Rebecca's on the weekends. So Dad was filling me in and I want to note that, that people are noticing it and they are disgusted.

C.I.: I'll leap in to note that today, the US military announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier southeast of the Iraqi capital Dec. 23. " And they also announced: "An improvised explosive device detonated near a Multi-National Division - Baghdad patrol, killing one Soldier southwest of the Iraqi capital Dec. 23. " One southeast of Baghdad, the other southwest of Baghdad.

Kat: It really has been amazing to see The Times either ignore it all together or else note it in the last paragraph of an article on something else. It says a great deal. And it takes us back to the main point, The Times isn't going to end the war or even try. It's up to the people.

Ava: And having come full circle, we're ending it there. If you're reading this on Sunday, thank C.I., in whose lap our own responsibilites, the core six, got dumped.

Mr. Tony's appointment

"Am I dry? Am I dry, Mr. Tony?"

Mr. Tony, if you missed it, is what England's prime minister, Tony Blair, wants to be called these days as he tries to make a victory lap before stepping down as prime minister.

Outside of his own inner circle (and his own mind), the victory lap was never a sure thing. Having scraped and bowed to the Bully Boy and dragged the United Kingdom into the illegal war, Mr. Tony's repuation isn't what it once was.

A triangulator from the beginning, the Poster Boy for "New" Labour, Mr. Tony brought triangulation to the forefront of British politics. Economically, "New Labour" translated as "Tory-lite." In terms of damaging his own party, Mr. Tony is right up there with Harold Wilson.

These days, he's making a show about the Middle East. He's not going to do anything -- and couldn't if he really wanted to because his days are numbered -- but it's the sort of vanity trip that might play well in the history books -- as long as historians don't look too closely. As a slug line, it sounds impressive: "In his final days as prime minister, Mr. Tony showed a strong interest in the Middle East." However, a peace process isn't something you dabble in during your final months.

The Middle East is his legacy. Staying silent during the summer of 2006 when speaking out might have made a difference (and might have curbed some of the illegal actions of the Israeli government). And most of all, Iraq.

Though some in the United States may not realize it, Iraq dogs Tony Blair and has since before the illegal war began. But in the last few weeks, the cross he must bear grew a little heavier.

First up was the disclosure of Carne Ross' 2004 testimony. As the BBC reported last week noting the criticism Mr. Tony was under from the Tories:

The comments come after it was revealed last week that former UK diplomat Carne Ross had told the 2004 Butler review into Iraq intelligence that "at no time did HMG (Her Majesty's Government) assess that Iraq's WMD (weapons of mass destruction) posed a threat to the UK or its interests".
He also claimed that there was no evidence of "significant holdings" of chemical or biological weapons in the possession of Saddam prior to the invasion.
"There was, moreover, no intelligence or assessment during my time in the job that Iraq had any intention to launch an attack against its neighbours or the UK or the US," he added.
Mr Ross's evidence has only just been published because of initial fears it breached the Official Secrets Act.


Mr. Tony had made that false claim. A claim that not only has since been proven false but one that now is revealed to have been known as false when he made it.

That's one of the ways he sold the illegal war to England.

If it all seems familiar, well, it takes a lot of work, a lot of ducks in a row, to sell an illegal war. What was done in the United States was done in England.

And last week, Chatham House, established and well known think tank, issued a [PDF format] report. Six pages but packing a wallop, Victor Bulmer-Thomas' report found that Mr. Tony's close relationship with the Bully Boy had damaged England. The report notes that he failed to sound alarms over the prisoners illegally held in Guantanamo; that he didn't object when Bully Boy came up with the "Axis of Evil" (Iraq, Iran and North Korea) even though the UK had diplomatic relations with Iran and North Korea and even though "there was no link between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and the atrocities of 9/11"; and that he ignored diplomatic measures in the rush to illegal war. For what?

The report grades Mr. Tony very poorly and notes: "The root failure, however, has been the inability to influence the Bush administration in any significant way despite the sacrifice -- military, political and financial - the the United Kingdom has made. . . . Tony Blair has learnt the hard way that loyalty in international politics counts for very little."


The report terms the illegal war a "disaster" and the decision to partner up with the Bully Boy on it "the defining moment of his whole premiership. It will shape his legacy -- for better or for worse -- for many years to come."

Or, as Jackie Ashley (Guardian of London) put it, "Well, Mr Tony, certainly lots of people have got angry about the Iraq war, which an ever-growing number of people believe was a wrong decision. [. . .] Look at yesterday's report from the respected thinktank, Chatham House, which described the war as 'a terrible mistake' which has damaged Britain's global influence. Listen to all those Labour MPs who are saying publicly (a little) and privately (a lot) that the decision to follow George Bush into war with Iraq was a terrible error. Yet Mr Tony still seems to think, as indeed he has implied before, that it doesn't really matter whether the decision was right or wrong - what was important was that he made a decision. It is a truly bizarre theory of government, with extremely frightening consequences."

And that is Mr. Tony's legacy. There is no victory lap to be had. Mr. Tony, your next appointment is with history and no amount of rinsing will wash from you the blood of those who have died in the illegal war you sold.

The story of 2006

US war resister Kyle Snyder. Continuing to speak out, even with a warrant out for his arrest.
Self-checked out a second time, at a Greyhound station, after being burned for the hundredth time.
What's going to end the illegal war?
People willing to lay it on the line like Kyle Snyder.
2006's story was the war resisters. They're always present, whether they go public or not. But in June of this year, things really seemed to go up a notch.
Ehren Watada went public in June and became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. He'd spent January to June explaining to his superiors why he couldn't fight in the illegal war. He'd told them he was willing to go Afghanistan but the Iraq war was built on lies and for him to participate in it would be to engage in war crimes. For those new to Watada, he has not stated: "Those in Iraq are participating in war crimes." His stance is that the war is illegal, something he learned when he was encouraged by his superiors to learn about the war since he would be shipped over shortly. He did that. The point in his research was supposed to provide him with answers for any question those serving under him might have. Instead, the research convinced him the war was illegal. Knowing that, if he did deploy to Iraq, he would be participating in war crimes.
So with nearly six months to avoid the issue, the US military chose to ignore it and Ehren Watada went public. He faces a pre-trail hearing at the start of next month and a court-martial February 5th.
Speaking last Tuesday to a crowd of at least 350, Watada declared, "The issue is about the war and people need to educate themselves about everything that's going on about the war. They need to take a position one way or another. If people agree with me or disagree with me, I really don't care. . . . What people need to do is take a stance. And if they truly believe there is something wrong with this war -- that it's immoral and illegal -- they should ask themselves what are they willing to sacrifice in order to stop this war?'"
Yesterday, war resister Ricky Clousing was released from military prison. From the AP:
"It feels good, but it feels surreal because I don't have to deal with the military anymore," Clousing, who was released 15 days early for good conduct, said Saturday outside of Camp Lejeune, the Marine base where he was imprisoned. "I'm getting out just before Christmas, so it's really great."
There was also Darrell Anderson (who's continued to speak out), Agustin Aguayo, Mark Wilkerson and Ivan Brobeck. All making news (or should have, see The Full Brobeck) in the last months of this year.
Maybe "making an impact" is the better term since they rarely got the coverage their stands deserved. The military knows the power of each stand and, as Ann Wright pointed out on the December 14th broadcast of Town Square, the military fears it. How lucky for them that independent media has little to no interest in the matter. (Especially true when it comes to the print division of independent media.)
But with or without the media spotlight, they have made a difference and they are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military. Other names include Joshua Key, Ivan Brobeck, Camilo Meija, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass, Patrick Hart, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, and Kevin Benderman.
The story of 2006 and one independent media could have told you about, if they were willing to do their job. (Quick, name the two writers who took park in Watada's tele-conference in November and didn't write one word about it but tried to get in a piece as the year drew to a close where they tossed that factoid out?)
For information on war resistance within the military you could count on 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 next month.
And information on past and present war resistance can also be found in David Zeiger's Sir! No Sir! which tells the story of war resistance during the Vietnam era and, in the new director's edition, also includes bonus material on Camilo Mejia's court-martial, interviews with Cindy Sheehan and Jane Fonda about today's war resistance, and more. The director's cut is availabe for $23.95 and the original version is currently available for $12.95.
Peace on earth? That'll take resistance to the war machine. Those taking a public stand against the illegal war are doing their part.

The Nation's Slap In The Face to women

For reasons unknown, the January 1, 2007 issue of The Nation features an insulting piece to women written by non-lefty Peter Bergen. It's entitled "Waltizing With Warlords" and Bergen yammers on from pages 25 through 28 engaging in stereotypes and insulting women.

It starts (shades of Nicky Kristoff?) with Bergen visiting a whorehouse and we're all supposed to titter. Right away, you grasp you're in the smutty terrain generally navigated by Hugh Hefner and wondering exactly what would outrage The Nation enough to kill a piece of smutty slurs? Apparently it takes quite a great deal more than Bergen has to offer.

Bergen yammers on about the madame, the "more than a dozen scantily clad smiling young Chinese women sprawled" and the "several women" who whisper in his and his friends' ears. Suddenly, Bergen (a supreme hack) wants to tell you of an explosion. You've had your pud teasing, now it's time to go for the blood and gore. He then goes on to bore the reader for several more paragraphs before getting to what he was hired to do (or officially hired to do -- possibly they're also trying to work in a "Dear Penthouse" feature to The Nation?): review three books.

The nut shell version is that two women write books and one man writes a book. Guess which one Peter Bergen likes? Yes, the male's book. The women are emotional and mysterious and not since Nietzsche has anyone worked so hard to sell slurs as praise. The women are focused on the rights of women and the male just wants to write a "picaresque stories of adventures on the road" (Bergen's words) and that's so much more interesting than hearing about women's rights. (Not surprisingly, Bergen's organization -- the centrist New American Foundation -- published an alarmist book decrying declining birth rates in what's generally termed 'advanced' societies. As the United Nations has long noted, declining birth rates are tied to improvements for families and for women's rights. Click here for but one example.)

With journalist Sarah Chayes, Bergen seems to feel her eye witness account suffers from . . . the fact that he can verify it. (Verifying the male account never enters Bergen's sexist mind.) With Ann Jones, Bergen finds her so emotional, she's a 'conspiracy theorist.' Bergen insults Jones and readers of the magazine by denying "that the CIA trained and funded" what became the Taliban (in the 80s) and denying the power the dreamed of gas pipeline played in American decision making throughout the nineties and after.

Now we could go to Greg Palast or the BBC to show what a fool Peter Bergen is. But this garbage appears in The Nation. So maybe the better question is why did The Nation publish Gore Vidal's Dreaming War in 2002 (it remains one of the few bestsellers the imprint Nation Books has ever seen -- gag books and joke books don't generally have long shelf lives)?

If Bergen's correct then Gore Vidal's entire book is wrong. Not only did The Nation publish Vidal's book, it continues to sell the book -- without corrections.

So which is it? Is centrist and hack Bergen correct or is Gore Vidal? Is The Nation going to stand with a writer of merit (Vidal) or the personal friend of someone at the magazine?

The tawdry crap Bergen churns out doesn't belong in The Nation.

The long-winded, non-review also contains a familiar subtext: women's rights don't matter. Feminists engaged in the Afghanistan issue in the 90s, trying to get a non-responsive Congress and administration to pay attention, will remember that message. It's back today and Bergen's selling it. For some strange reason, Bergen's selected to review three books on Afghanistan.

Apparently, The Nation knows of no women qualified to address the topic of Afghanistan so they had to go with a self-proclaimed 'terror expert.' (Strange, in and of itself, when you consider that The Nation regularly tells readers the so-called war on terror is bunk.) For future reference, here's three women who can address the topic quite well (and much better than 'centrist' Bergen): Weeda Mansoor, Sunita Mehta and Fariba Nawa. That's just three, there are many others.

2006 was appalling for The Nation in terms of the small number of women who made it into print and in terms of the topics covered. In 2007, we'll be following the issues quite closely. There are no free passes. The fact that a woman's making all the decisions for the magazine while women are repeatedly sidelined as topics and contributors is especially sad.

For more on this topic, see Wally's "THIS JUST IN! THE NATION MAGAZINE SAYS 'SHUT UP, CHICKS!'," Cedric's "Why does Katrina vanden Heuvel hate women and love centrists?,"
and Rebecca's "the nation gives a sexist space to lie." ADDED: And Mike's "Christmas Is Almost Here."

The One about Keefer Madness and CJR

As Lureen e-mailed Friday, "You warned us about Keefer Madness." Yes, we did. As our tag line for the feature in the note to readers proclaimed: "If we were living a film directed by Roger Vadim, it would be called And Centrists Created Bully Boy . . ."

The feature itself? "Insanity: How Little Centrists Get Ahead and Destroy America."

The short version is that Washington City Paper wanted to do a hit job on investigative journalist Murray Waas. They crossed the line and then some and you might think the left (or what passes for it) would be all up in arms. Don't expect the Susan Seaforth Hayes of independent media to weigh in anytime soon.

But we will. And we'll note that Waas' health is his business and before ascribing crackpot theories to cancer survivors was beyond the pale and we hope that every cancer survivor in the country took note that Washington City Paper thinks you are a nut job. But, as usual, when there is stink, there is to be found one of the Insanity Triad and Keefer Madness has managed to slip away from what little discussion the vile matter has raised.

So we'll note what Waas himself wrote at The Huffington Post:

Email correspondence made public by Wonkette on Tuesday, as well as a draft of a story about me by the Washington City Paper, shows that one of my former research assistants, Bryan Keefer, provided the paper with confidential materials about stories that I was pursuing--but didn't write. The former assistant is also quoted in the story draft as claiming to know the identity of a confidential source during the time he worked for me.
The last claim is the most disturbing. I have never shared with an intern or assistant any information as to the identity of a confidential source. Most professional journalists share the identities of their confidential sources only with their editors. In my case, I would only do so with the permission of the sources themselves.
If a researcher for The New York Times or Time or Newsweek walked out the door with confidential files regarding yet unpublished stories, or attempted to disclose the identity of someone they thought was a source for one of the publication's reporters, they would almost certainly face the universal condemnation of the journalistic community.

Waas makes the above statement early on but it seems to be getting lost (and we'll assume it's lost intentionally by some). Keefer Madness strikes again.

Keefer Madness should "face the universal condemnation of the journalistic community." That includes CJR which (don't laugh, we're talking intent not actual deed) is supposed to rerpesent journalistic integrity. CJR needs to weigh in and they need to weigh in because, although Keefer Madness is no longer part of CJR Daily, they publish the foamings of Keefer Madness in the magazine.

They also need to weigh in because Keefer Madness was telling tales out of school. From the e-mails Keefer sent (via Wonketta):

Bryan Keefer wrote:
Interestingly, Waas just called my boss here at CJR Daily to complain about me, and, I think, try and pitch my boss on having CJR write a story about your as-yet-unpublished piece. My boss said Waas was very worried about you guys having his divorce records.
My boss al so told me Waas sounded very scared of me.
In any case, just wanted to give you a heads-up that Waas is apparently trying to cover his tracks and/or pre-empt criticism of him and/or discredit you preemptively - not that you didn’t already know that.

Steve, you say what?

Now let's note that the above was posted by Wonketta on December 19th. On December 20th, CJR Daily offered a "Blog Report" (there wasn't one of the 19th). Mark Boyer's got a topic to chew into -- but it doesn't include Keefer Madness. How does that happen? How do you do a 'Blog Report' for CJR Daily (a supposed watchdog) and ignore the fact that e-mails are now online from a former CJR Daily-er? E-mails written while Keefer was on the job and, in fact, on the clock? How do you call yourself a watchdog and ignore that?

Tell us please, is Gloria Coopoer preparing a "Dart" even as we type?

Or wil CJR, in all its forms and formats, continue to want to be hailed as a watchdog while it looks the other way?

We were sorry for Steve Lovelady but we were happy to see that CJR proper finally realized what a joke CJR Daily (and Campaign Desk before that) were. A lot of people offering shout outs to magazines that had paid them -- but never noting that fact -- a lot of people offering shout outs to bloggers they partied with (the aforementioned "clusterf*ck" which, for the record, didn't appear at CJR's Campaign Desk proper, it appeared at a Campaign Desk writer's private blog where he went on and on -- about the same people he offered daily shout outs to in the "Blog Report" -- how much fun they had getting drunk and hot tubbin' and, indeed, in the "clusterf*ck").

CJR Daily wasn't a journalism review, it was a "clusterf*ck" where supposed watchdogs plugged like crazy while never noting their own personal relationships or that, in the cases of magazines, they'd been on the payroll before (and hoped to be again).

We've noted all of this at length. And it was noted by CJR Daily in one of their laughable coded responses. At the time, Jim was pissed that they didn't even provide a link to our analysis in their response. For those who missed it, after we noted that The New Republic(an) always got a shout out in the Mag Report because the authors of it had been published in the rag, it was thought clever to write in the next mag report "I [HEART SYMBOL] The New Republic." That was in response to the magazine report parody where we wrote:

News Magazines scratching their heads find religion
Let me start by plugging The New Republic where I used to work as contract labor but not as a salaried employ so it's not really important that I ever tell readers that I'm usually highlighting the magazines that have published my work. (In the past, but fingers crossed, the future too, baby! Daddy needs some new capris!)
In the brave voice that no one but The New Republic (and any other magazines that have published me) has, The New Republic deals with all the important issues this week. Each and every one. They don't miss a thing at that magazine. They are the best. Hands down. The bestest of the bestest. I HEART THE NEW REPUBLIC. Their current ads on Air America say they are a lefty magazine so, even though Uncle Marty's been shooting down that idea for years, I better get my game on and call them a lefty magazine too or they'll start blaming me for circulation being flat for the umpteenth year in a row!
Hey, Michelle Cotts, I watched Rambo for the 80 millionth time this weekend! I got the war lust! Just like The New Republic, I can support any and every war! I don't even know who the contras were but if you supported them, me too! Freelance out to me! (Daddy needs a new pair of clogs!)

After the parody went up (April 3, 2005), the 'response' went up. It was a joke and we weren't all that sad when CJR proper decided that enough time had been wasted on the echo chamber of mutual scratched backs. (Steve Lovelady did strong work and Liz Cox Barrett did and does.)
For the record, Dona and Jim (long before this site started) attempted to directly address the problems of CJR Daily (then called Campaign Desk) and were repeatedly blown off. It was an embarrassment from the start (though Keefer Madness thinks being nominated for a Webby means something -- in a "It's an honor just to be nominated" and beaten out by non-professionals who weren't bankrolled).

So it was something we covered regularly here. And we'd say we nailed it rather accurately.
For those who doubted, we'll offer excerpts from two of our "Watchdog Daily" parodies and then the reality of what went on at CJR Daily via Keefer Madness' e-mails.

From April 3, 2005's "CJW Daily from Corporate Journalism Whores (parody for your laughing pleasure) :"

We have vastly expanded our blog coverage since those copycats at Slate started doing blog reports and since those meanies at The Third Estate Sunday Review exposed our clusterfuck. That means I now pick a conservative blogger to write about in addition to clusterfucks.
Check the time stamp on this post. It's past three o'clock! And I'm writing about the morning blogs!
You know what that means, I've spent an hour online. Twenty minutes reading the blogs Candy Perfume Boy bookmarks for me, ten minutes posting my resume and reading online classifieds, five minutes checking my account balance, and twenty-five minutes trying to track down that dancing baby from Ally McBeal. Has anyone seen the dancing baby lately? I miss the dancing baby.
I feel like I'm kind of like Ally McBeal because I think I'm cute when I don't make sense. If you think I'm full of b.s. you can find something else to read or track down the dancing baby!Where's the dancing baby? I must find the dancing baby. Once, at senior prom, this guy told me I looked like Calista Flockhart. Okay, he said Camryn Manheim. But that's close. They both worked on David E. Kelley shows and they both played attornies.
Where's that dancing baby?

Note, that was parody. Now from October 23, 2005's parody "Watchdog Daily:"

Now what am I supposed to write about?
God. S.L. is staring at me with that cross look he gets when he thinks I'm online looking for the Dancing Baby. Things used to be way, way cooler around here. I'm hitting the head. Back in 10.
Good news! In the men's room (I just prefer the men's room), I found the new oversize TV Guide. That's a magazine. See, you start thinking it's not going to work out, that you're going to get fired which means losing your boyfriend because if you're not buying the Revlon make up, then he's not staying, and losing your apartment, which means moving back with your parents (again!) and having to hear every other day, "What ever happened to that nice Dell? He seemed so nice?" while also having to hear about your younger sister who is married, with three kids, a lovely home with a pool and three car garage and it's all just enough to make you go running in search of Zingers or Little Debbie Snack Cakes, when boom! you spot the TV Guide on the floor.

Again, parody. Now for the reality, via Wonketta, from the keyboard of Keefer Madness, while he was at the office, on the clock, supposedly working, Keefer Madness' actual remarks are in bold print, followed by our comments:

My boss says no dice - sorry (he was kid of mad that I even asked).

Oops! Hope S.L didn't think you were searching for that Dancing Baby!

However, since I’m bored at work today, I may have a lead on who “circumlocutor” is for you.

Today? Today you're bored at work? Every day read like you were bored at work.

There’s someone who has posted on under the name circumlocutor who is apparently named [Redacted] (the ititials “[Redacted]” are one of the posters on cicumlocutor).
[Amazon link]
He’s listed as being in Baltimore, but it seems like too much of a coincidence …

Did you stumble upon that while surfing for the Dancing Baby? You certainly weren't surfing as part of your job duties.

Jason Cherkis wrote:
Sorry about your job. What are you going to do ?
To: Jason Cherkis

From: Bryan Keefer
Subject: Re: quick question
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2006 09:42:34 -0700 (PDT)
Thanks. CJR pretty well sucked for the past four months or so, and I was already looking around for new employment, so I have few leads. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to a nice, long vacation …

Already looking? Checking the online classifieds, were you? "CJR pretty well sucked for the past four months or so" -- things used to be way cooler, eh, Keefer Madness?

CJR, in all of its forms and mutations, needs to publicly respond. Keefer Madness owes Murray Waas and journalism an apology. As for our parodies . . .

When they go up, they're fact based. That's why they're funny and why they usually result in angry e-mails from those being parodied. What a reader may see as a throw away line, the lampooned grasp includes a bit of personal reality they weren't aware was public. We'll continue our parodies (regardless of topic, they're very popular). But while Lureen's right that we did warn about Keefer Madness and his buds, we also warned (repeatedly) about CJR Daily.

The Nation Stats

It's already getting off to a bad start and the year hasn't officially begun. However, in the January 1, 2007 issue of The Nation, page 24, two letter writers sound off about the cover art for the "It's Party Time" December 4, 2006 issue. Our objections to that cover revolved mainly around the fact that it was more sap from The Elector and not what you expect from The Nation.

But Sara Schute and Tom Flynn have some objections and "The Editors" don't seem to much care. Sara Schute is bothered that the three women are features in the illustration "have all been sexualized (with prominent cleavage)". The Nation offers a non-response that ridicules Schute and her observations.

For the record, community illustrator Isaiah draws big breasts. He always has. (See the interview with him where he talks about that being a problem in first grade. We love Isaiah's drawings.) The Nation responds to Schute with (a) parties are about cleavage (AlterPunk must feel so left out), (b) desires that they had that sort of cleavage (see previous parenthetical) and (c) noting that the women look like they have implants.

A question for The Nation, did anyone not notice that Senator Amy Klobucher has her leg in the air? She's also for some reason wearing boots and the hem of her dress is straight up to her crotch. Schute's concerns shouldn't be mocked.

Tom Flynn's concern is that the two African-Americans in the cast of twelve are playing "trivial" musical instruments and that Barack Obama is "displaying a glassy stare and gap-mouthed grin reminiscent of Stepin Fetchit." The editors ignore the latter point.

We appreciate both Flynn and Schute's concerns.

We'll note that two African-American representatives making the cover (Charlie Rangel is the other) is two more than The Nation usually offers in any given year. (That's not to dismiss the concern of Stepin Fetchit -- that actually makes it more valid since other portrayals are not offered.) For those who missed it, Barbara Lee? Not on the cover. Maxine Waters? Not on the cover. John Conyers? Not on the cover in 2006. (We'll be kind and not dig past 2006.)

Why not? Are they not 'power players' in the minds of some? The January 1, 2007 issue features a politician who will, the bad article tells you, never be a national candidate. If you're expecting this brave exception to be a woman or a person of color, think again. It's another White man. Having surveyed 2006 and noted that women's writing was hardly present, we've decided to keep a running tally for 2007.

January 1, 2007.

Rocky Anderson, mayor of Salt Lake City

Marc Cooper "Pinochet's Legacy"
Katrina vanden Heuvel and Sam Graham-Felsen "Morality of the Minimum"
John Nicols "Kucinich Tries Again"
David Corn "The Waiting Game"
4 males, 1 female

Alexander Cockburn "War Voters Said No, Congress Said Yes"
Katha Pollitt "Ho-Ho-Holiday Donations -- 2006"
1 male, 1 female

Sasha Abramsky "The Other Rocky"
Michael Tisserand "The Katrina Factor"
Lisa Delpit and Charles Payne "Katrina's Last Victims?"
Liza Featherstone "Chavez's Citizen Diplomacy"
3 males, 2 females

Peter Bergen "Waltzing With Warlords"
Melanie Rehak "A View From the Bridge"
Barry Schwabsky "A Painter of Our Time"
Stuart Klawans "Within the Context of No Context"
3 males, 1 female


The writing of 11 males and 5 women is featured and, no, that's not even one female for every two males. And the cover that starts off the year goes to a White male. We're not remembering a cover saluting Barbara Lee for her brave stands.

TV: Victoria's Real Secret

With Ty on a break from reading e-mails until the new year, we've all been pitching in and we (Ava and C.I.) found one from Theresa who was bothered by a TV special she'd seen and wished we had weighed in. The special aired December 5th on CBS and, unfortunately for Theresa, this was watched in her home by her father and two brothers. When Theresa complained, she was told it was "just like a beauty contest."

The CW aired the special last week and, no, Theresa, it's not "just like a beauty contest." For one thing, there are no beauties. Like many an undergarment passed down the line, the women on display are irregulars. Some had necks way too long, many had heads way too small, one actually had a mustache, and one was wall-eyed. It was entitled The Victoria's Secret 2006 Fashion Show but it played like The Victoria's Secret 2006 Ho-Down.

That's because successful models do the undergarmet work early on if at all. Underwear models either have nasty, known drug habits that prevent them from working in more demanding fields or they lack the basic beauty tools required for success in the modeling field. Tranlsation, if you're too short to be a fashion model, you grab bra and panties.

The 'beauties' were chosen for their boobs and not much more. Most lacked the grace to convincingly work a runway. But it's not about walking, it's about shoving your tits out for a bunch of middle-aged men to drool over and, in that if nothing else, the 'models' were a success.

Backstage and 'blooper' footage reassured the (male) audiences that the irregulars had big boobs and tiny brains as they repeatedly flubbed lines (even when singing along with songs), demonstrated that rhythm was a gift not easily passed on, and looked like, as Theresa observed, "tired Barbie dolls weighed down by excessive hair." (She meant on the tops of their heads -- we're not aware of anyone else commenting on the mustache sported by one -- but we'd guess most viewers weren't looking at the faces of the 'beauties.')

The musical guest was Justin Timberlake and he was the perfect unich to please the intended male audience. Throughout his hideous "Sexy Back," he would make a show of looking at the women but, if you paid attention, he wasn't looking at them. Not like the audience was. Look for him to star in Doogie Howser: The Movie any day now.

During his second 'performance,' he embraced his inner castarati as he sought out high notes (falsetto) that even Mariah Carey wouldn't go near. Then the song's beats were supplied and he was off to the Camptown Races dancing around with several males while repeatedly sliding his hand over his groin. Not cupping it -- message: There's nothing there. Message recieved.

Victoria's Secret's dirty little secret (as outlined in chapter seven of Susan Faludi's Backlash) is that "Victoria" was a man: one Roy Raymond. So the garish, cartoonish trash that flies out of the closet, flies out of a man's closet and we think most women would be better off leaving the wares to cross dressers.

After watching the CBS telecast, Theresa writes that her younger (13-year-old) brother felt it was okay to slap her on the ass. (Her parents stopped that quickly.) We think that's the real damage of this crap.

It's presented as acceptable and women are presented as possessing no abilities, just the function of display. That's as big a lie as the lie that the women are 'beauties.' A beauty pageant (and we're no fans of those) at least makes the pretense of being interested in the minds of the women. As the bloopers and backstage offerings demonstrated, these 'beauties' had nothing up stairs. So it may not be fair to personally blame them for participating in the degradation of all women. However, they cashed their checks and went on their way.

In the real world, it's women like Theresa who have to live with the damage the 'beauties' create. If there's any comfort to be found, it's the fact that in the real world, even semi-clothed, none of the women would turn even one head. If there's any justice, having elected to profit from stereotypes, the 'beauties' participating will be stuck living with them for the rest of their lives.

And Victoria? As Austin Powers would say, "She's a man, baby."

Applause to Rolling Stone

In the year end issue of Rolling Stone, they've altered things for their December 28, 2006 - January 11, 2007 issue. Long term readers may be used to the month by month coverage the year end issue generally brings.

Check it out (on sale now) to see what you think. Hopefully, even if you're not pleased with the new format, you will be pleased with the item below.

That's from page 95, "The Honor Roll" is the title of the page, "Lt. Ehren Watada Saying No to Iraq" is the section heading. Give credit to Rolling Stone for being able to do what The Nation couldn't all year, print an article on Ehren Watada. Also giving them credit for picking him for their honor roll. A sign that builds hopes for 2007.

Applause to Amy Goodman

The image above is from page 29 of The Nation's January 1, 2007 issue. Clicking on it should make it larger but it reads:


Goodman is being recognized for her groundbreaking reporting and commitment to questioning those in power on behalf of those who rarely have a voice in the mainstream media. Described as "a one-woman antidote to corporate news," she is best known as the host and executive producer of the daily news program Democracy Now! With her brother David, Goodman has written two bestsellers: The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media that Love Them and, most recently, Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back.
The Puffin/Nation Prize carries a $100,000 cash award and is given annually to an American citizen who has challenged the status quo "through distinctive, courageous, imaginative, socially responsible works of signifcance."



These are our picks for the can't miss reads of last week. Our= Rebecca, Kat, Mike, Elaine, Wally and Betty.

C.I.'s "NYT: I Cover The Canapes" -- we're trying to have this posted in full. No luck (C.I. says "no") thus far. You don't want to miss this.

"SMU and Baylor in First Idiot Draft Pick!" -- a joint post about the shocking competition from acadmies of learning for the papers of an unlearned.

Elaine's "Nostalgic Bully Boy and Nostalgic mainstream media" -- the shine left the Bully Boy sometime ago, but the mainstream press is ready to use their tongues and mouths for spit polishing even now.

Rebecca's "robert parry was right" -- sometimes the obvious needs to be said.

Trina's "Traditions in the Kitchen?" -- no recipe? No, there's not one this week. If you can't figure out why, you missed the point of the post. Read it.

Betty's "The Double-Wide Friedman" -- Betty had a Christmas post planned and then Thomas Friedman had to act the fool in the paper again. We think this is a humorous take even if it meant, as Betty points out, breaking from her chapter outline.

Mike's "Danny Schechter, Law and Disorder" -- Mike says he had a blow off week. Kat says she was sick all week. Excuses, excuses. This is our pick for Mike's posts this week.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Bully Boy O'Hara" -- this was a bonus comic. Isaiah had planned to take Sunday off (he was helping Miguel, Maria and Francisco with their newsletter) but he read something here last Sunday and, knowing Elaine loves the movie spoofs, decided to do a comic anyway on Sunday afternoon.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Condi Rice for LIAR-ALL Bully Products" -- Condi says the war's worth it. Well no one thought her elevator made it to the top floors, did they?

Kat's "No title comes to mind" -- Kat cleaning up for others. (Jim said to say "Thank you" to Kat for this post.)

Wally's "Bully Boy in the NFL would be as bad as he is in the White House" and Cedric's "THIS JUST IN! JAKE PLUMMER'S IN THE WHITE HOUSE!" because it's funny and it's sports!
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