Sunday, March 11, 2007


Jim: Welcome to our latest roundtable or, as Ava calls it, another round of hell. Ava and C.I. take notes, the rest of us type them up. Due to the fact that these roundtables can last three or more hours, we do edit them. Words are not changed, but we will pull sections. That may be due to it lagging or due to the person speaking deciding to pull their comments for whatever reason. Since Dona and I pulled a section that caused a mini-stir in the community, we now ask everyone to read over the earliest draft and note what they feel is their most important points.
Participating are 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. Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills) isn't with us as we begin this but may be joining us before we finish. If so, we'll toss to her. We're gearing up for a road trip and everyone's been taking care of loose ends and errands, which is what Kat's doing right now. Ty's pulled some topics from the e-mails and we'll try to include those. One of the biggest questions is why we don't link to this or to that. Reader Gerri wondered this week why we don't link to The Huffington Post at this site?

Dona: To address the specific site first, The Huffington Post has many posts up and we have linked to specific posts but the site itself is not a left site. If you missed it, Peggy Noonan is not a lefty. Look at who they link to and who they feature. We'd never link to anything that offers John Fund. We're a site for the left and, while there's often strong content at The Huffington Post, the site itself is not a left site. It's a conversation similar to a radio show Arianna Huffington is a regular on. The only community website that has offered it as a permanent link was The Common Ills. That was when it started and C.I. noted that would be short term. At that time, though it was known it would not be a left site, Huffington was being trashed online for her past politics, for her religion and for starting a website which, if you missed it, bloggers were predicting would fail. C.I. wrote an entry rejecting that nonsense and then, later when the site went live, provided it on the permalinks on short-term basis. I personally do visit The Huffington Post but we're a left site and we highlight the left so we may link to things on it but we're not linking to the site itself.

Ty: I will add that Arianna Huffington's own writing has been noted here many times, both in terms of her books and in terms of her blogging on topics such as Bob Woodward. But mainly the thing I want to address is that I don't give a damn what opinions someone had seven years ago if they've rethought them. That was one of the things that was getting hauled out when the site was starting. You can get the same crap thrown at David Brock. If she or Brock do something we'd disagree with, we'd call them on it. But this idea that it's a clubhouse and in the 90s she wasn't a part of it so she can't be now is just nonsense. I generally enjoy her writing, I also read Tom Hayden's posts there, Antonia Juhasz' posts and others.

Jess: I'll just add that the issue isn't just that a few righties are featured there. Some luke warm 'lefties' are as well. I'm not interested in a word Margaret Carlson wants to stretch and bend. She's a joke and she made herself that. She's done nothing since 2000, when she lost her media 'heat' and wanted to be embraced again by the left, to justify anyone noting her nonsense. There's also David Sirota who is very reactionary in more than just his I-Hate-Hugo-Chavez writing. He's a professional apologist for cowards, acting more like a press agent than a writer as he rushes to tell you, "This guy is a progressive, he really, really is!"

Rebecca: Did you read his piece on Obey?

Jess: David Obey? No.

Rebecca: Wally found that Saturday and he and I were laughing at it. It perfectly captures what you're discussing right now.

Wally: Yeah. Obey was screaming and yelling at people who stopped him in the halls of Congress. At one point, he screams about "idiot liberals." David Sirota, Baby Cries A Lot's Circle Jerk Bud, shows up to provide cover as usual. And I have to say, Joshua Frank has called Sirota's number correctly many times.

Rebecca: In the piece, know it all Sirota, Al Franken's Sirota, tells everyone to back off his boy Obey. He's tossing around the term "progressive" like it's holy water. I really think that unless you're referring to the magazine, give the term a rest. He writes: "There are some 'idiot liberals' out there, and this episode actually highlights that reality." Always there to play press agent although reporter is too much for him.

Wally: We were talking about what an idiot he was. He wants to lecture the left, which he is really not a part of no matter how much he pretends. The left doesn't need Sirota's dumb ass lectures. Go tell it to Baby Cries A Lot.

Cedric: Obey needed to be called out on the term and on the way he treated the people. In terms of the term, the left doesn't need to popularize phrases like "idiot liberals," that's the right wing's job. Sirota's so stupid and his writing always strikes me as racist. He's White, by the way. He's got no real analysis to offer, on anything, but because he's White and young, a slot's being held for him. The reality is that the left should be complaining about the use of "idiot liberals" and about the treatment of those people because if we instead act as apologists for David Obey, the role Sirota plays, we're saying it's okay for this to happen. We're saying we're so weak and so timid that we'll look the other way. That really sums up Sirota who looks the other way with regards to reality and just hypes whatever will make a valentine to whomever he's writing about. He has no grip on reality but he is always there to sell out the left and to demand the left makes concessions. I'll echo Wally by noting that Joshua Frank's called Sirota's act out very well.

Jess: See, that's the sort of reason we wouldn't link to the site. He is a featured blogger there and he's not a lefty. He'll turn around and get into a snit fit over The New York Times' treatment of lefties against the war but when it's time to stand up to any elected official or candidate he's creaming his shorts over, he'll rush in to lecture. He's useless. The reality is that any elected official who wants to excuse abusive behavior has a problem. David Obey did not conduct himself appropriately and Sirota can try to whitewash that and, no surprise, blame the left for it, but Obey's problems are Obey's problems. It should also be noted that he's not an independent voice since he's repeatedly made a point to work for campaigns. That's one reason why many people see his Valentines to various Democrats as audition material.

Elaine: I don't care for Sirota for just the reasons Jess has outlined but Mike and I hadn't seen the post and we've just pulled it up. This is typical of what strikes me as his dishonesty. Quote:

However, the troubling thing out of the spat is not Obey's behavior: it is the reaction to it by the progressive movement, and what that reaction really says. The idea that Jack Murtha - the guy who voted for the war, the guy who was one of the most outspoken pro-war Democrats, the guy who has never seen a defense bill he didn't try to increase - is now an antiwar saint beyond reproach, but Dave Obey is some sort of pro-war villain is so fundamentally absurd it suggests that at least some who liken themselves as progressive movement leaders really are "idiot liberals" because they have positively no idea how the hell basic movement building or power works (mind you - I'm not saying Jack Murtha hasn't been courageous in opposing the war of late- he has, which is why I thought he should have been Majority Leader - but the point is that the basic understanding of 'allies' and 'enemies' can be wholly misunderstood).

Elaine (Con't): I believe Steely Dan called an album Pretzel Logic and that's what Sirota's paragraph is. He brings Murtha into the conversation for no real reason other than to create a straw man. Murtha's not been caught screaming in the halls of Congress. Then he offers that Murtha's not the "saint" -- that who thinks he is? Sirota apparently. None of the community sites have slobbered over Murtha. We're all very well aware of his politics. If Sirota is and is bothered by them and the portrayal of Murtha, by unknowns and unnameds, as a "saint," then why does he go on to say "I thought he should have been Majority Leader." There's not one consistent thought in that entire paragraph, just a lot of boot licking.

Ty: I would agree with that. I would also agree with Cedric regarding the racism because that's an issue that Sirota skirts when he's plugging his mountain state progressives. I would also agree that if he weren't White, a slot wouldn't be held for him because he's a really bad writer and he can't argue a consistent point. Cheerleaders, if they're White, get spots held for them. African-Americans who are incredible writers don't. That's the reality and, to point an obvious flaw of The Huffington Post, they don't offer a great deal of African-American voices despite posting all the time.

Elaine: That's a good point. We're still on the page, so hold on. Okay, the 28 most recent posts, all but one person is White. There are no African-Americans. That is sad.

Jim: Agreed. And thank you for that. Before we move on, Mike wrote in depth about Obey on Friday and I want to give him a chance to comment.

Mike: Well, I think everyone's made the points already. But that behavior was unacceptable and was unacceptable if the topic had been the environment or Social Security. Since the topic was the illegal war, you have to be a real coward, and I think Sirota's a coward, to offer up that the left should just roll over on it. Obey's appalled that people don't know what legislation he's sponsoring but, as I pointed out, he didn't note the legislation -- which is very weak -- on his own website. If he's unaware that House Democrats don't get a great deal of press coverage, that's another sign of what an idiot Obey is. You're still more likely to see Republican senators pictured and quoted in The New York Times than you are Democrats and I'm not talking heavy hitters, I'm talking the Texas weaklings.

C.I.: Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn.

Mike: Thank you. So Obey failed himself by refusing to promote his own legislation on his own website. That's his problem, no one else's. If he doesn't want to encounter the public, he needs to leave public office. He's a Dumb Ass and so is David Sirota. Obey's so-called apology only made things worse and if I were a in the House leadership, I'd be very worried about his behavior. Oh, he's stressed! Tough shit, he's holding an office he ran for. If he can't handle the pressures, that's his problem, no one else's. And Sirota can't touch on that because this is yet another man-crush from a man who's writing consists of little else.

Jim: Next up is a question about an analyst and it's directed to C.I.

C.I.: Bob Somerby's the analyst right?

Jim: Right. The question is what do you personally think about Maureen Dowd and what do you personally think about Somerby's writing about her in the last weeks? There is a second part that has nothing to do with Dowd or Somerby, by the way.

C.I.: What Bob Somerby offers is a critique for Democrats of press coverage. That's what he does best. Within his best, and we've tackled this in 2005, there are problems. Sexism is one of them. Saying that Maureen Dowd needs to be placed in "a home" might result in chuckles, whether you agreed or disagreed with him, if that treatment was applied across the board. It's not. It's the problem we pointed out in a roundtable a long time ago. And saying that a woman needs to be placed in a home, just that statement, has a long sexist history. Sombery would prevent those criticisms if he'd do the same with Chris Matthews or any other male he targets but he doesn't do that and that's been a problem throughout his analysis. In terms of catching things that others don't notice, he remains at the top of his game. In terms of sexist treatment of women, that also remains in his writing. In terms of Maureen Dowd. Dowd's a wonderful writer. Forget what opinions she's offering, she's a wonderful writer. In order to attack her writing of late, Somerby's been skipping over steps that he himself has outlined, such as a comment appearing in a report in the paper and then being picked up by Dowd. Suddenly, Dowd has invented a false quote. That's not reality. And Sombery should know that since he's addressed the false quote before. With Dowd, she's in no camp -- Somerby would argue she's in the pundit camp -- and that's the only thread to all of her work. During the Clinton years, many like Somerby hated her while the right often hailed her. During Bully Boy's years, you've seen the exact opposite reaction. I'm not saying, "She's 'fair'." She's not, she's a columnist who is supposed to provide an opinion. She's not a reporter covering events. She has developed a persona in print and you may care for it and you may not. Somerby's problems, other than her past work on Al Gore and Bill Clinton, seem to frequently include problems with her writing style to which, it should be noted, that she has one. Thomas Friedman, who's not really addressed at The Daily Howler, has none. He's like a drunk at a bbq attempting to talk up the kids and act 'with it.' His writing is embarrassing. If Dowd's got a factual error, call her out on it. But don't call her out for creating a quote that she didn't create. Dowd doesn't really write from the 'like' stand. In fact, in 2003, the summer of, she attempted to write about some issues that truly mattered to her and the result was her worst columns, my opinion. Before Bill Clinton was elected in 1992, Mother Jones had compared her to Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman in Batman Returns and that remains who Dowd is at her best. I think she's been an interesting voice and served well as a columnist. She is often the paper's most enjoyable columnist. I don't look for a columnist in a paper to be an echo chamber and those who are don't have long careers. She's developed her own voice and I personally enjoy it. Ellen Goodman and Molly Ivins developed their own and that carved out greater opportunities for women, Dowd has done the same.

Jim: Okay, second part is that, "A number of people, such a Somerby, have compared Ann Coulter to Maureen Dowd and likened Coulter's use of the f-word to Dowd's use of 'girlie men.'
I'm wondering about C.I.'s thoughts on that and also remembering C.I.'s piece about Coulter as a bombshell who has imploded. Is she done now?"

C.I.: Since Ty is gay, I'll allow him to take the first part of the question if he wants.

Ty: Yeah, I'll grab that. Calling a straight man gay, using a derogatory term, is not the same as using "girlie men" or "girlie boys." When Coulter used the term she did, she probably wanted people hearing her to conjure images of oral sex performed on or done to Edwards by another male. She may have been hoping they would think of anal sex. Gay and feminine aren't the same thing. Some gay men are feminine, some are not. Some straight men are feminine, some aren't. I read some of the crap comparing Dowd to Coulter and felt it said more about the bloggers' own homophobia then it did about in real equivalancies between the two remarks. To them, "gay" appeared to equal less than full manhood. Coulter was using hate speech. I hate Coulter but I will note that it was obvious to me, when I watched the clip, that she was trying to be funny. I don't think that excuses the use of the term. If she's not personally homophobic, as she's claimed, then she shouldn't be using homophobia to make her points. But I was personally more offended by the reactions of straight men, bloggers, who attempted to tie in being gay with being "girlie." That showed their own homophobia and there was a report last week that Aaron Glantz noted on KPFA, about how there was more acceptance of gays and lesbians with each generation. I think we're going to try to tackle that in its own feature this edition so I'll just note, I think that along with homophobia showing, a lot of bloggers were showing their age. Main point: Gay does not equal girlie. If homophobes from the right and left hear no other point I make, I hope they hear that one. Some are, some aren't. Some straights are, some aren't.

C.I.: I think Ty's addressed the first part, very well, so that just leaves the imploded bombshell aspect. I wrote the thing the reader's talking about sometime in 2005. I think the reaction from those on the right not running for election demonstrates the points in that entry. There was a piece of coverage I saw that noted a writer for The Nation asked one obvious question, why a woman who won't shut up about family and marriage has had three broken engagements and never been married. As noted in the entry, that is a liability for Coulter to the right and it only becomes more of one with each passing day. She's aged since she showed up on the scene, her act hasn't. Whether you enjoy her act or not, there are people on the right who feel she should not represent them. For some that's due to the fact that they're opinions are reflected in her comments. For others it has to do with the fact that, for all her slams on feminism, Coulter's someone who's living a feminist-friendly life and she can trash feminism and not credit it for providing her with the opportunities it has but the reality is she became one of the most visible voices on the right and that wasn't done by playing caring Mommy or any of the other roles the right allows for. As a pundit on either side, she would come up against the sexist age barrier that all women do. As a pundit on the right, and an unmarried one which does matter to the right, she's come up against it that much sooner. Is she over yet? Not yet. But this is the continued slide for her. She knows that and that's why she tried to rally the base behind her by attacking abortion immediately after she alienated the base.

Jim: How did she alienate her base?

C.I.: By offering that she was just using a school yard 'taunt,' by insisting that she wasn't homophobic. The people who found her use of the f-word funny are homophobic. Coulter knew she had a problem that could threaten her media access so she immediately tried to pretend that what she said wasn't what she said. That may have provided some outlets enough cover to continue to run her column and to continue to book her on their programs but it hurt her with the crowd laughing at her comment. She grasped that rather quickly and offered her attack on abortion to try to appease them. But she can't. She can issue non-stop appeasements but the fact is she's a woman who parties, who has sex and who is not married. There's nothing wrong with any of the three but she's in the Republican Party and those don't fly, especially at a certain age. Coulter long ago reached it and she'll be marginalized more and more each year. By the right.

Jim: Next question is about Barack Obama and it's directed to Betty, Cedric and Ty. Sal notes that, "Sam Seder can't shut up about Barack Obama and I'm wondering how you think that plays out?"

Betty: Well, I think generally when Black people hear that kind of praise from a White person about someone else who is Black or, in Obama's case, bi-racial, it does make them leery. I know that the big issue in Atlanta last week was the revelation that Obama had disinvited his own pastor from a speaking engagement. I'm not sure how much play the story's had outside of print so let me note the basics. Jeremiah A. Wright is the pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ which is Obama's church. On the uninvite, Al Sharpton was quoted by The New York Times as saying, "I can see why callers of mine and other clergymen would be concerned, because the issue is standing by your own pastor." People may try to downplay that but Obama was in Selma trying to get the support of Black chuches and refusing to stand with your own pastor or preacher doesn't play well to the group Obama was attempting to court. In the Black churches, we take that very seriously and "snub" is the weakest word that can be used for Obama's actions. I know it is a topic that's been repeatedly discussed in Black circles in the Atlanta area, but I don't think the White press gets how serious a mistake that was.

Cedric: I would agree with that. It's been a topic in my church as well. I don't think the White press understands the African-American churches. I think they expect that we're all just shouting, "Praise Jesus!" -- and we''ll vote for anyone who does. The fact that he invited Wright to speak and then uninvited him is a big deal because the issues of whether he is "Black" or not are still issues in the community. When you do that to your pastor, it appears that you are selling out your chuch. Which results in questions about who else you might sell out? Obama's not seen as a civil rights advocate and there is already wariness about him over that. I think in three to four weeks, polling will emerge that will show how much of a mistake the uninvitation was and how it has hurt him. That's my guess and I could be wrong. But the only thing I can liken this to is when people were stating that Tommy Hillfigger didn't like African-Americans wearing his clothes. This appears to have more reality as a basis but, like that rumor, it's not dying. It's the sort of thing that registers and festers and the White press has no idea what's going on.

Ty: I agree with Betty and Cedric's points and the only thing I will add is that the Selma speech was another embarrassing speech by Obama. Wally and Cedric did a joint-post that was humorous but also made the point that Hillary Clinton came off better in Selma. She did. I'm not a fan of Hillary Clinton and won't be voting for her. But she spoke about the struggles and the system and Obama offered White reactionary talk that put societal problems off on people as personal problems. That's not reality. My grandmother read that speech and that decided it for her. She called me up and said, "He's not Black and he's not getting my vote." I think you can relate it to a Harold Ford Jr. in a way. Ford Jr. can count on apologists to cover for the fact that he's a sell out and win a district election. But he can't win a statewide one, which is why he lost in 2006 when he ran for Senate. You can control and intimidate people, fool and trick 'em, enough to win a district election but anything bigger and there are too many voices that will address reality. I think that's happening with Obama now. He's getting soft press for the most part. And he seems a shoe-in but there's an undercurrent within the community that's growing. It's gone from "Who is he?" to "He's not speaking for us." I won't make a prediction on when that will register in polling but I think it will register and I agree with Cedric and Betty that the pastor issue isn't going away. This will dog him throughout his run, whether the press covers it or not. I should add that I'm speaking about, all three of us are, the African-American community and Newsweek and other White organs have no pull there. They can continue to trumpet him as the 'exception' and it's not going to translate into votes from the community. We have our own alternative means of communication which includes the Black press but is not limited to that. And this topic will not go away.

Jim: Alright, the next topic is Agustin Aguayo and Ora e-mailed wondering if we could talk about the fact that he didn't get The Full Brobeck but he didn't get the coverage that his story deerved?

Ava: I'll start because I agree with Ora and, for those not familiar with the name, it's Hispanic. Ora may or may not be herself but I think it was interesting, as a Latina, to see how little coverage Aguayo received. In some cases, that's due to the fact that the war resister has no one who can speak for them. He had his mother and his wife speaking very passionately for him. I noticed that The Los Angeles Times, which has a significant number of Hispanic readers and potential readers, did treat the story seriously; however, it is the only major daily newspaper that I'm aware of which did. The wire services covered it, Reuters and AP. But it wasn't a story to the bulk of the mainstream press. In terms of the independent press, I think we saw the usual publications that can be counted on to cover it did and the ones, like The Nation, who have done a shit-poor job of covering the topic of war resisters continued to do so. But I didn't see the sort of coverage I've seen of other war resisters since this summer. I think there has been more coverage, for instance, of Mark Wilkerson -- who deserves coverage -- than there has been of Aguayo. That may result from the fact that a lot of the Wilkerson coverage came out of Austin, Texas and Aguayo was court-martialed overseas, in Germany. But I think Ora makes a good point and I think it's one worth asking questions about.

Jim: Ora wanted it noted that she loves C.I.'s "Iraq snapshots" and really enjoyed being able, last week, to use the links to read coverage of Aguayo. But she "especially says thank you for addressing the Redress." C.I.?

C.I.: Well, thank you right back to Ora. In terms of coverage of Aguayo, there really was very little. I know members enjoyed the piece from Cuba's Ahora. Ava's correct that Wilkerson got more coverage from the local press in Texas. In terms of the two court-martials, I had more to select from on Wilkerson, due largely to local press , than I did on Aguayo. We noted anything and everything we could on Aguayo because it was so sparse. In terms of the rest, I'll toss to others.

Betty: Well, I'll grab, Redress. I'm sick of hearing their spokespeople repeatedly insult war resisters. I agree with C.I. and Elaine that crowd has done is e-activsm, the Redress crowd. It requires less bravery. I'm bored with them. I'm tired of hearing Jonathan Hutto and, mainly, that's because he was a well spoken, educated man in his early appearances and now he's trying to present himself as something else. The Hutto who appeared on Law and Disorder some time ago and the Hutto that was 'keeping it real' on Flashpoints last week were world's apart. As a Black woman, I really don't understand why someone who is educated would try to present himself as not having been.

Cedric: I'd agree with Betty on that because that was the second most shocking thing to me about the Flashpoints appearance. The first was that they continue to select spokesperson who trash war resisters. The second was the 'dumbing down' of Hutto, by Hutto himself. It was sad to listen to that.

Wally: Redress could have been a means to radical change but it got watered down and then watered down some more and, right now, it's just a weak embarrassment. I think the left has done enough to promote it and should back off and focus on other things now. Let the Katrina vanden Heuvels and others talk it up because it's the sort of non-action they applaud.

Jess: Coming off the 60 Minutes piece, the Flashpoints segment just underscored that there is no standing in Redress. Just a fall to your knees and plea to Congress while assuring them that if they take no action to end the war that's okay with you because you just follow orders and you'll still fight in the illegal war. That's so weak and such a position of weakness that it could be a Sirota e-action.

Jim: Mike?

Mike: I'm listening more than speaking and that's partly because I've got a really bad headache. I'm not planning on pulling anything I've said so if you're reading this and wonder why I didn't speak more, that's my fault. Redress? I wrote about how the heroes are the war resisters. E-activists who want to slam war resisters will have to find someone else to promote them because I won't. I don't think they're the only heroes. I give credit to real activists like CODEPINK and think they're heroes too. But if someone wants to draw the line between war resisters and themselves and insult war resisters, which we've seen the Redress crowd do now in the pages of The Nation, on 60 Minutes, and on Flashpoints, they'll have to find someone else to promote their dopey, toothless, non-binding action. At this point, they're wasting everyone's time.

Dona: I do agree strongly with that. Wasn't this petition supposed to be turned in on MLK Day? Now that couldn't happen because no one had a clue that Congress was closed on MLK Day. But this petition was supposed to be over in January. In the time since, they've added 200 signatures. Wow. I'm not impressed. I've heard too many speak to Lara Logan or Dennis Bernstein that weren't going to do a damn thing. "I follow orders." "I signed up for this." Why did you sign a petition? It's a weak petition, but did they read it? And to hear an idiot say that the war is obviously illegal and then to hear this same man slam Ehren Watada, I'm sorry, if you think the war is illegal, you need to stop slamming Ehren Watada and start asking yourself why you're willing to continue fighting in an illegal war. Redress is meaningless and has not had any real impact on Congress. It was an action. They tried it and it didn't work. Instead of trying something else they seem to think the country is dying to hear them slam war resisters. We're not. And you're most basic support in any audience would come from those of us who support war resisters. By slamming them, you have alienated yourself from the audience. Go away now.

Ava: I think Jess was about to speak but I just want to note that I usually agree with Dona but I've never agreed more. There is a limited space, in print, on air, to cover Iraq, we don't need to continue to pat the heads of a bunch of pro-war hawks who signed a petition. And when Hutto was denying the power of individuals, that was really the last straw for me. I'm sick of him. I'm sick of the ACLU, Amnesty Hutto who wants to play like he's never had a political thought in his head and, more recently, like he never went to college. I think the petition started off with weak statements but a good idea. I think at this point, they're trying to put one over on people. I'm tired of the lies and I will call them lies and everyone present knows what I'm talking about.
Someone decided the way to sell it would be to make Hutto a non-political person, someone who'd never taken a single action. And that's insulting as well as a flat out lie. I won't promote Redress because I don't want it blowing up in my face when the right pens their expose. What started as fibs have now become raging lies and I want no part of dishonesty. I'll leave that to the people at The Nation.

Jess: Well Ava's points were pretty much what I was going to say. As a community, we were supportive of Redress when it started. That support steadily declined, especially after we saw The Peace Resister hawking it repeatedly, the same Peace Resister who can't write word one about war resisters. That actually should have been the wake up call for us that this thing that started with good intentions was about to go through the white-washer. That's what happened and that's what continues to happen. As it stands now, not only are they attacking war resisters, every time someone puts a mike before them, they're also accomplishing nothing. Either is reason enough to say, "We are not associated with that and we do not endorse it." Both make it a necessity.

Rebecca: I would agree with that completely. I'm really surprised to see a number of organizations that support war resisters, some whose whole purpose is to support war resisters, continuing to promote Redress which has repeatedly and publicly insulted war resisters by name and which, as of Hutto's Flashpoints appearance, is now arguing that individual stands make no difference. I'll second Betty's point that Elaine and C.I. covered that topic very well last week. I know that both of them were of the attidue, months ago, that they'll just ignore it, that it was coming to an ending in January, and then they'd just ignore it. But it hasn't come to an end and their spokespeople now regularly attack war resisters. If no one else will call them out on that, you damn well know that Elaine and C.I. will.

Elaine: Thank you, Rebecca. I wish Kat was here because I think she'd have a few things --

Kat: I'm here! I came in while Jess was speaking.

Elaine: Great. Let me just plug your "It's about perspective and humanity" and turn it over to you.

Kat: Elaine called me about that Friday and was so generous with the praise. I told her that I think, and I believe this, that Ava and C.I. set the mark for the community. I think we could stay silent, as Rebecca was pointing out, and as many do, if the mark wasn't being set by them.
Elaine's "Anthony Arnove & Left Forum events Sat. & Sun." goes into this and it's true. There were a number of topics I wanted to include in that piece and was really just trying to get across what I'd been saying earlier in the week. Ideally, it's a topic I can return to. But in terms of Redress. I'm sick of them. Their spokespersons, their spokesmen, are exactly the type of people that should not be presented as a "speak out." Now I can understand why a dumb ass, who is not part of Flashpoints, would book them. This is the same dumb ass who recently offered that Ehren Watada was manipulative and I think we're going to be calling that out shortly. I think it needs to be called out and I think her little candy coated image has been swallowed by far too many. I say bury her with her own damn words. But what did we get with that lousy segment? We got rah-rah-war! That's what we got. That's not peace coverage. That's not speaking out. And I think we're all robbed of our humanity when we pretend that it was anything other than glorification of war. Now is there a point to including those voices? There's always a point to including as many voices as possible but stop selling them as peace proponents. I felt the same way when Andrea Lewis and Philip Malderi were interviewing, or including on a panel last week, a guy who irritated the hell out of me. I noticed C.I. didn't mention him in the snapshot and I was glad about that but I did wonder about that and asked. Turns out he is with Mommy's Pantyhose group. Mommy's Pantyhose and his group get more than enough coverage from Air America Radio. They do not need coverage from Pacifica. Toni, whose a nurse, burst out laughing when he made his three hour claim noting that he obviously has no idea how many hours low income pregnant women have to wait and that, unlike him, they don't have the option of choosing to pay for their own health care instead. Do some people support the war? Yes. A small number, an increasingly small number. If that's your intent, to provide those voices, say so. If it's not your intent, stop booking war cheerleaders. Pacifica is the peace network and there is no reason in the world anyone from Mommy's Pantyhose group should ever be on unless they are there to debate someone against the war on whether or not is should continue. The guy's remarks pissed me off when I was listening. It enraged me when I found out he was with Mommy's Pantyhose. I wasn't aware that Mommy's Pantyhose had changed his group's name. It makes sense, Stan Goff exposed that group for what it was. So now Mommy's Pantyhose changes the name and suddenly we're supposed to act like they're not war cheerleaders. I won't do that. And I am still offended that he was brought on for the discussion when Pacifica could have invited someone from Iraq Veterans Against the War or any other group against the war to address the topic. If someone wants to say that IVAW had two members interviewed by Philip not that long ago, so what? Matthew Rothschild's on all the time. That's not a complaint, he and Andrea have a nice dialogue going. The peace network needs to be supporting the peace groups. If it's not, if it's giving slots to people who want the illegal war to continue, and not noting that on air, then Pacifica is betraying its very reason for existance.

Jim: Kat, there was an e-mail from Darcy who wanted to know what you meant by "In my mind I can't study war no more" last week?

Kat: Well, as everyone participating knows, it's a line from a Laura Nyro song, "Save The Country." It's not, "Don't talk about the war!" It's about how talk about the war can become nothing but 'strategy' arguments that pass for peace positions or anti-war. I'm sick of the rah-rah warriors coming on the peace network, unidentified as what they really are, and talking up the thing that military structure has socialized them in. Trying to push their propaganda off on the rest of us. The military is set up to tear the individual down and rebuild. That's what basic training is about, that's what having them all sleep together and shower together is about, that's what all the racism in training is about. I don't need that. I don't need that paranoia and propaganda over the airwaves of KPFA. What's really disturbing is how it isn't questioned. I don't fault any individual host for that. I think it's a comment on how devalued and degraded the war has made our society. There are strong effects from the illegal war in this country, that was a wonderful discussion at C.I.'s last week, and we're seeing it. We need to notice it, we need to call it out. By not doing so, we allow the violence of women to continue in Iraq, both Iraqi women and the women serving in the military over there. I'll shut up now.

Elaine: No, I think you were making very strong points.

Kat: Well, let me speak for me because I'm not trying to slam Pacifica. I'm trying to call attention to a problem. Ruth's Report went up and before it did, she called me to ask about some remarks she was making in it. She points out that Against the Grain hasn't devoted a show to Iraq since August. She wanted to be sure that her point was made and it was. I didn't think it was rude. Ruth said she wouldn't be at all surprised if Sasha Lilley was unaware that it had been that long since Iraq was addressed. I agree with Ruth on that. So for me, in a nation that's fought the illegal war for nearly four years now, I have allowed certain things to be accepted, I have gotten used to things I shouldn't be used to. I think that's true of KPFA as well. What I'm doing is regrouping. I'm not interested in settling for being to the left of wherever the marker's been placed today. And again, I credit Ava and C.I. with that, both with their TV commentaries here which have points that are so much deeper than you may grasp, and I thought I was grasping, and also for the things they do offline. Especially for that. The group meeting last week, I am so glad they invited me to that. That was one of the most mind blowing conversations I've had in years. When I first tried to write about it, I couldn't. I was struggling and needed to think about it some more. I boiled it down, in a later post, to the fact that when you discuss the war, you discuss from the point of humanity and that's really an oversimplification of the conversation. I've got like 17 pages in my journal of notes from that conversation. I couldn't get it out of my head and when I went home, I grabbed my journal which is mainly a work journal. I note dreams that might make for a piece of art or ideas I have and I also do my accounting in the journal as well, keeping track of all my work expenses. But that night it was treated like a journal. What I would love to do, but can't, is to take a week or two and just go off somewhere, upstate would be great, and just get away and think about everything. But that conversation is something I'm going to continue to think about and continue to try to alter my own life with. I thought Ava and C.I. invited a very diverse group of women and I was so glad to be invited to that. The transformation needs to come from us. It was just mind blowing. I was pretty much sitting there with a dazed look the whole time and tossing out "Yeah!" every few minutes, but I was glad to be a part of it.

Ava: To correct that, Kat was a very vocal participant. And as impressed as she was with the conversation, many women were impressed with Kat's own statements. But Kat's right, we're going to have to be responsible for the transformation. You hear a great deal about the militarization of our society and often get examples of actions such as sending the National Guard to protect property, if not people, in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. But there's an acceptance of these actions and it needs to be addressed. More importantly, there's an acceptance of the rhetoric and that is poisoning our society.

Kat: How many lines was that? My point is that Ava, C.I. and everyone else there was able to make their points like that and use examples at the snap of a finger while I was just floundering, I felt like I was dog paddling in the ocean, trying to make it to shore.

C.I.: I'm laughing at that, it was funny, the way Kat just worded that. But like Ava pointed out, it's not how others saw it. Kat made significant contributions to the conversation and was very well spoken.

Jim: Okay, one of our print readers, and a former classmate of five of us, TC, e-mails to say that he listened to the impeachment special on WBAI and wonders what we thought about it in general as well as what we thought about it in terms of factions in the peace movement?

Mike: I'll start. Impeachment is about sending a message that no one can break the law. Bully Boy has broken it and if he's not held accountable, others will follow in his foot steps. There's a tendency to say, "Oh, let it go." Breaking the law isn't something you let go. Illegal spying, you don't let that go. Destroying the bedrock of our court systems with secret detentions and prisoners at Guantanamo who have had no day in court and have been held for as long as five years is not something you let go. Lying a nation into war is not something you let go. There are a number of other issues, but the point is that you send a message that this is unacceptable or you get ready to live with it from now on, no matter who is in the Oval Office.

Rebecca: I would agree with that. I would note that Laura Flanders, on Saturday's RadioNation with Laura Flanders, spoke of the importance of impeachment. I was glad to hear that because, during the week, we heard something different. Flyboy -- my husband, Ruth, Treva, Ruth's grandson Elijah and I were all traveling this week in Treva's RV and our listening choices were restricted. One thing there was, however, was Air America Radio. So it was very disappointing to hear a host say that the 2008 elections were more important and that impeachment needed to be dropped. Ruth and I listened to the impeachment special, over the phone, and I wrote about it some. I'll just note here that I thought it was a strong special and I'll give Janet Coleman high marks on her work as host of it.

Elaine: I would agree with that. For Rachel, let me note that Coleman's involved in two other
WBAI programs that air weekly and here's what's coming up on them:

Sunday, March 11, 11am-noon EST
Post Warholian radio artists Andrew Andrew and guests.
Monday, March 12, 2-3pm
The NY Neo Futurists and producer Bonnie Metzger on performing Suzan-Lori Parks' "365 Days - 365 Plays"; composer Alice Shields on a concert of "Mioritza - Requiem for Rachel Corrie" for trombone and computer-generated sound; feminist and author Alix Kates Schulman on the 25th Anniversary edition of "Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen." Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

Elaine: (con't) I never have time to discuss Cat Radio Cafe online but Rachel and I usually discuss it in e-mails back and forth. The special? I wrote some about it as well. I'd add to that praise for Coleman. There were phone calls, in studio guests, and, this being a live program, technical programs but Coleman handled it all expertly and kept things on topic and moving.

Jess: In terms of factions, C.I. and I were talking about this, you want to grab this?

C.I.: Go ahead.

Jess: I don't know that factions are a problem. Activists in the peace movement are not a generic, monolithic group. I support anyone working for peace and trying to end the illegal war but it may be time for more factions to emerge because we need to increase the numbers and actions that don't speak to some may speak to others. It's really funny to me that this issue of factions is such a "OH MY GOD" for the peace movement. As though any political party, any movement doesn't have factions. If they can come together for large actions from time to time, great; however, it's really time to see more action and that's something we hear on campuses more and more when we're speaking and something we hear in e-mails to this site and at The Common Ills. I applaud the big organizations and thank them for all their strong work but there is a feeling that more needs to be done now. That's not me taking anything away from a Leslie Cagan or whomever. Again, thank you to Cagan. But we need more actions and people are really becoming vocal, as they did on the special, about the fact that it's a weekend roadtrip kind of activism. I'm going to toss to C.I. about DC events and then I'll pick back up.

C.I.: Well, the last DC event is something we all participated in and it was very successful. Speaking for me, I noted that event at The Common Ills. I didn't do a good job of noting other events. I know that Los Angeles had a sizeable turnout but that some are disappointed it wasn't larger. In terms of me, being responsible for my own actions, I don't believe I noted it specifically until after it was over. I did note that actions were going on around the country and include links where people could find events in their area. Speaking for me and being responsible for me, I can't promote everything. So the concern I have is that people realize they have to take responsibility for promotion in their areas. We have several members in the LA area and I apologized to them when they wrote after to express that we could have done more to note the event. They are right. But that is the only problem with various groups and organizations stepping up, some actions may not get noted. So we all need to take responsibilty for getting the word out on actions we are participating in.

Jess: And that's the only concern we had about factions. That people involved grasp that turnout will be depend on how much people work to get the word out. And that those involved get the word out. I'll disagree briefly with C.I., and did in e-mails to LA membrs, by pointing out that none of them pointed out the actions in their area until after the fact. I don't think you wait until afterwards, after you've been silent, and then say, "Why didn't you promote our event?" But that is the only real danger, that people will feel they're being ignored. Often, the event itself will be ignored by the local press. So with factions, which I endorse, the thing I hope everyone will remember is that the people who take part need to get the word out and that, as more actions occur, the numbers will grow. It shouldn't be a competition for turn out, it should be about, did the point get across to those who participated and to those who saw our public action? There are already factions within the peace movement and that hasn't prevented it from growing. New orgs or groups or new actions won't hurt the peace movement, they'll only allow for it to continue to grow. I don't see it as a threat to groups that have already been organizing, or organizing and recognized for that organizing, I think it allows those groups to devote more time to planning their own events.

Jim: It's like baseball. If you're a Yankees fan, you like baseball. If you're a Cubs fan, you like baseball. Orioles, Giants, go down the list. You find the team you want to follow and you follow it. Going to a Giants game instead of a Padres game doesn't mean that baseball is in danger of destruction. You can call that factions, who we root for and who we cheer on, but the reality is that it's all about baseball and I think that's the case with the peace movement as well.

Mike: I think that's a good way of putting it because the Red Sox are the best team and I certainly don't think "Jim's a baseball hater!" because you root for a different team. We just talk baseball and its a shared passion.

Wally: Right, because there's enough room. There's enough room for both of you to be wrong and fail to realize how great the Marlins are and it's still all about we love baseball. Baseball's the larger issue and because we're cheering different teams doesn't mean baseball's being destroyed. Because other actions are being taken doesn't mean the peace movement will be destroyed. It means the opposite, it will be strengthened and find new people to speak to.

Dona: While that addresses the larger point, an issue raised in the broadcast was the fact that two different groups had two different actions, a day apart, one in DC and one in NYC.

Elaine: If that can be avoided, it needs to be. Sometimes it can't be. I'm a big supporter of United for Peace and Justice, which is one of the groups involved. World Can't Wait was the other and I like that group. I'm new to it but I think they do good work. I don't know who first staked out the day. When it can be avoided, it should be. But that's not always a possibility. You need permits for rallies and marches and it would be silly of any organization to assume that they'll get a permit in the current state of the country. C.I., Rebecca and I were all in NYC during the GOP convention for the big rally back in 2004, the peace rally, not for a GOP event, and, if anyone remembers, we could unofficially meet in Central Park but the city wouldn't issue a permit to officially allow for that. Since I am a huge supporter of UPJ, I'll also note that it and A.N.S.W.E.R. have had problems. I have no idea why and I don't intend to take sides. I think both groups do strong work. But there's been a split in the movement over that and there will be more. It doesn't defeat the movement and, in fact, I am always impressed by the actions that A.N.S.W.E.R. takes. They seem to have a real knack for turning out people and for staying on topic. UPJ is my group, the way . . . whatever baseball teams got listed are Jim's, Wally's and Mike's! I can't remember the names, I don't follow sports. But UPJ is the group I support and my support for them doesn't prevent me from being happy that other groups are staging actions and having success.

Jim: Okay, CybGhosty e-mailed that he'd just discovered our site and wanted to know what the peace movement needs to do?

Ava: Ask that question. Ask that question on every level from organizers to grass roots. Figure out what actions you think are needed and work for them. CODEPINK's all about that and that's why it's grown in so short a time into such a large group. You really do need to ask that question yourself and explore it yourself because that's how new actions will come about.

C.I.: I agree with Ava and I'd add that the discussion is taking place already. CybGhosty?

Jim: Yeah.

C.I.: CybGhosty should take that question to friends and engage them in this topic. Some of the strongest actions that have taken place on campuses have resulted from exactly that type of conversation.

Jim: You're assuming the writer is a college student?

C.I.: I have no idea. I'm noting that CybGhost should speak to friends and working in the point that students around the country aren't sitting on their asses in a beanbag of apathy. World Can't Wait made that point on Coleman's special and I was glad they did because that's reality. World Can't Wait knows that because they are out there on campuses. I've really had it with the desk jockeys who slam students so I wanted that point made and it was made in the special.

Kat: That's true, it was made. And it's true that on any campus we visit, we find very passionate students. Some are already organizing, some are looking for tools to organize, but we're not finding the non-stop apathy that the corporate press and The Nation magazine finds or pretends to find.

Wally: I will just note that, in Florida, there's a lot of action taking place and a lot of planning going on among students. I'll also note that the biggest joke on my campus is StudentNation.

Mike: Oh yeah! Wally forwarded me an e-mail that was being sent around by StudentNation which was all these hilarious jokes about it. People were adding to it and passing it around. Florida's representing and saying, "Piss off StudentNation thinking you can ignore and mock us and then show up years later and try to steer us."

Wally: That really was the point of that e-mail. I got it around the 25th comment and sent it to Mike that day because I knew he'd enjoy it and then, a few hours later, there were over fifty comments so I forwarded him that one and then finally had to stop because the comments just kept getting added over and over. StudentNation is very unpopular on Florida college campuses.

Ty: And very unpopular with readers who were very vocal in their praise for "The Nation magazine goes in search of America's youth."

Jim: Okay, while I agree with Ava and C.I.'s points, I'm wondering if anyone wants to offer an idea of what they think the peace movement needs to do?

Rebecca: I think they're doing it. Individually or under an umbrella of various groups, I think they're doing it.

Betty: I'd agree and note that they're doing it without mainstream coverage and with very little coverage from the independent press. I know more churches are getting involved. That's a good thing. More people need to be involved. I think we're seeing a lot more support period and a lot more interest.

Dona: But in terms of specifics.

Elaine: More actions. More actions throughout the week. More continued actions. More suggestions at weekend protests for follow ups within your own communities. I would, for instance, think that a list of companies to boycott would be an essential part of the peace movement at this point. It's time to start hitting them in their pocket books and corporations are such a maze of inbreeding that most of the ones profitting from the war have products in our homes that we could stop bringing home.

C.I.: I agree with you completely but, to be honest, my first thought is, GE makes money off the war, GE owns NBC, I'll have to honor a boycott and Ava and I are already limited to broadcast TV and you're about to knock out NBC. How are we going to do our reviews? I'm laughing but I am serious. I would honor a boycott. But, Ava and I do worry about what we're going to be able to fill out the rest of the year with.

Ava: True that. But like C.I., I would honor a call for a boycott. And let me insert an action that C.I.'s noted last week at The Common Ills:

Danny Schechter and have started a new campaign:
It's Time to Make the US Media Accountable!

Are you willing to join and support Mediachannel's "TELL THE TRUTH" campaign? Help us press the press and move the media to tell the truth and report in more balanced manner, the way so many Canadian and European outlets seem to be able to do.
Click here to send an email to U.S. media outlets now!

Ava (Con't): Dallas can grab that from Friday's snapshot. But, if you're looking for something to do, right there is one thing. Non-realistic coverage lulls the nation into a false premise that things aren't as bad as they are.

C.I.: Good point. In addition, this is me speaking for me, there needs to be efforts made to reach out to factions when you're umbrella-ing. War resisters are as important to the movement as are activists and advocates. Having taken brave stands, the peace movement needs to demonstrate their support for those actions by giving them the same amount of space and time at events that they give others. I'm not talking about 'cutting in line,' I am talking about a place at the table which they've earned.

Dona: I believe 'cutting in line' is a reference to a comment I made in another roundtable.

C.I.: Yes, it is.

Dona: Just for the background on that, Darrell Anderson, whom this site has supported and continues to support, in fact, we've thought of doing a regular feature called "Dear Darrell" where we'll recount things in letter form. But Darrell Anderson felt that war resisters and, possibly, those who'd served in Iraq, discharged and were now speaking out against the war, should be at the head of marches and given prominent speaking roles at events. My point was you can't cut in line. I stand by that point but I've also spoken to a number of vets who drop by C.I.'s and I do get better now some realities that I wasn't grasping earlier. The movement shouldn't be turned over to one faction and is too large to be. That's a point we all agree on and agreed on then. But one thing I've realized through conversations that I didn't at the time was how little support they are feeling or finding. I knew the support wasn't there among the independent press like The Nation. I wasn't aware that there were issues in terms of the movement. I know C.I. wasn't putting me on the spot but I'll gladly take the opportunity to note that this is an issue and, like most things to do with the peace movement, it hasn't received coverage. None of us support the notion of hiding behind the military. Nor do we support the talking point that too many are putting out that only those who've been to Iraq can speak. That's idiotic and I'll say that on the record and encourage everyone repeating it to please, DAMN IT, please stop. There will be another illegal war and when it comes up, we don't need for those trying to silence dissent to throw out, "Well only those who serve can speak, isn't that what ___ and ___ was saying during the Iraq war." We don't need to shoot oursevles in the foot. But I was unaware that it has been such a struggle for some people to even get invited to speak at events. That may have been where Darrell Anderson was coming from and if that's the case, my apologies to him because I was in the dark on that. I absolutely support their right to a place at the table, their right to speak at peace gatherings, their right to help lead, "help lead," marches.

C.I.: Like Dona said, I wasn't trying to put her on the spot. And 'cutting in line' set the image quite strongly. But to back up what she's saying, war resisters need to be supported. People who have served and are speaking out against the war need to be supported. But Dona is exactly right that there is a tendancy to hide behind the military and that we will have another illegal war at some point and we do not need to create or add to a situation where the voices of dissent are limited.

Jim: Put in in real terms.

C.I.: In 2009, with a Democrat in the White House, the nation goes into an illegal war with Iran. If the left has pushed the notion that only those who have served can speak out, then, by the guidelines set up, there is no valid speaking out until service members begin returning from Iran because they are the only ones qualified to speak out. Another issue is glorification of the military and we really don't need that. It's one thing to support those who were sent into an illegal war, it's another thing to support a system that's created for oppression and some of the biggest cheerleaders on the left have staked their position around that. It's hurt the peace movement in the short term and it damages it in the long term, when other wars are fought.

Kat: Exactly! We are so damn busy with phony slogans, pushing the idea of this and that that we can't even get on message most days. I am not for wars of choice that exist to subjugate a people and strip them of their natural resources. And you think of someone like Baby Cries A Lot and all the damage he's done to the peace movement and the national discussion. Something as simple as instructing people to say "Thank you for your service." I'm not thanking anyone for an illegal war. I'll thank people, in the service and out, who've spoken out against it. But he and others have blurred the line further and further and it's not surprising when you grasp that his second biggest contribution has been in bringing a tits and ass show into a war zone. "Look at the JAG actress boys, drool over her. This is your reward." That's insulting on so many levels including the objectifying of women but it's downright dangerous when you think of the number of Iraqi and American women who have been raped in Iraq or, for that matter, the various brothels that are all over Baghdad and located outside military bases in Iraq. It's amazing that the mainstream press can't cover that. Or, in the case of the ass wipe in The Nation, Peter Bergen, bragging about visiting a brothel in Afghanistan. Having featured that 'trivia,' The Nation is now a joke if it ever attempts to address sexual slavery. The Nation thinks a visit to a brothel is a colorful bit to brag about. If you want to look to lowered standards, look right there. And excuse me, but Katha Pollitt took Nicholas Kristof to task for his own brothel visits. Will she be weighing in on her opinion of The Nation treating a brothel visit as local color?

C.I.: Kat's right, people have lowered their standards and that's one effect of the administration and its policies as well as the war. It is effecting life in the United States and it is creeping into our society. That pig, that's what he is and that's what he needs to be called, writes badly and thinks he can sneer at women in Afghanistan, who don't have a wealth of job opportunities and a number of whom are forced into prostitution, and it didn't belong in The Nation. A few years back it might have popped up in a "laddie magazine" to titilate the small minded there. When it pops up in The Nation, when they find that a colorful aside, there's a problem. His lousy review was nothing but a slam on women who, in his piggish opinion, weren't capable of seeing the fancy and adventure in Afghanistan. What the hell was that doing in The Nation? The whole thing was sexist, the thing had errors in it, as we already pointed out, and the supposedly liberal Nation magazine, edited and published by a woman, is happy to run with that. Don't say we haven't been debased.

Jim: And Dona's motioning to me about the time so, on that strong note, we'll end this roundtable.
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