Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --

Another Sunday, another new edition.

Thanks to Ava and C.I. especially for this. We'll get to why but we wanted to note that upfront.

Who participated in this edition?

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

And also Dallas as a sounding board and as our link locator.

Last week, we were in Tacoma, showing our support for Ehren Watada. We were all tired. Rebecca even suggested to Kat that she take the weekend off. (Which she could have. We appreciate her help and everyone else's but anyone can take time off when they need it.) We didn't realize how tired we were. We did our longest piece on Saturday followed by a short piece. Then we dismissed everyone (Betty, Rebecca, Elaine, Mike, Cedric and Wally) so they could get some sleep. Since Rebecca discovered she was pregnant, that's been our schedule. While they grab five to six hours of sleep, we focus on other topics we can write on and stay up throughout. Usually us includes Kat because she's generally here with us.

So what happened? Ava and C.I. went off to do their TV commentary. Kat said, "I'm closing my eyes for just a minute." Everyone followed. Ava says C.I. and her words upon finishing their commentary and finding the rest of us asleep went something like, "What the f**k? We're up busting our asses when we even suggested a best of for this week, everyone shoots that idea down and then we end up the only ones awake?"

They started two pieces and typed up the long piece -- every word -- so that Dona and I could edit it when we did wake up. We woke up around four o'clock. We are very rested. (Ava just uttered an unprintable to that.) We are very sorry that they ended up the entire time and we are very grateful that they typed up the two completed features and started two more (as well as that they did a wonderful TV commentary).

Shout out to Isaiah, before we go further, for his latest comic. Check that out.

New content?

Highlights -- done by all. It was too late and too rude to farm this out on others when four of us had a lengthy nap.

MyTV's Fascist House -- Yes, it's back. It's a regular feature -- still surprised by how popular it is. The text is by all. Usually the illustration is only by some (Kat, Dona, Jim, Ty, Jess, Ava, C.I. and myself). However, we started clipping in Tacoma so Cedric, Wally, Mike and Sunny (she runs Elaine's office) were able to help us with the collage.

Update on Gallaudet University -- Update to the story of the longest, continuous student led protest of 2006. You don't want to miss the latest.
Thank you to ___ for permission to use her name but with the university threatening action against protestors who weren't arrested, we're not about to. We appreciate your answering questions for us Saturday and we admire, always, your strength and those of the student body at Gallaudet.

Cracked Up Crackdown -- Bully Boy just offers more of the same, the less it works, the more he offers more of the same.

Women and the military -- this was a topic we were going to cover. This is one Ava and C.I. researched while the rest of us were sleeping, outlined (ditto) and started. We all worked on it but it was so easy after they'd done all that earlier work.

The Nation Stats -- we're posting our new content, we're thinking we're done, we're moving, we're grooving, C.I.'s thinking it will all be over soon (C.I. still had entries at The Common Ills), then it hits us, we never did this short entry. The overall stats are not improving, check it out.

Roundtable -- we're beginning to really, really hate roundtables. We love doing them, we hate writing them up and editing them. Ava and C.I. take notes. (If their hands cramp and they need a moment, they signal to the other but usually they're both taking notes so they can compare and be sure nothing was missed or written down wrong.) Then the rest of us are stuck with typing it up (Kat, Jess, Ty, Dona and myself). Then (or sometimes before the typing), Dona and I edit it down. Because of our long nap, Ava and C.I. ended up typing this up. They could've edited it. (That may have been more work than they wanted.) When we woke up, Dona and I immediately got started on editing this down.

TV: All just a bit of (CBS) history repeating -- as usual, Ava and C.I. hate their commentary and refuse to look at it. C.I. says they almost did because, at one point after they finished typing the roundtable, they considered posting it, this and the two pieces we had worked on and completed (give or take a polish) with a note that "This is it" and then going to bed. They both say that would have happened if the Ehren editorial had been completed already. It wasn't. So they didn't. Read the commentary, it's great.

Editorial: The court-martial is over -- the Ehren editorial. It should be over for him now, no more threats of court-martial again.

And that's it. We thank Rebecca for photoshopping illustrations. We'll see you next week.

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

P.S. Jess caught this last Monday and we meant to correct it. We forgot. Never mind, C.I. and Ava fixed it while we slept. The editorial last week didn't note that it was Isaiah's illustrations. It does now: '[Illustration is "Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts 'Peace Resister'."]'

Editorial: The court-martial is over

Monday, the court-martial of Ehren Watada began. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq did so on the grounds that his research (which he was instructed by higher ups) demonstrated that the war was illegal and immoral and that to participate would make himself and those serving under him at risk of committing of war crimes.

Judge Toilet (Lt. Col. John Head) refused to allow Watada to explain his reasons (aka motive) in the court-martial. He forbid it. The defense was prepared to immediately begin filing appeals at the end of the court-martial because, when your hands are tied behind your back and your mouth has been gagged by the judge, what chance do you have of winning?

Monday was spent selecting the military panel (jury) to serve. Seven officers were selected. This was followed by opening statements. Then, on Tuesday, the prosecution began presenting their arguments. By all reports, they did a miserable job.

Wednesday was to be the defense's day. Ehren Watada and one other witness (Judge Toilet had allowed one witness while denying Michael Ratner, Marjorie Cohn and others) would take the stand and testify. Thursday was to be closing arguments followed by jury deliberation.

Never happened. How come? Judge Toilet declared a mistrial.

(You can read about this with multi-links in C.I.'s snapshots from last week: Monday: "Iraq snapshot"; Tuesday: "Iraq snapshot"; Wednesday: "Iraq snapshot"; Thursday: "Iraq snapshot"; and Friday: "Iraq snapshot.")

Why did Judge Toilet declare a mistrial? Supposedly, because of a stipulation (agreement) the defense and the prosecution entered into before the court-martial began. One both sides stood by. One the jury had been instructed on (by Judge Toilet). One Judge Toilet had seen before the court-martial began and had no objections to.

Now if you believe it was really the stipulation, Bully Boy's got a war on Iran he'd love to sell you.

The reality is the prosecution had done poorly on Tuesday. Their own witnesses had allowed that Watada did not create dissension in the unit, their own witnesses had allowed that others had not rushed to follow his lead, their own witnesses had allowed that an illegal order . . . Go down the list. The prosecution was making a case, just not a case for prosecution.

So, on Wednesday, Judge Toilet began making noises, repeatedly, about a mistrial. Before the defense could present their case. He made noises over and over until the prosecution finally grasped that they were being offered a "do over" at which point they stopped saying they stood by the agreement and were joining the cry for a mistrial.

But the defense didn't join that cry. The defense was opposed and remained opposed.

There was no legal basis for the mistrial. Now you better believe every prosecution team in the country would love to know that if they screw up in the case they're arguing, a judge will call "mistrial" and they'll get a free do over. But that's not the way the law works.

The way it works is that Watada was tried. Judge Toilet knew which way the wind was blowing and insisted on a mistrial, the prosecution finally agreed and it was called -- over the objection of the defense.

That's it. They had their shot. They blew it. Watada should not be tried again. They screwed up and the judge screwed up as well. It's over and that's how it should be. Watada walks.

Now Eugene Fidell often makes sound calls in his role as objective military analyst for the media. He didn't with regards to Watada. If he knew what he was talking about, he didn't attempt to make the pertinent points. What was obvious was that he felt Watada should be court-martialed and he supported that court-martial.

Having left the pose of objective to become an advocate (within the media) for Watada's court-martial, Eugene Fidell is no longer the one to run to on this issue, not as an objective analyst. He demonstrated his vested interest and when the press cites him on Watada, they knew to provide a pro-Watada voice because Fidell has made it quite clear that he is anti-Watada.

This does matter because Fidell's going to be advocating anywhere he can that Watada face another court-martial. He is not objective, he is very much subjective on this issue. He also either doesn't know or can't express the issues at play here. That was most obvious when he sat down with NPR's on air sex therapist, Terry Gross.

Now Terry Gross, in all her ditzy, dominitrix glory, was piling as much tension into her every creaking and cracking voice as she could muster. (It helps when all of your stumbles are left out of the broadcast and listeners think they are listening to something live or something recorded live to tape.) But the Not So Fresh Air Gross was asking Fidell about Watada's stand and Fidell either lied or was completely ignorant.

That does matter and Fidell's been all over the place which may be why some still don't get the point. Could Watada refuse an order he determined to be illegal? Yes, he could. One of the bigger lies floating around the press and echoed online is that the military is trained to follow orders and, therefore, no one can object to an order.

That is a lie.

Now if Terry Gross wasn't so bound and determined to be a Queen Bess (Rebecca's term for Queen Bees), maybe she could have invited a woman on to help her explore the issues? Maybe she could have spoken to retired State Department and retired military Ann Wright (retired Col.). Why Ann Wright?

Well Ann Wright taught exactly the course that so many claiming to be military and so many 'experts' in the press never heard of.

Back in August, Ruth noted this from Ann Wright's August 17th testimony at the Article 32 hearing held to determine whether or not Ehren Watada should be court-martialed"

During my military service I have instructed military personnel in connection with their duties under FM 27-10. I did this as an instructor at the JFK Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg. I taught about the Law of Land Warfare for approximately one year. During that time period I was able to explain to soldiers what the obligations and responsibilities of soldiers in an occupation scenario are.
As a part of our overall military training there is a history of service personnel being told that you do not have to follow an illegal order. It comes from the commissions that we take that we are to uphold the lawful orders of our superiors. Implicit in that is that if there is an illegal order you are under no obligation to follow it.
It is not to[o] often that a soldier will say; "I won't follow out that order, it was illegal." But it is part of our tradition that we call upon people in the military to use their brains to distinguish situations.
You don't want personnel who will carry out illegal orders and say that they were told to do it. You want military personnel who will think about what they are doing.
Yes, active duty personnel can be prosecuted for war crimes that they either commit or direct. There are two levels for that prosecution. The first are based on international laws against war crimes and the second is that the United States has codified the international laws on war crimes. This was done in 1996. This law says that you can be prosecuted for committing war crimes.

There are other myths and lies in the press besides whether or not an officer is trained that they have an obligation to disobey an illegal order. But this may be the biggest myth and lie and if the press is truly interested in the realities of the case, they'd be well advised to speak to someone whose job it was to actually teach the policy.

The prosecution had their shot. They blew it. Judge Toilet blew it by calling a mistrial. Watada walks, no more court-martials. That's how the law works and how this should work.

TV: All just a bit of (CBS) history repeating

Last week, we (Ava and C.I.) reviewed a really bad nit-yawn and noted: "It's one of the two worst sitcoms the big three has shoved off on audiences." What was the other worst? CBS' Rules of Engagement -- a show that's insulting, not funny and has the Water Cooler Set (again) proving that they don't have a clue.

Quick, of the five leads, who is the oldest cast member? Some might offer Patrick Warburton who appears to be playing the oldest character but the reality is it's David Spade. Both were born in 1964 but Spade was born months ahead of Warburton.

Why does that matter? In a broadcast world that has only recently learned that Seth Green couldn't pull in viewers, some lessons are never learned. In Rules of Engagement, there are two couples and Spade. The man who looks like Ellen DeGeneres' ugly sister has been cast as catnip to the women, a ladies' man. More than that, there's a belief that this can be sold to and accepted by viewers.

Now when Spade popped up on the other two networks (NBC's Just Shoot Me, ABC's 8 Simple Rules), there was no attempt to defy reality, and laws of attraction, by passing Spade off as anything other than a loser who, every now and then, when the fates were really kind, might overcome his shortcomings. To most TV audiences, he is forever Dennis Finch (Just Shoot Me) but somehow Rules of Engagement thinks he can pass as some sort of Love God of today.

He can't. He can't even pass for funny. The latter's not all Spade's fault. Whether on Saturday Night Live or any other show, his humor depends on everything moving quickly. He's gotten many a laugh off a really bad line just because he delivered it fast and the proceedings moved so quickly that there wasn't time to absorb the line, just react to the speed of the delivery. Rules of Engagement plays out very s-l-o-w-l-y.

So there's plenty of time to notice how unfunny it is. Warburton, who shot to fame as Puddy on Seinfeld and then went nowhere (despite repeated chances), moves about as fast as Shelly Winters in the last legs of 10k charity race. He is so slow that you keep expecting to see a rescue crew rush out with an oxygen tank and administer to him between line readings. As an actor, he may as well be speaking into his lapel for all the interacting he does with others in the cast. As a viewer, you may make the mistake of assuming he's the lead characters. He's not, nor does he have the most lines, it just feels that way because he delivers them all oh-so-slowly.

In the debut episode, Spade gets off his only laugh getter of the first four shows when, speaking to Oliver Hudson's Adam about Waburton's Jeff, he mocks with, "Mongo like art." It doesn't get nearly as many laughs as it would have on Just Shoot Me if he'd been mocking one of Nina's dates, but, again, Spade's bitchy brand of comedy plays less funny at a standstill.

The whole series plays sad and unfunny but some females in the Water Cooler Set want to prove they're "good sports" (or avoid being identified by their own gender) so they refuse to tell you how ugly the show is. It's pretty ugly and that's to be expected when a mini-star's career hits the skids and he tries to score big bucks by turning to TV. We're referring to Adam Sandler who was briefly a mini-star in the movie world. Those days are over and it didn't take the box office on Spanglish to see that coming. This is the man who was most effective onscreen as Stick Pin Quinn on MTV's Remote Control (he wasn't the host of the game show, nor was he a vee jay -- just to correct the record). On Saturday Night Live, he was sometimes funny but got by mainly on being thin. That not-ready-for-prime-time-because-it's-not-really-humor shtick doesn't play well as the years pile on and the waist line thickens. Those who doubt how much his appearance played into the laughs should try listening to the non-laugh getter that was the alleged comedy CD What's Your Name?

Sandler's comedy 'style' (when not cross-dressing) was largely that of early Beastie Boys: "Girls Weird." At a certain age, it's no longer funny. (Which is why the Beasties retired it long ago.) When you're over forty (and stocky), playing the little boy no longer works. And when you've decided to slice yourself off some of the Serious Acting Pie, but lack Jim Carrey's chops, that drives away your audience even quicker. By the time Sandler showed up with Mr. Deeds, the career was over. (It takes the entertainment industry time to catch on and word to get out.) Deleted scenes (some of which are included on the DVD) seemed to be deleted for the sole reason that Winona Ryder was actually funnier than Sandler. Ryder's a talented actress in a dramatic role. She can also handle light comedy but, when she's stealing scenes in a broad comedy tailored to Sandler, that demonstrates how tired his mugging and shouting is and how little else he has to offer.

Mr. Deeds originally starred Gary Cooper and wasn't about a little boy lost. But that's really all Sandler ever had to offer and now he's carried it over to TV with Rules of Engagement. Women are insulted repeatedly but the sexism frequently hides behind the Good Women Are Smarter motif so some slow members of the Water Cooler Set fail to catch on.

It's the sort of sexism on display in every Adam Sandler film. Women are dumb, women are stupid, women are controlling . . . except you, Drew, or you, Winona, or you, Joey Lauren Adams. There's the token good girl in a land of bitches and shrews and fools. The token in each film was actually more insulting than the landscape of more overt sexist stereotypes because the tokens all come off stupid -- you may fuck a man-child, but you have to be a real idiot to think you can build a life with one.

Rules of Engagement builds a show around three. Oliver Hudson (the only male looker in the cast) may seem the least man-childish but then you get the scenes involving "cake." Someone's encouraged him to deliver "cake" the way Deborah Messing did "leather pants" but there was a point to Messing's "leather pants" and "cake" comes out of nowhere.

Adam, his character, just got engaged (and moved in with) Jennifer (played by Bianca Kajlich) who has, on a wedding registry, signed up for a cake plate. On a sitcom, as opposed to a nityawn, there would have been some attempt to shape a joke out of it. Instead, "cake" gets repeated over and over and it's never funny.

Waterburn goes on forever (and it feels that way) about how he's never had cake his entire marriage. For reasons you have to supply (because no writer does), Adam becomes obsessed with cake and sees it as some loss of self-hood. At one point, he returns from the grocery store with flour, eggs, et al and sets them on a table besides a large bowl and spoon before finally stating that Jennifer should make a cake, for him, to get ready for their married life where she'll be in the kitchen baking cakes and he'll be watching sports and drinking beer. Kajlich bungles a line about whether she'll still have the right to vote in his fantasy and that's because it's hard to play a wet dream and detonate a comedic zinger.

But the scene points to all that little boys, man-children over forty, never grasp. We could go off on a thousand directions but we'll keep it basic. For the icing of the cake he's dreaming of, Adam provides a can of frosting. Where's the cake mix?

There are ingredients to make a cake, there's no cake mix. Proving that someone watched some really tired 50s sitcoms when they were little boys, and that they now want to write about that as opposed to real life, the show wants you to believe that Adam not only believes all cakes are made at home from scratch (most aren't) but also, to pull off that nonsense, has to allow (if not admit) that Adam knows a great deal more about cooking than he lets on -- how else would he know the ingredients needed to make a cake from scratch?

Oliver Hudson has an appealing presence onscreen but this isn't the nityawn that's going to elevate him to stardom. (It actually plays like 'Til Death Do Us Part with Spade added in as the Love God for a twist. Which is like trying to turn Potsie into Fonzie on Happy Days.) Megyn Price, as Audrey, is actually funny and she's the only one. She has the sort of smart delivery that Helen Hunt sported in Mad About You so don't expect her to get much to do onscreen but enjoy it when she manages to carve out a moment.

Audrey's with Jeff, Jennifer's with Adam but the real comparison you're supposed to be making is the two male characters to Spade's single one. If it feels like a really dumbed down Woody Allen joke that you've seen a hundred times before, it's because it is one. But note that not only is it smarter in Allen's work, it's never the premise. It's a toss away bit.

That the 'creative geniuses' of Happy Madison couldn't grasp that is only shocking to those who haven't paid attention to their increasingly desperate output. That it airs on CBS (and that The New Adventures of Old Christine has been benched for this crap) is only surprising to those who haven't noticed how CBS has actively worked to destroy their own hit shows starring women (Cagney & Lacy, Designing Women, Murder She Wrote, Murphy Brown, The Nanny, Cybil, Touched By An Angel, and that's only a partial listing of shows they screwed around with behind the scenes and on the schedule). That friends at CBS insist the show is a hit was the only real surprise for us. It wasn't.

The overnights put CBS in first place. That was largely fueled by Brooke Shields' guest spot on Two and a Half Men. That they never once mentioned Shields' heavily promoted guest spot when they couldn't shut up about the 'season high' for Two and a Half Men goes a long way to explaining how CBS really feels about women. That the approximately three million viewers who chose to go elsewhere in the middle of the hour, when Rules of Engagement began, not only wasn't remarked upon, but didn't scare the hell out of them (it had offended or bored viewers who had never seen it!) goes a long way to explaining why the network Lucille Ball made still has issues with women. It should be noted, as well, that after the show went off, CBS suddenly had approximately three million more viewers (when CSI Miami began airing).

Ratings don't determine the quality of a show. But when Two and a Half Men and CSI Miami both score approximately 18 million viewers and the show sandwiched between them, Rules of Engagement, has approximately three million less viewers on its debut, when most will be willing to give it a chance, a message is being sent by viewers. That message will get louder Monday night and the weeks to follow but, right now, it's all head butts and high fives in the offices of CBS as they talk about moving The New Old Christine to another night come fall of 2007. Now maybe that's just the sort of hype that networks result to when they know have a disaster on their hands but, to quote from a song being used as a jingle these days, it strikes us
"all just a bit of history repeating." Those who've paid attention to CBS treatment of their hit shows with women in the lead will understand why.


Jim: It's time for another media roundtable, by popular demand and by the demand of events themselves. 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, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, and Wally of The Daily Jot. The way this works is that we're discussing various topics, Ava and C.I. take notes, the notes are then typed up by the rest of us. At some point, either after typing or before, we edit this 'rough transcript' to get it down to a workable size. That's the basics. We'll be covering some minor things because readers have asked about them and we'll be covering some big topics as well. The big topics include Ehren Watada, independent print media, race, Barak Obama and more. So let's get started. Ehren Watada's court-martial began last Monday. It concluded on Wednesday when Judge Toilet declared a mistrial over the objections of the defense. We'll note that Norman Solomon and John Nichols wrote about the court-martial, Solomon's piece was on the leadup and the rally Sunday, Nichols' piece was written after Judge Toilet declared a mistrial. We'll also note that some people covered it as they have throughout, since Ehren Watada went public, that includes The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Honolulu Advertiser, Amy Goodman and Democracy Now!, Truthout, the Associated Press, Hal Bernton of The Seattle Times, Mike Barber of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Free Speech Radio News, The KPFA Evening News, Aaron Glantz, etc. MTV began covering it in the lead up.

Dona: I'm going to stop you for a second to single out Glantz. Aaron Glantz, last week and before, reported on the Watada story for KPFA's Evening News and The Morning Show, he reported on it for Free Speech Radio, he reported on it for IPS, he reported on it for OneWorld.
His voice went out on Wednesday and that's probably at least partly due to his work load so let's single him out for special notice.

Jim: Agreed and C.I. just slipped me a note also noting Ben Hamamoto and The Nichi Bei Times. I'm going to toss to C.I. to see if anything else needs to be added.

C.I.: Well it should also be noted that, collectively, the college press covered this story from the start. Eli Sanders has covered it for Time and The Seattle Stranger. KPFA's Flashpoints, Dennis Bernstein and Nora Barrows-Friedman, covered the topic in depth and frequently. Pacific News covered it throughout, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Los Angeles Times covered it throughout -- by "throughout," I'm referring to last week and months ago. The Berkeley Daily Planet deserves notice, The San Francisco Guardian, WBAI's Law and Disorder did some strong work, Jeremy Brecher and Brendan Smith did 'online exclusives' for The Nation -- two about Watada, another one that mentioned his teleconference but wasn't about that or him, and last week a piece on the mistrial. Margaret Prescod (Sojourner Truth, KPFK) Sonali Kolhatkar (Uprising, KPFK) and Laura Flanders (RadioNation with Laura Flanders, Air America Radio) are among the others that deserve credit. Pacifica radio, at all their stations, tackled the stand and what it meant. I would also credit BuzzFlash which made a real point to highlight stories on Watada in the lead up to the court-martial, during the court-martial and after the mistrial. These were stories that they linked to from other outlets but, in their link headlines, they repeatedly noted that they stood with Watada. There's probably a few others that would come to mind, if I'd prepared, but those people and outlets deserve to be singled out. Oh, one more. Randi Rhodes, on The Randi Rhodes Show (Air America Radio), addressed the topic repeatedly, not just last week, and she did so seriously. Others may think they did so seriously, such as Terry Gross with her one-off show, but she's fooling herself, she didn't understand the issues involved and she didn't understand procedure. Rhodes served in the military and, if she had any questions, wouldn't have thought twice about asking Ann Wright. That's important to note because Terry Gross was one of the people providing misinformation because they were too stupid to do the work required of them.

Rebecca: Terry Gross of NPR's Not So Fresh Air.

Jim: And we were going to address the people like Gross later but this may be a good time to address it now. I'm going to toss to Wally.

Wally: One of the sites I do go to online is Democratic Underground. They posted about Watada and it resulted in a string of comments -- the day I checked, it was the most commented on post they had which isn't surprising to anyone except the people who decides what makes it into the print versions of The Nation or The Progressive. There was no problem with the post itself but there were two people posting comments that really tried to control the debate and lied, intentionally or not. They kept saying one stupid thing after another. On the United Nations, it was the charter didn't matter.

Rebecca: Which Marjorie Cohn addressed on Thursday's Flashpoints. The United States agreed to the charter, at which point it becomes a treaty and the Constitution addresses the legal nature of agreed upon treaties. I didn't read the thing Wally's talking about but it is dumb ass "logic."

Wally: And then the dumb asses, who said they had been in the military, started saying that an order was follwed and there was no reason not to follow the order. I need to note that they each posted, both dumb asses, about ten to twenty times a piece.

Elaine: Well, obvioulsy, an illegal order should not be followed and Ann Wright has addressed this, when she was in the military, one of the things she did was teach this.

C.I.: The Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Elaine: Right. Thank you. It sounds like, Wally, they were trotting out their military experience -- real or imagined -- to steer the debate.

Wally: Yeah, that's exactly what they were doing. When something like the UCMJ was brought up, they'd be off on their "Well I served and blah blah blahtty blah."

Elaine: You know what? I drive a car. Doesn't make an expert on engines.

Ty: I'm laughing at Elaine's comment but I agree with it. People can speak about their own experiences and should but just because they claim to have done something doesn't make them an expert on something else. The dumb asses didn't know what they were talking about. Wally was really bothered by that nonsense and he showed it to me. They were two jerks who didn't understand anything they were talking about. If they were in the military, if, who knows what they did? But they didn't know what they were talking about and that goes to how the press failed on this case.

Cedric: Right because they didn't get out front on this and when they covered it, they usually didn't address Nuremberg or the training when you thought you received an illegal order. I mean, Ruth, our Ruth in her Ruth's Reports, did a better job outlining those issues in August, a better job than most of the press ever did.

Betty: Terry Gross didn't even grasp the issues. That was reporting malpractice, her two segments, the interview with Watada and then the follow up with an 'expert.' Was she interested in presenting the issues because it didn't seem like she even bothered. She did try to copy Diane Sawyer's shaming of the Dixie Chicks. She's an overrated hack whose delivery, heavy on the sexuality, isn't aging well. A friend at work kept track of the guests, because C.I. had noted that Terry Gross doesn't have all that much Fresh Air to spare for women, so she kept track of the guests last week. Here they are, in order: Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, and writer Michael Arndt, Jon Mooallem, Elif Shafak, Dr. Michael Stein, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Ken Tucker, Mark Wahlberg, Ed Ward, David Edelstein and Jack Brokensha and Joe Hunter. Now let me note that a lot of that was canned. The Al Gore segment aired in May of last year. Apparently it's really hard, even with guest hosts, to turn out a whole hour of programming a day. Hunter passed away, his interview was from 2002. For those who have trouble with the count, there were eleven voices featured on The Not So Fresh Air last week and only two were women, Faris and Shafak. That's a little over 1/5 of the guests. And I believe C.I.'s point was Gross usually airs a whopping two female guests each week, despite having multiple segments on each hour. I know we're going to deal with representation in a bit but since Gross came up, I'm tossing that out now.

Ava: It does bear noting and we will talk about this more but, especially with NPR having provided opportunities for women, for one of those women, Terry Gross, to give nothing back to women is appalling. She really is all about the boys and her shtick is not aging well. To get us back to Watada, the expert she provided on Watada was Eugene Fidell and I'll echo C.I.'s point that Fidell crossed over from objective analyst on Watada's case some time ago and doesn't need to be offered as the sole voice speaking on the case because there is nothing objective in his 'analysis.' He thought Watada should be court-martialed. This was not a case of him walking people through the issues, this was a case of his personal opinion. If the press is going to provide someone who is an advocate for one side, they need to provide an advocate for the other. Marjorie Cohn and Michael Ratner can both speak to the issues of Watada's case. C.I. and I both laid into a friend who was using Fidell last week and pointed out that we were being told that Cohn and Ratner had a position but Fidell was "just analyzing." No, he's not "just analyzing." He has advocated court-martial since the beginning. He does not need to be presented as an unbiased expert, he clearly has a position and he has expressed it.

Jess: And that point needs to be made loudly because Fidell keeps popping up in articles and broadcasts because he is seen as "objective." He has not been objective about Watada. I'll speak only to the issue of Watada, but he's not been "objective" on that. The mainstream needs to face reality and stop running to him for Watada commentary unless they're willing to provide commentary from someone who supports Watada. And Cohn and Ratner were said to not be "objective." If Fidell's getting in with the lie that he's "objective," that lie needs to be exposed and people need to start demanding that Cohn, Ratner or Ann Wright be brought on or quoted. Especially Ann Wright because she taught what Watada's basing his stand on.

Mike: I support all three, and more, being brought into the conversation. One of the things Jim and I discussed last week was The New York Times and I'm going to touch on their handling of Watada. Tom Zeller Jr. posted, the Friday before the court-martial began, right?, that Watada was a deserter. He is not a deserter and The New York Times refused to correct that.

Ty: Not only that but they censored people. We've got 27 e-mails on that.

Mike: Right. Zeller got it wrong. And if you tried to correct it in a comment, this is at the paper's hilarious attempt at a blog, if you tried to correct it, they wouldn't post your comment. They pre-screen all comments.

Ty: And that includes something as simple as "Watada is not a deserter. Please correct." That is something their net nannies refused to allow on their blog.

Mike: Why are they taking comments when they won't post when they're called on their 'facts.'

C.I.: Just to back up, because some others have used that, though at least one right winger admitted months ago that 'technically' Watada wasn't a deserter. A deserter, by the legal definition, is someone who leaves. Thirty days is not the rule but it's generally used as the measure stick between AWOL and desertion. Watada didn't leave the military. He refused deployment, as he had told the military he would for months prior, but he didn't leave the military. He continued to show up on base and do his assigned duties while the military figured out their next move. He did not 'desert' and he was not charged with 'desertion.' I haven't read the e-mails Ty's talking about, that came to this site, but I do know that a lot of people have e-mailed The Common Ills about this, about how the corrections department was notified and they refused to address it, how higher ups through the chain were notified and they refused to address it. And I have no idea of how many complaints there were about comments not making it to the paper's blog but there were a ton of them.

Mike: So why allow comments? What is the point of the paper creating online stories and wanting comments? You can praise the article and get posted but if you point out a real flaw in it, The New York Times isn't going to allow it to go up. It's nothing but a damn echo chamber. I'm really furious about that because the impression they give is that this a free flowing conversation and only 'abusive' comments are not allowed. Someone writing: "Zeller is incorrect, Watada is not a deserter" is not abusive. They are playing it like they only censor bad language but they are censoring reality. I find that very offensive. I think they're liars for acting like they have a free exchange except for language when they don't. There is no free exchange when a writer can't be called on getting the facts wrong. C.I.?

C.I.: Um, not sure what you want, Mike?

Mike: I just don't think it should ever be linked to again.

C.I.: Okay, well we're not going to at The Common Ills. We will never link to it again. We've linked to it a few times, Zeller was the last time. One time, we linked as a favor to a friend at the paper. But what Mike's pointing out is very serious and, had I know that their comments were censored for something other than language, I never would have linked. But, no, Mike, we won't link to that crap again. I think Jonah made the point best in his e-mail last week where he pointed out that Time magazine allows comments on their blogs that not only point out flaws but also offer a wide range of opinions, pro and con, about their writers. The New York Times is lying to their online readership when they imply that comments are only censored for language. When simply pointing out a factual error leads the, what Ty called, the net nannies to censor the remark, that's nothing to be proud of. If you want comments, you allow people to comment. If you're censoring criticism than you're not about a free exchange of ideas. That's embarrassing that a newspaper would do that. A newspaper is supposed to support free speech and a reader correcting them on a mistake is not abuse.

Mike: Okay, thanks for that. I don't link to that but it has been in the snapshot before and if it was still going to be linked to in those I was going to go on record saying I will pull that out of the snapshot before posting the snapshot.

Dona: The Iraq snapshot, which C.I. does Monday through Friday, and is posted at all community sites because, as Keesha pointed out, if you've put it in your post, even if you don't cover Iraq yourself, it's in there.

Jim: And to clarify on why we don't post the snapshot here currently, when we switched to Beta, we lost the ability to e-mail posts to the site. So back to Mike who had another point on The New York Times.

Mike: Keesha will love me for this, as is noted in Thursday's "Iraq snapshot," William Yardley's piece on the mistrial was bad, really bad. It's like those recaps of soap operas my sister always reads to find out what she missed on her favorite shows while she was in school. The declaration of a mistrial raised serious issues and Yardley didn't have time for any of that. And, just to back up, we can all delete anything from the snapshot when we repost. C.I. always says that. I don't like to and have only done it once because I'm not as fair as C.I., or as forgiving.

Kat: Well, on mainstream coverage, I want to point out how they bungled the coverage of Judge Toilet raising the issue of mistrial. They've bungled what it means, with few exceptions -- The Honolulu Star-Bulletin comes to mind as an exception, but they started bungling it as soon as the mistrial was called. Now, they act like it's not even interesting but, my belief, they don't want people to know this story. They're comfortable saying that a mistrial was called but offering more than that isn't something they're going to do.

Rebecca: Because, God forbid, anyone grasp what just happened. God forbid others follow Watada's lead and stop fighting the war that the press has sold from day one. Trina's "Chicken Cacciatore in the Kitchen" addresses this and makes a point Trina and Wally's mom had which is "do over," used by C.I. before Judge Toilet announced the mistrial, back when he was just floating it, is the phrase the people can most easily grasp. Double-jeopardy is important but with so few outlets covering the meaning of the mistrial, "do over" is easily grasped. The prosecution took their shot, missed the basket and so Judge Toilet gave them a do over. Everyone can grasp that's not fair.

Kat: I would agree with that because it's very basic. People who can't follow the double-jeopardy discussion, or start trying to think, "Wait, what happened in that Ashley Judd movie?", will be able to grasp what a do over is. By the way, I think Marjorie Cohn explained that very well on Flashpoints Thursday, we just got to hear that Saturday, those of us who were in Tacoma, but she explained it very clearly. But there are not a large number of outlets addressing it in depth. If you missed it and can't listen online, you can check out Rebecca's 'ehren in the clear?' which covers that interview. But if anyone's reading this an having trouble grasping double jeopardy, think do over. The prosectution was losing. They did a lousy job with their witnesses and they had rested on Tuesday. Along comes Wednesday and suddenly Judge Toilet is floating a do over.

Cedric: And just to give the basics here, Watada's side didn't want to stop the trial. They objected. The defense wanted to go forward and was prepared to present their case. Judge Toilet wouldn't allow that. He ruled a mistrial over the defense's objection. This is where being tried for the same charge twice comes in. A mistrial wasn't called on account of the jury. There was no reason to stop the case.

Ty: He said it was due to the stipulation that the prosecution and the defense had agreed to. He had seen it, Judge Toilet, and never had any problem with it until Wednesday. At the point, the prosecution was still willing to go forward, even with Toilet floating mistrial over and over. They picked up on the hint and finally said, "Yeah, mistrial!" That's not how it works.

Jim: It's like the Lakers getting to half-time and deciding that since they're losing, the game needs to be called off and rescheduled. People in the stands would be screaming their heads off, on both sides of the arena, and people should be screaming their heads off over this. Just to wrap this up, I'll add that Marjorie Cohn was one of the people the defense wanted to call and not a lot was made of that or others that Judge Toilet denied, in the mainstream reporting, and I think that also goes into how the coverage was lacking. Not only will they hide behind the non-objective Fidell and deny equal time to those on the other side since the mistrial, they weren't really interested in providing those voices before the mistrial.

Dona: And we're not done with the topic of Watada yet, we're just done with mainstream media. Now we're going to zero in on independent media. Elaine?

Elaine: Well I just think it's appalling that a historic court-martial is something The Nation doesn't see fit to include in their print editions. When you include passed on copies, copies flipped through but not purchased at bookstores, copies in college, school and public libraries, the potential reach of the print edition is tremendous and it's a real shame that The Nation seems to think calling Ehren Watada a coward and then offering a sidebar on him, in a January issue, is somehow providing coverage. It's also a real shame that David Cole, their supposed expert, couldn't weigh in on this. I say supposed because I got phone calls on this, including from C.I.'s constitutional law professor, on what is considered an extremely stupid article by David Cole where he takes Bully Boy at face value that the illegal wiretapping program has ended. As C.I.'s con law professor --

C.I.: Whom I didn't sleep with, but Elaine dated.

Elaine: Yes, let's point that out. That's why he called me. I didn't take law classes, I was already in grad school and met him at a protest, he was never my professor, just to be clear that I wasn't one of the many foolish girls, and I use "girl" intentionally, who went around sleeping with their professors or, worse, married their professors. But as C.I.'s con law professor pointed out, Bully Boy lied about the program for years. He didn't own up to it until The New York Times exposed it, finally exposed it, and he was lying about it to the public while it was going on. So for David Cole to write that idiotic nonsense about how the Democrats control of Congress resulted in Bully Boy ending the program was just really, quote, "Out there and reaching." The easiest explanation is that Bully Boy announced it was being discontinued to avoid investigation but since the program was always conducted in secret with denials of its very existance, for anyone to make the leap of faith that the program is over just because Bully Boy says it is reveals, quote, "Gross ignorance of the history of the program and the history of disassembling on the part of this administration." While he was on the phone, I asked if he had read the weak-ass 'defense' of Lynne Stewart that Cole also provided in The Nation some time ago and he agreed that was embarrassing as well. His words there were, quote, "If you're not going to stand up, then shut up." I asked him, by the way, if I could quote him and told him I'd work it in somehow at my site or here. When Mike phoned me from Tacoma last week and told me there was a strong possibility that we'd be doing a roundtable, I immediately called the professor and asked, "Can I use your quotes in that?" He said, please do. He thinks its embarrassing, and he's only recently retired from teaching constitutional law after a lifetime of teaching it, that The Nation's legal correspondent comes off like CNN's. And I would strongly agree with that and every other comment he made.

Rebecca: Though I know that wasn't aimed at me, for the record, I did sleep with professors. I wasn't in need of a Daddy figure, so I never married one.

Elaine: That is true and you were hit in the cross-fire. It wasn't aimed at you. The 'girls' in need of Daddy figures was my target. My apologies to all readers who have slept with their professors.

Jim: So Mike, do you ever worry when Elaine's talking to old lovers?

Mike: When you're packing what I'm packing, you never worry 'bout nothing.

Rebecca: I knew there would be a cock joke. I wasn't sure where, but I told Elaine, who is groaning loudly, that Mike would do a cock joke this week. And I'm willing to bet that was floated ahead of time between Mike and Jim.

Jim: Actually, you're right, I did tell Mike I might bring it up somehow because we keep getting e-mails on it. We've dealt with it, at the request of readers. So Elaine's point is that Cole's writing very timidly?

Elaine: Yes. And that gets to a larger point that Mike and C.I. were discussing this week in Tacoma.

Mike: Right. People are really just bored with a lot of the print independent media.

Ava: In too many instances, they've failed to adapt. I'm not even talking about the changing landscape of print publishing, I'm talking about they've failed to adapt period. I came in on the end of that conversation, Mike wasn't sleepy and he and C.I. were up Tuesday, I think, talking really late. I joined the conversation in progress but I think Mike needs to make the point about the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Mike: Thanks because I forgot that and it's really getting at the heart of it and building on Elaine's comments. Michael Ratner's not going to try to play appeasement and that's how Cole's columns sound to me. He's a strong voice and he is a sign of the failure of print independent media. I had read The Nation every issue since about 2003 and probably glanced at it before that because it used to be a magazine we kept in the house. When I was out in California last May, I was going through issues of it and there was an ad from the Center for Constitutional Rights on the back cover. I've posted that ad to my site. But why didn't I know the Center then? I remember that 2004 issue when it came out. I remember looking at it. I had no idea who the Center was. Now why didn't I know? That goes to the problem.

C.I.: We were discussing both The Nation and The Progressive. On the latter, I was noting that Ruth Conniff, when she's not tickled by Joe Klein, can actually write a very strong book review. And I was sharing my opinion, this is just me, that she's spent too much Beltway time and it's effecting her writing in a negative manner. If she's going to cover DC, my suggestion would have been have her cover CREW, have her cover watchdog groups. What is the point of independent media if they're citing the same groups that are being cited in the mainstream. Do a story on Institute for Policy Studies, the Center for Media and Democracy, the National Lawyers Guild. And Ms. magazine has a story on CREW in their current issue -- "The Most Feared Woman on Capitol Hill?"-- just to toss that out there. But I don't know that there's a place for a DC beat covering Congress as a monthly magazine. I'm not impressed at all with Conniff's coverage of it but, my opinion, it's been very sad to see someone who could do more offering these puff pieces on Congress that, even if written amazingly well, are dead by the time they show up in print. Dead due to the time lag, dead due to the fact that everyone has already covered them. And that's when Mike brought up the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Mike: Right, I was talking about how The Nation could be doing something more than their fawning coverage of Democrats. I don't think they want to do more but they could make a real contribution. Why am I learning about the Center from an ad on the back of the magazine? And they have had 'online exclusives' by Michael Ratner but, my point, I should have known about the organization from the magazine. And Ava and C.I. were pointing out that, with Democracy Now!, you do get these organizations. But the magazine? It just seems to want to be a weekly version of The New York Times.

Betty: It's got a bad case of Times' envy.

Mike: Exactly.

Ava: What are they accomplishing? What are they trying to accomplish? Both The Progressive and The Nation should be utilizing and covering something other than Brookings. In fact, the Brookings Institute really shouldn't be the citation the magazine goes for in their coverage. You want to give the left some power? Start giving it power and power doesn't come from elections, power comes from awareness and from making connections. In fact, this community is built on that. I don't think spitting out what you read a day ago, or more, in The Washington Post or The New York Times cuts it.

Rebecca: I know exactly who Ava means with that last sentence but I'll mind my manners.

Ava: You can jump in, Rebecca, I won't be offended, believe me. But, and obviously I mean The Nation, it's so useless. Yes, John Nichols wrote about Ehren and I appreciate it and I congratulate him on it, but what was that garbage others were offering last week? Vote! Vote! Good God, can you imagine how awful the magazine will be in 2008? We made that joke, in The Elector, about how the gearing up for the 2008 coverage would start in a matter of weeks, but damned if they didn't play bad rag imitates humor. How many times is that one going to be churned out? Is there a place for it? Yes, there is but there's an issue of covering what is breaking and what is happening and they don't even bother, with a few exceptions who have been noted. The magazine would do more for the left if it would stop the non-stop, "Meet the candidate!" and "Meet the elected official!" and offer some actual exposure to groups and organizations that are working for change. Obviously, that should include the peace movement, but if they're too damn scared of the peace movement, they can cover legal groups for the left, press groups for the left, a host of other things.

Jim: C.I.?

C.I.: Hmm. You know what, it's stuck in, this is point Ava, Mike and I all agreed on, remedial mode. E-mails are coming in to The Common Ills about that, they don't use the term, but that's the point. We've read it all before. Another reason they're losing subscribers. People want a little more bravery than they got in 2003 and 2004. The American people have come alive, the coverage in The Nation hasn't. It's remedial in the sense that it's the same topic, the same approach and the magazine is standing still. There are exceptions, and we've noted them, but those exceptions were in place years ago. Mike and I were reading ISR, International Socialist Review, in Tacoma and Anthony Arnove, Sharon Smith and others had really hard hitting pieces. They're now offering online content more. I was going to quote from Arnove's story and use the page numbers but Mike looked and it was actually online. If you've read The Nation for a few years, you may be among the ones asking why you need to read it for more than a year?

Jim: And remedial is a good point. Reading it is like we're getting stuck in the same course semester after semester. Does anyone grow up? Does anyone mature? The Elector nonsense is really crap.

Dona: And I'll note, Elaine can jump in on this because this was her "beat," when you're pimping your beliefs to the point that you're lying to readers, that's just embarrassing.

Elaine: Dona's referring to Liza Featherstone's 'online exclusive' where she gave credit for the work the peace movement did to the mainstream media. The space to address Iraq seriously did not come from the mainstream media and the mainstream media, despite Featherstone's laughable claims, is not crawling with voices objecting to the war. You've got voices objecting to strategy, you don't have this plethora of voices objecting to the war itself.

Kat: That really was insulting, as insulting as Featherbrain's earlier slam on the peace movement. That whole piece of nonsense was about trying to mislead and steer and I don't buy bullshit artists lying to me. The peace movement created the space for the conversation, the people created that space. The mainstream media didn't and Featherbrain needs to figure out some other way to derail the peace movement than by lying about it. Elaine captured Featherbrain's nonsense, and debunked and refuted it, in "Tell your local newspaper: Draft Amy Goodman!"

Elaine: Well thank you for that but I think Sharon Smith tackled it better at CounterPunch with "Why Protest Matters." At its most basic, The Nation continues to tell readers they have no power. That was what was so perfectly captured in both The Elector and "2006: The Year of Living Dumbly," and I think that people are getting tired of that message. I think they expect more from independent media than Democratic Party organ. And Jess had a good point there that Mike mentioned on the phone to me last week.

Jess: Well, I just wondered is this some guilt issue? Do they feel they didn't do enough to get Al Gore elected and so they're attempting now to make sure it never happens again? It's amazing, and my parents point this out as well, how Greens and other third parties have just vanished from the magazine. They're also disgusted by the emphasis on a party over the people. It's not just one segment that's grown disgusted with the magazine, we hear it from students when we're speaking on campuses, but it's not just students. And I don't know what the point is in a magazine that would rather cover elected officials than people. It's elitist and it's insulting. Now I'm not a Democrat, I'm a Green, but I can't imagine needing some sort of gossip rag on any party. Who has the power to make change? The people do. And that's not going to happen by just showing up to vote or, in Featherbrain's case, lobbying Congress. Congress doesn't run this country, the people do. The people need to take it back and own their control. Anyone telling you otherwise is just a bullshit artist and there are a lot of those getting into print at The Nation. To be clear, David Corn covers DC, we don't have a problem with him, Alexander Cockburn we consider to be part of CounterPunch, we're not referring to him. And I'll note those two, they aren't the only ones, but I don't feel like noting anyone else. I'm tired of a useless magazine.

Ava: Whose message is: Worship our leaders -- the ones we designate as worthy -- and fall in line behind them, all elected. There actually may be less diversity in their designates than there is their bylines. But it's a dumbed down magazine. Naomi Klein is sorely missed and if I read one more dumbed down article or one more article in need of corrections, I'm just going to scream. You make a mistake online, that's fine. Print magazines are supposed to contain articles that have been fact checked, there is no indication that anyone fact checks at The Nation.

Kat: Well let's note that The Nation is aware that Christopher Hayes's 'quote' of John Kerry was wrong and they've refused to correct it. Let's note that when they get it wrong a blogger, when Christopher Hayes gets it wrong, the crew at The Nation rush a correction into print. That's in the most recent issue that we'll be noting in stats this edition. It's amazing how someone who has such an estranged relationship with facts can be printed issue after issue with so many errors and the only thing more amazing is what they will go to the trouble of running a correction on. Ava?

Ava: Well let's be clear here, Kerry didn't make that comment in the acceptance speech at the Democratic Party Convention in 2004. The magazine knows that, the magazine refuses to correct it. That's not journalistic principles. If I could make it through Hayes' bad writing, I'd recommend that we run a fact check on every article he writes, something C.I. noted months ago was needed, but who wants to torture themselves. And to leave Hayes for a moment, as my father pointed out, when you make as many mistakes as Hayes does, it also goes to the outlet itself and, at this point, The Nation is as guilty as Hayes because the thing they should have long ago done was fact check his pieces. The thing Kat's referring to is yet again another quote. That could be fact checked quickly, as could the Kerry quote. The fact that they aren't goes to the lack of leadership at the magazine and the lack of accountability. But when you're all about worshipping Congress, you don't have a lot of time for anything else.

Rebecca: The current version of The Nation reads like Rona Barrett's D.C.! -- that's how bad it is.

Betty: I just don't know how you pretend to be left and have so little to say on the war, so little to offer on the peace movement and so little to offer on war resisters. Look, I'm a grown woman, I've got three kids, I don't have time for fan clubs and fanzines. I'm living in the adult world. I question what world the likes of Featherbrain are living in?

Cedric: An apparently all White world with only token women.

Kat: Are we going to talk about the special Sandra Lupien did on KPFA?

Jim: Yeah, we can go there next and we've got Obama on the list too. Now Rebecca heard the special, she had it on KPFA or one of the others --

Rebecca: KPFB and Fresno's KFCF are easier to listen to online for me. But I may have been on KPFA. And Cedric, Wally, Elaine, Mike and Flyboy were all listening as well.

Jim: And we heard it Saturday morning because Kat's friend Maggie had recorded it.

Kat: I record The Morning Show for Betty and Guns and Butter as well. Since I was in Tacoma, I'd passed those duties onto Maggie and was honestly surprised they got done. Not only that, good for Maggie, she recorded other programs as well. Friday night, she was telling me I had to listen to something and I was responding, "No, I have to get to bed. I'll call you tomorrow."

Betty: Everybody's heard it except for me. I've heard of it and Kat's sending me the tape.

Dona: I'll jump in with the set up and also note that we haven't heard from Ty that much. Sandra Lupien, co-anchor of The KPFA Evening News, hosted a special presentation entitled "Women's Voices from the National Conference on Media Reform."

Ty: And it was addressing a number of issues, Helen Thomas addressed war and it was noted that women's voices are largely left out of the debate on war. And Rosa Clemente of WBAI also spoke. She was addressing how women and people of color are left out of the discussion. She wasn't talking about big media. She made that point really clear when she noted she could turn on Fox "News" and see women and people of color. She said they didn't speak for her but wondered why it was easier to see them on Fox "News" than in independent media.

Cedric: I'm going to tackle the Bill Moyers' speech because I've heard it for weeks now and she mentioned it. She didn't note what bothered me about it. Now I don't dislike Bill Moyers but I don't need to hear him saying "Yes, massa" -- that bothered me the first time I heard it and has ever since.

Ava: Which I think comes from his race and his age and it does grate, Cedric, I agree with you.

Betty: It's amazing to me because it wasn't that long ago that Hillary Clinton was being attacked for using the plantation metaphor. Now I had no problem with her use of it and thought it was appropriate for the group she was addressing. But Bill Moyers' speech was entitled "Life on the Plantation" and that did bother me. The title and the point Cedric's making, it bothered me. It didn't go down easy for me when I heard it. I only heard it once, I think, when Democracy Now! broadcast it. But my attitude was, you're over 60, you're White, you haven't done that much for African-Americans as a group, why are you using the plantation metaphor? That really bothered me and the section Cedric's talking about did too. Does anyone know that section?

C.I.: "And this is what the plantation owners fear most of all. Over all those decades here in the South when they used human beings as chattel and quoted scripture to justify it (property rights over human rights was God's way), they secretly lived in fear that one day instead of saying, 'Yes, Massa,' those gaunt, weary, sweat-soaked field hands bending low over the cotton under the burning sun would suddenly stand up straight, look around at their stooped and sweltering kin, and announce: 'This can't be the product of intelligent design. The bossman's been lying to me. Something is wrong with this system'."

Cedric: I'm sure that was meant in some affirming way but it was insulting to me. "One day"? Slaves were rebelling all the time, they were uprising. And that "stand up straight" comment really just burns me even now.

Ty: I had the same reaction. For the record, for anyone stumbling by, Cedric, Betty and I are African-American. That speech really didn't include me. It used my ancestors as props, but it didn't include me or welcome me and that "stand up straight," coming from a White man especially, was not something that made me want to cheer. I think that speech was over rated and over played. And I was insulted by it. I know Bill Moyers is supposed to be the great media hero but that speech was lame to me. I wasn't offended when I heard it on Democracy Now! but I thought then, and thought as it was played over and over, that if they wanted a name, they should be playing Jane Fonda who actually had something to say. What is that nonsense from Bill Moyers, MLK, garbarge strike. "Now I'm going to talk plantations." And of course he had to come around the issue of media consolodiation, I'm guessing most people don't know his history of being ping-pong from CBS to PBS. I'll shut up now but I was offended the first time I heard that and ended up hearing the whole back story on our "hero." But if it's not clear, let me state that this African-American doesn't need to hear some elderly White man saying "Yes massa" in a sourthern drawl. There's his race, his age, and his place of origin that combine with the lack of coverage of African-American issues on his final year of NOW, the only year I watched, that really turned me off to that speech. I also think it's ironic that someone serving in the Johnson administration now tries to fix the funding of public television issue that administration created as a means of controlling public broadcasting.

Elaine: There were a lot of good speeches, there were two bad speeches -- one that was cut short and one that was apparently Gidget Goes to, Like, Media Reform -- but the one by Rosa Clemente is what stood out to us when we were listening at Rebecca's.

C.I.: You know what bothered me about her speech? That she had to give it. In 2007, she has to make these points. These points should be self-evident and people should be addressing them. She spoke very passionately, her voice was shaking at points, and that she seemed nervous about the topic goes to the problems with small media. She wasn't pointing out anything that didn't exist. But it took courage for her to address what we're all supposed to ignore. That was a powerful speech and it, not Moyers' speech, is the one that needed amplifying. It needs to be heard and she needs to be congratulated for talking about a very real problem that everyone wants to pretend doesn't exist. She co-hosts Where We Live Now which airs on Thursdays, WBAI, from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

Ty: One of the points she made was about Moyers' use of "founding fathers" and how they aren't her founding fathers. I agreed with that completely and I think that is part of my problem, as a Black man, with his speech. He wants to speak to a White audience and then he wants credit for mentioning MLK and thinks he's done something so amazing that he can give his impression of a Black slave saying, "Yes, massah." And I am glad C.I. pointed out that her voice was shaking at points because, for me, that made the speech all the more powerful. This was a speech filled with points that no one is supposed to make, but those are realities. And it's past time that they were dealt with. We're dealing with the gender issue here at The Nation in our "Nation Stats" pieces and there was an e-mail asking why we weren't dealing with race? We actually considered addressing race. We decided not to because these things are done at the last minute, a short feature, and though the race of writers who are part of The Nation is known, freelancers that get reviews farmed out to them would require phone calls to find out. And then Ava raised the issue, rightly, that there is what others may identify you as and what you self-identify as. Especially in terms of someone like Ava, you want it from the source.

Ava: Ty's referring to a point I've made before. I'm not Mexican-American. People see my skin color and assume that's what I am. I don't mind being lumped into Latina or Hispanic, but my family does not have any roots any Mexico and, yet, people will sometimes say, "This is Ava, she's Mexican-American." My mouth will drop and I'll have to explain what country my roots can be traced back to. I have nothing against Mexico but I don't think Betty would want to be called French-American when she has no known roots to France. So the point was, it's not enough to track it down from someone else. There's a Black woman we all know, who doesn't mind that term, but she self-identifies as Scottish-African. Not as African-American. But there are people who identify her as "African-American" even though that's incorrect. So I was the one nixing that. Let's use Rosa Clemente, we could call around and might hear, "She's African-America" or "She's Black." I believe she self-describes as "Black Puerto Rican." As someone who does get insulted when I'm misrepresented, I didn't want to risk misrepresenting someone. So I was very opposed to the race and ethnicity issue. I assume that most people grasp the bulk of the those who write for and that The Nation publishes are White.

Betty: And Ava didn't decide that unilaterally. She tossed it out there. I'm not going to be offended if someone uses African-American to describe me even though I just say Black. But there are people who would be and there are people who would be offended with it the other way around. Gender is a little more fixed, I didn't say "fixed," than race and ethnicity and tracking gender just seemed an easier way to go. As for Ava's point about assuming most people grasp the bulk of the people writing, and I'd say involved in, that magazine are White, I think that point was made loud and clear when Coretta Scott King's death didn't even prompt a column. So we were all in agreement that gender was more fixed, again not necessarily "fixed," and we decided to focus on that. We're also aware that not everyone who is gay or lesbian is out of the closet, or people who are bi, so we also avoided sexual orientation. Again, I don't mind the term "African-American." I just use Black. I prefer that. Others feel differently and others feel the same and we should all be able to self-define.

Ty: We actually toyed with using "Person of Color" as a statistic but then there was the issue of race versus ethnicity and how Hispanic can be classified as European/Caucasian. And it just seemed better to leave it out.

Jess: And the classification system itself is rooted in racism. The categories used now are basically Asian, Black, European, etc. If you were Spain, you were part of the 'first world' and you were lumped into European. Right or wrong. But the classification system leaves out indigenous people and many others. It just seemed to be more trouble than it was worth, especially if we made a call and had to go back and correct it weeks later when we learned we'd insulted someone by accident. Rosa also made the point how people were getting shoved into "of color" presentations. That's where they got shoved in. Why was that? It's a good question and one that should be addressed before the next reform conference. Reform the media reform conference.

Betty: I can't wait to get the cassette from Kat. But let me note what I've heard of it, that women were largely reduced to panel discussions and not speeches. Online, I read one critique, right after the reform conference wrapped up, about how Jane Fonda wasn't really someone who should be there. Wake up, Jane Fonda gets you attention. For that reason alone, she should be there. She's also one of the people behind GreenStone Media which puts her in a position to address media reform and that's before we even get into her years of producing films with Fonda Films.

C.I.: IPC originally.

Betty: Thank you. So the point is, Fonda gets you attention and she wasn't "just an actress." It's also true that of the speeches, her speech was my favorite. I didn't hear them, I only heard Bill Moyers' speech -- which is a point that probably goes to Rosa's speech. But Fonda was talking about Abeer, she wasn't trying to give some "When this country was founded and there were slaves and we're back on the plantation and I'm so wonderful for an old White man" speech. I'm surprised Cedric hasn't mentioned Tim Wise.

Cedric: I was about to but I wasn't sure how much time we had left?

Dona: We just have one more topic left and I'm not calling time on this topic.

Cedric: Okay. Tim Wise. He is someone who addresses race. And, if you don't know the name, you may be surprised to learn that he is White. If he had spoken of plantations or offered a "Yes, massah," it wouldn't have bothered me. Would it have bothered you, Ty, or Betty?

Betty: Not at all.

Ty: Agreed.

Cedric: That's because he addresses race. We wouldn't be scratching our heads going, "Why is that elderly, White man from Marshall, Texas suddenly wanting to toss out 'Yes, massah'?" I don't think Moyers' speech could have been more awkward if he'd attempted to rap it.

Betty: I have to note that I am laughing hard at that.

Cedric: And if it seems like I'm downing him, I don't have a negative or positive opinion of him. He's just another well paid TV personality to me. I think, as Ty pointed out, it's interesting that someone who could move from media to government and back is now being hailed as hero. I do question that. I don't think real reporters do that. But I don't dislike the man. Ty's upfront that he does.

Ty: And I really do dislike him.

Cedric: But with no real opinion of him, or no strong one, I was seriously offended by that speech. And that joke took forever and wasn't even a reflective one. It didn't reflect media reform and it didn't reflect Baptists because there are a number of other divisions including Missionary Baptist. But I guess a gatekeeper got to decide who'd be included in the joke when it was first roughed out as well. Did I go on too long?

Dona: No, but I think Ava's going to lose out in the discussion because, editing in my head, The Nation stuff is the most easily trimmed. Mike, Wally, Jim and others weighed in there too but I know Ava had several great sections where she was talking. So I would encourage her to speak during the final topic.

Ava: That's fine with me. This section was very lively and that it may raise interest in Rosa Clemente's speech is actually more important to me than the dopey mag.

Jim: Okay, if there's nothing else on this topic . . . No? Okay, the last topic is Obama and community member Carl actually e-mailed C.I. asking that Betty please weigh in on this. Set up, Baraka Obama was elected to the US Senate in the 2004 election. He is running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. Betty has offered serious critiques in roundtables here on the topic and they have been very popular with readers.

Dona: And Carl was highlighting Kevin Alexander Gray's "A Valley of Buzzwords: Obama's Soulless Book" which can be found online at Black Agenda Report and in the print in The Progressive.

Cedric: I was glad Carl highlighted that. I hadn't read it until it went up and I think it's a serious examination of the things Obama lacks. He's very good at pleasing words catered for a White audience but, to this African-American, he comes off like another Juan Williams blaming
African-Americans for systematic problems.

Ty: Which goes to the issue of where he came up from which was the White press and not the African-American community as Betty has pointed out.

Betty: I actually feel pressure and I don't usually. I usually just let it rip. So, Carl, you've put pressure on me. But what I said in December is still true, he's being used as a club on Blacks. He is the White press idea of what a Black person should be which is half-White and not too Black. Joe Biden's idiotic comments only underscored that. For those who aren't familiar, this was how Biden described him, this is from CNN, '"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,' Biden said. 'I mean, that's a storybook, man'." First off, the "man," it reminds me of someone coming into my home, White, and taking off their shoes and lying on the carpet to keep it real. And this is a longer version of the events, from Democracy Now!:

Biden: Obama First "Mainstream", "Clean" Black Candidate
In election news, Senator Joseph Biden entered the presidential race Wednesday with an announcement he’ll seek the Democratic nomination in '08. But Biden drew more attention for comments he made about fellow Senator and presidential contender Barack Obama.
Sen. Joseph Biden: "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."

Biden was speaking to a reporter from the New York Observer. Obama says he doesn't take Biden’s comments personally, but called them "historically inaccurate." He said: "African-American presidential candidates like Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton gave a voice to many important issues through their campaigns, and no one would call them inarticulate," he said. Meanwhile, Jackson and Sharpton rejected Biden's insistence they would know what he meant. In an interview with the New York Times, Jackson pointed out he lasted longer and received more votes than Biden when both ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988. This isn't the first time Biden has made racially-charged remarks. He was criticized last June when these comments about Indian-Americans were broadcast on C-SPAN.
Sen. Joseph Biden: "In Delaware, the largest growth of population is Indian Americans, moving from India. You cannot go to a 7/11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking."

Betty (con't): C.I. had suggested we address that back at the start of February and it was one of those things that everyone agreed on but time ran out. So I want to be sure everyone reading is aware of what was said. Now obviously, Shirley Chishom and Carol Moseley Braun can't be "a nice looking guy" so thank you, Joe Biden, for putting your sexism up front. I didn't care for you before and you only confirmed my opinion of you. I think the man's an idiot and that he insulted Blacks and women of all races and ethnicities. But what I found interesting was the press reaction which is tied into the Obama press reaction. They keep trying to tell Black people that he is our savior, I keep expecting them to start a Church of Obama any second, but did you notice the silence on Biden? You had people rushing in, reporters and columnists, to assure you that it wasn't racism. Even Maureen Dowd, in The New York Times, interviews him and decides to take a pass on it. What does that say? To me it says that race is totally not worth discussing by those defending and covering for him. It also suggests to me that on some level they must agree with him. What he said was highly offensive and racist and I don't need a crowd of White pundits to tell me I shouldn't be offended by it. I am offended by it. And I'm offended by the Obama coverage for the same reason. It's the same game. It's he's Black, but not too Black. That's the underlying message of all the coverage from the mainstream. And we're supposed to embrace him, Black people, as our savior. I don't think he's going to last long in the primaries. He stands for nothing, he issues platitudes and he's honestly rather boring and the more boring he gets, the more neutered he comes off. But there's this notion that Blacks are just going to rush to embrace him and give him the nomination. I question that for several reasons. First of all, the Democratic Party has not been keen to listen to Blacks in recent years so it is laughable to claim that they're going to back a candidate out of some respect for Black people. The truth is he's DLC and that's why he's getting backed -- backed by White people. And before someone e-mails, yes, when he was listed as DLC before he won his Senate seat, 2 years and three months ago, he did object and have his name taken off. Big deal. He's DLC. Second, if Blacks just vote color, and if we're so all powerful, I would assume that Carol Moseley Braun or Al Sharpton would have gotten the nomination in 2004. They didn't. Nor did they get on the ticket. His backing is from White people. The New York Times had an article last week on various people in the entertainment industry who were backing Obama. Let me issue a plea, Steven Spielberg, after nearly destroying Alice Walker's The Color Purple and practically turning Black people into ETs, please don't do the Black race any more 'favors.' We have suffered enough. But that is where he is getting his backing, from rich Whites around the country. He is not interested in Black people, his books, he has two that I know of, make that abundantly clear. He is 'colorless.' Or beyond color, if you prefer. That is how he presents himself and the message isn't lost upon Black people. And since he's biracial, let's be clear that if he ever becomes President, he won't be the first Black, he may be the first biracial, he may be the first part-Black, but he is not Black. The insistence that the White press has upon portraying him as Black honestly reminds me of the same racism that existed in this country where they divided up Black into octoroon and other categories. He is biracial, he is not Black. That may be how the White press likes "Blacks," not really Black, but quit insulting my race by telling me the ideal is to be at least half-White. My children don't need to hear that message, they are Black. He is bi-racial and there's nothing wrong with that but don't present him as "Black" because he's not. The fact that a Joe Biden approves of him over a Chisholm or Moseley Braun, or Jackson or Dick Gregory or Al Sharpton goes to the fact that he's biracial and not Black and the failure of the White press to take seriously the offensive remarks goes to the fact that they are in agreement with Biden, Obama is "their kind of people" too.

Ty: I'm going to make a suggestion.

Jim: Go ahead.

Ty: That's the roundtable. I think Betty just said it all.

Jim: I think that's a great idea. Anyone have anything to add? No? Okay. The joke Mike tells will be left in because the question has popped up in e-mails. The joke reflects that Mike is not at all worried so those of you who are can calm down.

Cedric: Actually, I did have one point.

Jim: Sure, go ahead.

Cedric: I just think it needs to be noted that Laura Flanders addressed this issue, right now the show's on commercial break, but she just addressed it. I know we try to give credit where it's due so RadioNation with Laura Flanders addressed it. Flanders pointed out that "first" may have symbolic value in some cases but the issue of "First Black man, first woman" isn't telling us a damn thing about candidates' position and we need to grow up. She put it a lot nicer but I'm trying to be brief.

Jim: Thank you for pointing that out. We don't have it playing on our end because we actually have a friend being interviewed on another station. So we're listening to that. But those who missed it, like we did, should know that the broadcasts from Saturday and Sunday are edited down to an hour show and that may be included in the archived version. We'll be listening to her show in a few minutes but we did skip the first hour to catch a friend. So thanks to Cedric for catching that and putting it on the record. Another question that comes in is how are these edited? Dona and I generally do that. On a really long roundtable, like this one, which was done on Saturday but we all tried to say Sunday to avoid confusion for readers, we'll make sure everyone has a copy of Ava and C.I.'s notes and that they note what remarks of their own are important to them so we don't end up leaving out something important. From there, Dona and I will edit it down. We don't change people's words. We will drop off sentences to make for smoother transitions. This lasted about six hours and you do not want to read the entire thing, nor do we want to type up the entire thing. You should consider the edited version you're reading a very rough transcript.

The Nation Stats

We just realized, as we were proofing the roundtable one last time, we didn't do "The Nation Stats."

This is for the latest issue to arrive in our mailboxes, February 19, 2007.

Editorials & Comment
"Which Side Are You On" (unsigned, get 'em, Alterpunk!)
Liza's Featherstone"Surge For Peace" -- this is a transcript of her standup routine. It bombed even as parody. She must be so proud. (See roundtable for a discussion of this nonsense.)
David Bacon's "Workers, Not Guests"
Herbert Mitgang's "Bush's 'Legacy'"

Three signed pieces.
Score: 2 men, 1 woman

Calvin Trillin's "On People Discussing Dick Cheney . . ."
Alexander Cockburn's "Who Can Stop the War?"

Two columns.
Score: 2 men

Negar Azimi's "Bloggers Against Torture"
Christopher Hayes' "Obama's Media Maven"
Stephen Gillers' "Free The Ulysses Two"

Three articles.
Score: 2 men, 1 woman.

Stefan Collini's reviews of Haffenden (we're not putting the 'title' -- there's nothing, just a lot of words)
William Deresiewicz's "The Curtain: An Essay in Seven Parts"
Tadeusz Rozewicz' "Words"
John Palattella's "On Three Palestinian Poets"

Four articles.
Score: 4 men.

Total score: 1o men, 2 woman
Year to Date Stats: 78 males; 17 females.

While two women is an improvement over the previous issue (which only had one woman, Elizabeth Holtzman), it's still not cutting it. The stats are now, roughly, 4.5 men for every woman who receives a byline -- year to date. That's not cutting it.

Women and the military

Nature of offense. Conduct violative of this article is action or behavior in an official capacity which, in dishonoring or disgracing the person as an officer, seriously compromises the officer’s character as a gentleman, or action or behavior in an unofficial or private capacity which, in dishonoring or disgracing the officer personally, seriously compromises the person’s standing as an officer. There are certain moral attributes common to the ideal officer and the perfect gentleman, a lack of which is indicated by acts of dishonesty, unfair dealing, indecency, indecorum, lawlessness, injustice, or cruelty. Not everyone is or can be expected to meet unrealistically high moral standards, but there is a limit of tolerance based on customs of the service and military necessity below which the personal standards of an officer, cadet, or midshipman cannot fall without seriously compromising the person’s standing as an officer, cadet, or midshipman or the person’s character as a gentleman. This article prohibits conduct by a commissioned officer, cadet or midshipman which, taking all the circumstances into consideration, is thus compromising. This article includes acts made punishable by any other article, provided these acts amount to conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. Thus, a commissioned officer who steals property violates both this article and Article 121. Whenever the offense charged is the same as a specific offense set forth in this Manual, the elements of proof are the same as those set forth in the paragraph which treats that specific offense, with the additional requirement that the act or omission constitutes conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

The above is from Rod Powers' page on the issue of conduct unbecoming an officer. Allow us to suggest a court-martial after having endured the kangaroo proceedings last week. Military justice (or 'justice') meet Lt. Col. Bruce Antonia. In his official capacity, Antonia testified on Tuesday in the Ehren Watada court-martial. As Mike Barber (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reported, Antonia testified:

Everything you put on a soldier's plate prior to deployment is magnified. What should be on their minds is getting their weapons zeroed, making final preparations, kissing their wives and children goodbye, not what Lt. Watada is going to say next.

We'll assume most of our regular readers will get how offensive that is but for the slow witted visitors, a few facts and figures.

The US Census Bureau states 215,243 women serve in the military (as of 2003) and that there are 1.7 million "military veterans who are women." Linda Wertheimer (NPR) reported in 2005 that the number of women serving had increased to 350,000 ("almost 15 percent of active duty personnel") and that "one in every seven troops in Iraq is a woman." ICCC notes that 71 US troops who have died while serving in Iraq were women.

The women above are dishonored by Antonia's statements that service members should be focused on "kissing their wives". It's a stupid statment, it's a pig headed statement and there's no excuse for it to be made in 2007. But it goes to the culture and the military's refusal to address that problems within that culture.

Do you know the name Michael Sydney? As Cheryl Seelhoff reported in Off Our Backs (vol 35, no 2, p. 22), Sgt. Sydney was found guilty, July 2006, "of pandering, mistreating, subordinates, and obstruction of justice, smong other things, for what amounts to his having pimped women under his command. Sydney threatened to extend the tour of duty of female erservists called to active duty if they did not have sex with his superior officers." The brave US military 'justice' system did not court-martial him but they did give him a slap on the wrist: "sentence to six months in jail." Where does someone like Syndey get the idea that women in the military can be used as whores? The same attitude that Antonia expressed which renders service members as males (with wives to kiss) and women invisible.

In the same edition of Off Our Backs, Allison Tobey (p. 16) noted Col Janis Karpinski's testimony that General Ricardo Sanchez issued an order barring "dehydration" being noted as cause of death on the death certificates of female service members. Why? Because, according to Karpinski, women were dying from that "because they did not drink liquids in the afternoons in an effort to avoid going to the latrines at night, where they were afrid male soldiers would rape them." Sanchez' 'solution' didn't address the problem, it hid it -- as too many 'solutions' to the abuse and mistreatment of women in the military repeatedly does.

In the January 2007 edition of The Progressive, Traci Hukill examined sexual harassment and sexual assualt in the military and cited a VA report from 2003 (lead to Congress in 2005) which found "60 percent of women and 27 percent of men had experience Military Sexual Trauma" and that it "found the prevalence of actual sexual assualt -- 'unwanted sexual conduct of a physical nature' -- to be 23 percent among female reservists." Hukill also notes:

Since 2002, the Pentagon has logged 546 cases of sexual assault in Centeral Command (CENTCOM), the administrative territory encompassing Afghanistan and Iraq. The real figures are very likely much higher.
[. . .]
Last year, the Pentagon received reports of 2,374 rapes or attempted rapes from all of its bases worldwide, about 40 percent more than the year before. But that's probably just a fraction of the real number. One reason the crime still goes unreported may lurk in the annual report: Last year, just seventy-nine servicemembers were court-martialed for sexual assault. Why bother reporting if nothing will happen to the perpetrator?

Or, we'd add, why bother reporting it when, if someone repeatedly 'pimps' women serving under them, threatens them with extended deployments, videotapes the forced sexual acts and ends up with no court-martial and no real punishment (the abuse of authority and the crimes warranted more than six months in jail)?

In a 1994 sexual harassment survey conducted by the Department of Defense, 72% of women serving in the military who were harassed but did not report it stated that "they did not think anything would be done," "they thought it would make their work situations unpleasant," and they "thought they would be labeled troublemakers." (Note that respondents must have been able to check off more than one because the total of all responses adds up to much greater than 100% -- 54% responded they addressed the issue themselves.) The same study found that only a third of women who reported the harrassment felt their complaints were adequately addressed.

More recently (March 19, 2005), Daneil de Vise (Washington Post) reported on a Defense Department study on military academies:

One female student in seven attending the nation's military academies last spring said she had been sexually assaulted since becoming a cadet or midshipman, according to a report on the first survey of sexual misconduct on the three campuses released yesterday by the Defense Department.
More than half the women studying at the Naval, Air Force and Army academies reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment on campus, according to survey responses. But few of those incidents, and only a third of the assaults, were reported to authorities. A new confidentiality policy for assault victims, also released yesterday, attempts to improve reporting of sex crimes on military campuses.

Months after that was reported, The Defense Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies was finally created (September 23, 2004). The military has been consistently slow to respond.

Enter Suzanne Swift. Swift self-checked out of the US military after serving in Iraq. Last summer, there was a push to make her a war resister. We don't believe she was one. We do believe that pushing the war resister angle destroyed the support she should have received.

Swift was repeatedly sexually assaulted while serving in Iraq by her superior. When she attempted to go through channels, the response can be boiled down to as: "You must be doing something to entice him." She was ignored, she was dismissed and she was left with no one to help her. Doing what is entirely reasonable when trapped in such a situation, Swift self-checked out while back in the United States.

The military did one of their generic whitewashes (we firmly believe every abuse Swift reported did take place) and even the whitewash found some basis to her reports. But Swift is back serving, after thirty days in jail. She is a victim of sexual abuse and the military refused to address it while she was serving and it was happening. Suzanne Swift has now been sent back into the same environment. Similar assaults may not happen now, she may have an 'off limits' placed on her that's so clear everyone grasps it. That really doesn't matter.

A victim of sexual assault whom the system willingly failed has been placed in that environment again. She has never been provided with treatment by the military to deal with the assaults and traumas. She has been placed back in the environment in which it all went down. It's similar to a court sentencing a woman raped on the job (in the civilian world) to return to the environment and without any counseling.

To say "That's not justice" is to under state. That is abuse. She was assaulted and the military ignored her reports, refused to address the situation and now they've refused to discharge her. The victim is being punished and that should disturb and trouble you. Swift should have received an immediate honorable discharge as well as an apology from the military for what was allowed to happen before and after she reported it. That didn't happen.

How does Swift, someone who signed up to serve her country, end up being expected to serve the sexual needs of a superior? Because of statements like Lt. Col. Antonio's which express the very real attitude that the military belongs to men and any women who step inside that circle are fair game for whatever any male wants to do to them. That attitude is reinforced when the 'pimp' isn't court-martialed, when harassment and rapes aren't investigated (let alone punished) and when women on bases in Iraq are told to travel in pairs to the showers to prevent rape.

Let's repeat that. The US military's 'answer' for the abuse and assault of women serving in Iraq (by US troops) is to suggest that women buddy up when going to the showers to prevent rape. Now buddy up may be a suggestion that flies in a city or town. But the military is supposed to be made up of chain of command and orders. But somehow prevention of assault is something that's portrayed as 'personal' responsibility and not a policy.

If you're a visitor and you still don't get how offensive Antonia's comments were, how disgraceful his testimony was, we refer you to Marjorie Cohn's report (Truthout) on Janis Karpinski's testimony on Sanchez' expressed attitude: "The women asked to be here, so now let them take what comes with the territory." They asked to be there, but they don't belong -- that's the attitude. It's the same attitude Antonia expresses when he refers to the need for service members to be focused on "kissing their wives goodbye." It's an attitude that says women don't belong.

A lot of time was spent last week on the supposed disgrace Ehren Watada had brought to the military in public statements he made on his time. Lt. Col. Antonia testified in a court-martial in an official capacity and what he expressed was disgraceful. We won't hold our breath waiting for the court-martial of Antonia because, as disgusting and "unbecoming" as his attitude expressed is, it's fairly common in the military and they've demonstrated no real desire to change.
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