Sunday, July 29, 2007

Truest statement of the week

This time, we have dead bodies involved. Consider what is accomplished by the simple power of the word impeachment. If you read these broken-down news writers or terrified politicians claiming that an impeachment would leave the nation in pieces, don’t give a moment to them.

-- Jimmy Breslin, "Impeach George Bush To Stop War Lies, Deaths" Newsday via Common Dreams.

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
We'll try to keep this note brief. We're all tired and thought, 90 minutes ago, we'd be writing this and finally going to sleep. But C.I. couldn't find anything on Iraq (to do the morning entry at The Common Ills). We grabbed papers to help out, we went around online to help out. C.I. finally called a friend at a wire agency. We did see Iraq coverage, we just saw worthless Iraq coverage.

First, credit where it is due. The writing on this edition is by:

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

Thank you to all, thank you to Dallas for hunting down links.

Truest statement of the week -- Breslin telling the truth.

Editorial: Make way for the Nervous Nells -- We actually had a different editorial. We'll make it a feature next week. (It's legislation we disagree with.)

TV: The Troubles with 30 Rock -- Kat's stomach was killing her, everyone was tired. Dona said to me, "If Ava and C.I. can pull it off, I'll call this week's edition a success." That was pretty much everyone's attitude. Fortunately, Ava and C.I. did pull it off.

Where Have All the War Resisters Gone? -- a review of some stories not getting covered.

Impeachment -- we worked forever on this feature. It's the second longest one time wise. Longest? Didn't even make the print edition. We found an article online that someone had e-mailed us about on Saturday and thought it was something to explore futher. We did research on the subject (male), we did research on the issues involved. All the while C.I. kept saying, "This is a waste of time." Finally, at five our time, C.I. made a call. To the subject. The online article (about the man) is wrong. Was it meant to be a joke? We don't know. He's not running. But someone either thinks he is or thought it was a cute joke. We probably wasted three (Dona says three and a half hours) on research alone. It was our planned big piece. Impeachment may be the big article this time. We edited this down to tighten it up and had we known, when we were going through drafts, that we'd end up without the big article, we would have stuck with a longer version. (Dona wants it noted that is three and half hours of everyone involved working on research. Not three and a half hours of one or two or three people. She's really pissed and says if you want to know where the article ran, e-mail because she's in the mood to trash an incompetent news source website that ran an article that has no basis in reality. "If it was a joke, they should have labeled it as such.")

Not Ready for Primetime Barack Obama -- This is the article that really ticks Dona off. She thinks we could have done even more with Obama's statements if we hadn't wasted time researching and writing the article that never came to be. (And she notes C.I. kept telling all of us, "This isn't happening." We didn't know at that point that C.I. knew the man and had his phone number.) (C.I. stuck with schooling for the research and with locating a public domain photo.)

For the record -- At the request of readers, we reiiterate a point from last week.

When journalists distort reality -- Another piece, Dona's saying, that could have been more developed if we hadn't wasted time on that piece that never ran anywhere. She notes we do not link to that site but had been considering it. Now that's off. This feature is about Obama cheerleaders who feel the need to pretend reality isn't reality.

Mailbag -- We did it differently this week. Ty selected the comments and questions as always. But he noted the topics and we all chose what we would respond to. Dona wasn't in the mood to try to keep track. (Dona notes she was in a bad mood before we started writing the edition.)

10 CDs listened to while writing this edition -- at the request of a reader, we did this feature again.

Highlights -- Mike, Kat, Wally, Cedric, Betty and Rebecca did this feature, we thank them for it.

That's it. This is a short note. We're going to sleep. (It's ten past one p.m. as we wrap this note up. PST.)

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

Editorial: Make way for the Nervous Nells

Help us out here, our calender shows 2007. Did we forget to flip about 12 months?

Cindy Sheehan just declared her run for Congress last week; however, the "Cindy, Don't Run!" campaign had already started. Tits & Ass producer (who also glorified the military and played the tired card of woman v. woman onscreen) grabbed an afghan, brewed some herbal tea and wanted to have a (public) heart to heart with Cindy. Needed to explain why it was a bad idea for Cindy to run for elected office . . . in a district Tits & Ass can't vote in because she doesn't live in it. Seven who can vote in the district are taking part in the writing of this and we say, "Run, Cindy, Run!"

But when your career goes so stale that you can't even make T&A flicks anymore (the green light long ago turned red), suddenly you're an apparent expert on everything including who should and who shouldn't run.

The calender still says 2007, right?

David Michael Green penned a piece last year that probably seems familiar because it pops up every election cycle. All the 'depth' of the 'commentary' can be found in it's headline: "Forget Third Parties -- It Ain't Gonna Happen: Hijack The Democrats Instead." There are many troubling things about concept.

First, is this or is it not the same David Michael Green who believes Al Gore can be a serious candidate for president in 2008? It is the same and he's got a little fantasy but, "Forget Al Gore -- It Ain't Gonna Happen."

What the hell business of it is David Michael Green's who anyone votes for?

If he's able to make a case for voting for X, by all means do so. But we're not in the mood for 15 months of "Don't vote for third parties."

We're also pretty tired of the "change the system from within" mantra that really hasn't worked. Ask any of the New Left. Most of them couldn't get inside. Those who did usually sold off a great deal and still got spat out. But how they flock to push the message "Stay true blue, Stay Democrat, Stay Free maxipads!" It's really kind of pathetic, especially in the over sixty set that long ago ended their brief elected careers and should really grasp that sucking up until their teeth fall out will not provide them any job offers from the Democratic Party.

That set sold out a great deal but it still wasn't enough to keep the support of the Democratic Party, now was it?

But the New Left kidded themselves that they could take over the Democratic Party and now the Newbie Left (or "Left") wants to push the same tired message.

If you believe in someone by all means vote for them. If you believe in Democrats, vote for them. If you believe in a third party, vote for them. If you believe in Republicans, vote for them. And if you believe in fairies, click your heels three times.

It really is that childish.

Here's some reality. The independent media's refusal to pick up the slack on covering Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel (no Green has yet declared a presidency run) has ensured that it's nearly impossible to pressure the Democrats into anything.

The majority have already enlisted in the Obama campaign. Listening to Uprising on KPFK, we found it sad but hilarious to hear the reply of an African-American scholar when asked what he thought of Glen Ford's radio commentary? He immediately began a response that wasn't based on Obama, it was all about going negative on Hillary Clinton. For those who missed the commentary, it was entitled "Barack Obama's Game: Erase the 'Black Problem'." In one sentence, Ford mentions that Hillary is Obama's twin. That's all the 'scholar' needed to launch his attack on Hillary while ignoring Ford's very accurate criticism of Barack Obama.

Now there was no point in independent media jumping the gun on their coverage. (John Nichols jumped fastest, managing to write about the 2008 presidential election shortly before the 2006 Congressional election took place.) But if you're going to waste everyone's 2007 time on a 2008 race, shouldn't that actually mean your coverage improves?

It hasn't. Hillary Clinton is the Evil Queen. That's all that the coverage has conveyed. Barack Obama's given pass after pass. John Edwards' health care plan (like Clinton's and Obama's) is a joke. Barack Obama is pro-nuclear power plants, pro-predatory lending (check out his record in the Senate), pro-corporations, anti-same-sex marriage, and anti-withdrawl of US troops.

That last point has probably been the greatest failure in the coverage. He's allowed to repeat, over and over, that he was against the illegal war before it started. But no one points out the very obvious fact that, when running for the Senate in 2004, he was also against any US withdrawal.

That's not quite how he presents onstage when he's slamming Edwards and Clinton for not being smart enough to vote against the illegal war. We're still waiting for the candidate who will shoot back by pointing out that to be against the illegal war and against a withdrawl is not just stupid, it's paralyzed.

And that's where Obama is on Iraq. That's why he lined up a Senate record (after entering it in 2005) of pro-war votes. That's why he has yet to present a plan that would withdraw all US troops. And someone who wants credit for being right about the illegal war all along is someone who should have had plenty of time to think about how the US gets out.

If someone's for Obama, they should be able to state his positives, not lie. We're not for him but we're sure he has his positives to some voters. And that's fine, but let's not lie about what his record is, let's not lie about what he's said or agreed to.

Isn't our biggest criticism -- on the center-left, faux left and left -- that the mainstream media won't tell the truth? So what do all the lies popping up in independent media say? (To us, it says a lot of really bad gas bags were too unattractive or too unambitious -- or both -- to get work in the mainstream so they went to work for independent media.)

Now the Green Party (not the only third party) just had their national meeting this year and they still haven't selected a candidate or a list of candidates to run for their nomination. [*See note at end.*] So, with just that one party, it takes extreme self-infatuation to tell voters to forget them and all other third parties this early in the game.

Impeachment, we were told by a Nervous Nell on Democracy Now! last week, might mean the 2008 presidential election became a "jump shot." What is the big fear about a level playing field? What is the big fear about candidates actually having to compete for votes?

How weak do you think your candidate is (whomever he or she is) that they can't win on a level playing field?

You should vote for whomever you want. That includes Barack Obama if he is your choice. But you aren't allowed to lie. Not to lie and be taken seriously. That's exactly the crime carried about the mainstream media in 2000. That independent media decided it was more important to cover a 2008 election in 2007 than an ongoing, illegal war already calls into question their evaluating skills. That they want to 'cover' with one body blow after another to Hillary Clinton while handing over valentines to Barack Obama calls into question their journalistic abilities.

We've got more this edition on the 2008 election than we'd prefer. That's not because we found the YouTube 'debate' delightful. We didn't even watch it until after the nonsense in the press started. If any of the big small outlets had addressed what went down seriously, we wouldn't have had to. But instead it was Koo Koo time at The Nation as only David Corn grasped that you can't write about a flare up without giving readers the basics of what was asked and what was said.

But there was a whole lot that Obama said that a real independent media could have explored. They took a pass. It would be really nice if, as the non-stop horse race coverage continues, alleged journalists could approach their work as if they really were journalists.

That would mean trusting the people. That would mean providing the information they need. But we're seeing a lot of Nervous Nells who can't tell the truth, who won't tell the truth. And yet they want to be considered part of the press. They not only embarrass themselves, they embarrass the candidates they are campaigning for (that kind of press is campaigning for a candidate). They also insult the American people because the real message here is, "We can put one over on you." That's twice as insulting when you grasp how, print or broadcast, they either have their hands out begging for your money or are about to.

*** Added by Dona, C.I. and Ava 7-30-07. Kimberly Wilder (The Wilder Side) advises that there are candidates considering a run for the Green Party presidential nomination and refers to the Peoples President Page. This currently displays "This website is temporarily unavailable, please try again later." She also refers to Politics1. The following are either "announced candidate" "or filed an filed Exploratory Committee" supposedly -- supposedly because the names are supposed to be bold and we can't tell with the red ink whether they are not: Jared Bell, Elaine Brown, Mike "Jingo" Jinngozian, Paul Kangas, Jerry Kann, Kent Msplay, Gail Parker, "Average Joe" Schriner and Kat Swift. In addition, clicking here takes you to a video of the Presidential Candidates Forum held this month. We'll attempt to do some feature on this next Sunday.
Added by Ty: The Green Party website lists the following as candidates thus far: Jared Bell, M. Jingozian, Jesse Johnson, Jerry Kann, Kent Mesplay, Gail Parker and Kat Swift. In addition, they note Sedinam Kinamo Christin Moyawaisifza-Curry as a vice-presidential hopeful.

TV: The Troubles with 30 Rock

30 Rock airs at some point during NBC's Thursday primetime schedule. It's been all over the night. It's been dropped from the night (when Andy Barker, P.I. was being aired). At this point, it's a bit like a Linda Ronstadt cover of the Everly Brothers, wondering when it will be loved?

The show's problem are fairly simple, if not simple to fix. The chief problem with 30 Rock is that it is a funny show. You don't nod or half-smile at the whimsy. It's a laugh out loud sitcom -- the kind NBC once was able to produce at least twice a season but these days can only muster once.

It's second problem is probably the fact that it stars Tina Fey. That probably can't be fixed any more than the fact that it is actually funny because Fey created the show. It also shouldn't be fixed because Fey (remember, we're Tina-sters, though we prefer Fey-sters) is actually amazing in the role.

Let's talk the basics of the show. Tina Fey plays the lead character, Liz Lemon, who is the headwriter of TGS (formerly The Girly Show). It's a Saturday Night Live type show and, unlike Studio Yada Yada, the bits from the show within a show are actually funny. As headwriter of a live weekly TV show, she deals with assorted bits of drama week after week. Some of it is caused by Jack Donaghy (played by Alec Baldwin) the Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming. (Yes, it is a joke about GE/NBC.) Some of it is caused by Tracy Jordan (played by Tracy Morgan) whom Jack insists Liz hire in the show's first episode. Some of it is caused by writers working under Liz, some of it is caused by Liz' love interests and some of it is caused by Jenna Maroney (played by Jane Krakowski) who is Liz' best friend and, along with Tracy, the star of TGS.

All do a wonderful job as do others in the cast. But Fey's the one holding it together and doing so in a non-tour guide manner. This isn't "Look at the crazy folks I'm surrounded by." Liz Lemon is every much as crazy as everyone she works with.

This may best be seen in her relationship with former live-in love Dennis Duffy who manipulated and used her. When, in a three-story arc of episodes, Liz finally dumps Dennis, he shows up at her work, delivers a loud, self-serving goodbye which tricks her co-workers into thinking he's the special guy. Liz ends up doubting her own judgement and considers taking him back before catching a Dateline expose on internet predators and seeing Dennis attempt to set up sex with a 16-year-old. (Which also blew one of his pro-traits she listed, "Too lazy too cheat.") Though usually the sanest in the room, in a different room, with less crazy people, Liz would be the oddball. If that was murky at any point, Liz revealing the secret that she'd say was voting for Obama but actually vote for Senator Crazy (John McCain) in the 2008 presidential election should have cleared it right up.

Onscreen at Saturday Night Live, Fey largely avoided skits and stuck to Weekend Update. So it's no surprise that she can handle a one liner. That she's able to do physical comedy may be the revelation to some. Below the neck, there is a body and she uses it to comic effects in scenes such as when, after what seems like moments of holding a baby on the set, she finds herself, hours later, in her own apartment with the child.

Fey is not merely providing the glue that holds the series together, she's also providing a huge portion of the laughs.

So what went wrong? 30 Rock would have fit nicely into many a now forgotten Must See TV night. That was before NBC decided that, Jennifer Aniston, Helen Hunt and assorted others be damned, women weren't funny. In My Name Is Earl, you get the bitch of an ex-wife. In The Office, you get women who mainly exist to play uncomfortable (generally in wideshots, often background shots). Neither show is laugh out loud funny (though people try so hard to convince you otherwise) and along comes 30 Rock which is both funny and not afraid of women and it's a whole new dynamic.

What allowed the program to survive the first half of the season, as we noted here many times, was the Boys Club at the top of NBC deciding it was Alec Baldwin's show. They now see it as Fey's show. We'd gladly hail that as progress but the truth is Baldwin's since had some offscreen problems and they're less eager to cite him. Scrubs (a show we'd never have thought we'd find much of anything worthy of praise) returned to Thursdays and is actually a better fit with 30 Rock then the nonsense it was previously sandwiched between.

Moving at about four times the speed of either Earl or The Office, 30 Rock provides actual laughs and actual storylines. Those wishing for the death of TV (or at least the death of entertaining TV) got behind the non-entertaining shows and championed them. NBC bet the farm on them and the farm is now being paved over and turned into a strip mall but no one's supposed to notice. They've installed another boy's club boy and he's so hostile he's actually okayed a development deal with the imploding non-star Isaiah Washington. When you've repeatedly insulted gays (though not lesbians, his lesbian friend wants everyone to know and will take to any forum she can to sell the conspiracy that White gays lynched Washington) in public and on the set, and when you've come to blows with the male star of the TV show your tired ass was lucky to land a minor part on, a smart network boss knows there is no resurrection and knows they don't want to be tainted by your current problems; however, Ben Silverman just wants the world to know he's there to pick up the boys' bar tabs.

Which is our way of noting that this coming season is probably it for 30 Rock. Everyone at NBC knows it. Silverman's already made comments to that effect. (Though support for 30 Rock goes higher than Silverman.) He thinks it is sapping Thursday night's ratings.

Ratings? Does NBC want to talk ratings? The heavily pimped and promoted The Office was ranked 68 for the year. My Name Is Earl was ranked 58. These are hits? In whose lunatic mind? NBC is in the ratings toilet because it ran off viewers and part of that includes yelling "Funny!" when no ha-has were to be found. The racism in My Name Is Earl has only gotten more pronounced in season two so who knows what "joys" await in season three? The Office, meanwhile, goes from two talented cast members this fall to one (as one departs for Fox).

Scrubs and 30 Rock are paired with two shows which make one long for the comparative hilarity found in an episode of Veronica's Closet or even Caroline in the City. They are even worse than Union Park whose only crime was not being funny. The Office and My Name Is Earl repell viewers not just because they aren't funny but because they aren't shows most viewers are interested in. "They're funny because they're not funny," one NBC exec told us this weekend. When we asked if he really believed that, he admitted no but that was the company line. Ourselves, we think funny is the fact that a lot of suits don't see the pink slips coming.

We knew changes were coming at NBC and that was one of the reasons we held off on 30 Rock (whose support was always so high at the very top of the network that it would get a second season). We heard "big changes" but, when changes were finally made, they weren't really any change at all. Ben Silverman's younger than the other goons who have been running (ruining) the network but otherwise, he fits right in. He's the type who, if presented with the pilot of Friends, would have said, "The guys are great, but can we get rid of two of the girls?"

Which is why he fits in perfectly with NBC's boys club that has replaced the once forward looking executives who knew which shows to greenlight and how to market and schedule them so that they could be hits. 30 Rock isn't fitting. The only thing that will save it is viewers turning on and most aren't willing to wade through the crap it's surrounded with. (It's Tivo numbers are amazing.) In September, the first season comes out on DVD and that may pump up some interest. Another thing that could would be NBC using Saturday nights to air reruns and promote the show. They could do bloc reruns of the show's first season. They could advertise those reruns on the basis of the guest stars (Conan OBrien, Whoopi Goldberg, etc.).

But the fact remains that during the alleged death of the sitcom, 30 Rock is a funny show, a funny show that could hold its own when NBC knew from funny. These days, the network doesn't and they don't like women. That message has been received by viewers and it's why NBC has fallen from number one to fourth with even net-lette Fox beating it in the overall ratings. Industry word of mouth for Fox's fall line up is strong. NBC's? Remember when we told you The Bionic Woman was "on the crater"? To make sure it craters a little sooner, Isaiah Washington's been added to the cast.

Where Have All the War Resisters Gone?


In The Times of London Saturday, Catherine Philip's "Goodbye Uncle Sam" explored the journeys of three member of the US military and how they ended up in Canada. Phil McDowell, Chris Teske and Dean Walcott's journey, Phillips noted, follows that of "African slaves fleeing the South, aided by abolitionists who sheltered them along the way. Then, in the Sixties, thousands of young men took the same route in evading the draft for Vietnam. And now, a steady trickle of soldiers, broken on the battlefields of Iraq, is once again following suit."

As Teske, Walcott and McDowell shared their stories, we were again reminded of what a huge failure independent media in the US has been on this continuing story.

In the July/August 2005 issue of FAIR's Extra!, Pat Arnow wondered "Where Have All the Bodies Gone?" (pp. 18 - 20) focusing on the pictures kept from us of the illegal war. (Arnow returned to that topic for the March/Arpil 2007 issue with "From Self-Censorship to Official Censorship.") And it's an issue worth exploring, even when everyone pretends to look the other way on the overly praised story by The Nation this month which bragged in its own introduction of having "dozens" of photos of abuse to Iraqis but wasn't willing to run even one. Arnow concluded "Where Have All the Bodies Gone" by noting, "Of course, it's not supposed to be the job of mainstream media to shape a consensus, whether pro- or anti-war -- but to report reality."

How does independent media define it's job and why has it steadfastly refused to cover this topic?

Agustin Aguayo was court-martialed in Germany for desertion. Desertion guidelines say 30 days or more AWOL. Aguayo was gone from September 2nd through September 26th and he turned himself in. So how did he land a desertion charge?

That's a question independent media could be asking. That's an issue they could be raising.

Camilo Mejia self-checked out only after the US military ignored their own regulations (and a decision by the military) that non-US citizens could not exceed an eight-year contract, they could not be stop lost or the victims of a backdoor draft. Why did Mejia have to self-checkout and why has that detail not only not been explored but lost from the telling of his story by the media?

Ehren Watada has already been the victim of one kangaroo court (February 2006's court-martial that ended in a ruling, over the objection of the defense, of a mistrial). Why is the US military now attempting a second -- regardless of the Constitution's provision against double-jeopardy and regardless of the vast amounts of money the government's already wasted?

Kevin Benderman's CO form was refused by a superior officer -- he refused to take it. But the myth repeated by the mainstream media (and unexplored by independent media) is that the military grants X number of CO's a year and blah blah blah.

There's the more laughable myth that the US military does not try to track down those who self-checkout. They tracked Kyle Snyder throughout California, they tracked Joshua Key across the US boundary into Canada. They have an investigative unit that checks MySpace and other sites for clues, combs through the press for leads, etc. What they do, which the press won't tell you, is then send out the police to arrest. But the US military has been tracking self-checkouts for some time.

These are among the details that should outrage. But in addition to those details, there are the stories that aren't being told about the experiences of being a war resister. One vet writes two of us on the hard decision forced on them when the US decided to start an illegal war and the vet had to resign from the military (through official channels). The family of another, who self-checked out, writes of the Christmas holiday. A sister of a war resister who went to Canada writes to note how proud she is of her brother. A war resister in Canada writes to let us know he exists. When do these stories get told?

After the war, as Amy Goodman often asks? When it's all over.

Though not all cite Jeremy Hinzman, the first war resister to go to Canada and go public, many who go to Canada do. They hear of him or the War Resisters Support Campaign in Canada. Two war resisters Kat and C.I. met last week while speaking out against the illegal war are currently underground in this country and cite Kyle Snyder.

There is a point. When war resisters have turned themselves in, the military's gone out of the way to isolate them. Camilo Mejia writes about this being done to him in his book Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia and talk to any war resister and they tell the same story unless, after turning themselves in, they're sent back to their former units. The reason for that is that the US military is afraid war resistance will spread. It's already spreading.

With the limited coverage it has received, it's already spreading. The names of Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey and others are known. For those currently grappling with issues such as the legality of the illegal war, those names and others provide a path.

The link Catherine Philips makes between the Underground Railroad and today's war resisters isn't a stretch. In both instances, people were seen as property. The real issue with war resisters, and this is said to be what makes some at The Nation uncomfortable, is whether we want a US military that follows orders blindly or one made up of citizens who can disagree or change their minds. The position that rag is taking is one you hear from those who condemn war resisters which, in its most cleaned up form, translates as "You signed a contract."

It's a funny sort of legal 'expert' who worries about the contract. When the contract's broken in the military's favor, they aren't there harping "They signed a contract." The US military regularly allows and encourages recruiters to make promises that will never be kept but that doesn't concern the "contract" crowd either. They aren't concerned when someone's contract has reached the end and the military extends it.

Our own point of view is that anyone in the service who feels compelled to refuse duty should do so. If they are given an unlawful order or are participating in an illegal war, they should refuse. That isn't just our opinion, that's also the opinion laid out in the Nuremberg Trials. That's also a principle enshrined in the US Army Field Manual FM 27-10, The Law of Land Warfare. But somehow that fact is overlooked.

So is the reality of what gets signed up for. Put aside, for a moment, the recruiters phony promises, no one signs up expecting they'll be sent into an illegal war. Some who sign up after the illegal war began (March 2003) educate themselves either before or after they go to Iraq. The talking point there is that it's a "volunteer army" today which apparently translates to those using that talking point as "volunteering to follow any order no matter how illegal or insane." Congress has failed in its duty, the White House is breaking the law but the ones who are wrong are the service members who resist?

Last week, David Lindorff wrote of the possibility of martial law being imposed in the US and concluded with this, "If we are headed for martial law, better that it be with a broken military. Maybe if it’s broken badly enough, the administration will be afraid to test the idea."

The question those who continue to maintain all orders should be blindly followed is, should martial law come to the US, how would they feel then?

And the question to ask of independent media is why have you repeatedly shown so little interest in war resisters?


Last week, the Green Party of the United States announced, "By refusing to impeach, Democrats acquiesce to Bush-Cheney high crimes and misdemeanors, say Greens. Greens criticize Congress's silence on Bush executive order criminalizing antiwar protest and demand repeal of the order."

Acquiesce? Best example of that took place on Friday, in a debate Democracy Now! aired between Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan and centrist and Democratic bad-strategist Dan Gerstein. In one howler after another Gerstein revealed himself to be a small-time political operator who can't think big and a historical moron. A prime example of the latter occurred when Amy Goodman asked him if he thought "Democrats should have tried to impeach Nixon?"

"Yes, absolutely," Gerstein responded. "And I think there was clearly a much more compelling case that Richard Nixon committed high crimes and misdemeanors on the public record, (a); (b), the American people believed it, which is not an insignificant part, because no matter what the evidence is, this is a political process, as Cindy knows."

The non-Watergate expert also stated that the crimes "the impeachment movement have assumed shows impeachable offenses was presented to the American people before the 2004 election, and they still reelected George Bush."

How stupid is Gerstein or is he trying to please his bosses at Politico, the right wing trash dump made up of cry babies who couldn't make a dent at The Washington Post? Here's reality for Gerstein, Watergate was exposed to voters by The Washington Post before the 1972 election. Gerstein's a gas bag given a key board who now fancies himself a journalist but as C.I. pointed out, "I haven't laughed so hard at an idiot since a female reporter attempted to write a crime story screenplay and I told her she'd left out any reference to the background of the lead character, a journalist, and had refused to show her in the work setting. Where's the conversation about the power of the press? Does she even know about journalism? You'd think she'd mention Woodward and Bernstein?" The woman responded, "Who?" (Proving you don't have to be a gas bag to be an idiot.)

Gernstein made no coherent argument, choosing instead to shoot scattershot throughout. However, he is completely off base regarding Watergate and efforts to impeach Nixon. Gernstein maintains that Bully Boy's crimes were known of (he doesn't call them "crimes") before the 2004 election so they no longer matter. Watergate was known before the 1972 election. Had Democrats in the House listened to the likes of Gernstein then, they might have decided to play along and Nixon might have left office at the end of his term to a hero's parade.

What built the public pressure against Nixon? Don't undercount the illegal war and do not devalue the press and Congressional investigations. Gernstein, good little centrist that he is, claims he has spoken to four pollsters and two were Democrats and two were Republican (he apparently knows no non-partisans) and they tell him impeachment is a no-go as well.

The investigation into Watergate revealed the enemies list and a host of unconstitutional activities. Before the process could take place with Bully Boy, Gernstein wants to argue that it shouldn't take place and wants to hide behind his faulty, ahistorical knowledge of what happened to Richard Nixon and what Nixon did to the country.

Had Democrats listened to squeamish toads like Gernstein, Nixon could have become a national treasure instead of a national disgrace and the illegal spying on American citizens could have continued. That spying came back into vogue with the Bully Boy and though a federal judge has ruled it illegal, Gernstein doesn't see any problems with that.

Speaking last Tuesday to Michael Slate on KPFK Radio Active, Ann Wright (retired State Dept., retired military) did noting that this issue is about "the future of America." What happens or does not happen will set the agenda for all future occupants of the White House, Democratic or Republican or third-party. "I don't trust the Democrats anymore than I do the Republicans," said Wright and she's exactly correct. If a message is not sent now, when it's going to be sent?

But apparently the Constitution doesn't matter as much as elections in 2008 -- at least not to Gernsetein.

William Goodman, writing in in the introduction to the Center for Constitutional Rights' Articles of Impeachment Against Geroge W. Bush, observes that the Constitution's Article II, Section 4 is in the Constitution to begin with to allow "Congress to protect itself from executive overreaching. Clearly the framers drafted this provision in the context of what they viewed as the history of their time . . . Thus, for the framers, impeachment was a key element of American democracy in that it provided an ultimate means to curtail abuses of, or unconstitutional expansion of, executive powers."

The Gernsteins, idiots that they are, like to gaze in their crystal ball and tell you that there are not 16 Republican senators who will support impeachment.

It's at these moments, when these idiots are not called out, that we groan the loudest. No Senator brings impeachment. Impeachment comes from the House of Representatives. The Senate then holds a trial and determines whether there is guilt and if removal of office is necessary. But impeachment is strictly a House issue.

Yet again, Gernstein is caught putting his Krispy Kream doughnuts before his lunch time meal. If a Democratically controlled House can't get enough votes for impeachment after all the crimes of the current administration, we have a serious problem. Reality is, if the issue is moved forward, the votes are there in the House (and no 16 Republicans are necessary for the vote, nor are any other senators). The House will make the case as to why the Bully Boy is impeached and the people will decide based on that and based upon the trial in the Senate. To argue nonsense polling (by timid creatures if Gernstein can get them on the phone) is ridiculous. (And, as David Swanson has noted, only one poll has been done nationally on the impeachment of Dick Cheney and 54% of respondents favored it.) Without any action by Congress, either house, you've already got a little over 40% of Americans supporting impeachment. That's with little mainstream media coverage. That's with the Dan Gernstein Psychic Hotline butting in to debates about the merits of impeachment to squeal about the 2008 elections.

The Gernsteins want to table impeachment (which Nancy Pelosi -- in one of her many off the rocker moments of recent times -- took "off the table") and count on the 2008 elections. As people who remember those who counted on the 2004 elections to end the illegal war we say, "Not so damn fast."

A measure exists to punish the Bully Boy for his crimes. Support exists with the Congress refusing to act. That support will only grow if Congress acts. John Conyers, whose committee could start the impeachment proceedings tomorrow, has revealed he's worried what Fox "News" might say about him. That's reality. We can't have a needed impeachment because John Conyers is concerned Fox "News" might say something mean. Gernstein wants to talk 2008 so let's apply that to 2008. If the Democrats win the White House in 2008, will their first act be to bomb Fox "News"?

We don't endorse the bombing of any news outlet (we're obviously not in the same camp as Dan Rather or Michael Gordon). But short of bombing Fox "News," exactly what changes if the Dems take back the White House?

Not a damn thing. Fox "News" still exists and if John Conyers, in a Democratically controlled Congress, if a chair of a committee and a Congress member with years (too many) of service can't stand up right now to Fox "News," exactly when are we supposed to expect to see Democrats standing up?

If you buy the line that we have to put our faith in the 2008 elections, you better be prepared for that line to be sold to you over and over. It already has been. "Elect us!" cried the Dems in 2006, "Give us control! Things will be different!" They got elected and things are different. The Democrats now co-own the illegal war, they now stand with Republican members in refusing to impeach . . . Yeah, things are really different in that the Democrats have lost their excuse for doing nothing. So after the 2008 elections, should the Dems take the White House and maintain control in both houses of Congress, expect to hear, "We've got to focus on the 2010 elections. We will address via that election."

In one of the more laughable moments of last week, John Conyers attempted to sell that though the Democrats won't impeach Bully Boy before 2008, it doesn't matter. They can impeach him after he leaves office. In an exclusive interview conducted by Global Voices for Justice and aired on Wednesday's KPFK Uprising, John Conyers admitted that the current situation was "really bad. We've never been in this situation before, with someone like that in the White House." But, explaining why impeachment wasn't necessary, Conyers went on to declare, ""You don't have to be in office to get impeached. You can get impeached for something you did in office." If Conyers was even half-way serious, might we suggest to him that if he believes Fox "News" is going to make mean jokes about him for trying to impeach Bully Boy before he leaves office, he hasn't even factored in what Fox "News" will do to him if he tries to impeach Bully Boy in 2009.

What's really happening is that the American people are getting a good sense of why the Democrats have been out of power, they refuse to act. Al Gore refused to demand a full recount in 2000, he refused to fight for the election he won. Democrats largely refused to stand up to Bully Boy in 2002 against the upcoming illegal war because they didn't want to harm their chances in the 2002 elections. John Kerry, despite promising publicly no repeats of 2000's electoral misconduct, refused to challenge the vote (even though he would admit to Mark Cripsen Miller that the count was a joke). Democrats, post 2004 election, rushed to show their support for attacks on the nation and the Constitution by refusing to fight to repeal the Patriot Act. But throughout that period, we were told, if given control of a house of Congress in 2006, they would have investigative power, they would seize power, they would lead.

What we've seen is a few show hearings. We've yet to see any follow up no matter how outrageous the revelations have been. Pat Tillman's death, the revelations last week, are yet another prime example. Congress may get some credit for exposing the facts but they didn't do anything with it. Have we even seen Congress pass any sort of law? No. Alberto Gonzales is a serial criminal and hearings show us that repeatedly but where's the Congressional action?

The do-nothing Dems think they can do nothing and win even more control in 2008. They thought they could do that with John Kerry's 2004 campaign as well. Kerry was riding an all time high after announcing John Edwards as his running mate. The campaign got some of their best press during that time, The New York Times even ran a photo of the couples and the Edwards' young children on the front page. High in the polls, they decided not to make any bold moves because they were ahead! So they did nothing, over and over, and their lead fell and fell.

That's what little punks like Dan Gernstein keep preaching to the Democrats: "Don't do anything to upset your chances of winning." How that translates to the American people is seeing a party that does nothing, in power or out.

Though the Democratic Party does nothing to inspire working class people, they do vote for the party and it's hard for a lot of them. They have jobs, they have kids, they may have trouble getting to the polling station. But they're expected to show up and use their vote . . . for a party that repeatedly refuses to do anything.

In a New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story, Matt Bai addressed some of the problems with the Kerry campaign ("Kerry's Undeclared War," October 10, 2004, pp 38 -45, 52, 68-70). Bai noted that while "liberal think-tanks" were "challenging some of Bush's most basic assumptions about the post-9/11 world -- including, most provocatively, the very idea that we are, in fact, in a war" (p. 41), Kerry was eager to agree with Bully Boy's points but argue the "smarter" war. Kerry also didn't define the illegal war as illegal:

Kerry has argued that Bush's war in Iraq is a disaster, that troops should be brought home before the end of the next presidential term and that the Iraq war is a 'profound diversion' from the war on terror and the real showdown with Al Qaeda.

Real showdown? Was he trying to be the president or the world's gun slinger? At best, what Kerry offered, was that by 2008 US troops might be out of Iraq. Without him in the White House, we already have that possibility. And, it should be noted, Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign is making the same prolonged promise -- to put it mildly -- elect her and the troops might be out of Iraq by the end of her first term. Elect her to two terms and Americans might even get health care. Elect her to three terms, we hear, and she'll give 12 free CDs for the price of one via a BMG mailing.

In fact, the BMG scam is the perfect model. With one vote, you're guaranteed that, if elected, Dems will do this and that. But each month, you keep getting shipments you never would have requested and the things you want are never offered.

John Conyers promises a lot when he's away from the Hill and then he and his assistants deny it. One recent example is Conyers' promise that if three more members of the House signed on to impeachment, he would introduce an impeachment resolution. As Stuart Hutchison (AfterDowningStreet) reveals, Conyers' assistant Arif Haque has attempted to rewrite that by insisting Conyers said "three Republicans" when, in fact, Conyers said no such thing. If Conyers could show some of the bravery on the Hill that he demonstrates when off it, impeachment might get started.

The 2004 election did not decide impeachment anymore than it decided the issue of Iraq. Were that not the case, those disapproving on the illegal war would not have grown to 90%. What's also grown has been disgust with the Democratically controlled Congress and those are the numbers that pollsters should fret over. As the Dems refuse to end the illegal war, refuse to do anything, they fall and fall in the polls. The reality is that the Republicans don't need a "bounce," they just need to maintain their ratings while the Democrats continue their own free fall.

"Well, you know, like Dan said, why don't we elect a Democratic president in ’08, and they take office in ’09?" asked Cindy Sheehan before answering on the Democracy Now! debate. "Hundreds of our soldiers, thousands of Iraqi people will be killed by then. There will be the least chance for stabilization of the Middle East if we wait that long. I believe that impeachment is necessary to restore rule of law to this country, but to also in the future prevent abuses of executive power."

And that's the real issue.

Not Ready for Primetime Barack Obama


As Trina noted in Satuday's "Hominy Salad in the Kitchen," US Senator and wants to be prez Barack Obama came out at the YouTube Democratic Presidential 'debate' as for women registering with selective service and against same-sex marriage. A duty, he's all for; a right, he's luke-warm on.

That was far from his only problem in that debate; however, to read the gas bags, you might think his only error occurred on the issue of meetings with foreign leaders in his first year "without precondition".

Our personal favorite mistake was in this passage:

We just heard a White House spokesman, Tony Snow, excuse the fact that the Iraqi legislature went on vacation for three weeks because it's hot in Baghdad. Well, let me tell you: It is hot for American troops who are over there with 100 pounds worth of gear.

Did you catch it? Obama Flubs Again. Foreign countries do not appear to be his speciality. "the Iraqi legistlature went on vacation for three weeks" according to Tony Snow (White House flack)? No. Barack Obama, as usual, doesn't know what he's talking about. Also his talking point about "hot for American troops" was actually addressed by reporters to Snow. Here's the exchange from earlier this month:

Q Is the Iraqi government and the Iraqi parliament taking the month of August off?
MR. SNOW: Probably, yes. Just not --
Q They're taking the entire month of August off, before the September deadline?
MR. SNOW: It looks like they may, yes. Just like the U.S. Congress is.
Q Have you tried to talk them out of that?
MR. SNOW: You know, it's 130 degrees in Baghdad in August, I'll pass on your recommendation.
Q Well, Tony, Tony, I'm sorry, that's -- you know -- I mean, there are a lot of things that happen by September and it's 130 degrees for the U.S. military also on the ground --
MR. SNOW: You know, that's a good point. And it's 130 degrees for the Iraqi military. The Iraqis, you know, I'll let them -- my understanding is that at this juncture they're going to take August off, but, you know, they may change their minds.

They will take August off. Barack's big talking point? Snow says "that's a good point."

More importantly, Obama stands on the soapbox as the US Congress prepares to take a month vacation begining this Friday and ending September 4th. How come? Aren't we in an (illegal war)? Well, let us tell you, Obama, it's hot for American troops stationed in Iraq.

Really, what a supreme idiot. No wonder his campaign methodology has always been to fight dirty.

Asked about reparations, Obama elected not to answer:

I think the reparations we need right here in South Carolina is investment, for example, in our schools. I did a... (APPLAUSE) I did a town hall meeting in Florence, South Carolina, in an area called the corridor of shame. They've got buildings that students are trying to learn in that were built right after the Civil War. And we've got teachers who are not trained to teach the subjects they’re teaching and high dropout rates. We've got to understand that there are corridors of shame all across the country. And if we make the investments and understand that those are our children, that's the kind of reparations that are really going to make a difference in America right now.

Speaking slavery and the Civil War, it is interesting that he (nor any Democrat) raised objections to a Democratic staged debate taking place at an institution created to put down any slave rebellions.

While the Koo Koo crowd was rushing to defend Obama's big foreign policy attention getter, less attention has been given to this exchange:

MR. GRAVEL: I wouldn't use either word. (Off mike) -- better than that. (Off mike) -- asked about change. You're not going to see any change when these people get elected. We were asked about -- that we're united. We're not united. I’m not united on many of their views.
And I want to take on Barack Obama for a minute, who said he doesn't take money from lobbyists. Well, he has 134 bundlers. Now what does he think that is? And besides that, he has received money from a Robert Wolf, the head of the USB Bank (sic; UBS Bank) in the United States, who raised $195,000 from this bank
COOPER: Your time is up.
GRAVEL: ... and it's a foreign-owned bank.

That's cute, "Your time is up." Cooper gets a little snitty. Maybe it comes from the rough trade crowd. But UBS is UBS AG and you may remember, in 1997, when the historian at their Swiss headquarters was caught destroying records of UBS' business relationship with the Nazis during WWII. UBS has given Obama at least $142,200 for his 2008 presidential run. (Goldman Sachs has given Obama at least $310,001.)

It's also cute how The Nation chooses to ignore that fact but then they've offered Obama nothing but valentines since day one. Hillary Clinton gets the unflattering close ups, they take some shots at Edwards (they ignore Gravel, Kucinich*, Dodd -- despite a former coffee fetcher working for the campaign! -- et al). But Bama's the flavor they love. As Patricia J. Williams laughably explained, once being the president of the Harvard Law Review makes him qualified to be president. Well, whatever gets you through the night, Patti.

On Iraq, he repeatedly cited he was against the illegal war before it began. He neglected to address that he was against withdrawal as late as 2004 but that doesn't go down as well and Bama's a sweet, if weak, flavor. Nor does favoring predatory lending or the construction of nuclear power plants.

[Before some idiot e-mails, John Nichols addressed Kucinich in one piece in the magazine. That is not the same as the non-stop, flattering articles on Obama that have made up the bulk of 2007. When editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel rushes to leave even the pose of journalism to publicly slap down David Corn while building up Ari Berman -- both of whom work under her -- we believe the answer of whom the magazine supports is clear. Patricia Williams made her own preference clear in her laughable interview with Andrea Lewis.]

For the record

A number of e-mails came in at the end of last week asking us to note something again, this time for the record. Independent media has taken to repeating a falsehood and we'll assume it's by mistake.

Two weeks ago, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno helped with Operation Push-Back by declaring that a November report would be a better assessment of the Bully Boy's escalation than the one David Petraues will be giving to Congress in September.

This was an attempt to downgrade the September report. It was not an attempt to prevent the September report from being given. Even if Odierno had wanted to do that, he didn't have the power to do so -- the report is Congressionally mandated.

But last week, a piece that made it up at several outlets maintained that two Thursdays ago Odierno said the September report was off and then came back the next day to say it wasn't.

That's not correct. In the same Thursday press conference (via videolink with reporters at the Pentagon), Odierno explained of the November report he repeatedly pushed, "What I was saying is -- again, my remarks were, in 45 days I will have a better idea if the trends are continuing, and that's September. Obviously, we have an assessment we will conduct in September that will provide -- that General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will provide. I was not looking at extending that time frame when they have to report back. What I imagine we'll have to do is do assessments that follow that initial assessment in September, and that's -- I'm assuming we'll continue to do assessments while we're here."

"Obviously, we have an assessment we will conduct in September". Obviously because it is Congressionally mandated and the US military does not have the ability to override Congress.

So one more time, Odierno's efforts two Thursdays ago were to lower expectations about the September report; however, he was not ever suggesting or stating that the September report would not take place.

When journalists distort reality

Did you hear about Hillary Clinton's latest crime? We're not Hillary boosters and will call her out when we feel the need. But the always amusing Koo Koo Katrina vanden Heuvel sets us straight to Hillary's latest crime: "with the benefit of having time to think through her response, Hillary Clinton posed as the foreign policy sophisticate"! OMG.

Hillary Clinton posed as a sophisticate! Of course, she might actually be a foreign policy sophisticate -- a point that never enters the Supreme Poser's mind. We especially enjoyed the "with the benefit of having time to think through her response" line and, apparently, so did the Peace Resister Katrina vanden Heuvel since it survived her rewrite (the current post is not her original post -- when writers do revisions to previously published material, they should note that -- but that's probably a journalistic rule so it wouldn't apply to Koo Koo Katrina).

"With the benefit of having time to think through her response," cries Katrina vanden Heuvel!

We'd be sobbing to from the implication if we'd decided to toss out reality and go with Barack Obama. What Koo Koo Katrina's really confessing is that Obama isn't able to "think through" a response. Hillary did answer the question after Obama which meant she not only had to answer the question, she also had to factor in Obama's answer. We'd argue that takes a bit more skill than being the first to answer but Koo Koo sees a plot.

The real plot is that The Nation lied to readers about what went down. Only David Corn (whom Koo Koo dismissed in all versions of her post) told the truth. Now you may or may not agree with Corn's opinion and that's certainly your right. What's not right, what's not allowed, is rewriting reality.

While three other Nation writers chose to go with an impressionistic style of writing, Corn stuck with the facts of what was and was not said and built his opinions on that. Read Ari Berman, John Nichols or Koo Koo Katrina and you'll be lost because they shade reality.

How bad of a candidate is Barack Obama that three writers for one magazine have to drop out inconvenient details that the rest of us call facts?

From the transcript:

QUESTION: In 1982, Anwar Sadat traveled to Israel, a trip that resulted in a peace agreement that has lasted ever since.
In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?
COOPER: I should also point out that Stephen is in the crowd tonight.
Senator Obama?
OBAMA: I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is ridiculous.
Now, Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire. And the reason is because they understood that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward.
And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them.

That is the record, it's one John Nichols, Ari Berman and Katrina vanden Heuvel prefer to ignore. It's equally interesting how the target of their ire is Hillary Clinton when John Edwards, following Hillary Clinton, also shot down Obama's response. Can Lakshme get us an article on that? How men are given a pass but Hillary's attacked? (Mike says he'd be willing to post something at his site first if Lakshme can't think of how to open the article herself.)

"I would" is fairly straight forward, however, 'helpful' types saying he was speaking conditionally.

He was speaking conditionally in reply to a question that states "without precondition"?

The only conditional is if he gets into the White House.

Now you can agree with his take on it or not. What you can't do is lie about how it went it down.

In Koo Koo Katrina's rewrite (link goes to Common Dreams) she has no mention of John Edwards and appears to engage in Bash the Bitch which isn't a surprise when you consider that under her leadership the publishing record for women averages out to 1 woman for almost every four men. John Nichols works himself into a frenzy (link goes to Common Dreams) as he attempts to paint Hillary Clinton as the new Henry Kissinger. We're not aware Hillary advocated the bombing of Cambodia, John. In fact, last time we checked, Hillary could travel around the world without fear of arrest. Like Koo Koo, Nichols sidesteps the issue of John Edwards agreeing with Hillary (and disagreeing with Obama) by ignoring it. Both also ignore that the question was in your first year and without precondition. Air Berman, to his credit, notes Edwards' agreement. (No link because we're not interested in linking to The Nation. David Corn is the only link in this piece that goes to The Nation. Berman and Corn were not reposted at Common Dreams.) Berman loses credit for refusing to note the actual disagreement (or even quote from it) and instead turning it into a political dynamics article that only Koo Koo Katrina could praise as a "smart and sharp counter" to Corn's journalistic column.

Was Obama right or wrong? We all agree he was wrong and revealed not only inexperience but bad judgement. But it really doesn't matter what your opinion of the exchange was if alleged journalists won't tell you what actually happened.

This is the sort of thing that the 2000 campaign was slammed for, or rather, mainstream press -- usually women -- were slammed for. If you were opposed to their fact-free dispatches when the subject was Al Gore, you should be opposed to fact-free dispatches period.

The debate was a public event. Attempting to rewrite reality is embarrassing at best. The fact remains that of the four writers for The Nation, only Corn quoted the exchange in full. (No lopping off words to make Obama look better.) Only Corn provided a link. Do you get that? Do you get that writers who distorted what happened provided their readers with no link to check them out? Berman linked to everything he could think of in his piece (including The National Review) but didn't link to the video or transcript. We find that sad. As sad as attempting to link Hillary to the DLC (did she join as First Lady?) while avoiding Obama's own DLC roots.

Obama embarrassed himself in many ways during the YouTube 'debate.' It's a measure of how untested their cult of personality candidate is that his supporters have to alter what he said and what actually went down. It's also a measure of the hatred for Hillary that she's taken to task for her answer and Nichols and vanden Heuvel avoid mentioning John Edwards had the same answer.


Once more into the mailbag. Participating in the responses for this feature are 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.

Tuft10 e-mailed wondering why "you continue to present conspiracy mongering about the Council for Foreign Relations? They are just a group but to read your writings, they are plotting to control the world."

Jim: Tuft10 learned how to write but apparently reading wasn't so easy for him. We've never stated that Council for Foreign Relations is plotting anything. Many others have. More power to them. Our objection to them has been that they are a centrist group passed off, by some, as a left group. It takes a special kind of idiot to make the false charges Tuft10 does. Our opinion has been solely based on their centrist nature. We do not discourage anyone who claims or explores other avenues but we've never made claims Tuft10 suggests throughout his e-mail. Hopefully, come spring 2010, when he gets that college degree, he'll have learned how to read.

Jess: When Ty showed us that e-mail, we all laughed because there's never been a more foolish claim. Tuft10 is noting all these theories about that organization that have never appeared here. Dona said we could answer the e-mail but we weren't going into the theories he's listing because he'd be back to claim that we used his false charges to promote what he's accused of us doing. The Council for Foreign Relations is sometimes called here the Council of Foreign Relations, which is a private joke and maybe that confused Tuft10? But our objection to them is their centrist stance, that's what we've addressed. We've noted that repeatedly, whether dealing with Katrina vanden Heuvel's membership -- no editor or publisher of a left magazine should belong to a centrist organization -- or her laughable attempts to change the centrist organization from within or whatever. We don't think they they supported the illegal war, it's a matter of public record that the Council for Foreign Relations did support the illegal war. Tuft10 either has a huge problem grasping what he's reading or his mind suffers some sort of bleed where he reads something elsewhere and convinces himself he saw it here. We think they're a useless organization, a centrist one, that promoted the illegal war. That's been our position from the start. Other opinions do exist but we haven't had the time or inclination to go into those.

"Sally (not Field)" writes to say she can't believe Ava and C.I. conspired to rob Sally Field of an Emmy win last week in "TV: Losers & Fools" with their review which was "devastating to the accomplishment and work of Sally" Field.

Dona: I do love the nut jobs. In May, I wrote a column on how, due to the reaction to "TV: Friendly faces aren't who we meet," Ava and C.I. were taking it down a notch. They were going to do shorter reviews. They'd be funny, they'd go make their usual strong observations; however, the response to the May review was just too much for them. Not just in the short term, but the long term. If you've read for any length of time, you know that they naturally do that. When the attention gets too much they scale back because it really is impossible to write on that kind of level week after week. The commentaries that Jim and Mike have dubbed "epic" get too much outside attention and Ava and C.I. rightly know that if they follow that up with another similar one, it appears they do that week after week. No one can. So they've done their "peaks and valleys" structure from the start. There was also an effort, and this offended them more, to suggest that the review was the type that they should now do. But again, in May, I wrote about this and that they would return July 22nd with a hard hitting look at Brothers & Sisters. So hats off to Ava and C.I., we knew they were highly intelligent but they are also now psychic and plotted back in May to subvert Sally Field's nomination with a review they would do in the early morning hours of July 22nd. Not only did I write that column in May for the gina & krista round-robin, Mike at his site and Jim in his "A Note to Our Readers" have both repeatedly referenced that column. We're doing this feature first because Jim made the mistake of telling Ava and C.I. about this e-mail and they've since scrapped the review they had planned and instead worked the phones to weigh in on another show. "Sally (not Field)" needs to use that zeal on real issues.

Longterm reader Kaylissa asked if we could find a way to set off the questions in e-mails because it's "sometimes confusing."

Ty: Kaylissa is putting nicely. What happened is that Jim, Dona and I flipped the template awhile back. It's caused nothing but problems and destroyed our archive system. We're hoping to use the Labor Day weekend to figure out if we can switch back because this wasn't just a template switch, it was an upgrade. What happens is we really don't control spacing between paragraphs. When this typed up, we can work on that over and over and yet when we hit "publish" there's a good chance extra line breaks will be added between paragraphs. That does make it confusing on this feature because paragraph breaks appear where they shouldn't be and you have to pay close attention when you read. We had talked about this, Jim, Dona, Jess and I, a few weeks back but hoped it was just a problem to us. So thank you to Kaylissa for letting us know it was a problem for her as well. What we're doing this mailbag is putting the comment section in bold print and hope that works to set it off.

Brita writes that she's been reading The Third Estate Sunday Review for a couple of months and wants three thank yous noted. 1) She is glad The Nation is criticized here because she subscribed to the magazine before the 2004 election and has watched the "decay" ever since, let her subscription lapse and wondered why no one else saw "a giant turn into an infant"? 2) She says the Obama critique is needed as "a counter-balance to all the fluff." 3) In roundtables or mailbags, the person she always wants to hear from is Betty. "She's my favorite."

Betty: Brita, you're my favorite now too. I agree with your points about The Nation and about Obama. C.I. and Mike have done a great job last week pointing out how the magazine's turned itself into a cheering section for Obama, so much so that they will rewrite public events, the YouTube 'debate,' to make Obama come off smart. The fact that Ari Berman, Katrina vanden Heuvel and John Nichols have to rewrite what happened is an indication of both how much help the candidate Obama needs to stay in the race and how pathetic the magazine has become. My mother had an interesting take on the aftermath noting that Obama wasn't just showing his real nature in his attacks on Hillary Clinton, he also seemed to be exploring the "kicked a little butt" nature of George W. Bush in 1984. Mike Gravel accused him, rightly, of being a liar about not taking lobbyist money. But Obama's made his public response all about attacking the only female candidate. What a prince, huh? Same man whose campaign in 2004 attacked a Democratic opponent with a smear campaign that he beat his wife and, also in 2004, attacked a Republican opponent with sealed records on his divorce. Women need to be very suspicious of Barack Obama. It's amazing that in all of last week, there was no attention paid to that, that he was called a liar by Gravel but chooses instead to go to war with Hillary and launches a smear campaign against her saying she's just like the Bully Boy and Cheney. No one is just like the Bully Boy. Even Richard Nixon looks better by comparison.

Caleb noted he never gets quoted and he's been reading and writing us "forever." We meant to include him last week but the mailbag went another direction. So we'll include his question, which is primarily for Rebecca, this week: "Do you think Alberto Gonzales will step down or be pushed out?"

Rebecca: I'm glad that got delayed because if it had been included last Sunday my answer would have been different. I think Alberto Gonzales needs to be removed from his post. And I did think that was possible. Last week, I would've said the Democrats are serious about this and it may be the only thing they are serious about. The situation was coming to a head. They were pushing, they were leading. Then I saw C.I.'s thing about Congress' break, they're going on break from August 3rd to September 4th. Though I didn't know of the break, they damn sure did. And that paints their moves in a different light. I thought they were working up to a real show down. Now it looks like they've been stringing us along. It's doubtful Alberto will be gone by Friday when they start their break. It could happen, but it's doubtful. Over thirty days later, they'll return and have to pick it all back up. In light of that vacation, the refusal to hold Harriet Miers and others in contempt takes on a new light. I was thinking, "They're getting to it, they're going to do it." But it looks like they were just trying to run out the clock. Maybe that's why Silvestre Reyes covered for Alberto two weeks ago to the press ["silvestre reyes is a dumb ass"]? He knew the party wasn't going to do anything anyway. If they don't cite Miers in contempt before taking their month long vacation, I won't take them seriously and will probably find another topic to cover. Not that I don't think ousting Alberto is important but I don't want to end up being seen as a cheerleader for cowards.

Wally: Except for the minimum wage increase tied to the funding the illegal war, blood money, what have the Democrats done? They've funded the illegal war. They've played con games with the American people by pushing legislation that does not bring the troops home. I agree with Rebecca and with her "democrats play in the alberto cesspool" because what it's really starting to look is that the Congress is being used to advance the 2008 election. Congress isn't going to do anything or try to do anything but it is going to allow itself to be used in attempts to win the White House in 2008. They will make fiery speeches that are ultimately meaningless because they won't back them up and the whole point there is to get some fresh wounds on Republicans and, they hope, leave them staggering come 2008. Congress is not the DNC and it is supposed to exist to address the people's business.

Cedric: Exactly and this nonsense about "We can't impeach, it would bring Congress to a standstill!" What has Congress done? The minimum wage thing which is a joke and an insult to working class people -- both because of the time lag in which the final raise is made and because it is blood money -- and what else can they show? That idiotic report on improving health care for veterans -- and it is idiotic and why anyone would put together a panel, as the White House did, without putting an Iraq veteran or their spouse or parent of one on the panel just shows you how stupid the panel was from the beginning -- is exactly the same sort of nonsense Congress has been doing. "We're holding hearings." Big deal, you're not doing a damn thing. But remember, in the 2006 elections, the talk was "we'll have the power to hold hearings!" They have it and it's obvious that it's not being used to do anything, just to try to increase the Dems chances for 2008. The point of hearings is not just to shine a light on abuses, the point is to address them and to remove those who have not led. All I'm seeing thus far is that Congress is interested in hearings to expose but not to address.

Last week's mailbag was supposed to include a comment by Tisha who has also never been quoted or cited here. She wrote, "I've really lost all respect for John Conyers." Conyers is a House Democrat. Tisha's comment actually benefits by being held because a lot of people are sharing her opinion now.

Cedric: I think he's a coward and an old coward to boot. As C.I. pointed out, he had a Reverend arrested for civil disobedience, Rev. Lennox Yearwood. When you do that, don't you damn well try to tout your civil rights background.

Betty: I loved the point, made by C.I., that the usual gas bags came out saying it was racism to question John Conyers but ignored the fact that Rev. Yearwood is African-American and that this really echoes the "Don't attack Clarence Thomas, he's Black!" attitude that protected him while allowing a Black woman, Anita Hill, to be drug through the mud with lies. As for Conyers, he's old he needs to go. When you're over 70, you really need to step down. You should have a life. You should have other interests and the refusal to leave should be because you feel that there is something you and only you can do. His refusal to introduce articles of impeachment demonstrates that there's nothing he's going to do that any other hack couldn't do. He's old. He's tired. Go home.

Ty: Here's where I come down on this, and just FYI, Dona had us all sign up for anything we wanted to respond to hoping that would mean she wouldn't have to make sure everyone spoke and spoke equally or was at least given a chance. Here's where I come down to on this, your history is important until you betray it and when he had protesters practicing civil disobedience arrested he gave up the right to rest on his civil rights laurels. They are now meaningless to today because his actions in ordering the arrests made them meaningless. He's now a kinder Bull Connor in my eyes. Betty said, "Go home." I will echo that and add, "Do so before your damage your reputation further."

Cedric: And just to repeat, when a civil rights leader has anyone arrested for civil disobedience, that's insulting. When the arrested include an African-American Reverend -- one Conyers knew was present -- that's shameful. Conyers is now in a shameful phase and appears to lack the ability to pull himself out of it so he should step down.

Leeza e-mails to note that Aaron Glantz is praising the passage of the Barbara Lee amendment and wonders what we think of that?

Mike: I don't think anyone's listened to KPFA much since May. So I doubt anyone here can comment on some radio report he filed even if it appeared in print in another outlet. KPFA is a little too comfortable with Democratic leadership. The amendment is actually a joke and Norman Solomon cited Phyllis Bennis explaining why: "As the insightful analyst Phyllis Bennis points out: 'The bill states an important principle opposing the "establishment" of new bases in Iraq and "not to exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq." But it is limited in several ways. It prohibits only those bases which are acknowledged to be for the purpose of permanently stationing U.S. troops in Iraq; therefore any base constructed for temporarily stationing troops, or rotating troops, or anything less than an officially permanent deployment, would still be accepted. Further, the bill says nothing about the need to decommission the existing U.S. bases already built in Iraq; it only prohibits 'establishing' military installations, implying only new ones would be prohibited'." It's good that Lee introduced it but it's not accomplishing what most think it will and it's also not passed the Senate. It's a weak bill and one that is likely to be watered down if it moves through the Senate.

Kat: I like Barbara Lee, I like Aaron Glantz. I didn't hear the report. I probably wouldn't have agreed with it, for the reasons Mike just noted, but I'm not really interested in KPFA and their Democratic cheerleading. And to pick up on Mike's point, I haven't listened to anything on KPFA in some time. They've managed to do such a poor job that this lifetime listener is taking a lengthy break. That's partly in a show of solidarity with online listeners who are now on a second-tier and whom KPFA has threatened to cut off. I actually wish they would make good on that threat so that all online listeners could demand their pledges back. The radio station elected to have a hissy fit over a rate hike and to then punish online listeners for the rate hike when online listeners had nothing to do with it. Instead of noting something like, "We may have to block musical songs in online streaming," they elected to threaten online listeners with the station may pull the online stream. I don't think it's fair to punish online listeners, especially when they are the only reason KPFA's come close to making their targeted goals. It goes to bad manners and it goes to not valuing them and that's really not what Lewis Hill was hoping for. I feel that they elected to betray the mission statement under which KPFA was created and short of them apologizing to online listeners, I don't plan to listen anytime in the near future. Instead, I've joined the online listening movement and chiefly listen to KPFK right now. If I donate any monies for the rest of the year, I'll be donating to KPFK and if KPFA pulls the online stream, I may ask for my pledge back for this year in a show of solidarity with online listeners. KFCF has already pulled their online stream. They need to pull their website down because there's no reason for it to exist now and if we're being honest, KFCF really doesn't need to exist. They originate very little programming and mainly just serve as a relay station for KPFA. KFCF's phone number is (559) 233-2221 and anyone who has the time and isn't wasting money on a long distance call should telephone to tell them they are cowards. I take this very seriously and wrote down my name for this question for that reason. The whole point of Pacifica, the whole reason it was created, was to combat the mainstream narrative, specifically the selling of war, Lewis Hill was a pacifist. That they think they can now work at eliminating any faction of an audience is appalling and a betrayal of the mission statement. If the rate hike for playing music is so much that it's going to destroy them, that just points to the fact that they've made cheap shows off the backs off of the work of others, cheap shows that really weren't the mandate for Pacifica. This goes to the fact that they've wasted too much time spinning tunes when they should have been addressing the world. It also goes to the fact that KPFA isn't in touch with the listeners because they waited so long to rally opposition to this rate hike. I think C.I. still listens to KPFA but I don't know anyone else who does. Since I'm not turning on the radio, I'm listening less but when I want news and issues addressed, I'm booting up my computer and listening to another Pacifica station, generally KPFK. In terms of Lewis Hill, I take it as a total insult to him. The whole point was to build up listeners and work to get as many as possible. Now they're running them off.

Dona: Just to clarify, people signed up but anyone can jump in after those who signed up are finished talking.

The last e-mail from a regular reader who's never been noted that ending up being held was from Roy who wrote that he really enjoys the playlist. "Even if it's just a list with no comments. I like seeing what other people listen to. I always check out my friends CDs and it's a short feature so I hope you will go back to including it."

Jim: Roy's not the only one who's written about that. We'll try to include it more often and, time permitting, we'll try to do so this edition.

Callie wrote that she's trying to figure out exactly what Ava and C.I. are doing "because I just signed up for Hilda's Mix and there's their work in that too."

Ava: Here we do the TV things on our own and participate in all features here except highlights and anything else, I can't think of anything, that notes we didn't participate. Each week, for Maria, Francisco and Miguel's Sunday newsletter, we review two Spanish language TV shows, for Hilda's Mix we review one radio broadcast show.

Mike: And C.I. solo writes a column for Polly's Brew and for the gina & krista round-robin.

Ava: And also does The Common Ills.

Community member Markus wondered what Elaine thinks of the US peace movement currently. We should note that Markus is one of the community's Australian members.

Elaine: If you'd asked last week, I would've had a different answer. But I'll stick with the positive. The peace movement brought us this far. Fortunately, new groups have emerged and it's probably time for many to pass the torch because they have compromised themselves by becoming Democratic cheerleaders eager to enlist in selling non-binding, toothless resolutions.
There is excitement and that largely comes from the new groups including Iraq Veterans Against the War, World Can't Wait, the new SDS, Grassroots of America and The Camp Casey Peace Institute. There are others but those come to mind. Actually, I should also note Military Families Speak Out because they called out the Congressional nonsense in real time. They've maintained their indepence from any party and remained committed to ending the illegal war. As Markus knows, last week someone in regional leadership of a peace organization, or an alleged one, wrote to C.I. to defend attacks on war resisters and the person who had been attacking them. That doesn't fly with anyone participating here and it's a sign of the complete corruption of older elements of the peace movement that someone thought she could get away with that. Last week, we wrote "Editorial: Stop the Current Illegal War before the next one begins" which we all firmly believe in, that the peace movement should not again sell out its independence to become part of the DNC for the 2008 election. The e-mail that came in on Wednesday, to C.I., only confirmed how right we were to be concerned. As of this moment, the woman has refused to respond as to whether or not she was speaking for the organization or just for herself and that is an important question, one she made necessary by repeatedly citing the organization in her opening paragraph and, of course, the centrist pig also cited it in his Wednesday e-mail. For the record, we will not support any alleged peace organization that thinks attacks on war resisters or IVAW are permissable or allowed. The way I'm reading the situation is that they feel they can now hide behind centrists so they no longer need to support war resisters. I have no idea whether that means they never really supported war resisters or not. But I have no use for them and while C.I., in the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin, was careful to draw a line between regional leadership and national leadership, I don't make that distinction. This is a serious issue and if a woman who rose to regional leadership can't grasp that, I question the entire organization.

C.I.: Jumping in, as Dona said we could, and just to note that Ava and I are advising Dallas as to what links are needed for this feature so he can hunt them down. Elaine mentioned Camp Casey Peace Insitute. If it has its own site, he's not finding it. There is a page at Gold Star Families which notes more details coming soon.

Rebecca: Any comments on what Elaine said?

C.I.: She makes strong points. The editorial last Sunday did.

Last question for this mailbag is to Ava and C.I. and it's Robbie wanting to know what they have planned to review for the rest of the summer and how difficult it's been coming up with things to review?

Ava: Not as difficult as we thought and that's probably been helped by doing theme pieces in May. We were going to review Medium this weekend. Having been accused of trying to game the Best Actress in a Drama Emmy race, we're going to pass this weekend. We may grab it next week but we're also aware it's not coming back until the middle of the next season. So we may delay it. Medium was reviewed here and may have been done by all of us in 2005 or it may have been the first review C.I. and I did alone. No one's sure and C.I. and I don't re-read the things. We recommended it in real time, whomever wrote the review, and we still do. We may hold off on a review for it and wait until it's about to return to new episodes, currently scheduled for after the Super Bowl; however, Arquette's Emmy nomination meant NBC had to get off their ass and put it back on the air in repeats, currently on Saturdays. But that shows how little support the show, and women, have at NBC. They've got huge holes in their summer line up and they were avoiding airing repeats of Medium. We had Third Rock on our list and may be moving it up to this weekend. That's what we were calling around about, calling friends about to get some backstory and clear up some things.

C.I.: We've still got The George Lopez Show on the backburner. Ty suggesting Singing Bee [TV: The Racial Bee] was an example of how we ended up far less short than we thought we'd be. We were going to review the Victoria Beckham series until NBC turned it into a one hour special. I don't think either of us felt the pressure we felt in May -- the pressure of, "There's so little left to cover." That's largely because we're seeing scripts and, in one case two episodes, of programs that will debut in the fall and we're more focused on, or nervous about, what we're going to start off with there. It's equally true that we were still getting used to the two other TV reviews and the radio review and the whole thing was overwhelming. We're tired but less overwhelmed.

Ava: Good point. Or good points actually. Pax is now airing Who's the Boss in primetime and there have been suggestions from readers on reviewing that as well. It's also true that the panic co-incided with way too much attention for the May commentary. Most of the time, Jim does a good job, now, of not passing on the e-mails. Dona and Ty always do [a good job of not passing on the e-mails]. But just to deal with what happened following "TV: Friendly faces aren't who we meet" . . . We don't do greatest hits. We do real work each week. The response to that one commentary was overwhelming in terms of people who never comment on our reviews were suddenly telling us how great that was and, more importantly, suggesting that's what we should do.

C.I.: Tackle the news programs each week.

Ava: That's not what we do and though it might have been attempting to be helpful, we know what we're doing. Our reviews have regularly tackled the illegal war, the Downing Street Memos, and other topics to do with the illegal war including war resistance. We've been able to do that without leafing through PBS programming and it's good that we did it that way because it reaches more people.

C.I.: The attitude seemed to be that May review was a "serious" one.

Ava: And we did it the way we do all of them. But due to what it was covering, suddenly we were "serious." As though addressing the issues of the way women are portrayed aren't serious? We do know what we're doing here, we've been doing it, week after week, for two and a half years and the people attempting to pressure needed to get that we don't do greatest hits -- meaning we aren't going to churn out something just because we know it will get applause -- and we don't do what others want us to. We found an audience, a large one, doing it our way and we will continue to do it that way. And that's not an insult to anyone who called and called, it is just noting that we know what we're doing and we can look back on the body of work we have done here on TV and be proud. We don't need to hear that now we're doing it, now we're tackling the big issues! We have all along.

C.I.: And the reviews exist first of all to serve the original readers. They are largely young couples with children who can't afford cable or satellite. By being shoved onto the TV beat, we've been able to cover a number of issues that wouldn't be touched on elsewhere and we're proud of what we've done while dealing with a crappy medium. That one review, and Dona call time at any point, was no more 'important' than anything else we've done. The topic was PBS so people who do not normally read or do not normally comment on what they read thought it was more serious. It's no more serious or important than when we've addressed the absence of women and people of color in Saturday cartoons, it's no important than when we've addressed any number of issues. But there was a strong push for us to churn out "greatest hits" as Ava's pointed out. There were three friends suggesting strongly that we make PBS' news our beat and tackle that week after week. We really don't write on command or demand, ask Jim, and when we're pushed -- even nicely -- towards something, we'll usually respond by demonstrating that we cannot be pushed.

Dona: I actually wasn't going to call time on this because you both, Ava and C.I., get stuck taking notes on any roundtable or mailbag so you could have gone on as long as you wanted. But both indicated they were done so I'll just jump in to note, and Ty can back me up on this, the Genie Francis piece was popular with readers including new readers. News industry types loved that May review, regular readers loved the Genie Francis piece. It continues to get mail.

Ty: And people continue to write about that. It's been shared and shared again and again. Just last week, there were probably a little under 20 e-mails on that June commentary noting a friend had passed it on. And look at what's being tackled in what we're calling "the Genie Francis piece" -- sexism, the illegal war and the military brass' attacks on Adam Kokesh and Liam Madden. Last week, I again read e-mails from people saying, "I didn't know about Kokesh and Madden." The reality is that those responding to a review on PBS' 'news' programming are already following the news. That Genie Francis piece lives on and reaches people who do and don't follow the news. The PBS piece was what I call a "monster hit" immediately and we certainly got e-mails from industry types on that. But it's not even the biggest "monster hit" of the summer. The Francis piece, "TV: Losers & Fools" and "TV: Global Boring" all were immediate and bigger "monster hits" and will probably, like other TV commentaries, continue to get e-mails. Pieces Ava and C.I. did in 2005 get e-mails today.

Jim: Right. And I do understand the push, by some friends, to get them to tackle PBS because I've been guilty of that repeatedly. I really did not get what they were doing from the start. I didn't even get why people were responding to what they were doing when it was a group project. Dona had to explain it to me over and over before I finally got it. So I'm not slamming anyone who appreciates their analytical skills and their sense of humor and thinks, "Okay, now they can tackle the big things." But it needs to be noted that they have always tackled the big things. A review of Threshold is used to tackle the administration, for instance. They get their points across and they reach more people in the way they do it. It's just easier for the literal minded, you can include me in that, to see what they're doing when they're tackling so called hard news. And I want to know why the last part of Robbie's question got cut off. I'm guessing Ty was asked to.

Ava: C.I. and I know the journalist Robbie's referring to. The journalist did a feature story --

C.I.: Cover.

Ava: Correct. On an actor and the journalist is employing a number of our catch phrases. We know the journalist and don't feel it's theft but Robbie's not the first one to note that the entire piece reads like we were writing it. We had no input in it and we're glad to know our contributions to 'reporting' have been so great that we are now so obviously imitated.

Jim: I just wanted that in there because Tuesday night, at C.I.'s, a friend was going through highlighting the phrases you two use and came up with 38 phrases in that article.
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