Sunday, November 18, 2007

Truest statement of the week

When you speak to me as legendary, there's a joke to the whole thing. I am very inept with mechanical things. I'm of another millennium, the books of the nineteenth century. From the Depression on -- the Depression, the war, the Cold War -- the greatest generation being the '60s and not World War II. It was in the '60s, there was the Civil Rights Movement, flourished, at least for a time, and [inaudible]; the rise, resurgence of feminism; the gays and lesbians coming out as free people. So that's the generation, I think the greatest.

-- Studs Terkel, "Legendary Radio Broadcaster and Oral Historian Studs Terkel on the Iraq War, NSA Domestic Spy Program, Mahalia Jackson, James Baldwin, the Labor Movement and His New Memoir 'Touch and Go'" (Democracy Now!, November 13, 2007).

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
Another Sunday and things are moving a tiny bit faster this morning.

Here's who participated on this edition:

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

And also Dallas. We thank them all. A note on the note, it has run together without spaces between paragraphs for the last two weeks. That's nothing we're doing intentionally and attempting to fix it after we see it doesn't help. (And in this screen we type in as well as the "Preview" screen it shows that there is spacing between the paragraphs.) No one's griped about it but a few have assumed it went to the fact that we were all tired when I (Jim) write this note.
Oh, C.I. just said, "I have an idea if it does it after we post." If it does do it, we should be able to fix it this time.

Here's our content for this week:

Truest statement of the week -- We have five choices but went with Studs Terkel because he was stating the truth that so often doesn't get stated. That's a great interview by the way, if you missed it.

Editorial: The state of resistance -- Elaine wanted a footnote. C.I. agreed to it being in my note ("if it has to go in"). Elaine said, "No, I'm not participating" unless it's a footnote to the editorial.
Only Elaine could have pulled that off. Seriously. And that's not an insult to either Elaine or C.I. Elaine and C.I. supplied back history for two things this edition and this was one. She was needed on this editorial, she knew she was needed and she wasn't doing it without a promise that credit would be given where it was deserved (to C.I. which is why C.I. objected, by the way). There's actually a post-writing story to this editorial but I'll let Mike tell it in his post on Monday because it involves him. Hinzman and Hughey are not being kicked out Canada. "Any day now," the right drools. There are other options to explore. And the war resistance movement within the military is only stronger.

TV: I want my ... I want my Zen TV (or not) -- I got a compliment. That's rare on the titles I give to Ava and C.I.'s commentaries. Week after week, I'm used to reading the e-mails and hearing how I should have called it this or I should have called it that. Apparently, this time I wrote the perfect headline for their piece. Good to know two readers don't think I again defaced Ava and C.I.'s writing with my headlines. (Seriously, thank you to Annette and Dan who think the title fits with what Ava and C.I. have written.) There were about three different things they were toying with and a fourth. The fourth was no commentary at all. Although they'd told us they'd write through the strike covering new shows as long as possible, they did have second thoughts. They're still torn but after they completed this -- the longest time they'd ever gone off to write -- and we asked if there were any problems before we read over it, they informed us that they had been on the fence. They still are torn. Some friends (on strike) think they should continue the commentaries and some friends don't think so. So they are torn. They covered Life this week and did so wonderfully. Keesha also e-mailed about this already (the note goes up with the credit but nothing else until C.I. posts at The Common Ills -- if C.I.'s posting in the morning) to say she's glad to see they provided a link to Margaret Kimberly in their commentary and to praise it. (Of course to praise it, regular readers check out the TV commentary each week before anything else.)

Mailbag -- It's practically a roundtable! It practically is. It went on longer than planned but Dona didn't know about the e-mail asking a question of those of us doing the note. When that popped up, she thought it was only fair that all participating in the writing of the edition be given the opportunity to respond. (Dallas, not surprisingly, elected not to. All others did.)

Rolling Stone needs a Weather Person -- We honestly hadn't read this until a reader suggested we take a look at Bon's Q & A (Ty says it's reader Shirley). There's a lot in the issue to be appalled by.

Bad now, bad before -- This is the other piece that really depended on Elaine and C.I.'s memory. It actually started out as a very short piece. Dona said, "There are some bad songs in that top five and this is a bad period in terms of current events, but surely there's been a top five with at least as much nonsense." C.I. replied yes, and listed off that top five. That was all the feature was going to be and then I pointed out that while everyone should grasp that this was during Vietnam, we might need to provide some context. That led to Elaine and C.I. tossing out various things that were going on in the month of November 1970. We selected the ones we thought were most noteworthy.

Dear Sasha -- One e-mail came in on this saying, "I thought this was a slam piece on Sasha and then I read all the way through." Ty says that was from Kit who has never been noted here for any of her e-mails. Kit's right, it's not a slam on Sasha Lilley. It is saying, "There are better ways to present yourself as program director when you write a piece for a newspaper -- especially when all readers will not know all the details about KPFA."

Programming Guide -- Some notable programming this week.

In light of the Canadian Supreme Court's refusal t... -- Make your voice heard on support for war resisters in Canada.

"Fred Kaplan falls off his pony" (C.I.) -- Toby e-mailed asking that this be reposted. This was an amazing piece by C.I. ("Amazingly bad," groans C.I. -- we all disagree). Toby says he saw De Palma's film and everyone needs to see it. Not only that, Toby says he feels like the biggest fan of the movie. Toby, you may have to fight Wally on that. Wally said, during the discussion before we started writing, that De Palma's film is important and classic and that he didn't care what else we worked on so long as the film was noted in some way. The film is Redacted, by the way and Mike and I saw it Friday in NYC. It is a must see. (Ty, C.I, Ava and Jess have seen it as well and recommend it strongly. Dona's seeing it tonight with me -- I'm going back for a second viewing.)

Highlights -- Mike, Kat, Cedric, Rebeca, Elaine, Betty and Wally wrote this and we thank them for it.

That's the edition. Yes, we will have one next weekend. Planned? Joshua Key got bumped again. We really didn't expect the news to come down last week from the Supreme Court (Canada's) on Hinzman and Hughey. We also hope to do a short Santa piece and something on the primaries.

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

Editorial: The state of resistance

Last Thursday, US war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey heard court news. In start contrast to the news handed two Thursdays ago, when US District Judge Benjmain Settle ruled in Ehren Watada's favor. In fact, the contrast was so obvious, even NPR (via Tom Regan's NPR News Blog) noted it.

Hinzman and Hughey, two Americans who went to Canada in 2004 rather than take part in an illegal war, appealed the decision of the Immigration and Refugee Board (or 'Board') all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada and the Supreme Court refused to hear it. Their claims for refugee status will not now be decided in a court of law.

Somehow this has translated on the right and in the center coverage as, "They're getting kicked out any day now." That's not reality. The War Resisters Support Campaign is calling for parliamentary action.

It's equally true that there are other grounds on which they can argue they should be allowed to stay in Canada.

War resister Ryan Johnson tells Aaron Glantz (IPS), "The Canadian government decided not to fight an illegal war. Canada was going to go into the war in Iraq, but then decided that because the U.N. did not sanction it, Canada would not participate in the war in Iraq. That's a major reason that I came to Canada. Canada felt the same way I did about the war in Iraq."

Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- buddy of the Bully Boy -- that's not how it appears.
As Thomas Walkom (Toronto Star) points out, "This government won't protect even its own citizens without U.S. clearance. It is unlikely to help Americans trying to escape Bush's wars."

Hopes are high that there are enough votes in Canada's Parliament to fix the crisis.

Hinzman and Hughey have already accomplished a great deal. As noted at The Common Ills on Thursday, "Their decision to go public was risky. Others have gone to Canada and blended in. They are not at risk now. It took bravery to say no to an illegal war. It took bravery to move to another country. On top of that, it took bravery to go public. By doing so, they didn't just put a face on war resistance, they also helped put war resistance on the map."

Jeremy Hinzman was the first war resister to go to Canada and go public (January 2004). Brandon Hughey arrived in March of 2004. Hughey explained his decision to Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) in 2004, " I had thought about the decision for months, and I had talked to my superiors, my Sergeant Major, about why I had misgivings about the war. It came out of it for me, when I got out of basic training. It came out of a personal desire to know what I would be fighting for. If I was going overseas and point my rifle at someone and pull the trigger, I can't speak for all soldiers, but I wanted to know what it would be for, and for the right reasons. And after looking into the Iraq War, I couldn't find any justifiable basis for doing so, as Jeremy mentioned. No weapons of mass destruction, no ties to al Qaeda, and I didn't want to kill anyone for lies, if you will."

Hinzman explained it to Goodman as follows, "Pretty much what it came down to was-- I mean, I won't go into the false pretences and everything that we know about, but being in an illegal war, it would be being complicit and a criminal enterprise, and you may say that, oh, well, you're not a policymaker or a general or whatever, that the Nuremberg principles wouldn't apply to you. But in light of what's happened since Abu Ghraib, when they scapegoated like the lower enlisted soldiers for simply carrying out what the policy was from the upper echelons, I think it's pretty fair to say that we made the right decision. Because I was in the infantry and there is a good chance that I would have-- I would have been pretty active in a negative way."

Last Thursday rallies in support of both war resisters took place around Canada and, as C.I. noted, among those speaking out were Kimberly Rivera -- the first known US female war resister to go to Canada -- and Rodney Watson. It is a movement and Hinzman and Hughey very much helped get it started (both in Canada and in this country).


In the US, war resister Mark Wilkerson remains active. Colorado Springs' KOAA reports that he
and other members of Iraq Veterans Against the War staged a demonstration involving a "mock tower" where they watched over the area. R. Scott Rappold (Colorado Springs Gazette) explains it was a three-day action and that other participants included Garrett Reppenhagen and Robert Duncan and quotes Duncan declaring of his time in Iraq, "I continuously saw people being sent back into a meat grinder again and again and again. I saw people dying and leaving families and distraught loved ones."

Not only is war resistance not going away, IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

They've chosen a major US media center for the location: DC. Home of the United States Congress. The original Winter Soldiers Investigation went with Detroit which did (and does) have media but isn't a major media center in the US. It was selected because it was close to Windsor, Canada and the hope was to allow war resisters in Canada the opportunity to offer testimony by way of closed-circuit TV. (Technology has grown in leaps and bounds since then.)

The escalation (Bully Boy's 'surge') did not work. The mainstream media continues to lie about that or present it as "The US military claims . . ." without investigating those claims.* But what is happening is that the US is withdrawing some of the troops sent in for the escalation. Those who lived through the earlier illegal war will remember that the original Winter Soldiers Investigation followed Tricky Dick withdrawing a small number as well and lullying many into thinking the war would be winding down. That was November 1970 when Nixon did that and the illegal war went on and on. The peace movement today needs to learn from that history.

The troops Bully Boy is speaking of, the numbers withdrawn, will still leave more US service members in Iraq then before the escalation began earlier this year. That is unacceptable and needs to called out clearly. In a domestic world where All Things Media Big and Small yet again sold a Pelosi-led shell game on Americans as "troops out of Iraq," the peace movement doesn't just need to speak the truth (as they have), they need to do so even louder.

* Elaine said, "If I don't get a footnote, I'm not participating because it wouldn't be right to cover this topic and not note it." Why? She thinks -- and all but C.I. agree -- it needs to be noted that while All Things Media Big and Small ran with the lies of the over 15,000 Iraqis refugees returning to Baghdad in the last three months and then the over 45,000 Iraqi refugees returning to Baghdad in the last month, only C.I. called that nonsense out. "Not FAIR, which still hasn't made the time. Not anyone," Elaine points out. "Even before the relief organizations called those lies out, C.I. did and did so repeatedly. Want to know what you can do? Stop repeating lies as though they're facts. That goes to big media and small media. Silence kills and prolongs the illegal war."

TV: I want my ... I want my Zen TV (or not)

What is life?
Did you read about it in a magazine?
-- Laura Nyro, "To A Child"

The people behind Life obviously did and the magazine was TV Guide. When all new ideas have been exhausted (at least to them), 'creators' start splicing which is how the program that closes out NBC's Monday primetime line up came to be. Before we get to the DNA structure, some basics.

Life revolves around Charlie Crews who is played by Damian Lewis because, if you're trying to be different, the obvious move is to cast a White male lead, right? Well, in someone's mind that is different. We'd agree it's different . . . different from reality. He's a police detective and his partner is Dani Reese played by Sarah Shahi. The casting of the two roles tells you TV is still not able to cover race or nationality realistically. On the latter the American Charlie is played by a Brit. On the former, Sarah Shahi is Iranian-American and we're more than a little tired of the former Miss Fort Worth grabbing up roles that should be going to Latina actresses. Yeah, Dustin Hoffman played a man playing a woman in Tootsie. But we were in on it. At a time when finding authentic Latinas on TV, at a time when The George Lopez Show -- the only network show to offer them regularly and recognizable -- is off the air, exactly why is Shahi grabbing her second role as a Latina? (She previously played Mexican-American in The L-Word.)

We're not trying to do a disservice to American actors. We're aware you can't go into any LA fitness club without bumping into several. We have no idea why the networks this year have a urge to hire Brits to play Americans. But we also know that there are plenty of White Anglo-American males already featured all over the broadcast spectrum. The same cannot be said of Latinas (or, for that matter, Latinos). So we find it really insulting that Dani Reese, who has a Cuban actor (Victor Rivers) playing her father, is cast in a role that didn't go to a Latina. It's as insane as Angelina Jolie playing Mariane Pearl.

Shahi speaks a little Spanish, that really doesn't qualify her to play a Latina. When we made this point to a friend with the show, he countered that it demonstrates that "race doesn't really matter." It's interesting how that point is always allegedly made these days by denying roles and, in this case, a role written as Latina was denied to a Latina actress. No, Shahi isn't White. But she's not Latina either and the idea that her being another ethnicity means she can play any ethnicity strikes us as as insulting. We also doubt that she has the ability to do so based both upon what's oncreen as well as the fact that accomplished actress Meryl Streep never needed a beauty title nor was a cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys.

What "race doesn't really matter" actually says in this instance is: "We just don't care."

Adam Arkin (White) also appears on the program as Charlie's prison buddy Ted who now lives at his mansion. Prison buddy?

Now it's time for the DNA code. Charlie was in prison for years, wrongly convicted of murders, and DNA proved he was innocent. He got a big settlement from the LAPD (it probably helps to be White) and his old job back. Arkin's Ted is a curious character and sometimes comes off like Family Guy's Stewie in that you wonder do other people see him? They do, they just ignore him. That has nothing to do with anything scripted. It does have to do with badly staged scenes. That said, Arkin is probably the only reason to watch the show. While his father Adam has an abundance of edgy intensity, Adam Arkin has a abundance of comfort -- he oozes likeability. The underwritten role could be a nightmare and the dialogue is actually better suited to an Elliott Gould characterization. But when Charlie's already laid-back neurotic, the show really needs Adam Arkin.

Charlie's supposed to have discovered Zen in prison which translates onscreen as eat fruit and babble on like you just emerged from an EST seminar. He is a Chatty Cathy, pulling out all of his inner stuffings and attempting to pass them off as complexity. In that regard, we've got House (which also starts a Brit playing an American). But the writers of Life don't know from dark which is why, despite all the sturm und drang, you feel as though you're seeing the insides of a teddy bear. If you served twelve years in prison for three murders you didn't commit, we'd assume you'd emerge with some deep-seated feelings. Nothing in the dialogue, writing or acting suggests that happened.

Charlie and Dani go about their beat solving really lousy cases that are little more than whimsy. Most recently, they discovered the top half of a dead man only to quickly discover he had two wives. When the two wives met one another and realized they were both married to the same dead man, it was all so sedate, you expected someone to brew up some chamomile tea and drag down an afghan. What is the purpose of creating a bigamist back story and allowing the two women to meet if not to allow conflict emerge? They differed over what he always said about his job ("not not guilty") but did so politely. Not a strained politeness which might have been funny but like two actresses who were told to tone it down so as not to upstage the leads.

By the half-hour mark, everything that needed to be said about the case the detectives were working had already been said. By the time they went to a trailer park and met a man who was helping them out, if you didn't realize instantly he was the killer they were looking for you may be more mentally off balance than Charlie appears to be.

The big moment there was a trip wire. Presumably to explosives but since it ran across the space for a garage door it might have just made the door come down. Suspense was supposed to be Charlie and Dani standing before it after they both knew it was there. Was the suspense supposed to come from some involuntary movement their body might make? If the trip wire went to a bomb, went to anything, shouldn't they have shouted out a warning when a platoon of cops later descended on the scene?

Though in real life the police officers would have fanned out, on this show they just stood around and watched Charlie and Dani -- demonstrating that the writers think there's something watchable here even if viewers don't.

So you've got House meets Pedestrian Cop Drama? We're not done analyzing the DNA.

In addition to all the above, there's also the fact that although Charlie is now innocent, the guilty have never been found. Each week, he seems to get a little closer to who framed him and why. But after last year's 'real time' episodic offerings tanked, it appears that the creators decided to cushion themselves with a weekly non-mystery.

Like the character of Charlie, Life wants to be so much more than it actually is. Instead, it's so much less than interesting. Dani's got a drug addiction she's attempting to recover from and sometimes the writers and actress seem to remember that, while other times they seem to forget it. It's one of those "details" like Dani being Latina that really isn't supposed to matter. At it's most abused, Zen's basic premise can be boiled down to "Life just happens." As NBC demonstrates each Monday night, sometimes it doesn't.



Once more, into the mailbag. Participating 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.

Ty: We're trying to follow a time limit here so we may not get to everything planned. First up,

Jurgen Rommel Vsych has a book coming out February 12th of next year entitled What Was Ralph Nader Thinking that you can pre-order at her site. For those interested in being ahead of our book discussions, we intend to include the book in a discussion the month it comes out.

C.I.: I didn't know about that so let me just jump in and add that Jurgen is a director. And I believe the book is about her film Ralph Nader Crashes The Two Parties which addressed Nader's being shut out of the 2004 debates by having him 'debate' dolls, or action-figures, of John Kerry and Bully Boy.

Ty: I wasn't aware of that and I should clarify, for those who judge a book by its title, that this isn't "I Hate Ralph!" in text. Next up, reader Josh is upset and maintains that Wally and Cedric are "clearly supporting" Hillary Clinton's campaign for president.

Cedric: If we were, that really wouldn't have anything to do with Josh. He's talking about our joint-posts, Ty?

Ty: Correct.

Cedric: Betty's the only one involved in this that was supporting Hillary -- none of us know who C.I. will support and that includes C.I. -- but that changed when Hillary made the comment about look for someone else if you're Iraq is your issue. We've called Hillary out before. We will again.

Wally: My mother is supporting Hillary and I've noted that at this site so that may be why Josh is confused. It's also true that we don't cover Dennis Kucinich or Mike Gravel at all. Don't even look for them at our sites.

Cedric: Right and that's because we're making jokes. We could make jokes about either of them but we take a hands off approach on them. That may not be fair to them but we really don't want to make them the butt of jokes. I'm not saying that they've done anything to make them the butt of jokes but Wally and I discussed, when candidates started declaring, what we'd do and we agreed then that there would be enough negativity from the mainstream about Kucinich and Gravel that we'd take a hands-off approach to them.

Wally: The first thing we ask each day, when we're on the phone, is "What did Bully Boy do today?" If there's something he did that lends itself to a joke we want to work on -- some days it's too depressing -- we'll go with that. The White House is always our first choice for material.

After that, we're usally looking at political races or political scandals. We'll make fun of any of the Republicans except for Ron Paul. We also felt he would be marginalized and didn't want to do a laugh at him. The exception is if we're mentioning all candidates. If we're covering everyone, Paul or Kucinich or Gravel will get mentioned. That's only happened once and that was with Paul when we covered the Republican field.

Cedric: We both have a lot of interest in John Edwards' campaign and we will make jokes about Edwards. He's a major candidate in the eyes of the media so we have no problem with that. Barack Obama's the Bully Boy of the future. I don't mean he'll get into the White House -- as Paul Krugman notes in the new issue of Rolling Stone, Obama's campaign has "crested" -- but he makes so many obvious blunders, he is far more likely to pop up in one of our joint-entries. It's also true that the mainstream has treated him with kid-gloves and we see ourselves as a tonic to that nonsense. I know we got some angry e-mails when we did a joke about Bill Clinton. That joke was actually more over the top -- though not as funny -- before Wally auditioned it over the phone for C.I. C.I.'s feedback was that it was funny but by bringing up Monica Lewinsky were we overshadowing the point we were trying to make?

Wally: Which is another reason I always try it out on C.I.? For one thing, I get an honest reaction. Cedric and I can work and work, over work, on some and lose the point. Did we make the point? If we did it with a belly laugh, that's great. But did we make the point? In that instance, I actually groaned because C.I. was stating something Cedric and I should have caught but didn't. No, we really didn't want to go there. So we reworked it. When we have done jokes on or about Hillary, here's the thing, no one's complained. When we do a joke about Obama, we get a ton of e-mail griping.

Cedric: Which only makes us say, "Well we have to stay on this or the terrorists win!" That remark was a joke but it is true that if someone says, "Don't you dare," our response is usually, "Watch us!" The two candidates that most interest me in the Democratic race in terms of "Would I vote for them?" are Edwards and Kucinich but, to be honest, Wally and I aren't talking about who we'd vote for.

Wally: That's true. I'm actually surprised that it's only two for Cedric. Those two are on my list but I haven't narrowed it down to just two. Does that answer the question?

Ty: Dona's nodding, so yes. Second question is from reader Lucy who wants to know what we -- Jim, Dona, Jess, Ava, C.I. and myself -- watch on DVD after a writing session since "Jim's always writing about that in his note."

Dona: It varies. We've been up for over 24 hours by the time we finish. It's generally over thirty hours without sleep. We're eating breakfast and watching a DVD that we will fall to sleep in the middle of. Because we're all tired, we're always going for a comedy; however, I've voted for Chinatown and for The Hours before -- C.I. voted for The Hours as well -- but a comedy always wins.

Jess: Not true. One Sunday we watched Rosemary's Baby.

Dona: That's right. One Sunday we did watch a non-comedy. Ty, Jess and Ava came out here first summer of 2006 to live. And they got into the habit of watching a DVD after it was finally over, "it" being the writing session. Jim and I came out for the two weeks that everyone participating was out here for and then made up our mind that we would move out here. But the DVD thing really goes to Ava, Jess, C.I. and Ty.

Ava: If I remember correctly, Larry Bensky had a substitute host for Sunday Salon one Sunday and the topic was immigration and all these people were calling in to express their hostitlity. I said I couldn't listen to it, it was making me angry. We were still finishing the edition up but we turned off the radio and, after we finished, I was still angry about those callers. Ty suggested we watch a movie -- Apocalypse Now, by the way -- and after that, every weekend we'd do that.

Jess: And we love comedies but why it's always a comedy has a lot to do with Jim. Before Jim and Dona got out here, we would put on a drama, The Conversation, Klute, Coming Home, etc.

Jim: I'm all thunk-out by the end of the writing edition. I just want to smile and laugh a little while we eat and before we fall out. It's also true that we can't get too involved in anything because we're always talking. Although, thinking about it now, that's usually me doing the majority of talking. The most watched, week after week, are mainly the Marx Brothers, some Diane Keaton, Bob Hope's My Favorite Brunette, Abbott & Costello -- probably Who Done It? more than any of their other films, Mae West, In the Spirit with Elaine May and Marlo Thomas, 9 to 5, Tootsie, and a few others. Of Keaton's comedies, it's probably Baby Boom or Love & Death that we've watched the most. A lot of times, it's decided by what's there. We start out, here, in the living room writing and, as the edition winds down, the living room's trashed and we've retreated to C.I.'s bedroom. We've got a rotating schedule for who's responsible for breakfast and if that person doesn't bring anything in, by the time we're popping in a DVD, we're going by whatever's in C.I.'s bedroom. So that's about 100 DVDs to choose from. A few weeks back, there was one title we wanted to watch but it wasn't there and no one wanted to go get it.

Jess: We'll also put on musicals and concerts. Probably the most watched of a music based film is Grace of My Heart. On The Town had a nice run last summer. Another person whose comedies we watch a lot of is Goldie Hawn and that's Private Benjamin, Protocol, Death Becomes Her and House Sitter mainly. We watch Foul Play sometimes and that's not necessarily a flat out comedy.

Dona: Catcus Flower is probably on the top ten of most viewed movies on Sunday. Fun With Dick and Jane, the Jane Fonda version, is one we watch a great deal as well. Of the Marx Brothers movies, the most watched are probably A Day At the Races, Duck Soup and Love Happy in that order.

Jim: Yeah, we'll watch any of their films but those are probably the three most watched on Sundays. It's also true that we watch North by Northwest and, more recently, The Maltese Falcon and Bette Davis' The Letter, so there are some non-comedies that have made the list. What's Up Doc? is another comedy we watch a lot and Young Frankenstein. In terms of musicals, we've watched Audrey Hepburn's Funny Face a lot as well.

Dona: And Jim's always asleep before they're in Paris on that one.

Jim: I like the start best. I also like it when she's in the club in Paris but I can do without the whole arrival, let's rush off in taxis! moment.

Jess: We're just trying to wind down. There is supposed to be a rule about not talking about fixing anything that's posted. We're sick of staring at the computer at that point. But usually Jim will ask, "Hey, did we say ___?" If he harps on it enough, he'll worry C.I. who will end up booting up a computer to check and make sure we didn't. So far, Jim's cried wolf repeatedly but one day he may think we got a title wrong or left out a "not" in a sentence that required it.

Dona: Just to toss that out there, what do the rest do? Start with Mike.

Mike: I've got Elaine and Rebecca here each weekend and Rebecca's usually in and out due to her baby. When all that's left is editing, the note, illustrations being added and posting, I usually go straight to bed.

Elaine: Where I'm already at. Most of the time, I don't even wake up when Mike crawls into bed. When we've been out there with all of you, I find it amazing that you've got the energy to keep your eyes open for even five more minutes.

Rebecca: Like Mike said, I'm in and out. If the baby wakes up, I'm nursing. I'm also usually trying to upload anything new to Flickr which has become a huge problem each week. I'm generally so angry about that, I'm not in the mood to wind down. It's also true that, unlike everyone else, I do take at least one nap during the writing session. I'll be rocking the baby and generally tell myself I'm resting my eyes but usually end up taking a fifteen to thirty minute nap.

Betty: I'm by myself and generally nap before hand. I'll drop my kids off at my sister's -- I watch her kids and mine on Fridays, she grabs both on Saturdays -- come back here and do a little cleaning and reading, then take a nap to be ready for the writing edition.

Cedric: I'm like Mike, when it's over, I'm out cold. I go to Sunday evening service at my church now more than the morning service.

Wally: Some times I just fall out but sometimes I'm wide awake and a second wind's kicked in. If that's the case, I go ahead and get the day started and usually grab an hour nap around two in the afternoon. My favorite edition was the one with the book discussion that we decided not to post but then posted. There was so much debate about whether or not to post it and. in the end, Dona and C.I. were saying we should take a nap and come back to discuss it because we were just making the same points of why to publish it and why not to over and over. The nap really didn't provide us with an answer but I really loved grabbing it.

Kat: Oh yeah. That was a rough week. Most of the time, I'm here, at C.I.'s. If that's the case, when it's just the editing, I usually go out and grab a bed and tell Jim to wake me when it's time for breakfast. I used to tell Ty but Ty hated waking me up.

Ty: It's just that everyone's so tired.

Kat: I know. So now I ask Jim.

Jim: I think nothing of waking someone up, tired or not.

Kat: And I'll either get up or snarl, "Go away!" If I get up, I'm eating breakfast and watching whatever. My vote is generally "whatever" because I've just got my eyes open long enough to eat and then fall out. In fact, I'm not even on the rotating Sunday breakfast schedule.

Jim: You have to be up the full time to get on the assigned list.

Ty: Reader Shirley, not community member Shirley, notes she's never been mentioned and wanted to have Bono's "ridiculous statements" in the new Rolling Stone addressed. Shirley, we do that in a seperate feature this edition and I'm noting here that we do that at Shirley's suggestion. Baz108 notes C.I. covered the primetime line up during the writers' strike -- how to program -- and that some of the same points were made "days later in NYT" and wondered if we'd expand on that? I was wiped out last Sunday so that must have been something you did on Sunday because I don't know the entry.

C.I.: Yeah and we're not linking. But Ava and I have three different things we can grab for this edition and that's one possibility so I really have no comment here. I will note that the DVD of In the Spirit is a videotape transferred to DVD before any fans of the movie start thinking, "It's out on DVD at last!" It should be. It's not.

Ty: Chaz wants to know why the FCC wasn't covered by everyone and not just Ruth?

Mike: I'll grab the answer part, someone else can explain the FCC issue. The way it works is The Common Ills focuses on Iraq, Betty's doing an online novel about Betinna which is a story of imperialism and many other things, Wally and Cedric are doing humor posts that follow politics -- races and scandals. We're all trying to cover Iraq and do if only in including the snapshot each day. But if one person's covering an issue, we generally take the attitude of it's being covered by the community, so we don't have to do it as well. That said, Elaine and I both ran the e-mail addresses for the FCC commissioners last week and the week prior, C.I. noted the public meeting probably in five or six entries -- at least two of which were snapshots even though it wasn't Iraq related. I talked about the witch hunt of Barry Bonds on Friday and that's only going to go up at my site or here due to the scope of each site. That doesn't mean it's not covered, it's just we're all not writing about the same thing.

Betty: I'll grab the explanation because I'd have to graft the issue onto Betinna's story to talk about it at my site. Despite beating back the recent FCC push, under Michael Powell, for further deregulation of the industry, the new chair, like Powell before him, has decided to destroy the public airwaves even further. He's cloaking it in "newspapers are in a financial crisis and could go under if they can't also own a TV station and/or a radio station in the same town." That's nonsense and you can see Friday's Bill Moyers Journal online for more on that -- on the nonsense of that argument. This is a regulation change that would further dilute voices and make it all the harder for minorities to own media outlets. The FCC ends the public comment aspect on December 11th so you have until then to tell them not to relax the standards. The e-mail addresses for the five comissioners are: Chairman Kevin J. Martin:; Commissioner Michael J. Copps:; Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein:; Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate:; and Commissioner Robert McDowell: That's the basics. My sister and I are actually working offline on getting the word out in our community. I'd add this isn't a "left only" position. Conservatives, centrists and leftists are opposed to this move and it's why it failed last time, the public outcry was so great; however, Big Business spends a lot of money lobbying to get their way. It's an important issue and, again, Ruth has been the go-to in our community on that. She's actually covered it before her own site started in her reports over the years. So this is her natural beat and she does it better than any of the rest of us could. Hats off to Ruth.

Rebecca: And I'm simplified at my site these days. That's not just due to nursing or a relative being sick but also because of my core readers who are predominately in high school. I've hit on Iraq and done more along that and friendship -- which are the two biggest issues to my readers, the illegal war and friendship -- due to the fact that so many are focused on the time crunch due to the upcoming holidays.

Elaine: That's Rebecca's p.r. background coming in. I would never think about something like that. She does because she knows her audience and that's her whole offline training. Like Mike said, he and I did note the commissioners' e-mail addresses and write on it last week and refer people to Ruth. It's also true that if someone's had a topic and it's their topic, we usually let them run with it and don't step in. Even more true, for me, is I'm just trying to keep my head above water. I don't know if it's the temperature change or what but I seem to spend even more time staring at the screen these days and less time typing.

Kat: I hear that. I've been working like crazy the last three weeks and just tossing some stuff up there.

Ty: You and Mike are the topic of a question from Caleb who points out that you both wrote about Mailer and you seem to disagree.

Kat: I don't know that we disagree. I'll let Mike grab that. But Mailer wasn't one of my heroes and I don't think that's an usual position for most women.

Mike: Kat wrote about Studs Terkel on Tuesday and used that as a way to write about Mailer. I read it and didn't disagree with anything in there. I also wasn't surprised by anything in her post. My comments on Mailer were mainly pointing out that he was against the illegal war and his voice on that was appreciated because there are so few who will even use their voices to speak out. In terms of that, he's missed. I'd recommend his Why Are We At War?

Ty: Toby wants C.I.'s piece on Fred Kaplan -- where Kaplan attacks Redacted -- reposted in full here. And Toby wants to know why that wasn't a joint-piece by C.I. and Ava?

Ava: Because I was having dinner with my parents and got to Mike's only after the Iraq study group was over and after Rebecca had finally convinced C.I. to read Kaplan's nonsense. C.I. had already started writing it, we were in Trina's kitchen, and was writing it out in longhand, when I arrived. C.I. did ask if it should be a piece at Third and we should write it together? I immediately asked, "Where's Jim?" and was glad to know he wasn't at Mike's. Jim was still doing an early Thanksgiving dinner with his father. If Jim had present, the piece would have been for this site. It was a powerful piece already and didn't need anyone else's input. It's also true that C.I.'s stretched so thin that some of the weekend entries at The Common Ills rushed through --

C.I.: They're all rushed through.

Ava: So I was happy as a community member that something like that was going to go up there. I love that piece. If it hadn't already been started -- let alone nearly completed -- by the time I arrived, I would have loved to have done it as a joint-entry but I don't think it would have been any better than it already was.

Jim: We're about to wind down but let me make a few comments. I would've said, "Oh, come on, that's a piece for Third," that's true. It is a natural for Ava and C.I. to do here. It's also a natural for C.I. to do at The Common Ills. I would've grabbed Rebecca's post Monday as a topic for here as well. And there was an e-mail about Rebecca's post from two Mondays ago. Rebecca wasn't "slamming" me. I knew she was going to write about it and I knew she what she was going to say on the topic. C.I. had tackled the nonsense of a US soldier blaming journalist Giuliana Sgrena for his shooting dead an Italian agent. C.I. did a wonderful job of that. I thought that was a natural for here and asked everyone not to write about it at their sites so we'd be ready to go here. Rebecca said she'd go along with that but stated her concerns which were chiefly that C.I. had tackled an issue no one was and that, in being silent on the topic, we weren't a united front and all the hate mail would be aimed at C.I. She had a good point and I agreed with it at the time but thought we could do something really strong with the topic. When we finally got to writing about the topic here, everything fell apart and we really had little to say. It went from the planned editorial to a feature. Rebecca's post on that was discussing how that happened. I never had a problem with it. She doesn't say in it "I was right!" But she should have. She was right and I was wrong. And she knew it would likely be that when Sunday came, we'd have little to say. Rebecca and my own inclinations are to let it all hang out. We're friends and we don't worry about it or how it's going to look.

Dona: We're about to wrap up but it's also true that you really don't care. You both really don't care. If Rebecca posts something like that at her site and e-mails come in, she can respond to the e-mails or respond at her site or both. But there are other times, for other people, that it creates a lot of work. If two people would like to speak on that, they're welcome to and then we'll wrap up.

Kat: She means Elaine and me. I have no idea what happened but there became this whole thing of Elaine and I are at each other's throats. We both started getting e-mails on that from people who were concerned or trying to help. And we both wondered, "Do we note this at our sites?" If we did note it, our fear was it would make it a bigger issue.

Elaine: Kat and I have always gotten along. Everyone participating does. But about a month ago there was this big thing where we were getting several e-mails each day asking us to make up or what was the problem? We'd write back explaining we had no problems between us and asking where the idea that we did was coming from? It was comments here that maybe we needed to include a smiley face on. I know Mike did that with his interview with Ruth because he was concerned that some comments might be misread since their voices weren't being heard in the transcript. I understand Jim and Rebecca's position and that's fine for them because, as Dona pointed out, they don't worry about it. But it really did bother me that so many people thought I had a problem with Kat or she with me.

Kat: Elaine called me and asked, "Are you getting any e-mails on a problem we're supposed to be having?" And I was. We compared notes and it wasn't even the same people and it continued to come in. Elaine and I aren't overly personal when we're on the phone but that's mainly because we both love music and end up talking about that. But we do speak several times a week on the phone and we are close. I'm generally someone who doesn't care what people think but I do care when it's an issue of, "Why are you two mad at each other?" If I'm mad at someone, I'll say so. But I wasn't mad at Elaine and there were people convinced that we were mad at each other and really worried about that.

Jim: And something like that, to me, I'm not going to worry about it. I wasn't even going to bring up the thing until Dona told me she wanted it brought up. I'm not overly concerned about it. I like Rebecca and if people see differently, I'm not going to rush to insist, "It's not true!" I do understand that this sort of thing upsets others. It can even upset Rebecca.

Rebecca: In terms of Elaine and C.I. it does. Because they're going to respond to that in a private e-mail -- or not respond -- and not note it at their sites. They really don't see the point and think it fuels something. So when I get "are you mad" at either of them, I try to clear it up immediately at my site. I wrote something a few weeks back -- I'm being non-specific -- which was taken as a slam at C.I. and it wasn't a slam and wasn't intended as such. Elaine was reading it and pointed it out to C.I and me. I was in a panic and C.I. said not to worry about it and not to post on it. So I can see how Kat and Elaine would worry if something they'd said was being misinterpreted. But in terms of getting overly worried about it, no, that's not my style. But Jim and I tend to let it hang out in our own spaces. He does that in the "A Note to Our Readers" here and I do it at my site.

Ty: And Dona's doing a wrap up motion to me. That's all the e-mails we had time for but in reply to two, we will have an edition next week.

Rolling Stone needs a Weather Person

As Rolling Stone magazine continues it's 40th anniversary special, it devotes the November 16, 2007 issue ($6.95) to "Where We're Going." To determine where "we're" going, they interview twenty-five people and, judging by the list, where "we're" going is to the Land of the White Straight Male.

Three women, all White, are interviewed: Actress Meryl Streep (two pages), primatologist Jane Goodall (two pages) and physicist Lisa Randall (one page) adds up to less than 1/8 of the discussion's participants. Three African-Americans (all male) academic, Cornel West (one page), rapper Kanye West (one page) and comedian Chris Rock (three-pages), also end up less than 1/8 of the discussion's participants. (For those wondering, in these Q & A segments, who is asking the questions and it's 25 males.) Forty years older and what have they learned?

Apparently damn little.

The good news? Publisher Jann S. Wenner writes a four paragraph opening that brims with passion. It's not as nervy as he would have offered at the start of the magazine but it is much stronger (much, much stronger) than many would have expected considering the centrist tilt in the 90s that the magazine still can't shake (we're speaking of the political coverage in the 90s). Wenner's second and third sentences: "For the past seven years we have been fed a diet of fear and falsehood. We have been led into a war with neither purpose nor success, taking the lives of tens of thousands and turning millions into refugees." The Iraq War.

One of the central issues of our times, it gets damn little attention from the 'experts.' Al Snore leads off the pack and Iraq's not on his mind. Some may say, "Of course not, he's a dedicated" or re-dedicated "environmentalist!" He's got time to name-check "sexual slavery," he's got time to name-check AIDS, he's just doesn't have time for the illegal war. Which is why oh-so-many-in- the-know don't see him as a "Mr. Peace." For four yawn-inducing pages, Gore avoids the issue even when Wenner (who conducts the interview) asks directly: "Let's talk about the failure of the Congress. Even with the current leadership, we have failed to deal with Iraq, we are on the edge of passing another wiretapping law, we can't seem to increase the taxes on billionaires. What's going on with Congress, what's wrong in there? Where's the failure?"

Gore sees no "failure." That's "premature"! "Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are doing heroic work and should be cut some slack for the fact that they can't get instant results"! At one point is the alleged outsider's embarrassing tongue bath for a do-nothing Congress, he informs that the "wind is at our back." Don't stand down-wind of Al Gore.

Moving on to such pressing issues as WWII and Holiday Inns ("burden of staying in Holiday Inns and making speeches"), it's over so quickly readers are left with the impression that there are a host of issues they need to focus on; however, the illegal war isn't one of them.

What they may miss, though they shouldn't, is that Gore remains wedded to support for nuclear energy. He belittles the risks of it (in Tennessee "we're immune to the effects of radiation [laughs]."), explains his position (unstated in the interview, but he supports it) isn't "reflexive and automatic opposition" (and people wonder why the press attacks on his character stuck), repeats a bold face lie (no, Iran has not been proved to have "developed" nukes) and robs the anti-nuke movement of their credit in stopping the spread of nuclear power across the United States ("There have been no new nuclear power plants ordered in the United States since 1973, mainly because they take the most money to build, they take the longest time to build, and they only come in one size, extra large.") Take that Karen Silkwood, No Nukes and anyone who worked their butts off to keep the country (even Tennessee) safe from nuclear radiation.

Next up is one-time rocker Bono whose stock has fallen considerably as he has publicly bragged about grabbing up the publishing rights of fifties music artist to make a quick buck off them, gotten into bed with Big Business (and Tony Blair and Bully Boy), released a 'game' where players could assassinate Hugo Chavez, and oh so many more embarrassments. In fact, the closest the one-time rocker's been to music in years was his snit-fit with neighbor Sammy Hagar over smoke.

In a Rolling Stone Interview that still haunts him (and knocked the shine off), Bono explained that his little do-nothing group's tiny measures in Africa (tiny and insulting) were too important for him to ever voice an opinion on the Iraq War. That interview knocked the shine off of him with what are now former fans and, more importantly, led him to find out how the rock world could and would close ranks. So although he won't mention Iraq ("Middle East" and "shock and awe" and Abu Ghraib all get name checked once and aren't discussed, just tossed out), he wants people to know that he wasn't just lapping at the crotch of the powerful, he told Paul Wolfowitz, "Condi" (still the shameless name dropper, all these years later), Karl Rove and apparently everyone but "President Bush" ("I try to stick to my pitch" offers the carny barker for avoiding the topic with Bully Boy) that it wouldn't work.

The last hold outs of Bono (the ones believing the myth of the perfect and faithful marriage, possibly) are in for a crushing blow, Bono supports the alleged 'war on terror': "I want to be very, very clear, however, I understand and agree with the analysis of the problem. There is an imminent threat. It manifested itself on 9/11. It's real and grave. It is as serious a threat as Stalinism and National Socialism were. Let's not pretend that it wasn't."

Imminent threat? If it seems like Bono's declaring, "Round up all the Muslims," it's because that's basically what he's saying. But rest assured, he's got hate to spew at everyone. The IRA and Gerry Adams come in for such a tongue lashing that it's probably good for his own safety that his greed (he doesn't want to pay taxes) has resulted in his living outside of Ireland. As an 'activist,' he's nothing but an apologist for the powerful and a Republican (let's all get honest) issuing the sort of nonsense such as "the rich world will invest in the education of the poor world, because it is our best protection against young minds being twisted by extremist ideologies". Spoken like a student of Friedman -- Milton and Saint Thomas. He's off on the Marshall Plan and a host of other things he appears to know nothing about but hob-knobbing with the likes of Orrin Hatch have clearly rubbed off on the conservative and portly hog caller.

Fat Little Man has nothing left but his right-wing base. He's bought every reactionary lie and myth and repeats them. The aid lie, if you don't recognize it's actual roots, is the same lie the GOP has used for decades to avoid calls for fair taxation claiming that equal taxation on the extremely rich is unnecessary because it's in their own interests to invest in equality. As Paul Krugman notes in his Q & A, "The government's role has turned into one of, in effect, promoting inequality, promoting the interest of an elite against everyone else." Bono got in with that crowd due to having a "name." The "name" is now the equivalent of "Wayne Newton." Look for him to live out his final years entertaining GOP national conventions.

The one-time box office hope George Clooney shows up to dash more expectations than he ever did on an opening weekend. "You've got to play with the big boys," Clooney declares and, no, he doesn't mean McQueen, Newman or Redford. He means, sadly, John Bolton. He explains, at one point, that "liberal" shouldn't be a dirty word, then he goes on to say Bill O'Reilly's right about a left-wing conspiracy by telling an embarrassing (for him) story that shouldn't have been told because it's not about a left-wing conspiracy and it's more of what you'd expect Alan Colmes to offer Sean Hannity. The story is about a host of lefties in the enterainment world to get together to discuss the Academy Awards presentation. Should they make some sort of statement? Clooney pisses all over the idea (centrist that he is). This meeting was alluded to in real time at The Common Ills. No one was named nor was it portrayed as a conspiracy but, at that time, Danny Schechter rightly called out the lack of statements at the Oscars. Since Clooney's outed himself as the one who pissed on talk and plans for any type of statement, let's note that is the coward. An illegal war is going on, Schechter's right that it should have been noted. But Clooney was among the crowd running around screaming "NO!" and insisting this was Al Gore's big night (exactly why was never noted, apparently the Oscars owed something to Al Gore) and preached the "unity" nonsense. Clooney embarasses himself by not only outing himself but naming others. (Is he gearing up for modern day McCarthyism?) But it's not a "left wing conspiracy." It was people in an industry opposed to the illegal war, opposed to the policies of a despicable administration, discussing their concerns and whether a statement was in order. It was no different than any other preparations for an international telecast watched the world over. But Clooney linkens it to a "left wing conspiracy" and turns it into both a cheap joke and proof that Bill O'Lielly is correct. That's shameful. It's also embarrassing because he's claiming that the word "liberal" needs to be fought for at one moment and then trashing liberals the next -- after bemoaning the bad reputation the term "liberal" has received. That's no way to rescue the term but Clooney's really a centrist.

He expresses an ahistorical view of the world and of history itself. He whines that the reason "we" can't do anything in Darfur (apparently send in the Marines) is because of Iraq. In his world, that is the real tragedy of the Iraq War. He's always been one for the "boys" and he still is repeatedly using male pronouns to refer to leaders, thinkers and anyone not in a strapless number saying, "I loved you on Facts of Life, Mr. Clooney." He endorses "national service for everybody" -- two years. He sees it as a way to build "national unity" -- so did Hitler. He trashes the youth (well, fortunately for him, like most Americans, they don't buy tickets to his films). He ignores the very real activism that is ongoing and also fails to realize that he (born in 1961) didn't grow up under a draft and that didn't keep him from advocating his own causes. But maybe the rest of the world can never be as wonderful as he thinks George Clooney is? Having trashed the youth, he goes on to trash "bloggers" stating that they "think they're the [Edward] Murrows of the future" -- apparently they want to do celebrity interviews like Murrow did? -- "and that anchormen and news organizations are archaic. Here's the problem: If you're a blogger, who's your ombudsman? Who do I go to when you're wrong? Who can I hold responsible?" Who can hold Clooney responsible when he's wrong (and that didn't end with his decision to take over Batman from Michael Keaton)? "Anchormen"? Again, he chases the male, time and again utilizing a masculine pronoun whenever power is being discussed.

He's Burt Reynolds and Sly Stallone after the fall but no one's supposed to state that out loud or note the fact that all but five of his last fifteen movies tanked -- three are the hideous Ocean's franchise (though we are looking forward to Ocean's 27 where a same-sex kiss will no doubt be added to peak interest) and the other two are his bit part in the Spy Kids franchise. Leaving aside those two franchises and his laughable appearance as Batman, he's starred in only two films that broke sixty-million at the box office, Three Kings and A Perfect Storm. That cold light of morning, and not his activism, is why the hopes fell from his career and possibly the realization sent him into old crank territory where he calls for a draft, trashes the youths and rails against "bloggers"?

Eli Pariser, by contrast, comes off like a scientific genius in his one-page Q & A. Eddie Vedder's two-page Q & A serves up that he was "proved" right on Iraq (he was) and then goes on to offer, Barack Obama lover that he is -- a thread throughout the majority of the 'chosen' -- that "there is no good news that's going to come out of Iraq" duh "and there is no good solution. We have to wait for the current batch of thinkers to get out of office and support the next group of leaders, give them positive reinforcement. We can't hold them to task to make all of this go away." You heard it from Eddie, relax in that recliner, America. No need to take to the streets. The next president will be sworn in January 2009, over two years away, but heavy thinker Vedder tells you there's nothing to be done. Instead, you can use the two-years plus time to think of affirmations to deliver to politicians because they need a lot of ego stroking. Vedder's allowed two pages to embarrass himself.

We'd love to go to town on Dave Matthews, who also avoids Iraq, but the truth is he uses his Q & A to actually think so we'll recommend reading it and move on. Cornell West gets two pages (one if a full page photo) to bore us. He succeeds in a jargon-laden, leaden discussion. (Iraq's not a topic.) Jon Stewart avoids Iraq but does mention Ralph Nader -- a name former Nader supporters in the magazine work hard to avoid. Paul Krugman may be the only one in the entire issue to offer a kind word to Hillary Clinton -- all the more shocking considering Bill Clinton's interviewed in this issue. Tom Hanks is skeptical of politicians (good for him, seriously) but really has nothing to say about Iraq in a four-page Q & A (other than that "some combat medics in Iraq" are "funny," "good-looking," "modest," "filled with hubris" and "heroes"). Though Meryl Streep has more Oscar nominations than any actor or actress ("dead or alive," but Peter Travers only refers to actresses), she's reduced to two-pages -- even so, she manages to comment on the illegal war (and wars period). As does Chris Rock in his three-page Q & A. Kanye West? When you boast that you're not interested in the news and only see news when you're about to log into your Yahoo e-mail account, maybe you don't have much to say? Using limited time to comment on the "news" about a pumpkin carving contest suggests that is the case.

Bill Clinton gets four-pages to pontificate and the lesson here is that the Hillary campaign needs to limit his sit-downs. The triangulator can't get through an interview without rubbing many non-right-wingers the wrong way and this one is no exception. He's all up in Karl Rove's Kool-Aid over the "politics of division" and how the GOP used race in elections. Fair enough until he starts offering himself as an example -- a good one, ignoring his Sister Souljah moment among many other things. The mouth drops (unless you remember he was never that left) when he uses the term "illegal immigrants" and is followed with his talk of "the Other" and the need to "convert" them. Re-launch the Crusades, Billy? He dismisses Iraq in one paragraph and it's obvious that if the question didn't demand it be addressed, he wouldn't. The question is: "What should they have done differently in Iraq?" The obvious answer is: Not have invaded. But Bill Clinton, who bombed and sanctioned that country, can't say that. He was for regime change in Iraq. So instead he offers inanity about Al Anbar Province and the Cold War. He also offers shout-outs to Newt Gingrinch and assorted questionable others. Again, the smartest move the Hillary campaign could make is to limit his sit-downs. In addition, they might remind him that his wife is running for president. (Two in the Hillary camp stress that they had no idea the magazine's issue would be filled with Barack worship -- caught blindsided when they shouldn't have been -- or Bill would have talked up Hillary.)

The end result is that issues of race and gender go largely unremarked upon and are, apparently, of no interest to 'our' future. Streep addresses realities for women, Rock addresses the issue of race. A lot of White men reflecting on the Civil Rights movement is not addressing anything. Tom Hanks addresses same-sex issues and deserves credit for that since he's the only one in the official segments to do so. In an unofficial embarrassing section on music -- really an advertising fold out entitled "The Future of Music" -- where various people are given a few lines to weigh in, Melissa Etheridge avoids the issue but does say she wants to be remembered as "a good American." The illegal war is either ignored (we've noted the exceptions except for Billie Joe Armstrong) or something that isn't a pressing issue.

Novelist David Eggers, in a one-page Q & A, breaks the conventional wisdom taboo on Iraq -- one repeated over and over by the likes of George Clooney and others in the issue and in the outside world -- by noting the students he encounters who are effected by the illegal war. Rock notes people he encounters who are as well. Of course, they're both leaving a Whites Only world to do that.

Where "we're" going?

The 25 interviews are a failure as a whole because of who got invited and who didn't. Worth reading are: Meryl Streep, Chris Rock, Jane Goodall, Dave Matthews, Dave Eggers and Tom Hanks. Six out of 25 might be good if this were live TV; however, this is a print magazine. Not only could some of the pontificating men been reduced to a single page with no great loss, many of the interviews should have been killed instead of printed.

One of the issues for the US in the near future is the debate on immigration and the increase in Latino and Latina Americans. If you read all the interviews, you'll note the topic was never addressed. Maybe Bill Clinton thinks "illegal immigration" covered it? That's the problem with the issue of the magazine, so many realities aren't covered and they couldn't and wouldn't be with the lineup of subjects. Another race issue is the increasing number of bi-racial and multi-racial Americans but, in an issue where all hail Barack Obama as "Black," it's no surprise that this emerging demographic isn't noted.

Those who prefer and/or utilize audio should know that audio excerpts are available online of some of the interviews. As a whole, the November 15, 2007 issue tells you Iraq isn't worth discussing or, if it is, it's something that we'll wait two years to address, that -- demographic evidence to the contrary -- most Americans are White Males, that they are the voices to listen to and the ones to go to because White, Straight and Male are the universals. Where are "we" going? It's not even where we are.

Bad now, bad before


17-year-old Jimarcus wrote a lengthy e-mail about his disgust with Congress, his anger that the illegal war still drags on, how he can't understand why impeachment hasn't yet happened, the lack of attention to the verdict on the cases of war resisters Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey ("or war resisters in general") and "just when it can't get worse comes the Hot 100 this week with some of the sorriest ass songs ever in the top five."

He's referring to:

1) Chris Brown (feat. T-Pain) -- "Kiss Kiss"

2) Alicia Keys -- "No One"

3) Timbland (feat. OneRepublic) -- "Apologize"

4) Soulja Boy Tell'em -- "Crank That (Soulja Boy)"

5) Colbie Caillat -- "Bubbly"

And he dubs the bulk of the five "bubble gum sex from bubble gum heads."

We'd agree they're pretty bad. Certainly boasting of having a Lamborghini and asking a woman to McDonalds qualifies as questionable at best and crunk done cracked about two years ago.

But, to keep hope alive, just remember that it's been bad before. In November 1970, the US military rexecuted over 1000 bombings on North Vietnam hailed as "limited protective reaction air strikes." In Canada (on November 13th) there were protests against the War Measures Act (an early attempt to label citizens "terrorists" and the mayors of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver were trying to use it to attack war resisters). Detroit turned out that month to show majority opposition to the illegal war via a referendrum. Vietnam Veteran Against the War Jan Barry invited Dr. Robert Jay Lifton to speak at the upcoming Winter Soldier Investigation. Lt. William Calley was on trial for the My Lai massacre. And in Cleveland on November 9th, United States of America v. Jane Fonda took place. Fonda was busted, November 3rd, for bringing vitamins into the US that an idiot by the name of Larence Troiano just knew were drugs, maybe LSD! (They were vitamins.) Despite Tricky Dick bag man Clifford E. Bruce presiding, on November 9th, Mark Lane would establish that an after-midnight, wrongful stop in customs resulted in a phone call to DC to notify someone (Bruce refused to let Edward Matuszak answer as to whether it as the US Attorney General) know they'd detained Fonda who was on a (then denied) government watch list. (For speaking out against the illegal war. Bully Boy was far from the first to ignore the Constitution. And we're sure his own enemies list has many, many names.)

And while all of that was going on the top five on the pop charts?

1) The Patridge Family -- "I Think I Love You"

2) The Carpenters -- "We've Only Just Begun"

3) The Jackson 5 -- "I'll Be There"

4) Smokey Robinson & the Miracles -- "Tears of a Clown"

5) James Taylor's "Fire and Rain"

None of that is to say, "Don't be angry/worried/upset." It's just to note that this movie has played out before. Of course November 1970 saw many more events to celebrate -- such as George H.W. Bush losing his Senate election and his little Bully Boy being rejected by UT Law School.

And since we noted the Winter Soldier Investigation during Vietnam, let's note that IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:

In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

Dear Sasha

We're not taking a position on the candidates for KPFA's listeners' board. For one thing, the election ended on Friday. But listeners of KPFA that are community members and/or readers of this site have repeatedly raised the issue over the last weeks.

On November 13th, Sasha Lilley's "Commentary: KPFA Needs Dialogue, Not Demonization" ran in The Berkeley Daily Planet. We have no problem offering a critique of that.

Despite its mission of dialogue, KPFA has become a venue for increasingly nasty attacks, which exhaust the station and turn listeners off. I would like to set the record straight on a number of allegations that have been printed in these pages and to ask the question: can KPFA afford to be at war with itself?

KPFA has always been a venue for "nasty attacks." It's part of free speech. Let's not turn into a community of school marms.

Many of us have witnessed infighting destroy Left institutions--our own circular firing squads have often damaged our organizations in a way even the Right has not. Neither KPFA nor the American Left can afford such a thing, particularly today. There are different views about how the station should be run--and the differences are legitimate. The question is whether we can discuss those differences without personally demonizing the people who work hard to make KPFA the beacon of hope that it is and must remain.

You are not in charge of the way people discuss anything. What you see as nasty, others may see as straight-forward and vice-versa. And the give and take is what a dialogue is. Your role at KPFA does not include the job description "police what people do and say off the airwaves of KPFA." The claim that the Left destroys itself usually comes about when someone is attempting to silence reality or legitimate concerns. Something worth remembering before going to the well on it next time.

If you personally have concerns about "vilification," you might need to watch your own reactions while on air in reports to the listeners. It's been noted that some calls expressing displeasure over certain programs and/or hosts result in laughter or agreement while others result in a strong defense of the program and/or host. Your negatives have risen since you began doing the report and that is one of the reasons why: your on air reactions.

You're responsible only for your statements. Conduct yourself as you encourage others to if you want but quit issuing embarrassing statements as if we've all been called into the principal's office.

If you're going to discuss attacks against you and Lemlem Rijio, do so. Don't refer to them in passing. None of us have any idea of what you're talking about and don't have the time to go through a mountain of mail to try to find out. Nor should we have to.

You brought up attacks, it's incumbent upon you to state what they were. You're writing for The Berkeley Daily Planet. Not everyone who reads your column will have received KPFA mailings. Using "attacks" and "smear campaigns," raising those flags, without explaining what you are talking about is bad writing for a program director.

Later in your column you will refer to rumors about groups and or factions. Those aren't personal attacks, those are concerns. You may not like the way they are worded since you are included in them but they underscore the passion and support for KPFA. In your current position, you should appreciate both qualities.

Referring to an e-mail sent out by Brian Edwards-Tiekert without identifying him is shoddy. You are in charge of a public radio station -- public -- this isn't a whispered conversation at a bar. Edwards-Tiekert is an adult and he's one who has offered his reasoning behind the e-mail publicly. This isn't anything that hasn't already been aired. By not naming him, you do everyone a disservice because it becomes an issue of: "Who wrote that e-mail?" Quickly turning into, "Did you hear about an e-mail that someone at KPFA wrote? They won't even say who wrote it!"

Regarding the e-mail, you aren't responsible for what Edwards-Tiekert sent you. That's all you needed to state. If you replied to the e-mail in any way, you could release your reply. If you wanted to include or summarize his explanation of the e-mail (which he's explained publicly) that's more than fine. As it is, a public event is turned into a whisper giving the impression that there's something to hide. That's really not fair to Edwards-Tiekert. (Nor was that your intention, but that is how it reads.)

Most recently, people have asserted on these pages that we have prohibited the announcement of demonstrations on KPFA’s air. This allegation is patently false. If you tuned into our last management report to the listeners, you would have heard us announce and encourage our listeners to attend the demonstration by Code Pink at the Military Recruitment office in downtown Berkeley, to oppose a right-wing counterdemonstration. And in the middle of our latest fund drive, not only did we take time out to broadcast the Oct. 27 anti-war demonstration in San Francisco, we each told our listeners multiple times about its time and location on our air.

You stated on air that KPFA could not, for legal reasons, endorse an event because, should someone be injured in any way, KPFA could be sued. That's the point you need to repeat here but didn't. It's equally true that before Ruth called out the nonsense of what was being promoted, KPFA was passing off silent, candle-light vigils as actions. They are not actions. They are (silent) gatherings. While KPFA excessively promoted those non-actions, they ignored very real actions that were taking place. That was taken care the last go round of protests against the illegal war. You should note that and take the credit you deserve for the change.

In truth, KPFA is the strongest and most financially viable station in the Pacifica Network. We have more subscribers than any other Pacifica station, even those broadcasting to areas with twice the population we cover. As managers, we have increased KPFA’s channels for collecting listener feedback about what’s working and what isn’t.

Listener feedback? KPFA ran off some online listeners as a result of their threat to pull or limit online streaming. In addition, KPFA, 'in solidarity,' made a really dumb decision to pull streaming for one day in the so-called Save Internet Radio action. The goal of KPFA has always been to increase the volume of listeners, not run them away. Lewis Hill would never have endorsed a day of silence by choice. Considering the many topics KPFA never gives significant attention to, a day of silence was just stupid. There's no other word for it.

It was nothing but a radio station throwing a tantrum in public. It also sent a message that KPFA had two classes of listeners -- ones who would always be served (airwaves) and ones who could wait at the back of the bus until KPFA was good and damn ready.

You plug the Seattle hearing and do so after the fact. That broadcast should have had tremendous exposure and didn't receive it. That's a failure on the promotion side. Credit for airing it, but the grade is mixed.

The failure, nearly five years after the illegal war began (five years in March 2008), to launch a program whose focus was Iraq -- either weekly or daily, half-hour or full hour -- is a great shame for KPFA (and other Pacifica Radio stations). That's reality. The illegal war is not being covered in chats with authors about their latest book on eating. The illegal war is not being covered as someone spins tunes. Aaron Glantz' project should be folded into a regular program. Until that happens, the project is a bit of embarrassment because Glantz' focus remains the definitive statement by KPFA about the war and the statement is, "It's hard for vets. All of you out there be observers." That's not Glantz' intent. That's not what he's trying to do. But when no program has the illegal war as its focus, his efforts are undermined and it does appear KPFA is offering The Best Years of Our Lives as a means to 'address' the illegal war.

"Of course, we could always do better, but there is a good deal of energy moving the station in a positive direction and it is a collective effort," you write. That should have been the second sentence in your column and the rest of it should have been spent addressing that topic.

You go on to wonder what would happen if these 'bad' people -- whom you never name -- are elected to the listeners' board. What would happen? The same thing that would happen with any Listeners Board, you would work with them. Your title is Interim Program Director. You really have no business holding that title and involving yourself in the election of the LSB.

One of your biggest shocks has been going from a well liked programmer (liked for a reason) to someone whom a number of people are suspicious of. There's a reason for that. As a programmer you were co-hosting a show and people who agreed with you or found the program interesting could listen to it and those who didn't could turn it off. You no longer represent three hours of KPFA a week. Your position means many more people are studying you and because, in public, you are frequently so hard to read (a given when someone feels they are under attack) there are more questions and your nuances (such as your reactions to phoned in comments on the listeners' report) are studied, pondered and commented on. That's reality.

You're a strong woman and you can handle it if you recognize and acknowledge the shift.

Writing a column that will be read as "Mean people are saying mean stuff about me" is really ridiculous and undermines the position you hold. You had a full column that you could have utilized to talk about the station and what you're doing and have done. Instead it was a cry to stop talking! Now!

People are going to talk and you supplied them with what to talk about (and they are talking). That's no one's fault but your own. Had you written about the station and where it's headed, you would have sounded like a confident program director who was trying to steer a course and that would be the topic of discussions. All your column did was add fuel to the fire and make it that much more likely that the very real accomplishments you can take credit for will instead be ignored.

The saddest e-mail to this site was from a woman who was a huge fan of the work you did on Against the Grain. She didn't attack you. She wondered what happened to that you? What's happened is you're now in a high visibility position where your every move is scrutinized and you responded, in your column, as if you were still a programmer fighting for air time. It was beneath your position and beneath you. When you work from the position that everyone's against you, you're undermining yourself and forgetting that what you are judged upon, in the end, is whether or not KPFA was worth listening to that day?

Only when mentioning the Larry Bensky coverage of the Seattle FCC public hearing and Aaron Glantz' project did you seem to remember what your role was now.

We wouldn't suggest that you ever write a column like that again; however, if you do, at least present in a question-and-answer format. Had the same comments been made in response to questions, that would have helped to mitigate the defensive posture. Had the same comments been made in actual Q&A, you would have been seen as addressing topics in an interview. Instead, you're raising issues that you say are non-issues but, due to the fact that you are writing about them and that you are the program director, they suddenly seem much more important than they are. That wasn't your intent.

For us, our issues with KPFA can be boiled down to two chief concerns.

1) Iraq.

A program needs to focus on the illegal war. An existing one or a new one, it doesn't matter. But it needs to be the focus. You shouldn't tell yourself that it can be covered by other programs because Against the Grain went months without addressing the illegal war. It could offer roundtables, reports or just a summary of headlines. But a program needs to focus on the illegal war.

2) Online listeners.

KPFA got no links. Did anyone notice that? The whole article, it has no links. Why is that?

Because of the decision to create two classes of listeners and because of the threat to do away with online listeners -- which KFCF in Fresno already has done. That didn't just anger some online listeners, it angered listeners over the airwaves. Kat, a lifelong KPFA listener, now listen to KPFK online instead of turning on her radio and listening to KPFA. C.I. can't link to KPFA without The Common Ills community being in an uproar. A vague note in the KPFA newsletter is not addressing the issue. KPFA put the threat/warning online. Kept it there for days. Only after it became an issue did they alter it. There has been no apology or retraction of the threat.

Acting like it didn't take place doesn't erase it.

Nor did providing a day of dead air to online listeners help in any way. Should KPFA ever go down, we like to think it would go down swinging. There is enough silence in the world and KPFA should never contribute to that by eliminating its own voice. No other Pacifica station took part in that nonsense. That the original home of Pacifica Radio did so is really sad.

Those are issues that go to the job description of a program director. What someone did or didn't say in an election campaign for the LSB really doesn't require a comment from a program director.

Programming Guide


Today at 1:00 pm EST, on WBAI's The Next Hour:

Elizabeth Nunez hosts the hour with Diarah N'Daw Spech, co-creator of the African Diaspora Film Festival and filmmaker Frances-Anne Solomon, director of the festival's opening night film, "A Winter's Tale."

Today at 7:00 pm EST, National Lawyers Guild president Marjorie Cohn (author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law) will be on CSPAN2's Book TV (also streams live online).

Monday on WBAI's Cat Radio Cafe, 1:00 pm EST (streams live online):

NOVEMBER 19 Producer Alan Buchman on The Culture Project's new discussion series, "A Question of Impeachment"; composer Michael Colina, Latin American pianist Polly Ferman and jazz piano legend Bob James on Colina's work in concert upcoming at Christ and St. Stephen's; and singers from "Kleinkunst: Warsaw's Brave and Brilliant Yiddish Cabaret."Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer.

Also WBAI has extended the voting for the Local Station Board Election. They were due by last Friday but it's been extended to this Friday, November 23rd. If you have a ballot and have not sent it in, you now have additional period to get your ballot in. There are 21 names listed as well as the write-in options and 9 are to be elected. If you've seen the ballot, you know there are some really strong voices running. If you qualify for a ballot and haven't received one, you can see the WBAI website to find out how to get one. Repeating, the voting period has been extended to Friday, November 23rd.

And Friday on PBS' NOW with David Brancaccio:

How far will oil companies go to get the politics they want? A bribery scandal in Alaska.
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