Sunday, March 16, 2008

Truest Statement of the Week

"The best preventative healthcare . . . for our soldiers in uniform is to not use them to fight illegal occupations in the first place."

-- Adrienne Kinne, Iraq Veterans Against the War's Winter Soldier Investigation, Friday, March 14th, panel on The Crisis in Veterans' Healthcare.

A note to our readers

Hey --
We always have computer problems!

On the plus waiting and waiting for Flickr allowed us to do a short feature we hadn't thought we had time for.

Here's who worked 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,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,Wally of The Daily Jot,

And Dallas. We thank of all them.

Here's what we've got:

Truest Statement of the Week -- there were a ton. We went with this one because it is a truest and also because of what we focused on in another article. (And also because Kinne isn't being reported on in any coverage we've seen and her testimony was very important.)

Editorial: Are you ready to listen -- In many ways, media silence greeted the first Winter Soldier Investigation. Guess what . . .

TV: Nothing-ness -- I have never had a harder time coming up with a title for Ava and C.I.'s piece. I read this thing (after reading it out loud to everyone) several times and if it doesn't fit, bring on the complaints of how my bad title destroyed Ava and C.I.'s masterpiece. Except for the short feature done while endlessly waiting on Flickr, this was the last thing done. We were cooking and racing along. So they decided to hold off their piece (Ava and C.I.'s commentary is usually what lifts everyone's spirits when I read it out loud -- what, you thought it was my voice!). We knew they working in Abby Hiser and that's really all we knew. They'd complained about the TV sitcom some time ago. We weren't surprised they grabbed that. And we saw their tons of notes on scraps of paper. Are you, we asked them, easing viewers back into entertainment reviews? No, they just had a number of things they wanted to comment on. It's really surprising how well this all mixed together. Yes, they've written the most popular feature article of the edition yet again. But there are others that may give them a run for their money.

Veterans Healthcare -- This is our big article. It was even bigger. First off, Congressional statements not linked to appeared in C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" Wendesday and "Iraq snapshot" Thursday. We hear you in the e-mails, you think C.I.'s Congressional hearings coverage needs to be amplified ("If only in a reposting!" wrote Gerald last week). We agree. We also have only so much time. We were able to work that in here. This is actually a feature C.I., Elaine, Mike, Wally and Ava have been advocating for some time. Since it was a topic for an IVAW panel this weekend, we finally got around to it. As we note, the limited coverage that we've seen all focuses on Rules of Engagement (two panels on Friday). As Mike, Kat, Elaine, Betty, Cedric, Wally, Marcia and Rebecca explain in "Highlights," that was almost the sole focus for sites posting in the evening Friday (and morning Saturday). It was important and it did catch attention. So naturally, we went another way. (To Mike, :D.) But this is also an important issue and it didn't catch attention. We all have the power we choose to use and we decided to emphasize this. We will be covering Winter Soldier next week as well. Again, there are time limits. We started late because C.I. was typing up notes (transcript) for El Spirto so that those not able to stream and those with hearing disabilities would be able to keep up with Winter Soldier. We had problems with Flickr (always) and we had a roundtable. Something's got to give. But we will be covering Winter Soldier again next weekend and we'll probably be looking over any coverage we can find to see what didn't get covered. This edition, we did two articles and the editorial on it.

Roundtable -- This almost didn't go up. Thank Ava and C.I. if you appreciate it. I was saying we should hold this and Ava and C.I. hit the roof. Not because they gave a damn when it ran but because they had typed up the @@#$$$&&!!! thing and couldn't believe they'd spent so long typing only to find out that we could have been getting sleep already because the thing wasn't going to run. We're primarily exploring race and gender in the 2008 Democratic Primary race. Jess' comments were a shocker and the only reason Ava and C.I. would agree to hold it was if Jess wanted time to think about whether or not to include them? He didn't. His approach is our approach: Say it. Say what you think, say what you feel. Somebody doesn't like it, in the words of Cedric, "Oh well."

Barack's serving Chicken Sop for the Soul -- This was one we went back and forth on. On the plus, it was a short feature. On the minus, C.I. and Elaine feel there's too much emphasis on party politics these days. But all agreed the story didn't get enough attention and we had an illustration (held over from last week due to Flickr problems) that we could use. C.I. adds, "It's also about Iraq. Elaine and my objection in terms of this feature was the use of a press release which immediately gives an out to anyone who wants to say, 'Oh, that's what Hillary said!' The issue itself is addressed by Ava and myself in the TV thing. "

Dumb Ass of the Week -- The short feature you almost missed but Flicrk wasn't uploading images so we had time. This is exactly the sort of thing that C.I.'s been catching (we grabbed it from a snapshot) covering the Congressional hearings. Walter Jones, you have earned your title.

Negative Critisicm of Winter Soldiers Investigatio... -- We were surprised by the e-mails coming in stating we wouldn't say anything bad about Winter Soldier. If we didn't like something, we would have just stayed silent. If we really disliked something, we'd address it. Betty hated this panel (see roundtable) and we heard from female IVAW members about it as well. There were two strong points and that's noted. But the rest of it? Three speakers didn't stick to the topic.

A Hatian-American is not an African-American -- Short feature because C.I. was ignoring the e-mailer when he wrote TCI and then he started writing us (sixteen times). So there's your response and it's all you're going to get.

Support the candidates that support the truth -- this is a press release and we're noting it because we're trying to note the ones who got the word out on IVAW. If you're in the 11th Congressional district, there's someone you should consider voting for.

Winter Soldiers Investigation coverage by the community -- Mike, Elaine, Betty, Rebecca, Cedric, Wally, Marcia and Kat (did we forget anyone?) did two highlight features. This is just noting the coverage in the community on Winter Soldier.

Highlights -- And this is their tradional highlights feature. We thank them for both.

That's the edition. See you next week.

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

P.S. One more thing. C.I. checked e-mails (at TCI) around three in the morning. That's when we found out WBAI had NOT broadcast Saturday's hearings. Where we could remember, we removed WBAI from the links for Winter Soldier. Our apologies that it was included. We were listening to KPFA and wrongly assumed that a three day Pacifica event would be broadcast for three days on Pacifica stations. WBAI broadcast it on Friday but not on Saturday.

Editorial: Are you ready to listen


Their stories will be told,
Are you ready to listen?

It's a question worth asking as you look (in vain) for coverage of Iraq Veterans Against the War Winter Soldiers Investigation. The action continues today. [You can listen at the IVAW website, at KPFA, at War Comes Home, at KPFK and at the Pacifica Radio homepage from ten a.m. to four p.m. EST.] Where's the coverage?

Before we get to the coverage, where's the attention to the action? CODEPINK does not promote it on their front page, nor Gold Star Families For Peace, nor A.N.S.W.E.R., nor the CCCO . . . Getting the idea of how hard the 'peace' movement's been working or, in this case, not? Speaking to Aimee Allison and Aaron Glantz on Friday (Allison and Glantz are anchoring the radio coverage of the event), the Center For Media and Democracy's John Stauber (who wrote about the action last week) noted that "the big Democratic Party alligned so-called anti-war groups like MoveOn and Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, groups that have budgets in the tens of millions of dollars have been completely silent. These groups could have led the way in publicizing Winter Soldier, but they're not." No they aren't.

Militaries Family Speak Out, United for Peace & Justice and Courage to Resist did promote the event. (See, they get links, that's how it works when you stand up.) What is Winter Soldier?

Winter Soldier Investigation (February, 1971) was an action that took place during Vietnam, Among those offering testimony on what they witnessed and took part in during Vietnam was current US Senator and 2004 Democratic Party presidential nominee John Kerry. The event was put on by Vietnam Veterans Against the War and they held their hearings in Detroit. Some of the testimonies were published by Beacon Press in a limited run and they were read into the Congressional record. Pacifica Radio covered the hearings. Very few other domestic outlets bothered to do so. Elaine and C.I. worked on getting the word out on those hearings (which is why C.I. was able to explain what no writer today appears able to: Why Detroit? It was hoped that a closed-circuit TV hook up would allow war resisters in Canada to testify) and they, Rebecca and Ruth remember very well how little attention the hearings received from the mainstream media. They also remember that the alternative press and underground (FM) radio did publicize the hearings, did discuss them.

As IVAW's action approached, we wondered who would get the word out and who would cover it. The latter news is actually better than the former.

Who would get the word out? Not too damn many. Even peace organizations couldn't be counted on (and the list of those not noting IVAW's action is far longer than what we've included at the top). Who was getting the word out in 'independent' media?

If you visited the websites of The Progressive you could find a story on an upcoming conference (Take Back America!) but nothing on IVAW. Ditto Mother Jones. Ditto In These Times. Ditto BuzzFlash as of mid-day Friday. Let's deal with BuzzFlash first.

Mark Karlin, the editor and publisher of BuzzFlash, advised (Friday afternoon) that, "we've covered ivaw a lot and there is a blog entry going up today as well as a link to the homepage of the winter soldier investigation we honor the undertaking but we have 190 headlines so sometimes people don't see everything." BuzzFlash gets a link and we thank Karlin for his reply. Many sites didn't bother to reply. But this issue was raised by community members of The Common Ills and C.I. began addressing it Thursday night. Community members Heather, Shirley, Martha and Eli were monitoring a variety of sites on Friday at C.I.'s request (and they helped send out e-mails for this feature, we thank them for that). They didn't see it Friday morning and, since Eli wisely copied and pasted Friday morning's full BuzzFlash page into an e-mail, we can say we don't see it either. BuzzFlash did link to some coverage. They linked to Amy Goodman's Friday report and they linked to The War Comes Home which was (and is today) a resource for live streaming of IVAW's hearings. Saturday afternoon (EST), we still didn't see anything additional. (We're sure there was a blog post and we'll gladly link to it next week if BuzzFlash e-mails us the blog's web address.) 190 links is a lot of links. And it is easy for things to get lost. On Saturday afternoon, we had to look and look to find the two, well down the page.

Matthew Rothschild, editor and CEO of The Progressive, advised, "We're posting our cover story from the April issue on our website. The cover story is about two Winter Soldiers."

The Nation? Peter Rothberg did one of his action alerts (we're not insulting him, we're glad he did -- see C.I.'s comments Thursday night) that are also posted online (but no one considers it's a blog) on Wednesday. That was apparently it. The hearings started on Thursday. Friday morning, a friend with The Nation advised C.I. that Christopher Hayes had just posted a link in a blog post at The Nation and that "he's very serious about covering this." We would say that he is. He exchanged e-mails with Martha on Friday explaining that the magazine's Jeremy Scahill was there (Scahill offered testimony Friday as part of the afternoon's Corporate Pillaging and Military Contractors panel) and that another writer for The Nation was following it and would be posting it; however, depending upon the time, it might not go up until Monday.

In addition to the above, Kat, Ava and C.I. saw Anthony Swofford at the hearings Friday and he's writing something on Winter Soldier for Slate (Swofford is the author of Jarhead).

We linked to the above and our policy is we don't link to trash.

But the reality is that the hearings have a wider impact if you actually see or hear them. A really great write up the day after may make you think, "I'll catch ___ next time they're in town"; however, it's not going to capture the event itself.

Let's go to some positives in terms of getting the word out. Mark Benjamin wrote about the hearings for Salon. Raw Story gave a heads up when it was needed. OpEdNews has repeatedly covered the hearings. On Thursday morning, KPFA's The Morning Show and Free Speech Radio News got the word out. As did Thursday morning's Uprising Radio which broadcast portions of the earlier Winter Soldiers.

What is Winter Soldier today? It's a four day set of hearings put on by IVAW which began Thursday evening. Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars are offering first-hand testimony on what they witnessed both 'over there' as well as upon returning to the United States. It's a chance to provide the realities that are too often squeezed out of the bulk of the coverage.

We'd argue it's the most important event of the year thus far and wouldn't be surprised to discover it is the most important event of the year.

But we're not seeing it treated as such by many allegedly anti-war outlets.

We're seeing Iraq yet again fall off the radar.

We think back to all the nonsense has so regularly offered (and will continue to offer) and we're reminded that WalkOn elected to walk on away from the Iraq War following the 2004 elections but they were far from alone.

Visit CounterPunch (no link, see how it works, no links to trash) and you'll find nothing in there "weekend edition" telling readers IVAW's hearings are going on (you found nothing about it on Thursday or Friday either). If you were part of the peace movement 'back in the day,' prepare for your heart to break as you see the name of one man who worked with GI Resistance then electing to write about -- the weekend IVAW holds its hearings -- a sex scandal. How the mighty have fallen.

Yeah, the sex scandal. We didn't cover it at any community sites, we weren't interested. It's amazing to see the thing that finally penetrates Panhandle Media's non-stop Bambi-Love-a-Thon is a sex scandal, but maybe not so surprising. It's cheap, it's tawdry, it's the lowest common denominator. The most 'valuable' lesson it imparts is that johns need to be more discreet.

We suppose that's educated someone.

Not many and certainly it has no potential to galvanize a country.

IVAW's hearings do. And the hearings conclude today. They begin at ten a.m. EST and you can listen to them at Iraq Veterans Against the War, KPFA, War Comes Home, KPFK, and at the Pacifica Radio homepage.

Apparently WBAI (see, no link) felt it was more important to offer their 'riveting' Saturday spin-some-records programming instead of airing the hearings. Peace and justice, our ass.

Back in the day, four participating were active. Rebecca, in college at the time, was on campus and remembers non-stop conversations about the hearings, remembers hearing about them on the radio, remembers a local weekly covering them. Ruth, already started raising her large brood (seriously, her family is of biblical proportions) remembers several undergound papers covering them and remembers hearing about them on FM radio as well. Elaine and C.I. were in college back then with Rebecca but they were out on the road as much as possible and in the 'deep south' during that period (speaking out against the illegal war). They remember a GI coffee house paper covering it, they remember several weeklies and they remember local radio stations (AM) covering it in "read from the wires" kind of way. They also remember some serious coverage after the fact.

So we asked them, with the first one, was their a better job done getting the word out ahead of time? Absolutely. You really had an independent media back then.

Which brings up the question: How debased have we become that today an actual, ongoing illegal war is repeately shoved aside to offer frenzied coverage of a war that has not started (the Iran War, gas bagged over non-stop for almost four years now and still not here), a political horse race or a sex scandal?

TV: Nothing-ness

Sunday night on Fox, Unhitched aired its second episode. The sitcom's focus was the dating scene (as it will be most episodes) and the main plot was about Jack (Craig Bierko), newly divorced, meets perfection only to discover she had a skin flap, shaped like a large shrimp. on her back. As much as she seemed the right person for him, he wasn't sure he could handle the whole package.


Watching television last week, we felt him, we really felt him. Amy Goodman elected to put George McGovern on the air (March 11th) and if you're thinking "Hillary supporter at last!" . . . Don't be so naive.

Amy Goodman's made her show all about Bambi-Love. It's made her crazy, crazy. So if McGovern's on the show, you should know something's up. Something was up.

Goodman ignored her other guest -- failed politician and book author Jim Hightower -- and pressed McGovern. For those not old enough to remember, McGovern can't stand up. Never has been able to and many women suffer the war wounds from Miami 1972 to this day when he demonstrated just how craven he could be.

So there was McGovern, who endorsed Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party, gushing over Barack. He would offer excuses that he endorsed early ("Well, I endorsed Hillary last October"). He would say he only endorsed out of friendship. He would claim he couldn't take back an endorsement. In fact, that exchange ran like this:

GEORGE McGOVERN: I would stay with Hillary. I don't change my mind on things like this in the middle of the battle. I made the decision to back her, and I'll stay with her. I don't want to be jumping around from one candidate to another. And as I said, we've got two excellent candidates here, both well qualified. And I'll be out campaigning for whichever one wins. Am I ducking your question? Yes.
GEORGE McGOVERN: Because I want to stay with the person I chose six months ago.

If it was shocking to see the dottering old fool who disappointed so many back in the day (a story Goody never tells), it's only because you weren't paying attention. If you were paying attention you might have been reminded of how Goody had Hillary supporters on three times prior -- only three times. They weren't solo guests, unlike the Barack groupies who have even gotten the full hour ("Barack Groupies for the hour!"). They were all asked about the illegal war while Bambi Groupies never had the question raised to them about their candidate (whose then-foreign advisor revealed to the BBC two weeks ago that Bambi's 'pledge' of withdrawing combat troops from Iraq, if elected, in 16 months wasn't really a pledge, a promise or anything binding outside the cult grounds). Jim Hightower (brought on for no known reason other than possibly so people could laugh at the ridiculous mustache and accent) wasn't pressed to find any good in Hillary and volunteered none.

It's called 'journalism' -- if you're extremely idiotic.

It's similar to the crap The New York Times pulled last week. No links to trash. Head Docker Boy took his mini-van to town to confront Jim Downey on the 'bias' shown towards Hillary Clinton on Saturday Night Live. Jim Downey has never had favorable bias to any Democrat with the possible exception of Joe Lieberman before he was finally forced out of the closet and had to stop pretending to be a Democrat.

But it was working the refs and it works because, frankly, so many are so stupid.

You saw it at play in the two post-Tina Fey Saturday Night Live's as the few pro-Hillary sites on the left got tickled over the sketches and laughed at them, posted the video clips and thought they were seeing something wonderful.

They weren't. They were seeing the way SNL regularly tears apart Democrats.

Amy Poehler may confuse things because she still can't do a Hillary impression and still plays the character as she does every other one. To zoom in on just one of the skits the program had to offer, they did a parody of the who-do-you-want-answering-the-phone-at-3:oo a.m. advertisement the Clinton campaign ran in Texas and Ohio.

That wasn't funny. It was sexist (a hallmark of the really bad show these days) and it played into ever stereotype imaginable.

No pro-Hillary site should have ever been taken in but some were. The skit was the commercial and the thrust of it was that Hillary would say anything to be president. Obama's flubs and nervousness was not meant to capture Barack as he is. It was intended to portray Hillary as manipulative. If you missed it, Hillary's in cold cream and curlers and if you didn't find that offensive, maybe you'll be rushing out to buy a boxed set of The Donna Reed Show shortly. If so, prepare to be shocked because Reed's 'domestic goddess' (who does get a job in the later episodes) was far ahead of the portrayal of Hillary that SNL served up.

Saturday at Iraq Veterans Against the War Winter Soldier Investigation, Abby Hiser testified during the panel on Divide To Conquer: Gender and Sexuality in the Military. She explained that rumors were spread about her when she tried to be friends with all of those serving with her (rumors that she must be sexually available):

So I learned my lesson and I kept to myself; however, now I was labeled again -- as rude, mean, snooty or a witch. Or the b-word, I should say.

[. . .]

Another issue, that there needs to be more respect and professionalism in the training field. I was disrespected by an ROTC soldier during a summer assignment where he inappropriately patted me down during a training exercise.

He was supposed to be searching me as I was playing the role of an enemy . . . And he [grabbed] my chest with both hands and like patted me down inappropriately and he walked away laughing like it was a joke. And he just laughed with his buddies, "Oh look at her, she really enjoyed that, she liked it." Like it was just no problem.

That should be horrifying but, as was noted on the panel, that attitude's all around, even in the peace movement.

And if you caught Saturday Night Live last night, you saw it on full display because what is Saturday Night Live post-Tina Fey but a stinking cesspool?

A little nothing actor (who has no name value at present but apparently Willard Scott's enjoying his retirement so that's all SNL could scare up) played host and was in one sexist sketch after another including a game show with three female contestants where he specialized in asking 'questions' such as, "What's your situation?" Meaning, are you involved. One (played by Amy) wasn't interested and was dubbed a lesbian. One got taken to the isolation room. It was supposed to be cute and funny but it was pretty damn appalling. (Appalling just on the THEY HAVE NO IDEAS LEFT! meter was that they again substituted an opening monologue with a singing host -- it didn't work the week prior either and they seem to be raiding Studio Yada Yada Yada.)

We thought about Abby Hiser's testimony during Weekend Update as well. That's when they lashed out at the woman married to a man who was caught in a sex scandal last week. That scandal with a prostitute was apparently so funny that they had to make it an opening sketch where a governor forced out of office in disgrace was nothing but a sleezy pervert chaser -- again, SNL's Jim Downey is no friend to Democrats. Oh Really, the name of the Weekend Update bit, is never funny. Really. But that wasn't what had us thinking of Hiser.

It was Tracy Morgan, character actor and non-star on 30 Rock.

Tracy was on as a rebuttal to Tina Fey and we're sure the Docker Boys of The New York Times and sexists everywhere were amused by his screeching rant.

In a world that didn't find sexism funny, his tired ass would have been booed off the stage.

While Fey offered up a pro-woman statement that was also very funny, Tracy Morgan just wanted to yell and rip apart.

We really think he represented the Bambi Groupies (of which he is one) accurately. We don't think it was funny, but we haven't been laughing this campaign season at the Bash The Bitch games. Games? At this point, we may need to refer to them as the Olympics because they are non-stop.

Apparently unable to find anything positive about his candidate of choice to say -- a chronic condition of the Bambi Groupies -- he lashed out at Hillary (ditto) repeatedly and even went so far to state she wasn't qualified, that she was just the wife of and that Robin Givens wasn't the heavy weight champion of the world just because she was once married to Mike Tyson.

The only thing sadder and more offensive than the sexism was hearing so many in the crowd eat it up. Hillary's an attorney, one appointed to a national post by then-president Jimmy Carter. She's done corporate law, she's done the legal clinics. She's been a US Senator for seven years now which is four years longer than Barack and, yes, she was First Lady for eight years and maybe the smears about her from that time period only work so well because a Stepford Wife's been First Lady for seven years now?

It was offensive to listen to him bark out one sexist remark after another and it was offensive to grasp this really was all the tired show had to offer anymore. But intent upon reaching a new low, the almost forty Morgan had to refer to Tina Fey as "my girl" and call her a bitch.

For the record, Tracy Morgan, Tina Fey's not a "girl" -- yours or otherwise -- and you're far too old to be pulling off the young punk/thug act you insist upon recycling. For the record, you're damn lucky NBC didn't fire your ass last fall when you showed up on the set with your ankle bracelet -- your court-ordered ankle bracelet. Many minor characters have been dumped from a show for far less. You're damn lucky that Tina Fey can write a character you can play and write it in such a way (largely via other characters) to make it seem so much more complex than it actually is because your acting 'technique' can basically be boiled down to vocal volume.

We didn't like the bit when it aired and we certainly didn't enjoy hearing about what was said by Morgan to get 'pumped' for that bit before going onto the set.

But, as we watched the shouter busted for drunk driving and who faced charges of sexual harassment, we thought back to all the attempts to run women off networks for so much less.

The behavior wasn't just televised live from New York over the airwaves, it's been encouraged for some time.

We saw Seth and Amy, two losers not fit to do the Update, giggle over it and treat it like it was funny. Without another woman present, Amy didn't have an ad-lib. She just disgraced herself yet again. (Like when she screwed up the Brita Water Filter joke that should have Lorne pulling her from the Update.)

And we thought about the pro-Hillary sites and wondered if they caught the bit and, if they had, did they grasp that it's been anti-Hillary all along? Tina Fey's monologue was Tina Fey. The opening skit of that episode, the debate, was supposed to have pot shots at both candidates but was undercut by the fact that Amy Poehler can't create a character. SNL was working up to this moment and didn't need The New York Times to push it there. The joke about where Bill Clinton was at three in the morning two Saturdays ago should have been a tip-off even for the slow.

We thought about Unhitched and wondered if we could just flick off Jim Downey from Saturday Night Live, the way the skin flap is flicked off near the end of Unhitched, and, if that happened, would it mean any real improvement or is the sexism so deeply ingrained into the show now that it doesn't really matter who's in charge?

We thought about Washington Week on PBS Friday and all the nonsense it offered and who the skin flap would be in that broadcast? We decided it would have to be Time's Michael Duffy who really was an embarrassment of mental poverty. At one point, he was informing Gwen that caucus participants (not voters, Duffy) had to tear off strips of paper in Texas to 'vote.' ("They're tearing off strips of paper and voting.") No, Michael, they weren't. They signed a sign sheet for Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. (In Fort Worth, the sign in sheets are missing for one precinct. Know your facts before you try to gas bag.)

Duffy was the skin flap and, if you flicked him off, what were you left with? Gwen, she must be taking vitamins, was actually on the ball enough to note that caucus results in Texas are not final (despite the Bambi Wins! headlines) and ABC's Martha Raddatz must have shimmered and fluffed in the green room because she got straight to the point during her designated time gas bagging. She noted, "I think the administration is pretty much thrilled with the way things are going." That would be in Iraq, and, yes, the administration is thrilled -- partly due to a compliant press and partly due to rubbing themselves raw against a mattress of denial. Friday, Cameron W. Barr (Washington Post) reported that General David "Petraeus, who is preparing to testify to Congress next month on the Iraq war, said in an interview that 'no one' in the U.S. and Iraqi governments 'feels that there has been sufficient progress by any means in the area of national reconciliation' or in the provision of basic public services." Raddatz offered that this "tells me things are not going well." (It's sad that the increase in violence didn't tell her that, yes, but corporate reporter.) Mainly, while noting the forced outing of Admiral William Fox Fallon, Raddatz repeatedly made the point you don't generally hear from ABC News staff -- that the military is under civilian control. She seemed confused on the issue of endorsements for those retired from the military (retired generals have made endorsements or not as they see fit in any political campaign) but we were glad to know that at least one person at ABC grasped the military was under civilian control. "The military does not set policy," she stated firmly. "They execute." We wish she'd carry that wisdom to the White House.

And then we were back thinking of Democracy Sometimes! and how Goody is so obviously the skin flap of that show. On Friday, she decided to finally note IVAW's hearings. They started on Thursday. She had other things to do. Primarily, last week, to turn her allegedly national show into As New York Turns. Even with a prostitution angle, it did not make for riveting TV.

Neither does Unhitched. It wants really bad to be this decades Seinfeld With Fart Jokes. Thus far (we've seen three episodes and read two more scripts), it's not working.

The only thing that is working so far is Rashida Jones who plays Kate. Sprung from The Office, she's given more airtime but less of a character. In last Sunday's episode she thought she was dating a musician (who "looks like an underwear model," gushed Tommy). Turns out he 'plays' air guitar as she found that out, to her mortification, while attending a 'concert' with her friends. There were no funny lines written and it's a testament to Jones' onscreen likability and her talent that viewers may not have noticed that. Unhitched thinks she's Elaine but Julia Louis-Dreyfus was given funny lines.

After Jones, the only thing positive to say is that Shaun Majumder may develop a character. He currently plays Dr. Freddy Sahgal and is offering a great deal more than what's on the page. Were the writers able to tailor a character around what he's giving, they might have an interesting character. Instead, they saddle him with George Constanza moments that will never work.

Tommy doesn't work period and that's partly due to the bad writing and partly due to Johnny Sneed giving a really bad performance. He's supposed to be the Kramer but there's no writing there. If there's a gross-out joke (and this series is the brain child of the Farrelly Bros.), he gets it. Whether it fits or not. He moves surprisingly slow onscreen for a man not in his seventies. He's also too laid back for the frenetic and frantic character the writers think they're creating. It's Kramer after two years on Maui.

And then there's Craig.

Bierko, Bierko. We're hard pressed to think of another talented actor who's been so miscast so often. Watching him in this role is finger nails on a chalk board. He's the lead character, Jack, and he's supposed to be the Seinfeld (Jerry) of the bunch. It's not going to happen. Not today, not tomorrow, not even if actual talented writers were hired.

Johnny Sneed might have been able to play the part. The Jerry needs to be laid back. That's how Jack is written. Throwing Craig Bierko into the part is like asking him zip up the Pacific Coast Highway with his parking brake on. It is not an enchanting sight.

Bierko has achieved greatness twice on the big screen. The Long Kiss Goodnight used his edgy intensity very well and allowed for a memorable villain. The hideous Sour Grapes was only watchable due to Bierko. The latter was written, directed and destroyed by Larry Davis who was one of the driving forces behind Seinfeld. With no commercial breaks to create pacing, Sour Grapes largely provided no laughs. But it did provide some strong moments for Bierko and, if anyone had paid attention to that film, they would have grasped why Bierko could never play the Jerry role. Even Davis, who knows the role better than anyone outside of Seinfeld himself, didn't cast Bierko in the Jerry role (it went to Steven Weber).

Craig Bierko is too on, too intense and too mercurial to be the reflective character. It's against type and it would never work. So you get the actor doing a lot of little things in scenes where he should be standing still and mouthing the (bad) dialogue.

Watching the show, you have to wonder if the writers were ever in the room with or even introduced to the cast. Nothing in the scripts suggest that they have any idea who they are writing for.

The skin flap would be everyone but Rashida Jones.

And as we thought about skin flaps we thought back to the song "Perfection" on Cher's self-titled comeback from the 80s. "All my life I've been driven by perfection, pushed it to the limit every day and night, Wooh-wooh-wooh, I've been driven by perfection . . ." And we realized that the biggest problem continuing to plague television -- entertainment or public affairs -- isn't a drive towards perfection but an acceptance of apathy. That's what all the shows we caught had in common. None inspired or informed last week, none even tried to entertain. They just sort of sat there, convinced they were so much more than they were -- like some photo-negative of existensialism where each individual subtracts the essence of life until nothing's left and the people in charge of this nothing-ness expect the viewer to add facticity and round out their own non-work.

Veterans Healthcare

. . . [O]ne day the United States military will leave Iraq when we do all we have to show for it is thousands of dead Americans. In the meantime. the war ends every single day for our soldiers because someone is discharged from the United States military every single day. They're discharged with no assistance into the VA system. Some people are discharged without knowing that they qualify for veterans benefits, like I was. And with that statement said, I'm going to move into my testimony. I'm going to briefly cover something that happened while I was on active duty which, as many people know, many people are told to join the military that you will receive healthcare, your family will receive healthcare, your dependents will receive healthcare and no one can take that healthcare away from you. September 2005, I was on a training operation, deployed out of Jacksonville, Florida. We were under way. My wife was pregnant with my unborn child. While I was on that training operation, my wife began the horrible process of a miscarriage. Being home by herself, the first thing she did was to try to call the Tri-Care hotline. Tri-Care is the health service that's provided to us in the military. The lady on the hotline told her that she probably already had lost her child and that there was nothing they could do. She asked for an ambulance and she was told that, if she had $1500, they were willing to send an ambulance. Not having $1500 on the salary of an E4, she chose not to get the ambulance and she called a friend of mine and waited for him to come pick her up at our apartment and drove her to base. There's a hospital on Naval Station Mayport, it's called Hospital at Naval Station Mayport, and she arrived there at four p.m. She went inside and the nurse told her they were closing at 4:30 and they couldn't help her. She insisted to see a doctor. The doctor told her that they could not help her and she was turned away. And she once again waited in the parking lot while she was bleeding for my friend to take her to another hospital 23 miles away called the Hospital at NAS Jacksonville. No ambulance was provided. Nothing. No assistance. And we lost the child.

That's Zollie Goodman testifying on Friday at Iraq Veterans Against the War's Winter Soldier Investigation for the panel on The Crisis in Veterans' Healthcare. It's a horrible story to share and too many live through it. Of the limited coverage the hearings are thus far receiving, a great deal has focused on the Rules of Engagement panels. Those were important panels addressing code of conduct and what actually happens. We're guessing that Racism and War: the Dehumanization of the Enemy panels on Saturday will garner attention as well. It was in those panels that testimony was given on the abuse of prisoners, that Michael Leduc testified to the heads of corpses being used as targets to 'sharpen' the rifle sights, that Geoff Millard testified about how far up the chain the racism went with the h-word being bandied about all the way up through General George Casey and it's when Camilo Mejia testified.

"You remove the humanity from them," Camilo Mejia explained, "to basically repress them, to beat them; and doing so, you remove the humanity from yourself." He addressed the "blank spaces" -- where you block out what you don't want to remember How you "erase certain memories that are too overwhelming, too painful to deal with." . He shared of a child next to his headless father who had been decapitated by US machine gun fire and how he remembers it later, back on the base, "because people told me later that was the man's son."

Every hearing has had it revelations and importance. But the limited coverage thus far doesn't seem too focused on the healthcare. This is a huge issue and one of those window-of-time issues. That's due to the fact that people can actually respond to the issues of veterans healthcare right now.

After the illegal war ends? A lot aren't going to care. That's the way it was after Vietnam, after WII and, truly, after every war ends. When a war ends, especially an unpopular (and illegal) one, the society just wants to put it behind. They don't want to address it or be reminded of it. If changes are to take place to improve the veterans healthcare system, they will have to take place before the Iraq War ends.

Denial and fatigue will set in with the population and the attitude will be, "Didn't we already deal with that? I'm sick of talking about the war." It happens every cycle. Going back to the days of George Washington, promises are never kept. The government's obligations to soldiers are never met. And, in fact, after the Iraq War finally ends, you will hear gas bags -- many who claim to give a damn right now -- make that point and make it to justify not focusing on the topic. "That always happens," they will sigh and quickly move onto whatever the 'hot' topic of the day is. Ask Vietnam veterans how long they have been fighting for the limited health benefits they do have today.

So if the issue is going to be addressed, it has to be addressed while the war continues. You have the best hope of shoving sanctimonious words back in the faces of politicians and forcing them to act while people are paying attention and they fear looking like hypocrites.

That's reality.


During Friday's hearing, Eli Wright declared, "Those of you in the military know how much they love to get out of Motrin." Motrin are ibuprofen tablets and it's a sad reality that this is the cure-all for the military. If confronted with a medical issue, dispense the easiest (and cheapest) thing and get them moving along.

Also testifying on Friday was veteran Adrienne Kinne who shared that after she left the military (the second time) and finished college, she worked as a research assistant at a VA in Georgia where they were doing a study on PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). From that research, a screening for TBI was created. (PTSD and TBI are considered signature wounds of the Iraq War.) The group was eager to implement it and begin screening soldiers. What happened next tells you a great deal about the realities of veterans' healthcare.

Adrienne Kinne: And then they went to go to the next step, to actually make this happen. And I was actually on a conference call when someone said, "Wait a second. We can't start this screening process. Do you know that if we start screening for TBI there will be tens of thousands of soldiers who will screen positive and we do not have the resources available that would allow us to take care of these people so we cannot do the screening." And their rationale was that medically, medical ethics say if you know someone has a problem, you have to treat them. So since they didn't have the resources to treat them, they didn't want to know about the problem.

So a screening was developed that would identify service members in need of help but, because it was cheaper to do nothing, it was never implemented.

Thursday morning the US House Committee on Veterans' Affairs' subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing entitled "Care of Seriously Wounded After In-Patient Care." They had witnesses, they took testimony.

US House Rep Harry Mitchell, the chair of the committee, explained in his opening remarks, "We are here today to hear from veterans, their families, and the Department of Veterans Affairs about the long-term care of our most severely wounded Afghanistan and Iraq veterans. We know that DoD and VA provide the excellent inpatient healthcare for these warriors. But many of the most seriously injured require extensive outpatient care, some of them for life. Their families need care and assistance as well. Unfortunately, once these veterans leave the hospital, the care they receive does not seem to be on par with what they received directly following their injury. I think we can do better."

Veteran Casey Owens testified as did Sarah Wade, wife of veteran Ted Wade. Owens lost both legs as a result of serving in Iraq and he criticized the VA's "learning curve" asking, " It has been thirty years since the last major war and what lessons has the VA learned since then? Did no one expect another war or learn anything from Viet Nam? What have the educated and highly paid personnel who have been appointed to correct the system been focusing their attention on? While the system continues to be broken, where is all the government funding going that is supposed to be fixing the system and what are they doing with?"

He also criticized the long process that required months of waiting for treatment, a complaint expressed by Friday's IVAW panel as well. Sarah Wade noted the lack of updated therapies as well, declaring, "Much of his treatement was by trial and error, as there was no model system of care for a patient like Ted, and there still is no long-term model today. His situation was an enormous challenge, as Walter Reed was only able to rehabilitate an amputee, not a TBI, the VA was able to nominally treat a TBI, but not an above elbow amputee, and neither were staffed to provide appropriate behavioral health care for a patient with a severe TBI. Because Ted could not access the necessary services, where and and when he needed them, he suffered a significant setback in 2005, that put him in the hospital for two weeks, and would take a year to rebound from."

If you caught the hearing, you got a good look into one problem with the system via Dr. Madhulika Agarwal (Chief Patient Care Services Officer of the Veterans Health Administration) who had no answers for treatment or training but did want to brag that there was an online resource created. As US House Rep Mitchell had to point out to her, there are "people who don't access the website, people who can't access the website."

But a website is cheap, easy and, best of all, no one has to be bothered, right? Because surely the answer to veterans today is less and less contact with an actual human being, right?

Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs held a hearing and Senator Richard Burr, commenting on the families of veterans, declared, "My assessment is the VA doesn't see the human face behind the patients they're treating." And a website isn't going to let them see anyone any clearer. Websites and toll free lines are apparently the cost-cutting measures the White House wants implemented. They even want to remove the pharmacist from the equation as was noted Wednesday in the US House Armed Services Committee's Military Personnel Subcommittee by US House Rep Nancy Boyda (who represents some rural communities in Kansas) who questioned the rush to move towards online pharmacies for veterans to utilize. True everywhere but especially with rural communities, the pharmacist isn't just passing a sack with a prescription in it, they're a face-to-face, trained resource. And it's human contact, something that everyone needs and something that's part of any successful treatment. Instead, these cost-cutting measures seem to be attempting to turn wounded veterans into shut-ins. Call this number, visit this website, get your prescriptions delivered! Just don't bother us!

Out of sight out of mind?

Jeffrey Lucey would have benefited from a system that had time for him. Instead the veteran killed himself. His parents (Kevin and Joyce Lucey) testified on Friday's panel with his mother noting, "Unfortunately the tragedy is not that it just happened to one Marine but that this continues to happen to others four years after our son's death to countless others -- names that will never be placed on a memorial wall, "

Joyce and Kevin Lucey have suffered a tremendous loss and getting up in front of people and discussing it isn't always the easiest thing to do. Doing it keeps the memory of their son alive but they could do that with friends and families as well. Doing it in public, participating in Winter Soldier, is something they do to prevent any other veteran from falling through the cracks.

The system is broken. And it's not being repaired.

The White House has cut corners and underfunded. It's why so many veterans are complaining about their ratings. The ratings of their disabilities are confusing and intended to be so, not giving accurate ratings reduces the cost the government has to pay out on health care. It's why Zollie Goodman wasn't informed, when he discharged, that he qualified for veterans benefits. It's why Adrienne Kinee saw such a marked difference in her two discharges. When she left the military in 1998, they were very helpful, explaining what she had access to, going over forms with her, even filling them out. When she left in 2003, it had changed significantly with no one having the time to address any of it and even getting a physical become a huge ordeal.

"We all know," Kinne stated Friday, "that there is that crucial time when a soldier is leaving the military when you have that opportunity to get them in the VA system and if you miss that opportunity its just so much harder to get them in afterwards."

But when cutting costs is your 'priority,' you really aren't concerned with that.

When your real interest isn't in living up to your promise of healthcare, you don't tell Goodman or Eric Estenzo that they qualify for treatment.

Friday, Eric Estenzo testified about his back injury received in Iraq and the PTSD he suffers from. Keeping a civilian job was difficult due to both disabilities and so was re-adjusting to civilian life. (We fear someone in the White House is hollering, "Quick, create a website so we can say we dealt with it!") He ended up homeless. He was house surfing. One day, he came across Friend-to Friend feeding the homeless and he was hungry so, as a goof, he thought he'd get in line and get some food.

But then, he continued, "I looked at myself and I started thinking to myself that I am now an Iraq vet, I am standing in line with homeless people, being served free food, and this is actually happening to me, this is actually happening to our Iraq War vets and I am one of them. And I am a casualty of the system." That was it for him, he "literally cracked the day after that . . . my dignity, self-respect and my honor just went down. I was in a very dark place for a considerable amount of time."

The road back wasn't a website. It wasn't an automated number. It was contact with other veterans, such as Jeff Key, and receiving support that's not going to arrive in the mail.

As Kelly Dougherty noted in her testimony on Friday in the Corporate Pillaging and Military Contractors hearing, the illegal war's not a money pit for everyone, corporations are raking in the dough. KBR had a sweetheart deal and made big bucks. It put the soldiers like Doughterty at risk but corners can always be cut when you're talking human lives, right?

The government sent US service members into war. They did so with a promise that they would be taken care of, that their families would be taken care of. There has been little evidence that there was ever any intention to keep that promise. Testimonies offered examples of even the basic protective devices (whether it was body armor or Humvees properly equipped) not being present on the battlefield. Dougherty testified to living in Kuwait in a KBR tent city for four weeks after finishing her deployment and awaiting her return to the US. KBR was paid to house the service members and what they were given wasn't housing, it was mold covered tents and "rickety bunk beds" -- tents that made those staying in them sick.

"There is a great need for 'Whole Family' Education and resources," Jackie McMichael explained to the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs Thursday. "Educating the Vets on the importance of a Collaborative Rehabilitation is critical. I believe many Vets see their transition as their issue alone. Mike was very resistant to me talking to his Doctors or telling me anything about what he was working on. This is understandable as I am very aware of HIPAA regulations and confidentiality. But I was losing my husband and I was seeing things I knew they could not have been aware of. I called his doctors and told them 'You don't have to say anything about Mike, just listen to me. This is what I am seeing at home.' All I wanted was to know what to look for, what to expect, what to do, how to help."

In past wars, this issue was dismissed. Jacki McMichael is married to veteran Michael McMichael who returned from Iraq and suffers migraines, hallucinations, poor memory, "hand and body tremors," PTSD and requires a cane to walk.

She pointed out that, "None of these events happened to Mike alone. They happened to me, to my 6 year old son, my 4 year old son, Mike's mom and to my parents and my brothers. We were left to watch as Mike self destructed not knowing what to do to help him or ourselves. We had no clue what was wrong with him and he was, at time, completely uninterested in finding out himself. He said over and over again, 'I know guys who lost limbs and they are OK'."

In past wars, she might have gotten a few bits of praise thrown at her and maybe a pat on the shoulder. And that would have been considered enough. It's not enough. As she and others are pointing out, the families need to be involved in the treatment. And the families need to be receiving assistance. The primary caregiver is fighting a system that's broken and that is not encouraged to work even if it wanted to. (That's not a slap at those working in the VAs, that's noting that the White House wants to cut down on claims and refuse treatment as often as possible.)

The primary care giver cannot find the system and also hold down a regular job, interact with the veteran and still be expected to maintain sanity. The burden is being shoved off onto the family. Well, if you're going to 'outsource,' pay the worker.

Too much is being asked of veterans and their families and too damn little is being given. The issue has to be raised now because within two years of the end of the Iraq War (and the Afghanistan War), we'll all be 'weary' and wanting to put it behind us. We'll wonder why those people don't just stop asking? Didn't they already get something? Maybe not everything but who gets everything? That was __ years ago, deal with it!

Not only are they not getting what they need, they are not getting what they were promised. The government has an obligation and it must live up to it. The only time to force the issue is while the nation is at war. While the war drags on, Congress is forced to deal with veterans, politicians are concerned with how they're seen and the issue can have the nation's attention.


Jim: Repeating, we arere still working out the kinks in our roundtables participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and me, Jim, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Wally of The Daily Jot, and Marcia SICKOFITRDLZ. Ty has some e-mails that he will bring up from time to time. Iraq Veterans Against the War and their Winter Soldiers Investigation are not off limits; however, we have at least two features planned on that which we haven't started working so if your comments fit better with either of them, you may want to hold that thought. Betty's got a topic down on the list which is rare so we'll move to that after Ty's first e-mail. Ty's picking the e-mails himself, he works the account here more than any of the rest of us. Also this is a rush transcript and the illustration that accomanpanies this feature is done by Betty's oldest son whom we thank for it.

Ty: Meredith Leigh DeRogatas e-mailed and asked that her full name be used. She's writing regarding an entry C.I. did for The Common Ills on Saturday. She writes, "I remember the summer of 2006 very well. I could tell by comments at your site" she means here "at The Common Ills and at Kat's Korner that C.I., while on board with the Troops Home Fast by CODEPINK, had a problem with it. I did as well and appreciated the repeated reminders about health conditions, checking with your doctor, etc. Somehwere in a roundtable that went up, I hate the archives, HATE them, during the summer of 2006, C.I. and Ava make comments that they're holding their tongues on one aspect of the action. It's getting close to two years since the action started but I am so glad that C.I. wrote about it today" she e-mailed on Saturday "because I did find the action to be poorly thought out, non-inclusive and potentially damaging. When I turned 14, I started starving myself which soon became binging and purging. In my high school junior year, my parents put me into a substance abuse treatment center because insurance would pay for it and private counseling had done nothing. Although no longer active in my disease, each day is a struggle and I found the message to starve yourself for peace to be offensive. I also found it very offensive that when certain participants wanted to stop-off in Jordan and then rush off to Lebanon, they called a 'victory' and the fast was forgotten. Had they believed in it, they would have continued the horrible action. They didn't which indicates it was 'starving for attention.' I remember all the big talk to the media about how 'We will fast until the troops come home, no matter when that is!' Obviously it was all talk and I'm with C.I. 'NEVER AGAIN' because women never need to be encouraged to starve themselves. As someone in recovery for my eating disorder, I say NEVER AGAIN. Thank you to C.I. for mentioning it and I hope you will make time to include C.I.'s piece in a highlight if nothing else because it is a very serious issue for many women."

Ava: It is a serious issue. I am so glad that Meredith wrote. Originally the organization didn't even include the advice that anyone thinking of fasting should see a doctor which, for liability issues alone, they damn sure should have. We had a big debate about that action and whether we noted it or not, let alone took part in it. We received hate mail here over cautionary notes and they went into the public account as well. But the reality is that the cautionary notes we provided should have been provided by that organization. I agree with Meredith it's not a minor issue.

Jim: What we ended up doing here and at sites like Mike's was encouraging a one-day-a-week action. C.I. went on the fast and was on it the entire time. There wasn't any cheating and Kat was very alarmed before she had to leave for Ireland due to a relative becoming gravely ill.

Kat: I was. I was appalled by the action, like Meredith. I'm not trying to call Mike out but he didn't get it.

Mike: No, I didn't. That's why we had a long, long talk here. That was Jim, Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava, C.I., Rebecca, Betty, Kat and myself. I don't believe anyone else was yet participating but I could be wrong. But I didn't get it. So everyone explained the points Meredith was making. C.I. and Ava were furious about the action and torn between supporting it or calling it out. They ended up taking part in it but did those things Meredith's talking about, the 'cautionary notes.' Due to the talk we had here, I plugged the one-day-a-week action at my site and took part in that and only that. But I readily own up to the fact that I wouldn't have seen a problem with it if that talk hadn't taken place.

Dona: The action had been called and we were left with weighing whether or not we hold our tongues, participate or what. Meredith is correct that there were 'cautionary notes' and that Ava and C.I. noted in a roundtable here that they were holding their tongues. To clear up about the archives, Ty, Jim and I flipped the template in early to mid 2007, the template for this site, and when we did that, we not only lost our weekly archives, all archives from every year run together. We did make a point to create a 2007 folder ("Third Estate 2007 archives by week") before 2007 went into the dogpile and vanished as 2008 began. But the biggest complaint remains the archives and, again, Jim, Ty and I did not realize flipping the template would reduce everything we'd done since 2005 into one link. It's a huge problem for dial up readers because it takes so long to load. For those who do load -- dial up or broadband -- you then have to go through page after page. It's a mess and I apologize for that. But in terms of that action, Meredith's right, it never needs to happen again.

Rebecca: We are all for the troops home now. And new actions need to be tried. For that reason, we were willing to support it but C.I. steered people interested in it, I'm talking about online, to the one-day-a-week action if they were interested and wanting to take part. To back up on the entry Meredith's writing about, I'm breaking Jim's encouraged rule, CODEPINK currently has nothing up about IVAW's Winter Soldiers and that's why C.I. brought it up on Saturday. Kat probably wants to grab that.

Kat: I do. I have blogged at my site that CODEPINK needs to get serious about the illegal war. I don't mean "No humor!" I do mean I am damn tired of alerts from them about everything under the sun except the illegal war. I'm far from the only member of the community that feels that way or feels that the DC house is turning them into a lobby group. They have stepped away from the Iraq War and are off on all these other actions. I remember very clearly when the group that went to Lebanon returned. It was probably October and Andrea Lewis was interviewing Medea Benjamin for KPFA's The Morning Show. The Lebanaon issues were not resolved but the war had stopped there and I had to listen to a lengthy segment that barely mentioned Iraq. Any national action they had today I would probably not take part in. In the Bay Area, where I live, there are grumbles from CODEPINK members about the actions currently being taken nationally and I share those concerns.

Betty: For me, CODEPINK becomes useless with that action. We had concerns about the Troops Home Fast, but we agreed to support it and we did. But what followed was not about Iraq and that's the action I trace as the beginning of the end for me personally. I agreed then and now with C.I.'s comments -- and am glad they went up Saturday -- that women do not need to be encouraged to starve themselves. Both due to the issue of eating disorders and due to the fact that it's a "Have pity on us!" I think there's more than enough weakness in the 'peace' movement as it is. More than enough playing pathetic with candelight, silent marches. Had Iraq fallen off CODEPINK's radar before the action, I would have strongly called out the Troops Home Fast back then. But we thought, and C.I. noted reservations about the action in real time online and noted that CODEPINK was apparently trying to think outside the box, this is one action and there will be others. There have been no others nationally. And I'm not expecting them, regardless of the Democratic presidential nominee, to do anything of value in the lead up to the November election. If that is how it works, they will be dumped from my links. I have never seen a group work so hard to be useless.

Jess: Agreed. The film that's mentioned, Charles Ferguson's No End In Sight is the title. That is a piece of crap war progandad and I was already helping out at the public account for The Common Ills when the CODEPINK member was writing in with her dumb ass whines and promoting that film. Why a member of anti-war group is promoting a film that sells the lies that the Iraq War just needed planning is a question mark about the group for me to this day. Why they felt the need to promote that crap made by a man who supported the illegal war before it started, throughout making the film and while promoting it is a question mark. C.I. actively called Academy Award voters to campaign against that film and repeatedly noted, "Do we want to live with the damage for the next thirty years the way we still do from The Deer Hunter?"

Ty: On that, there's an e-mail about C.I.'s entry that says David Swanson promoted the film "so it can't be all bad."

Jess: If you're trying to end the war, you're not reading Swanson's crappy writings. He's nothing but a schill for the Democrats as he made obvious with non-stop promotion of Barack Obama who is not for ending the illegal war. And the impeachment movement should buy a clue: Short of Bully Boy starting a war with Iran, there is no impeachment. The window of opportunity has passed. You've wasted your time and everyone else's. The Democratic Party is happy to use the crimes of Bully Boy to promote "Elect Democrats!" They are not interested in impeaching Bully Boy. They have blown off the impeachment movement repeatedly. It's not happening. Buy a clue. Congress isn't interested, they're worried about their own and the presidential elections in November. All the Democrats will do between now and then is hold hearings intended to embarrass Republicans in the hopes of increasing their membership in Congress.

Jim: Spoken like a Green Party member. I'm teasing Jess, but I do agree with him. There's not anyone participating that doesn't support impeachment but there's no one that holds the belief it's possible barring war with Iran. Okay, let's go to Betty's topic which is race and gender. Betty, you wanted to do a preface remark or two.

Betty: Or three or four or five. We saw the usual crap last week as people pretended to be shocked by Geraldine Ferraro's remarks. When my father heard them, he asked that I push for them to be addressed here because he wasn't sure how much play they would get community wide. He was surprised, happily so, that Kat, C.I., Elaine and Mike wrote about it. But he thinks Ferraro got a raw deal, I agree, and so that's part of my topic. In a wide ranging review, responding to questions, the Democratic Party's 1984 vice-presidential candidate, shared that race was playing a part in this primary and noted that no woman of any color or race would get the treatment Bambi did. It is the truth and I'm not surprised that a lot of dumb asses didn't know better but I was appalled to see the likes of The Nation lie to their readers in efforts to yet again promote Bambi. John Nichols is a sad, sad joke.

Elaine: I think we saw the same thing we've seen repeatedly from the Obama campaign which is to scream racism over and over and I am sorry that Ferraro stepped down. I'm not a fan of her and C.I. and I have both noted our opinion of her in the past so this isn't coming from a "We love Gerry!" perspective. It's coming from a "Can we raise the level of intelligence in the room?" Apparently we can't.

Ty: I agree and I do think they use racism, the Bambi campaign, to silence dissent. For the record, you have Cedric, Marcia, Betty and I participating who are all African-American or Black, depending upon the term we choose to use. The Obama campaign has repeatedly used racism and, for me, it became most clear in October of 2007 when they elected to ignore protests and put homophobes on stage. That was insulting on so many levels including the fact that they fed into hatred as well as a stereotype that African-Americans must be homophobes. They get what they wanted, as the campaign admitted, and then they issue a statement that is basically acknowledging they used homophobia but saying they don't support it. I know Betty also wants to address Reverend Jeremiah Wright's remarks and this may be a good time to bring that up.

Betty: It's a mess of issues in one boiling pot so everything will probably all bubble over. My father also wanted me to push to have that addressed. Reverand -- let's not even call him that. Jeremiah Wright gave sermons which were offensive to begin with but, on top of that, thought they were so delightful that they must be sold online. I'm wording carefully right here and want to note that my father would be very offended if Wright was quoted directly on the most offensive remark. He stated that Black Americans should not sing "God Bless America" but instead blank damn America. People are trying to act like that's acceptable and, I agree with Mike, I think a large reason for that is because the people in Panhandle Media are not know for their Christian beliefs. That's fine and dandy and I don't take offense to that in most cases. Believe or not believe what you want. But don't claim to speak for religious Americans about what is acceptable and what isn't. The next Malcolm X says it, I would applaud it. But there's a world of difference between what we expect from our clergy and what we expect from our activists. That is not acceptable behavior in a church coming from the leader of the congregation. It is offensive on so many levels including the most basic issue of langague.

Marcia: Mike was right, like Betty's saying, if you weren't raised in a church, you're looking at it as "It's social criticism." But, as Betty's pointing out, it is not the way we conduct ourselves in church. It is not acceptable. It is offensive. And let's get to the heart of it which is that no preacher, pastor, person of the cloth, stands up in a church, at the front of a church and damns anything. Damnation has a very specific meaning to anyone raised in a church. I don't expect the non-believers to get that. Fine. But don't turn around and tell the rest of us that it's a 'smear' against Obama or that it's no big deal. It is a HUGE deal.

Cedric: And I would assume, correct me if I'm wrong, Marcia, that a preacher comfortable calling for the damnation of anything is comfortable calling for the damnation of something else. If he had said, "Damn gays," I think we'd all be offended, religious or not. But those of us who are religious have every right to be offended and appalled by that. He's not just a man, his position makes him a representative of God, he leads the prayer, he is the church's spiritual voice so when he calls for damnation of anything, it has a level to it that non-believers do not get. Now they already don't believe so they're not getting what he was calling for but he was calling for the United States to be damned. They blow off religion as it is so they don't grasp the power -- and abuse -- of Wright's statements.

Rebecca: I'm going to jump in with some basics. Damnation, from Webster's, is "the act of damning; the state of being damned." Which is defined as "to condemn to a punishment or fate" and "to condemn to hell" and "to bring ruin on". I'm not religious or irreligious, I was raised as a church goer and the issue has come up again since we're new parents, the issue of do we want to provide that or not, my husband and I are debating that with regards to our baby. Pastor, by the way, is defined as "a spiritual overseer."

Cedric: Because that's what he or she is. So when Wright's condemning the United States to hell, it is offensive. When he's calling for ruin of the country we live in, it's offensive. And it was really offensive to watch Panhandle Media either ignore this issue or minimize it. He is the head of a church, standing up in front of the church as the leader and using the Lord's name in vain while calling for the damnation of the United States.

Marcia: Well maybe some in Panhandle Media also want to see the US damned? I mean that's worth raising as a question. But they totally missed the boat. On Friday at work, this was the second most discussed issue. I was streaming IVAW's hearings so that was the most discussed issue. But all but one person I work with is African-American and only one woman, African-American, was defending it. She's a conservative and started going off about how she believed the "voo doo" in New Orleans was responsibile for Hurricane Katrina, that it was God's punishment. I'm moving to a different aspect of Wright's remarks, by the way. Before I could speak, a co-worker, African-American male, spoke up to explain to her that Wright was saying the US actions with regards to other countries were responsible for 9-11. As he slowly walked her through it, she said, "Oh, I didn't hear his remarks." Having them explained to her, she was offended. Now blowback is an acceptable theory and I'm all for a discussion of it but I'm not really sure it belongs at the front of the chuch in the type of language Wright uses. But in terms of calling for the damnation of the United States, that is unacceptable for a man of the cloth. It carries more weight coming from someone who is supposed to know something about damnation because he or she is supposedly saving us from eternal lives in hell, in the flames of hell. This was not a minor thing and if anything else had been damned and the man hadn't been the head of Barack's church, it would have been called out.

Ty: And it wasn't just said, it was marketed. That church found that damnation so 'inspirational' they sold it on DVD. That church is nuts and it has damaged Barack's standing among African-Americans which is the only reason he issued that pathetic statement where he stated he found some of Wright's remarks offensive.

Betty: And we're supposed to believe he finds it offensive when the reality is he allowed that man to spritiually guide him for 20 years. Today, when there's an uproar, he is suddenly offended but he sat through that and many other sermons for 20 years. The deluded will buy that he finds it offensive. Hopefully that will be a small number. Now I like Malcom X. I read him. He's not dead to me nor are his critiques. But White Panhandle Media holds MLK up as the standard and more or less ignores Malcom. Wright is no MLK and Wright is no leader. That Barack Obama belonged to that church is offensive. And we need to think -- beyond religion because that was my larger topic -- about what the indications are. There is too much obsession of his pretty, stolen words. We need to be looking at records for both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama which Bambi doesn't want because his record is tiny and what's there is frightening.

Wally: Cedric ran this by me Saturday morning because he'd been talking about this with Betty. They want to talk about gender and race in terms of the two Democratic Party candidates. The concern is that America lept on board with Bully Boy in 2000. Yes, Al Gore won that election but Bully Boy went into the Oval Office and there were the many months of he's not that bad, give him a chance. We knew all we needed to know about Bully Boy in 1999 and 2000 if we had paid attention, from the people he surrounded himself with to core beliefs.

Betty: Neither candidate has the support of all targeted groups they supposedly have. Hillary has a number of women supporting her and Barack Obama has a number of Blacks supporting him. Is this merely knee-jerk reactions of gender and race? I want to explore what the candidates really indicate. I wanted to do that before Saturday but, listening to the IVAW hearings, I especially wanted to. My mother turned to me during one section and said, "Well I guess we just heard from Blackzilla." She was referring to a woman who felt the need to use her time -- to misuse her time, which she did the entire time she rambled and I'll come back to that -- to slam Hillary with the implicit endorsement of Obama and I don't know how many White people caught that because it was coded. And there is a Black code the same way there is a code for religious, White conservatives. But let me criticize Blackzilla right now. I won't be kind like C.I. and wait a few years. To Blackzilla, "Get your act together. You were an embarrassment throughout. No one needed your free association rambles at the microphone. You were supposed to be testifying. You were supposed to have a presentation together. Had you been speaking of a trauma you'd gone through, I'd be happy to cut you some slack for meandering. But you weren't and you just wasted time and that was before you got around to your slam on Hillary. So, Blackzilla, before you next speak about sexual violence, get some notes together and don't waste all of our time standing before a microphone trying to figure out what you want to say. You were an embarrassment and, thankfully, you were the only one who embarrassed themselves so."

Wally: I figured Betty was going to bring that woman up. I know C.I. and Ava have something from that panel that they're going to highlight and I'm fine with us working on something together about that panel, but I agree with Betty that if you have no testimony of your own to share, you get your presentation together before you stand up in front of microphone. That was the most disjointed waste of time when that woman was speaking. And, my opinion, except for two, it was a weak panel because it didn't stick to the topic.

Marcia: Sorry, I'm still laughing at Betty's mother's name for her, Blackzilla. I agree with it but I'm too tickled and need a moment to get serious.

Jim: Okay, let me be moderator because Marcia's not the only one laughing at that nickname. The issue that Betty's raising is that with large numbers of women of all races behind Hillary and large numbers of African-Americans of both genders behind Barack --

Ty: More so with males on Barack.

Jim: Okay, well with those numbers, we want to explore what the candidates actually have to represent for what's seen as their core constituencies. Let's start with Hillary and Ruth, like Elaine, mainly listens so let me bring Ruth in right away.

Ruth: Okay. Well Hillary is a woman. Hillary has spoken out for decades on women's rights. She supports the right to choose and reproductive rights. She is a woman who worked and had a family. In fact, no offense to Bill, but since the Obama campaign tries repeatedly to reduce her to 'wife of,' we should probably note that Hillary brought in a large portion of the money pre-White House. Their daughter Chelsea works. So a woman's right to work isn't under seige with a Hillary presidency. As Dona pointed out, the Supreme Court is getting no attention. Why is that? The next president will likely appoint at least one justice to the Supreme Court. Roe v. Wade is under attack and we're one judge away from the right-wing achieving their destruction of it. We know Hillary is not going to nominate anyone whose record indicates an inclination to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Dona: I agree with everything Ruth just said and I'm amazed that the Supreme Court is not an issue in this election.

Rebecca: Well I'm not. For one thing, Barack Obama has no record to point to -- 'present' isn't a record -- on reproductive rights. I'm probably leaping ahead but, as Betty said, everything's bubbling over. So when you can't make that argument for your candidate, Katha Pollitt, for instance, isn't going to be raising alarms about the Supreme Court. Add in that we're talking about Roe v. Wade and issues impacting women lives always receive less attention, as do women, and haven't we seen that in the election coverage thus far?

Wally: After I got off the phone with Cedric Saturday morning, I was talking to my grandfather and mother about this and my mom wanted Elaine's post Friday noted. Elaine was talking about how abortion, which she supports, is not a personal concern for her.

Elaine: Right, I had my tubes tied years ago. Even if I hadn't, I'm probably too old to get pregnant. So it would be really easy for me, if I was just going to focus on myself, to say, "Eh, who cares about abortion?" But abortion rights were fought for and won and I think people -- women and men -- need to be really concerned about what happens with the Supreme Court because the right to privacy -- already under attack in terms of our papers and our homes -- could be shredded completely and don't think for a moment that some conservatives don't object to Roe v. Wade due to it's finding of a right to privacy. Add in that for those opposed to abortion, as soon as it's overturned, they will find a new target and opposition to abortion has largely been about opposition to the rights of women. So we should be thinking about what's next on the chopping block after the right to abortion. I really agree firmly with Betty that we need to be asking what the records indicate and what the candidates represent. I think it should be noted that the promises of Hillary's record are also true of Cynthia McKinney's.

Ruth: In terms of the right to privacy, if I could add one more thing, the Supreme Court case finding on right to privacy goes beyond just Roe v. Wade. I am thinking of my grandson Jayson and I am forgetting the case --

C.I.: Lawrence v. Texas which overturned so-called 'sodomy laws' -- so-called because, when applied, it was only applied to same-sex couples. It is actually founded on the 14 Amendment and due process but it can be seen as part of our recognition of the right to privacy especially considering that the plantiff was engaged in sex in the privacy of his own home -- consentual, no-money exchanged, both parties being of legal age sex.

Ruth: Thank you and so I think we need to think in terms of what happens if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Like Elaine said, a great deal will be on the chopping block. The Supreme Court matters. In 2004, we heard somewhat about it; however, Katha Pollitt showed up late to whine that we did not hear enough. Apparently her brain hasn't kicked into action yet this election cycle and may not since she has decided homophobia is a-okay in order to support Barack. Since 2004, we have seen two Supreme Court Justices replaced. One was opposed to reproductive rights, one was a semi-supporter of reproductive rights. Both men who replaced the justices are opposed to reproductive rights. It matters now even more than it did in 2004.

Ty: Let's flip it over to Barack because I think we know Hillary's record.

Mike: Well what's the record? Present? The laughable 'Feminists for Barack' haven't pressured him in any way on the issue of reproductive rights. The cowardly and communist crowd got on board with him and he never even had to give a speech on abortion. They sold out themselves. He's got no record on abortion. He has a record of endorsing and using homophobia if it gets him what he wants.

Betty: In terms of Hillary, her politics on women's rights represent the majority of women. In terms of Barack, he does not represent Black people.

Cedric: He doesn't like the 'messy' sixties that without which he wouldn't be running for president. He's a bit like the push-up bra junior 'feminists' in that he's got no sense of history or loyalty to those who fought for the advances we have. He's not promings African-Americans anything. More than that, he's not in favor of affirmative-action. He's now twice skipped out on Tavis Smiley's State of Black Union. There is no represntation other than skin color.

Marcia: I would agree with that. There's no representation factor with him. He's not part of the struggle and never has been. It's a complete failure of Black Intellectuals that he wasn't pressed or held accountable. As a gay woman, I have no faith that my rights would be protected with him in the White House. His actions in South Carolina were typical of the way he's repeatedly run his campaign and, with no record, we really just have his campaign to go by. I think we've repeatedly seen red lights that should have had us stopping. In terms of Ferraro, she did the unthinkable: She noted the emperor has no clothes. The reaction, to get back to that, was typical with Whites and African-Americans who should have used the opportunity to educate instead screaming racism. She wasn't racist and she wasn't wrong. And race is not an 'off limits' topic but when you ignore it, as so many Whites in Panhandle Media do, you probably don't want anyone else exploring it.

Rebecca: Well, no link because it's Andrew Sullivan, but he outlined at The Atlantic very clearly how his support was due to Barack's perceived race. And of course, Peter Hart's article in Extra! last year outlined the various White gas bags creating the myth of Bambi based upon the fact that he was seen as Black. Again, this was an opportunity for education. Both in terms of the topics of race and in terms of the media, but instead, we got outlets failing to provide that and instead expressing faux outrage.

Elaine: Well, let's talk about that. C.I. and I went to the fundraiser for Barack's Senate run. We were excited. He was supposedly 'anti-war' and we were surely excited about the idea of the White-White Senate getting some diversity. But here's what happened, we're face to face and he's not for withdrawal. His skin color no longer mattered. He was a fraud and a fake. We left.
Now what Samantha Power's revelation to the BBC did was take that beyond private conversations to the public but no one wanted to deal with it with very few exceptions. The idiot at TomGram knows how to keep The Nation money rolling in, bury it in the midst of an article, an overly long, badly written article. That was your revelation, that told you that Obama was not about ending the illegal war. Now when I began noting that and when C.I. began noting that, that Barack was not for withdrawal, and explained that face-to-face, we didn't know he was going to run for president. He's now running for president and Panhandle Media continues to repeat the lie that he will end the illegal war. On the issue of the illegal war, the only difference between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is that he's been caught repeatedly lying though Panhandle Media works overtime to pretend otherwise.

Betty: And they really do and they really did. Include the idiot David Swanson with his sexist posts that he thinks are okay because they're not racist. We've seen a very ugly campaign season and I was so disappointed when it was announced on Friday that they were calling a truce. Whenever the heat gets turned up on Bambi, it's time for a truce. Jesse Jackson Jr. can get on TV and lie about Hillary and not be called out but when realities emerge about Bambi, it's time for a truce? There should be no truce and there should be no nonsense that race hasn't played a part or that White people have repeatedly ignored the way the Obama campaign has used racism throughout the campaign.

Cedric: I'd agree with that. I'd also argue that the press has worked overtime to ignore how race has been repeatedly used by the Obama campaign and that they use "racist" to clobber anyone who critizes. I think Ty wanted to speak on that.

Ty: I did. Robert Parry, Robert Scheer, all the rest of you, you're not Black. You're not an honorary Black. I know the idiot Randi Rhodes thinks she's an 'honorary' one. She's not. And when Bill Clinton and others can be called racists for observations, you better realize that you're going to have to shut your mouths a great deal over the next years because otherwise you will be called racists the same way you have called other White people racist. With old assholes like Robert Scheer, this African-American male gets the idea Bobbit Scheer is scared of African-Americans. Boo, Bobbit, boo! He can't call out real racism and he's an old dottering fool who thinks that by supporting a candidate just due to the candidate's skin color makes him 'down' and 'with the people.' It doesn't. So all you Bambi Lovers trying to lie for your candidate who are White, grasp the fact that no African-American hears you and thinks, "They get it!" You don't. You prove it day after day with what you write about, who you highlight and who you book on your programs. I am highly offended that Bill Clinton was smeared and that's been something that's bothered me and has only amplified. I realize that a bunch of you pathetic Panhandle Media types were around in the 90s and had no influence. You'll have no influence in the future as well. But no one should ever forget the shameful behavior you have exhibited.

Marcia: Well, to make a different point, C.I. said at one point that it was about fairness and that Hillary should rise or fall on her abilities. I've seen none of Panhandle Media's Bambi groupies make that same case for Bambi. And they can't because, if left to the merits of his actual record, he has no candidacy.

Mike: Well, this is something Elaine, C.I and I have been discussing, how shallow it reveals Panhandle Media to be. To take it back to the point that the bulk of what Bully Boy's done being clear before he was sworn in, it's very clear what Obama will do. If Obama gets the nomination and isn't creamed in the general election -- which will most likely happen -- you're going to have to either hear mea culpas from Panhandle Media or they're going to pretend they didn't support him. Either way, the time for the truth is now.

Jess: Let me jump in on that and, in honor of Betty calling out that bad speaker at the hearings, let me call out someone. Peace Mom, I'm voting for Nancy Pelosi now. Cindy Sheehan showed up last week with a column about the Bully Boy. If there's anything a "Peace Mom" should have written about, it was Bambi's non-binding 'promise' to withdraw combat troops if elected. She didn't do that and I'm sick of her. I'm sick of her being a dupe and a stooge. She was a panelist for some unknown reason at the KPFA aired Green Party debate. She's not a Green. She has endorsed Cynthia McKinney so maybe, having done that, she shouldn't have been included on a panel to begin with. But what did she do with her time? Blah-blah-blah. Did Peace Mom bring up Iraq? Hell no. Peace Mom trashed Hillary in comments at Common Dreams. She joined in with the Bambi crowd. She refused to call out Bambi or to plug my party's candidate, Cynthia McKinney. Cindy Sheehan, we don't need your help, you're not a member of the Green Party. Stick to losing your campaign and butt the hell out my political party because anyone so sickening that they would stay silent on Barack Obama isn't anyone I support or need to hear from. Maybe you really should have retired because you have learned nothing from your experience and you are showing no bravery while you're hopping all around the country pretending to run to represent my area in Congress. I'm announcing right now that there will be no positive attention to Cindy's campaign unless and until she can use her voice to call out Barack Obama. She's useless otherwise. She comes off like a fake and phony by propping up a man who's not only not going to bring ALL troops home but, it turns out, is offering pretty words he doesn't intend to keep. A lot more parents are going to bury their children and that the Peace Mom is going to go silently along with the lies means I have no interest in her and I will use my "kill" option for any piece suggested on her. I am offended as a Green Party member that she's advancing Obama's campaign while claiming to support Cynthia McKinney. I have no use for her and I've spoken to many other Greens who feel the same way. Again, should anyone propose an article about Cindy and should she continue to be silent on the realities about Obama, I will use my vote to "kill" that piece. It will not happen, we will not praise someone who wants credit for endorsing Cynthia, credit with Greens, but sneaks onto the Common Dreams website to take part in Hillary Hatred while refusing to call out Obama or promote Cynthia. Every Green I've spoken to is disgusted. For that reason, a number of Greens in the Bay Area will be voting for Nancy Pelosi if things continue.

Jim: Wow. I don't think anyone knew that was coming. Okay, we need to wind down and Dona's note says C.I. has spoken the least.

Ty: Then let me pull out another e-mail. A jerk off e-mails complaining the C.I. is "calling superdelegates for Hillary. And you said you would stay out of the election."

C.I.: I have stayed out of the election. I haven't endorsed anyone when there was a large field. I've given a lot of money to the Democratic Party over the years and I know a number of super delegates. The race is now down to two people and Obama has not been held accountable, the press has not covered him accurately which is why so many idiots believe he's 'anti-war.' Elaine and I know a great deal more than we've ever shared here and we do not support him. It was always clear that, short of getting honest about the war, I had no use for Bambi. It comes down to him and Hillary? Hell yeah, I'm making calls. I'm also doing face to face lobbying. I'm not calling strangers, I'm not lobbying strangers. I'm talking to super delegates I know, that I have known for many years. This isn't a normal part of the election process and I will participate in it. Along with many things cited already in the roundtable, equally true is that Africa is where US imperialism wants to move next. Bambi has surrounded himself with not only imperialists but ones who have advocated for wars in Africa. Due to the way he's perceived, wars in Africa would receive little calling out under a Bambi presidency. A Hillary presidency would be another matter. It would be another White face on US imperialism if she attempted it and it would be loudly called out and possibly stoppable as a result. There's a reason Bully Boy went to Africa to hunt up base locations. He didn't find any. Mr. Pretty Words might. Mr. Pretty Words would certainly give a 'benevolant' stamp on US imperialism -- remember, he's not opposed to war -- and I don't think we'd see the calling out required to stop any of those wars. I also don't think his chances are great in a match up with McCain and I've never hidden the fact that I'm a Democrat. I'm not Laura Flanders or Matthew Rothschild or any of the other groupies hopping on the Bambi wagon and pretending to be a Democrat, I've been a Democrat my entire life. I'll be damned if these interlopers of questionable character are going to continue their assualt on the Democratic choice which is what Hillary is -- overwhelmingly is to the bulk of Democrats. Hillary hasn't run "Be a Democrat for a Day!" campaigns as Barack Obama did in Nevada and Ohio. The very base that Panhandle Media claims to want to connect with has supported Hillary in large numbers. In terms of long range vision, the Latino population is the segment that is growing the most and will determine any political party's future prospects. They have overwhelmingly backed Hillary. Despite the lies and predictions from Laura Flanders and others, Latinos have repeatedly stood with Hillary and that is a growing segment of the population and one that will determine future elections. For the good of the party, that needs to be seriously considered, whatever decision is made. Barack Obama has divided the party, has made gestures to Republicans, has preached "unity" in a manner that, had Nancy Pelosi done the same, she would never have become Speaker of the House and the Democrats would not have won control of both houses of Congress in the November 2006 elections. They spread a lot of lies, the Bambi campaign, and a lot of astro-turf. He does not help the ticket, that's a lie and we dealt with it a long time ago here. Hillary excited working people and because Panhandle Media has another candidate of choice, they want to ignore that fact. To clean up the mess Bully Boy's leaving America with will require a lot of work and that's not going to come about by making gestures to Republican members of Congress who not only went along with it in real time but have no regrets about it. The country needs a fighter and a uniter and that's Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party. Do we want to live through four years of weak leadership which, if called out, results in charges of racism? That's really the only club the Bambi campaign has to use and they use it repeatedly. Do we want to see someone who will nominate to the Court a nominee Democrats can rally behind or someone who wants to reach across the aisle and nominate the same type of candidate we could get from a President John McCain? As Ruth pointed out, the LGBT community has been targeted and, if he becomes president, and they are targeted further, who's going to speak up for them? Self-loathing lesbian Laura Flanders who couldn't and didn't say a word about Bambi's use of homophobia as a campaign tactic? In terms of accountability, Panhandle Media's already demonstrated that they are comfortable calling out Hillary so we could have a semi-functional media under her as president as opposed to the fawning, groveling press they have already indicated they will provide Bambi with. Afri-Com is a huge issiue and it's one that, like the Supreme Court, is being ignored. Bambi's advisors want war with Africa, they've advocated for military action there already. Him in the Oval Office could sell those wars to Americans -- especially when you have a fan club posing as a press. Hillary couldn't sell it. Equally true is that the biggest criticism of Bill Clinton -- and Hillary is not Bill -- from the right, that didn't have to do with sex, was that he listened to the people. He 'polled' and he 'tested.' Cut me off when you need to, Dona, but if people are going to use Bill as a gauge for Hillary, then let's give some credit where it's due. By that gauge, Hillary would listen to the people. And spare me the Iraq e-mails, neither candidate is calling for an end to the illegal war so put it aside, or vote for Ron Paul in the Republican primary, or for Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader. Equally true is that anyone with a record will make mistakes and I find it hilarious, as one of the few calling out the sanctions in the 90s, how many are outraged by them today. So many who gave passes in real time, now want to scream about the Iraq sanctions. The reality is that whomever is president will be called out for something in 20 years and that's just how it works. It's because knowledge is not a base line and progress is never complete. For those reasons, any country will always have embarrassments in their past and good for that because otherwise you're saying that people don't evolve, that understanding doesn't increase from generation to generation. You're saying human development is static. Were the race right now between John Edwards and Hillary Clinton, I wouldn't be contacting super delegates. But there was a difference between Edwards and Clinton on the war. Ditto Bill Richardson. There is no significant difference between Obama and Clinton on the Iraq War except, as was pointed out earlier, Barack has a pattern of lying about it. Actually there are two more, Bambi's non-pledged plan depends upon mercenaries replacing US soldiers and Bambi's surrounded by a large number of advisors who are advocates for 'counter-insurgency' which is nothing more than 'kill the people.' But aside from that fact, we're left with two temperaments. Barack's a go-along, Hillary's a fighter. We're left with other issues and Barack appointing the next Supreme Court nominee is frightening considering his refusal in Illinois to stand up for reproductive rights and the fact that, as Mike pointed out, alleged 'feminists' have given him an endorsement without ever making demands. Hillary has a record on reproductive rights and on the rights of women. Among the advances that have been made in the last decades was our society's increased rationality with regards to the LGBT community and Bambi's use of homophobia indicates that goes out the window. I agree strongly with Dona that no one can claim to be a feminist and support a candidate who uses homophobia. Equally true is that no one can claim to be a feminist and elect to support a candidate with nothing to indicate support for women and trash a candidate with a record of support for women's rights including reproductive freedom. Considering that he didn't feel his own wife was either trust worthy enough or smart enough to go to a job interview by herself and instead had to tag along, I think we have a public understanding of where he stands with regards to women. If Cindy McCain was sharing that story, feminists would be calling out John McCain for that action. Instead, nit-wits like Katha Pollitt want to act like it's no big deal. When women are again facing back alley abortions and are under attack, it's going to be really hard for 'feminist' Katha to justify her support for Barack. As Betty's topic underscored, it's not that people will be facing something new, it's that a Barack presidency means they will be confronted with all they ignored during the campaign.

Jim: Let me again say "wow." And I'll also note that C.I. did not just endorse Hillary for president, but was stating that Hillary was the best of the two choices left in the Democratic Party primary. That's not a sentiment any of us disagree with.
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