Sunday, April 06, 2008

Truest statement of the week

The self-styled "progressives" attempt to upend history and fool everybody, including themselves. The four claim that current conditions can be compared to the 1930s, when "centrist leaders" were compelled by activists "to embrace visionary solutions." There's a huge problem with that reasoning, however. In the 1930s, there were already strong movements existent before Franklin Roosevelt's 1932 and 1936 runs for the presidency. It was the movements -- many of them communist-led -- that shaped the Roosevelt campaigns and the New Deal, that in fact changed history. Today's four wishful signers insist that "even though it is candidate-centered, there is no doubt that the campaign is a social movement, one greater than the candidate himself ever imagined."
Really? Believe that hogwash when any of the loyal Lefties demand Obama discard his plans to add 92,000 addition soldiers and Marines to the total U.S. military ranks, at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars and bringing with it the certainty of more wars. Never happen. The signers have already claimed the political campaign is a movement. Would they expose themselves as poseurs and fakers by making futile demands on the campaign, which is, after all, supposed to be one with the "movement?" Would they risk being told to shut up? No, it's too late for Hayden, Fletcher, Ehrenreich, and Glover to strut around as if they have options; they pissed all that away in the initial glow of Obamamania, and from now on will have to accept their status as hangers on.

-- Glen Ford, "Four More Years of Black Irrelevance" (Black Agenda Report) on "Progressives" for Obama.

Truest statement of the week II

"And despite the grand claims of enthusiasts, he doesn't really have a movement behind him -- he's got a fan club. How does a fan club hold a candidate accountable?"

-- Doug Henwood, "Would You Like Change With That?" (ZNet) on Obamamania causing some left 'voices' to wet their shorts in excitement over Bambi.

A note to our readers

Hey --

Another Sunday. Another Flickr battle. We have our illustrations up (although on one computer, Flickr is still "Processing" on one computer. We thank all who helped this edition. That includes Dallas and the following:

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,

We thank all. Here's what we've got.

Truest statement of the week -- Glen Ford bats another one out of the park. He was the solid pick since Thursday. In a just world, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, et al would be booking Ford to provide political commentary.

Truest statement of the week II -- Doug Henwood also had a strong showing. There were six choices for truest this week and there was no way we could reduce to one. Thanks to ___ who e-mailed the public account of The Common Ills to note Henwood. C.I. had already included Henwood in that day's snapshot but (except Ava who was on the road with Kat and C.I.) the rest of us first came across the Henwood article via the e-mail. Thank you.

Editorial: Iraq, beware the snow job -- To be clear, there is no withdrawal being called for by Congressional Democrats in 2008. Last week was about creating a criteria for grading Iraq. On that, many did well. (Pelosi is not among the many.) The photo is of Rahm Emanuel. He's never been praised by any community site until last week when C.I. noted his comments at the press conference. We'll gladly praise him for that. And we'll slam him next week if our judgement is that he deserves it. We'll go into that (outside of Rahm) as I (Jim) get further into the note.

TV: Pulled Punches -- Ava and C.I. had some antsy readers (longterm readers) noting the writers strike was over and hoping that at least they would include a fictional show in this report as they worked Medium last week (Patricia Arquette and Roseanna Arquette are both on Monday's Medium on NBC, it's the first time the two sisters have acted togheter). They weren't sure that was possible. They'd planned to grab regional PBS shows (including one featuring a CBS 'veteran' making a fool of himself and eating up easy applause). When SNL friends kept pressuring them to catch Saturday night's broadcast, they put everything else on hold to take on comedy. I think it continues their strong streak. (Ava says, "Great, next week we will lower the stakes because we're not interested in all the Johnny Come Latelys.")

Randi Rhodes & other Hitler Youth for Bambi -- Where the hell does Randi Rhodes get off calling Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro the names she did? We'll probably explore that more next week. The new Obama illustration is by Kat and Betty's eldest son. When we were all in Boston, he brought a drawing he'd done of Obama. We loved it. He insisted it wasn't very good (he was wrong). He said it needed color. Kat offered to paint in colors. He was up for that. So that's a collaboration between Kat and Betty's eldest son. We thank him for their illustration. Randi Rhodes at a campaign event called Hillary and Ferraro unacceptable names. C.I. and Ava had a section on what Whoopi, at a John Kerry event, got grief for and how the Kerry campaign apologized for that. That section got pulled for flow. But if it's not clear, campaigning for a candidate means the candidate is responsible for what is said unless he or she issues a statement denouncing the remarks.

Pockmarks of the Soul -- This article takes on Tom Hayden. "Tom-Tom" is his new name and C.I. gave that name. C.I. could have given many other names and is biting the tongue and the lips at this point. But much more nonsense from Tom-Tom and it will fly. Despite some feeling that this has already taken place, it hasn't. The big guns have yet to come out. In this article, we offer praise to Phyllis Bennis at the end. She earned it. (And was among those considered for truest statement this week.) This is an online magazine. It's one that receives no help from outside this community though damned if everyone and their dog doesn't e-mail wanting favors.
(We've never heard from Bennis. C.I. does know her.) The point here is that we don't owe anyone anything. Each weekend, we do an all night/all morning writing session and we share our truths. If you don't like our opinions, don't come back. Unless you're trying to raise your blood pressure, there's no point in reading something you don't care for. But unlike some people, we don't believe most have a fixed nature. We believe anyone can redeem themselves in our eyes (not that they'd want to) and that's part of the reason C.I. continues to bite the tongue on Hayden. But we're writing each week and if someone does something horrible, we call it out. We're not indebted to anyone. If this week Tom Hayden demonstrates some common sense (in our opinion), we're happy to note that, we're happy to applaud it. We say what's on our minds. If you don't like it, in the words of Cedric, oh well.

The McKinny and Nader campaigns for president -- This feature will probably offend someone. It's rare that something doesn't. But McKinney's website is her office and it needs to be run in such a way that it's open weekdays. And here's one of the benefits of my doing the note (besides letting me gas bag). C.I. still has to do a morning entry at The Common Ills and post Isaiah's latest comic. So I keep announcing how many more articles are left to note in the note. C.I. just said, to my latest tally, "What about Ralph's media criticism?" We had forgotten to post that. We just put it up.

Ralph Nader tells the truth on 'independent' media... -- That's higher in the list on the right but I'll put it in here. It's the article we forgot to post. It fits in with my point that we don't owe anyone anything and if, next week, The Progressive has anything to offer, we'll be happy to note it. But they've done a poor job, as Nader notes, and we provide a backup to his critique. We could have gone on much longer. Dona and Jess were trying to get down all the examples C.I. was ticking off. We also would like to do a piece on those who turned on Nader. We'd hoped to do that this edition but time ran out. (A rough sketch -- three paragraphs -- runs in the print edition.) "In the year 2000" would be the opening if and when we get around to writing that. For now we offer this and Nader is correct, he is not treated fairly. It's embarrassing to watch alleged 'independent' media rush so quickly to compromise their beliefs and hop on board the Bambi Express. But they've done that for some time, haven't they?

Don't Put It On Your Resume -- Media criticism. It takes a lot of dumb or malice to rewrite history that's less than a month old. Joshy has a lot of moxie, to put it mildly. Link goes to a site other than where the article appears. We will never, ever link to that site. For a link to that site to take place, the parents of West would have to get an apology from it for two people (a writer and an editor) attempting to conduct negative research on a child who posted at that site. We don't tolerate that and we don't pretend that's left behavior.

CODEPINK? -- We did a roundtable this week. Ava and C.I. said, "Forget it, we're not typing it up." No one wanted to spend the time required. A segement is donated to Hilda's Mix' audio version. We also took a section and put it in article form for this feature.

Highlights -- Mike, Kat, Cedric, Rebecca, Betty, Elaine, Marcia, Wally and Ruth worked on this. As they note, I've been begging Ruth to participate here. C.I. has a rule: No report from Ruth on the weekend if we're also using her on this. She is not superwoman and can't do both. As they note in this, it's equally true that Ruth's finding very little worthy of doing a report on from public radio. We thank them for this piece.

And that's it, we'll see you next week.

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

P.S. TCI community member Lynda noted that Hillary Clinton's online campaign office was issuing new statements on Sunday. "Hillary in the West" has been added -- and that is one of several posts they offered on Sunday. (Thank you, Lynda, for pointing that out.)

Editorial: Iraq, beware the snow job

The American people favor and our national security demands a different, better way. We salute the courage and hard work of our troops during more than five years of dangerous and difficult service. But the strategic purpose of the surge strategy you announced more than a year ago -- creating the conditions for Iraqis to forge a political solution in order to hasten the day our troops can return home -- has not been achieved. In fact, your Administration recently indicated that more U.S. troops will remain deployed in Iraq after the surge has ended than were there when the surge began. This is not what the American people were led to expect when you announced the surge nearly fifteen months ago.
The current Iraq strategy has no discernible end in sight and requires the United States to spend additional hundreds of billions of dollars despite urgent national needs in education, health care, and infrastructure improvement, and when high oil prices have provided the Iraqi government with billions in additional revenue that could pay for their own redevelopment and security. This strategy is neither sustainable nor in our broader national security or economic interest.

In an open letter to the Bully Boy, the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid*, makes the above argument. Sadly, it takes them two paragraphs to get to that point. Not unlike Pelosi's press conference last Thursday that was supposed to set the Democratic's Congressional plan for Iraq in the minds of Americans. Instead of staying focused, Pelosi used the press conference to babble on about her trip to India and about her feelings on the issue of super delegates and about anything that popped into her mind.

US Amabassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus return to Congress on Tuesday. As in September, it's another attempt to tell the American people that a turned corner is just around the corner, that a 'win' is in sight, that more time is needed. It's a snow job.

Democrats wisely realized that they needed to be prepared this go round. Unwisely, Nancy Pelosi goes off script repeatedly. The press conference in question was salvaged (but not saved, as C.I. noted) by US House Rep Rahm Emanuel who noted that the White House response to every event in Iraq is always the same: they insist they need more money, more time and more
troops. He declared this non-realistic approach of doing the same thing over and over (but with more money, time and troops) was "a policy cul-du-sac and we just keep going round and round". The one report we found from a news outlet on the press conference skipped right to the pull quote from Emanuel.


Again, he salvaged it, he did not save it -- one person can only do so much.

All the Democrats were supposed to be preparing the American people for what was coming. The hope was that, by doing so, they could outline clear markers and not have a sink hole passed off, yet again, as "progress" by the administration.

In terms of that goal, there were three Democratic All Stars last week. Emanual was one and Senators Barbara Boxer and Joe Biden were the two others.

Biden chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and he used that committee to address Iraq on Wednesday and Thursday. [If you missed news of the above, you can refer to the Iraq snapshots for Wednesday and Thursday. That may be all you can refer to because we haven't seen other coverage in real time.] Someone had to be selected to deliver the Democratic Radio Response yesterday and the party went with Biden. A good move on their part because, from the start, Biden got right to the point:

Good morning. I'm Joe Biden, Democratic Senator from Delaware and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In January 2007, President Bush announced the surge of an additional 30,000 American forces into Iraq. Next week, the President is expected to tell the American people what comes next. It's an important moment for America's future.

The purpose of the surge was to bring violence in Iraq down so that its leaders could come together politically. Violence has come down, but the Iraqis have not come together. The country remains terribly divided among Sunni, Shi'a and Kurds. There is little evidence the Iraqis will settle their differences peacefully any time soon.

Biden did that in Wednesday's hearing as well. That hearing, one you apparently are never supposed to hear about, found the issue of US withdrawal from Iraq seriously addressed. You'd think Panhandle Media would be interested but you can't trip the light nostalgia back to 1968 for a full week and also offer the people the news they need, can you?

Retired General William Odom was one of the witnesses at Wednesday's hearing and he minced no words in terming the escalation (the 'surge') a failure and explaining why the US needed to get out of Iraq. As C.I. noted:

Odom addressed the elephant in the room: the violence that likely follows a withdrawal. "We don't have the physical choice to prevent chaos when we leave," he declared. "It's going to happen . . . no matter what we do. . . . We have the blame because we went in [to Iraq] . . . We do have the choice not to send more US troops. That's the moral choice we're facing." He also noted how trainers were "besides the point" when Iraq is plauged with conflict and divided loyalties.

Not all the witnesses favored withdrawal. The afternoon session (yes, Biden held an all day hearing on Wednesday that somehow the press managed to ignore) featured the Council on/for/by/from Foreign Relations Stephen Biddel. Senator John Kerry quickly noted that Biddle obviously belonged to the 100-year war school of thought. Biddle smirked. He smirked a lot. He smirked as he explained that Iraqi security forces were used, by the puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki, as a personal militia to target those who disagree with his 'vision.' Senator Barbara Boxer used her brief time to explore taht.

Barbara Boxer: Did you just say that Maliki uses the Iraqi security forces as his militia? Did you say that?

Biddle: Yes.

Barbara Boxer: If that's true and Maliki uses his military as a force to bring about peace -- that's scandalous and that we would have paid $20 million to train [it] and someone that we consider an expert says it's a militia, that's shocking.

Boxer explained what the testimony was providing her with, "a picture of Iraq today as a bloody lawless place, run by militias, a place that has undergone ethnic cleansing and the Shias won that . . . and also that the US presence there is only putting off the day when the Iraqis will find the way."

She drew a clear line between that reality and what the American people and Congress are repeatedly told and she singeled out two who spread the fantasies: Petraeus and US Secretary of State Condi Rice. Boxer wasn't in the mood for Biddle's nonsense that the US could keep the peace when the reality was that they were engaging warlords ("You cannot count on them," she noted) and Biddle tried to justify the use of the warlords.

"There is no good solution to this nightmare," she stated clearly but Biddle, apparently believing this was a meeting of the CFR and not the US Senate, thought he could shuck and jive his way through and that he could insult Boxer leading Boxer to reply back that "for you to suggest that I don't care about the outcome is a total, total slap to those of us who were against the war." Biddel, still smirking, offered more nonsense and Boxer cut him off with, "I'll take that as an apology." She was done with him.

And she got the point across very well. The White House is in business with warlords in Iraq (just as in Afghanistan) and, as vile as that is, it didn't even produce a single accomplishment. Five years later and the only thing to show is deaths and more deaths. Biddle was a stand-in for the administration and Boxer made it clear that the Senate wasn't in the mood for a lot of spin and a lot of hype.

"So, where are we after the surge? Back to where we were before it started. With 140,000 troops in Iraq -- and no end in sight. The best that can be said is we've gone from drowning in Iraq to treading water. That's better, but we can't keep doing it without exhausting ourselves," Biden explained in his radio address.

Last week was about setting markers by which the Congress and the people could provide a context when Crocker and Petraeus attemped to re-sell the Iraq War. There were three All Stars last week but, for the most part, many members of Congress did a fine job of establishing that framework. (That includes Republican Senators Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar.)

The press didn't cover it. They were interested in the horse race and other things. None of us believe that next week the Iraq War ends or that Congress will even conclude that they need to end it right now. But that wasn't the point of last week. The point was to establish a system to judge what Petraeus and Crocker plan to tell the people. On that, Congress succeeded. Hopefully, this week will find them continuing to work the points, continuing to demonstrate how the White House is offering nothing but more of the same and how neither the United States nor Iraq can afford the continuation of the illegal war.


* Along with Pelosi and Reid, the letter is signed by Steny Hoyer, John Murhta, Richard Durbin, Robert Byrd, Nita Lowey, Ike Skelton, Joe Biden, Carl Levin, Silvestre Reyes, Howard Berman, David Obey, Daniel Inouye, Patrick Leahy and John Rockefeller. As leaders, we place the blame for wasting two paragraphs on the two leaders Pelosi and Reid.

TV: Pulled Punches

In the 2007 fall season, CBS tried to connect with viewers via the sitcom The Class. The main problem there was that there were too many characters and too many storylines each episode. Their new offering has been The Big Bang Theory and it's really a story of pulled punches.

The mildly amusing sitcom revolves around egghead roommates Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) with Leonard attracted to the "babe" next door. The "babe" is named Penny and that appears to be all the thought that anyone's put into the writing of the role. Kaley Cuoco plays the part and she's not bad in it, she just has nothing to do -- over and over. The show features a Geek Chorus and no writing's gone into that either (they seem nothing more than echoes of Sheldon). Plot wise, you're likely to be reminded of Laverne & Shirley.

Galecki and Parsons offer the fussbudget theatrics some found interesting between Balki and Cousin Larry (Perfect Strangers) but that has a way of dying out quickly so, despite the fact that Galecki and Parsons currently essay it well, the show need to find something to revolve around.

With the exception of a party at Penny's (which existed to toss out the stale tale of her former boyfriend in conflict with Leonard), there really doesn't appear to be an outside world. Sheldon and Leonard apparently have few rent worries, let alone monetary concerns, since they're basically shut-ins in the on camera 'action.' Cuoco has demonstrated elsewhere that she can actually be funny and if the writers weren't so interested in merely offering "the babe," she could be a real asset to the show; however, the way the part's currently 'written,' Penny could disappear from the show tomorrow and have a new "babe" living in her apartment with no real damage to the show.

What you've got is a comedy that pulls the punches. Over and over. Where you should be laughing, you're either merely smile or stare blankly at the television. If you're merely staring, you'll have plenty of time to realize Suzanne Sommers was provided with far more to do on Three's Company and may grasp that Chrissy Snow was hardly a breakthrough role for women. As you realize that, you'll start to notice all the ways in which the show pulls punches and goes for the obvious (and done over and over) bit instead of offering anything truly creative.

The Big Bang Theory is far from alone and, in fact, last week it appeared everyone was showing up to demonstrate how they could pull punches as well. No one demonstrated it more than the running on fumes Saturday Night Live which thought the height of comedy was a bit about Roger Clemens going down a deer. Watching, we felt as though we were in back in junior high seeing would-be class clowns (too far down the rungs to qualify as actual class clowns) offer up their reinactments of SNL skits.

For those who don't follow sports (including us), Clemens is a baseball pitcher who has been accused of using steroids and he has denied (even in Congress) that he used steroids. Once upon a time, the previous would have been more than enough for Saturday Night Live to find a more worthy target but SNL has no perspective left and they only have one main target: Senator Hillary Clinton.

Saturday's show (which friends with the program swore we'd find funny) opened with Hillary and Bill Clinton discussing the release of their tax records. That wasn't news. That wasn't even good gossip. At times in the skit, that point was made with both of them noting that the monies they were paid for their books was hardly a secret but, in fact, well reported in real time. This was Saturday Night Live's return to live shows (after weeks of repeats following their return after the writer's strike) and it was a very weak show.

The skit in question was so weak that it had to fall back on 'jokes' from the 90s. And, watching that, we realized just how many punches SNL currently pulls. We realized, for instance, that Jeremiah Wright -- big news during their 'break' -- hasn't been a character on the program despite the fact that no other incarnation of SNL would have ever ignored him. We grasped that Michelle Obama seemed to have entered some sort of protective bubble that the spouses of would-be presidential candidates have never been allowed in before. And somehow, Barack Obama's embarrassing performance last week at a bowling alley wasn't fodder for comedy. Since when has any presidential candidate being wiped out in a sport by a child been something SNL shied from? The thing had comedy sketch written all over it. We grasped that so many punches were being pulled, in fact, that the one role Kenan Thompson is right for is being denied him.

In a bad skit, that was bad when The Red Foxx Comdey Hour did it in the 1970s (they poked fun at Farrah Fawcett's family, SNL poked fun at host Christopher Walken's family), Thompson showed up as an exchange student from Nigeria. The only laughs he got was for his entrance. (The lines weren't funny to begin with, in fairness to Thompson.) The only thing different about Thomspon was a wig he wore. The wig made him look exactly like Bambi supporter Donna Brazile. Last week, The New York Times offered a piece of garbage article about the alleged diversity now being offered on the chat & chews. FAIR, rightly, rejected that nonsense. (Audio commentary of it can be found via Friday's CounterSpin -- Peter Hart offers it in the first third of the program.) But despite SNL's fondness for serving up parodies of chat & chews, they've yet to let Kenyan rip loose as "I'll leave the Democratic Party!" Brazile. In fact, they've focused solely on men with the exception of Campbell Brown (played by Kristen Wiig) in one skit.

They did it again Saturday in a really bad spoof of Larry King that wasn't funny. Worse than not funny, they offered a performer (we'll be kind and not name) as Jimmy Carter who appeared not just unable to do Carter, but also afraid to take on the performance Dan Ackroyd once did of Carter. What was most obvious was, as with Clemons, why were they spoofing Carter to begin with? It was a nasty little skit (the 'message' was no one reads Jimmy Carter's books). And it was another yawn-fest made all the more appalling by the fact that, while the performer couldn't do Carter, he was perfect for John McCain. On the GOP side, there is no question who will be the nominee: Senator John McCain. When you've got a performer who can do McCain, why are you wasting him in bad Jimmy Carter bits?

But wasting 90 minutes was all they did. Thankfully, Christopher Walken did not sing and there was no production number in place of the opening monologue. However, the parody of menstruation medication, while funny, not only debuted on the Tina Fey hosted show, it was repeated during the latest break. So, in less than two months, Saturday Night Live viewers were given three opportunites to view that skit. Those flipping channels and coming across that bit last night, may have moved on quickly, saying, "Oh, honey, it's a repeat." We wouldn't have blamed them.

Not content to raid from the recent past, they also raided their own opening skit. Why open the show with the tax bit if you can't repeat it during Weekend Update! It was the lead in the 'headlines.' You also got bits about an outlet mall in Cuba, a pregnant man and, as already noted, Clemens giving a blow job to a deer. What the immensely untalented Seth and Amy fail to grasp is that Weekend Update, at its best, has always parodied the actual news -- not riffed on The Weekly World News. Seth is so unfunny on Weekend Update that a former SNL regular felt the need to call us when Weekend Update ended and explain he'd just realized whom Seth reminds him: Kevin Nealon. For those not watching SNL during that period, the big talk during this was exactly who could replace Nealon (Norm McDonald). He was out of touch, he wasn't funny, had a habit of staring into the camera waiting for laughs that didn't come (which wasn't played for comic effect, it was just fear). Nealon was 41 at the time and far from 'hip.' Seth is 34 and just as out of touch.

Weekend Update works best with anchors who are either news junkies off screen or flat out funny. Occassionally, they'll get lucky and find a performer who is both. What they have currently is neither in Amy or Seth. Add in a lack of perspective that leads to the Clemens 'bit' and you start to notice how many punches are being pulled.

Not just in Weekend Update, but throughout the show. Seth is a Bambi Groupie so Bambi skits aren't going to be written by him. That explains how ripe for parody Jeremiah Wright has still not been featured. That explains why so many skits about Obama have not been written. Fred Armisen has demonstrated he can do a dead-on parody of Barack. It's a pity that he will apparently never be provided with the material to go further.

Or do they think that viewers don't grasp that? Do they think viewers aren't noticing that Barack's manner of speaking has been captured by Fred but not notice that the Barack character exists in a vaccum? Do they think that viewers don't notice that Saturday Night Live is pulling punches? Is this how they intend to be 'cutting-edge' (something Lorne still thinks is possible, don't wake him)? By lampooning every rumor about Hillary, by including that into what Amy really wants you to believe is a character she's created (don't wake her either) while creating a 'safety zone' that must never be violated for Obama? That's not how you do comedy.

That is how you do weak sitcoms. But weak is all SNL has to offer. It's why they repeated the menstrual medication skit last night. It's why Amy thought she was 'pithy' in Weekend Update offering a joke about -- pay attention -- how tired Madonna is. No question, Madonna is tired. But what does that say about SNL? Weekend Update is doing a joke about someone they consider yesterday's news. Who is more pathetic? Madonna or Weekend Update?

Saturday Night Live is a pathetic show currently. You've got two performers perfect for parodies of Donna Brazile and John McCain who are stuck in parts they are all wrong for. You've got 'new' programs wasting time re-airing old bits. You've got Seth and Amy who think Madonna and Oprah are the reference points for Weekend Update. Most of all, you have writers who are scared to take on Obama. Comedy rule: You blink, you lose the laugh.

SNL better pray Hillary Clinton gets the Democratic nomination because, otherwise, they've got nothing. NBC is carving out primetime hours next fall for the show, primetime hours to 'honor' their political comedy. They've got nothing but Hillary. They've got Fred who can do Barack wonderfully but they won't use him in skits. (He's appeared in debates, he's appeared in a Hillary fantasy. They've failed to create a framework for Barack himself.) They've got a performer who will be their John McCain guy (hopefully, they'll grasp that quickly). All they've got are tired, old Clinton jokes to offer with Darrell Hammond bringing back his 90s nonsense because Amy alone can't get laughs as Hillary. What exactly does SNL intend to contribute to this election cycle because when the network's craving out primetime space for you, they expect you to offer something more than old bits of Chevy Chase doing Nixon, Dan Ackroyd doing Jimmy Carter and Dana Carvey doing Poppy Bush. When we delivered this criticism over the phone to one writer with SNL, he told us that if Barack gets the nomination, pay attention to this, they can still get laughs. How so? They'll make a running joke of Amy trotting out (as Hillary) to say something.

Granted, he was physically tired (the show had ended it's live broadcast minutes before we called him) but we think that idea is pretty damn tired and pretty damn pathetic. We think it's pretty sad that the best SNL currently has planned for 2008 election coverage, should Barack get the nomination, is bringing in Hillary for laughs. We think it goes to the fact that they are pulling punches and we doubt NBC's going to be pleased should that be all that a primetime clip-show has to offer that can be filed under 'new.'

Friends with SNL took HUGE offense to our comments recently where we noted their 'imbalance.' We ridicule all the candidates, they insisted. In the words of Diana Ross, we respond, "I'm still waiting." When the calls came in insisting we had to "take a look" at the opening skit, we were told this was an example of what they do -- there would be jokes about Hillary and jokes about the media and they ridicule fairly. We watched, we didn't see it. Our point was and remains that they've created an off-limits, roped off section for Bambi.

That's the death of comedy. We'd explain that to them, but hopefully the lack of laughs throughout the broadcast got that point across. No one's staying home or up late night Saturdays to be mildly amused. Judging by the ratings for The Big Bang Theory, they're not rushing to their TV sets for that on Mondays either. Pull the punch, lose the audience.

Randi Rhodes & other Hitler Youth for Bambi

*To folks wondering the Obama campaign was somehow affiliated with this event, please know that it was in no way sanctioned, authorized, or endorsed by the Obama for America campaign. This was a fundraiser put together by a San Francisco radio station (you can see their explanation of the event here This website is one of hundreds of thousands of user-generated websites you can make on*

That's a cute little statement and one that was added to Barack Obama's campaign site announcement of the Randi Rhodes appearance at an event sponsored by his supporters -- NorCal LGBT for Obama (where all the self-loathing LGBT members flock to), San Francisco for Obama, The Castro for Obama, Young Bay Area Professionals for Barack Obama. From the campaign's own page, it notes that "57" Obama supporters used the page to sign up to attend the event.

What was the event?

Randi Rhodes doing what she does best -- imploding. Hence her face.

Rhodes took to the stage at this joint Air America Radio and Barack Obama event to scream that Hillary Clinton was a "b**ch" and "a f**king wh**e!" and that Geraldine Ferraro was "a f**king wh**e!" as well. She used homophobic language and offered much more of the bittnerness that her barren life has provided her with.

Air America Radio can't afford Randi Rhodes. They truly never could. But as they continue to struggle just to broadcast, they really didn't need Rhodes pissing off half the Democratic Party. They didn't need her gutter mouth building ill will.

The announcement explains of Rhodes:

She was quieter in her support earlier in the primary season, but this week Randi Rhodes has been on fire with her passion for Obama (and disappointment/anger with his opponent). Today (3/7), she spent nearly her whole show urging people to get to Pennsylvania or to call Pennsylvania on behalf of Senator Obama.

Really? Because that would be a violation of several rules. Mainly it would shock the many who no longer listen to her (either to preserve their ear drums or because AAR has lost so many affiliates and their online presence has drastically reduced). See, there was no bigger Clintonista at AAR than Randi Rhodes. Even Al Franken couldn't come close.

So it's probably a shock to those listening from 2004 through 2006 to discover that Rhodes would attack Hillary Clinton so viciously.

Rhodes and her supporters want to argue it's comedy and that Rhodes is a comedian. That actually is funny. And what's even funnier -- and more telling -- is that it's the same excuse Rhodes fellow hate monger, Ann Coulter, has at times attempted to mount.

There's no excuse for the Democratic Party's Air America Radio to allow that sort of behavior. It was rude, it was sexist, it was homophobic and it was a sign of Rhodes' oft talked about unstable nature.

It was also a Barack event. He can back peddle with the little notice they've posted at the top of the page since Friday morning. But that doesn't change that this was his supporters and that Randi Rhodes was 'entertaining' them. 57 people signed up for the event from his website.


Barack Obama needs to apologize. When Bill Cunningham referred (over and over) to Bambi as Barack Hussein Obama at a John McCain rally, McCain apologized publicly. There was really no reason to, the candidate's name is Barack Hussein Obama and, at forty-plus, if his name is a problem to him, being that he is a lawyer, he could have changed it years ago. He elected to keep the name so he (and Michelle Obama) need to stop being so damn touchy.

We'll get back to that.

But John McCain was called out for that and he apologized. Calling Hillary Clinton a "b**ch" and "a f**king wh**e!" as well as Geraldine Ferrao the latter isn't the same thing. It's offensive and Bambi needs to apologize.

But he won't and the press will give him a pass on it as they always do because those are The Bambi Rules.

You've seen them this entire campaign season. You saw it when Bambi's drug use was mentioned -- by anyone other than Bambi -- and the cries of racism! When Bill Clinton's use of pot was mentioned in the press (it still is and Bambi's even made jokes about it) no one called it racism because it's not racism. And it's not racism to note Bambi's use of pot. It's not racism or slander to note that Hussein is Barack Obama's middle name. It's not racism to note that his father was a Muslim. What, you thought Barack Hussein Obama Sr. was a Christian name?

The Bambi Rules exist to prop up an unqualified candidate with no record. Without The Bambi Rules, he'd have to leave the race. Without The Bambi Rules, the weak-skip-votes candidate would be revealed as the immature and inexperienced candidate he is.

The Bambi Rules, as Ava and C.I. noted last week, allow for the media to ignore Florida and Michigan. Those states held primaries. They may or may not get to revote. But they held primaries. While their delegates are in doubt at this point, there is no question that they held primaries and that people voted. When the press speaks of the popular votes, it is incumbent upon the press to include Florida and Michigan (especially Florida which had their highest turnout for a primary ever and whose participation was greater than the number of people participating in every caucus and primary that came before).

The Bambi Rules demand that Hillary be trashed and Bambi get a pass. Over and over. They instruct that there are two ways to tell a story: Reality and fantasy and the latter will always be favored for Bambi or you will risk charges of racism.

Bambi's unqualified. He's always been unqualified. He made a deal in Illinois to get his name put to the legislation that others worked on and even that didn't give him a strong record. (Reporters might want to check out his 2004 interviews when he claimed being responsible for the passage of numerous pieces of legislation. Not only did he not steer the legislation, it often didn't pass. But it was a cute story, wasn't it?) Despite publicly promising he would finish his first term before running for Senate, he didn't do that. And he hasn't been there for most of the votes and has skipped many votes he was present for. That's the story of Bambi who can't run in 2012 if he doesn't get the nomination this year because in 2012 he will either have a record or be as inexperienced as he is today and that just won't fly four years from now (and shouldn't today).

Bambi is the front runner. At least that's what his campaign says and the press rushes to agree. They also rush to claim he has it sewn up when, in fact, he doesn't. Tom Hayden and his ilk had to force John Edwards out of the race because, the lie went, John Edwards was preventing Bambi from getting the votes he needed. Now they're trying to force Hillary out with the claim that she's preventing Bambi from winning.

If Bambi truly was the people's choice, he wouldn't be neck in neck with Hillary all this time later. For that matter, if the Democratic primaries were confined to Democrats (as they should be), he wouldn't even be tied with her.

Bambi's not the front runner and has never been the front runner. Not even with all the soft press, not even with all the faux mania. He can't sew up the nomination.

Meanwhile, Hillary's been attacked non-stop. As the person posting the Rhodes event to Bambi's campaign site noted, Randi had devoted her whole show to ripping into Hillary. Well why not? The Nation's done the same, so has The Progressive, so has CounterPunch, so has Democracy Now!, so has pretty much any Pacifica program you can name, and go on and on. With all of Panhandle Media spending two years in their attempts to destroy Hillary, with them screaming praise for Bambi, he still can't sew up the nomination.

And he won't. Neither he nor Hillary will end the primaries with enough delegates to claim the nomination. That's because Bambi isn't the choice of the people, despite the hype. Those who voted or caucused have been split between him and Hillary.

So super delegates need to look at reality and not hype in making their decisions. And they don't need to listen to the media. For weeks, the Bambi campaign spread the word to reporters that John Edwards was going to endorse Bambi. Edwards put a rest to that last week. But that lie the campaign was telling reporters certainly did give the appearance of movement and motion. There was none. That's true of everything about that campaign.

Super delegates need to grasp that Bambi's independent supporters are not Democrats. That they come and go from election to election. They need to grasp that the base is behind Hillary. They need to grasp that Bambi is damaged goods and that will only become more true in a general election where false charges of racism will not scare off Republicans. (Real charges of racism wouldn't scare them off.)

Ruth Conniff, who in 2004 just knew that John Kerry was going to win in a landslide, recently took to the pathetic website of The Progressive to dismiss the issue of patriotism. According to Ruthie, patriotism is so 2001. Patriotism and jingoism are not the same thing though we don't expect Ruth's addled brain to grasp that. Americans are genuinely offended that Wright, as the head of a church, stood up in front of a congregation and damned the United States. The issue hasn't gone away. Even the speech that the media hyped like it was The Gettysburg Address didn't kill off the Wright issue. (And the press has additional clips which will be featured if he gets the nomination.) Even after the speech, he's still having to address it (with Barbara Walters, with Chris Matthews) and he's not addressing it.

He can't. He can't because his latest spin is that if Wright hadn't retired, he would have raised the issue with him or quit the church. If Wright hadn't retired? He damned the nation and the people in it. And Bambi would have done something if Wright hadn't retired. In 2008, he would have done something. That 'excuse' doesn't put the issue to rest and, at this point, he's offered so many contradictory reports that it will be an issue in general election debates. "You said you weren't aware of those kinds of statements but then, in your speech, you said you were. Then you said . . ."

Ruthie brings up Michelle Obama's assertion that until this year she was never proud of her country. Ruthie tries to dismiss that as well. It can't be dismissed. That's not First Lady talk. Cindy McCain has already scored points by noting she's always been proud to be an American.

There is no excuse for Michelle Obama's statement. There's no excuse for Jeremiah Wright's damning of the nation.

If the Democratic Party wants to feed into the stereotype of "America haters" that the right-wing has created, they can certainly nominate Barack Obama. They will lose come November (because it's a bit difficult to tell people to take pride and part in the American democratic process by voting for someone seen as unpatriotic by association). More importantly Barack Obama will be the anchor around the party's neck for several election cycles to come. After he loses, his 'supporters' will move on to other issues. The right-wing will not move on. Democratic Party representatives will be peppered with 'questions' about their patriotism in 2010, 2012, 2014 and later. "You're the party that hates America. For goodness sake, your 2008 nominee attended a church, for 20 years, that damned the United States and his wife was over 40 years old and claimed she'd never been proud of her country until 2008. What do you say?"

Super delegates need to also consider the way the race has gone on. Mentioning a candidate's drug use, drug use the candidate himself has written and talked about, results in charges of racism. Ditto the use of his middle name. Does the Democratic Party want to reward that behavior? If it does, look for it to continue and to thrive. Look for every criticism of any candidate to result in someone screaming racism.

They also need to consider the way super delegates have been attacked. The smears against, for example, Geraldine Ferraro. The threats against Sheila Jackson Lee and Stephanie Tubbs Jones to name but two people. Is this what they want? They really want to reward a mob that thinks that they can threaten and bully the party?

His moment has peaked. His campaign is not what it was at its height. Members of Congress have caught on to the fact that they have been repeatedly astro-turfed by a small group of people using multiple names and addresses (which didn't check out when investigated). The whole campaign's been a fraud. Another David Axlerod candidate built a campaign around faux mania and generic statements and how's that working out for Deval Patrick? (Not good.)

Does the Democratic Party really want to take marching orders from the likes of Laura Flanders who is not even a Democrat? Do they want to surrender the party to Tom Hayden who never held national office and never will? Do they want to let a bunch of White malcontents (who have driven Obama's overly hyped campaign) who have regularly attacked them suddenly feel that they're in charge of a national party?

We think not.

The kicked to the curb nature of all the malcontents results from the fact that they are not players and they never will be. Selecting Hillary sends a message to them. It tells, for instance, Dave Lindorff, "We didn't appreciate your campaign last fall of 'Quit the Democratic Party' and we have no reason to listen to you or your laughable claim that Barack fought racism, as a Black man, by doing drugs." It lets them know immediately (as opposed to January 2009 when their faux candidate would be lucky to get to the White House since he'll most likely be wiped out in the November election) that they're not steering the party and they're not calling the shots. It lets them know that the party will not be intimidated by a pack of faux Democrats who have spent years trying to tear apart the party.

It's an important message to send. One that will find them running with their tails between their knees.

Bambi won't call out Randi Rhodes. He won't do it because without her and others creating a Hitler Youth mania around him, he has no campaign. A historic Democratic Party vice presidential candidate was called "a f**king wh**e!" as was a former First Lady. It's not cute. It's not funny. And rewarding Barack Obama not only rewards that type of behavior, it encourages it. Super delegates need to act like grown ups, they need to remember the McGovern wipe out and they need to say, "Our choice is Hillary Clinton."

Ralph Nader tells the truth on 'independent' media

We're always interested in media criticism and, last week, Ralph Nader offered needed media criticism:

You have to wonder about self-proclaimed "progressives."

Take Matthew Rothschild, for example.

He's a self-proclaimed progressive.

He's the editor of the so-called Progressive Magazine.

He has written an editorial in the current issue (April 2008) of the magazine titled "Don't Worry About Ralph."

In it, Rothschild claims that "to the extent that there is anything like a progressive movement going on right now, it is foursquare behind Obama."Rothschild must be plugged in.The question is -- to what?

Nader/Gonzalez have put together a campaign to push for public health insurance (single-payer), to cut the bloated, wasteful military budget, to reverse U.S. policy in the Middle East, to take nuclear power off the table and to put solar energy on the table, to repeal the anti-union Taft-Hartley law, and to impeach Bush/Cheney.

Obama stands with Clinton and McCain against Nader/Gonzalez on all of these issues.

Rothschild says he barely knows "anyone who has voted for Nader in the past who will vote for him this time."

That's because Rothschild is living in his little viral liberal bubble -- where the anti-Nader virus has taken hold and won't let go.

Visit our website and you will meet voters from all across America -- from outside the little viral liberal bubble in which Rothschild is ensconced -- who stand foursquare behind Nader/Gonzalez.

They are voting with their donations of hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Nader/Gonazlez democracy agenda.

They are voting with their feet -- collecting signatures all across the country to get Nader/Gonzalez on the ballot.

And they are voting with their writing to respond to viral liberals like Rothschild.

It doesn't matter that you call yourself a progressive, Matt, or that you call your magazine The Progressive.

You are not progressive.

And your magazine is not progressive.

You are supporting the corporate Democrats.

Therefore, you are a corporate Democrat.

Stop deceiving the public.


The Nader Team

PS: We welcome your comments to the blog.

Though Rothschild really has no comeback to the above, we checked to see if he had offered it one. It wasn't easy. See Matty's been all over the map with his Bambi Love. He's, for example, repeatedly praised Bambi in debates and then, when Bambi loses a state's primary, gone back to explain Bambi was so-so in the debate. So Matty appears to be attempting to hide some of his online writing at present.

One thing we did learn was that "From The Editors" is now identified: Matthew Rothschild and conservative Amitabh Pal (we doubt there's a more conservative voice at any left or 'left' magazine than Pal) which does at least reveal how "From the Editors" traffics in sexism.

But with the archives more or less closed, we consulted on our own archives: C.I. First off, ignore anything Matthew Rothschild said. It was him, after all, who wrote on page four of the September 2004 issue of The Progressive ("Kerry's Mistake"), "She [Ruth Conniff] is predicting, as I am, that Kerry will prevail" in the 2004 election. Ha! In the same column, he favorably cited a joke that Bill Clinton told at the 2004 DNC convention. (That would be the same Bill Clinton that Matty regularly vilifies these days.) In April 2004, the magazine offered campaign 'counseling' via Matty: "Nader's Wrong Turn." Nothing says "Democracy!" like telling a candidate not to run apparently. On page nine of the July 2004 issue of The Progressive, Matty wrote ("Bush on the Ropes") of "the flinty Ralph Nader" which we're oh so sure was intended as a compliment. And of course there was Ruth Conniff's infamous hatchet job on Nader's 2004 campaign.

The realities on Panhandle Media come at you via the now ceased publication Clamor. In their September/October 2004 issue, Todd Steven Burroghs spoke with self-loathing lesbian Laura Flanders who went into wide-eyed wonder as she spoke of The Heritage Foundation, a right-wing echo chamber, and how the left (or 'left') was now assembling its own. That's what you see in Panhandle Media today. That's how everyone can be on board with Bambi -- people who would never agree on anything else. It's a circle-jerk passed off as journalism. It's independence sold out to create an echo chamber and, as several are slowly starting to grasp, it's a way to lose your audience.

A name writer who sometimes contributed pieces to Panhandle Media has now sworn them off. He finds them disgusting and actually cites The Progressive in particular. He notes that the left has always had a "glow" for "the Black man, but rarely the Black woman" and states that their "hormones go a long way toward explaining their current madness." As proof, he offers the touchy-feely cover story of the May 2005 issue of The Progressive which featured an African woman who was not taken to task for her talk of AIDS as a conspiracy. "There's nothing progressive about that," he states, "but such is the level of their 'standards' that they'll rush to print her perceptions and set aside her crazy talk."

Ourselves, we point to The Progressive's October 2004 interview with Barack. As all pieces of objective journalism should be, it was conducted by an old friend of Bambi's. Bambi's asked about Iraq and offers, "Well, we can't just pull out immediately." That statement alone -- while Bambi was running as the 'anti-war' candidate for the US Senate -- should have resulted in a serious probing of his position on Iraq. But you won't get serious journalism when you farm a piece out to Bambi's close friends, will you? (And no follow up was included in the printed interview. The Progressive: Boldly providing cover for Barack since 2004.)

Nader's right to criticize The Progressive. It is supposed to be an 'independent' publication. But as they've demonstrated for the last four years, they're nothing but cheerleaders for the Democratic Party. As they've demonstrated in the last months, they've narrowed that down to Cheerleaders for Barack. We're sure Matty looks smashing in his tights and short skirt while he flings his pom-poms in the air, but we're equally sure that his contributions qualify neither as 'independent' nor as 'journalism.'

Pockmarks of the Soul

Tom Hayden's spent 2008 sharing a lot of 'wisdoms'. We'd imagined his ego is well stroked at this point were it not for the fact that his vanity knows no bounds. How a bit player in the peace movement during the Vietnam era and a lowly one-time state legislature can so enthrall Panhandle Media with his 'wisdoms' goes to just how pathetic Panhandle Media is and, we'll guess, like attracts like.

There's appears to be no lie Tom's ever not been willing to tell. He agitated for violence in Chicago back in '68 but likes to pretend he didn't and, in real time, met with others in secret to plan the violence. Even then, as Vietnam was being destroyed, Tom-Tom had an eye on after the war.

"After the war." He was practically Judy at Carnegie Hall with that tune. And it was obvious to one and all that Tom-Tom was all about 'setting up his end.' Behind the scenes, he always advocated more than he actually did but Tom-Tom couldn't get his hands dirty, you understand. He would admit to wanting to be a US Senator but the look in his eyes when someone floated the presidency told the reality of his ambitions.

He never made it to either. Even with so many helping to fund his runs while he was married to Jane Fonda. He divorced Jane Fonda and that really was the end of his elected political career. It took him a very long time to grasp that fact. In the last few years, he's fond of telling people -- sounding like Joan Crawford -- that he'll be back.

It's never happening. But another illegal war is ongoing and Tom-Tom grabs his surf board thinking this wave will bring him back to prominence. He's older, he's tireder. So what's really taken place is that the American public has seen the way he is, the way women who know him can tell you all about. It's the same behavior that got him kicked to the curb in the early 70s (contrary to popular belief, that was not the result of one woman, she was merely one of many women he'd offended with his blatant sexism).

He's hitched his wagon to the Bambi Train because the only thing out of touch DC players think Hayden can offer at this point, has ever had to offer, is some sort of connection with the youth. He's never had it, not even in his youth. But it's still his perceived strength and he just knows being the Youth Voice of Bambi (at sixty-plus) will finally allow him to enter the power halls of DC.

So he lies and he lies some more. Feruary 7th, he offered multiple lies in a piece entitled "After Super Tuesday, Time for Peace Movement to Get Off the Sidelines." We'll focus on one:

Obama opposed the measure authorizing Bush to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, widely regarded as an escalating step towards another war. Clinton voted for the authorization.

Obama opposed it? Really. How do you know that, Tom-Tom? You say Hillary voted for it. So how did Obama vote? Oh, that's right, he didn't vote. Mr. Pretty Words said he would have voted against it . . . if he was in the Senate. Scratch that, that's his Iraq resolution lie. Mr. Pretty Words was in the Senate when that vote took place. Mr. Pretty Words chose to skip that vote. But he opposes it, Tom-Tom lies. If he opposed it, if he gave a damn about it, he would have voted against it.

John Edwards supporters should have especially had enough of Tom-Tom's lies since Hayden led the call for Edwards to drop out of the race, from The Nation of course, in his January piece entitled "Anti-War Lessons From New Hampshire:"

Heading into Super Tuesday, Hillary Clinton is gaining momentum and Barack Obama suddenly finds himself imperiled. The reason is that the primaries ahead are largely confined to Democratic voters, where Clinton holds the margin. Obama's edge has come from independents. He can and must win South Carolina, or face huge odds on February 5. Obama desperately needs the John Edwards voters, but Edwards shows no sign of abandoning the race, despite the fact that he is unlikely to win a single primary. The math is simple: Clinton wins if the anti-Clinton vote is split between Obama and Edwards.

Though it's forgotten today, Tom-Tom was right about one point, Democrats do not line up behind Obama and haven't. But he was wrong with his argument that Edwards needs to drop out because Edwards was preventing Prince Bambi from being crowned king. Others quickly echoed that point. Edwards dropped out. It bears noting that Edwards had the strongest position for ending the illegal war of any of the three front runners at that time. So it may confuse some why 'peace' Tom-Tom would advocate for Edwards to get out of the race but an Edwards campaign offered Tom-Tom no power. The Edwards had no use for him and their supporters weren't seen by the press as youthful. Tom-Tom judged the odds and saw his own self-interests benefited from Bambi so he argued that John Edwards was stopping Bambi's coronation.

It bears noting that before any primary or caucus was held, Tom-Tom was already down on Dennis Kucinich and refusing to cover Kucinich in his various scribbles. Tom-Tom's not about ending this war anymore than he was about ending the war in Vietnam, Tom-Tom's all about making life a little better for himself.

In January of 2008, Tom-Tom endorsed Bambi in a piece entitled "AN ENDORSEMENT OF THE MOVEMENT THAT BARACK OBAMA LEADS" which began: "With the California primary ten days away, it's time to decide. And for me, it's not been easy." Oh Tom-Tom, selling out has always come so easy for you. You certainly sold out the Palestinians throughout the 80s and 90s. But there's no movement behind Bambi. From Friday's "Iraq snapshot:"

As Doug Henwood (ZNet) observes -- no fan of either Hillary or Barack, "And despite the grand claims of enthusiasts, he doesn't really have a movement behind him -- he's got a fan club. How does a fan club hold a candidate accountable?" As Tom-Tom demonstrates repeatedly, they don't.

Henwood's correct, it's a fan club. It's not Beatle mania because that had staying power. With even The New York Times forced to explain that Bambi's moment had peaked, what Bambi had was more like the 'passion' that briefly supported New Kids On The Block.

Tom-Tom pimps hard for Bambi because pimping for Bambi is pimping for Tom-Tom. The elderly "Youth Voice" needs Bambi if he's ever going to be remembered as anything other than husband number two to a famous actress. Which was why, in The Nation's "End The War in 2009," he was slobbering over Bambi's (non-binding) 'pledge' "to end the Iraq war in 2009." You'll note "Peace" Tom-Tom doesn't even type "Iraq War." That lets you grasp just how damn little Tom-Tom cares about the illegal war -- let alone ending it. In that column, Tom-Tom argued that it might be just words but words matter!

Or at least they matter to Tom-Tom when they slide out of Bambi's mouth. When Bambi's then-chief foreign policy advisor speaks to the BBC, Tom-Tom doesn't think those words matter at all and ignores them.

Stephen Sackur: You said that he'll revisit it [the decision to pull troops] when he goes to the White House. So what the American public thinks is a commitment to get combat forces out within sixteen months, isn't a commitment is it?

Samantha Power: You can't make a commitment in whatever month we're in now, in March of 2008 about what circumstances are going to be like in January 2009. We can't even tell what Bush is up to in terms of troops pauses and so forth. He will of course not rely upon some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or as a US Senator.

Words matter, Tom-Tom? Apparently he believes that and believes it is important to vanish those words, to not call Bambi out for them. Yeah, that's ending the war, keep kidding yourself.

And we expect more kidding from Tom-Tom. He'll probably ignore what Eli Lake (New York Sun) reported Friday as well:

A key adviser to Senator Obama's campaign is recommending in a cofidential paper that America keep between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in Iraq as of late 2010, a plan at odds with the public pledge of the Illinois senator to withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office.
The paper, obtained by
The New York Sun, was written by Colin Kahl for the center-left Center for a New American Security. In "Stay on Success: A Policy of Conditional Engagement," Mr. Kahl writes that through negotiations with the Iraqi government "the U.S. should aim to transition to a sustainable over-watch posture (of perhaps 60,000--80,000 forces) by the end of 2010 (although the specific timelines should be the byproduct of negotiations and conditions on the ground)."
Mr. Kahl is the day-to-day coordinator of the Obama campaign's working group on Iraq.

But, again, we're sure that Tom-Tom will find a way to ignore just as he ignored Samantha Power's revelations. Because for Tom-Tom, in the end, it's all about Tom-Tom. Some pockmarks are on the soul.

So let's just review, Tom-Tom elected to sideline the only Democratic candidate calling for an end to the illegal war (Dennis Kucinich), Tom-Tom led the call for John Edwards to drop out of the Democratic race because staying in would 'hurt' Tom-Tom's beloved Bambi and now Tom-Tom and his ilk spew hate at Hillary. It's only a surprise if you don't know Tom-Tom's long-long history of hating women. Tom-Tom's a part of Pathetic Democrats 'for America' -- the name implies it's nationwide and it's really not. Their members largely supported Dennis Kucinich. So PDA elected not to poll or endorse when Kucinich was in the race. It's called gaming the system and the only thing more hilarious is reading Progressives for Obama -- a front group for agitated Greens, closet Communists and a few scattered Democrats -- and hearing how important the Palestinian issue is. It's a real shame it wasn't an issue to Tom-Tom before 2007.

At ZNet, Phyllis Bennis tries to call for some reality:

Your letter states: "She now promises to "end the war" but will not set a timeline for combat troop withdrawal, and remains committed to leaving tens of thousands of counter-terrorism troops and trainers in Iraq amidst a sectarian conflict. While Obama needs to clarify his own position on counterinsurgency, Clinton's "end the war" rhetoric conceals an open commitment to keep American troops in Iraq until all our ill-defined enemies are defeated--a treadmill that guarantees only the spawning of more enemies."
Unfortunately I think what is needed is not for Obama to "clarify" his own position on counter-insurgency or troop withdrawal, but to CHANGE his position.
Like Clinton, Obama clearly calls for a withdrawal only of "combat troops." Just like Clinton, Obama has been all too clear that he too is committed to "leaving tens of thousands of counter-terrorism troops and trainers in Iraq. "Obama, like Clinton, has stated clearly he believes U.S. troops should remain in Iraq for a host of tasks -- including counter-insurgency, training, force protection, protection of the bloated 5,000- person U.S. embassy, and more.

Phyllis then goes on to sidestep what Samantha Power said (the revelations about Colin Kahl were not known when Bennis wrote), that's a huge mistake. War Hawk Power was Bambi's chief advisor and if she's saying that Bambi's words are just words, the peace movement doesn't need to play stupid.

But even carefully wording her statements, Tom-Tom's still unhinged. (Of course he is, Bennis is a woman.) He goes into an absurd conversation from the sixties (Tom-Tom's notorious for 'inventing' conversations when he needs them), he offers a lot of garbage, but mainly he offers lies:

His 2002 anti-war speech, his 16 month combat troop withdrawal plan, his refusal to support Bush on Iran's Revolutionary Guard, all are in his favor. His repeated stump statements that he will "end the war in 2009" is building a climate of great expectations, and all these gestures are in response to a public antiwar mood that the anti-war movement has helped to build.

There is no "16 month combat troop withdrawal plan" as Samantha Power made clear. He did not "refuse" on the issue of Iran, he skipped the vote. He is not ending the illegal war in 2009 and there is no movement. Grow up, Tom-Tom, there's no movement and there's no future for you. People don't like liars and all 2008 has been about is Tom-Tom proving the same lies he told to women he can now tell to the American people. You've disgraced yourself, leave the stage.

Phyllis, we appreciate your attempts to bring some reality into the picture. We're aware -- mainly due to left voices e-mailing the public account of The Common Ills -- how hard it is for true left voices to bring up realities about Obama. We haven't heard from you but we wouldn't be surprised if you were familiar with the horror stories so many have shared. We've praised you, we've slammed you. We'll continue to do both as we feel they are warranted. For last week, you earned praise for stepping away from the scripted fantasy and attempting to inject some reality. We applaud you for that.

The McKinny and Nader campaigns for president

In a democracy, which the United States is supposed to have, anyone has a right to run for president.* Campaigns of "do not run!" are undemocratic by the very nature -- as are calls for candidates to drop out. A free press, a working press, should cover all candidates. It should not eliminate them from their coverage.

In the Democratic primary race, this site endorses Hillary Clinton. That does not mean we will not cover other candidates. We are a site for the left so we're not going to be offering coverage to right-wing independents. On Thursday, C.I. noted that we can't cover what you don't do. That was an issue with the Democratic Party as well when it had a plethora of candidates competing for the party's nomination.

Your campaign website is where you can reach the people and we are more than happy to amplify that by reposting (in full) things of interest to get the word out on your campaign. But for that to happen, you have to run a serious website the same way you have to run a serious campaign.

Your supporters will check out your campaign regularly . . . unless nothing's ever happening there. Think about it, if you find a site you like and you visit it, you make a point to go back and visit again. If you do that repeatedly and find nothing new, you stop visiting. You assume the person's lost interest in posting anything. The same is true of campaign campaign websites. They exist as an online field office, they exist to create interest and excitement about the campaign.

If you're not using as such, you're wasting webspace and you're harming your own campaign. At the start of last week, Ralph Nader had many things worth highlighting but didn't get highlighted because there wasn't anything at Cynthia McKinney's website that hit strong. (She won the Wisconsin Green primary, congratulations to her on that.) This became a concern on the part of Jess and C.I. because Nader had several things that would have otherwise been highlighted. On Thursday, there were multiple posts at McKinney's website. (And they weren't duplicates as with the Wisconsin win.) But we're making clear in this article a position C.I. took on the Democratic Party primary, if you're not doing anything, you're not getting attention.

Your website is your online office. We'll visit it and if there's something worth noting, we'll do so gladly. But we're not going to hold back on offering something worthy (by Nader or McKinney) just because the other didn't have anything worthy.

We believe a candidate gets the votes they earn in a general election. Note the use of "general election." Nader and McKinney offer a different dynamic because Ralph Nader is not running for the Green Party's national nomination; however, some state chapters of the Green Party may elect to make him their candidate and put him on the ballot in their states. That happened in 2004. So there is honestly a competition (a healthy one) between Nader and McKinney (and their supporters).

In terms of what we'll note here, we're not interested in racists or sexists so any post providing praise for a candidate from someone known for either does not interest us. A man who attacked the feminist movement and all feminists of all races may praise one candidate (and did) but we're not interested in anything he has to say. He's garbage in our books and the fact that one thought his endorsement was worthy of posting (McKinney's campaign) didn't have us rushing to repost it here. (Nor would it ever.)

Covering Ralph Nader's campaign or Cynthia McKinney's campaign will be dictated by what the candidates offer. If one gets highlighted more, it has to do with what they offer and what the other didn't.

Mike Gravel endorsed Jesse Johnson for the Green Party and we didn't rush to note that. Why? Mike Gravel isn't a Green. We're really not interested in endorsements from outside the political party. Gravel has left the Democratic Party and joined another political party. It's not a left party so we won't be following his campaign. It's not the Green Party, so we're not overly interested in what he has to say about the Green Party.

The same way we're not interested in the independents and 'independents' (such as the closeted Communists) endorsing Barack Obama. Primary campaigns should be about political parties. The general election allows the crossover and is the election that all Americans (if they choose to) can weigh in on. Those individuals not belonging to a political party in question really have no reason to endorse. As an online magazine, we will cover presidential candidates running from the left. The Green Party's primary is not over. Delegates will make their decision in July at the Green Party convention.

The endorsement of Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party primary goes along with our endorsement of Cynthia McKinney for the Green Party. Prior to the one debate, we did make clear here that we found it appalling that some candidates running for the party's nomination had no website or, worse, had a website that didn't even mention the Iraq War. On stage at the one debate (which Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and Kat attended and we all listened to), Kat Swift spoke about the Iraq War and might have won our endorsement were it not for the fact that Cynthia McKinney spoke even better about it.

With the exception of McKinney, Swift and Johnson, the other candidates were an embarrassment. How do you declare your intent to run for a party's presidential nomination and be unable, in a debate, to speak even briefly about the Iraq War which was, at that point, nearing the five-year mark?

Cynthia McKinney has the experience and, as Kat noted Friday, has the actual record that Barack Obama tries to pretend he has. We agree with Kat that this needs to be McKinney's pitch. As more and more people learn that Obama's words are hollow (see ), they will be disenchanted and looking for another candidate. McKinney could sweep up many of those because Bambi's primed to want a certain candidate and that candidate is actually Cynthia McKinney.

The speech we'd love to hear from Cynthia McKinney would go something like this:

You keep hearing a lot of talk about 'change.' Guess what? I am the candidate of the change. You keep hearing a lot of talk about 'I was against the war before it started.' Guess what? I am the candidate who voted against the Iraq War and did so before it started. I lost my Congressional seat in the 2002 elections. When I came back to Congress, following the 2004 election, I didn't stick a finger in the air to measure the wind. I was opposed to the Iraq War and I consistently voted against it. Barack Obama's been talking a lot about the ideal candidate and I want to thank him for explaining to America why they should vote for that candidate because -- guess what -- that candidate is me. You want change? Well here it is. You want someone who stood up against the Iraq War before it started and after it was ongoing? Well here it is. I truly am the candidate you've been waiting for.

John Edwards made a big mistake in the Democratic race, he waited too long to confront Barack Obama. He let Obama smear him onstage in debates, he let Obama run off 527s working for him (Edwards) and, as he learned too late, when Obama had 527s working for him, suddenly Obama wasn't concerned about 527s.

Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney are running for president. They're not running as an auxillary fan club for Obama. When Jess noted here that Obama's 'change' talk was empty talk and seemed to be a watered down version of what Nader ran on in 2000, we got many e-mails from people who were college students in 2000 echoing Jess' statements. They were, as they insist, an actual movement. They did, as they insist, get behind a candidate with actual plans and actual critiques. The consensus was that Nader seemed to be running out of fear that Hillary Clinton would get the nomination (call it the Robert Scheer strategy) and not really running to win the presidential campaign. We've followed up with those e-mailers over the last few weeks and one of the things they point to is that Nader is running a campaign. They've very glad he's taken on both Obama and Clinton. Brenda Martin in Illinois wrote at length again last week saying that she'd been talking with alumni (they were college students then) who are getting more and more excited about Nader's run. Both candidates, Nader and McKinney, are going to have to run their campaigns grasping that, come November, they will be running against John McCain and either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. There can be no pulled punches.

Kelly in North Carolina will be voting for Hillary Clinton in her state's primary. John Edwards was her original choice. We asked her, as an Edwards supporter, to name, her opinion, the biggest mistake Edwards made in his campaign?

"He stood on stage with BO repeatedly," she writes, "and indicated through words and actions that he and Obama were asking for the same thing. I would be talking to friends and trying to talk them into supporting John and they'd point to something in the debate and say that John was saying they were the same. They felt if the two were basically the same, John had already had his chance, in 2004, so let's go with the new guy. I would really hope that point gets across but I really hope John will run again. I don't think he should have dropped out. I think there was a big move to pressure him to drop out with all the chatter that he was hurting BO. John was running for the nomination, he should have worried less about BO and more about making his own case. He was a better candidate in 2008 than he was in 2004 so I look forward to him making an even stronger run in 2012."

McKinney and Nader should heed Kelly's points. They're competing for votes. That's how it works in a democracy. They need to win votes and they are not going to win votes by putting any other campaign ahead of their own. We expect that the two will lock horns. That's part of democracy as well. If you're in it to win it, we'll note you.

Community wide, Dennis Kucinich's campaign was covered (more than any other Democratic candidate) and that coverage ceased when he demonstrated he wasn't in it to win it. Kucinich's argument was (as he himself voiced it in 2004), "I'm electable if people vote for me." His argument was that people should vote their beliefs. Then, in Iowa, he told his supporters to vote for Barack Obama. That's when his campaign ended. If it didn't matter in the first state to weigh in, if it didn't matter from the start that people stood up for their beliefs, then it didn't matter in any other state. When he publicly called on his supporters to cave after the first round of voting, his entire campaign collapsed. None of them expected him to win in Iowa. They did expect him to compete for votes. They did expect to stand with his supporters who were willing to stand with him.

A lot of time was wasted at all community sites propping up a campaign for a candidate who would reveal (before the first state weighed in) that he didn't think there was a difference between himself and Barack Obama. We're not going to waste time again. Any indication that a candidate from another party is more concerned with Barack Obama winning the nomination than in running their own race will immediately result in no coverage.

Nader stole no votes in 2000. Nader spoiled no one's election. Nader was running a real campaign and he won votes. Those votes were (and remain) his votes. That's the example for third party and independent candidates to follow. Should the Green Party nationally propose running a 'safe state' strategy, we will not be covering the national party. Should the national party propose that and Cynthia McKinney follow that proposal, we won't be covering Cynthia McKinney.

Every vote counts and every campaign needs to be willing to fight for every vote (and to fight for all votes to be counted). That's what an election in a democracy is supposed to look like.


A suggestion for Nader and McKinney's website. Both need to provide a headshot clearly labeled as public use. We can and do use a headshot of Hillary Clinton because her campaign's provided one online that is clearly marked for public use. Either may assume that it's not important and that any shot can be grabbed. If other shots are available, they needed to be marked as such. We're finding nothing at either site that states a photo is being made available for public use. A further suggestion for McKinney's website, stop listing the January announcement at the top of the page. By having a January announcement at the top of the page, many first-time visitors may assume that nothing's been posted since January and move on to another website without scrolling down.


*In this article, we're focused on the presidential campaign.

Hillary in the West

The Clinton campaign's online office was open Sunday (we discuss the online offices here), "HUBdate: Hillary in the West" (

Recapping Yesterday: In Oregon, Hillary described her plan to create a thriving green energy industry that would "create millions of new jobs" to an "enthusiastic" crowd. Hillary later spoke at the Montana Democratic Party’s annual Metcalf-Mansfield Dinner in Butte, MT. Read more and more.

Previewing Today: Hillary hosts a "Solutions for America" town hall in Missoula, MT.

Eugene, OR: Hillary "wowed a packed South Eugene High gym" yesterday "with her vows to keep fighting for working families" in a "speech that was jam-packed with proposals." Read more.

Part of History in OR: It was "pitch black outside" when Hillary supporters began to gather outside Liberty High School in Hillsboro, OR. Said one supporter: "I’m thrilled to be a part of history." Read more.

Count Every Vote: Hillary continues to push for the voices and votes of Florida and Michigan to count. "Some say their votes should be ignored…Well, I have a different view...The question is whether those 2.3 million Democrats will be honored and their delegates seated." Read more.

Worth Fighting For: Hillary told a crowd yesterday that this race "this nomination is worth fighting for and I’m going to fight for it." The NYT writes "the crowd rewarded her with a standing ovation." Read more.

PA Women for Hillary: A supporter in PA tells the Altoona Mirror about Hillary’s candidacy: "I didn’t think this was going to happen in my lifetime." Read more.

Hoosiers for Hillary: Several Muncie, IN officials agree that Hillary’s "experience and professed dedication to bringing back manufacturing jobs to the United States were key factors" to their support…one said, Hillary has "a whale of a lot of experience." Read more.

Tar Heels for Hillary: North Carolinians followed the grand openings of campaign offices in Charlotte, NC and Raleigh, NC this week with the opening of the new Fayetteville headquarters yesterday, signing up volunteers and supporters across the region.

Don't Put It On Your Resume

There's a reason Panhandle Media can't work in Real Media, lack of standards, like of knowledge. Take Joshua Holland who is either very stupid or thinks everyone else is. He writes (link doesn't go to the SITE WHICH SPIES):

Obama and Clinton have co-sponsored legislation that would increase accountability for the 180,000 security contractors -- some authorized to carry weapons and use deadly force -- that have run around Iraq largely unaccountable under U.S. and Iraqi laws and the military justice system (Clinton only did so after coming under pressure from human rights and other activists). Creating accountability is a positive step, but neither Clinton nor Obama have said that they would discontinue the use of mercenaries and other private contractors in Iraq.

Facts are something to be groped and mangled for Joshy proving that "The Smirking Chimp" includes himself. Joshy is referencing Jeremy Scahill's article. And, for the record, Joshy is just joshing/lying/plain stupid.

We wrote about Jeremy Scahill last week. We quoted him at length. Here's Scahill speaking of when Hillary came out against contractors:

The day after my story comes out, which hit Obama pretty hard, Hillary Clinton released a statement saying that she's going to cosponsor legislation that Bernie Sanders had introduced last November that would seek to ban Blackwater and force them all out of Iraq within six months. So she now becomes the most significant political figure in the US to call for a ban on Blackwater, and she did it after Barack Obama's people came out and said, "Yeah, we're probably going to be forced to use them."

Wow. A day after. But Joshy distorts reality and claims that human rights activists and others were the ones putting pressure on Hillary. 24 hours of action and Hillary moves in their direction? Please, Joshy, tell us the names of these human rights activists and figure out if they'll get to work on ending the illegal war next because with that kind of awesome power, they could probably end it in 12 hours!

Joshy, like most in Panhandle Media, can only hold Bambi a teensy-bit accountable and then only by telling everyone that Hillary is just SO EVIL. Here's what Scahill (quoted and mentioned throughout Joshy's article) had to say about Obama:

And what I found out is that Barack Obama's people are saying that they will not rule out the use of private security contractors like Blackwater in Iraq, and that Barack Obama will not sign on to legislation seeking to ban them or to force them out of Iraq.

No, Joshy the stands of both are not the same and your laughable attempt to create Hillary being under assault from "human rights activists and others" goes to why you better stick to Panhandle Media.

Joshy ends his article in Texas and, naturally, avoids reality to trash Hillary. Here's some reality for Joshy, Bambi promised in Houston, Texas he would end the illegal war in ten months (in a speech -- one that excited Tom Hayden so much, Tom-Tom shot off in his shorts gasping). Of course this was followed with Samantha Power explaining to the BBC that Bambi would say anything on the campaign trail about Iraq but it didn't mean anything, he'd figure out what he wanted to do if and when he got into the White House. Cute the way Joshy avoids telling his readers that. Presumably, the article was written on Friday. That would be the day that another Bambi advisor and Iraq were in the news.

A key adviser to Senator Obama's campaign is recommending in a cofidential paper that America keep between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in Iraq as of late 2010, a plan at odds with the public pledge of the Illinois senator to withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office.
The paper, obtained by
The New York Sun, was written by Colin Kahl for the center-left Center for a New American Security. In "Stay on Success: A Policy of Conditional Engagement," Mr. Kahl writes that through negotiations with the Iraqi government "the U.S. should aim to transition to a sustainable over-watch posture (of perhaps 60,000--80,000 forces) by the end of 2010 (although the specific timelines should be the byproduct of negotiations and conditions on the ground)."
Mr. Kahl is the day-to-day coordinator of the Obama campaign's working group on Iraq.

Joshy can't tell his readers that either. He just smirks and reminds us of Donna Summer's lament from the eighties, 'They're just cats . . . without claws . . . . Never had a good reason . . . Never had a cause."
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