Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Bonus: Corey Glass not AWOL or deserter

"Corey Glass is not AWOL, is not a deserter" (The Common Ills):

In a dramatic development for US war resister Corey Glass, currently residing in Canada, there are no charges against him. May 21st was when Corey Glass was told he would be deported. Corey Glass is an Iraq War veteran and a US war resister. He went to Canada seeking asylum -- the kind of welcoming Canada provided to war resisters ("draft dodgers" and "deserters") during Vietnam. After being told he was being deported, he's been 'extended' through July 10th. June 3rd Canada's House of Commons voted (non-binding motion) in favor of Canada being a safe harbor for war resisters. Today is when Russell Goldman (ABC News) reports the development. In "Canada Ready to Deport U.S. Deserters," Goldman reveals:

Unbeknownst to him and his legion of supporters, Glass, 25, was actually discharged from the U.S. Army shortly after he went AWOL in 2006.
Glass and about 40 other American deserters who like him sought refugee status have prompted a national debate in Canada that last month reached the floor of Parliament on where to draw the line between cowardice and conscience.
"I had absolutely no idea that I had been discharged," said Glass when ABC News informed him of his status. "This is insane. This is so weird. There are no warrants? No one is looking for me?"
According to U.S. Army documents and officials Glass was discharged from the California National Guard on Dec. 1, 2006, four months after he arrived in Canada and six months after he failed to show up to a required muster.

Army Major Nathan Banks is quoted stating the US military does not consider Glass AWOL or a deserter, there are no charges against him, he is out of the military.

The development (similar developments happened during Vietnam) comes as polls show huge support in Canada for US war resisters. From Jason Buckland's "Don't turf Iraq war deserters, poll says" (Toronto Sun):

Three in five Canadians favour giving U.S. soldiers resisting the Iraq War a chance to stay in Canada as permanent residents, a new poll said yesterday.
Results from the nation-wide Angus Reid survey showed 64% of Canadians support war objectors seeking refuge north of the border.
"I think Canadians were opposed to the Iraq War from the start," said Lee Zaslofsky, national co-ordinator for the War Resister Support Campaign (WRSC).
"The fact that it has dragged on so long -- is in shambles, really -- I think Canadians understand why someone would want to stop fighting for that kind of cause in that kind of place."

The news today includes a shocker for many reporters. Ebony Horton, whom we called out in May, and others quick to swallow, should damn well pay attention. Sarah Childress (Newsweek) reports, "The number of active-duty soldiers who deserted the Army last year is higher than previously reported -- at 3,301, the military said last week. (The Army said the original figure was tallied incorrectly.) Deserters are branded after abandoning their posts without permission for 30 days. The tally is hardly at Vietnam War levels, but it's still significant for an all-volunteer military."

As Rebecca noted Friday, we are discussing how to cover the illegal war at Third and this news about Glass actually jumps a planned angle for Sunday. What's happened isn't surprising historically. Corey Glass should inquire about his IRR status before attempting to visit or return to the US. For Glass and for others, action is still needed. So planned actions should continue such as Canada's War Resister Support Campaign calling for a "NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION, Wednesday July 2nd" -- that's today:


On July 2nd…


U.S. Iraq War resister Corey Glass is still facing deportation on July 10th, despite the Parliament of Canada having voted in favour of a motion to let Corey and other U.S. war resisters stay.

The federal government and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration must respect the will of Parliament and implement the motion which calls on the government to "immediately implement a program to allow conscientious objectors and their immediate family members […] to apply for permanent resident status and remain in Canada; and … the government should immediately cease any removal or deportation actions … against such individuals."

On July 2nd, the War Resisters Support Campaign is calling on all supporters to call Minister Diane Finley and ask her to:
• STOP deportation proceedings against Corey Glass and all U.S. Iraq war resisters; and
• IMPLEMENT the motion adopted by Canada’s Parliament to allow U.S. Iraq war resisters to apply for permanent resident status.

Here are the numbers to call:
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley

MP Diane Finley's constituency office (Simcoe):

Or email her at:

* * *

It is more urgent than ever that we send a message to the Canadian government that Canada needs to welcome US men and women who refuse to participate in the illegal and immoral war in Iraq. There are three actions you can take today to help support the war resisters.


Add your name to the petition calling for the federal government to implement a provision to allow war resisters to stay in Canada. Initial signatories include June Callwood, David Suzuki, Maude Barlow, Shirley Douglas, Naomi Klein, Ann-Marie MacDonald, and many others.

Please download a copy of the petition, sign it, circulate it and return it to the campaign.

Write a letter to the editor
Letters to the editor are an important piece of the public debate on this issue. The majority of Canadians opposed the war in Iraq and support the provision of sanctuary for US soldiers. Send a copy of your letter to the campaign to

And, in the US, Courage to Resist is planning "July 9th actions at Canadian Consulates nationwide:"

Join a vigil and delegation to a Canadian consulate near you on Wednesday, July 9th to support war resisters! On the eve of Corey Glass' possible deportation, we will demand, "Dear Canada: Abide by the June 3rd resolution - Let U.S. war resisters stay!" More details and cities to be confirmed soon!

Washington DC - Time TBA - 501 Pennsylvania Ave NW (map). Sponsored by Veterans for Peace. Info: TBA
San Francisco - Noon to 1pm - 580 California St (map). Sponsored by Courage to Resist. Info: 510-488-3559; courage(at)
Seattle - Time TBA - 1501 4th Ave (map). Sponsored by Project Safe Haven. Info: 206-499-1220; projectsafehaven(at)
Dallas - Time TBA - 750 North St Paul St (map). Sponsored by North Texas for Justice and Peace. Info: 214-718-6362; hftomlinson(at)
New York City - Noon to 1pm - 1251 Avenue of the Americas (map). Sponsored by War Resisters' League. Info: 212-228-0450; wrl(at)
Philadelphia - Time TBA - 1650 Market St (map). Sponsored by Payday Network. Info: 215-848-1120; payday(at)
Minneapolis - Time TBA - 701 Fourth Ave S (map). Info: TBA
Los Angeles - Noon to 1pm - 550 South Hope St (map). Sponsored by Progressive Democrats LA. Info: pdlavote(at)
Help organize a vigil at one of these other Canadian Consulates: Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Anchorage, Houston, Raleigh, Phoenix, or San Diego. Please contact Courage to Resist at 510-488-3559.
Veterans for Peace issued a joint call with Courage to Resist and Project Safe Haven for July 9th vigils at Canadian Consulates: "Dear Canada: Do Not Deport U.S. War Resisters!" Contact us if you can help organize a vigil, or can otherwise get involved. Locations of the 22 Canadian Consulates in the United States.
Recently on June 3rd the Canadian Parliament passed an historic motion to officially welcome war resisters! It now appears, however, that the Conservative government may disregard the motion.
Iraq combat veteran turned courageous war resister, 25-year-old Sgt. Corey Glass of the Indiana National Guard is still scheduled to be deported July 10th.
We will ask that the Canadian government respect the democratic decision of Parliament, the demonstrated opinion of the Canadian citizenry, the view of the United Nations, and millions of Americans by immediately implementing the motion and cease deportation proceedings against Corey Glass and other current and future war resisters.
Join Courage to Resist, Veterans for Peace, and Project Safe Haven at Canadian Consulates across the United States (Washington DC, San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles confirmed--more to be announced).
We mailed and delivered over 10,000 of the original letters to Canadian officials. Please sign the new letter, "Dear Canada: Abide by resolution - Let U.S. war resisters stay!"

Again, those actions should continue. Team Nader notes:

We're Having a Party!

We're Having a Party! .

We're having a party!

A Nader/Gonzalez House Party!

And we're inviting you to be one of 100 Nader/Gonzalez supporters to host a House Party on Saturday night July 26, 2008. Sign up now.

With the help of modern technology, you can have Ralph Nader right there with you in your living room.

If you choose to be one of the 100 to host a house party, we will send you a remarkable documentary DVD about Ralph Nader - An Unreasonable Man and the Awake from Your Slumber DVD starring Ralph Nader and Patti Smith - both autographed by Ralph Nader.

Plus, we'll throw in a special collector's edition Nader/Gonzalez button.

The purpose of the National Nader/Gonzalez House Party Day?

Raise $100,000 to help put Nader/Gonzalez on at least 45 state ballots.

To reach our goal, we are asking that each house party host bring together 20 or more friends, family, and other party goers to donate $50 each.

But you can organize your house party any way you want. If you want to bring together 40 people at $25 a pop, that's great. Or four people at $250 a pop, that's good too.

Now, of course, you won't be doing this alone.

Ralph is really excited about our house party project. (Check out our House Party video here.)

He'll be available that night - either by phone or through the wonders of the Internet - to talk with you and answer your questions.

So, if you want to host a house party - click here. Our house party staff will answer any and all questions you may have.

If you can't host a house party, please donate now to help fund our ballot access drive - remember, you can give Nader/Gonzalez up to the legal limit of $4,600. And if you choose, your name will appear on our home page!

So, if you can, join with us on July 26.

While McCain and Obama continue to flip-flop toward November, Ralph Nader remains steadfast - standing firm on a platform to shift the power away from the corporations and back to the people.

On Sunday, Ralph told ABC's George Stephanapolous that we intend to get on at least 45 states.

And we can't let Ralph down.

Stand by the candidacy that will stand by you.

By the way, yesterday, 319 of you kicked in $12,761.69. Thank you all very much.

As a result, we are now well on our way to our fundraising goal of $40,000.

This will help us secure ten state ballot lines by July 6. Together, we are making a difference.


The Nader Team

PS: We invite your comments to the blog.

Your contribution could be doubled. Public campaign financing may match your contribution total up to $250.


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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Truest statement of the week

Ralph Nader: No. I mean, he's deceiving people. He takes, he takes -- in this very building he would take money from corporate lawyers who are not registered lobbyists but whose desks are across the aisle from corporate lawyers who are register lobbyists in the same law firm -- that's been reported more than once in the mainstream press. Six out of seven industrties as of a month ago have given more money to Obama than they have to McCain. Only transportation industry was more equal opportunity corruption . Look at the health care industry which has poured money into his campaign. The Secuirty industry. Defense industry. No. There's only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comees to being a Democratic presidential candidate he's half African-American. Wheter that will make any difference, I don't know. I haven't heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What's keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk White? He doesn't want to appear like Jesse Jackson? We'll see all that play out in the next few months and if he gets elected afterwards. I think his main problem is that he censors himself he knows exactly who has power, who has too much, who has too little what needs to be done right down the community level but he has bought the advice that if you want to win the election you better take it easy on the coproation abuses and do XYZ and when I hear that I say Oh I see. So he's doing all this to win the eleciton and then he'll be diferent? Well let's see if it worked. Did it work for Mondale? Did it work for Dukakis? Did it work for Clinton? Yes, but only because of Perot? Did it work for Gore? Did it work for Kerry?

M.E. Sprengelmeyer: Do you think he's trying to, what was your term, 'talk white'?

Ralph Nader: Of course. I mean, first of all, the number one thing that a Black American politician aspiring to the presidency should be is to candidly describe the plight of the poor, especially in the inner cities and the rural areas, and have a very detailed platform about how the poor is going to be defended by the law, is going to be protected by the law, and is going to be liberated by the law. Haven't heard a thing. I mean, the amount of economic exploitation in the ghettos is shocking. You'd think he'd propose a task force to at least study it. I mean, these people are eroded every day. The kids, bodies are asbestos and lead, municipal services discriminate against them because it's the poor area, including fire and police protection and building code enforcement. And then the lenders, the loan sharks get at them, and the dirty food ends up in the ghettos, like the contaminated meat. It's a dumping ground for shoddy merchandise. You don't see many credit unions there. You don't see many libraries there. You dont's ee many health clinics there. This is, we're talking 40-50 million Americans who are predominatly African-Americans and Latinos. Anybody see that kind of campaigning? Have yous ee him campaign in real poor areas of the city very frequently? No, he doesn't campaign there.

M.E. Sprengelmeyer: What do you think the purpose of that is?

Ralph Nader: He wants to show that he is not a threatening, a political threatening, another politically-threatening African-American politician. He wants to appeal to White guilt. You appeal to White guilt not by coming on as a Black is beautiful, Black is powerful. Basically he's coming on as someone who is not going to threaten the White power structure, whether it's corporate or whether it's simply oligarchic. And they love it. Whites just eat it up.

-- Ralph Nader calling it like it is to The Rocky Mountain News.

A note to our readers

Hey --
The edition is finally up. Two pieces were scrapped due to today's This Week. While two other pieces were made one. (So that's four additional pieces in the print version.)

Helping out here were Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jess, Ty and Ava,
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,

Thank you to everyone.

What have we got? Let's start with what we don't have: Dona and Jim. They are on vacation. They'll be back mid-day Tuesday. Ty is on vacation this week and will not be participating in next week's edition.

Content wise, what do we have?

Truest statement of the week -- Ralph Nader. Had we more time, there would have been a second truest.

Editorial: What did happen, what can happen -- This became one piece from two. We were doing a piece on historical war resistance and one on modern day. We pieced them together when a large section of the second couldn't be polished.

TV: Nothing but personal says the Big O -- When are you going to review Oprah? At some point, we included the show in a TV commentary ("we" would be Ava and C.I.). It was during a Hurricane Katrina coverage piece. But this is the most often asked question and with Dona and Jim on vacation and with it popping up eight times in e-mails last week, we thought we'd grab it. As Ava notes in mailbag, they thought it would be so much briefer and eaiser to write.

Ralph Nader, Defending Article II -- Our political feature article. We had another article on Ralph Nader. It's not going online. It was pretty much dead after This Week aired. When we realized that, we (Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.) kidded ourselves that we could just add a little to what everyone worked on. Maybe at the top and near the end. Instead, as we began the 'fixes,' it became obvious we needed to redo the entire article. Despite that, this was actually a fun article to write.

Sexism: Exhibit A, David Carr -- When one of Carr's two articles noted here ran, C.I. said at The Common Ills that it would be covered here. There was never time for that. Betty reminded C.I. this week and we grabbed it as a topic.

Mailbag -- No roundtable but readers have been e-mailing complaints about how there has been no mailbag. We realized we had to do one this week or you'd all stop blaming Jim and start blaming the rest of us! (The last sentence was a joke.) Marilyn Monroe illustration mentioned was added to this.

It started in DC . . . -- While we were hoping to do a mailbag but not sure if we'd have time, we knew we had to note the research done by this reader.

The Christ-child is born -- This is a speculative story. No one participating was present for the events. A few comments had been made to Ava and C.I. in 2007 when they were introduced to a woman who knew Ann Dunham. That led to more remarks throughout 2007 by others. When the Barack campaign decided to attack Gloria Steinem, Ava and C.I. began seriously hunting down friends of Ann Dunham (as they noted in their TV commentary back in January -- we don't have time to look it up, use the archives). That has continued to the current day (and will continue past today). In all, they (and Kat) have spoken with 51 people who knew Ann Dunham. Only one of whom was close to Barack Sr. The statements indicate there's more to the story than what has been told publicy. And we bit our tongues, Barack. More could have been written in this. Like quoting that July 1961 letter. Illustration was done by Betty's eldest son.

The Outsider pronounces the 'surge' a success! -- Another feature done after the edition. Jess reminded Ava and C.I. that Jim would insist this be covered. So Ava and C.I. do a quick commentary on Katrina vanden Heuvel's appearance on ABC's This Week today.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Betty, Rebecca, Cedric, Kat, Wally, Ruth and Marcia wrote this feature and selected the highlights unless otherwise noted.

Ralph Nader on today's This Week (ABC) -- The speculation piece apparently got some outside the community and outside Third's regular readers attention. And since we were 'late' (we're still not late by Third's schedule), these newbies were e-mailing that we'd "chickened out". Nope and the note was just to clear that up and especially to give a heads up to Ralph's appearance.

And that's that. We're going to bed. See you next week (except for Ty who will be on vacation).

We missed you, Jim and Dona!

Added: "Bonus" went up mid-week last week. We've changed the date on it to Sunday so that it will archive with this edition. Ty, Betty, Cedric and Wally wrote it.

And this wasn't noted in Mailbag because we didn't see it (went to spam folder):

A reminder: There is no NOW on PBS on July 4, 2008.

However, on the website we do have an insightful interview (conducted
yesterday) with a North Korea expert commenting on the thawing of
relations between our country and North Korea, including a look ahead and
analysis of McCain's and Obama's reactions:

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

Editorial: What did happen, what can happen

In my view, the only real difference between those who refused to be drafted and those who resisted within the military or deserted lies in when they decided to resist -- and that difference relates directly to class and race. The college-educated faced the draft in their 20's, after exposure to the antiwar movement on the campuses. They had access to draft counseling and knew about the "underground railroad" to Canada. The poor -- and that often meant members of ethnic minorities -- faced the draft at 18, with little if any exposure to antiwar information. Many of them learned about the nature of the war and the mounting opposition to it only after being drafted or enlisting. If they decided to resist, they had to do in defiance of military law. It is irrational and unfair, I fell, to treat the two categories differently. In dropping charges against draft resisters and clearing their records, the Government should at the same time give honorable discharges to those who resisted the war within the services -- including deserters.

Steve Grossman wrote the above in an article entitled "I want to go home, but . . ." (January 2, 1977, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, the excerpt above appears on page 50). Jimmy Carter was due to be sworn in later in the month and the issue of of war resisters was one he had raised. While campaigning, Carter had touched on the issue frequently and August 24, 1976 was probably his most public moment. He was speaking in Seattle to the American Legion and the candidate declared, "I do not favor a blanket amnesty but for those who violated Selective Service laws, I intend to grant a blanket pardon." Carter was speaking to the American Legion conference and his statements were greeted with boos. If that sounds familiar, August 19, 1974, then-President Gerald Ford was booed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars when he announced his clemency program for war resisters (click here for clip at CSPAN -- fifth listed on the second half of the page and Ford notes his plan after he receives his award).

They were two different programs. Carter gave a blanket amnesty to 'draft dodgers' on his first day in office, Ford would implement a limited clemency program one month after his announcement which was open to 'draft dodgers' and 'deserters'. A reader suggested in an e-mail that the truth isn't just told, it's actively suppressed and offered this page of New York Times letters to the editor following Ford's death. If it was intentional suppression, it was a sure sign of stupidity on the part of the paper. The paper selects the letters they run. Therefore, letters with errors should either not be printed or else have an editor's note added to them. Howard Lisnoff's letter includes this factually inaccurate passage:

With Mr. Ford's amnesty program, [. . .]. The program ignored the plight of military deserters, who were generally less educated and usually came from less well-off backgrounds than draft resisters.

Lisnoff appears to have confused Ford's program with Carter's. Was it confusion on the part of The New York Times that led it to be published? (Is it confusion that has never led to a correction?) First off, Ford's program released all "deserters" then-currently serving sentences for desertion. James Schlesigner, the Secretary of Defense, announced September 17, 1974 that all they had to do was apply to the clemency program.

Second, Ford's program was problematic (we're being kind) but it covered both "deserters" and "draft dodgers." And media accounts at that time regularly referred to both as "war resisters." For example, November 18, 1974, Diane Henry's "Distrust Slows Ford Amnesty Program" (New York Times) would note, "With President Ford's conditional amnesty plan now two months old, only a small fraction of Vietnam war draft evaders and deserters have responded. The war resisters and their advisers say it is because of distrust of the Government, though the reasons for the distrust and the intensity of it vary." When the Style Bible (if not manual) uses "war resisters" in 1974, there's really no reason for today's press to play dumb today and use phrases such as "so-called war resisters" or "war resisters, as they call themselves". Since The New York Times did cover Ford's Clemency Program, there's really no excuse for them to run a letter that alleges Ford ignored "deserters" when his program included them.

To get to Ford or, later, Carter's program, groundwork had to be laid and that may be the most depressing thing about today's political race for president. Where is the pressure on Iraq, where is the pressure about addressing war resisters, where is anything from the so-called left?

December 24, 1974, Julius Dusehu would ask "Should there be amnesty for the war resister?" (New York Times). Prior to that George McGovern had already promised such in his 1972 presidential campaign. In the January 1973 issue of Harper's magazine, Robert Shnayerson, noting how Tricky Dick manged to grab his landslide by leading the bluster and the bullying, pointed out, "Instead of protesting, nice people joined in denouncing amnesty for war resisters, their own children having been routinely excused from military service by means of the most sophisticted draft-dodging in U.S. history.

Where is today's National Council for Universal and Unconditional Amnesty?


It's really needed right now. May 21st was when Corey Glass was told he would be deported. Corey Glass is an Iraq War veteran and a US war resister. He went to Canada seeking asylum -- the kind of welcoming Canada provided to war resisters ("draft dodgers" and "deserters") during Vietnam. After being told he was being deported, he's been 'extended' through July 10th. June 3rd Canada's House of Commons voted (non-binding motion) in favor of Canada being a safe harbor for war resisters. Douglas Glynn (The Barrie Examiner) quotes Corey stating last week, "The motion is not legally binding, though the majority of Parliament voted for it. I realized innocent people were being killed. I tried to quit the military while in Iraq," he said, "but my commander told me I was just stressed out and needed some R and R (rest and relaxation), because I was doing a job I was not trained to do. I went home on leave and said I was not coming back."

Canada's War Resisters Support Campaign will hold a "Rally to Stop the Deportation of Parkdale Resident Corey Glass" July 3rd, begins at 7:00 p.m. (with doors opening at six p.m.) at the May Robinson Building, 20 West Lodge, Toronto: "In 2002, Corey joined the Indiana National Guard. He was told he would not have to fight on foreign shores. But in 2005 he was sent to Iraq. What he saw there caused him to become a conscientious objector and he came to Canada. On May 21, 2008, he got his final order to leave Canada by July 10, 2008. Then on June 3 Parliament passed a motion for all the war resisters to stay in Canada. However the Harper government says it will ignore this motion." They are also asking for a July 2nd call-in. Diane Finley is the Immigration and Citizenship Minister and her phone numbers are (613) 996-4974 and (519) 426-3400 -- they also provide her e-mail addresses ("minister" at "") and ("finled1" at "").

To pressure the Stephen Harper government to honor the House of Commons vote, Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail -- that's "finley.d" at "") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail -- that's "pm" at ""). Courage to Resist collected more than 10,000 letters to send before the vote. Now they've started a new letter you can use online here. The War Resisters Support Campaign's petition can be found here.

TV: Nothing but personal says the Big O

The Windy City has certainly produced its share of windbags. Case in point, Oprah Winfrey. In 1986, she launched her national show from Chicago and the world has been . . . dumbed down. Possibly it's not fair to say "the world"? Oprah's influence is limited to North America and that is among the reasons Hermes refused to keep their Paris store open (Oprah who?) when she dashed in during the summer of 2005 as the store was closing. But like all moments in her life, that one got addressed endlessly on her show.


No matter the guest, no matter the theme, the topic is always Oprah. Watching Oprah today is spending an hour with a self-obsessed gossip who tells and re-tells the same stories over and over. Friday's show featured Oprah yet again trotting out a menial job she once held where she was not allowed to speak. She asked the studio audience if they could imagine her keeping a job where she wasn't allowed to talk? Her following gets more and more wide-eyed each year so she had to repeat it for them to get the joke but, honestly, we're sure many Americans wish she had kept that job. What might have seemed unthinkable a decade ago is now a collective wish.

But there have been a lot of changes. For instance, when the show went national, she was billed as a host and an actress. She'd done a turn in the film adaptation of Alice Walker's The Color Purple. It wasn't a lead role or even one of the bigger supporting parts. She was called "Sofia" but any reader of the book would have to wonder why that was? In the book Sofia starts out strong and independent and is beaten down by racism and the 'law.' In the film, Sofia starts out defeated in what is one of the most offensive stereotypes to make it to the big screen in the eighties -- no small 'accomplishment'. Oprah mainly shuffled around and sometime spoke in a voice that had all the humanity of E.T. She managed to nab an Academy Award nomination but her follow up performance (Native Son, left off of most of the QVs) demonstrated she was no actress. After that one-two flop, others really weren't interested in casting non-actress Oprah.

At the time, when she was going up against Phil Donahue and assorted others, the "actress" and "movie star" billing gave her an extra boost and the show became a hit. But could she do anything else? When ABC was having problems with Barbara Walters, they toyed with the idea of Oprah as an interviewer in prime time. She infamously interviewed Michael Jackson and, in another attempt, less famously interviewed a group of celebrities (including actress Goldie Hawn). The results were so-so and there was no more talk that she could be groomed to fill Walters' heels.

All she has is "Oprah." She's managed to build an empire around herself. And she's modified herself and attempted to update over the years. During the tabloid TV days, she decided to bring up her rape on air and that was seen as brave. In the nineties, when there were rumors of a book about her past drug use, she decided to sort-of admit to that onscreen and that was considered less brave. She's been fat, she's been thin. She's been tired, she's been sparkling. She once even wore her own hair on camera. The woman whose head TV Guide once put on Ann-Margaret's body for a cover has been many things and at one point even used Ashford & Simpson's "I'm Every Woman" as her show's theme song. Those days are long gone and would be met with a laugh if she attempted to push that notion today.

She moved beyond trash TV, denounced it, went for life-affirming, then for the power of the positive and these days . . . Oprah's decision to endorse Barack Obama in the Democratic Presidential primary and to campaign for him is said to have hurt her. Just this weekend, TMZ was airing an interview with her about just that topic. They stumbled upon her in a small black car and, as she rolled down the window, a familiar face was at her side in the back seat. For those not up on The World Of Oprah, TMZ helpfully scrawled "Gayle King" across the screen. Oprah was pledging her support for Barack, announcing she was still ready to go anywhere and campaign door to door for him.


Oprah's ratings took a bit of hit after her endorsement. As usual, this was seen as a racist reaction: African-American Oprah had endorsed a bi-racial candidate and it had reminded America (largely White) that she was a person of color. It was a cute little theory and one not grounded in reality. To believe it, you'd have to think (a) people watching were unaware of Oprah's race and (b) Oprah never mingled with people of color, certainly not in front of the cameras. Whether it's Tina Turner, Kanye West, Diana Ross or whomever, Oprah has never presented all White guests to her audience. So something more was going on.

Another theory was that Oprah had talked up the sisterhood so much that her endorsing Barack over a female candidate (Hillary Clinton) had shocked her largely female audience. That theory is worth exploring (and if you doubt that, just notice how little exploration it received) but the reality is more likely less interesting.

Oprah endorsing a political candidate -- any political candidate -- went against "Oprah." "Oprah" is a TV character that imprisons the woman Oprah today. It wasn't enough to draw a line between herself and the likes of Jerry Springer. It wasn't enough to become 'responsible,' followed by life-affirming, followed by an ever more esoteric outlook. Today she is a female Peter Pan exulting her largely female audience daily. It's not a belief in politics she asks of her audience. (Possibly having featured War Hawks like Judith Miller on her show to promote the Iraq War before it started, Oprah's feeling a little burned by reality.) It's not even a belief that the personal is political. It's just a belief in the power of the personal with herself offered up as the end goal.

On Friday's show, along with mixing in tired tidbits about her past, Oprah was speaking with Rhonda Byrne (among others). Byrne was on to break down The Laws Of Attraction. As we remember it, that's the Pedro Almdovar film (The Laws of Desire) where Antonio Banderas bottoms in what is probably his most in depth sex scene (and, yes, we have seen Never Talk To Strangers). But Rhonda's not a film historian, she's a huckster. And her Laws of Attraction are the basis for the mumbo-jumbo of The Secret (book and film!) which offers up pseudo-insight-babble passed off both as "wisdom" and as "theory." Is it hokum or just more hope-ium from "Oprah"?

The Secret (and The Laws of Attraction) claims to be an ancient method and cites Plato, Buddha, Albert Einstein and just about everyone short of Suzanne Sommers as a past practitioner and teacher. It's 'uplifting' as a counter-conspiracy to all the talk of Masonic influence, possibly; however, it's not science and it's not factual.

It's a sign of how far the "Oprah" character has come that Oprah can today cite the same tired tales and insist that they demonstrate the truth in Byrne's work. For instance, the tale of not being able to speak at a job was brought up (yet again). Oprah offered that as an example of how she practiced the method. She could've complained, she revealed, but she didn't. (What has recounting that tale of a brief, decades ago job non-stop over the years been but complaining?) Instead, it was a "moment" where she realized that, for her life to be different, she would have to switch jobs. Since the entry-level job offered no chance of advancement, we'd argue her 'realization' should have come when she was applying for it.

But The Laws and The Secret insist that your life will improve if you send out positive vibrations. In the past, during a better phase of "Oprah," she used the too-often-told tale to urge her viewers to change what they didn't like about their lives, to get off their asses and do something. Friday she tried to make it over into 'I was positive and positive vibrations followed me!' Did it make sense? Not a bit. And that may also be why she had to repeat her joke twice to the dazed audience before getting (a tiny) reaction from them.

Therein lies the reason for the backlash to her Barack endorsement. Oprah has gone from 'you have the power,' to 'the knowledge is inside you,' to, finally, 'a smile can change the world.' It's certainly changed her world, she revealed, because she now, when passing herself in the mirror, always take a moment to offer a greeting.

Out on a limb? She's floating in the clouds. Orbiting the earth from way on high. And "Oprah" offering all of that cannot also be telling people, "The answer is your vote!" She's stripped away a larger world and context and reduced it all to personal responsibilities and those have been even further reduced to did you think 'nice thoughts'? If you didn't, according to "Oprah," that explains your current misery. Today's "Oprah" could've gotten away with telling her legion to "smile" and Barack would be elected but to ask that they actually do something like show up to vote? It goes against everything she sells.

With her various life coaches, dietitians, stylists and tours of her homes, "Oprah" insists daily to viewers that they can have what she has. And all it's going to take is some "happy thoughts" and some "smiles." "The laws" insist that if you give out positive, positive comes back and "Oprah" insists that if you're unhappy, you're responsible for that.

If 2008 "Oprah" were to meet 1986 "Oprah," we think the latter would laugh her ass off. We think the 1986 "Oprah" would immediately ask, "So when you were raped at nine-years-old, you brought that on yourself by giving out negative vibrations? Come on!" We're not sure what 2008 "Oprah" would respond or even if she'd respond. But that's really been the de-evolution of "Oprah." She's become as much a joke as the on screen Katharine Hepburn -- though it should be noted that that there were nearly fifty years between her acting debut and her embarrassment in On Golden Pond. 'Achiever' Oprah reached her own nadir so much quicker.

The TV character "Oprah" is a brand (Brand Oprah!) and it's one that's trickier than other brands. For example, Martha Stewart can try to be many things to many people but real life events (such as the conviction) round out the personality's image. Stewart's magazine is little more than a catalogue but it does encourage some action. There is no action in the Oprah Brand, only self-adulation. (If that's not readily apparent, just consider the fact that Oprah has appeared -- and only Oprah -- on sixty-three covers of O, The Oprah Magazine.) With a love life that she'd prefer you not ask about left off limits, all that can be covered is how 'divine' it is being Oprah. She is no longer merely the tour guide, she is now also the destination, the end-point.

The thing that's scared her the most recently was the quick cancellation of Oprah's Big Give (aka The Big Give) and it's huge (and immediate) failure. The show aired for two months on ABC. The Sunday night 'reality' show featured ten 'average people' (if models and singers strike you as 'average people') engaged in giving away money with the hopes of being declared a winner. They traveled to areas such as Los Angeles, Denver, Miami and NYC during the eight weeks the show lasted.

Harpo Productions (Oprah's company) sought out contestants with this come on: "Are you America's greatest unknown philanthropist? Are you the type of person who makes thing happen and will do what ever it takes? Do you have a big personality and lots of charisma? Are you ready to pay it forward?" We think the last of those annoying questions was the biggest indicator of the failure in store. Pay It Forward bombed at the movies in 2000. But they weren't done, "This show is all about inspiring people around the country to do good for others." As a general rule, people don't turn on their televisions Sunday night to 'inspired.'

And as a general rule contestants need to know what prize they're competing for. (They would find out in the final episode -- a million dollars for the winner who could keep half and had to give away half.) Another general rule, when you're dealing with money, audiences want to know where it's coming from and the show was really bad about going into the details on that unless they had a product or company to hawk. What it played out like was "You Can Be A Mini-Robber Baron For A Day!" We thought Three Wishes was embarrassingly simplistic, but Oprah's Big Give made it seem positively complex by comparison. You never understood how the contestants raised the money and there was no sense to the giving or the recipients. A man with a medical degree (a plastic surgeon) hardly seemed a 'charity case,' for example. While Grant's cloying show (which tried to put a happy face on predatory lending) had a million faults, they didn't pull back from the drama (if anything, they overdid the drama). Oprah's Big Give didn't want to build to the drama. In that regard it was like Justice which thought it could turn a highlights reel into an hour long episode. "Clip, clip, clip, get to the high note quickly!" seemed to be the 'thought' behind it as if Oprah was afraid prime time audiences wouldn't put up with all the asides and long drawn out moments of her daily talk show.

It was pure "Oprah" and it's failure said a great deal about Brand Oprah because if Oprah giving away things (via contestant proxies) can't attract a wide audience, if Oprah The Bountiful isn't going to do the trick, what does it say about "Oprah" and her future? The daytime show has to run through 2011. Oprah's making noises that after that she's done (but she's made those noises several times before). How do they complete the contract?

Like Hepburn in her last film roles, "Oprah" is now so reduced that her 'inspirational' talk sounds a lot like nagging. And the general consensus is that once the show goes off the air, the magazine's 'readers' bail. That's because it's not really a magazine. It's a fan club bulletin. Which brings up the scariest thought for many in Oprah World (we're referring to those on the payroll), if an "Oprah" smiles when no cameras are around, did it really smile?

For over twenty years, she's made herself a national name. But in those same years she's damaged herself to the point that she's turned herself into a trophy cup. Worse yet, she's damaging her audience because the woman whose spouse beats her, the woman who's raped, the woman who's struggling to keep her head above water economically, really doesn't need to be sold a lot of hogwash about "positive vibrations." In her key moment (which she bungled) in the film The Color Purple, her character advises Celie to "bash Mister's head open and think about heaven later." That's the sort of common sense advice "Oprah" could dispense instead of all the sop about 'positive vibrations.' In her final stages, the "Oprah" character has become the man on the street insisting a woman "Smile!"

Ralph Nader, Defending Article II

"I have a great sense of humor," independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader told ABC's This Week today in reply to George Stephanopoulos' question as to what people don't know about him. "I have a great sense of humor because in humor there's truth."

You have to have a sense of humor to run for president and especially as a candidate for something other than the two big political parties. As you're alternately attacked and ignored, if you're not able to laugh, you'll find yourself screaming and/or crying.

You can see that unfold before your eyes this election cycle. Nader noted of The Progressive and The Nation's response to his campaign, "they're hostile and indifferent" despite the fact that the issues he is standing for are the issues they claim to support. The editor, publisher and office stylist of The Nation seemed eager to prove him right as she bragged later on the same show of how her magazine "in 2004 and again in 2008" ran a "Ralph, Don't Run" campaign. Only the pea-sized brain of Katrina vanden Hevuel could see that as something to be proud of.

"Political bigotry," Nader had pronounced it on his earlier segment and that's exactly what it is. And there was political bigotry in George Steph's interview. We would call it louder but it wasn't that different from what "Independent" Media Queen Amy Goodman recently offered. As in his appearance with Goodman, Nader again had to defend his right to run -- a right that all Americans have. The press fights for the First Amendment, the NRA for the Second Amendment but it's mainly Ralph fighting for Article II. Considering that the Constitution is the Law of the Land, you'd think others would give a damn. George appeared to care as much about Article II today as Barack cares about the Fourth Amendment.

Which is why Ralph was yet again asked to defend his right and decision to run.

"Isn't the consequence of your campaign," George asked ". . . that it's going to hurt" the Christ-child Barack?

Who else gets asked those questions?

It needs to stop.

In America, everyone who meets the qualifications has the right to run for president. If you don't like it, try to change the Constitution. However, as long as that document remains the Supreme Law of the Land, you might try showing a little respect.

Ralph noted it was political bigotry and it is that.

It's also opportunism and, if you doubted that, you only had to catch Katrina later in the show gleeful over the idea that Bob Barr's run might mean some conservatives made him their choice and not John McCain. If Ralph Nader were Newt Gingrich running as a third-party candidate, you better believe The Nation wouldn't push a "Newt, Don't Run" campaign.

George also wanted Ralph to explain why he was criticizing Barack. He wanted Ralph to explain that and he lectured Ralph on not criticizing McCain. But Ralph has called out McCain and if George was going to repeat the Obama campaign's talking points (Ralph's not listening! Barack has addressed poverty!) (no, he has not), he probably should have familiarized himself with what Ralph and his running mate Matt Gonzalez have said throughout their campaign thus far. The reality is that until Ralph criticized Barack last week, the media was ignoring his campaign.


Ralph noted he had criticized McCain but we wish he would have added, "Of course, when I have, you haven't brought me on your program to hector and lecture me."

George wasn't done with the perceived "hurt" to Barack that Ralph's decision to exercise his Constitutional right to run for the presidency was allegedly doing, "How do you answer the charge that your campaigns are hurting" the Democrats?

The reply to that should really be, "Well, I don't hold it against the Democrats or Barack that they're 'hurting' my campaign. I am the left candidate, not the centrist posing as a left candidate. But I figure, in America, everyone has a right to run. So Barack, I'm glad you're in the race."

It was really was amazing to see and so soon after Amy Goodman had pulled the same stunt. Someone running for president wasn't asked about their own campaign, they were asked to defend their right to run and asked (repeatedly) to explain why they would 'hurt' Barack's chances.

In defending Barack on poverty, George went straight to the talking points from the Obama campaign and seemed to grasp that (and stumble) when he realized that citing things from Barack's state legislature career (going back to before 2004) weren't really getting at Ralph's criticism last week which was that, as a presidential candidate, Barack's not addressing poverty in this country.

And he's not. One of the saddest things on the Democratic side was seeing John Edwards, the one who pushed the poverty issue like no one since RFK, declare he was withholding his support and just hoping his issues would be pursued only to then come out and endorse Barack who was doing nothing on the issue.

In addition to what he's not talking about, what he does talk about, Barack presents a curious slant on. Ralph noted that for someone who "says he's against the Iraq War," Barack's voted to fund it several times.

Ralph called out Barack last week and it was news. Sadly, it wasn't news for the critique Ralph offered. That should have been news, it was a strong critique. However, it was news that anyone would dare call out the Christ-child. The point was made later in the show, during the roundtable, when Arianna Huffington pointed out that the one-time press favorite John McCain was now playing second fiddle to Barack. It was apparently a shock to the news media that anyone would dare criticize Saint Barack.

A few weeks ago, we warned that the organized effort by The Cult of Obama was underway, that they were planning to do the same thing with Ralph that they did to Hillary and to John Edwards before Hillary: counsel, plead that the candidate focus their ire on John McCain and "Don't Say Nothing Bad About My Baby."

It was strange to see George Steph appear to counsel the same thing, to express amazement that Ralph would criticize Barack.

Nader's running to be the president of the United States. He's not running a 527 for Team Obama. He'll criticize any candidate he wants and that's his right. It's also smart and, if you doubt it, just grasp that last week's criticism got him on national, broadcast television.

That probably only works once. The media's not interested in his critique, they're just interested in expressing their faux shock that anyone would say a word against Barack. To George's credit, he didn't cut Ralph off when he talked about how Barack had scraped and bowed before AIPAC or when Ralph was talking about the attacks on the Palestinian people.

But, like Amy Goodman, he didn't treat Ralph like a presidential candidate. Not only did he not ask Ralph about his positions or plans, Ralph had to jump in at the end to note his campaign's website -- and note that other candidates promoted their websites when on television. [C.I. note: Nader noted it once before in the interview as a friend at ABC pointed out over the phone.]

During the same broadcast, a Barack supporter and a McCain supporter were on discussing their two candidates. Here's a thought, from now on when they do that, Ralph Nader needs to be allowed to come on or send a surrogate. Each week we're going to see that, between now and the election, that back and forth between Democrats and Republicans. But those aren't the only candidates running. We'd say the same of Bob Barr being allowed to be on or send a surrogate. (For both Nader and Barr, we'd advise skipping a surrogate whenever possible and appearing yourself because TV time does wonders for a campaign.) We can't make that argument for Cynthia McKinney's campaign because she's defined her campaign as an effort to get 5% of the vote (and declared that "victory") so someone who has publicly admitted they aren't running for president doesn't really have strong ground to stand on when demanding equal time.

But we think the idea could have traction -- at least with regards to This Week. A) George knows he needs to differentiate himself not only from the other hosts of the chat & chews but from This Week past and allowing candidates and surrogates to mix it up in a free wheeling debate could help with ratings. B) George is much more an in-the-mix person. He can do the canned analysis easily, no question. But where he always comes off best is in those moments that require him to be thinking on his feet. It was true in the Clinton White House as well. George was never cooking as strongly as when there was some flare up that needed to be addressed. His eyes do this thing that has nothing to do with shape or eye lids, the color themselves changes. Watch the video online and you'll be able to pick out those moments easily.

C) George used to believe in democracy more than anything else. What some might call bunk or sneer at as something left over from a Norman Rockwell painting, George always took seriously.

If he still does and he actually has the control of the program that he's been promised, he should be inclined to bring on reps from the campaigns of Barack, McCain, Barr and Ralph's (with the latter two representing themselves as much as possible).


If there's been one complaint raised repeatedly in the last months, it's been about the lack of a "Mailbag." Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jess, Ty and Ava,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.


Laurel e-mails to state that it is "grossly irresponsible for you to promote the Nader campaign. Don't you remember 2000?"

Jess: I'll assume Laurel's voting for someone other than Ralph Nader. Thanks for writing.

Ty: An e-mail came in mentioning that the War Resisters League released a new report. It's entitled "Listening Process." The Thursday "Iraq snapshot" included links and headings:

Section 1: What is lacking in the peace and antiwar movement?
Section 2: What prevents the emergence of a stronger, more coordinated, more strategic movement?
Section 3: What are the biggest openings and opportunities for organizing today? Section 4: How do we build a more multiracial and cross-class antiwar movement?
Section 5: What roles can veterans, soldiers and military families play in ending war?
Section 6: What is the relevance of nonviolence today?
Section 7: How do we link peace and justice issues and build alliances?
Section 8: What does base-building look like in antiwar organizing?
Conclusions: Where to From Here?

C.I.: Those are excerpts. It can be purchased in full for four dollars online and, if you're ording ten or more copies, you can also order by phone: (212) 228-0450.

Ty: Anita writes that she wishes cable TV was covered.

Ava: We started out mindful of the budgets many college students were on. As a result, we attracted low-income readers outside of college as well. We know our base of readers and we tailor our coverage to them. Were this site to continue in 2009, post 'The Death of Free TV,' we might consider including cable in the mix. For now, we'll continue to focus on broadcast TV.

Ty: Justin enjoyed "all of the short stories last week" and wonders "could you do another fiction edition this summer?"

Rebecca: That idea was actually floated last week. Jim proposed it. His reasoning was, it went quick -- or quick for Third -- and with only four pieces, it really didn't cover as much terrain as it normally does. It is a possibility that we'll all work on another short story edition. But there are always a number of possibilities and some things there's never time for and somethings get forgotten. So don't consider that a promise, just an idea that was floated.

Ty: First Run Features advises that 21 Up South Africa comes out on DVD July 22nd:

The Jesuit maxim at the heart of the landmark UP Series has now been taken to South Africa, where a group of children, first filmed in 1992 at the age of 7, are now 21. Rich and poor, black, white and "mixed race," these fascinating and revealing portraits offer unique insights into the social and political upheavals that have occurred throughout South Africa since the crumbling of apartheid.
From township slums to apartheid-era mansions to the bushveldt, the children of 21 UP South Africa have experienced a multitude of change - just like the country itself. As with time-lapse photography, we see them at age 7 and 14 - with their disarming honesty and dreams for the future - and now at 21, part of the new South Africa. We also learn that AIDS has claimed the lives of three of these children.
Director Angus Gibson is one of South Africa's premier documentary filmmakers and a founding member of Free Filmmakers, a film co-operative established in 1985 to create a relevant South African cinema. He produced and directed many documentary projects for European television including the highly acclaimed Soweto, A History for Channel 4 and the South African chapter of Granada Television's flagship documentary Up Series.

Ty (Con't): That's films. Barry e-mails asking when we'll do another book discussion.

Cedric: Whenever there's something worth reading. Have you seen anything? I haven't. We focus on non-fiction and we've narrowed that down to Iraq related topics. Have you seen much on that? I don't think so. If we could find a book to pair with it, I think we'd all be happy to discuss one book. But that got put on hold because we've been waiting to pair it with something. Iraq's off the radar on your TV and in your bookstore.

Ty: Rick likes the illustration "if only for variety, but I still enjoy the Marilyn Monroe illustration and think it's one of the best."

Kat: No one's speaking and I'm being pointed at. I don't even remember the Monroe illustration. I'm sure if it was considered a strong one a good reason for that is due to Monroe herself. She has a very strong image and it's not like trying to, for example, capture Stephen Hadley. Monroe left a mark.

Ty: Bruce wonders if one edition could be "nothing but Ava and C.I. doing TV commentaries"?

Ava: Does he mean new ones or a best-of?

Ty: New ones.

Ava: We do Oprah this week and that's been requested by longterm readers for some time. We grabbed it because we thought it would be easy to do and that it would be brief. It may or may not have been easy, all I'm thinking about is getting to bed right now, but it was not brief. Point being, there's no way we could do a full edition of nothing but TV articles and have five or six of them. I could be wrong, but I don't see that as possible. I'm sure Jim would love the idea, argue we could team it with an editorial and have an 'easy' edition but it wouldn't be an easy edition for C.I. and me.

Ty: Malik wants more Nader coverage. He writes, "One suggestion: More Nader coverage."

Elaine: I think that would be a bit like the TV edition that was just proposed. I know we're planning to feature Nader every week in one article and I would assume if we did an edition that was nothing but Nader it would burn everyone out on Nader coverage for a few weeks. I mean it would burn everyone participating in the writing out on Nader coverage. When we finish, we're generally sick of it. The whole edition. When we wake up, we're less irritated but my fear would be a full edition on Nader would result in everyone feeling, "Do we have to cover that this week?" for the next few weeks. I'm also not sure how Ava and C.I. would necessarily have something to cover on such a week.

Rebecca: They could review the episode of Saturday Night Live that Ralph hosted. But I agree with Elaine that we would burn out.

Ty: "Speedy" wants to know if we really intend "to not throw your support to B. Obama. Everyone already has except a few hold outs. You're going to feel awfully foolish the closer it gets to November. Even Hillary is campaigning with Barack now."

Wally: I'm not even sure Hillary being the vice-presidential nominee would get me to vote for Barack. We've discussed that before and our doubts regarding that but I'll go on record saying so. I don't like Barack, I don't like the campaign he's run, I don't like his flip-flops, I don't care for his tiny stands. Hillary and Barack both ran for the Democratic nomination but that's all they have in common. Speaking only for me, I went to Texas -- with Cedric -- in February to get out the vote for Hillary. Until the last primary, I was in one state getting out the vote every month, every week, every day after. I know what Hillary stands for and, were she the nominee or to become the presidential nominee, I'd be doing that again. I don't trust Barack, I'm not getting behind his campaign.

Betty: Hillary always said she'd campaign for the nominee if she wasn't the nominee. She keeps her word. I supported Hillary's run and I support her. But I'm not voting for Barack. I think we're more effective as a voice for change which is Ralph Nader. As a general rule, I don't ever do something because 'everyone' is doing it. I think our time is better spent focusing on Ralph's campaign.

Ruth: I would agree with that. With what Wally said and what Betty said. To expand on Betty's point, I am more interested in covering what everyone else is not covering. I was speaking to a neighbor who will not be voting for Barack and she listed all the reasons and it goes to the campaign he ran. The non-stop name calling tops her list, even more than sexism. I do not think he realizes -- or the DNC realizes -- how toxic that campaign was or how resistant people are to him as a result.

Marcia: Absolutely. If you didn't support Barack you were uneducated/stupid, you were racist, you were old and bitter, you were this and that. All those insults may have resulted in a 'cool' image for the campaign but it insulted the voters. I'm an African-American lesbian so he's insulted me as a woman, as an African-American and as a lesbian. There's nothing he could do that would lead me to vote for him. He burned that bridge.

Ty: Related, Mary Beth e-mails about a host of groups including PUMA and Just Say No. She wants to know why we're not promoting those groups?

Jess: We're really not following them. That's no offense to them. But we don't know those groups.

Mike: And because we don't know them, we're not in a rush to promote them. I would think that they were sincere. But I also thought Taylor Marsh was sincere. She pretended that she might vote for John McCain if Barack was the nominee. Now she's all over Barack with sloppy kisses. I've intended to look into PUMA especially but haven't had the time. Part of that might be a result of the crap that Marsh and others like her pulled. They talked a good talk but they caved. Throw Corrente in there as well. I'm leery of promoting anyone I don't really know. I didn't know a thing about Taylor Marsh but that C.I., Wally and Cedric didn't care for her. I wish I'd listened to that judgment because she certainly proved herself to be not very trust worthy. If I can add something else. I'll be kind and not name the site but they're supposedly not voting for Barack but look at their blogroll. It's all pro-Obama people.

Betty: I agree with Mike on that. There was a woman named Donna Darko. She was going to refuse to vote for Barack. And then she did this idiotic post about how she'd spoken to some relatives and now realized it was the best for the country or some such bull. If I'm going down the road and my kids suddenly remember they need something for school, I'll whip the car around so quick. But that's for my kids. I won't give myself whiplash for Barack. I'm sick of him and his cult. But between Darko and Marsh and others, it's obvious that a lot of people wrote things that they either didn't mean or that they flip a switch and change their beliefs. I don't.

Ty: Mary Beth also noted that a number of the groups stress points made here and community wide for years such as "you own your vote," etc.

Elaine: I'll grab that because most of those, including the power of no, are phrases C.I. comes up with. C.I. can turn a phrase and they're successful because they convey meaning. They become popular. That's always been true. If Mary Beth's interested, she can e-mail me and I'll go into it more at my site but I know I've walked it up to the line in terms of C.I.'s comfort zone.

Rebecca: Never a word of praise allowed. I'm only semi-joking.

C.I.: And I'm semi-wrapping up. Which I had not planned to do. The ugly nature of Barack's campaign has been noted. You can't run a slash and burn campaign during the primaries and just expect that everyone will fall in line for the general election. More importantly, a number of people are realizing that you don't reward bad behavior. Myself, I'm alarmed that a Democratic candidate utilized homophobia and sexism. I'm bothered by the message sent if everyone 'falls in line' behind Barack. You either stand up for things that matter or you don't. On the latter, Barack certainly proved he doesn't stand up against illegal spying on Americans.

Ty: Since you said semi-wrapping up, I'll squeeze in one last e-mail. John T. e-mails asking what we will do if John McCain gets into the White House?

Mike: I'm grabbing. We will do what we always do. We will work on issue, we will raise awareness, we will call out the illegal war. My life does not end, nor do my issues, based on who is in the White House. America will be in trouble with either Barack or McCain. It's not my job to elect Barack. I'm also not keen on lying so I have no interest in being a Barack cheerleader. Barack and McCain are big party nominees, they will get plenty of media attention. They'll be responsible for the votes they earn or don't earn. It's more effective to work on getting out the word on candidates like Ralph Nader who really stand for something. If November sees McCain elected, that's what America wanted. I'll work on something I believe in, getting out the word for Ralph Nader.

The Outsider pronounces the 'surge' a success!

George Steph featured The Outsider this week on . . . well This Week. ABC's Sunday chat & chew had a jam-packed guest list and still made time for Sunday funnies. Of course The Outsider provided more laughs than any clips.

We (Ava and C.I.) really have no idea why someone would so willing make a fool of themselves on national television, but there it was. For all to see.

Has a more bizarre 'human' ever been spotted? When we weren't gasping, we were laughing.

When we say "The Outsider," some may wrongly think we're referring to Ralph Nader. No, Ralph handled himself well.

We're speaking of The Peace Resister. We're referring to Katty-van-van. Yeah, her. Katrina vanden Heuvel.


Wrongly stating "since your name was invoked" in the previous segment, George gave Katty the first word. (Wrongly because George named Katrina vanden Heuvel in his interview with Ralph Nader. Nader referred to The Nation magazine and The Progressive magazine. He did not name Katty or anyone else.)

Katty didn't care. She was just happy she got an end seat. (As predicted.) She was gushing a mile a minute about how "The Nation in 2004 and again in 2008" were pushing 'Ralph, Don't Run' -- as if that was a good thing in a democracy. You have to wonder if Katrina's mythical Mother Russia will ever manage to call her home? And if you offered to pay for the trip, would she leave any sooner?

Probably not -- because her school girl romantic view of the Soviet Union exists only in her fantasies.

Her embarrassments, however, are for public consumption.

Take when she declared of Barack Obama, "I'm shocked that he's moving to the center." We were about to laugh, thinking she was using sarcasm. But Katty was dead serious and followed that up immediately with, "I'm shocked but change" starts below. Below. Below. She bellowed causing us to conjure up the score to The Wizard of Oz. Below. Below.

Katty was wearing black, naturally. She always wears black. Maybe it wasn't just her repeated use of "below" that had us thinking of The Wizard of Oz?

"In the primaries," Katty insisted, "we saw" issues being driven from below.

What issues?

You mean the smear job The Nation did on Hillary regarding NAFTA?

You can't believe a word the woman says. Elaine grasped that early on -- back when one of us (C.I.) was still prone to trust her. There was a young Katty reeking of urine and denying she'd wet herself (and kicking Elaine in the shin, leaving a scar for life -- Katty always had big feet). So since she only knows how to lie and stretch the truth, the best thing (for all but your sense of taste) might be to ignore what she says and just watch her.

If you did that, you noticed many strange things. Hugh Hewett is droning on with who knows what Republican talking point. Arianna Huffington of Aging Socialite Cat Litter Box was looking at him. A furious Katrina was staring down at the table top.

Throughout, she behaved like a spoiled, petulant brat.

We don't care for Arianna after the slam she allowed to run on mentally challenged children and assumed we'd be offering hisses to Arianna but Katty was just impossible.

When Arianna worried that Barack might be "undercutting his brand," Katty's body stiffened as though someone had struck her.

Arianna looked at everyone as they spoke. Who would have guessed Arianna had more manners than Katty? (Okay, maybe many people.) Byron York of The National Review was discussing what might happen if Barack "softens" on Iraq (we think it was York, but those right-wing pundits all look alike) and there was Arianna listening (or doing a good enough job of pretending to that we were fooled) but Katty was having a meltdown. When she finally spoke she was disjointed and all over the map from the start.

"But I'm not . . . Listen . . . I'm not apologizing for Obama caving" she would begin in a series of sentences that included FDR, a cabinet secretary from over fifty years ago and a lot of platitudes as well as "Bob Barnett" -- whose name required her popping her eyes.

One of the right-wingers insisted that the middle (spectrum of voters) was "what's important" and Katrina did some half-movement, some abrupt body gestures that had us wondering if she was attempting to pay homage to Sally Field's Emmy award winning work in Sybil?

Katty's inability to focus was there throughout and reflected the magazine she edits and publishes as she jumped from topic to topic, introducing new topics only to drop them and rush to something else. The best visual moment was probably when she brought up the electoral college all by herself and decided to ignore George and the other three panelists by looking into the camera to declare of the electoral college's demise (a topic she introduced), "Which I hope will happen in 2012." George was at the head of the table. On one end, you had Arianna next to George and then Byron. On the other, you had Hugh next to George and then Katrina. The camera was in front of the table, on the opposite end of George. We're telling you that so we're sure you understand where the camera was. No one had to tell Katty where it was. "When both candidates" she tossed out again turning to face the camera. At another point, George is saying, "Let me ask you this . . ." Saying it to Byron. What was he asking? Who knows?

While he was asking, Katty was again turning her head away from the panel to look at the camera and making some weird faces. If she'd pointed her finger at it, we think she would have said, "We're coming on for you!" Or maybe, "How you doing?"

Somehow on the subject of terrorism and safety, Katty took the issue to Barack's "cyber war room to deal with smears." Maybe there was some context for that remark and Katty's non-stop fidgeting (which began shortly before that moment) distracted us from it. But it was perfectly in keeping with her 'political points' which played out like the worst name dropping episode of Square Pegs.

George then asked Hugh about Barack's trip to Iraq and, watch the video later, what is Katty doing? It looks to us like she's hugging herself and rocking forward.

Gregg Allman, at the height of his drug addiction, was less of a public embarrassment.

Katty got off three comments quickly that really have to be noted.

First up, Hugh was insisting that Barack had promised to remove troops from Iraq in six months. Hugh, provide the source. Katty insisted sixteen months but it was lowered to ten months by Barack when he was campaigning in Texas and Katty should know that since a one-liner in a speech resulted in Tom Hayden exulting online about the greatness of Barack -- online at The Nation. Katty snapped that regardless of the number of months, "Everyone understood he didn't mean immediately."


Katty, did you miss the commercial with the bad guitar music and then the shots of Barack in front of a stadium full of people? It ran in Februrary in March. What does he say? "We want to end the war!" We want to do this and that, "now!" "Everyone understood," Katty? That much played commercial existed to confuse the issue. (But then so does Katty.)

She then wanted to talk about withdrawal and this needs to be noted because it's such a BIG LIE and so STUPID. She said that his withdrawal would be gradual and "you use the success of the surge . . ." The success of the surge? Does Katty-van-van read her own magazine? (We like to picture her editing while wearing a blindfold. It provides an excuse for all the factual errors.) Katty-van-van went on ABC and called the escalation (the so-called "surge") a success. Someone should note that to Dana Perino in tomorrow's White House press conference, "Even Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation magazine is now calling the surge a success, Dana, and . . ."

The third point she made was, "The country has turned against the war." As Goldie Hawn says in Private Benjamin when caught on the fence, "No s**t."

When does Katty-van-van think that happened? And does she honestly think in the years since that happened her magazine's reflected that?

Byron and Hugh are on the right but Katty, so quick to counsel the need to pick your battles, ignored that as she attempted to shout at Arianna in disagreement, "I think they're going to vote on the economy!" Arianna just smiled and appeared to be think, "She really does talk like a Communist." There was Katty as the segment wound down attempting to pick a battle with the other panelist on to 'represent' the left.

If The Nation's fall in circulation doesn't kill Katty's TV spots, that appearance just might. You grasped why the others would be invited on to shows. Arianna was who we were expecting to provide laughter. Maybe on a show without Katty she could have? Maybe not. She knows how to relate to the host (she referred to how Greeks know about Trojan horses -- a reference to herself and George), knows how to listen or pretend to listen by looking at whomever is speaking and knows how to disagree (even strongly) without looking like she's throwing a tantrum.

Though over fifty, Katty-van-van came off like an eight-year-old child stomping her feet and you kept waiting for George to tell her to go to her room. Always The Outsider, Katty-van-van, because she makes herself one. The final segment was obits and the only surprise there was the failure to announce "And today Katrina vanden Heuvel's career as a TV pundit died or at least suffered a serious set back." We're not sure if the clip to run with that would have been the eye popping, the mugging to the camera, the fidgeting, the refusal to look at people who spoke (forget look them in the eye). But that's Katty-van-van, always providing a wide range of options . . . for laughter.

For more laughter, some of Katty-van-van's appearances in Isaiah's comics.
"Wheel of Greed" (which also features Matthew Rothschild and John Nichols).


"From the Kitchen of the Peace Resister."


And "The Peace Resister."

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