Sunday, September 21, 2008

Truest statement of the week

This has a lot to do with a graphic image of Palin I just saw in which she is dressed in a black bustier, adorned with long, black gloves and wielding a whip. The image appeared in the Internet magazine Salon to illustrate a column titled: "The dominatrix," by Gary Kamiya. Kamiya calls Palin a "pinup queen," and says she not only tantalized the Republican National Convention with political red meat, but that her "babalicious" presence hypercharged the place with sexual energy, and naughty energy at that. "You could practically feel the crowd getting a collective woody as Palin bent Obama and the Democrats over, shoved a leather gag in their mouths and flogged them as un-American wimps, appeasers and losers."
That's some sexual mother lode. Dare I point out that I have never -- ever -- in three decades of covering politics seen a male politician's style, even one with an earthy demeanor, described this way?
Salon editor Joan Walsh says she agrees the "dominatrix" piece had a "provocative cover,'' and that her columnists enjoy great freedom. "One day Gary (Kamiya) called Palin a dominatrix, the next day Camille Paglia called her a feminist." The magazine exists, Walsh says, to "push the envelope."
No sooner did Walsh give me this explanation than another Salon contributor, Cintra Wilson, pushed that envelope again. Wilson described Palin as follows: an "f---able ... Christian Stepford wife in a 'sexy librarian' costume" who is, for ideological Republicans, a "hardcore pornographic centerfold spread." That is, when Palin is not coming across as one of those "cutthroat Texas cheerleader stage moms."
What is it about a woman candidate that sends the media into weird Freudian frenzies?

-- Marie Cocco, "Sexism Again" (Washington Post Writers Group)

Truest statement of the week II

This truest delted on 1-15-09 by Ty. The man was a racist. He revealed himself to be such 1-15. We have deleted his other two truests. We apologize and would not have promoted a racist. We are a diverse group including Ty (African-American) and Ava (Latina). Dona points out C.I. refused to include the racist in the year-in-review C.I. did January 1st. C.I. already had qualms about the guy. We will not be highlighting him in the future.
We regret that he was highlighted prior.
None of his comments deleted were on race.
He is noted in two other feature articles still. We'll leave those.
But knowing that he's a racist, we could not let it stand with him having any "Truest" statements.

A note to our readers

Hey --
Oh how the years go by, as Vanessa Williams sings. And the days.

Another edition and, along with Dallas, the following worked on this edition:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, 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,

We thank everyone. So let's break down this week's edition.

Truest statement of the week -- Marie Cocco. She's become a very strong voice this year and we're happy to note her again.

Truest statement of the week II -- This is the second time Joseph Cannon has been a truest as well. We had six other choices and, if any had enough votes to warrant a third, we would have done a third. Cannon and Cocco were the clear winners.

Editorial: Spending in an economic meltdown -- Our Iraq piece. We knew we'd be noting the hearing in some form and had considered just copying and pasting the transcriptions C.I. did during the week but this was the last thing we all worked on and we had more energy than we thought. The House Budget Committee held a hearing on Iraq's surplus and the Iraqi 'government' spending and the US spending. You'd think it would get attention at any time of the year. Surprisingly, even with an economic meltdown, it didn't. Apparently, we can max out the charge cards and never worry about paying.

TV: Shrinkage and expansion -- I had a wish list for Ava and C.I. to cover in their piece. Turns out they'd been given a number of wish lists already. They had to cover Saturday Night Live because, as Ava explains, "It was a vast improvement and if we're going to call out friends when they're awful, we also have to acknowledge when they do something well." As Dona and Jess told them (with the readers' wish list), this is the sort of thing the readers were hoping for. They both note they don't write under demand or upon request. Translation (to steal their phrase), don't expect them to do this next week. They're covering a lot but between my list, the readers' list, friends' list and their own list, they don't feel they covered nearly enough. But they always hate what they write. Everyone else loved it and there were several belly laughs when I read it out loud. Marcia loved it so much, she said they needed to call her mother. They agreed to do so and interview her but wanted to wait until Marcia's mother was up. (6:00 a.m. EST.) They thank Marcia and her mother.

Real Change vs. Small Change -- Our Nader piece. And tossing this out there now. We have scanned in other buttons. Do readers enjoy this one or would they prefer to see other buttons with the Nader pieces? Ralph's campaign is making real strides, despite a lack of media attention. We almost posted a Ralph video but Ty hollered, "Don't!" Seems there's an issue with videos. A number of you don't want them and have stopped visiting many sites. If we'd known about that (Ty saw those e-mails, C.I.'s gotten similar ones at The Common Ills), we would have tackled the online videos in an article this edition. Short version: They are a nightmare for readers on dial up.

Arthur Krystal delivers a lesson in exclusion -- In the roundtable, we talk about how something ends up getting to be a piece. It's noted that if Rebecca, Mike and I are on board, it's an automatic piece (which doesn't mean it gets posted here, it may only be good enough for the print version as many are) because we are very vocal. One thing we failed to note in the discussion is the Ava and C.I. factor. It's noted that from time to time they will advocate strongly for a piece. But this feature resulted from another Ava and C.I. quality. They don't come to the edition with a one-sentence idea. If they have an idea, they have it sketched it out. They have it sketched out in multiple ways. For example, this was on the topic lists and we were all for it. C.I. had faxed the article to those who participate by phone and those of us here had read the article. We had much to address and thought this would be the longest and hardest hitting piece. We were going to explore Krystal's presentation and our own thoughts. That would have included the topic of sexism and much more. As time ran down, this moved to the "kill pile" because there wouldn't be time to do that article. When Dona and I said that was happening, Ava and C.I. came back with the fact that they also had a way to address the article in a very fast format. They presented it and there was actually very little for us to do other than to take their presentation and write it up. So that's another way something ends up becoming a feature. It's more than just the topic. This ended up being written more quickly than anything else this edition.

Cock Rock Hall of Fame -- At various times, Elaine, C.I., Ava, Kat and Rebecca have pitched this as a topic. It's always shot down or put on the maybe list. (Usually by me -- shot down and maybe-d.) Kat wrote about the topic at her site this week and I grasped what I wasn't hearing when it had been advocated for here. That's part of the process, we're all focused on pitching our topic and a lot of times we (or me, Jim) don't listen closely enough to the pitches others are making. A note on the illustration for this and the feature above (the same illustration). During writing editions, we have to take breaks. Many times, a number of us will run to the store. I always check out the toys. This is something called "Instant Prehistoric 3" which is capsules you drop in water that turn into figures. I have picked that up repeatedly on our late night runs but never purchased it. C.I. told me this morning, "Get it already." And, truth be told, though I hide behind, "This might make for an interesting illustration," the reality is I was just curious about if the capsules really turned into figures. As Mike would say, ":D".

Roundtable -- You love roundtables, we've begun to loathe doing them. They take so much time. Last week, we did one and pretty much everyone pulled from the remarks (I didn't, C.I., Ava and Betty didn't but I'm not sure who else) that not only was it not much but there was no way it flowed when you read it. So it was killed. It was also a time consumer. But we tried it again this week. The illustration is by Betty's oldest son.

Coming Up -- Some things to look for and the candy wrappers were also purchased on our run this morning. I said it was because they might make a good illustration and be a way to note Halloween. Reality, I just wanted the candy. As Ty pointed out by noting there were also Snicker Halloween candy and I wasn't picking those up. (I don't like Snickers.) I ate them and forgot about it. Jess was picking up some of our garbage at one point and pointed to the wrappers saying, "I thought these were going to be an illustration." We didn't have a Halloween piece. We did have this which was titled "Recommended." Dona pointed out that if we called it "Coming Up," we could use the wrappers as an illustration because Halloween is coming up. Next week, the plan is to do something more on The New Adventures of Old Christine, by the way. Marcia and Ruth came up with an idea for that but there wasn't time.

Jerk off Artiste of the Week -- Self-explantory. This was noted by eight readers who e-mailed to express their anger with the latest attack on women and the latest excuse where it's always someone's fault but never Barack's.

E-mails (Dona and Jess) -- I typed up the roundtable. If there are typos, I don't care. While I was doing that, Ava and C.I. were doing their TV commentary and Ty was editing the article on Nader, and Mike, Elaine, Betty, Rebecca, Ruth, Marcia, Kat, Cedric and Wally were working on "Highlights." Dona and Jess decided to attempt a feature covering the e-mails. Normally, a solo or duo piece goes up higher in the mix. Dona and Jess were both adament that this go as far towards the end as possible so that Stacie Adams not mistakenly think that we give a damn what she says.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Rebecca, Betty, Kat, Ruth, Cedric, Marcia and Wally wrote this and we thank them for it. I always worry I'll leave someone out when I type up the credit for this each week.

See you next weekend.-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Spending in an economic meltdown

Last week, the press couldn't stop talking about the Wall Street meltdown. The economic crisis.


But in a very limited manner.

"You can't love what you can't keep," Sting notes ["(If You Love Somebody) Set Them Free"] and equally true is that you can't spend what you don't have.

So it was interesting to watch the meltdown, the economic crisis be treated as if it were a snowcone left out in the sun and that it would have no real impact on any other US spending.

When there is (limited) talk about potential impacts, it naturally goes to "now we may not get health care" or some other public works program while ignoring one of the largest drains on the US dollar, the Iraq War.

Last week, the House Budget Committee held a hearing on the budget surplus of the Iraq (puppet) government. John Spratt Jr. chaired the Tuesday hearing. The first panel was the committee exploring the costs of the illegal war with the Government Accountability Office's Joseph Christoff in response to the GAO's August report (click here for HTML and here for PDF)
of how the puppet government could end the year with a surplus as high as $79 billion and how this comes as a direct result of the (puppet) government refusing to spend on rebuilding and reconstruction.

And where was the media?

Was it only December of 2007 that Katrinkent vanden Heuvel was offering "VideoNation" (scary, we know) on the subject of "The Cost of War"? And didn't they return to that topic non-stop? In fact, the March 31, 2008 print edition offered this: "With the country poised on the precipice of a recession, if not already in one, the economy has eclipsed Iraq as the most pressing issue of the moment. But rather than being treated as discrete items on a laundry list of issues, the war and the economy should be linked. While the current economic meltdown has other causes, one of the biggest obstacles we face in pulling out of this crisis is the staggering cost of the war in Iraq" ("It's the War Economy, Stupid!"). Apparently stupid is The Nation which couldn't find time to cover the Tuesday hearing despite Katrina's insistence that it was time to "get real!" about the issues facing the country.

The Nation's far from the only one goofing off. Matthew Rothschild and his magazine The Progressive have jaw boned about the Iraq War repeatedly. In November of 2007, Amitabh Pal was exclaiming (in his best Beyond The Forest Bette Davis manner), "What a waste!
The Iraq War is going to cost the United States almost $3 trillion through 2017, assuming a modest level of 75,000 troops through that year, according to a new Congressional report." (Iraq War to Cost Trillions). April 24, 2008, Matty Rothschild was noting that figure again. Where was The Progressive last week?

And what of Democracy Now!, the most self-promoted 'grassroots' media collobaration in the country? The financial cost of the illegal war has long been a topic such as in February 2007 when Goody offered "Hidden Costs of War: Long-Term Price of Providing Veterans Medical Care Could Reach $660 Billion" and this year's segments have included "EXCLUSIVE-- The Three Trillion Dollar War: Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard Economist Linda Bilmes on the True Cost of the US Invasion and Occupation of Iraq" and "Lawmakers Hold Tax Day Press Conference on Cost of Iraq War." So let's get this straight, a press conference is worth a segment but a Congressional committee hearing isn't?

In what world?

In a rare, once-in-a-blue-moon moments, all the Democrats serving on the committee were on the same page. Translation, if for no other reason than their efforts to pimp the Democratic Party, The Nation, The Progressive and Democracy Now! should have covered the hearing.

"This hearing will be the first opportunity for the Congress to receive testimony on this report, the GAO report, since the Government Accountability Office released it several weeks ago," declared committee chair Spratt at the start of the hearing. "GAO reports that Iraq is now running a substantial budget surplus -- it may reach $79 billion. At the same time the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] reported last week that in contrast to Iraq's growing surplus, the budget deficit for the United States. is expected to exceed $400 billion for the current fiscal year. That's the second largest deficit in our history. Even bigger deficits are projected next year."

Even without the news of the economic meltdown, the hearing should have garnered attention. In light of the meltdown, it should have received serious attention.

The hearing was a chance to review the economic report in plain, easy to understand lanaguage.

US House Rep Chet Edwards declared, "Given the GAO report, I guess I rank that administration prediction right up there with some of the predictions that we would be greeted as liberators, the war would be short-lived, it would cost the American tax payers less than a hundred billion dollars and we're turning the corner. We've turned so many corners in Iraq I think we're all dizzy from that. Every time we turn one corner we find another roadbloc down the way."

The predictions? The false promises. And Edwards wasn't alone in nothing those claims by the administration.

US House Rep Bob Etheridge brought up the false promises of the administration, " I think the thing that bothers me and I think a lot of folks who remember, you know the US tax payers have financed nearly $50 billion in Iraqi reconstruction in addition to all the other funds we've put in place and now we're spending about 10 billion a month and at the same time we see almost 80 billion in surplus. And then I'm reminded, and I think most folks are, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said in 2003 that the Iraqis could pay for reconstruction themselves and relatively soon. And I think we have a chart here, chart one, that shows that. Now it's quite obvious he was wrong or overstated or something because we pay twice. We've paid a 50 billion dollar reconstruction bill and now we're spending 10 billion a month and we're paying billions of dollar at the pump with gasoline."

Also hitting on that theme was US House Rep Allyson Schwartz, " We were led to believe several years ago that we would not have to pay for this war at all. And that's been pointed out as well. And yet we are right now spending billions of American tax payer dollars to reconstruct Iraq when Iraq has the money. And adding insult to injury we're spending a whole lot, every American family, on the price of gasoline that we're buying from the Iraqis. I mean something about this picture just isn't right no matter how you feel about this war or our going into it."

Marcy Kaptur raised the issue as well, " I remember Secretary [Paul] Wolfowitz coming up before our defense committee saying that we didn't have to worry about this because it would all be paid for. Well, where is he now? I have no idea where he is but he certainly wasn't correct in those statements which I think influenced a lot of the members of this Congress to vote in the way that they did."

Bob Etheridge also noted Wolfowitz and pointed the chart present documenting what Wolfowitz had told Congress in 2003.

The $400 billion Spratt mentioned is just the deficit for the US this year. As Christoff and US House Rep Dennis Moore would discuss, that's in addition to the $9.6 trillion US defecit debt already in existence. Schwartz drew a clear line between what's not getting funded in the US but is getting funded in Iraq, "I have to say representing the city of Philadelphia and the suburbs, I go to police stations and fire stations all across my district and they need reconstruction. And so instead of a president saying we're going to spend our dollars on reconstructing our police stations and helping our first responders we're spending American dollars on reconstruction in Iraq when the Iraqis are actually sitting on $79 billion." Etheridge also underscored where the US tax payer money wasn't going, "
And we have a myriad of spending needs here at home. I won't even go through the list, I just want to talk about one of them because we need to be building some school buildings in and around my district [second district of North Carolina] where we've got children in trailers and we've got one school that has 50% of our military children in buildings that ought to be able to have modern buildings."

Repeating, you can't spend what you don't have.

Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, sits on billions and the Iraqi people suffer. While some organizations call for reperations for the Iraqi people, no one should assume that reperations can or should be made to a 'government' that does not represent the Iraqi people. As Kaptur noted, "Iraq has only spent 14% of the $28 billion it allocated to those sectors or less than 3% of the 10 billion that it had programmed from the year 2005 to 2008."

The money is not being spent on the Iraqi people or for their good. al-Maliki will gladly accept/grab any US dollars tossed his way. He'll continue sitting on them. He's a puppet and, come January, the administration that installed him will be gone. Add in that he's being forced to accept (in some form) the "Awakening" Council members (Sunnis) into his government and he'll gladly build up an even larger pile of cash to use to protect his own ass.

As US House Rep James McGovern pointed out, " And the government of Iraq, the Maliki government, I know that you didn't look at the issue of corruption, but it is corrupt. I wouldn't trust them to tell me the correct time."

The Iraqi government is corrupt. And that gets lost very often in the waves of Operation Happy Talk that attempt to convince us that 'progress' is being made or is about to be made. The benchmarks get fudged. US House Rep Lloyd Doggett hit hard on the benchmarks. He noted that by August 30, 2007, the GAO found that only three of the eighteen benchmarks had been met and, one year later, only one more benchmark can be called a success.

Doggett was methodical and used the bulk of his time to review the benchmarks and they do need reviewing because, time and again, a report will wrongly claim that the eighteen benchmarks were imposed on the administration by the Congress when the reality is the White House set them. By setting them, they obviously assumed (a lot like the treaty masquerading as the SOFA or the illegal war itself), that 'success' would shortly arrive. But it never has.

"All of us remember, except maybe President Bush, that in January of 2007, he selected the benchmarks, the guidelines by which to measure success, by which to measure victory in Iraq and when we sought an analysis so we would have an objective information instead of just the propaganda from the administration about whether those benchmarks had been met the Congress turned to the Government Accountability Office," Doggett noted early on.

And he went out noting that fact again, "And I see my time's up but, Mr. Chairman, we can keep going down the objectives that President Bush set himself for success, for victory in Iraq, and you'll find that it continues to fail. That this policy has been a failure, American tax payers are having to fund the failure while the Iraqis pay a fraction of the price we pay for a gallon of gasoline. Thank you."

The hearing explored (with some strong work by Kaptur) the economics in Iraq. The hearing also revealed that basic information the US tax payer should have is hidden. US House Rep Tim Bishop asked about the US predictions for the de-Baathification legistlation (if enacted, it still hasn't been) and he was told by Christoff that the information on that couldn't be discussed in an open hearing. Kaptur asked about basic stats and figures on the Iraqi oil ("Who's paying for it, how much is being smuggled, who did the smuggling, was anybody aprehended?") and was informed that the information wasn't "public domain" and that she'd have to refer to CIA reports.

It was a very important hearing. It would have been at any time but it was an especially significant hearing in a week when the US economy was suffering a meltdown/crisis. It just appears that a lot of people had other things to do. Other than inform.

[Jim note: C.I. covered the hearing in three days worth of snapshots. See C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot" and "Iraq snapshot."] [C.I. note: Mike covered Rep James McGovern's statements in "Ed loses."]

TV: Shrinkage and expansion

Over the weekend, NOW on PBS offered one of the best 'election' programs of 2008. Sadly to get to it was like walking through "27 billion gallons of raw sewage and polluted stormwater discharge . . . into New York Harbor" -- in stiletto heels, no less.

NOW on PBS falls under the "news" and "public affairs" programming umbrella of public broadcasting. And while it achieved this week, many others failed miserably.

Sometimes, the fault wasn't the program. Take The KPFK Evening News which truly thought they could provide a lively roundtable by bringing on a Democrat (Sarah Leonard), a Republican (Evan Sayet) and a Green (Donna Warren). How were they to know that the Green would forget her party's presidential candidate was, in fact, Cynthia McKinney and not Barack Obama? Though it's already been commented on at length, there's no way we can scorecard public affairs and news programming from public broadcasting without mentioning that embarrassing incident. Again, in that case, the outlet (KPFK) wasn't responsible.

Other outlets don't get off so easy and, as always, the worst offender was Democracy Now! which Amy Goodman likes to present as a national (or even international) program but the stench wafting from it is strictly the Hudson River.

This was made clear all week but never as much as when Goodman, Juan Gonzalez and Andrew Hacker all sat down to chew the fat. It was hilarious to see NYC 'values' imposed on Indiana (and, by extension, the rest of the country) in a moment so bad that a friend with Saturday Night Live cited it as backing up a skit they offered Sunday.

Saturday Night Live's best skit in their second broadcast of the new season involved The New York Times. At a gathering, NYT reporters were being informed that, for the next six weeks, they'd be trolling Alaska. The point of the skit was just how out-of-touch the NYC inbred are with the rest of the country (such as their failure to identify either a shotgun or a snow mobile). At one point, the Alaska expert who had briefly reported from there asked for a show of hands on how many could drive a car with a stick shift? None could. Alright, he declared, not a problem, but how many had driver's license? None. How did they expect to get around Alaska? Taxi.

It was a hilarious skit (and we passed that on after seeing it Saturday night). And it did recall the nonsense Democracy Now! offered as Queens College 'professor' Andrew Hacker felt the need to weigh in on voter ID.

Hacker: Well, going to the state of Indiana, which enacted this, I actually went. Believe it or not, here's your tax dollars at work. The Federal Highway Administration keeps a record of how many adult residents of every state has a driver's license. And, by the way, the court didn't even look at this. And I discovered that in Indiana, 14 percent of adult residents do not have driver's license. That's one-in-seven. Now, this means they can't vote, unless you go to a Bureau of Motor Vehicles office, which in Indiana could be miles away, and fill out a long form to get a non-driver's license. Well, not many people are going to do that, and in particular, not that many black voters are. Many of them are older; they're poorer.

Hacker's really amazed. He needs to leave NYC and get into the real world. Most states have photo i.d.s offered to people without driver's license. The reason they offer an official state i.d. is, pay attention, when writing or cashing a check, you need i.d. with a photo. Hacker's trying to play alarmist but no one getting a pay check, a Social Security check, a pension check or a government assistance check can cash it without a photo i.d. It's all so 'exotic' to the citizens of NYC. It's the real world for the rest of us. We had a lot of fun laughing with our SNL friend about that DN! segment and even more so when we caught the SNL skit.

Then it was time for Hacker to go off griping over the need for people to vote in the districts they live in. That is behind the checking of the rolls by letters. Although all Hacker cared about was the presidential election, it is very much true that residents in all states will elect municipal officials and vote on various referendums. If you live in area and something passes that you're going to have to live under, you have a right to expect that only residents of the area voted on it. Hacker insisted, "Well, of course it's class-based. The poorer you are, whether you're white or Asian or whatever race, the less likely you are to have, let's say, a settled address or a driver's license." Again, most states offer state i.d. that is not a driver's license and as for the issue of "a settled address," you're not supposed to vote if you don't have a "settled address." Which is why all voter registration forms ask you for a physical address.

He skirted the Social Security issue in Florida, so we'll ignore it as well. But it is illegal to use someone else's Social Security number and a presidential election in the United States is something that only citizens can vote in.

While he skirted that issue (especially with regards to African-Americans), he was happy to toss out that Israel and Canada allow people in prison to vote. So what? What does that have to do with the 2008 US presidential election? Not a damn thing. Nor did his little jab at Alabama for pulling voting rights over treason. (Many laws are on the books in many states. They are old, they are outdated. If you want a ha-ha, show us when it's been enforced in the last few years. It was a cheap jab from another snooty elitist. As The New York Sun reported in 2006, 40 U.S.C. section 6134 forbids oration in the Supreme Court. You can find something on the books to laugh at in every area. It's only an issue if it's enforced.)

Hacker's an idiot, a longterm idiot. You know that because he thinks he has the power to overturn laws that the Supreme Court has already ruled were Constitutional when time would be better spent advocating that libraries begin issuing photo i.d.s and that these i.d.s be allowed as verification when voting. If you're still doubting what a longterm idiot Hacker is, register that even friendly reviewer Laura Miller (Salon) had to note that his 2003 book "offers the occasional insight and, more frequently, equally fascinating examples of cluelessness". We think she was being incredibly kind.

We warned you in May, "If FAIR's planning to scream racism every time a GOP operative works the same standard shtick that they trot out every election cycle, it's going to be a long summer." We forgot to include Amy Goodman and, goodness knows, she's the worst offender when it comes to screaming racism at everything from actual racism to the browning of the leaves in autumn. And sure enough, she and Hacker were off on a "they're all racists!" kick. Hacker, NYC elitist, offered that when he goes around to "a hundred colleges, at least," he's been surprised to find that when he speaks like a NYC fringe radical prig and tossed around "racism" and "racist" "the audience freezes." If there's someone stuck in the past it's Hacker who still thinks the entire country is racist except for himself and a few of his Leninist spouting friends.

Because America lacks Hacker's 'depth' and 'soulfulness,' he's decided to stop using the term in 2008. He explained that decision after using the word and applying it to White people he never engaged or spoke with. (He lectured to them and, for him, that probably qualifies as a close, personal and deep relationship.)

Hacker goes on to list reasons "men or women in the street" (none of whom he's spoken to himself) give for not supporting Barack Obama which include "his policies, . . . his lack of experience" or that he strikes them as "an intellectual snob". You might not be supporting Barack Obama and you might have listed one of those reasons.

Well Hacker's here to inform "that people don't exactly tell the truth when they're asked about race in elections. I won't go into the details" -- of course not. Details would mean you were backing up what you said. Better to make baseless charges when you tar and feather Americans you've never interacted with.

Hacker starts talking about the non-scientific (though he fails to admit that) "Bradley Effect." Hacker goes on to declare that seven percent of White Americans are not just racists, they're also liars.

We'd say "Hacker, meet Marcia's mother" were it not for the fact that we like Marcia's mother. Marcia's mother (African-American) is regularly polled in a news outlet's voting survey. She repeatedly states she's voting for Barack Obama. She's not voting for him. She has no intention of voting for him. Unlike Hacker, she grasps that Barack is not Black, he's bi-racial. But that's not why she's not voting for him. She's not voting for him because she feels his campaign has targeted women ("all women") with attacks, scorned the elderly and she thinks his policies are "not at all different from a Republican's." Marcia is supporting Ralph Nader and has advocated for Ralph to her mother. Marcia's mother saw a speech by Matt Gonzalez online and that's what decided her vote for her. (Matt Gonzaelez is Ralph Nader's running mate.)

Why does she say "Barack" when polled?

"The first time I said undecided, the pollster seemed surprised and she actually raised my race with me in the middle of the poll," Marcia's mother explains. "The poll takes about twenty minutes of time as is. I'm not going to waste more time explaining, 'Yes, I am Black. What does that have to do with it?' The poll doesn't include Ralph or Cynthia McKinney or Bob Barr. The choices I'm given are Barack, McCain or undecided. I've been called in a poll every presidential election year and never had my race raised when I offered my choice for president. I'm not in the mood to go through that again. So I just say Barack so we can move on to the next question. But I would never, ever vote for Barack Obama."

Hacker thinks he comes off enlightened. We didn't know "prig" was synonymous with "enlightened."

We also know no one's required to tell how they voted, many refuse to in exit polling (the only election polling that matters) and some people, offended by being asked, will give an answer to get away from the creep.

But let Hacker jabber on (without details) about the non-scientific "Bradley effect." Goody certainly did. Remember what Laura Miller said about his 2003 book offering large numbers of "fascinating examples of cluelessness"?

While jaw-boning about the "Bradley effect," Hacker did just that referring to the 1998 election in Washington (state) where Patty Murray was elected to the Senate and yet a proposal to ban affirmative-action passed. Well Patty wasn't newly elected. It wasn't a race for an open seat, she'd held the seat since the 1992 election. The rate of re-election for incumbents would make most social scientists refuse to try to piggy back onto Murray's election, but Hacker's a hack of a social scientist which is why, for him, Murray's victory and the passage of the affirmative-action ban are equivalent. He also tries to draw meaning from Debbie Stabenow's 2006 victory in Michigan the same year affirmative-action was banned in a vote. Again, Stabenow was not competing for an open seat. She won the seat in 2000. She was running for re-election. If Hacker's unfamiliar with the rate of re-election for incumbents, we'd urge him to check out Maria Hinojosa's report from NOW on PBS -- but then she went into details.

It was that kind of nonsense all week long from Goody.

Tuesday, while supposedly discussing Wall Street (the segment was titled "Rev. Jesse Jackson on the Wall Street Crisis, Escalation of War in Afghanistan and Obama's Historic Nomination"), Goody felt the need to quote a bad report on Barack Waffles. Barack Waffles is a pretend ad created by conservatives for a pretend product. Goody, who loves to remind that her show is TV and radio, didn't feel the need to show the illustration but she read from the bad report claiming Barack was rendered "bug-eyed" and "dark-lipped". For "dark-lipped," we'd have to see the original illustration and not some web version (which we wouldn't trust -- not after Team Obama doctored a clip of The War Room to put the n-word in the mouth of someone who didn't say it). As for "bug-eyed," the child who wrote that report doesn't know what the hell "bug-eyed" is. Barack's rendered Disney-fied. Bug-eyed goes back to the stereotypical film portrayals from the early days of film where an African-American would, for example, see a ghost (or an apparent ghost) and there eyes would fly widely open. There's a world of difference between "bug-eyed" and Disney-eyed. (The Bratz dolls offer their own version of Disney-eyes.) Children have larger heads than bodies. (That changes as they grow.) Disney-fied is making someone's head prominent and their eyes Bambi-like.

Rev. Jesse Jackson had clearly not seen the illustration judging by the fact that he avoided weighing in. Instead, he wanted to offer that it's "a takoff on Uncle Ben's rice and Aunt Jemima and all of those stereotypes." It may or may not be. The illustration is supposed to emphasize that Barack waffles on the issue (no argument from us on that) and Barack is infamous for whining to the press that "I just want to eat my waffles." If he'd said, "I just want to play my Gameboy," another illustration might or might not have been created.

What any of that had to do with Wall Street or Afghanistan might be the question? But the reality is that it was time to play the race card yet again last week. So Donna Brazile took to the airwaves to play it and so did Governor Kathleen Sebelius. Whenever Barack's doing poorly, pull out the race card.

Maybe Howard Dean will again start referring to the GOP as the "White party" and the press will again pretend not to notice?

Last week, news outlets filed over 400 reports on the "Bradley effect" -- an unproven, hypothesis at best. And yet, we're supposed to be discussing real issues? In fact, last week, failed . . . well everything Katrina vanden Heuvel ("Dark Kat" as the latest Nation cruise bills her -- Goody will no doubt see "racism" in that as well) was insisting that it was time to "get real" and focus on the issue yet the current issue of The Nation includes an article on polling and, yes, the "Bradley" effect. (An article on the worst pollster of them all, John Zogby.) Tip to Katrinket, when an unproven hypothesis (not a theory) eats up that much time that could have gone to actual issues, no one is 'getting real' about the actual issues -- including The Nation.

It's those sort of unintentional laughs provided by our supposedly strongest voices on the 'left' that may make it so hard for comedy shows to actually be funny. However, Saturday Night Live has other problems.

First to address an issue raised in e-mails about last week's commentary, did we not know Amy Polar Bear was pregnant? Yes, we knew -- as did most who watch the program. That wasn't the issue about the widecam. If you watched this weekend, you may have again caught it (though Amy was lit better). Notice where the camera goes on Seth and where it goes on Amy. With Seth, the shot starts at the desk and goes to above his head. With Amy, the shot starts with the shoulders.

On the cameras, the camera work was actually better. We repeated that to our SNL writer friend whose reply can be summed up as, "Yeah, yeah, did you laugh?"

The best skit was the one on The New York Times. Another skit showed promise (and a cameo from Cameron Diaz added a lot of life to it). That was the one on Cougars. However, a rolly polly man talking about sagging bodies (of women) is never going to get laughs because the audience is a little more aware than SNL and will be asking, "Who the hell is he to talk?" The three women (two cast members and a featured player) showed promise with what could be a strong recurring skit. The worst skit was "The Looker." Last week, we'd been kind and not noted the obvious fact that if SNL can't hire women, the last thing they need to do is dress men up as women for skits. A Weekend Update sketch on the season debut featured the cartoon character Cathy portrayed by a man in drag and was not funny. It might not have been funny if it had been done by women. But considering how underutilized the female cast members of SNL are (both of them -- Amy and Kristen are the only regular cast members), letting a male play a female character should be avoided.

They went to the well on that again last night -- apparently forgetting how the audience turned on Adam Sandler and assorted others when the initial he-hes vanished. "The Looker" was built around the 'concept' (which may be giving it too much credit) that TNT will follow The Closer with a new program entitled The Looker wherein actress and director Penny Marshall stares at someone until they confess. It was a long sketch. In the entire sketch, 'Penny Marshall' had only one line. Since the man (we're being kind and not naming the guilty) did not look a thing like Penny, that skit could have easily been slid over to Kristen who could have worn the same wig and glasses and done the same staring. There is currently no Jimmy Fallon, nor even an Adam Sandler. Translation, there's no real audience favorite among the males. We really think Andy could become this year's break-out and that he was on the verge last year; however, many more bits like his appearance in the OJ skit and the audiences will go running. Nerdy doesn't translate to "cool." He should be strongly steered away from Sci-Fi unless he's playing a high schooler who can't connect with women due to his Sci-Fi fetish. With The New York Times skit, SNL reminded the world they could address actual issues that needed no premise ripped from a TV show. It will be difficult for anything else to measure up to that level of quality and, overall, the show was much improved from last week.

NOW on PBS addressed actual issues this weekend. (If it hasn't aired in your area, check it out. If it has aired, it's available for streaming online.) Correspondent Hinojosa went around the world examining the role of women and politics. She didn't neglect the generation coming up or how they're preparing to own their power. As we've long noted, those who do not benefit from streaming are left out by NOW. For those left out, we would recommend Hinojosa's Reporter's Notebook for an overview. (Community members will find a full transcript of the broadcast in Hilda's Mix Tuesday.)

It was a powerful hour and one that should result in (at least) Emmy nominations next year. It also spoke to NOW on PBS' growing strength which has been leaving the studios. Hinojosa and Brancaccio regularly are leaving the studio and venturing beyond the set pieces of talking heads that far too many 'public affairs' and 'news' programs are relying on more and more. They've visited Africa in the last year more than any other US public broadcasting program. It's not only opened up the conversations (this weekend's report could not have been approximated on Washington Week) it's given the show some real life. At a time when everyone's scrimping (including on facts or, as Hacker called them, "details"), NOW on PBS is expanding.

Real Change vs. Small Change

Last week the independent presidential campaign of Ralph Nader announced some big news: they are on 46 ballots. That's 45 states plus D.C. In addition, voters in Texas, North Carolina, Indiana and Georgia who want to vote for the Nader - Gonzalez campaign will be able to write them in. So that's D.C. and 49 states. What state didn't they make the ballot and what state refuses write-ins? Oklahoma.

This is more ballots than the Nader presidential bid made in 2000 or 2004. Proof positive that voters want real change, not 'small change.'

Michael Richardson of the Nader campaign explained, "This means 85 percent of the American electorate will actually see the names Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez on their ballots. . . . This is quite a feat since states generally make it really hard for third-party candidates to get on state ballots. But in every state, our volunteers collected more than enough signatures to qualify. The response has been positive -- much better than in 2004. It's obvious that there is national interest in more choices and independent candidates outside the two-party system."

Despite the political bigotry and the ballot access laws rooted in that bigotry, the Nader campaign met their announced goal and did so ahead of schedule. Ralph Nader and running mate Matt Gonzalez are also on the road campaigning.

And they've taken their campaign to the press with limited success. The Nader campaign notes that Ralph requested time with the editorial boards of The Washington Post, Politico, National Journal and The New York Times. Results? "[T]he Politico reporters took few notes and the Washington Post editor responded to questions about why he didn't cover Nader by saying that he didn't think Nader could win."

The campaign's medic coordinator Toby Heaps explained Thursday, "The story of the decade is breaking, we have the candidate of the century on this story--and we are getting no coverage by major media." Heaps was referring to the fact that the continued economic meltdown -- which became impossible to ignore last week -- has been addressed repeatedly by Ralph Nader. Ralph Nader didn't require headlines about the meltdown last week to begin addressing the issue. (Putting him far ahead of the media anointed front-runners.) Ralph's been on that issue when no one cared to explore it, when it couldn't even make it into a "Nation's Briefs" section in most papers.

Heaps continued, "Yesterday, Ralph Nader issued a chronology of the lead-up to the current meltdown, and his ten-point plan to restore a semblance of accountability, transparency, and incentives that would steer Wall Street away from short-termist, out-of-control casino capitalism toward fulfilling its proper function of efficiently allocating capital to advance our long-term economic well-being. The plan was sent out to 6,000 reporters, including specific e-mails and phone calls to the editors and reporters from the major newspapers that are on this beat and evening TV news producers. Aside from the Fox cable business channel, no major media picked it up. "

That's more than the media favorites propose. Barack Obama seemed on a different page from his running mate (Joe Biden) and, while calling out John McCain's band-aid fix, had nothing to offer himself. (He still has little to offer and appears to have copied McCain's proposals.)

Real change, not 'small change.' Real change requires more than pretty words -- poll tested and often cribbed from others (Deval Patrick, John Edwards, a Washington Post cartoon . . . it's an endless list for Barack -- including this site for his overly praised March speech). Real change requires knowing the problem. That's not a superficial knowledge that your advisers hand you in a quick cram session, that's deep knowledge. The kind of knowledge you only get from spending hours and hours thinking about and researching and discussing the issue. Ralph Nader didn't have to cram last week to address the economic meltdown, he's been forecasting for some time.

But that's something the Real Press ignores and something Panhandle Media does as well. Remember that Bill Moyers has not invited Ralph Nader onto Bill Moyers Journal once this year. Remember that when Bill monopolizes the next media conference with the same tired speech where he yammers on and about about public broadcasting's mandate for diversity and to provide voice to those shut out from the corporate media. Remember it and grasp that Moyers wasn't interested in diversity in 2008 (or 2007 for that matter), he was just another mogul focused on electing his candidate of choice (Barack). Remember that for all his folksy words about how valuable the public is, he didn't find them valuable enough to trust by presenting a full range of discussions.

You can't get away from that idiotic PBS promo (which Ava and C.I. have called out Moyers' participating in and now so have the PBS' ombudsperson Michael Getler and David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun). Moyers thinks this election is monumental? Well why can't the candidates get on his program? Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader wouldn't turn the Journal down but they're not invited. And they're not discussed by guests who are invited. Moyers wants to claim the election is monumental while refusing to inform the public of the choices they have.

It must be nice to be the candidate who has both the corporate and the begging media willing to sing your praises, willing to put some heavy foundation over the bruises from your latest cave and pretend like you're the sweetest and smartest thing that ever walked on water.

But in the real word, words have to be backed up with actions. Ralph Nader has consistently done that his entire life. Or, as a friend of ours has taken to saying, "Ralph Nader didn't fail the left, the left failed him."

Ralph is the independent candidate and you can declare your independence from corporate and panhandle attempts to control your mind and your vote by standing with him on election day. It's the difference between begging for small change or working for real change.

Arthur Krystal delivers a lesson in exclusion


Maddening or enlightening, Harper's monthly magazine is always worth a read. And you never know what you will learn about the world around you. Take the current issue (October 2008), where Arthur Krystal offers "The Long Goodbye: Notes on a never-ending decade" which purports to look at the sixties (while addressing Gerad J. DeGroot's The Sixties Unplugged) and may in fact do so . . . if you think the the earth was then populated by one woman for every 100 men.

Starting with his first paragraph, Krystal makes like James Brown singing, "This is a man's world." Over and over. DeGroot is the only male that has to be mentioned. But Krystal finds time for many, many more. In his essay, he name checks males repeatedly.

1) Barack Obama

2) Jeremiah Wright

3) Wright

4) Wright

5) Wright

6) Wright

7) George Wallace

8) Lyndon Johnson

9) Toad Gitlin

10) H. Rap Brown

11) Lyndon Johnson

12) Martin Luther King Jr.

13) Robert Kennedy

14) Morris Dickstein

15) Nixon

16) Gitlin

17) Che, Lennon, Kennedy, King, Lumumba*

18) Malcolm X, Leary, Hoffman, Hendrix, Dylan, Dutschke, Muhammad Ali*

19) Christopher Ricks

20) Bob Dylan

21) Christopher Ricks

22) Leary

23) Hendrix

24) Ali

25) Jimi

26) John [Kennedy]

27) Robert Kennedy

28) Nixon

29) Frantz Fanon

30) Fonzie [TV character]

31) Blake

32) Che

33) William McGill

34) Tom Hayden

35) Allan Bloom

36) Spiro Agnew

37) Agnew

38) William Safire

39) Dick Armey

40) Norman Mailer

41) Jane Austen

42) Bach

43) Keats

44) John F. Kennedy

45) Salinger

46) Camus

47) Sartre

48) Ginsberg

49) Brando

50) James Dean

51) Kennedy

52) Tom Hayden

53) Johnson

54) Hayden

55) Terry Anderson

56) Robert Kennedy

57) Gitlin

58) Dominick Cavallo

59) Jerry Ruben

60) Mao

61) Che

62) Lenin

63) Henry Kissinger

64) Dr. Benjamin Spock

65) Kissinger

66) Taylor Branch

67) Zorba the Greek

68) Henry Kissinger

69) Herbert Marcuse

70) Norman O. Brown

71) Charles Reich

72) R.D. Laing

73) Yossarian [book character, Catch 22]

74) Chief [book character, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest]

75) Philip de Broca

76) Peter Weiss

77) Betty Friedan

78) [Clark] Gable

79) [Gary] Cooper

80) [Robert] Mitchum

81) [Humphrey] Bogart

82) Woody Allen

83) Richard Dreyfuss

84) Jack Nicholson

85) Robert Jordan

86) Alex Portnoy [book character, Portnoy's Complaint]

87) Philip Marlowe [book character]

88) Robert Altman

89) Elliott Gould

90) Nixon

91) Tony Manero [movie character]

92) Bee Gees

93) Robert Kennedy

94) Eugene McCarthy

95) Hubert Humphrey

96) George McGovern

97) Lyndon Johnson

98) Obama

99) George F. Will

(17) and (18) are starred and the reason is that Arthur's actually quoting DeGroot but Krystal made the decision which sections of the book to quote and which not to. The essay names checks at least 99 times. How many women were mentioned? Two.

The sixties is the 'youth decade' and, hate to break it to Krystal, neither Betty Friedan nor Jane Austen were part of the 'youth movement.'

Nor was Bach. But what you have above is very revealing. Fonzie? The Bee Gees? John Travolta's character in Saturday Night Fever?

Where are the women?

Even when he turns to fictional representatives, it's all men.

How did he not notice that? Did he intend all along to render women invisible?

He certainly sets out to be 'fair' to the right by including George Will and William Safire. But 'fairness' doesn't enter the equation when it comes to women.

Or did he think tossing Jane Austen and Betty Friedan into the mix was a huge favor?

Reading the essay, the impression anyone new to the 'sixties' would be left with is that women didn't do a damn thing -- in real life, on the page, on the screen.

Arthur Krystal isn't interested in writing about the 'sixties,' he's interested in writing about himself. While all writing is, to a degree, self-writing, it's equally true that when your work results in the record Krystal's essay has, you can't be surprised when people rightly argue "sexism." Krystal makes sure to at least give lip service to African-American (males) and that's hardly surprising since racism is rightly seen as a wrong while sexism . . . just happens.

Krystal appears to accept the 'sixties' as being defined from the assassination of JFK to the resignation of Tricky Dick Nixon. Strange because we can think of a number of women active during that period, making strides: Gloria Steinem, Janis Joplin, Marta Cotera, Grace Slick, Robin Morgan, Michelle Phillips, Dolores Huerta, Cass Elliot, Aretha Franklin, Billie Jean King, Shirley Chisholm, Tecihtzin, Bella Abzug, Hannah Arendt, Lily Tomlin, Mary Crow Dog, Kathie Sarachild, Sharon Maeda, Shana Alexander, Kate Millett, Nancy Chodorow, Alix Kates Shulman, Vilma Martinez, Clara Eraser, Anais Nin, Anne Sexton, Anna Mae Aquash, Tillie Olson, Maxine Hong Kingston, Shirley MacLaine, Judy Chicago, Paty Mink, Jo Freeman, Evelyn Yoshimura, Maxine Kumin, Simone de Beauvoir, Frances M. Beal, Susan Stern, Rita Mae Brown, Holly Near, Ellen Willis, Gloria Anzaldua, Miya Iwataki, Shulamith Firestone, Gerda Lerner, Mary Daly, Naomi Weisstein and Eleanor Holmes Norton. There were many, many more.

Some of the names listed may be familiar to you, some may not ring a bell. You can thank writers like Arthur Krystal for the confusion. Name dropping his way through history, he omits women and that's one of the many ways women are rendered invisible. And it's always been that way. He made the decision who to include and who to exclude. Those decisions build a 'canon' and, time and again, just by 'chance,' women are rendered invisible.

Cock Rock Hall of Fame

Joan Jett may love rock & roll but the Hall of Fame in Cleveland is less sure how they feel about her. Or, for that matter, about women in general. Since 1986, nearly 160* people have been inducted in the "performers" category. Of those performers, only 11 have been individual women. Including groups inducted with women (such as the Mamas and the Papas) you can add 13 to that 11 to find women represented on 24 of the nearly 160 inductees.


Some may wrongly argue "25!" and, in doing so, point to the Platters, inducted in 1990, which includes Zola Taylor; however, check the Hall's entry for the group and you see "Timeline" lists the births of four members (Tony Williams, David Lynch, Herb Reed and Paul Robi). By the Hall's "Timeline," Taylor clearly isn't seen as important or part of the group's lasting impact. Zola Taylor's greatest "crime" (after being a woman) may have been success. A careful examination of the bulk of women inducted as individual performers demonstrates that "success" in rock is loosely defined. In fact, failure in rock actually may get you into the hall. African-American women who were not "rockers" (or "poppers") and White women who stuck to country have a better shot at getting in than other women. Hence Ruth Brown, Brenda Lee and LaVern Baker.

Rock ("and roll") is an admittedly porous term. But when someone sees Brenda Lee, country twang and all, in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as a performer, not an 'influence') and sees no Connie Francis (who dominated the charts in rock's earliest era) or Leslie Gore, the same 'criteria' that long kept Dusty Springfield (finally inducted posthumously in 1999) off Mount Rock.

Long before Joni Mitchell was inducted (1997) -- one of the few women to 'ascend' to Mount Rock, Ruth Brown was inducted as a performer. Her run pre-dates the rock era (which is why 'influence' would be a better category for Brown). Billboard charts the rock era as beginning July 9, 1955 with Bill Haley and the Comets taking the number one spot on the charts with "(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock." 1955 was the year Brown was ending her chart dominance (R&B) and the hits would become far fewer (she began charting in 1949). From 1957 to 1960 she would land five singles on the Hot 100 with the highest charting making it to number 24 (the lowest to number 96).

Rock's earliest era included a lot of men, no question, but women did exist. The next phase would include girl groups and, to a degree, it's understandable that they aren't better represented. The Dixie Cups, for example, aren't in the Hall and shouldn't be. That's not a critique of the recordings made, it is acknowledging that the Dixie Cups were whomever a producer decided from moment to moment. The Shirelles, Martha and the Vandellas and the Ronettes (actual vocal groups) have been inducted and deservedly so. Though some may argue Martha and the Vandellas actually belong to the next era which would be the British era.

Motown groups and the Beach Boys were among the few acts initially able to compete in 1964. Of the American groups from that era, no one had more success than the Supremes who are in the Hall. But another group from that era, one frequently compared and contrasted with the Ronnettes, isn't. The Shangri-Las were a real vocal group. "Leader of the Pack" was hardly their only hit and they are seen as, along with the Ronnettes, having epitomized female sexuality (as characterized by men) in that time period. Their influence was huge. Why aren't they in the Hall?

This era was more 'poppy' but it was rock (and roll) and a number of (male) artists are included from it in the Hall: the Dave Clark Five, the Animals, the Four Tops, the Temptations, the Kinks, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys and the Beatles among them.

Now might be a good time to note how the rules are regularly bent by the Hall for males. Smokey Robinson was inducted into the Hall in 1987 as a performer. While Smokey is intensely talented and has made many real contributions that qualify him for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, there's no denying that he wasn't qualified to be inducted in 1987. The Miracles? Absolutely. Smokey? No. The rules dictate that a minimum of 25 years must have elapsed since your first recording was released for you to qualify. That would mean Smokey Robinson (and not the Miracles or Smokey Robinson and the Miracles) would have had to begin his solo career in 1962. As even the Hall notes, "In July 1972, Robinson parted ways with the Miracles, and both entities enjoyed continued success. " As a performer, Smokey Robinson (solo) was not eligible to be inducted until 1997.

But 'rules' regularly fly out the window when it comes to the men inducted. How else to explain disco's Bee Gees being inducted (1997) or jazz legend (and non-rocker, non-popper) Miles Davis (inducted in 2006)? Or R.E.M. being inducted in 2007 but no word on 10,000 Maniacs to this date? In what has to be the most laughable induction, 1997 saw the Jackson Five inducted -- which raises the question of when do the Monkees get in? The Jackson Five were a bubble-gum group controlled by Motown who were a huge hit with the pre-teen audience. (The Jackson Five refers to the Motown era. The group would become the Jacksons when they -- excepting Jermaine -- moved over to CBS.) If you don't get how offensive that induction is, you need to grasp that Carole King has never been inducted as a performer.

King is a woman and denied access to "Mount Rock" for -- according to Rolling Stone magazine for two decades -- being part of the 'age of anti-rock.' What is bubble-gum pop but anti-rock? It needs to be noted that Rolling Stone also put James Taylor and the Eagles in the same category of "anti-rock"; however, they have been inducted as performers (2000 and 1998 respectively).

In 1986, when the first inductees were made, many criticized the sexism at play (all inductees were male). It was wrongly considered a sign that the Hall was aware of the criticism when, the following year, they inducted Aretha Franklin. The immensely talented Aretha is one of the few women to make it to "Mount Rock." That didn't happen yesterday, Aretha's inclusion was there from the late sixties. Another woman was as well: Janis Joplin. Janis would have to wait until 1995 for induction despite being eligible for induction two rounds prior (Aretha was inducted dating back to her Columbia recordings, they didn't wait for her Atlantic years).

It's worth noting that despite the inductions of Bobby Darin and Al Green, Diana Ross has not been inducted as a solo performer. The Supremes (not Diana Ross & the Supremes) were inducted in 1988. But Diana? Nope. Tina Turner's never been inducted. Ike & Tina, yes. Tina, no? That's not the case for men. Michael Jackson has been inducted as a solo performer and as part of the Jackson Five, Eric Clapton has been inducted three times and there are many others.

But one woman has not been inducted as part of an act or as a solo performer: Cher. As one-half of Sonny & Cher and as a solo artist at the same time, her recordings easily qualified. Sonny & Cher were part of the LA sound -- along with the Beach Boys, the Mamas and the Papas, the Loving Spoonful. For the record, all three acts have been inducted while Sonny & Cher have not. Cher's solo work in the sixties is usually considered "harder" than Sonny & Cher's so why the exclusion of the woman who brought gender-bender onto the charts ("You Better Sit Down Kids")? Cher's not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame but Bobby Darin is? Cher's not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame but Johnny Cash is? Cher's not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame but Ricky Nelson is?

Where's Laura Nyro? More Than A New Discovery (her debut album) was released in 1966. Which means she could have been inducted any year beginning in 1991 and yet she hasn't been.

Nyro was as much an influence as Joni Mitchell (and Nyro influenced Mitchell -- check out Ladies of the Canyon and contrast it with Mitchell's two albums prior). In the Smokey Robinson entry, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame makes much of Bob Dylan once saying that Smokey was one of the best songwriters -- left out is that Dylan has repeatedly stated that was a joke (and, indeed, that entire interview -- a press conference transcribed by Rolling Stone -- was a put-on on the party of Dylan). Dylan actually had praise for Nyro. She gets in when?

There are many women who are qualified for induction in the next round and have been qualified. They include (but are not limited to) Patti Labelle, Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, Janis Ian, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Jackie De Shannon, Donna Summer (after the induction of the Bee Gees, there's no reason the Queen of Disco can't be inducted as well), Joan Jett, the Go-Gos, Cyndi Lauper, Pat Benetar, Stevie Nicks (as a solo performer), Heart, Yoko Ono, 10,000 Maniacs, Cass Elliot (as a solo performer), Roberta Flack, Carole King and, as already noted, Laura Nyro, Tina Turner, Diana Ross and Cher.

If the 2009 list of inductees is anything like the most recent lists, there will be only five nominees. And women will be represented in only one slot.

The biggest barrier to women being inducted remains Jann S. Wenner who has misused his influence in the selections and no longer has the check on him that was once present (Ahmet Ertegun). Women like Tina and Cher don't stand a chance while he's being allowed to blackball anyone he wants and he always blackballs women who divorce their husbands. (Whether you consider Jann semi-out of the closet today or still in, there's no question that he hid behind Jane for decades and feels it's woman's 'role' to 'tough it out' no matter what.) Jann's never had any musical taste (Boz Scaggs?) and his tenure at Rolling Stone is more a story of absence than influence. The man who has regularly dropped the magazine to go off into non-musical ventures and whose own musical knowledge is minimal really should not have the impact on the selection of inductees that he does.

In future years, artists such as Tori Amos, Erykah Badu, Tracy Chapman and many more will be eligible. If the current problem is not addressed, these women will have to wait to be inducted because the sole spot for women will have to be used to rectify glaring omissions. The problem needs to be called out now in order to be fixed now. For twenty-one years, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was more than willing to render too many women "non-rock" (while inducting the likes of Johnny Cash and Bobby Darin). Twenty-one years of sexism. It needs to stop now.


*159 is the number of artists inducted as "performers." Those are individuals, duos and groups.

Phil Ochs has never been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Due to that, we have avoided mentioning women who are known as 'folkies' in our list of omissions. Were Ochs in the Hall, we could easily make the case for the inclusion of Joan Baez, Odetta, Judy Collins and others.


Jim: We are trying a roundtable again. We will try to work in e-mails throughout. Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava and me Jim, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Wally of The Daily Jot, and Marcia SICKOFITRDLZ. The illustration is by Betty's oldest son. This is a rush transcript. Ty?


Ty: A very angry person writes to say that by supporting Ralph Nader, we're supporting John McCain. He is convinced that Nader voters will mean a John McCain victory. I should note that Ava and C.I. have not declared who they intend to vote for or even if they will be voting.

Jess: Barack can't close the deal. That was the problem he had in the Democratic Party primary as well and, as I remember, Ralph Nader wasn't on that ballot. Hillary got more votes than Barack in the primary. She won the big states. If Barack loses, it will fall on Barack and the Democratic Party. Barack would have never gotten my vote because I'm not a Democrat. I would have voted for Hillary just because I was sick of the media attempting to pick the candidate. But I voted for Nader in 2004 and I'll be voting for him in 2008. Nader's got my vote and Barack never stood a chance at. If Barack can't get enough votes, maybe the Democratic Party should explain why they refused to go with the strongest candidate?

Ty: There were a lot of Barack e-mails and I'll move to the next one which is that we are racists for not supporting Barack and we, this is a quote, "hate Black men."

Betty: Cute the way "man" was worked in there, huh? Unlike Barack Obama, I am a Black person. I'm not bi-racial. Barack's unqualified, inexperienced and he's honestly frightening. Not due to his skin color but due to the fact that he is so conservative.

Cedric: And for the record, Ty, Betty, Marcia and myself are African-American. Betty self-identifies Black. It's a media myth that his so-called race hurts him or might hurt him. Barack posing as Black has carried him to wins he didn't earn. Barack was never on my list of choices. I was fine with many of the nominees. But never Barack. He's a liar. And that was my attitude before 2008. After his non-stop race baiting, the feeling only strengthened. I do know what it's like to be a Black man and anytime Barack needs to know what that's like, I'll explain it to him. But here's a starter course for him: Black men and Black women -- we don't have everything handed to us. We actually have to work to achieve, not just smile and have Whites bend over backwards to elevate us up the ladder.

Marcia: True that but maybe if we went around attacking the Black community, some of the same 'helpers' promoting Barack would promote us as well? The 'racism' cry is bulls**t. I think the best example of how it's not about race is Elaine and C.I. They were very excited to meet Barack when he was running for the US Senate and eager to support his run. They met him. And he made clear that he didn't favor withdrawing troops and argued that the US was in Iraq now. That's when they knew he was a fraud. Now he's revealed some of that publicly over the summer. To claim that his lack of support from all quarters stem from racism is just cry baby talk. He's a weak candidate. He has very little experience. He takes no strong stands and caves on everything. His speaking voice is weird. He is his own problem. It has nothing to do with his being bi-racial or his pretending to be Black.

Jim: His weird speaking voice?

Marcia: Has anyone else noticed that he's really effecting a southern drawl these days? Help me out, he picked that up in Hawaii or Chicago?

Betty: I know just what you're talking about and it goes to the fact that he is a changeling, he isn't genuine. His original speaking voice was awful. He worked for years to grab from others and that's how he arrived at his current speaking voice. For the record, he is too loud. He needs to learn that you can give a speech without shouting every line. He needs to learn to modulate. He speaks like a very bad Saturday Night Live skit.

Cedric: He also needs to learn how to speak like a person and not like a professor. He's always speaking down in those speeches.

Marcia: Pompous ass is all he is. But let me toss to Elaine on support for Barack.

Elaine: Okay. Well, like Marcia noted, and like I've noted since 2005, C.I. and I went to that fundraiser ready to make the maxium donation and that was because Barack was supposed to be anti-war. It is also true, because we discussed this on the way there, that we were aware of the need for more people of color in the Senate. So race may have played a small part in our excitement about supporting him. However, we got our face time, he wasn't against the illegal war. That was it for us. We left immediately. He's a fake. He was a fake in his Senate run and he's a fake today. It has nothing to do with his race, bi-racial, or with the claim that he's Black. It has everything to do with the fact that he's a fraud. I've often quoted C.I. on this, but as we were leaving, C.I. said, "There's really nothing there." And there really wasn't. He wears a suit well and he has a nice smile. On such the Democratic Party thinks they can build a presidency. He may win, if he does, the country's going to need some serious help. I think what C.I. and I saw when he was running for the Senate was, as Marcia pointed out, revealed to the country this summer. I'm really amazed at the people like Tom Hayden who can't tell the truth except for a brief moment. At some point, there's really no point in denying that Barack's bought and paid for and not a deep thinker.

Ty: Okay another e-mail insists we call out sexism here but we never even focus on racism.

Dona: Oh, that's just malarkey. We've long called out racism. But whenever you regularly call out sexism, that's all anyone sees because (a) it's so rare and (b) it's more accepted to strongly advocate against racism than it is to strongly advocate against sexism.

Marcia: I don't mean to monopolize the discussion but I want to jump in here. Until January, I just read this site. To suggest that racism hasn't long been called out here is insane. Ava and C.I. have regularly addressed racism. In their TV commentaries, they regularly address sexism and a strong counter-argument could be made that for months the only place sexism was addressed here was in Ava and C.I.'s writing. Whereas racism has been regularly addressed in many other features, many times.

Betty: I really take offense to that e-mail because, setting aside all the other articles and just focusing on racism, it has regularly been addressed in these roundtables. The topic has never been shied away from and we have had serious conversations about race. None of that glossing over that Bill Moyers regularly offers. Cedric, my opinion is that sexism is more openly pervasive than racism. Would you agree with that?

Cedric: Before this year, if Betty had raised that question in a roundtable, we would have had a back and forth on that where we were both offering reflections and opinions; however, with what's already gone down in 2008 and is going down in 2008, there's no question that it is more than okay to be a sexist openly. And, to drop back to a point Marcia was making, if you look at Ava and C.I.'s pieces, you will see the point about just how acceptable sexism has been on TV. It hasn't been hidden. It's been out in the open for this entire decade. This is a backlash decade for women.

Jim: If there's one topic that we should have covered more than we have, our feeling has always been it's homophobia. We have covered that but not nearly enough and if you pull Ava and C.I.'s articles out of the mix, we are really lacking there.

Ty: As a gay man, let me add there. When this site started, I wasn't out at this site. I was out in my own life. But I'd already gone from a great student to a lukewarm with one professor when the issue came up and I wasn't sure whether I wanted to reveal my sexuality online as a result of his reaction and his insistence that, if I became a journalist, what I could cover was limited. So for the early days of this site, it really was Ava and C.I. raising that issue because I did have a distance from it. I agree it is the issue that is most lacking here. And I take responsibility for that. Once I made the decision to abandon journalism and stopped hiding my sexuality here, we began tackling the topic more. But I have no problem owning the fact that group pieces often didn't focus on it. That wasn't because Jim, Dona or Jess were squeamish about it. That's because they knew I wasn't sure what to say and what not to say so a wall was erected. I leave out Ava and C.I. in that because they regularly addressed it in their own writing here.

Wally: I also think there's the issue of focus. The site's focused predominately on Iraq. Usually each edition features an article or a few not on Iraq and those articles really have had to compete. C.I., at The Common Ills, regularly addresses the homophobia in Iraq but that's not been the case here because everyone has strong feelings about what they want to write and a lot of topics fall by the wayside. If there's a piece that, for example, Jim, Rebecca and Mike feel strongly about working on, it's going to get worked on. Because they will advocate for it loudly and passionately.

Rebecca: I would agree with what Wally said and I'm trying to think about this topic in terms of here. I do address homophobia more at my own site but it's also true that I've got five days a week to write about stuff. And I do a lot of grab bag posts where I can cover a variety of topics. The articles here tend to be articles. So something I could do a paragraph or two on at my own site might not work -- in my eyes -- for a piece here. Wally mentioned Mike, Jim and myself and we're usually more focused on the hypocrisy in press or politics. We advocate for those topics strongly. We don't get together outside the writing period to plan that out. It's just what we're naturally attracted to. You could also argue that we're more 'mouthy' -- for lack of a better term. Jim, talk about the writing edition, anyone, just to give people an idea of how it goes.

Jim: Sure. Each week we've got "Highlights" which Mike, Rebecca, Betty, Ruth, Marcia, Cedric, Wally, Kat and Elaine do. We've got the TV commentary that Ava and C.I. do. We have at least one "Truest Statement Of The Week," and we have my note. In addition to that, we have an editorial and a few feature articles. So there's a great deal of competition for what we're going to cover. We'll probably do something on sexism and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this edition. That's long been advocated by Rebecca, Elaine, C.I., Ava and Kat. But I read Kat's post Friday and got the point I'd been missing in past weeks. What happens is that we all have our picks from the list of possible topics and we're arguing for our picks to be covered. A lot of time, I'm so busy arguing and advocating that I'm not listening closely to the other arguments being made. Reading Kat's post, I got what I was missing during our discussions during the writing -- which are intense -- and it's also on the list because of the fact that our readers do want more music articles. I read a couple of e-mails on that last week. So there are many reasons why something gets covered or not.

Dona: Equally true is that as we get closer to what we hope is the end of an edition, something that requires a lot of research is not going to be attempted because we're all tired and ready to get to bed. That's why I advocate short pieces. That's a way to deal with a topic quickly. We don't generally do short pieces unless Jess and I can convince everyone that they're needed. I think they're needed solely for variety. In terms of sexism, Ava and C.I. didn't just cover it here from the start, they educated all of us. I do understand the reluctance of women my age and younger to label sexist things sexism because I had to have my own awakening. For myself, and possibly some still in denial, you don't want to believe the country's like that. You want to believe that it's passed. And I know I resisted calling sexism aimed at me sexism because I feared doing so. If I didn't acknowledge it, it didn't happen. I don't know if that makes sense, but it moved from an oblivious denial to a willful denial before I could admit what was going on.

Kat: In terms of articles about sexism I'd like to add a few points. First, sexism is the great uncovered topic of 2008. It has been so pervasive and so dismissed. Look at what Sarah Palin's facing right now with "She really wasn't the governor, her husband called the shots!" That is just sexist bulls**t. Another reason sexism will get covered here is because if it's advocated as a story and makes the list of potential topics and Jim, Rebecca and Mike are advocating for another article, it will raise the hackles of Ava and C.I. who normally will go along with whatever but if they feel sexism is being dismissed, they will get vocal.

Betty: That's true. And so will the rest of us. Ruth especially. I have heard Ruth say, "We have to cover this." And she's said it three or four times this year and it's always been on sexism. That's the only time Ruth will offer an opinion like that. Otherwise, she's game for any topic.

Ruth: I think that comes from seeing so much dismissal of the topic. The New York Times did their one article about it and even in that article they couldn't or wouldn't identify it. So if a daily paper can only do one article on it in all of 2008 or if Bill Moyers can ignore it on his weekly show for the entire year, I am going to insist that we cover it.

Cedric: That really is what 'alternative' is supposed to be. It's not about being just like the MSM but 'from the left,' it's about covering the topics that they won't. I know my grandmother has appreciated every article we've done on sexism here and Ava and C.I. are her heroes. Last week's editorial -- by Ava and C.I. -- resulted in my seeing another side of my grandmother. I know she's a strong woman and I know she's been a wonderful grandmother and she raised me. But she pulled down a scrapbook she kept when she was young, she pulled it down Sunday after she read Ava and C.I.'s editorial, and I had no idea until we were looking through it that my own grandmother had been a second wave feminist. She and her friends really shook things up on their campus and argued and proved repeatedly that there was no "off limits" for women. It was really great to see that side of her. Again, I know her as a strong woman but I guess I never thought about how she arrived at that strength before.

Dona: I'm sure it will be worked in elsewhere this edition but just to give it another shout-out, NOW on PBS did an hour long look this weekend at women and politics and that is a program everyone needs to be aware of.

Jim: To go back to the 2008 presidential election, no one here feels that Barack's going to end the illegal war -- his own actions and words have made that clear. It would be a huge betrayal fof what we have always stood for at this site to support his run. We're not CODEPINK, we're not going to play suck up to the Democrats.

Ruth: That really has been one of the biggest disappointments of 2008, seeing how many groups supposedly for ending the illegal war will hold their tongues for or even support Mr. Obama.

Ava: What's especially disappointing there is that we were supposed to have learned from 2004. Naomi Klein, among others, called out the nonsense of 'supporting' the Democratic presidential nominee by silencing the peace movement. But that's exactly what has happened. There's not even been a big demonstration since January 2007. Mike's written repeatedly about how disappointed he's been in so many on the 'left.'

Mike: Yeah, I really have. I was writing about that a couple of times last week and noting how many had revealed themselves to be about the Democratic Party -- even people who aren't Democrats -- and not about ending the illegal war. It's been a huge letdown or a huge gift, however you want to look at it. But I've got very little reason to trust, let alone read, many of the people I once did. And Ava mentioned Naomi and she did make this point repeatedly in 2005 and still does. But no one wants to listen to it. They just want to focus on an election and on electing someone who has been all over the map regarding the illegal war.

Betty: If you look at the 'protest' actions at the DNC and RNC conventions, it is very obvious that no one wanted to embarrass War Hawk Barack but no one was 'hampered' by that when it came to John McCain. C.I. and I were talking about a hearing C.I. covered at The Common Ills last week and I was hoping C.I. would talk about that.

C.I.: Okay. It was the House Budget Committee and the hearing was on the Iraq War spending. You had two 'protestors.' One offered a chant as soon as the committee meeting was brought to order. John Spratt, the chair, at the urging of the Ranking Member of the Republican Party, advised the chanter that she'd have to cut it off or leave. She cut it out. I'm not sure how effective chanting at the start of the meeting was. No Democratic representative defended the illegal war in their statements during the meeting. But if you thought your chant was effective, why did you immediately stop when challenged? The other 'protestor' had a banner. Again, Spratt informed that the banner wasn't acceptable to the meeting and needed to be put away. It was. This is the peace movement? I really didn't find either 'protest' effective but that's just my opinion. Certainly the two people must have thought it was effective or they wouldn't have attempted it. But, in both cases, as soon as the order came down to desist, they did. It was like a C-Span call in where the caller didn't care whatever else got said as long as he or she got to share his opinion for a brief moment. It actually reminded me of when Condi, Secretary of State Condi Rice, was testifying to Congress not long ago and she was again confronted with the "you have blood on your hands" cry. The person was again very close to her. Condi came off well. Sorry if that hurts anyone's feelings but she did. She smiled and had obviously figured out how to adapt to that protest. The point being, new ways are needed. Not only are they not being utitilized, the 'protestors' are like declawed cats. Give them a chew toy and they're happy.

Jim: And that's not an endorsement of Rice.

C.I.: Thank you, no, it's not. It is noting she's prepared for that tactic now and knows how to handle it. If I'm being really honest, she came off gracisous during the exchange and that's not what the anticipated result was.

Dona: You didn't think the protests were effective. Why was that?

C.I.: I should point out that I only covered the first panel and I was only present for that. But the first panel was not adminsitration witnesses -- nor was the second panel. The first panel was the GAO's Joseph Christoff testifying. I really didn't see the need for a protest during that. He's non-partisan and he is reporting on the financial costs of the illegal war which are alarming enough. As I said before, no Democrat on the committee made a pro-war statement. The statements were about how to get out of the Iraq War. The Republicans largely avoided that panel. It was like two or three Republicans that even spoke during that panel. If a War Hawk testifies, I can see the point in a protest but this was about information. This is just my opinion, but I felt the two 'protestors' were a distraction because the information being addressed needs to be out there. The August GAO report got very little attention from the press -- especially considering how damning it was. So I just felt it was a misdirection to disrupt the testimony of the first panel.

Mike: You transcribed it in three snapshots [see "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot" and "Iraq snapshot"] or the Democrats and Christoff and you also passed on some stuff for me to use at my site. But the point I wanted to make was that I read the report and followed most of it, the GAO report, but I leanred so much more from the transcriptions.

Rebecca: Which is because it was an economic report. The transcriptions C.I. did offered an exchange where points could be emphasized and clarified. Sherry e-mailed me about the three snapshots saying she felt she had a better understanding of the August report as a result of the transcriptions.

Ty: A lot of people who e-mailed this site last week agree with Sherry. There were also a few questions, is it okay to ask?

C.I.: Me? Sure, go ahead.

Ty: With the exception of the issue of information being private, kept from the tax payers, which should be public, you didn't really offer opinions. Lionel e-mailed wondering why that was?

C.I.: I felt the hearing was important and that the report hadn't been adequately covered so I tried to offer just what was said. I wouldn't do three days of snapshots on one hearing normally. But this is about what is being spent on the illegal war. And by just offering a transcription, we were also able to see what Congress is thinking of. By the way, I purposely did not include pro-John McCain for president or pro-Barack Obama for president statements. That's the only thing I intentionally skipped when deciding what should be excerpted. Was that it?

Ty: Betty, not our Betty, wondered why you didn't plan to cover it for three days. She noted in her e-mail that you would write that if it was wanted, there would be more.

C.I.: First, I expected the second day would include reporting on the hearing but who covered the hearing? The day after, I didn't see anything. I planned to do one day of transcriptions -- I took notes throughout but only planned to offer one day. The second day was going to be highlighting press coverage of it. When there was no press coverage, I offered a second day of transcriptions. Then, because people were interested in the hearing, there was the third day. But it was an important hearing.

Jim: Why do you think it didn't get more coverage?

C.I.: A number of reasons including the fact that the November presidential election has sucked up the space for most stories. In addition to that, the feeling was, I'm speaking of news outlets I spoke with, that the report had been covered in some form and they needed to cover other things. I disagree that it was covered enough already. The report itself was a complex report and written in government-ese. This was a chance for points to be clarified and emphasized. Supposedly, we're all appalled by the huge amounts of money being spent on the illegal war but if we were all appalled by it really, I think the press would have covered the hearing. I don't know if it was on C-Span but that committee does broadcast and archive their hearings so there was no reason that our Panhandle Media couldn't have covered it. Especially The Nation who has so many writers and so little of actual use to offer. I've got other things to focus on currently, as most people know. And the last thing I wanted to do was fly into DC but I did because of the topic and because it was Christoff testifying. Those who didn't cover it who are publicly against the illegal war, or pretend to be, better not start hitting on the cost of the illegal war anytime soon because they ignored this hearing which demonstrates that they really aren't too concerned about the costs.

Jim: You didn't stay for the second panel because?

C.I.: I had to be back for a treatment, for one thing. And the second panel was made up of partisans on both sides -- as witnesses. If I weren't dealing with my health, I would've stayed. But I used that as my excuse to avoid the second panel. Christoff had actual information and the Congress was asking him about that.

Jim: Ty had the questions but I had one more which was why not just stream it online?

C.I.: I had planned to be there when he testified. The hearing was booked some time ago. I wasn't sure who would be there. A large number of people turned out but Kat can tell you that she and I have gone to hearings where we were part of a group of maybe ten. This one had a good turnout. But I would have felt badly if it hadn't -- due to the topic. I also would have had a million reasons not to stream if I hadn't gone. Having to sit there through it, I had to focus. I don't really know if that answers your question or not.

Jim: Yeah, it did. Ty?

Ty: Marcia's written a great deal about the closeted types -- politically closeted -- and that led to an e-mail asking us if we agree. Particularly in terms of Marcia's comments about the politically closeted who pretend to be concerned about racism. So I'm going to toss Edward's question out here as a topic.

Dona: Marcia should probably state her opinion first. Ava can jump in if she wants but Wally, Mike and Ruth should especially address the topic since they've spoken the least. Elaine hasn't spoken that often, so she might want to jump in as well.

Marcia: Okay. I'm an African-American and I think we're used, as a race, by a number of politically closted types. I've offered various examples at my site. And to be clear, I'm not just speaking for myself, this is a growing perception community wide among African-Americans. I think you can also include Latinos in that, judging by some of the e-mails I've received on this topic. It seems that we are trotted out to perform so that these White people can pretend they are soulful and caring.

Wally: I agree with Marcia. I'm White, by the way. Marcia's offered numerous examples but the one that springs to mind is Jena Six and how that was treated, week after week, by Amy Goodman and Laura Flanders as the most important subject in the world. Then it wasn't. They did a brief update on Bell, the one they always focused on, and some did another update when he entered a guilty plea. That was it. And the other five were on their own. Truthfully, the other five were largely always on their own. There was little interest in them. But it plays out like Goodman and Flanders, among others, used the story for something other than information. If it was about information or news, they would have stayed on it. They didn't.

Mike: Yeah. It was supposed to be the most important story of 2007 but there was never any real efforts to stay on it even in 2007. It was as though the march took place and everyone wanted to move on. It played out, especially seeing how little concern there is for it now, like, "Look how amazing we are for reporting this." By the way, I've got a really bad cold and am offering minimal participation for that reason. Ruth?

Ruth: I honestly feel that Marcia's correct. I feel that certain stories are used not to inform or even help but to sew unrest. I'm not saying the stories shouldn't be covered, but I'm speaking of how they are covered. Everyone's using Jena Six so I'll stick with that. The march took place and then the coverage was gone. Was the coverage about helping the young men or about stirring up a nation to march? Judging by the way the story immediately disappeared -- and KPFK continued to cover it after others dropped it, just to give some credit -- it appears that the motives were other than what were stated. It was more of a "blow against the empire," to use terminology from my day, type coverage then it was about helping the young men.

Jim: I'm going to jump in to note comments in e-mails from many readers who felt that it was a "Look at those awful people in the Deep South." They noted that there was no such coverage on a variety of events -- including rape -- in other states. They noted that the Sean Bell coverage from Panhandle Media was much less passionate and that Sean Bell died. There was a feeling, especially from readers in Florida who knew of multiple incidents of racism in their own state, that the story got so much play because of a 'we're so superior in the north' attitude.

Ruth: Absolutely. Especially true of the Jews who want to play act like it's the fifties and sixties all over again. Jena Six was always an iffy story. Sean Bell was murdered. One story took place in the south, the other in NYC. Which one got outrage from Panhandle Media? It was very much a superior attitude coming from NYC Jews. I know that attitude, I'm Jewish and I lived in NYC before we got a house in Connecticut. There's a very real, very visceral hate for the south expressed by many. That's why the murder, by the police, of one man was time for careful talk and why the Jena story could offer up any charge in the world, even when it was contradicted by the parents of the Jena 6, NYC Jews didn't feel bound by facts. And, to be really clear, I'm talking about the Jews who are Communists or Socialists. Some will be bothered by that statement, but it's reality. They go out of their way to demonstrate how 'superior' and 'advanced' they are from everyone else but especially from anyone living in the south. I agree 100% with Marcia and my only problem is with myself because I've used all my time to talk about that and would have also liked to have echoed her comments regarding Cynthia McKinney's campaign.

Kat: Okay, I'll grab that. There is a very real feeling that Cynthia's being used. You've got Greens going on broadcasts and writing articles and blogs who talk about everything but Cynthia McKinney. They have plenty to say about Barack. I think Cynthia's being used and will continue to think that unless or until these Green 'voices' start focusing on getting votes for her and stop carrying water for Barack. And that's a feeling community wide.

Cedric: Sorry to jump in again but I want to add to what Kat's talking about because the way it is going right now it does look like a number of Whites are using Cynthia. It's something that, obviously, a number of White people want to play dumb on. We saw that at Marcia's site this week. We saw a Green 'voice' excuse her own silence on Cynthia's run with the laughable nonsense of "I have a widget on my site for Cynthia's campaign!" Why are you writing comments at Marcia's site, ridiculous ones, instead of covering Cynthia's run. You're a Green. Why is it that anytime Barack ends up in a controversy, you're weighing in some form to defend him but you can't find time to cover Cynthia's run? And then your dumb ass husband wants to show up saying to Marcia, "Well you've only covered Cynthia X times!" Marcia's not supporting Cynthia in this election. Her candidate is Ralph Nader. She's writing about Cynthia because it's an issue in the community, especially among African-Americans, and it's an issue where we feel a number of 'concerned' White people are again using an African-American.

Betty: I've got to jump in as well. Until this election, I've never not voted for Cynthia in any of her runs. I have tremendous respect for Cynthia and think she's amazing. Unlike Barack, she is one of us. If you're Black, you can identify with Cynthia's life story, you know where she's coming from. And we are protective of her. And we do see her being used. When Donna Warren goes on KPFK as a Green in a discussion/roundtable on the presidential race and can talk about anything and everything but Cynthia, we do object. When Green 'voices' go on Democracy Now and sing Barack's praises, we do object. When Green bloggers have time to bore us with their bad musings on every topic under the sun except their presidential candidate, we do feel that Cynthia is being used. Marcia had a great comment about Mike that really applies for most of us. If a White person, Mike's White, is treating us equally, we're not suspicious. If a White person is going on and on about racism, we do step back and examine that person's actions. In the case of Amy Goodman, she's only interested in us as victims. And I doubt Bill Fletcher, whom I don't care for -- I don't like political closet cases, would have been on Friday's Democracy Now! without the kind of criticism that Marcia has consistently offered. We, Black people, are to Panhandle Media what young, missing, blond women are to the MSM. We can be featured endlessly as victims but we're rarely 'analysts' or any one speaking from a position of power or self-determination. We notice that. We register it. And that's when we grasp that you're not really against racism, you're someone who feels we are your burden. We find that insulting. And we realize that it's never about us, it's about making yourself look good. It's not an anti-White attitude, Marcia got an e-mail asking that, it's about a disrespect we're treated with. We are very much disrespected by a number of White 'voices' and I'd include Edward S. Herman's latest piece in that. Hold on, because I'm nowhere near done and am about to let it rip. He's co-written a piece that's circulated with Black members of this community and we are appalled by it. He's making Jermeiah Wright about to be the suffer of this year. Reality check, Herman, no one living in a new house that cost over a million dollars is suffering. You look as out of touch as those fretting over Michael Jackson's latest 'crisis.' Try speaking to actual Black people, they'll tell you, if I had no money worried, my life would be a lot more fine and dandy. And to echo Marcia's point re: Wright, I am damn sick of White people who do not go to church repeatedly telling us what's acceptable in the Black church. My father's a deacon. I was raised in the Black church. I attend a Black church. It is racism to suggest that we allow thrusting hips to simulate sex in a sermon. It's such racism and it goes to that whole "Darkies love their sex" b.s. that a number of these old White people grew up under, it's the reason they romanticized the Black experience to begin with. I don't know what these idiots think and maybe they don't have kids. But I can tell you right now that those of us who have children, Black people, do not take our children to church every Sunday hoping that a preacher's going to make a fool out of himself by being graphic or swearing. Your White elitist attitude and your patronizing attitude towards Blacks is on display and you may think you look cool and down with 'the people' but you just look racist. Again, the 'primal nature' of Black people as more sexualized is a stereotype, it's an insulting one and you're repeating it just demonstrates your own racism.

Ava: I think C.I.'s got Betty's remarks -- C.I. and I are taking notes -- but I'll speak slowly so C.I. can catch up. I agree with all that's been said and think Betty's point about the stereotype, the sexual stereotypes, and how racist they are are true. As a Latina, I'll note, yet again, that Latinos marched by the millions for immigrant rights and after the stories on the marches, there was no interest in the topic in Panhandle Media. They aren't providing coverage. They aren't providing information. They're hopping around to whatever they think the 'hot,' water cooler story is. I will also note that there was a closing of the ranks for some African-Americans early on during the Wright coverage but that ceased when Barack broke with him. It's really appalling to see these White voices we're referring to continue to present Wright as a victim and as representative. He's a homophobe and he's really disgusting. I'm surprised Jim didn't bring up the Maverick player this week whose comments are in the news. But I caught ESPN with Jim and Jess when that was being discussed. One of the sports writers made the very obvious point that you just couldn't say something like that and get away with it currently. But some White 'lefties' want to act like saying "G**damn America" was okay? They have no concept of what goes on in a church or of how outrageous it was for a preacher to call down damnation on the country. It offended a large number of people, including African-Americans, and to expect it that wouldn't is to flaunt your own attitude towards the country.

Jim: Okay, on that note, we're going to stop. We could go on and on. As many e-mails as possible were included. We have plans to include other e-mails in other features.
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