Sunday, July 26, 2009

Truest statement of the week

We are fighting with the wrong tools. We are fighting the wrong people. We are on the wrong side of history. And we will be defeated in Afghanistan as we will be in Iraq.

-- Chris Hedges, "War Without Purpose" (Information Clearing House).

A note to our readers

Hey --

One more Sunday.

Along with Dallas, here's who helped with the writing:

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,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

And we thank them all. What did we come up with?

Truest statement of the week -- Mike wasn't that keen on a truest. Last week, one of our truests vanished. Not here but the piece it was selected from. But we searched and searched and finally came up with Chris Hedges who all participating could agree with.

Editorial: Repackaging the illegal war -- This could have been much longer, we were just too tired.

TV: Goody Liar -- And we had Ava and C.I. to point to for readers who love long pieces. "Goody Liar" has always been inspired by The Crucible and this week they flip through it and another play.

Comic-Con -- Isaiah worked only on this feature. He provided the illustration and he wrote it with Jess, Ty, Dona, Betty and me (Jim). Jess, Ty and Isaiah were there Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The rest of us just Saturday. We hope you enjoy this article.

Bought and paid for by the US military -- Once upon a time, when Bush was in office, military propaganda making the US airwaves was news. Under Barack, every one works over time to avoid the topic.

Roundtable -- We did this at the last minute when three planned features didn't make for passable drafts.

Talking with Ann of Ann's Mega Dub -- Which may be why Ann agreed to an interview. Whatever the reason, we'll grab it. We've now interviewed all community members who have started their own sites.

Jim's World -- With things falling apart, I decided whether than press Ava and C.I. or Ty for a last minute feature, I'd just write one myself.

The drama of Queen Al Giordano -- 2008 taught a lot of lessons including who the frauds were. Al thinks he's still able to fool people.

More foolishness from Liz Smith -- Liz Smith's really become pathetic. This is the woman who doesn't want Bush impeached. The woman who attacks Nancy Pelosi. And Sarah Palin. And any woman in politics. It's become a pattern for Liz to say something stupid and she rarely disappoints.

Groups Oppose US Training of Indoensia's Kopassus -- ETAN article.

Impunity at the Freeport Gold & Copper Mine -- Another one by ETAN.

Highlights -- Mike, Elaine, Ruth, Betty, Rebecca, Kat, Marcia, Stan, Wally and Cedric wrote this and we thank them for it.

And that's it. We're taking our tired asses to bed. Have a great week.

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

Editorial: Repackaging the illegal war

Nouri al-Maliki came to the United States and if any efforts were made by the White House to press him to address the continued attacks on Iraq's LGBT community, they kept them secret. Similarly, no reporter asked him (at least through yesterday) about the assault on the LGBT community.

No one asked him much of anything.

And when he spoke and actually said something news worthy, they ignored him.

Thursday, he revealed what everyone should already know, the US may be staying in Iraq past 2011. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and the top US commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, have all made similar statements.

Somehow the press missed all that when reporting on Wednesday's Rose Garden photo-op between Barry and Nouri. And the next day, when Nouri said it publicly, they missed it again.

It should have you questioning just how much the press has actually 'changed' since they first sold the illegal war because, each day, they work a little harder to re-sell you the Iraq War all over again.

How well is it working?

In January, AP-GfK found 83% of the respondents thought Barack Obama would "remove most troops from Iraq?" The poll released last week [PDF format warning, click here] found that number had fallen by 15% and was down to 68%. Only 68% have faith in Barack on that issue -- a core issue when it came to his election.

That says a great deal and underscores how the public is yet again ahead of the press.

TV: Goody Liar

Were she a character in a John Ford play, Amy Goodman would die in the third act, stabbed to death, her heart waved around on a dagger. Instead, she just pollutes the public airwaves while practicing something she calls "journalism" and playing, as we've often noted, Last Journalist Standing.

Last week was an interesting one for Goodman as she continued her focus on celebrities -- interesting and telling. For example, Monday had a segment on news broadcaster Walter Cronkite who had passed away at the age of 92. For this segment, she brought on Danny Schechter who worked with Cronkite at Media Channel and Robert Parry who once worked for The Associated Press and used to float the most lurid notions at Sarah McClendon's home -- a place where so many conspiracy theories ran wild it was difficult to stand out but Bob Parry managed to. And he managed to stand out on Democracy Now! where he repeatedly attacked Cronkite for various supposed crimes but, unlike Danny, Parry never worked in commercial broadcast television so his 'judgments' were, as usual, suspect at best.

Goody joined in, tossing out this or that -- including pledged Barack Obama delegate to the 2008 DNC Convention Norman Solomon trashing Cronkite for not coming to the realization that Vietnam was 'lost' sooner. (It was lost before it began.) As Barack continues to reveal himself as a Corporatist War Hawk, remember to judge Norman by the standard he did Cronkite. And remember that he wasn't present but Goody kept pushing him into the discussion.

Some might say, "Well she was being a moderator and playing devil's advocate." What's Walter's crime? We're not aware of repeated accusations of child molestation. We're not aware of any cash settlements with children making accusations. Point? Where was Amy Goodman during her segments on pedophile Michael Jackson? She booked two fans to discuss him and then she went on to allow the ridiculous Miss Havisham to slur the victims.

Contrast that with the way Cronkite was ripped apart by her and one guest.

Amy Goodman lacks both Mary Hart's legs and wit, so she should probably drop the celebrity 'journalism.' Throughout last week, when not covering dead authors of bad books and Jackson Browne, she finally found a topic to get passionate about: Henry Gates Jnr.

Before we get to that, we need to establish Goody's 'journalistic' creed. March 15, 2005, Democracy Now! aired a segment which briefly noted media persecution:

Laurie Garrett: I mean, look at how the media convicted Richard Jewell of the Atlanta Olympic bombing, when it turned out, of course, that he was completely innocent. Look at how quickly the media moved to try and convict Steven Hatfill of being responsible for the anthrax mailings, when, in fact, he is free today, the judge has actually given him the right to interrogate his accusers from the media and to demand "how do you claim knowledge that I committed these events?" And then, of course, the Wen Ho Lee case in Los Alamos Laboratory, where a Taiwanese American scientist was accused of feeding discs of information to the Chinese government. Nobody ever explained why a Taiwanese would be helping mainland China. That alone should have caused some serious skepticism. But, of course, ultimately the judge in that case not only threw out all the charges against Wen Ho Lee, but particularly castigated The New York Times for their coverage and for having basically convicted him on the pages of their newspaper.

Amy Goodman: Very interestingly, that was right before September 11, 2001. If people were asking what was the FBI doing before, why weren’t they investigating these guys that ended up in the United States that perhaps were part of the September 11 attacks, well, maybe they should look at how many of them were going after Wen Ho Lee.

In one of her three increasingly bad books (all cut and pasted with brother David), Goody felt the need to weigh in on the media persecution of Wen Ho Lee. Static finds her (and brother David) recounting the events wherein The New York Times' James Risen and Jeff Gerth were guilty of media malpractice and helped railroad the innocent Wen Ho Lee. She (and brother David) insists that the stories had: "Every ingredient, that is, but one: the truth." She describes what took place as "a political and media witch hunt" which was objected to by just "a handful of reporters" and when the case fell apart:

Two weeks after Lee was released from jail, the New York Times published a sixteen-hundred-word editor's note, "The Times and Wen Ho Lee." Now, finally, was the time to come clean. But the Times blinked. "On the whole, we remain proud of work that brought into the open a major national security problem of which officials had been aware for months, even years," the editors wrote. "But looking back, we also found some things we wish we had done differently in the course of the coverage to give Dr. Lee the full benefit of the doubt." The Times concluded that "the blame lies principally with those who directed the coverage."

Two days later, it was the turn of the Times editorial page to search its soul. It largely defended its actions in running numerous editorials that vilified Lee. It was a non-apology that merely allowed that "we too quickly accepted the government's theory that espionage was the main reason for Chinese nuclear advances and its view that Dr. Lee had been properly singled out as the prime suspect."

So at least, at one point, Amy Goodman grasped media witch hunts were wrong and objected to them . . . when conducted by others. At one point. Maybe she's changed her mind? After all she had James Risen on as a guest of her July 13th broadcast and she never asked him about Wen Ho Lee. If she didn't change her mind, that would make her a real whore. Oops, May 18, 2006 she had James Risen on her program and she didn't ask Risen about his media witch hunt of Wen Ho Lee then either so, most likely, she is a whore (Static was published in hard cover on September 5, 2006).

Which brings us back to John Ford plays. But Goody's interest last week was in launching a witch hunt and the players were in Massachusetts bringing to mind Arthur Miller. In this update of The Crucible, Goody Liar worked overtime to launch a witch hunt and smear a person's name. She did it by lying, she did omitting key facts, and she did it because she's trash. Not a journalist, just trash.

Tuesday, Goody Liar first hit on what Stan's dubbed JuniorGate:

One of the nation's most prominent African American scholars, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., has accused police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, of racial profiling after he was arrested in his own home late last week. Gates is the head of Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and American Studies. Gates arrived at his home in Cambridge last Thursday afternoon to find his front door jammed. As he tried to pry it open, a neighbor called the police department and reported that a robbery was in progress. Gates grew frustrated when an investigating officer did not believe he was the owner of the home despite proof of residence. According to a police report of the incident, Gates called the officer a racist and said, "This is what happens to black men in America." Eventually Gates was handcuffed and taken to the police station. Gates was charged with disorderly conduct.

Goody Liar, estranged from the truth. Gates and his driver pried open the front door. Of a home that had a break-in Harvard's campus police had handled shortly before the incident with Gates. (The home belongs to Harvard, not Gates.) A possible burglary was reported (not robbery, she's one dumb f**k that Amy Goodman), the police responded. They entered the home through the broken door and asked Gates to identify himself. He did not do so immediately. "Eventually Gates was handcuffed . . ." After the police were leaving, 58-year-old Gates followed them out onto the porch and began yelling at them. Facts is hard for Amy Goodman.

Wednesday, Goody Liar was continuing her witch hunt:

And in Massachusetts, Cambridge police say they’re dropping the disorderly conduct charge against leading African American scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Gates was arrested in his home last week after he had to force his way in to overcome a jammed front door. A neighbor had called police, thinking Gates was a robber. Gates reportedly presented his proof of residence and said, "This is what happens to black men in America." He was then handcuffed, taken to the police station, and charged. Cambridge police have called the incident "regrettable and unfortunate," but Gates is demanding a full apology. Gates says he plans to use the incident to bring attention to racial profiling in the US criminal justice system.

Notice yet again that in Goody's 'telling,' Gates' arrest is never explained. You sort of wish for police brutality at this point -- not aimed at Gates, but you kind of wish one of the police at the Republican National Convention had pulled out their mace and just sprayed it all over. It might at least give her sorry life an excuse for existence.

She wasn't done. Before presenting a pre-taped interview with Carl Dix "of the Revolutionary Communist Party" and The Matrix' Cornel West (over a week old by that point), Goody declared (still on Wednesday):

In Massachusetts, Cambridge police say they're dropping the disorderly conduct charge against the leading African American scholar, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Professor Gates was arrested in his home Thursday after he had to force his way in to overcome a jammed front door with the help of his driver. A passerby called the police, thinking Gates was trying to break in. When police asked Gates for identification, he reportedly responded, "Why? Because I’m a black man in America?" He handed them both his Harvard ID and his Massachusetts driver's license, which listed his address. He was handcuffed, taken to the police station, and charged. Cambridge police have called the incident, quote, "regrettable and unfortunate," but Professor Gates is demanding a full apology. He says he plans to use the incident to bring attention to racial profiling in the United States.
The arrest of so prominent a figure as the head of Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Studies has reignited debates about racism in the so-called "post-racial" era of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Goody Liar is just a s**t stirrer trying to inflame the country with her 'racism' reports. She did it with Jena when she decided that what the parents were telling her wasn't right (as a White woman, she apparently knew better than an African-American woman) and dropped it from the narrative. She repeatedly refused to offer a balanced presentation, she repeatedly presented Gates as a victim even when events were far from clear on that.

Barack Obama made an ass out of himself Wednesday night in what was supposed to be his press conference on health care. Barack enabler Lynn Sweet (Chicago Sun-Times) asked him about the Gates arrest and Barack responded. It took the attention off health care and created a huge distraction in the week that the administration was supposed to be doing their big health care push. Thursday, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (lose the ridiculous mustache Juan, you look like a pimp) devoted the program to the health care press conference and issue but, for the first segment, they started with? Barry's remarks on Gates:

Lynn Sweet: Recently, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., was arrested at his home in Cambridge. What does that incident say to you, and what does it say about race relations in America?

Barry O: Well, I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here. I don't know all the facts. What's been reported, though, is that the guy forgot his keys, jimmied his way to get into the house. There was a report called into the police station that there might be a burglary taking place. So far, so good, right? I mean, if I was trying to jigger into --well, I guess this is my house now, so it probably wouldn't happen. But let's say my old house in Chicago -- here, I'd get shot. But so far, so good. They're reporting. The police are doing what they should. There's a call. They go investigate. What happens? My understanding is, at that point, Professor Gates is already in his house. The police officer comes in. I'm sure there's some exchange of words. But my understanding is, is that Professor Gates then shows his ID to show that this is his house. And at that point he gets arrested for disorderly conduct, charges which are later dropped. Now, I've -- I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. And that's just a fact. As you know, Lynn, when I was in the state legislature in Illinois, we worked on a racial profiling bill, because there was indisputable evidence that blacks and Hispanics were being stopped disproportionately. And that is a sign, an example of how, you know, race remains a factor in the society.

Democracy Now! continued playing Barry, but that's more than enough -- no one needs his non-stop vanity ("I am standing here as testimony to the progress that's been made"). When the clip finally ended, we were treated to Goody Liar's sour little face as she declared, "President Obama talking about his friend, renowned Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, who was arrested in his home last Thursday." Looking like the cat swallowing canary, Goody failed to explore what it means when the chief executive of the federal government, someone whom the US Justice Dept reports to, calls out a police department. Goody Liar wasn't concerned with that. She just wanted to continue her non-stop witch hunt.

Friday, she offered:

In Massachusetts, the Cambridge police officer who arrested the leading African American scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., last week is refusing to apologize. Gates was detained in his home after he forced his way in to overcome a jammed front door. A neighbor had called police, thinking Gates was a robber. Gates reportedly presented his proof of residence and said, "This is what happens to black men in America." He was then handcuffed and taken into custody. Cambridge police have dropped a disorderly conduct charge, but the officer, Sergeant James Crowley, has rejected Gates’s call for an apology. On Thursday, Crowley said that Gates had provoked him and that an apology would "never come." Gates, meanwhile, appeared on CNN, where he said the experience had sensitized him to the vulnerability of people of color to racial profiling.
Henry Louis Gates: "But what it made me realize was how vulnerable all black men are, how vulnerable all people of color are, and all poor people, to capricious forces like a rogue policeman. And this man clearly was a rogue policeman."
The Cambridge Police Department has backed Crowley's refusal to apologize and criticized President Obama for saying they had "acted stupidly." Obama responded Thursday in an interview with ABC News.
President Obama: "I have to say I am surprised by the controversy surrounding my statement, because I think it was a pretty straightforward commentary, that you probably don’t need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who's in his own home."

Of course, Gates was handcuffed outside the home. Gates walked out there on his own, yelling at the police (as observed by witnesses) and was arrested. Despite having made it to the porch fine and dandy, Gates immediately insisted he couldn't get around without his cane. Officer Crowley went back into the house and got the cane for him. Not exactly the behavior of the terrorizer that Goody (and others) would have you believe Crowley is.

Goody Liar launched a witch hunt and did so at a time when there were two versions of what happened in the house: Gates' version and the police version (police plural). Goody Liar didn't know what happened. Goody Liar didn't care. She was only interested in stirring s**t and promoting hatred.

Why are we on the left so easily lampooned and stereotyped? Because of people like Amy Goodman. Before facts are known, she's crying "Racism!" And she's far from the only one. In the midst of media drama, Bob Somerby (The Daily Howler) addressed the nonsense and attempted to offer a rational voice last week:

Only we don't seem to know what happened at Professor Gates' house. Everybody else seems to know. Only we don't.
We can imagine various possibilities, of course. We can imagine that Office Crowley had a bad day. We can imagine that Professor Gates had a bad day. (Shocking, we know. But everyone has them.) We can imagine they had bad days together. (It happens, described as a "perfect storm.") But in open embarrassment, we’re forced to admit it. We don't really know what happened.
Luckily, we have professors and pundits for that. As always, our pundits all know they should say the right thing. But in the current case, even the professors have begun to chime in. We'll suggest you consider an unconventional yet obvious framework in assessing their work.

[. . .]

But as Professor Bobo continues to "imagine," he imagines this story only one way. He imagines it as it has constantly been imagined in the course of our tragic history. As he "imagines," the account of the rich/famous/wealthy party is simply assumed to be accurate. The account of the fellow with working-class roots isn’t even described, although it exists on-line. Indeed, the wealthy fellow's account is credited even when it doesn’t seem to make all that much sense. The working-class fellow's account disappears --when it portrays the wealthy fellow having perhaps a bad day. (To read reports from Crowley and another officer, click here. Like Bobo, we don't know if these reports are accurate.)
Since Professor Bobo wasn't present that day, his account is truly remarkable. He keeps imagining what "maybe" occurred, telling us what is "possible." As his account proceeds, the behavior of one person gets more and more noble; the behavior of the other goes the other way. But then, this story has always been imagined this way. The wealthy planter's story has always been truthful. The account of the grimy field hand has always been tossed away.
To see a variant of this story enacted, rent and watch In the Heat of the Night. The wealthy, influential man expects belief when he tells his story, among his orchids. But Poitier/Steiger are prepared to imagine the tale in other ways.

And isn't it something and so very telling of the 'creative' class as they rush to the assumption that the wealthy person is telling the truth and the working class person isn't? Isn't it very telling.

What are the scariest words in the English language for gas bags? "I don't know." But we don't know. We don't know what happened in the house. (We know Gates walked out to the porch on his own and yelling based on police reports confirmed by eye witnesses.) And we're not embarrassed to say we don't know. We're not afraid of waiting for more information before weighing in on what happened inside the house and we're fully aware that more information may not be forthcoming.

"I don't know." The gas bags couldn't say it and neither could Barack. If he hadn't had such a high opinion of his psychic abilities, the country might have stayed focused on the health care plans as the White House intended. That didn't happen. And, in fact, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared last week that there would be no vote before the August recess thereby puncturing Barry's dreams and, in fact, his public assurance that a vote would take place before the recess. Barack had political capital to spend and he blew it. He blew it by weighing in on a topic he knew nothing about (as evidenced by his 'factual' recounting). He allowed himself to go off topic and, in the process, torpedoed his own health care plans.

That might have been a news story Democracy Now! could have explored but they wanted to stage a witch hunt instead. They didn't cover Iraq (headlines are not "covering," it's tossing out a few sentences). They didn't cover much of anything. But they did stage a daily witch hunt and, in doing so, Amy Goodman demonstrated she has no journalistic ethics. She can write (with her brother) many more bad books criticizing others but her Last Journalist Standing pose grew tired and embarrassing some time ago.

She doesn't know what happened inside the house but that didn't prevent her from playing Abigail Williams all last week. At the end of the text of his play, Arthur Miller explains, "The legend has it that Abigail turned up later as a prostitute in Boston." We'd argue Goody's half way there.


This commentary is part of an ongoing dialogue on this topic within the TCI community. Numerous pieces in community newsletters have addressed it. Stan has addressed the topic here, here, here and here, Betty covered the topic here, Trina here.


The Comic Con has been going at the San Diego Convention Center since Thursday and concludes today. What's a Comic Con?

It's supposed to be a convention celebrating comic books and related arts and genres. But what it really has been is one long promo for the film entertainment industry with a little bit of TV thrown in.

As you head down Harbor Drive and approach the Convention Center, you see Supermans, Supergirls, Wolverines, Wonder Womans, Jokers, assorted characters from the sci-fi classic Star Trek. Seeing so many people dressed in costumes, largely comic book costumes, it's easy to wrongly assume that you're about to enter a building where the comic book consumers and the comic book artists will relate to one another on equal footing.

Instead, it's one press junket after another. Thursday belonged to Twilight and an energetic crowd turned out to hear the not-so-bright or mature cast speak. Though largely worshipful, the crowd gathered to hear the 4-11 on New Moon (the sequel) which features Taylor Lautner as a new character, apparently a gay porn actor judging from the footage (received with cheers and cat calls) of him parading around half-dressed.

Was Twilight a comic book? No, it started out as a book for young readers. Then it turned into a cheesy movies and, judging by the comments made Thursday and footage shown, it's about to go even cheesier. Maybe New Moon can do a tie-in with Cheetos?

And Robert Pattinson might want to see if a John Belushi bio-pic's casting soon. Two young women were arguing over who he looked like in person with one insisting "the old guy on the old SNL" when one of us (Jess) said, "John Belushi?" Bingo. Twilight managed to suck the life out of every thing else on Thursday -- which included Tim Burton and Johnny Depp appearing to plug Alice In Wonderland.

Friday saw more movies, movies, movies, movies!!!!! Cameron Diaz and James Marsden (Cyclops in the X-Men) promoted the upcoming sci-fi film The Box, Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman and Mila Kunis promoted the film The Book Of Eli, Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) and Rachel McAdams promoted Sherlock Holmes (no, not a comic, not sci-fi) Josh Brolin and Megan Fox promoted Jonah Hex (just another Boy Falls For Prostitute film -- but boy's ageless) and there was even promotion for the children's story book turned to film Where The Wilds Things Are. Next year, Dakota Fanning promotes Really Rosie!!!! And of course, Friday saw Peter Jackson, mega director after The Lord of the Rings films and apparently pretty sure the well's yet to go dry on that franchise, hence his discussion of the two films he's got in the works for The Hobbitt.

Saturday seemed less like film day, largely because it was TV day. And also because it was Iron Man day and few wanted to compete with that. Jon Favreau directed the film and the soon to be released sequel and he held court with Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson (what, no Gwyneth?), Don Cheadle and Sam Rockwell. Cheadle's character caused excitement in the trailer, War Machine, the anti-Iron Man.

If it was the hit of Saturday (and honestly, the hit of the first thee days, not even the squeals for Twilight matched the enthusiasm for Iron Man II), the failure Saturday was clearly a TV show. Lost lost steam sometime ago and that was very obvious by the lack of enthusiasm over their presentation. As the show prepares for its final season, Comic Con attendees we spoke with as they left the Lost presentation felt the show should have ended two years ago.

Sully from Oakland put it this way, "At this point, it's got all the excitement of a Golden Girls finale."

What did have excitement was the panel for NBC's Chuck.

The panel had excitement and it also encapsulated all that was good and bad about the first three days of the convention.

Among those appearing were wooly bully and shaggy Zachary Levi, Adam Baldwin, Josh Gomez, Vik Sahay, and Ryan McPartlin. Oh, and Yvonne Strahovski.

She plays Sarah. Her performance is one of the reasons the show has remained on the air. But you wouldn't know it from the panel. You wouldn't know it from the presentation. In fact, from the presentation and the comments, you'd assume that Chuck was a show about a group of gay men and Yvonne was the token hag.

Why is that?

Well, for starters, a lengthy bit was written for B-actors Sahay (Lester) and Krinsky (Jeff) to perform. The performance included "Fat Bottomed Girls" -- as if to really underscore that it was penis-time.

What crowd pleaser, what laugh getter wasn't present? Julia Ling who essays the amazing Anna Wu. And not only was she not present, but she wasn't missed. Gomez (who plays her love interest Morgan) revealed he'll be attempting to seduce a female spy (who appeared in season one) in upcoming episodes. And no one batted an eye. No one called out, "What about Anna Wu!" And he certainly didn't fire back, "Anna Wu who?"

Women were disappeared. That was obvious as McPartlin started yammering away about how his character (a doctor married to Chuck's sister) is going to get into the spy stuff this season. (While Ellie, apparently, will cook dinner and wait for hubby to show.)

Most of all, there was Yvonne Strahovski, ignored until the final seconds of the panel, finally asked a question, and speaking for less than ten seconds before the guys jump in and start talking over her.

Justice was the fact that, after the panel, as we spoke to various attendees, they all brought that up. In fact, had what was seen as sexism (we'll let others make that call) not popped up so openly at the end, many wouldn't have made the connection and wouldn't have started asking what about Anna Wu?

But after the conference, they were doing just that. Male and female (though there were far more male attendees than female ones for that panel). We saw Cameron Diaz expertly handle a huge crowd (unlike the Twilights kids) and we're sure Strahovski could have as well. It's a shame she wasn't given a chance to shine and it's a shame that when she was finally asked a question, the males didn't seem to think she was interesting enough to be allowed to answer in full.

But their actions told on themselves and left a very sour taste for many of the attendees.

The attendees began talking in groups about how the Chuck and Sarah almost-romance had been strung out far too long and about how they're really not keen on, revealed during the panel, Chuck's temporary loss of walking (paralysis?) after using his new kung-fu powers. They started really questioning the direction of the show and wondering why Ellie (a huge fan favorite among attendees) was judged so unimportant that the actress who plays her wasn't even on the panel?

We didn't raise the issues with the attendees. We stumbled upon them as we spoke to the various groups gathering outside the hall after the panel. Comic Con had a large number of women attending (not just the Twilight groupies who were all but gone after Thursday) and it also had a number of men attending who did notice things like representation. All that came together in the Chuck panel and the presentation just wasn't prepared for it. No one ever factored it in. From song choices to smutty little jokes, the entire presentation appeared to think the whole world was male.

Chuck comes back with new episodes in March (sooner if Leno's show tanks) and it'll be interesting to see what happens. What was truly the liveliest panel while it was ongoing resulted in an intensely negative reaction after it ended. The actors did a song and dance that didn't go down well and that may be foreshadowing for season three of Chuck.

And Comic Con? If San Diego's Comic Con was any indication, the attendees want less sexism, less film trailers and a lot more events that have to do with comics. The biggest hit with males and females of all ages? Black Beauty? The Green Hornet car (to debut in the film starring Seth Rogen) was a huge hit -- both in terms of people standing in front of the ropes to get their pictures taken with the car in view behind them and in terms of one of the most cited events. (The most cited event? The Twilight panel -- cited non-stop through Saturday evening and always negatively.)


This piece is written by Jess, Ty, Isaiah, Betty, Dona and Jim. Jess, Ty and Isaiah attended Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Betty, Dona and Jim attended Saturday. Betty's kids and her parents attended all three days and we thank them for feedback on this piece. Illustration by Isaiah.

Bought and paid for by the US military

It started simple enough. The US military's Public Affairs unit filmed a piece of feel-good propaganda on Camp Cropper. Camp Cropper is a US-run prison in Iraq where at least six Iraqis have died. Army Sgt. Frank Morello read the copy. It was keyed in on Wisconsin and then distributed to TV stations in the state.


WKOW aired it as is. That may shock a few people who don't believe propaganda belongs on US airwaves. But what WKOW was nothing compared to what other stations did.


Fox 11 had their anchors note, before tossing to Becky DeVries, that "the military released video of Camp Cropper, along with interviews from some Wisconsin soldiers working there." They then went to DeVries and, word for word, her words were those of Sgt. Morello. Fox 11's reporter read, word-for-word, US military copy without noting that, presented it as her own.


Worst of all was WBAY's Jeff Alexander. Jeff surpassed DeVries because not only did he read Morello's copy word-for-word, no one -- not anchors, not Alexander -- made an effort to explain that this footage was from the US military. So Jeff Alexander passed himself off to viewers as the source of this report and as someone who had visited Iraq recently for the footage.

None of the three stations offered reporting. Military public affairs films are not reporting and do not belong on news shows. Of the three offenders, at least WKOW didn't attempt to disguise what it was they were airing. Fox 11 did admit that the footage was from the US military but never noted that the copy -- which Becky DeVries read -- also was. Jeff Alexander is just a disgrace. No excuses, no minimization.

And the other big disgrace? All your media watchdogs that missed it or refused to note it. C.I. reported on it Wednesday in "Military propaganda airs in Wisconsin."


Jim: This is a current events and odds & ends roundtable. Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, 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; Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ; Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends; and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub. This came about largely because Ty didn't want to do one of his "Ty's Corner"s but had something he wanted to address regarding e-mails. So we'll kick off with Ty and then move on to other topics. Illustration by Betty's kids. Ty?


Ty: Dona and I read the bulk of the e-mails. If I go on vacation, Ava and C.I. pitch in but otherwise, they don't read the e-mails. It's basically Dona and I with some help from Jim. If you e-mail,, your e-mail is not the only one arriving that day. If you're e-mailing, why are you e-mailing? If it's to weigh in on something here with positive or negative feedback, fine. I get that. I welcome it. If it's to ask for a link, go for it. I'll work it in if it's appropriate and I can. I will also discuss it with Ava and C.I. in case they can work it in to their TV commentary and spare me having to worry about it. But if you write in and you're not clear, what's the point? I took the time to reply to some e-mails last week and it's not happening again. It appeared they were asking for a link but they were not clear in what they were asking for a link to. So I wrote them to ask them about that. Now I don't have the time. And if you're asking for something, you should be adult enough to know how to ask directly. In three cases, I felt we could comfortably link to the things people seemed to be hinting about. But I wrote ten people last Tuesday asking them if they were asking for a link. Because it wasn't clear. And as the week went on and on, all the way to this morning, none of them ever bothered to reply. That's it. I'm not babying you. You want a link? You ask for one directly. Nicely's even better. But I'm tired of trying to do your job for you. And what really ticks me off was that one of the ones hinting ran for public office and is fairly widely known. How can you e-mail hinting about wanting a link and not come right out and ask for it?

Jim: Agreed. Okay, the big media news of last week was what's being termed "the birthers." This is a group of people who have questions regarding Barack Obama's birth. Now the background here is that Barack has a grandmother in Kenya --

C.I.: I'm going to stop you. That's a woman who has no blood ties to Barack. I just want that noted because readers in the US will hear "grandmother" and assume she has blood ties. Barack's blood-line grandmother on his father's side died without ever meeting him. His father had multiple wives and his father's father had multiple wives. That was their norm. It's not the norm in America and I just don't want any additional weight given to the woman's testimony because someone thinks, "Well that's his grandmother and my grandmother would sure know for sure where and when I was born!"

Jim: Point taken. So the woman gave an interview in 2008 claiming that she was present for Barack's birth in Kenya. Barack has maintained that he was born in Hawaii. He has produced a certificate of some form -- not a birth certificate -- from the state of Hawaii. For some that ends the matter for others it doesn't. Among the many issues is that someone could get a certificate of live birth from Hawaii without proving birth in Hawaii. That's one of the things that those who dismiss the "birthers" usually fail to note. Okay, with that background info, I'm going to toss it out.

Dona: And I'm going to jump in. Lou Dobbs has raised the issue on CNN. Instead of leaving it with Lou Dobbs, CNN execs have taken to issuing statements. The smartest thing they could do if they don't believe there's an issue here is just shut up. And I would extend that to bloggers. Shut up about it. If you don't believe it, quit attacking the people. But if you attack them, you do owe it to them to allow them to respond. So these little wimpy attacks on the "birthers" that end with "Comments are closed"? They need to stop. You're embarrasing yourselves.

Jess: I'm going to back Dona up on that. Dona, Jim, Ty, Ava and I got our bacherlor's in journalism. We did so as the media landscape was shifting. The 9-11 truth movement was dealt with in one class we all took. For two weeks, we explored responsibilities with regards to it. And by the end of that class, it was agreed that if you're trashing them or any other group, you're inviting them to respond. If you don't believe that they have any validity, why are you attacking them? Matthew Rothschild, to give only one example, came off like a lunatic with his attack on the truth movement. Why did he write it? His attack only gave more credence to the movement. With the "birthers," it's the same way. Why are you attacking them? How are they harming you?

Rebecca: I agree but I'll play devil's advocate by repeating what those attacking keep saying: With the economy and everything else that matters, why can't they focus on what really matters?

Betty: Well they are focused, if you believe their sincerity, on an issue of whether or not Barack's a natural born US citizen. If he isn't, he can't legally be the president. That's due to the Constitution. That happens to be the highest law in the land. And these attacks that say "Focus on what's important!"? They only remind me that the media doesn't focus on what's important. Rachel Maddow focuses endlessly on sex scandals, wasting an hour each night on MSNBC to do so. Let's all quit pretending that a "birther" or a truth movement or whatever is distracting the media from doing their job. They aren't doing their jobs.

Jess: Like Betty just said, they aren't doing their jobs. And that's the other thing we hashed out during the two weeks of the class that we focused on the new media landscape. If you're attacking some group as conspiracy nuts, you're attack is giving them credence, you're attack is increasing their profile and it's increasing their popularity because regardless of whether you're Wolf Blitzer or me, you've pissed off someone online and when they hear you attacking, they think, "I need to know more about that group."

Jim: Rebecca, do you want to play devil's advocate some more?

Rebecca: Sure. But let me say that I'm neither offended or appalled by the "birthers." And let me note that the phrase we'll be in quotes because we aren't aware who coined it. If that movement coined it, we'd use it without quotes. But if this a term forced on that movement, we're not going to use it without quotes. So what if Barack's not a US citizen, he's president now!

Stan: Well George W. Bush didn't win the 2000 election and I never stopped objecting to his installation. It didn't matter that he was the "president now" to me. The Supreme Court did not follow the Consitution and created their one-time-only decision in order to install him. It does matter. And if people believe Barack's not a natural born citizen, it does matter.

Dona: And I would further add that this could be cleared up in minutes by Barack. Why doesn't he do that? Why is he always having attorneys challenge requests for his birth certificate?

Jim: Good point. Ava and C.I. know a great deal about Barack and his mother. In 2007, they began speaking to friends of Ann Dunham and even some of Barack's family members. Do either of you have anything to say on this issue?

Ava: From what we were told -- I'm saying "told," not "what we know" -- Barack is a natural born US citizen. That is not me saying, "So give up 'birthers!'" That is me saying that we haven't pursued this issue because it hasn't been a valid one to us personally based on the things we came across in 2007 and 2008. Now, based on that, we have a hypothesis as to why Barack won't release his birth certificate and, in fact, were saying he wouldn't back at the start of 2008. Now our information may be incorrect. But we spoke to people face to face, including two good friends -- in college -- of Barack's father. We can be fooled as easily as anyone else but we have to go by our guts on whether or not someone was telling the truth and the fact that a variety of people told us the same basic stories and details over and over and did so convincingly leads us to believe they were telling the truth. But we could be wrong. Our impressions could be completely off.

C.I.: So we aren't saying, "Drop your issue!" Why would we ever say that to anyone? Not only is this a democracy but the people grappling with this issue show a lot more maturity than the ones obsessed with whatever flavor of the month celebrity. I mean, in April, people were blogging about Adam Lambert as a huge advance for gay rights. The American Idol guy. Despite the fact that he was in the closet. And he was in the closet. He was asked repeatedly by the press and chose to play coy. Being out of the closet would have been answering the question. He never did until after the season of American Idol was over. But we had supposed political bloggers offering garbage for weeks and weeks about how he was an advance for gay rights. He was a dramatic singer, he wasn't the second coming of Stonewall. And remove Barack from it for a moment. Pretend this is a thriller you're reading, by John Grisham. Fresh out of law school attorney discovers a sitting president is actually not a natural born US citizen. Would that interest you? I'd bet it would interest a lot of people.

Jim: Okay, when you interrupted me to clarify about Barack's non-bloodline grandmother, I was wondering where you'd come down on this issue and thought, by your clarification, that you'd say, "The birthers need to move on."

C.I.: No, I'm not saying that at all. And I'm not saying the woman wasn't present. I know I wasn't present at the birth and, other than that, I don't know. But I think it's important, whether you're a "birther" or not, to grasp that Barack's father had multiple wives and his father had mulitple wives. That's important when you're weighing her remarks. Barack's father wasn't her son and because of the multiple wives issues, children were being born all the time. It would be very easy for her to honestly state she was present for someone's birth but be recalling mistakenly. Now, on the Dunham side, Ann was an only child and her parents were married to each other for their entire lives without any additional spouses. So their recall of what happened should be much clearer. They had one child and only one child and she gave birth to two children. There would be nothing confusing about it for them, were they alive. I'm not accusing the woman of lying. I am saying she may not be remembering correctly. I'm also aware that she may indeed be remembering correctly. I wasn't there, I don't know. If someone wants to pursue it, do so. It's not a waste in any way. It's a serious issue and people are learning about the law who are pursuing it. They're learning about Hawaii and the differing regulations and laws it was under as it became a state. They're learning about legal adulthood and what could and couldn't be passed on by someone who was not an adult. Kennedy researchers have unearthed important things that have nothing to do with the assassination itself -- as they pursued the truth about the assassination, they've found historical things that might otherwise be forgotten or overlooked. I'm not opposed to independent inquiry or independent study.

Dona: And I want to repeat one more time, you release your birth certificate and the rumors die immediately.

Marcia: What ticks me off are the people who say that Barack's being asked about this just because of his race -- which they then misidentify as "Black." He's bi-racial. And don't give me that crap about "Well we're all bi-racial!" No, African-Americans are not all bi-racial and those with some 'white blood' going back to pre-civil war are not the same thing as the product of a Black father and a White mother. But he's not being asked because he's "Black." He's being asked because a woman presenting as his grandmother claims he was born in Kenya and because he hasn't released his birth certificate and made a big deal about presenting that thing he posted online. We're calling it a "certificate of live birth" but I'm not even sure if that's the right term for it. Barack's 'grandmother' is not a right-winger or a Rush Limbaugh flunky. She said what she said and was proud of Barack. She put it out there and now people have questions.

Jim: Do you have questions?

Marcia: I appreciate the sincerity of the "birthers" but I don't have questions because I know we won't get the birth certificate. Barack's not going to release that. So, for me, I have to find something else to pursue. It's similar to impeachment. Before I started my own site, I was reading here about how impeachment wasn't your big thing, how this site wasn't going to promote it any more. That was because John Conyers sold everyone out and because they weren't going to do it during a presidential election year for sure. You stated that the issue was dead because there would be no movement on it. You wished those still pursuing it well but said you would be focusing on other things. Now when I read that, I really hit the roof and was ticked off. I was mad. Bush needed to be impeached. Then I went back the next day and read it again and you weren't saying he didn't need to be impeached. You were saying that, in your opinion, it wasn't happening so you were going to find issues to work on that might be able to happen. And that's how I feel about the "birthers." I'm not telling any of them to stop. They need to pursue whatever they want to pursue and whatever they are passionate about. But I don't see Barack releasing his birth certificate. One thing I would like to know is who is paying for the half-a-million or so dollars he's run up in court fees to avoid releasing his birth certificate?

Cedric: That's a good question and better not be us, the tax payers.

Jim: Because?

Cedric: This is an issue unrelated to his official actions as presidency. He's been fighting releasing the birth certificate since before he was sworn in and since before the November 2008 election. He can take donations up for it -- if that's legal -- but I don't think any tax payer monies should go to paying his legal bills on this issue that sprung up by the middle of 2008.

Jim: You're saying it's an issue from when he was a candidate that he's dragged over into the presidency?

Cedric: Right.

Jim: Anyone believe the "birthers" position?

Kat: I don't think anyone's going to say "yes." But I also don't think that's the issue. Do you support the scientific method? I do. People test hypothesis and, if successful in repeated trials, we have a theory. Thanks to Elaine for making us all aware that we needed to stop calling hypothesis "theories" -- by the way. I support the scientific method, I support research. I support people pursuing avenues and that's what a democracy is about. No one's accused Barack of killing anyone. We're not off in Clinton Chronicles territory. I also think Barack could put the issue to rest immediately by producing his birth certificate. And I agree with Cedric, US tax dollars better not be paying his legal fees on this.

Jim: Most can agree that Barack is highly secretive, just like Bully Boy Bush. He's refused to release the logs for White House visitors. A partial list of some visitors was released late Wednesday.

Elaine: On that issue, on spying, on everything, he's proving to be Bush III. I think most people will remember the left promoted John McCain as Bush III if elected. I agree with Ava and C.I.'s assessment that John McCain is his own person and would not have been Bush III. I also am not at all surprised that Barack has turned into Bush III. The signs were always there for anyone who paid attention. And Samantha Power is this administration's Condi Rice with Susan Rice it's Donald Rumsfeld. On the spying, people should read James Bamford's "The NSA Is Still Spying On You" (Information Clearing House).

Ruth: I agree with Elaine and what I find interesting here is the press in this. For example, The New York Daily News rushed in with a blog praising Mr. Obama for releasing names. Oops! Some names. They had to update. And I just find it amazing how quick the press still is -- still is -- to pander to Barack. I think that is part of the reason he is falling in the polls. He is a media creation and their efforts to shore him up remind a lot of people of how they did the same with Bully Boy Bush.

Wally: Again, like you pointed out, Jim, we're dealing with secrecy issues. Barack won't cough up his birth certificate, he won't cough up the visitor logs. It's just a pattern and he's had six months in office and he has a steady flow of patterns emerging. I've yet to see one favorable pattern show up.

Ty: On the press, I would recommend reading Dan Eggen's "Hospital Lobbyists Try to Minimize Damage" from the Washington Post. On the issue itself, I just think it's disgusting. But I find it disgusting that it's pretty much just Helen Thomas calling out the staged press conferences Barack's holding. Take last week and Lynn Sweet's question that added to an uproar, Sweet was called by the White House the night before. She insists she was just told she'd be called on and that she did not supply her question. Whatever, Lynn Sweet, whatever.

Mike: The press is entirely too cozy with the White House. I thought the press was supposed to be in opposition and to be skeptical. Apparently, I was mistaken.

Ann: I really feel like we crossed some marker with Bully Boy Bush and we'll never get back to the way it should be. That's not to pretend things were great before Bush. But it is noting that when you asked about all the hostility towards Bill Clinton, the press would insist that they were playing their watch dog role and there was nothing personal about it. Where's that watch dog role now?

Wally: That's the question to ask. The public's ended the honeymoon with Barack, as evidenced by last week's polling. But the press continues its efforts to pimp Barack. It's really getting old.

Jim: Well there was a whine on CounterSpin Friday about boo-hoo, the only critics the MSM can find of Barack's health care plan are on the right. What about the left, whined the fakes on CounterSpin.

Mike: What about 'em? You mean the 'left' that says, "Excuse me while I gush over Barack for five minutes and then I'll give you thirty seconds on why I don't like the health care proposals"? Those aren't critics and the newspapers don't need to waste our time with them. They're part of a cheering section for Barry O.

Wally: And don't forget the bloggers who disgraced themselves Monday night, doing that "Here are your orders" conference call with Barry. Many of those bloggers showed up the next day telling people universal, single-payer health care really wasn't possible and not all that to begin with, so accept. I don't want a left wing echo chamber and I didn't want one before I saw what it was like.

Ann: Agreed. There is too little independence in independent media. You grasp that very quickly if you listen to more than one Pacifica radio station. You'll quickly notice how all the guests are the same and how it's only the order in which they show up that changes. Over and over, it's the same people. Sometimes Amy Goodman gets them first for a segment on her show, sometimes she gets them in the middle. It's the most boring, most mundane, piece of garbage.

Ty: Well that's one of the people I e-mailed, someone who was saying what you are and explaining that it had to do with the foundations and the grant money. But I never heard back from him.

Jim: Leaving out the D.C. Pacifica station which has been an embarrassment for over a decade, what does everyone think the worst Pacifica station is?

Cedric: WBAI.

Mike: I was going to say that too. I mean they're still repeating Al Lewis' radio shows. He died how many years ago? They can never do an Iraq War program but they can repeat Al Lewis. And that clique that ruins the station, they've all aged and aged poorly. It's old people's radio. KPFA has their little clique as well but it's a little bit younger. WBAI is just geezer radio. Even the Houston station takes more chances than WBAI.

Marcia: I think everyone at WBAI should be fired. Just because it sounds so dead and aged. What happened was the clique brought in their own and everyone's got their slot on the schedule and no one news going to break in. Unless you fire them. I think they should. I say fire everyone on air and start with new programs and new hosts. I also think it's past time that a mandatory retirement age was proposed.

Ruth: I am laughing but I do understand Marcia's points. She is right that there are no surprises in the regular line up. You know what everyone will say each day because they have been saying it, over and over, for years. I think there are three programs the station has worth listening to. And I thnk the rest of it should be retired. There is a sameness to all the Pacifica programming, on all the stations, as Ann pointed out. But WBAI really does sound like you fallen back into the mid-seventies. It is grossly out of touch and never more so than when they try to come across as in touch.

Betty: I support Marcia's proposal. You don't need to be on WBAI for more than ten years. If you're on air for more than ten, there's a problem. Usually that you couldn't go anywhere else. But after ten years, you should take a behind the scenes role or go somewhere else. WBAI is not supposed to exist to feed the on air's egos. But that's really all it does.

Marcia: I'm sure Kimmy Wilder will stage another "Save WBAI" posting marathon but she's part of the problem. After they serve the Democratic Party meal several times a day, they toss some scraps to the Green Party every two weeks. They do not treat the party as a real party not even as a real party in New York. And it's people like her, people who make excuses, that allow the exclusion of third parties to continue.

Elaine: I agree with Marcia and I have to wonder, of all the Pacifica stations, why their supporters let them get away with this. Why do Greens pledge, and Greens do pledge to Pacifica, when, year after year, they are treated as less-than-real people? Seems it's long past time that someone should have staged a "Give us air time or we don't give money" action.

Jess: And I'm a Green Party member and I agree. I never considered Kimberly Wilder a Green. Right after this election she announced she was no longer a Green and I never considered her one. She was one of those Greens who was pushing Barack and forgetting Cynthia McKinney -- the Green Party presidential candidate -- all through the summer and fall of 2008. She never struck me as a real Green. And that's before that took place. She got mad during an e-mail exchange. And because I didn't want to talk to her on the phone. I've never met her, why would I want to talk to her? Because she's a Green? I'd already heard -- and Ava had passed this on with my permission -- that she was one of those Greens who hurt the party. I want to talk to her? I want to give her my number? No. If anyone doesn't understand that, let me drop back to a popular topic in 2008, one that readers loved. Ava and C.I. regularly pointed out that this Barack endorser playing Democrat wasn't one. They did that over and over and it was always hugely popular with Democratic Party members who read this site. And that's because they didn't want non-Democrats controlling their primary or party. Well I feel just the same as a Green. Kimberly Wilder refused to do anything to push Green Party beliefs. Over and over, her actions at her site were not in the best interest of the party. We have a lot of people in our party who see us as nothing but an auxillary to the Democratic Party. I do not. I see the Green Party as a third party that advances its own beliefs and candidates. I never saw Kimberly Wilder as anything much beyond a Democratic Party schill. If I misjudged her, too damn bad. She's nothing but trouble. We highlighted something she wanted highlighted. Our readers go to her site and she's off on another hate binge at Sarah Palin. Find the Democratic Playbook and you'll see she does everything they order. She's a joke. My opinion. Others may be kinder to her. I know Marcia and Elaine aren't. And Trina's flat out pissed at her and talking about fact checking her on a regular basis because she's pissed off Trina so much with her latest embarrassing White Momma post.

Stan: She hates that. I'm so glad I we came up with that nickname for her. Cedric, was that you or Betty?

Betty: That was Cedric. I love it, but it was Cedric.

Cedric: From the Bette Davis TV movie.

Jim: Okay. Movies. A regular reader, Sandra, wants to know who we think one of the biggest female starts of the fifties and sixties was? She says she's been going through TCM and also some books at the library and discovered that the big box office stars of the day aren't the ones who are necessarily remembered.

Betty: I have to say my favorite, Marilyn Monroe. I have to get her in.

Ruth: Well there are a lot of women, certainly Marilyn Monroe. Elizabeth Taylor was also a star then and remains one today as does Sophia Loren. I'm not really sure that Sandra Dee is famous today beyond my age group. I don't think she transcends her time period. She was immensly popular. Sort of the Connie Francis of film.

Ava: I'll give an example and then we can switch topics. Janet Leigh. Janet Leigh was well known, a star, popular. But she wasn't Marilyn Monroe or Sandra Dee. Now Marilyn obviously lives on. But so does Janet and with Janet Leigh, it's got a lot to do with really strong choices. She ended up in some wonderful films. And was very good in them. Touch Of Evil, Bye-Bye Birdie, Psycho, The Manchurian Candidate. That's just five. Janet Leigh's going to be remembered as long as people remember movies. She's earned her spot and others, like Jayne Mansfield, for example, wont' be.

Jim: And I'll add Natalie Wood because I know C.I. would.

Dona: Don't close this without Stan and my favorite, Shirley MacLaine.

Jim: Okay. So, Sandra, hope that addresses your question. Last topic is the Kurds in Iraq. They held their election yesterday and there's been a lot of writing in the community last week about them. C.I., of course, but also Elaine and Kat hit hard on it.

Stan: Well it's a fairness issue. The Kurds aren't necessarily community 'faves.' But there's a fairness issue. The Iraq Constitution was adopted when?

C.I.: October 2005.

Stan: Thank you. It mandated a census and election for the disputed province of Kirkuk before the end of 2007. That never happened. That still hasn't happened. When's the census scheduled right now?

C.I.: This October.

Stan: Thanks. So two years after it was supposed to happen, it may happen. Maybe.

Marcia: And remember that it's not just the constitution. The White House benchmarks of 2007, that Nouri al-Maliki signed off on, also called for the issue to be resolved. It still hasn't been. Nouri's thrown fits and done everything and is handed everything. The Kurds acted in good faith in terms of believing that the US would ensure that a census would take place and a vote would take place. Then the US did their faux pull-back and Kurds are rightly worried that if this issue isn't addressed very soon, it won't be.

Cedric: And, I think, they're also worried that the US has burned them. They were the easy ones, like Kat said at her site, the good child, and so they didn't get the attention. And now they're not getting anything.

Kat: And a point I made and one that Elaine and C.I. did as well, we aren't saying, "Give Kirkuk to the Kurds!" We're saying fair is fair and if you promise a referendum, you hold one. If you don't, you're not being fair. You're also not being fair if you 'report' on this issue and paint Kurds as ungrateful or as the ones disputing the boundaries. The dispute is on both sides. This is a historical issue, it's highly complex and it has been ignored.

Rebecca: C.I. got ticked off at a friend at the UN last week and wrote a really important commentary in a snapshot. One thing I'll note about that is that C.I.'s correct. The Kurds haven't played the world victim card. But they could and they'll get sympathy even if they don't. The Kurdish population is one that's frequently been discriminated worldwide. Certainly those that celebrated the PKK will be on the Kurds side.

Jim: They held elections. C.I. talk about that and any predictions?

C.I.: I have no predictions. The press is assuming the presidency will not change and that the two dominant parties will remain in power. The basics on the election? Nearly 80% turnout. Early voting started on Thursday for groups such as security forces, the elderly and those with physical challenges or limitations. Saturday was election day proper and they had to extend the voting by one hour. They have three provinces. These were provincial and presidential elections. The three provinces did not vote in the January 31st provincial elections. It's expected that the results of the election will be known no later than Tuesday.

Jim: Will the elections resolve tensions between the Kurdish Regional Government and Nouri's government out of Baghdad?

C.I.: Though it didn't occur to the UN, some of the statements re: Kirkuk ahead of the election might have been to win votes. The UN constantly offers that excuse for Nouri but didn't appear to believe the KRG deserved that same benefit of the doubt. Presumably, the world will see in the near future how much was rhetoric to win office and how much was sincere. Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq, is a Kurd. When he stated that Kirkuk being a Kurdish province was a pipe dream, he quickly followed with he wouldn't run for re-election. Then he waffled on that several times; however, the reason he wasn't going to run was because he wasn't going to win. Who's going to vote for a Kurd? Against Sunni and Shias, most Sunnis and Shias probably wouldn't vote for a Kurd and a Kurd who says forget Kirkuk really isn't going to have huge backing from the Kurdish population. My point here is that Kirkuk has been a decider in Kurdish politics for some time. Even if it was all rhetoric for the election, all the statements in the last two months, it's raised expectations and politicians are going to have to deliver in some form. Or risk the wrath of the public.

Jim: We need to wind down but do you think expectations were unfairly raised?

C.I.: In what sense?

Jim: Did it cause more tensions?

C.I.: No, it probably did just the opposite. The statements were well received by the Kurdish population. Before the statements, there was probably more tension and anxiety amongst the population which wants Kirkuk to be part of the KRG and had to wonder if their leaders did. I think the statements sent a message throughout the KRG of "We are all on the same side."

Jim: Okay and we'll wrap this up there. This is a rush transcript. Our e-mail address is Everyone was responsible for their own statements.

Talking with Ann of Ann's Mega Dub

Ann Wilson is a Common Ills community member, Cedric's wife, and the newest blogger in the community. Her site is Ann's Mega Dub.


Jim: Okay, first things first, the title?

Ann: Being married to Cedric, I thought I would do a play on his title, Cedric's Big Mix. So I came up with Ann's Little Dub. And I told Cedric that and he said, "No, no. Mega. Mega dub." I had thought of that for about two seconds. But then I thought, "Cedric's Big Mix" and "Ann's Mega Dub"? Someone's going to think I'm trying to compete or that we are competing. Cedric said someone will think that anyway and "mega" works better with the title. "Dub" as in make a "dub tape," same as a "mix tape."

Dona: I would have said first thing is why start a blog?

Ann: Ruth was in Japan for the month of June and I filled in for her. There was a schedule created where a number of us were going to fill in for her. I had one day. Then I started getting very nervous about it and ended up asking if I could do my days all in the same week. And if I could go first. I don't know about you, but in class when it was time to give a speech, I always went first. I always volunteered. I knew if I was merely boring, by the time the last person went, I would have been forgotten. But if I went last and was boring? Oh no. So everyone said, sure go ahead. So I grabbed the first week and then, over that weekend, I was helping out here and I had already raised the issue with C.I. -- who was supposed to grab a day -- about how I thought I could do a second week. So I raised it here with everyone that Saturday night and everyone was fine with it. I ended up doing all four weeks and having a blast. And then I went right over to Mike's website to fill in for him for a week while he and Elaine were in Hawaii. My last day of filling in for Mike, I wanted to announce my own site.

Jess: Because?

Ann: The minute I filled in for Ruth, and she told me this would happen, the e-mails started coming in asking me if I'd do my own site. I put them off because I was having fun and thought I'd decide later. I kept telling people, I have to blog for Mike in July and, after that, I'll make a decision. So when I decided I wanted to do it, I figured it made more sense to announce it at Mike's site than to wait a bit and then announce it. People were curious and since I'd decided, it just seemed like I'd be playing coy not to announce it.

Ty: But why did you decide to blog?

Ann: I had fun. I really did. And I liked the idea that I was amplifying the Iraq snapshots. Iraq is off the radar and just amplifying the snapshots helps me feel like I did something, a little something.

Jess: Filling in for Ruth and Mike, you often tackled heavy subjects. Obviously, you wrote about your rape and abortion. But even setting aside those topics, you still were doing a look at the current events and press. At your own site, you're doing something different.

Ann: Right. As I noted, I enjoy Isaiah's site where he archives his old comics. And what I had in mind, what I thought I could handle, was doing a photo blog. Or illustrations. So each time I blog, I'm just tossing up a photo or an illustration and writing about that. It's not hard hitting. I may do some harder stuff in the future. But I want to be really clear in the early days that this isn't the second coming of C.I. I love what C.I. does but I'm never doing an entry, for example, that has 100 links.

C.I.: Well let's mention your posts. "Iraq," "Angelina Jolie," "Nouri and Barry," "Painted
Hillary Clinton and Aamir Khan" and "Isaiah's draws Barack and his teleprompter." They're more conversational in style than they are 'light' posts. To me anyway. You are tackling some issues.

Ann: That's true. And I'm trying to take them to a basic level that we can all hopefully relate to. With Angelina Jolie, for example, that was my most recent post, I was just appalled at all these gossip sites and newspaper gossip columnists attacking her. So I wanted to go back to the first Goodwill Ambassador I saw and how she effected me.

Ava: You supported Hillary in the Democratic Party primary and you voted for Ralph Nader in the general election. Any thoughts when you look back on 2008 about the whole drawn out process?

Ann: Just one. Amy Goodman was yacking it up with Howard Dean and giving him credit for a fifty-state campaign and saying how great it was for the Democratic Party. Uh, reality: Hillary gave the fifty-state campaign -- plus Puerto Rico. And she did that by staying in the race even when everyone was attacking her, every pundit calling for her to drop out. In the general election, Barack did not go to all fifty states. Only in the primary. And credit for that goes to Hillary, not Howard Dean.

Dona: Agreed. You're really shy which surprises me. But we asked you for an interview last week and you said no but maybe some other time. Now the only way we got this one was by Cedric suggesting we just make it the Third gang. He said he thought you'd be open to it if we limited the number of people participating. Why is that?

Ann: I don't really have that much to say and the idea that I was going to be able to be even a little interesting for everyone's questions? Maybe I can say something of interest for a question or two here but that's it. That's funny, by the way, that Cedric suggested it. I didn't know that. He was right though.

Jim: While you were filling in for Ruth, Betty, Wally and Cedric did a joint-post and asked you if you wanted to join them. You turned them down. Not out of shyness and not because the topic didn't interest you but because you felt their needed to be a bit of a line between your work and Cedric's. That's how I understood it. Do I have that right and, if so, why did you want that line?

Ann: You summed it up correctly. Cedric and I are married and we don't need to entangle our online work. I just think that would be crowding. Cedric does what he does very well. He and Wally have become team bloggers and I listen to Cedric while he's on the phone with Wally and they always have so much fun. Not only can I see Cedric laughing but I can usually hear Wally laughing over the phone. And that's their thing and I don't want to get into that and I also fear that my suggestion wouldn't prompt that kind of laughter from Cedric. And why do I need that? Why do I need to put myself through that, you know?

Ty: How easy or hard was it to create your site? I'm talking choosing templates, adding links, etc.

Ann: Well it was hard. I had C.I. talking me through and, near the end, Cedric started helping me as well because I couldn't get certain things to work. If it was just me or just me with C.I. on the phone, I'd assume I was misunderstanding something. But Cedric knows Blogger/Blogspot and he couldn't get stuff to work, so it was hard. It wasn't until the middle of last week when C.I. called and asked, "Is your password still the same?" and I said it was that C.I. went in and finally got my "About me" to show up. We couldn't figure that out when we set the blog up, not C.I., not Cedric, not me. At one point, Cedric was saying it was the illustration I was using that was preventing it and I just needed to lose the illustration but I said no way to that.

C.I.: That's the illustration that Betty's kids did. Which we're using in this piece. And you wrote about that in "Painted." But that was a post you could have done your first day. You explained why you weren't going to make that your first post, on the phone you explained it, and I thought you might want to share that here.

Ann: Sure. I really didn't want my first post to be, "Look at the picture of me!" I'm praising Betty's kids -- who earned it -- in the post I did write. But even so, I could see how some people might read it and think, "Oh, she's really stuck on herself, isn't she?" And I just didn't want to give that impression. So I waited.

C.I.: Which goes to your modesty. You blogged Monday through Friday last week but that's not necessarily going to be your schedule.

Ann: Right. Cedric told me that when you're new people need to know who you are. And I checked with Betty and Elaine about that and they both agreed. Betty used to do a comic online novel at her site and was really doing one post a week or two. And she talked about how long it took her to feel like she had enough people reading to justify her continuing.

Ava: Every one is more than willing to help out each other, as you know. But I find it interesting how often you are reaching out to everyone but Cedric. Jess and I are a couple, for example. And we also have clear lines on what we mix on and what we don't. By contrast, Dona and Jim spill over into everything.

Ann: Well I just don't want it to be, and I think this is why you and Jess have lines, where our relationship is, "Honey, what did you blog?" You know? If he reads it, great, if not, fine. But we've got a relationship offline and I don't want it to be confusing.

Jess: Do you read him?

Ann: No, I usually do not. But that's because I'm usually in the room while he's on the phone with Wally. They take turns typing it up, by the way, their joint entry. Now I've heard them pitch topics and then pitch jokes. Then they start writing. And I'm hearing Cedric through all of this and, if Wally's on speaker, him through it all. If he's not on speaker, I'm just hearing him when he gets excited. So I've heard their joint-post. And if Cedric's typing, if it's his turn, after he has it typed out, he reads it outloud to Wally. So I've already heard it and laughed at it.

Jim: As Ava said, Dona and I have no clear lines, we spill over. I'm laughing. But my question is, you're taking all these steps which you presumably hope will prevent conflict. Do you think it's possible that you and Cedric might have a fight over something online?

Ann: I'm not sure what you're asking. I take these precautions to avoid us getting into an argument over online things. But are you asking do I think that, even with the precautions, Cedric and I could have a fight over online items?

Jim: Yes.

Ann: Sure. We're a married couple. We can -- and have -- argued over anything.

Dona: Last question, what's your goal online?

Ann: That's a hard one. The answer is, again, to repost the snapshot and hopefully get at least one more person aware of what's going on in Iraq. I'd like to, ideally, move to covering an Iraq topic at least once a week. Ideally. I'm not comfortable there yet but hopefully.

Jess: Last question. Sorry, Dona, but we need to end on Iraq because it's a big issue and it's a big issue with Ann.

Dona: I stand corrected.

Jess: The war's not ended. It drags on. I run a peace group and come to you to ask how we can get people motivated to call for an end to the illegal war? Your advice to me is what?

Ann: Start acting like an adult. Stop offering praise for Barack. Stop hedging your bets. Barack is not a friend of the peace movement. Barack is the president. As such he needs to feel the full fury of the peace movement. He does not need soft kisses or warm hugs. He needs to be held accountable the same way Bush was, the same way LBJ was, the same way Richard Nixon was. The peace movement needs to stop acting as if they and Barack are in the same corner. They're not. He wants to continue the war, we want to end it. We are in opposition and we need to stop trying to pretend otherwise.

Jim's World

A few things I know a great deal about. Porn's one. Eating's another.

This morning, while near the final rounds of the writing edition, C.I. returned from a break to ask, "If anyone's hungry, I feel like cooking." We love C.I.'s cooking. We rarely eat it because C.I.'s on the road during the week and usually arrives back here on Saturdays and leaves out early Monday mornings (along with Ava, Wally and Kat).

On Sunday mornings, one of us pulls cooking duty. My level of 'expertise' means I'm making sandwiches. No joke. I'm also really good with frozen dinners, but that's another story.

Jess, Dona and Ty are probably the best cooks. (Ava's cooking? No one knows. When it's her turn to be responsible, she orders it. She and C.I. have co-cooked wonderful dishes but there's a nasty rumor going round that Ava actually knows even less about cooking than I do.)

So what would we be having?

Enchiladas. Vegetarian but not vegan. Meaning cheese would be involved but no meat.

C.I. went off to fix them and did a quick fix on the peppers. (Some dried red peppers, I don't know what their proper name is, they're hot peppers, not red bell peppers.) That meant no time to soak overnight as is normally required (according to C.I.).

They were popped in the oven and we came back to the main room to work on editing and typing.

And they were done before the edition was.

I thought I could snag a picture online of the type of enchiladas and, also, I just wanted to dig in.

Which I did.

C.I. used a pan the size of one of those big sheet cakes you'd buy for a kid's birthday. And we dug in. They tasted great but they looked pretty great too and I really regret not taking a photo.

I've had these in Mexican eateries but apparently they aren't made at home or those who do don't take photos.

The red chilis are chopped and the water they soaked in (boiling water for a quick fix) and the chilis are stirred together with some flour. Then each tortilla is dipped in the mixture, then the beans and cheese are added to the tortilla, it's rolled up and placed in the pan. (Seam down so that you don't need toothpicks to keep it from unrolling, C.I. explained.) When the entire pan is filled, the remainder of the water, chili, flour mixture is poured over the top of the enchiladas.

When they're done, they look amazing. They have the red flecks from the peppers on the outside and they have the bubbly 'skin'. These are the ones I order (I'm not really fond of the ones drenched in red sauce which is like 70% tomato). Ava explained why I couldn't find a photo, they're a pain to fix. Really a pain.

You need vinegar.

Not to add to the dish but to wash your hands in.

The red chili mixture will burn your hand for days. Short of wearing gloves, there's no way not to get it on your hands while you prepare the enchiladas. The trick is you dip your hands in vinegar after you get the enchilads in the oven. That keeps them from burning.

For the tortilla stuffing, C.I. also uses olive slices in the bean mixture (and garlic and some spices I don't know). And the whole thing was just delicious. C.I. had whipped up some Spanish rice and some fresh guacamole and fresh salsa. (Ava made fresh chips. I should give her credit for that. She slices tortilla, corn tortillas, and bakes them in the oven. They're good. C.I. used flour tortillas for the enchiladas.)

And as any serious eater will know (but dabblers won't have a clue), the best meals are always the ones you didn't have to cook. And this was one of the best by far. My mother visited last winter and I was running off to get something for her. When I got back, she was raving over some enchiladas C.I. had fixed. They were all gone. Just like the ones this morning. Now I know why.

The drama of Queen Al Giordano

"And in ring three, we had US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who claimed that Zelaya’s actions today were 'reckless.' Today Clinton proved, once and for all, that she is not competent to do the job of foreign minister. What an asshole," sneered Al Giordano last week.

Al, for those not in the know, was a professional hanger on, sort of a Pamela Des Barres for the activist set, a boy pal to Abbie Hoffman. That's supposed to make up for a lack of journalistic training. What's supposed to disguise mock outrage, we just don't know.

There's not enough concealer in Al's bag of tricks to hide the fact that he's long had a war-on for Hillary. Not only did he spend 2007 and 2008 lying and distorting Hillary's actions, he's done that forever. At his laughable Narco 'News,' he's long promoted the right-wing crackpot nonsense of Mena. He's a freak on a leash.

And he did a lot of lying for Barack. Such as in September 2007 when he declared, "Win or lose, Obama's small donors may have already brought a revolution in campaign financing." Barack didn't have small donors propping up his campaign, he had the establishment and one of the first of the liars pimping otherwise was Baby Al.

Al lies for Barack because that's what Al does. So he attacks journalist Eva Golinger who actually has accomplishments to her name: "Memo to Eva Golinger from Al Giordano: You're not helping your credibility with screeching claims that events in Honduras constitute 'Obama's first coup.' If you can't see the difference between the actions of of the Bush administration (which cheered the 2002 coup in Venezuela, and forwarded the lie that its president had 'resigned') and the immediate response from the Obama administration toward the coup in Honduras (first, Obama recognized and gave backing to the facts of what he called the 'the detention and expulsion of President Mel Zelaya,' a very helpful statement to frame the narrative, and, now, Secretary Clinton has said it 'should be condemned'), that only reflects a shortcoming in research and logic by those making such crazy statements." Oh good heavens, Mr. Mental lecturing Golinger about "crazy statements"?

Golinger's article that had Al so unhinged was "Obama's First Coup d'Etat: Honduran President has been Kidnapped: Updates 1-17" (Venezuela Analysis). There's something hilarious about faux radical Al (who spells "America" with an accent over the "e"), a party boy, lecturing Golinger whose work reporting on the Venezuela coup set the standard. Al's work? Al's work sets the curve. He's the low scorer everyone's glad made it to class that day.

If you're not getting what a joke the Barack apologist Al is, check out his March 2008 rant:

Their latest failed attempts (two of many so far in only the first eight weeks of the new administration) to storm the gates of the White House and make a scapegoat out of (fill in the blank: Emanuel, Geithner, whatever absent father figure is in their craws on any given day) reveal the simple formula of their online aneurisms and from here on out will serve as a guide to how they whip themselves into a froth so routinely only to be discredited within days of each spastic attack.

The first came out of the loud claims that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner allegedly hid or kept secret the fact that AIG Corporation would pay bonuses to its executive and employees even after receiving bailout funds.
Well, lo’ and behold, The Field has obtained a November 25, 2008 press release from the AIG Corporation in which the troubled financial giant told the entire world that it would be offering bonuses in 2009!

Way to stick it to . . . the people, Al. Someone remind him that whoring is something that should be done in a motel room.
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