Sunday, April 04, 2010
Some took shots at Bigelow for not including female soldiers in "The Hurt Locker." Why? This is a movie about a male bomb tech in an all-male bomb squad. Yes, women could function brilliantly on a bomb squad too. But "The Hurt Locker" doesn't happen to be about a female-male dynamic. It's about the addictive aspects of war; the danger, do-or-die commitment, adrenalin rush and interpersonal intensity.
-- Jennifer Merin, "We'd Be Fools Not to Reminisce about Oscar Night" (WeNews).
Those oozing conflicts lead to things like this -- a glowing New Yorker profile of Rahm Emanuel so sycophantic it made the skin crawl -- followed up by an even more one-sided love letter to Larry Summers, both from the eager, wanna-be White House stenographer/author Ryan Lizza. It's what causes Newsweek's Jonathan Alter to proclaim one day (when Obama favored it) that real health care reform "depends on whether Obama gets approval for a 'public option'," only to turn around less than two months later (once Obama said it was unnecessary) and proclaim that the Left is foolishly obsessing on the un-important public option. Eagerness to serve the White House: it's also what leads the desperate-for-book-access Alter to publicly insist that criticisms of Commander-in-Chief Obama help The Terrorists. And it's what leads Chuck Todd on a daily basis, in the form of "covering the White House" for NBC, to serve as an amplifying vessel and justifier for whatever the White House happens to be saying at any given moment, from Todd's arguments against investigations of Bush officials to his disparaging of the public option.
The conflicts in having "journalists" report on the administration while simultaneously begging top White House officials for highly lucrative book-access are as self-evident as they are corrupting. Richard Wolffe covered the Obama campaign for Newsweek at the same time he was writing an access-dependent book on Obama; when he left Newsweek, even Newsweek staffers complained about the prospect that he had used magazine funds to cover the campaign while withholding key stories from the magazine so he could use it in his book instead (the same controversy that has plagued Bob Woodward in the writing of his Bush-glorifying books while also working for the Post). And that's to say nothing about Wolffe's overwhelming incentive to write favorable fluff pieces about Obama for Newsweek so that his desperately needed book access would continue to be granted. Once he left Newsweek, Wolffe not only cashed in on his access with his glowing hagiography about Obama, but also by joining a "corporate communications" firm (run by former Bush aide Dan Bartlett) where his White House access undoubtedly was highly valued. The success of his Obama-revering book has now enabled Wolffe to leave his communications job in order to write a second "behind-the-scenes", access-dependent book about Obama.
-- Glenn Greenwald, "White House access is a jackpot for reporters" (Salon).
Sunday, Sunday. We tried something a little different this go-round. Providing some articles early on. That was possible due to the fact that we posted some stuff to Flickr long before we were typing up the pieces.
Along with Dallas, the following helped 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),
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.
We thank every one of them. And what did we come up with.
And that's what we came up with. See you next Sunday.
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.
That's from a brief journal C.I. keeps on the road. As noted on The World (PRI) Friday, "The war in Iraq is not over and we as a nation will be dealing with its aftermath for a long time."
And last week, the Commission on Wartime Contracting [see "Iraq snapshot," "Fraud and waste," "The arrogance and waste of KBR" and "Commission on Wartime Contracting"] and the Justice Department seemed willing to start sorting out a little of the aftermath. KBR. America went to war and Americans and Iraqis died. KBR just got richer.
Last Monday, at the Commission hearing, KBR's Guy LaBoa laughably testified (under oath, no less) that "never, ever" had he heard anyone discuss the bottom line at Iraq, not once in his thirty months with the company. It was about helping because when it comes to compassion, KBR is our modern day International Red Cross, apparently.
Thursday, the Justice Department filed charges against KBR for false billing. Friday came news that the dismissed case in Indiana of the Indiana National Guard members exposed to toxics chemicals by KBR had been refiled in Houston on Wednesday. Mike Doyle (Doyle Raizner LLP) noted, "The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, where KBR maintains its corporate headquarters. The case was assigned to United States District Judge Vanessa Gilmore, and the judge ordered a Scheduling Conference on July 9, 2010, to select a trial date for the case. Judge Gilmore at the time of her appointment by President Bill Clinton was the youngest sitting federal judge, and she has presided over a number of important trials (including the Enron Broadband trial) during her tenure on the bench."
Last week also saw the death of one US service member in Iraq. It saw Iraqis from Ayad Allawi's winning political slate be attackedand have to go underground. Already this morning, Iraq's been rocked by the type of bombing that's become a bi-monthly occurence.
Springfield, Mass. Thursday. An angry teenager explains how his brother should have been out of the military over two years ago but got stop-lossed and now is headed back to Iraq. About half the students present are hearing about stop-loss for the first time.
Marc Hall is an Iraq War veteran. He got stop-lossed. He was supposed to be out. He'd done his duty. But he got stop-lossed. He responded by recording a rap song to deal with what he was feeling. The mililtary eventually decided they had a problem with that (after initially having no problem at all with it) and that he needed to be court-martialed. Instead of doing so in the US, they pulled him over to Iraq for the court-martial thereby depriving him of many witnesses who could testify on his behalf.
In a mailing last week, Iraq Veterans Against the War explained:
U.S. Army Specialist, Marc Hall, has been incarcerated for over 15 weeks for his song, "Stop-Loss" which angrily criticizes the military's Stop-Loss policy of involuntary extensions. The Army recently transferred Marc to face court martial in Kuwait, an extraordinary move that isolates him from his civilian lawyer, family, and friends.
At his pre-trial hearing last week, the judge recommended dropping five of eleven of the charges against him and expressed his judgment that Marc get a Special Court Martial. Marc's command accepted the reduction of charges, but has forwarded the six remaining charges for a more serious General Court Martial.
A Special Court Martial would have limited Marc's possible jail sentence to one year, and a Bad Conduct Discharge. The General Court Martial could possibly sentence Marc to at least six years and a Dishonorable Discharge.
In response, Marc's civilian lawyer, David Gespass, and his JAG are now beginning to prepare seriously for trial and will be filing pre-trail motions that cover witnesses, travel expenses, mental health evaluations, independent experts, and more.
We will keep you updated as Marc's case progresses. If you haven't done so already, please consider donating to Marc's legal defense Any amount helps. Donate here.
Allentown, Penn. Wednesday. A college student says she can't remember when the Iraq War wasn't taking place leading to an intense and lively discussion of just how long the illegal war has lasted. A 21-year-old man points out that the war has now lasted a third of "my entire life."
And it still it drags on.
And among the many who don't forget and who can't forget are those who personally suffered. Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan wrote last week of a memory still fresh and one she'll never forget:
A few hours later, I was walking our dogs and sobbing all the way around our nightly route. I knew if Casey wasn’t dead that he was horribly wounded and our family was in for a lot of heartache.
When I rounded the corner, I saw that my oldest daughter, Carly, was already home from work -- I was happy that she was home, but when I rounded the corner of the garage, I could see into my house, and what I saw was going to inalterably change my life forever: three Army officers standing in my living room -- I ran into the house and saw the shocked looks on Carly and Pat’s faces, and I collapsed on the floor screaming hoping I could scream loud enough and long enough that my heart would physically shatter and I would die, too.
I obviously didn’t die, but I have never been the same. How can one go on the same when a very important part of ones life has been violently stolen?
My life will never be able to achieve April 3, 2004 status, again. Before I even camped out in Crawford and my life changed, it had already been turned upside down.
Palm Sunday was on April 04, 2004 that year -- 04/04/04 --the date that will live in infamy to our family -- and to the other families, American and Iraqi that were killed that day.
Six years and hundreds of antiwar events later, the wars rage on and people's lives are still being destroyed.
My question was then, and will always be the same: "For what noble cause?"
But back to V. When the show premiered last fall, one of the supreme idiots of 'TV criticism,' Troy Patterson, decreed near the end of his 'review' that some (crazy people, you understand, "nutcases") might find traces of Barack Obama and the Cult of St. Barack in V. "Nutcases" would see it as a political allegory, Troy typed as he wound down, apparently forgetting that he'd already compared the villain of the show (Anna) to Sarah Palin. Whose the nutcase, Troy?
That's why Troy is now and forever a bulls**t critic.
For criticism to be effective, it has to go with something a bit deeper than instant, knee-jerk reaction. It should bring in thought and comparison and contrast and so much more. Troy's so inept that he compares the villainous alien leader to Sarah Palin and then, a few paragraphs later, says people who try to compare the show to Obama are nuts. Troy makes those comments without any sense of irony or, for that matter, awareness.
V sent ABC into a panic. Not because it was a critique of Barack. ABC -- like many people -- didn't catch that possibility until lame-brain critics started tossing it around. V sent ABC into a panic because it debuted to high ratings and then began losing ground each week. Tuesday's return (final hour of prime time) didn't reassure them as the ratings were the worst for the series thus far. One helpful thing they have done is put the show on Hulu immediately after an episode airs. This could lead to some helpful word of mouth. (We covered how they shot themselves in the foot with Hulu's audience in 2009.)
The biggest problem with the show currently is it's like Ben Affleck's striptease in Force of Nature. You know Ben's got something worth seeing, he promises to deliver and yet you wait and wait, then finally Sandra Bullock starts pulling off a few of his clothing items, but even then you miss out on the full monty or a decent butt shot. Translation, the aliens are lizards. There is probably no one in America that's watched the show thus far who doesn't know this. When V was an 80s mini-series and TV show, that was part of the story as well. But, big difference, continuing our analogy, after Ben showed us that fine chest and hopped around in his boxers, we weren't jump cutting to him and Sandra driving around in a car. In other words, in the eighties, V showed us the aliens. It was freaky and it was gross and people couldn't stop talking about it.
Today we get some characters (such as Jack) imagining themselves as lizard or part lizard. We get Ryan rolling back his 'eye' to show you his real lizard eye. We get a dead corpse or two that shows the lizard skin for a few seconds. Last Tuesday, we got Anna's neck and mouth extending as she finished mating with another alien in order to create a new army. But we don't get to see the lizards.
Are they afraid Anna -- whom they work very hard to turn into a sexy looking character (and never quite manage to pull it off) -- will be seen as repulsive if viewers latch on to what she really looks like? We have no idea. But we know that if viewers are really honest, they'll tell you they've been waiting to see the lizards since the show started.
We mentioned Jack and Ryan. Jack's a priest who didn't fall for the alien's hype and propaganda. Ryan's an alien sent many years ago as part of a sleeper cell. He now wants to save humanity from the lizards. In spite of that, he's impregnated his (human) girlfriend who has no idea she's carrying at least a half-lizard baby (though we can hear Melissa Harris-Lacewell insisting, "The child is a lizard! If either of his parents were a lizard, the child is lizard!"). In a nod to Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby, the girlfriend's cravings led her to consider some strange 'nutritional' alternatives. This Tuesday, she's supposed to see the doctor.
Erica Evans is the driving force (human side) of the show. She's an FBI agent and she's the mother of teenage Tyler whom the aliens are interested in for some, as yet, unexplained reason. Anna's daughter is paired with Tyler and he now lives in their spaceship that hovers over NYC -- if you've ever attempted to park on 5th Avenue, you'll either understand or be green with envy. Erica teams up with Jack and Ryan to take down the aliens which translates thus far as a lot of spying and a lot of talking.
The other big character on the show is Scott Wolf. He's called by another name but it's Scott Wolf. You watch and it's Scott Wolf. You see him wrinkle that already heavily wrinkled forehead even more as he attempts to convince you he is not Scott Wolf but a character. You never, not for a single moment, buy it.
But there's so much you just can't buy.
For example, Anna's the leader of the aliens? Well isn't the United States lucky. The ship hovering over NYC is only one of 29 ships hovering over major cities around the world but the US got the leader. And when everyone's fretting over one bomber/terrorist and how he may go to the human's side and help them, this leads to worries about the alien army not being large enough. And that sort of makes sense . . . until you remember, "There are 28 more ships in the atmosphere."
It's not that you can't think too hard while watching this show, it's that you can't think at all.
If you do, you'll surely wonder why Anna, who loathes human beings, picks her momentary mate from a list of aliens . . . in human garb. (Under the human 'skin' is the lizard reality.) Why would she want to see a large group of lizards in human costumes? Why would she herself want to make love while wearing the (confining) human costume? Hey, we've certainly engaged in a little role play with our partners before. But we've never dressed up as someone we hated.
This version of V is sort of like the 'intelligent design' version of science fiction.
But it can take comfort in the fact that some critics have proven even more stupid than many of the episodes. Yes, we're back to Troy Patterson. "Universal health care," he insists, is promised by the visitors. And this is supposed to be evidence of the aliens being based upon Barack? Does Troy not grasp that Barack didn't deliver even a weak public option, let alone universal health care? If you think the show's dumb (and it is), remember that some of the reviewers are even more stupid.
Jim (Con't): First up, reader Sylvia asked that the next time a roundtable was done, we note what had been done so far so she could get an idea of what makes it up here and what doesn't. We've completed everything except the editorial and Ava and C.I. haven't written their TV commentary yet. We have a piece on the economy that -- unless Trina knows how to fix it -- will go into the trash pile because it's just not up to printing right now. We have a movie piece that's probably going into the trash pile as well. That's fine, if it does, because we're highlighting a movie review elsewhere so we'll have that topic covered. Jess has written a piece that he wants to fix and, if he can't, he's going to rewrite it next weekend. Oh, we haven't done truest yet.
Dona: And though Ava and C.I. haven't done their TV piece yet, they did write another piece for us that will be hugely popular. I wasn't going to say more than that but I just realized most people will read the roundtable when their piece is up. They're contrasting Women's Media Center with wowOwow -- among other things.
Ann: I love their conclusion and "among other things" includes Fresh Air.
Jim: Which is a good point to start. Last week, they did "Radio: That not-so Fresh Air" and, Ann, you were invited in on that but chose not to.
Ann: Right. And I made the decision not to because I knew the piece would be a lot of work. I figured they could do it better on their own. And I think they did a wonderful job. But despite saying that at my site last week and despite announcing it at my site before they wrote the piece, that I'd been invited in on it, some people continue to think they went around me on that piece. So I'll try to repeat it one more time: Two Thursdays ago, Terry Gross did an awful show. I had heard it that morning. During the roundtable for the gina & krista round-robin, I brought it up and asked Ava and C.I. if they could tackle it here? Had they said no, that next day, that Friday, I would have had to do a very long post taking on the show. I was glad they said yes. They also asked if I wanted to be a part of it. I said I'd think about it and decided no.
Ruth: In part, the misunderstanding on the part of some people is probably due to the fact that you cover Fresh Air at your site.
Ty: And, jumping in, you used to cover KPFA's The Morning Show. Richard e-mailed to ask if you're ever going to cover it again?
Ann: I thought I was clear. On that as well. I have no interest in listening to that show ever again unless Aimee Allison apologizes or leaves the show. I will never listen to it again otherwise. Pakistani lives matter and her bulls**t video? She can lick Barack's balls in private but if she wants to be considered a journalist, she better stop identifying with the powerful and start speaking out for the people who need a megaphone. She's disgraceful, I loathe her. I'm sure Brian Edwards-Tiekert's doing a strong job. It's really telling that he jumped in as co-anchor during my last month listening and, from the start, he was stronger as a host of the show then she was with over three years of 'experience' being a host.
Ty: And Richard pointed out that The Morning Show is no longer noted at any site. Is that the way it is?
Kat: I'm not going to note it. For the reasons that Ann just outlined. C.I. mentions it only if highlighting David Bacon. That's all you're going to get from this community. The Peace and Justice station should never have a program hosted by someone who dismisses the innocents killed in drone attacks in order to glorify a politician. And I want everyone to remember that because if she's not fired, she's going to try to rewrite history when Barack's out of the White House. Remember that she whored it like nobody else for Barack when he was in the White House. When she tries to grandstand about how she's independent and she'll call out anyone, I want to hear people booing her. I want her to go around the Bay Area and be treated like Glenn Close near the end of Dangerous Liasons where everyone at the opera house boos her.
Jim: I would assume that answers Richard's question. Another question was in "A note to our readers" last week when I wrote about there not being enthusiasm over writing about Iraq which led to e-mails. Some came in before C.I.'s "And the war drags on . . ." went up Sunday night and some came in before Mike's "Isaiah, ObamaCare, Chuck, Third" went up Monday night. A few e-mails have arrived since. Just to explain, I didn't in the note, there was the issue of the count, of the wounded and dead. Ideally, that should be done weekly. We didn't do it in March. At all. On the last Sunday in March, I proposed we do it. C.I. said no and said that was too much work. C.I. doesn't like math to begin with. So adding all that together was nothing she would support. Nor did Ava. I think even Dona objected.
Mike: And it was at the end of the writing session.
Jim: Yeah, I was going to get to that. We waited until the end. And everyone was tired and though of going through days and days to count the dead and wounded was just too much. Other Iraq issues? There was an activist being slammed, actually two, and C.I. didn't want to cover that here because the one instigating it all is a woman who's written attack e-mails to Ty repeatedly and C.I. didn't want to have anything up here that would invite another attack on Ty.
Ava: Because Ty reads the e-mails. Dona and, to a lesser extent, you do as well, Jim, but the bulk of the e-mails to this site, firstname.lastname@example.org, are read by Ty.
Jim: C.I. was comfortable writing about it at her site but didn't want it up here where the woman might find another excuse to attack Ty. So between those two things, most of what we could cover were taken away. That left us with the elections. And when that came up, C.I. said she'd help and she did. And it was a very short feature but that was the point of it. That there had been entirely too much gas bagging.
Dona: And Jim wanted examples such as Quil Lawrence of NPR but C.I.'s attitude on that was that she and Kat had both called out Lawrence enough at their sites already.
Wally: And a lot of us were dropping out by that point, too. Remember.
Jim: Right. People were tired. It had gone on forever and would finish around 11:00 a.m. PST after starting at 10:00 p.m. PST Saturday night. But a few people did interpret it as a "walk away from Iraq," to quote one e-mail.
Jess: No, that's bulls**t. In C.I.'s Sunday piece at her site, she pointed out that sometimes she's just tired of it. And let's remember, she, Ava, Wally and Kat are going around every week and speaking out against the Iraq War to various groups. In addition, C.I.'s writing about the Iraq War three times a day at her site, Monday through Friday, twice on Saturday and once on Sunday. I don't think we've had an edition where we didn't cover Iraq here -- unless it was our summer fiction read but I think we've had short stories on war here. So my point is, by Sunday, it's really too much especially when Jim waits until the last minute. Which, for the record, has happened again. We haven't done the editorial -- Susan, was that the name of the woman who e-mailed -- and it's supposed to be on Iraq and it's supposed to be our Iraq feature this edition.
Jim: Syliva was her name. And, yes, we did postpone that but Ava and C.I. do note the Iraq War in their commentary and it is noted in our look at political journals. And it wasn't my intent to wait so long on the editorial. That's just how it ended up.
C.I.: Excuse me but are we uploading right now? We've got several photographs to use for this edition. If we're uploading them right now that will allow us to avoid waiting and waiting on Flickr.
Jim: And allow us to change the subject.
Dona: Ava and C.I. are taking notes, they can't record the transcript and do the upload. I'm grabbing the disc from the camera right now. And there are 86 on the disc so I'm deleting after I upload and wiping the disc clean.
Jess: And just something like that, just being organized enough to upload while we're doing something else, really could save a lot of time in these writing editions.
Jim: Jess is going to be covering Green Party stuff in his column -- whenever they surface. And he sees it as the main way to contribute here because he's in the real world and attorney now. And I'm being smart alleck but congratulations to Jess. Mike is supporting "Jill Stein" in her race for Massachusetts govenor and Betty is supporting "Deacon Alexander" in his race for California govenor. Both candidates are Green Party candidates. Betty, did you two work this out?
Betty: On Friday? No. I actually called Mike to tell him about an article and he said, "I was just going to call you to tell you about an article." So I went first and he said, "That's what I was going to tell you about!" So we were both thinking about it and we've both talked about doing that once a week, noting our pick for governor. The problem is, and this was Jess' problem this writing edition too, we don't want to come off like hacks. But it's the Green Party which doesn't get enough attention so if we're going to write about political candidates, at least we're doing something that might make a difference on candidates who would make a difference if elected, right?
Mike: I'm in agreement with what Betty just said. I'm actually more inclined to cover politicians than she is. I covered Scott Brown --
Jim: Endorsed him.
Mike: Endorsed him. When he was running for office. I'm okay with doing that. Betty's feeling really differently for a number of reasons including 2008.
Betty: I will never forgive or forget the theft and lies that took place in 2008 to rob Hillary Clinton of the nomination she earned -- earned with work, earned with the votes. I've seen no efforts by the Barack Obama Democrats to include women. I see no reason to vote for them. They can all rot in hell. I stated some time ago that I would vote Green in the 2010 election and I intend to keep that promise. That's for every office in which a Green is running.
Jim: Mike, will you be voting straight ticket Green?
Mike: I might. And, for the record, I agree with what Betty said but, listen to her voice, this goes much deeper for Betty than it does for me. I don't mean "I'm over it" because I'm not. But I mean it was more shocking for Betty than it was for me.
Betty: And that goes to Mike's upbringing. Trina's father's a Socialist and so are others in his family and he didn't have any real illusions about the Democratic Party. I'm a Black woman from Georgia. I thought they had some interest in helping me. I was wrong and I still marvel over just how wrong I was. Which, by the way, includes about Dennis Kucinich who's a shameless and craven asshole.
Jim: Okay. What is the story there? Dennis said that he felt this was -- ObamaCare -- was the only way to get health care reform and that was why he was going back on his promise -- from two days before -- not to vote for it. But last weekend, I wanted to do a piece on that and quote from his GQ piece and Elaine and C.I. said, "No." There was more to it and we didn't have time to go into it. Elaine?
Elaine: Well KPFK's Lila Garrett, of Connect the Dots with Lila Garrett, has Dennis on at least once a month. And not last Monday, but the Monday before last, she began her show explaining she had spoken to Dennis about his vote. Why did he change his mind? She said he told her he changed his mind because groups -- MoveOn? -- were targeting him and his offices were getting all these complaints and calls of they wouldn't vote for him if he didn't vote for ObamaCare.
Jim: That's certainly different than the way he portrayed it at GQ or in his press conference.
Elaine: Lila Garrett, who's not the most honest person in the world but should have no reason to lie about Dennis, stated there had been threats on Dennis' life if he did not vote for ObamaCare.
Jim: That's very interesting. We cover WBAI in a piece here and Ruth covered it twice last week and Ann covered Fresh Air every day at her site, Monday through Friday. An e-mail came in noting all the programs that we cover -- he included C.I. -- and wondered if all we do is sit around and listen to the radio?
Ruth: I wish. If I did, I would cover radio more often.
Cedric: And when you're including C.I. in the mix, you're really fudging the numbers because while Ann covers Fresh Air and Ruth covers Out-FM regularly, C.I. has some weeks where she's covering as many as ten or twelve programs -- more if you include TV. But for C.I., it's friends calling and asking for coverage of their programs or referring to other programs.
Wally: Yeah. Like on Fridays during Diane Rehm, while the program's live, C.I.'s not listening. And then after she'll get a call from a friend with NPR about the show and she'll listen to the Iraq segment over the phone and include it.
C.I.: Right. And also give credit here to community members who will catch things on TV and radio and they will e-mail and say it needs to be included.
Jim: Elaine, you used to cover Lila Garrett's show.
Elaine: Not anymore. I'm done with it. It got more kooky and crazy every week. And I couldn't take all of her hate. I'll look for another radio program to listen to and note for awhile. But I'm done with Lila. I actually finished with her before I last noted her. The only reason I noted her last time was that Bob Filner, Congressman Filner, was on so C.I. had caught that and C.I. told me there was a section, another section, I might want to listen to. I did and that was it for me. I wrote about that but I'm done with the show. I don't think she should have been allowed to use her show to attack some Democrats while promoting Progressive Democrats of America -- an organization she sits on the board of -- a disclosure she didn't make on air. In fact, most of the PDA guests were never identified as such. I'd have to call C.I. and ask, "Is ___ PDA?" I found that show to be as tired and dated as the faux Red Hot Chili Pepper's song she uses as a theme, Keaton Simons "Nobody Knows." For those who don't know the full song -- never played by Lila Garrett on air, it's about cheating and trickery, which I see as Lila's effort to fulfill Freud's proposal that the criminal has a compulsion to confess.
Trina: It seems like I wrote about a radio program last week. I'm forgetting now, but I think I did. Most of the time, though, I read Ruth and if she recommends something, I catch that. I'm more prone to listen to NPR which at least tries for journalism.
Jim: NPR as opposed to?
Trina: Pacifica. I can't stand the bulk of those programs anymore. They're such little Barack enablers, excusers and cheerleaders. If you want to know why the country's so f**ked up, listen to Pacifica and grasp this is what passes for a 'left' -- a bunch of so-called radicals mooning over Barack and repeating one lie after another.
Jim: This part will be included in Hilda's audio mix because I want people to hear the disdain your voice is soaked with.
Trina: Sorry. I'm just disgusted. I grew up in a radical family. I know what radical politics are. Pacifica's not radical at all. It's just a Barack Obama fan club. There are a few tiny exceptions. Doug Henwood's Behind The News being one.
Jim: Marcia, you don't cover a radio show.
Marcia: Hey, Rebecca and I are covering books!
Rebecca: Yeah and Marcia and I are busy so we're looking at reading about 100 pages a week. That means we won't be doing a book every Friday at our sites but we will be doing it maybe every 2 or 3 weeks.
Marcia: And we're reading the same book because it's fun to talk about a book while you read it. I'll be a little ahead of Rebecca or she'll be a little ahead of me and all we'll say is, "Don't miss page 36" or whatever some days but other days we're on the same pages and we'll just talk about it at length.
Rebecca: And yet, we always forget to link to each other. What we plan to do is write on a Friday and then, come Monday, include links to the posts. But we almost always forget.
Marcia: Mondays are tough. It's getting back into the work week and there are times when I honestly have nothing to say. And I'll be on the phone with Ruth and with Rebecca and desperate to find something to write about and when I finally do, time's almost up so I rush through it.
Stan: I feel like I'm one of the short post people in this community. There are days when I wonder why did I even bother.
C.I.: I want to speak to that. Every post or entry doesn't have to be long. The snapshots are expected to be long by community members. So that's why they're so long. But sometimes a short post can say as much if not more than something with tons of words. I think Stan has a strong site and he and Betty are paired up for four days a week. I think they do a strong job. I know Elaine really reached a lot of people last week with basically two paragraphs. I love Stan's essays on movies but I just want to put on record that there's nothing wrong with writing something brief.
Stan: I'm glad you said that because, I shouldn't but I do compare it in my mind to, "Oh, I've got two or three sources. If this was C.I.'s topic at The Common Ills there would be something like forty links here."
C.I.: But remember, a lot of those links come from friends.
Cedric: And to jump back in. Before I teamed up with Wally for joint-humor posts. And I would blog about my church, my volunteer stuff and the Iraq War. But I got it into my head at one point that I could coverAfghanistan. Not a snapshot, just the corner of one -- ha ha. And I tried that for a brief period. I just couldn't do it. I didn't know enough. It's a lot of work to do the snapshots and I don't think most of us have it in our nature to do it. And, thanks to Keesha, we don't have to because we all repost the snapshot at our sites when we blog so whatever we write about it, it's already taken care of in the snapshot.
Stan: Well thank you to both of you, Cedric and C.I., because I do feel like I'm always the backslider or the one not holding up his weight each night. I'd honestly rather just write about movies. I did that last week by doing two posts on Netflix and one on a movie. Can we talk about part of the problem? Part of the problem for me goes to what Trina was talking about with regards to Pacifica Radio. I'm highlighting someone and using them as a jumping off point. But who can I highlight? I'm serious. There really aren't a great deal of people worth highlighting now. There used to be a lot of people calling for the end of the Iraq War. You could go to The Progressive or The Nation or whatever and find these people. Those days are long gone. It's Barry O fan clubs everywhere you look. That's why Betty and I make a point to highlight Hillary Is 44 regularly. It's one of the few left sites -- outside this community -- that hasn't drank the Kool-Aid.
Betty: Right. And I remember Elaine recently crossing off CounterPunch because blowhard Alexander Cockburn was back to sipping the Kool-Aid he'd spent the last months denying he'd ever touched. And I'm uncomfortable with that site anyway, trying to make money off 'cutesy' photos of women. It's also true that we're not on the 'inside' of this Cult machine. By that, I mean we're outsiders and we don't play with liars. We don't play with Amy Goodman and her countless, endless lies. That woman is just trash. And there are so many others who have exposed themselves. Now Matthew Rothschild, I will read him because he seems to be slowly coming around.
Jim: Isaiah, Dona's saying we need to wrap up so I'm giving you the last word.
Isaiah: I'll build on what Betty was just saying and what a few others were saying. There really are so few places you can go today to read commentary. Too many people did expose themselves as shameless liars. There's a whole slew of people I have no use for ever again. They lied repeatedly. Barbara Erhenreich, for example. Forget that her trashy daughter wants to register journalists -- typical fasicst -- just the s**t Babsy pulled in 2008. I bought Nickeled & Dimed. I read her bad columns in The Progressive. I'm done with her. There is nothing she can say, no apology she can give, that will ever make up for her behavior and her lies and non-stop lying in 2008. I feel the same way about BuzzFlash. I have not gone there since Mark Karlin took it upon himself to lecture women that they shouldn't support Hillary just because they were women. Or TruthOut because the idiot in charge decided it was his right to tell candidates to drop out of race. Stuff like that I don't forget. It goes to more than a disagreement of opinion, it goes to what you value and what you don't, to whether you support democracy or not. We found out in 2008 how few people at left magazines really do and how few of them care about being honest brokers -- or even seen as such.
Jim: And on that concluding stanza, we'll wrap up this roundtable.
In the rush-rush world of today, who has time for middles? All tales have beginnings and they have endings. Some are natural ones, some are crafted on. And some of the latter are badly crafted on. With that in mind, we decided to check out the latest in hardcover nonfiction.
Rafraf Barrar is an Iraqi woman who worked as a translator for NBC News and eventually moved to America. With CBS News' Don Teague (take that NBC!), Barrar charts her journey in Saved By Her Enemy (which offers a foreword by Ann Curry). Page 321 concludes Barrar's story with the following:
Rafraf closed the Bible, and smiled at those who had gathered in front of her. There were a few dozen people in the room. She knew them all from a year of Sundays.
The water around her felt warm.
She looked toward the pastor, a young man named Jordan leading his first congregation in a small Dallas church called Mercy Place.
Rafraf nodded that she was ready.
"I'm doing this," she said, "because life is too short to live apart from God."
Life proved short for his former co-star Dana Plato, but Todd Bridges is still around ("devastated" "but not surprised" by Plato’s death) and he's an author (with help from Sarah Tomlinson) via Killing Willis: From Diff'rent Strokes to the Mean Streets to the Life I Always Wanted. As Bridges winds down on page 275, he reflects and comes to a point not all that different from Rafraf:
At this point, with sixteen years of sobriety, a happy marriage, and two beautiful children who are growing up to be strong and independent young people, I can definitely say that I've made a lot of progress. On average, I now have six days of happiness. And the seventh day in turmoil, as I fight my same old inner fight and work on trying to love myself and forgive myself for my past. But that's okay, because I now know that even the bad days don't last forever. And with God's grace and a whole lot of patience, we all get to where we're supposed to be in the end.
Music critic Greil Marcus is known for his 'manly' book titles and he continues the tradition with When That Rough God Goes Riding which is about "Listening To Van Morrison," the subheading informs. What? You thought Marcus was finally going to show book length interest in someone without a penis? After 173 brief pages, Marcus concludes his meditations on Van Morrison and self by watching Georgia:
For nine minutes and eleven seconds, though, in a trance of terrible sings, [Jennifer Jason] Leigh has taken you right out of her not-very-good movie. While you were out, you were somewhere oddly quiet -- a place that with "Take Me Back" Van Morrison marked on a map and Sadie the punk found.
From the amazing Jennifer Jason Leigh playing a singer to a book about an actual one, Jimmy McDonough has followed up his massively praised Shakey: Neil Young's Biography with Tammy Wynette: Tragic Country Queen. The legend of the airwaves and the real world died in 1998, McDonough's book ends on page 365:
Late one evening I asked Jan Hoard if Tammy's story had a moral. "I don't know about a moral," she said. "Judge not, lest ye be judged. I'm just thankful that she was on this earth for as long as she was and was blessed with a talent that brought so much joy to so many people, not only with her music, but by her very presence. "It makes me very sad to think about a lot of what she went through. Tammy is in God's hand now, God's care, and she is at peace. No more demons."
Staying with a southern mood, we turn to Andrew Young's book -- dubbed I, Judas in some quarters -- The Politician. From outside the sewer, Young reflects on his time with John Edwards, Elizabeth Edwards and other frauds and phonies. In real life, the tawdry tale ends with a political death, an out-of-wedlock pregnancy and a politician who still doesn't get it. Young's book winds down page 300 with this (continuing on page 301):
Sadly, John and Elizabeth Edwards could have put themselves in a position to continue their good works, if they had told the truth when they had the chance. This is what Bill Clinton eventually did, and it has allowed him to return to a productive public life as a sinner who is also good. Instead, the Edwardses held to a lie they knew was a lie and refused to do the right thing. Faced with this reality, I had no choice but to write this book in order to move forward in some way. I hope our wounds will begin to heal as the truth comes to light.
If I achieve what I hope to achieve with this book, I will begin to build a new, positive future. I will create a record that will make some sense out of my life's choices and a terrible political scandal, for my wife, family, friends, and you, the reader. Finally, I hope to give myself permission to be imperfect but nonetheless unbowed. Like my father, I want to begin again.
And in those self-serving, naked words, Young reveals the motivation behind many self-tales: To make sense of senseless behavior (Young passed Edwards child off as his own child to the press, among other things) but, most importantly, to paint themselves as the victim. In 2010, Young's attempts to climb the cross play out like way too much self-painted drama. He hopes, the words tell you, that the world will forgive him. He fails to grasp that the bulk of the world -- even the bulk of the US -- doesn't know who he is, let alone what he's done. Thereby demonstrating that the chief ingredient for any volume is a large dose of a healthy ego.
In the end, it's just too pathetic. It's too damn embarrassing. We wish that weren't the case. We know many of the women involved in WMC. They often ask us why we're more likely to highlight the "frothy" (their term) wowOwow (Women of the Web) as opposed to them? Well because wowOwow often has legitimate journalism.
It also features a wide range of women.
And a wide range of opinions.
We find it very disturbing, for example, that WMC points to attacks on certain women (Melissa Silverstein's attack on Kathryn Bigelow, for example) as signs of their 'diversity.' They will attack women, but they will not call out Barack Obama. wowOwow doesn't have that problem despite being top-heavy with Barack supporters.
We were reminded of just how pathetic WMC can be on Friday when we returned a phone call asking if we could work in a link to Becca Stanger's "Even NPR Lacks Women's Voices" because "you called out The Nation and CounterSpin for their lack of women" -- and did so without links from WMC, as we recall or any assistance other than a lot of covert 'support' as in "We love it!" This is, we were told during the phone call, a serious issue.
It is a serious issue. We explained we were furious about the NPR ombudsperson and her idiotic study (that we knew of two weeks ago but was only published Friday -- remember, we told you they don't have a real ombudsperson, just someone taking up space).
Well, we were told, this is a serious post at WMC.
We don't know Becca Stanger and we don't know that she could have written a strong piece for WMC even if she wanted to. WMC doesn't do strong pieces.
If they did strong pieces, they would have been calling out NPR long before NPR's own ombudsperson was writing about the gender imbalance.
That's how pathetic and meek they are, they have to wait for NPR to call itself out to finally weigh in. And considering that so many women we know in WMC are not just over sixty, but over seventy, it's really embarrassing that they're so cowardly and desperate to be liked at their age. Yeah, we said it.
We could also, for example, note how we took part in the March protests against the illegal war and point out that some WMC members publicly stated they'd be out protesting until the illegal war ended but that . . . apparently "change"d . . . when Barack Obama became president, eh?
WMC is so damn pathetic. It gives women a bad name. wowOwow can be doing an article on bad hair days, but even then they're more rooted in reality than any of the pom-pom waving at WMC.
NPR's ombudsperson did a 'study.' Not a real study mind you -- not that WMC can tell you about that.
When we were told of the study two weeks ago by NPR friends, we immediately asked what programs were being studied? We knew it wasn't all the programs. We knew that was too much work for the lazy ombudsperson. We were told it was Morning Edition and All Things Considered and right away we saw the problem. They do tiny segments. Five and six minute reports are considered "long." They're far from gender balanced but if you were really interested in the imbalance, you'd look to other NPR shows.
The 'study' was published Friday. We'd sooner spit on Steve Inskeep than say hello to him, but we'll note that he does have a point that, by looking at the voices heard on two news shows, you are going to, for example, hear a lot of Barack Obama (speaking to crowds, etc.) which will add into the number of male sources.
Inskeep insists in an e-mail to the ombudsperson, "You yourself acknowledge that if more men appear, it may reflect 'societal' factors like the preponderance of men in certain fields."
And therein lies the problem with the study. Unlike WMC, Ann and we have long called out NPR's gender imbalance. If you want to prove men are featured as guests more than women you go to the obvious.
You go to The Diane Rehm Show and you look at who gets on and who doesn't. Just her two hours on Friday, for example, feature four men and two women guests. Four men and two women. Inskeep is insisting that men might hold more positions in certain fields -- such as president of the United States since no woman's ever managed that (in part due to the go-along-to-get-along gals of WMC) -- and we won't argue with him on that. We will, however, note that women reporters are nothing new and that it's rather strange that Diane Rehm can book six reporters and journalists (some are columnists and not reporters) each Friday for her two hour show but it's almost always four men and two women.
We'd go further and say that in the field of the arts, women have long held their own. In fact, women have held their own since they first made their way on to the stage. So we would wonder why Terry Gross can't find women to book in equal (if not greater) number to men?
In her 'study,' the ombudsperson writes, "Are there really no women to alternate the political patter on Friday nights with Dionne and Brooks? Couldn't Maureen Corrigan (who reviews books for Fresh Air) split the book reviews on ATC with Cheuse?"
First off, Alicia Shepard, why are you bringing up E.J. Dionne and David Brooks? You say you're confining your study to Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Neither show airs "Friday nights" and you appear to mean Mark Shields and David Brooks who appear Friday nights (Dionne sometimes subs for Shields as does Ruth Marcus, among others) on The NewsHour? We're all for holding The NewsHour accountable for gender imbalance -- and stood alone in doing so during the Democratic and GOP conventions -- we're just confused as to why you limit your topic to avoid calling out Terry Gross (and that was done purposely) and yet expand it to include a PBS program? A PBS TV program?
It's a puzzler.
Then you want to note that Maureen Corrigan is a book reviewer on Fresh Air. And yet you don't point out how many critics Terry Gross has. You don't point out how little Corrigan is on.
Supposedly writing about gender imbalance among sources heard on NPR, you bring up Fresh Air but fail to tell readers that Terry has ten critics in her posse and all but one have a hang down. Ann was able to make that point just last week:
David Bianculli on TV
Maureen Corrigan on Books
David Edelstein on Movies
Kevin Whitehead on Jazz
Ken Tucker on Rock Music
Milo Miles on World Music
Geoff Nunberg on Language
Ed Ward on Rock Music
John Powers on Popular Culture
Lloyd Schwartz on Classical Music
That's Terry's My Posse Don't Pee Sitting Down group. And Shepard intentionally sidesteps that issue the same way she sidesteps how few women you will hear in a month of listening to Fresh Air -- other than Terry herself, of course. (We dealt with Terry most recently in last week's "Radio: That not-so Fresh Air.")
We'd be livid if we were Steve Inskeep. The ombudsperson counted canned soundbytes as "sources" but intentionally avoided utilizing the two biggest NPR programs that depend upon guests. Intentionally.
We don't know if Becca Stanger could have written a strong blog post. It's not a blog post. It's a piece of PR material. It exists not to help or inform women but to say, "Look! WMC was quoted at NPR!"
That's rather sad but so is WMC. And we're tired of trying to reason with those women -- some of whom were good friends at one point. We're tired of it and we're tired of them. We're tired of "women's" outlets on the left that don't call out the left for sexism. We're tired of all the women who put more emphasis on Socialism, or the Democratic Party, or Communism or 'getting along' or 'setting up my end' or whatever else and throw women in the backseat. As Teri Garr says in Tootsie, "I don't take this s**t from friends. Only from lovers."
wowOwow may be all the superficial things you at WMC insist it is but, at the end of the day, wowOwow's put women front and center. WMC hasn't. And, at the end of the day, wowOwow's offered five to seven days of new content while WMC has done . . . don't you feel it coming . . . damn little.
And forgive us, but we're still hoarse from 2008 when we had to scream and scream at all of you to get you to even do a tiny bit of coverage of Cynthia McKinney's presidential campaign. Women's Media Center? We think not.
And it honestly does come back to last month, to being at rallies against the illegal war and remembering how so many at WMC used the Iraq War to grandstand against Bush and, now that he's gone, none of you can be bothered anymore with an ongoing illegal war that neither ended nor vanished.
Again, you've just become too pathetic for us and our friendships with you may need to be written off as one of the lesser casualties of the illegal Iraq War.
"Single-payer advocates like you and me were props for him all along," writes Matthew Rothschild ("Editor’s Note," The Progressive, April 2010) in the latest of his awakening pieces regarding everyone's BFF Barack Obama. But experience gives a little enlightenment, experience takes a little way. That would be the best explanation for the interview Matthew Rothschild conducts with actress Edie Falco in which Falco insists that health care is "something I care about," that "it is unacceptable that in a country with this kind of money and the kind of excess we're capable of, there are people who just can't go to the doctor when they need to," "I'm 100% behind it" and on and on.
She's 100% behind what? That would be the obvious question. Is she for single-payer? Is she for a strong or weak public option? Is she for ObamaCare?
We learn she's against "sitting in waiting rooms" (aren't we all, Eddie?) and that she "went to Washington and spoke at Health Care for America Now and campaigned for Obama, where we talked a lot about health care issues" -- but what she actually stands for? We never learn.
As a primer, The Progressive works this month. As anything else? Let’s just be kind and say it’s better than the latest issue of The Nation which we all judged far too embarrassing to include in our latest check-in on what the political journals consider issues. The Nation was, in fact, so appalling that we were desperate to figure out exactly what was on its guiding light’s mind: Katrina vanden Heuvel.
Fortunately, Katty-van-van had contributed a brief essay to the latest issue of Dissent (Winter 2010). Both pompous and laughable, Dissent headlines a few brief essays by various minor voices as "Intellectuals and Their America." What does it mean for Katty?
She's concerned, she explains, about "what relationship should American intellectuals have toward mass culture". She also insists that there's no recognizable group of intellectuals in the US -- and don't scoff, remember the lightweight just got labeled an intellectual herself by Dissent. A woman known for the political equivalent of Jokes For The John, no less. Fortunately, she confesses she's in agreement with the vast majority of Americans: "I also don't consider myself an intellectual." She suggests that "progressives" "should stop congratulating themselves for cottoning to the Internet just a tiny bit faster than the Right and devote themselves to collectively mastering and diffusing liberation technologies."
Heady words for the woman who green lights scare tactic covers each election season. We’d go further but anyone who hails habitual liar and professional Scott Baio look-alike Rachel Maddow as an intellectual doesn't have a great deal to say.
As with Katty, so with Dissent. So we moved on to The New Republic whose cover illustration featured an adorable baby in a panda jumper and the headline: "BEHOLD CHINA Repressive at Home. Aggressive Abroad. Driving Obama Nuts." James Mann, might we suggest that your article could also appear in China Today with just a few revisions. For example, your headline could be "BEHOLD THE UNITED STATES Repressive at Home. Aggressive Abroad. Driving the World Nuts."
Jonathan Chait continues to waste the world's time. "Lawyer Up" is Chait's idea of a worthy column. He's addressing the apparently surprising fact that Liz Cheney would strongly defend her father. We're not fans of Dick Cheney (and, in fact, C.I. flipped Cheney off to his face in late 2001) but we don't begrudge Liz Cheney her right to defend her father. Nor do we fret that she leaves the factual realm to do so. She's merely following in the footsteps of The Littlest Nixon (Tricia).
We marveled over Michelle Cottle's ability to put xenophobic Janet Napolitano in soft glow but, then, the illustration did as well. Mainly, we noted the Big Pharma ad (from PhRMA) and remembered that when Randy Andy Sullivan ruled The New Republic they at least had the back cover feature Antonio Sabato Jr. in his brief undies.
From the insanity of the center-almost-left to the left, we were picking up Extra put out by so-called Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting. "You must remember this," insists the March 2010 cover -- spitting upon both Casablanca and "As Time Goes By." They want you to remember that "Giuliani 'forgets' September 11 attacks." Uh, no, it doesn't rank up there with classic films, classic love affairs or classic songs. But it does inform you of what FAIR is truly obsessed with. Having been slammed by us already for charging $3.95 for so few pages, it practically offers a double issue this week: 16 pages . . . If you count the cover as page one.
That said, our freaks at FAIR offer the only article worth reading in the political journals this month: Dahr Jamail's "The New 'Forgotten' War" -- not only the only article worth reading, the only article we could find on Iraq. Remember that point because Dahr's focusing on the MSM silence about Iraq but we've just worked our way through various left publications and found nothing.
Since it's become so rare that we have anything good to say about FAIR let's move quickly on before Jess notes that FAIR always does a good job of featuring Dahr's writing, especially in e-mails, eh, Jim Naureckas?
So we move to the right, to Reason's April 2010 issue which, unlike The Nation, strives to do what Katrina claimed to try to do in her Dissent essay: Tell the truth. That’s apparently a lot easier to do when you have no political pinup of your own in the White House -- pay attention, Katty. And pay attention to Matt Welch's delightful "Bailing Out Big Brother" which repeatedly shows you how Robert McChesney and his sometimes foil John Nichols have not just been "wrong," they've been "spectacularly wrong." We sort of picture John Nichols running through Madison, angrily ripping copies of Reason from magazine racks.
Though we've never led the cry of "Corn on the Boomers!" we do understand the annoyance so many (including Barack Obama) have expressed towards a number of them as they refuse to let go of past, as they refuse to live in present day times and as they refuse to recognize realities. Take Cesar Chelala, an ass who self-embarrasses and should have headed into retirement a long, long time ago. Like many a tired Boomer, Chelala is a closeted radical (we know what he is but saying so would lead to boos and hisses from the Supreme Fat Ass Boomer online -- we'll assume most know who we mean). Chelala is 70 years old this year and all he has to show for it is hatred of women, hatred of people and a never ending desire to lie in order to 'prove' racism.
Like Laura Flanders lying about the post-Superbowl violence, Chelala wants to insist, "Threats against President Obama have increased by 400% since President George W. Bush left office, the highest numbers on record." Can we get a source for that? No, we can't.
It can't be sourced because it's not true. Ava and C.I. were at the hearing when this oft-repeated lie was mentioned in Congress -- during a Committee on Homeland Security hearing when Eleanor Holmes-Norton asked the Secret Service Director Mark J. Sullivan about the claim and he explained to her that it wasn't true, that Barack was not receiving more threats than either George W. Bush or Bill Clinton.
We covered this February 23rd. C.I. covered it in the December 3rd snapshot, the day the Committee held their hearing. All this time later, Cesar Chelala is still repeating the LIE. Why?
Because he likes it. Because it gets him hot and horny. The same way the idea of women being beaten in greater numbers after the Superbowl helped get Laura Flanders off.
It's lying and it needs to stop and we're all so damn sick of it. Mainly we're sick of the political closet cases. Socialist or Communist (depending upon her mood) Frances Fox Piven got a little attention from Glenn Beck last week and was time for all the political closet cases to inch a toe out of their closets and cry, "UNFAIR!"
You know what's unfair?
How these lying s**t heads influence the world today.
Monday on WBAI's Out-FM, guest Bettina Aptheker told some truths (no surprise, Bettina's long been a truth teller) and we're sure she shocked the socks off a number of listeners. Below is an excerpt of the interview Tricia Spoto and Naomi Brussel conducted and, for those unfamiliar with Bettina Aptheker, she's the author of many books, a professor at University of California at Santa Cruz and the daughter of Fay and Herbert Aptheker.
Out-FM: I found that quote in the book and you say that it became apparent to you that "I could not hold on to the foundations of Marxism and still see women as the co-equals of men in the making of history" and that seems to be a critical turning point for you.
Bettina Aptheker: That's right. Intellectually, that was a critical turning point for me. The other thing that happened for me was that when my book, Women's Legacy, was ready for production, it had been commissioned by the Communist Party publishing house and then they refused to publish it. And I think the reason -- they said it was "too feminist" -- but I think that from what I understand now from conversations with people it was really because I was a lesbian in a committed lesbian relationship.
Out-FM: And they knew that.
Bettina Aptheker: And they knew that and the party was extremely homophobic.
Out-FM: Would you say that that was like your first indication or your first like breaking away from the party? That was your first indicator of moving away.
Bettina Aptheker: Which? The --
Out-FM: That -- them refusing to publish --
Bettina Aptheker: Oh, yes. That was the cause. Because psychologically I was very committed to the Party and very committed to trying to change its structure and you know make it more democratic and trying to develop Marxist ideas, trying to be very creative. And there were other comrades, you know, who felt the same way I did. I wasn't the only person floating around in there -- a lot of people felt that way. We were all working in that direction. But once they wouldn't publish my book, then-then it just didn't work for me. You know, I couldn't maintain my membership. I got the book published elsewhere.
Out-FM: And did you formally disconnect from the party?
Bettina Aptheker: Yes, I did. I wrote a letter of resignation. It was a hilarious scene with my father when I did this. I wrote this -- I wrote this formal letter and I typed it out. And I brought it to my parents because I thought they ought to see it before I resigned, you know?
Out-FM: Because it was going to impact on them.
Bettina Aptheker: Yeah. Yeah. And so my-my father read this typed letter and he said to me -- he said, "You can't, you can't send this." And I said, "Why not?" That was the least that I expected, that "you can't send this." And he said, "Because The New York Times might get a hold of it!" [Laughter.] I thought, "Why would The New York Times care?" Anyway I --
Out-FM: What do you think he was afraid of?
Bettina Aptheker: Well he just couldn't understand it, you know. It's the only time he ever really shouted at me.
Bettina Aptheker: When he was really angry. And my mother was the one who-who intervened and said "Enough, if that's what Bettina needs to do, then that's fine." I mean, she had been -- Her relationship with the Party had always been much more ambivalent than my father.
Out-FM: But she was a Communist longer, right?
Bettina Aptheker: Yeah, she was. She joined the Party long before he did. But-but the bureaucracy and a lot of the policies bothered her. So sometimes -- and also she would have personality conflicts with some people. I mean, everybody does. She stopped going to her club meetings for awhile. So she was more attuned to the psychology of what was going on, while my father was totally locked into the ideology of what was happening.
Out-FM: Do you think that those feminist ideas that you kind of were -- resonated with her also and that was part of her ambivalence?
Bettina Aptheker: She liked what I was doing. She was very aware of my work. But I have to say my father did also, from an intellectual point of view. He was very helpful with the book Women's Legacy, he was outraged that the Party refused to publish it. And he stopped publishing with International Publishers after that -- which was the Party's house. So he was in a lot of solidarity with me about it, really if you think about it. That was a big statement for him to make.
Out-FM: And how did the party react to your resignation?
Bettina Aptheker: Well the Chairman of the Communist Party in Northern California refused to accept my resignation and wanted to have a meeting -- [Laughing] Let's just have a meeting. Let's have a meeting. I was too through with this.
Out-FM: There were many people who were leaving the Party at that time.
Bettina Aptheker: Yeah people --
Out-FM: It has been happening in waves.
Bettina Aptheker: -- for a very long, long time. Yeah. Right.
Out-FM: Since the '30s.
Bettina Aptheker: Since the '30s, right. One of the things that really amazed me since I've been in New York, especially New York, is I've done some of these public talks, Naomi, you were at one of them. And the room was packed. And the place was filled with a lot of people who used to be in the Communist Party and --
Out-FM: We're still arguing with each other. [Laughter.] About what was the correct position. And what really happened in Cuba.
Bettina Aptheker: And what really happened in Cuba, yeah. So the thing is, you know, I think that's very much part of the cultural fabric of the United States. I think people don't actually think about this. Is tens of thousands of people were in and around the Communist Party who are still living.
Out-FM: And are still activists. And are community organizers and are union organizers --
Bettina Aptheker: Absolutely.
Out-FM: They're professional debate --
Bettina Aptheker: And if I might add, they're gay, lesbian and queer organizers as well. So it's just very -- it's just very striking. And we tend to discount the influence of the Communist Party which, on the one hand, in and of itself is a very small organization but it has had a lot of impact on people and its ideas.
Out-FM: And on generations. I actually asked you earlier if you would make a little comment on this. My impression has been -- as a left, queer activist over the last 30 years or so -- that the Parties that came out of the Trotsky movement were more open to queer politics, more active within queer groups and were more willing to acknowledge that this was part of life and that sexuality was part of life. Is that your impression as well?
Bettina Aptheker: Yes, and there's documentation for this. Christopher Phelps was going through some archival sources of the Socialist Party and very early and I don't know the year now but very early he found an interesting document. It was mimeographed and it was in the archive and it was unsigned but it was the Socialist Party -- did I say that? -- and it was affirming the importance of gay people to Socialist life and to Socialist movement. And there was actually a whole forum around it that the journal New Politics put around it a few years ago and people commented on this and it was extremely interesting.
Out-FM: But how do you account for this difference? I mean was it Stalin was different than Trotsky or what --
Bettina Aptheker: Well part of it you have to realize is that homosexuality was outlawed in the Soviet Union by 1933.
Out-FM: Although it had been decriminalized right after the  revolution.
Bettina Aptheker: That's right. And then you can just see, if you look at Soviet history, it's outlawed abortion -- it's outlawed in '36. And then you get this terrific repression that's taking place which involves sexuality as well as -- obviously -- a great many other things. And the Communist Party in the United States was very much aligned with the Soviet Union. Unlike the Trotsky groups which had split, you see. So that influenced how people were thinking about this particular issue.
Out-FM: That they could respond differently?
Bettina Aptheker: Yeah. The other thing is I've been in the Party's archives.
Out-FM: Which party?
Bettina Aptheker: The Communist Party, sorry. There's only one Party [. . . Laughter] Anyway, the Communist Party archive. And it's been very, very illuminating to go through it. And one of the things that's clear --
Out-FM: This is very recently?
Bettina Aptheker: Very recently. I've been at the Tamiment Library while I'm here in New York. And one of the things that is clear is that the Party glorified the idea of a working class family and of course they never -- they never analyzed the idea of patriarchy. So it's a glorification of working class family that's being corrupted by outside forces like 'perversions' They talk about economic pressures which is, of course, very true. But they also talk about 'perversions' and homosexuality is one of the 'perversions.' So it was within that context, that framework that there's this extreme homophobia.
Out-FM: So queerness is part of the decadence of capitalism?
Bettina Aptheker: Yes, that's right. And it's amazing to me that as late as 1985, at the Party convention in 1985, and I was already out of the Party then, but there was a national convention, they reaffirmed that gays and lesbians could not be members of the US Communist Party. The position really didn't change until the early 1990s, in terms of membership.
Except during fundraising drives (when the schedules change), Out-FM airs on WBAI each Monday from eleven in the morning until noon. Past shows can be heard for up to 90 days after airing at the WBAI Archives. Monday night in "Out FM and Ricky Martin," Ruth wrote of Out-FM as she often does at her site. Some Third readers had already heard the show and written this site, others heard it at the archives after Ruth wrote about the interview. The thrust of the e-mails were that it was a great interview and it was great to hear someone say on the air what Ava and C.I. have long said here.
To which Ava and C.I. reply, they've read Bettina's books, they've heard her speak publicly and they've spoken to her one-on-one. "Bettina lived it," they say, "just because you only heard it on the radio last week, don't think we're the creators of the history. She has much more of a right to it than either of us or anyone and she's long told this history."
When Ava and C.I. tell the history here, regular readers find it informative. Drive-bys attack Ava and C.I. as "liars" and other, stronger terms.
But that's reality. The Communist Party was hugely homophobic. And you call Ava and C.I. liars or call everyone pointing to that history a liar, it doesn't change the fact. And grasp that in 1985 -- a time when Ronald Reagan was silent as AIDS decimated the US gay male population -- the Communist Party was again publicly refusing to accept gay and lesbian members.
When Ava and C.I. talk this history, they do it to illustrate the problems of today. And as you read the above excerpt from Out-FM, we hope you grasped the historical echoes on your own.
We hope you realized, for example, that Lt. Dan Choi not being loudly praised at the websites of The Progressive, The Nation, the US Socialist Worker and elsewhere had a lot to do with the not-so-distant homophobic past of the Communist Party.
We hoped you grasped how women -- any woman, Hillary Clinton to Kathyrn Bigelow -- can be attacked so viciously by the so-called left.
These prejudices are never examined. Forget examined, they aren't even noted. And as they remain hidden, they do considerable damage.
It's why, for example, to return to Cesar Chelala, a man can write at Information Clearinghouse about all the evils of the world . . . but sexism doesn't make his list. This while he refers to former Governor Sarah Palin as "Mrs. Palin." And let's be really clear on this, Palin pops up in one sentence and only one sentence. In that sentence, she's referred to as "Mrs. Palin." Yeah, f**ker, that's sexism. He's attempting to demean her. He robs her not only of her title, he robs her of her first name, he attempts to reduce to "wife of." It's sexism.
The dirty history of the Closeted Communists is as destructive to the left today as anything a Corporatist War Hawk in the White House could do. And that's not going to change until people can get honest about the 'criteria' they rank with and where they learned it from. A lot of people are holding on to a lot of prejudices and refusing to examine their actions.
We don't have time for it. We don't have time for your baggage. This is today and we declare freedom and equality for all. Notice how few rush to join in on that cry.
This piece is actually a critique of the critiques of the movie Alice in Wonderland, book by Lewis Carroll, screenplay by Linda Woolverton, and direction by Tim Burton. Overall, I thought the movie was enjoyable, imaginative and enlightening. I was also surprised to find some moments of heartfelt feminism.
In looking over the reviews of the movie on line, I found a surprising lack of understanding, and some dismissive negativity, about the movie. Much—but not all—of the response was related to the issue of feminism in the film.
Here are five things that most critics got wrong about the Linda Woolverton and Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland: (Note, this piece is heavy on plot-spoilers. Don’t read it if you want to watch the movie and be surprised.)
To continue reading, click here.