Sunday, August 29, 2010
-- Matthis Chiroux, "I Am Doing this for the Iraqi and Afghan People" (World Can't Wait).
Everything that comes out of this administration, from its pronouncements on the overseas front to its own unemployment numbers, is a lie: it's all lies, all the time. Even in small matters, the default is a fib, such as in the case of the Pentagon's denial that it was ever in touch with WikiLeaks about minimizing the alleged damage done by the next Afghanistan document dump. After all, why would WikiLeaks make up such a story? The feds just want the documents "expunged," thank you. I doubt they really believe it's possible to "expunge" the Afghan war logs from the internet. If so, they are dumber than anyone has so far imagined. And so much for the myth that the Pentagon really cares about any danger to Afghan informants, who might be compromised by the release of more documents: Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have given them their chance to safeguard the identities of US collaborators, and the Pentagon flat out rejected it. So be it.
Another Sunday. And yes we are so late.
Thank you to all who worked on this edition:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.
And Dallas who hunted down links and was a soundboard and much more. And here's what we came up with:
Next week we hope to have a more complete edition. This week things didn't work out that way for a number of reasons including Ava and C.I. having a hard release time that couldn't be altered.
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.
Fort Hood's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment was set to deploy on Sunday, headed to Iraq and a number of activists were present on Sunday hoping to take part in the action calling on the military not to deploy; however, the deployment time repeatedly changed and did not take place until after 4:00 a.m. Monday morning when the five still present were Matthis, Crystal Colon, Bobby Whittenberg-James, Jeff Grant and Cynthia Thomas. Even then, the police felt the need to make a show of presence and the military, so 'brave' to deploy soldiers, would begin attempting to 'sneak' through the deployment while sending out soldiers and, yes, dogs to confront the protesters on Highway 190.
Dogs. Just a little touch of Abu Ghraib brought to Texas by the US military. And just a little confession as to how troubled by the protest the military brass so clearly was. They couldn't do it during the day due to the activists being present so they did in the darkness, in the early morning hours, sneaking the troops they were deploying off the base.
Whittenberg-James would be assaulted and knocked to the pavement. Cynthia Thomas would be grabbed by her arm and 'vigorously escorted' to the side. And, to repeat, the military would attempt to 'sneak deploy' the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. That last one, more than anything else, would demonstrate just how much power the activists had and just how much panic the military brass was in.
This was a major moment in the week and in the story of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. If you didn't hear about it or read about it, possibly you turn to corporate media or even more worthless outfits? The Nation magazine, for example, never had time last week to cover the protest -- but, hey, something like 550 'articles' slamming Glenn Beck won't write themselves, right? A blow hard on Fox 'News' is something they obsess over, before he even speaks, because they're the advance p.r. team for him. They're not? They certainly acted as if they were. And they were among the many ignoring the Fort Hood action.
If you were fortunate enough to hear about it, you might have done so at Fort Hood Disobeys, World Can't Wait, Alice Embree's The Rag Blog, Under The Hood Cafe, Raw Story (where Stephen C. Webster reported on the action) or US Socialist Worker (where Cindy Beringer covered the action).
Or maybe you just caught Free Speech Radio News' headlines on Monday:
At around 4 AM this morning at Fort Hood, Texas, veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars blockaded six buses filled with soldiers deploying to Iraq. Matthis Chiroux was one of the veterans who took part in the action outside the nation's largest military base.
"We slowed the busses to a halt for around 10 seconds, they stopped and we were looking eye to eye with the soldiers on the busses with our banner that said 'Occupation is a crime and the other, 'Don't make the same mistake we did.'" Chiroux said some soldiers responded with raised fists of defiance.
"We got a lot of raised fists of defiance out the window. A lot of soldiers seemed very excited that someone wanted them to stay home as bad as they want to stay home."
This morning's action follows last week's withdrawal of most combat forces ahead of a September 1 deadline.
It was a brave action, it was an important action. The military brass went into a panic over it. Too bad so many of our left and 'left' outlets greeted it largely with a yawn and shrug. Their priorities -- these 'leaders' and their outlets screwed up priorities -- are the reasons the wars continue.
As an alleged expert, Wilson was showing just how much ignorance can be packed into a four-and-half-minute segment via her exchange with Robert Siegel. For example, she began insisting that certain 'sitcoms' are "single-camera-filmic" and not like the "laugh track sitcom that we all grew up watching" -- which raises two questions. The first would be "filmic"? Well if you can't major the English language, create your own terms, we guess. Then there's that no laugh track, single-camera shows being nothing like what people grew up watching. Gomer Pyle? The Andy Griffith Show? The Courtship Of Eddie's Father? The Beverly Hillibies? Green Acres? Bewitched? My Three Sons?
We could go on and on. Those are single camera shows. Stacey's an uninformed, uneducated idiot. That was most obvious when she was trashing sitcoms and pimping 'sitcoms' like Glee. She believes, as do many others, that Glee will clean up at the Emmys tonight. That may very well be the case. It will not, however, make the show watchable. How little talent is on display was most obvious when the show decided to salute Madonna's songbook. Are her hits songs?
If they were, you wouldn't know it from the show. This supposedly artistic breakthrough did little but recreate Madonna's videos. And this from an allegedly 'artistic' cast that's allegedly skilled in song and dance? Glee's a commodity -- a popular one -- it's just nothing lasting. There will be no syndication life for Glee.
The Death of the Sitcom is a topic we've covered since we first started reviewing TV for Third and one point we've repeatedly attempted to get across to you is that these people repeatedly writing the obituary for the sitcom don't like funny. They never did, they never will. We've explained it until we're blue in the face but, hearing Stacy Wilson lie through her teeth on NPR, we realizied it was time to explain it again.
These bad 'sitcoms' today with their single camera and no laugh track? They're not funny. At best they're whimsical. They have no life in them. Many a show (think Kath & Kim) could have been saved if it had been done before a live audience. A live audience would have given the performers uplift and something to play to. These shows drive audiences away which is why NBC Thursday nights has been a ratings loser for some time. The shows really aren't funny and the audience really doesn't like them. They get chatted up by the ignorant Water Cooler Set. It creates the illusion of heat and keeps that crap on the air.
The New Adventures of Old Christine was a sitcom filmed before a live audience that was hilarious and brought in an audience, it was a hit show and it was cancelled last spring. And, to his credit, right before the cancellation, Ken Tucker suddenly remembered the show at Entertainment Weekly:
It’s hard to believe that a sitcom as funny as The New Adventures of Old Christine doesn't get more notice. Yes, Julia Louis-Dreyfus has won a 2006 Emmy for her work on the show, which last night had an episode that somehow managed to wring fresh laughs out of familiar sitcoms subjects such as child-birth (New Christine’s a mom: it's a girl, Dakota) and the old male-stripper-dressed-as-a-cop bit (except he wasn't a stripper, he was actually a policeman looking for a neighborhood intruder).
If you missed that episode, Betty provided a recap of it here (and covered the show each week last season -- something the Water Cooler Set avoided doing). It's a funny show and, if you loved to laugh, you would have enjoyed it. But it didn't have a champion at The New York Times or The Washington Post or on NPR's Fresh Air (Ken Tucker did not mention the show once this year nor did any other critic who does commentaries on Fresh Air) or anywhere. They wasted your time with these idiotic single-camera shows that are just not funny. (Parks & Recreation is an exception to that but, please note, it doesn't get praised by the Water Cooler Set nor does Cougar Town.) These losers told you for years that The Office and My Name Is Earl were the funniest things on TV. They weren't. We told you they weren't and we pointed out their low ratings and we predicted they'd have no syndication life. Currently The Office struggles in syndication and My Name Is Earl? Those still airing that bad show tend to bury it. It ran off viewers -- as does The Office in syndication. We're not psychics but we are educated. And we know that a half-hour show that's supposed to be funny? It needs to be funny.
To hear the Water Cooler Set sneer at the sitcom form is to realize just how ignorant and insular they are. There is no appreciation for the multi-camera, before a live audience method that Desi Arnaz pioneered. There's no appreciation for Desi's huge contribution to television. And there's no appreciation for what that provides actors.
ABC Family is airing a new sitcom, Melissa & Joey. It's multi-camera, it's filmed before a live audience. The first two minutes of the pilot were wobbly. Melissa Joan Hart, playing Mel, was saddeled with set-up, backstory and way too much more in what was a static scene with little going for it visually. That's too much to put on one actor but Hart stayed steady and when the laughs were found, she grew stronger and did so quickly. She accomplished more in the first five minutes of the pilot than Selma Blair and Molly Shannon managed in 17 epsiodes of Kath & Kim.
Hart had found the groove -- and taken the audience into it -- by the time Joey Lawrence showed up at her front door* and he was able to slide into that groove and the show was off and running. (Lawrence first shows up as Joe when he's shown on Mel's TV screen and we're not counting that.) Add to the mix Elizabeth Ho as Mel's assistant Rhonda and the show's amusing and worth watching. There are two actors under the age of 18 who play Mel's niece and nephew -- as always we refrain from offering critiques (negative or positive) of child actors. The basic premise is that Mel's sister's married to a crook who's in hiding and her sister is in prison for the financial crimes he committed. The couple's two children are being raised by Mel who also serves on the City Council. Joe was screwed over by Mel's brother-in-law and has lost everything. Unable to get a job for the city, he barges into Mel's life as her nanny.
The live audience is something that sparks the entire cast and each episode finds the cast stronger and stronger. That's what happens with a sitcom, a real one. And ABC Family offers the real deal on Tuesday nights currently (at the show's official website, you can stream some of the episodes). You won't hear the stuffed shirts raving over Mad Men give a kind word to Melissa & Joey but, reality, Mad Men's overwrought, stuffy and cereberal.
The Water Cooler Set is about trends, it is not about entertainment. Once upon time, TV critics saw their role as to champion excellence. Those days are gone as they rush to insist that TV is amazing. Stacy Wilson was claiming on NPR Friday that today's "shows feel like movies each week" -- and what she really means is that they have continuing elements (soap operas) and that's what she and others are responding to. Looking back, it was Hill Street Blues (more so than Dallas) which sold the critics on primetime soaps masquerading as dramas. Glee's not a comedy. It's glib and glib is the common theme for the Water Cooler Set. That's why they praised Studio 60 which was dead on arrival. It was preachy, it was talky and it was dull as hell so, to them, it was 'excellent.' The Water Cooler Set doesn't know from excellence.
TV critics, in attention to using their forums to champion those few bits of excellence to be found each year on TV, also saw their role as alerting viewers to shows that would entertain them. By contrast, today's Water Cooler Set comes across like Bill Hader's Stefon (Saturday Night Live). Poor things, they've mistaken 'exotic' (to put it kindly) for entertaining.
Not surprising when you realize that for all the trend chasing they do, the Water Cooler Set are basically shut-ins. Or as Stacy Wilson put it, "I personally spend most of my weekend catching up on all the shows that I record." Oh, it's so cute, it's like baby's first VCR!
How would they ever recognize life when they don't even live one? And how would they ever know from funny when their own existence is so pathetic?
Jim (Con't): Okay, Ty wants to note something right away.
Ty: If you have enjoyed the work Ava and C.I. have done here -- and at The Common Ills -- calling out the counter-insurgency gurus and their strategies, please check out this video. It's pointed and to the point and you will enjoy it.
Jim: Okay, now I'm moving to a topic Elaine's covered at her site:
- The retraction, Fort Hood Disobeys, etc
- A retraction, but no correction
- Maybe Divinity School grads shouldn't write editor...
C.I.: As you noted, I worked behind the scenes, offline, on this issue. The choice the news outlet made isn't one I would have ranked highest but I can live with it. I have no comment other than that.
Jim: Alright. So they print "a blood libel" about peace activists and, Elaine, what happens next?
Elaine: The editorial went up around 3:00 p.m. Tuesday and by 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, the blood libel was pulled from the editorial and they noted they had pulled a statement. They did not, however, issue a correction.
Jim: And while your concern is with the peace movement and with lies not being spread -- a noble concern, and that's C.I.'s as well -- mine's with journalism. I would argue that the paper had an obligation to issue a correction. You grappled with it on other terms and even tossed it out to your readers.
Elaine: Right. I did that. I understand what you're saying and agree on journalism points; however, in terms of what did happen? I'm just torn. I mean, I know C.I. worked behind the scenes and I know that the blood libel would have done even more damage --
Ruth: I am interrupting. I am doing so because I want to talk about the damage. If that had stood, if that libel had stood, what would have happened? Think about it for a little bit. Grasp that there are many times when the libel does get repeated and it does not matter as much. Why did it matter so much now?
Wally: Well if it had stood what we would have been left with was -- intentionally or not -- a clampdown. It would have clampeddown on criticism of the illegal war today. It would have -- and maybe it was intended this way -- have scared off criticism of today's illegal war.
Mike: They corrected it but I think they did run it as an attack on today's peace movement, I do believe that was the point.
Wally: And I think a strong case can be made for that. Especially if you go by the wording of the editorial.
Kat: What I want to point out is that C.I. was the first to call it out and in less than 15 hours after she called it, the statement got pulled. FAIR can't claim that kind of success ratio. Nor did FAIR even bother to write it up or comment on it in any way. And it was, C.I.'s correct, a blood libel. Where was the left 'leadership'? Snoozing as usual.
Elaine: That's an important point and I would argue that, especially offline, the credit for the removal goes to C.I. That's why I can live with what took place, I know the kind of work it took to get it pulled and it needed to be pulled so I'm glad that it was pulled. I applaud the work that went into that.
Jim: And those are valid points. I don't dismiss that. Last week, Barack was talking Iraq. It wasn't pretty.
Trina: He asserted that the Iraq War had made America safer. He actually pulled that Bush lie out and people did not call him out on it. He's such a damn liar. The Iraq War has inflamed tensions around the world. It did not make the country safer. The US service members stationed in Iraq did not make the US safer. That's reality.
Jim: Okay. Ruth, talk about that.
Ruth: Well it is appalling for the reasons that Trina just outlined. It is also appalling for historical reasons. Barack Obama is lying. And this is how they lie, this is how history lies, this is how wars get whitewashed.
Betty: I agree with Ruth and I think it's appalling how -- look around -- the so-called left it just letting it take place. The Nation, The Progressive, et al should be leading the way each day with a pushback on these lies. They are refusing to do so. They are failing and we can't afford it.
Jim: He speaks this week during prime time. About Iraq. Any thoughts on that?
Cedric: I agree with something C.I. wrote about that, how Barack just makes it worse for himself. I think that's very true. He's digging his grave by trying to happy talk Iraq.
Ann: Well, think about it, everytime someone tries to do that, they are exposed as liars by real life events. So I agree with C.I. as well on that. This is now an established pattern whether it's George W. Bush, John McCain, Joe Biden, Barack Obama or whomever.
Rebecca: And, to provide some context or something here, please note that the speech was only talked about after, after, polls started showing that the Iraq War was seen by a number of Americans as better in some way and with his low polling numbers he's desperate to grab onto something to lift his sinking boat. You saw that in yesterday's weekly address where he repeatedly interjected himself into Iraq.
Mike: Well if you're going to call the illegal war a success -- and I never would -- then I do think a lot of people who hear, watch or read about the speech will be asking why Bush isn't getting any credit? It's an illegal war but if Barack -- or Biden earlier -- are going to claim success, the next thing to rise up is the quesiton of, "Then why isn't Bush included?"
Cedric: I think that's true and I think that goes a long way towards explaining why his attempts at spinning are not working. At the same time, were he to include Bush in his speeches -- giving him credit as well -- it would only more expose how hollow Barack's claims are.
Stan: If I can change the topic a bit, Friday C.I. noted Jim Michaels and Mimi Hall (USA Today) report which included Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan as a voice of peace and supposedly Howard Dean as well. From the article:
Howard Dean, who rode a wave of anti-war sentiment to come close to capturing the 2004 Democratic nomination for president, says no one knows yet whether the war was worth it.
"If Iraq should, against the odds, turn into a liberal democracy, then we should say it was worth it," he says. "The problem is, the odds are against it."
Stan (Con't): Okay now here's C.I.'s commentary:
And that is why Howard Dean didn't deserve to be president. If Iraq becomes "a liberal democracy," he insists, then the ILLEGAL war would have been worth it. The rule of law isn't big for Howie. And that's why he's about as pertinent today as Walter Mondale. Fade Away, Howie, fade away. (And possibly "radiate," in a nod to Debbie Harry and Chris Stein's "Fade Away" song for Blondie's Parallel Lines.) The ends do not justify the means. Howard Dean is George W. Bush's ideological twin. Bush waived through warrant less, illegal spying on American citizens and, presumably, did so because he believed he was making the country safer. He destroyed our Constitutional rights, he might argue (in the old Vietnam analogy of the village) to save our Constitutional rights. He was tasked with upholding the law -- that was what he took an oath to do. But he apparently felt he was above the law and Howard Dean today embarrasses himself by arguing 'the ends justify the means.' Howard Dean was never the big anti-war opponent he was supposed to be. If he's even a footnote in history, it will be about how he was a trial run for the Barack campaign.
Stan (Con't): That's a really important point. Is the Iraq War wrong because it's illegal? I would say yes but I notice that Howard Dean won't do that. Howard Dean's a fake and a phoney.
Dona: Stan, I'm remembering in late 2004 and early 2005 at The Common Ills and how the community decided on Howard Dean as the DNC Chair. And how C.I. wasn't for Dean and noted that but noted that the community had endorsed him.
Stan: I thought of that as well. I think -- The key to me is that part about Barack's campaign being tried first with Dean. And I think that's true. And I think we were tricked and fooled and that we need to recognize that.
Jess: But what does that do? Awareness is great and I agree with Stan we need to know the enemy. But in terms of the takeaway from this, I don't know what it is because I'm not a Democrat and I see Dems catch on to this faker or that faker repeatedly but don't see any real change in the party itself. Am I missing something?
Marcia: I don't think so. I think you're exactly right. And we gave the Democrats control of both houses of Congress in the November 2006 elections and we didn't get an end to the wars then or since. We are lied to repeatedly. I do wonder about Jess' questions because I'm really not sure what comes about from this awareness.
Ava: Well I think -- and this may seem Pollyanish -- I think that each bit of awareness helps. Not only with politics but with everything. And I think that it helps the journey. Maybe the change comes -- the creation of a new political party possibly -- in my grandchildren's time but that we help build the foundation for that with our increased awareness.
Jim: Isaiah? You get the last word.
Isaiah: Well I don't know. I think Ava makes a point about the slowness of change, real change. I also get Marica's point. I don't think that they are in opposition to one another. But I don't know. I think there's a big push going on within the press right now to deceive us and portray the Iraq War as ended and as a success and neither of those two portrayals is correct.
Jim: And that is going to have to be the last word. This is a rush transcript.
This past week (a week in which Mike 'awarded' it "Idiot of the week"), for example, the paper obsessed over Glenn Beck. One article wasn't even needed but would have been more than sufficient. But the magazine's never about what's needed.
Which is how you get garbage and fluff repeatedly. Boneheaded Leslie Savan being yet another example. Who the hell thought her simplistic prose was needed or that anyone was needed to write an article about Barack Obama's religion? When you count all the aetheists writing for The Nation -- a large number -- you really have to laugh. When you realize the war they've conducted on Christianity, you realize that karma -- like Katha Pollitt -- is a bitch and there's something strangely amusing about the magazine that can never stop attacking Christianity having to push that Barack is a Christian and that that's a good thing.
Having decided to write on the topic, the magazine was pretty much committed to doing so correctly. Again, however, there really aren't any Christians at The Nation. (There are several Jews and, again, a lot of non-believers.) So the article comes across as uninformed as Katrina herself writing about hard work and earning your own way.
Savan, whose mental facilities are as blunt as her features, has a fit about statements that Franklin Graham -- or as she prefers to mock him, "Rev" -- made. Graham may be many things but one thing he does know a bit about -- and a lot more about than Leslie Savan -- is Christiainity. Which is why Graham grasps -- and Savan doesn't -- that no one here on this earth can peer into your soul. Christianity operates on many beliefs and one of them is that God -- and only God -- can judge and only God can determine whether you have accepted Christ as your savior or not.
So when Savan's attacking Hillary for saying that "as far as I know," Barack's a Christian, or Graham or Mitch McConnell for doing the same, all she's really doing is explaining that a New Yorker thought they knew everything and didn't need to research or study before weighing in. One, of course, is instantly reminded of the other infamous time Savan decided to 'weigh in' on religion -- when she attacked Ralph Lauren for not being, in her mind, sufficiently Jewish and, yes, accused of him trafficking in Nazism. Maybe religion's really not a topic Slavan should handle?
Sarah Palin's not an issue the magazine should handle. For example, in their "MORE SUBSCRIPTION OPTIONS," you can encounter the magazine utilizing homophobia long after so many have moved beyond it. Check out their "Subscribe today" blurb and gasp. Then remember that this is the publication that could not and would not call Barack out for using homophobia in the primaries and in the general election. But then, what did Chris Hayes insist? That's right, he gave a long laundry list of crimes (all of which Barack's continued) to explain why they wouldn't hold Barack's feet to the fire or, for that matter, call out the homophobic Jeremiah Wright.
Homophobia drips off Dave Zirin and for good reason but what stands out the most about the 'sports' columnist is the fact that the Socialist is perfectly happy to sell out his own beliefs to support Democrats but wants everyone else to practice some form of safe-politics or, so very Nancy Reagan of him, just say no. One screed after another finds Zirin telling people what not to do. Last week's target was Albert Pujols.
Last week also found Tom Hayden avoiding Iraq still and digging through the s**t pile to once again go after the criminal -- but out of office -- Bully Boy Bush. More wiretapping of American citizens may have taken place, Tom huffs, and it was done on gang leaders of "the most violent gang in the US and Central America". How stupid is Tom Hayden?
We knew he was stupid, we just didn't realize he was that stupid. The magazine that couldn't and wouldn't defend Lynne Stewart (don't bring up that years and years old weak-ass column by the Georgetown professor) now wants to let Tom off his leash to run crazy. Are we on the left trying to argue that Bush did the right thing? If not, why are you wasting people's time with this article, Tom?
Seriously, do you think the average American will read your article and be offended for the gang members? Really?
Reality, just like the TV show 24, Tom Hayden is marketing illegal spying on American citizens. They have no concept of how they play out across the nation -- in fact, has a magazine so provincial ever had such a pretentious name?
Reality is also that Greg Mitchell is a rabid, sexist idiot. He was that when he was claiming to be 'objective' back in his Editor & Publisher days. He was that at his blog where, when confronted with a factual error, he altered his post but refused to issue a correction or note that he had altered it. Reality is that Greg Mitchell is a dumb f**k.
He gets off his walker long enough to hike his leg and piss on Sarah Palin. That's the really the only function his penis probably has left -- urination -- and prostate issues most likely make even that difficult.
Greggers wants you to know that the mistake John McCain made was in picking Palin and not some moderate or 'moderate' Republican. Yes, boys and girls, radicals (Greg's not a Democrat, he's further to the left than that) really can be that stupid.
Any honest evaluation of the campaign notes that Sarah Palin prevented loss of votes. The right didn't like McCain. The left made him out to be ultra conservative and you could read in The Nation, for example, about the homophobic man supporting his campaign (silent on Barack's homophobes invited to official campaign events and invited on stage to speak at them, but offended by some pastor endorsing McCain) and you could read 101 attacks on McCain but none of it was reality. John McCain's a Republican who is not conservative enough for the Republican Party. Sarah Palin shored up the ticket and McCain might have been Michael Dukakis in 1988 were it not for Palin on the ticket.
That's what the liars of the left like Greg Mitchell still can't get honest about. He's repeating the attack they launched after Palin was namded as the running mate. If you remember, the 'problem' -- even then -- was Palin.
The problem was Palin?
Really? Greg Mitchell was on the fence about voting for John McCain?
No, he wasn't.
The Republican ticket needs to appeal to Republicans. The left tilted the playing field -- and remember Greg was playing 'objective' back then and still controlling what Editor & Publisher published and what it didn't -- to make Sarah Palin an outrageous choice. But she wasn't one if you were a Republican. (Though she couldn't get honest in public, Katha Pollitt praised Sarah Palin's convention speech -- where else -- on Journolist.)
The 'article' is nothing but an excerpt from Greg's bad, boring and non-selling 2009 book about how groovy Barack is. Greg's taken one too many bong hits over the years and it's really starting to show up in his bad writing.
But worse than that is what it reveals about The Nation? It's nothing but a vanity press at this point. It's a circle-jerk. It's everything but a political magazine. It advances no new ideas at all. It exists solely to react to what Republicans are doing and have done. And it is the reason that the left is in such a sorry state today.
The internet has opened up new vistas for socialists. At a time when information can be sent all over the world at the click of a button, newspapers can start to feel quite old-fashioned.
Internet activists can have a Facebook group or an email list running or organise a protest before a print paper can go to press.
So why do revolutionaries put so much effort into writing, printing and selling a newspaper like Socialist Worker? Why not drop the paper and use the resources to build a bigger presence on the internet instead?
The internet has created a real crisis for the mainstream media, but socialist papers are trying to achieve something quite different. Our papers are central to organising and creating networks.
For active socialists the interaction with our readers is as important as the number of them. We use the paper to organise.
When someone buys Socialist Worker outside a workplace it helps them to organise at work and shows a commitment to the paper’s ideas that is different from sharing comments on an internet site.
Selling the paper identifies Socialist Worker supporters as committed socialists in a way that setting up a blog does not.
Socialist Worker sellers were able to engage with strikers on British Airways picket lines as pickets came to respect the paper because of its consistent support for their struggle.
The web can also atomise the way a paper is read. Socialist Worker selects and brings together articles in the print edition in a way that is hard to repeat online.
This link to organisation and clarifying ideas has existed as long as there have been socialist papers.
The first mass workers’ paper was the Northern Star, produced in the mid-19th century by the world’s first mass workers’ movement, the Chartists.
In a largely illiterate society it was often read out to groups of workers—but meeting together also helped the workers to agree on their ideas and organise.
The Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin ran the most important socialist newspaper, Pravda—the paper of the Bolshevik party.
In the run up to the 1917 Russian revolution its writing and distribution was vital to building the Bolshevik party.
As Lenin put it, “A newspaper is not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, it is also a collective organiser.
“In this respect it may be compared to the scaffolding erected round a building under construction.
“The organisation which forms around this newspaper will be ready for everything.”
And, though sales have declined in Britain, people still buy an average of ten million newspapers every day. The Sun alone sells almost three million a day.
But the fact that the Chartists and the Bolsheviks succeeded using printed papers isn’t in itself an argument for continuing to produce a newspaper today.
While we may live in the age of the internet, almost one in three people in Britain still don’t have internet access—many of them among the poorest in society.
Beyond this, reading articles online, even revolutionary ones, can be an isolating experience.
We should never underestimate the enormous benefit the growth of the internet has provided revolutionaries—as were the spread of affordable printing, the telephone, the photocopier and mobile phones.
But what we are trying to achieve is different from most newspapers.
While Facebook groups have been very useful in organising protests and bringing people together, without a more solid form of network they are a poor predictor of how many people will actually show up at an event.
Socialist Worker uses the familiar form of a tabloid newspaper, but subverts it to tackle the ideas of the ruling class instead of reinforcing them—giving voice to th e most radical parts of workers’ experiences.
Regular face-to-face sales on the street, in a college or to a work colleague allows sellers to establish a political relationship with readers and discuss from week to week about what’s going on in the world—and how we can change it.
Also in the What Socialists Say series:
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"I Hate The War" -- most requested highlight by readers of this site.
Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Out Of Touch President" -- Isaiah on Barack's grasp of the facts.
"reading elizabeth taylor" and "Book Friday" -- Rebecca and Marcia talk books.
"Brandon Flower and solos" and "Anita Baker's working on a new album" -- Kat covers music.
"500,000,000 eggs" -- Trina on food safety.
"THIS JUST IN! BARRY O HATES POP TESTS!" and "Barack needs his teleprompter" -- Wally and Cedric document how Barack can't think on his feet.
"The Butcher's Wife" -- Isaiah dips into the archives for this one.
"Economy" -- Trina continues to chart the economy.
"Bob Somerby and Ava nail it" -- Betty notes Somerby's taking a page from Ava's book.
"Joan Mellen talks J.F.K. and R.F.K." and "Go the archives for Taking Aim" -- Ruth covers the radio. As does Ann:
- The self-told joke
- Fresh balance and LGBT in the army
- Terry searches high and really low for a man
- Only men can talk about adoption
- John Mellencamp
"The offensive survey" and "Survey spouses about working with gay service members?" -- Kat and Marcia on the Pentagon's latest insult to the LGBT community.
"Don Juan (Or If Don Juan Were A Woman)" and "Don't waste your time on The Switch"
-- Stan goes to the movies.
"Iraq snapshot," "The retraction, Fort Hood Disobeys, etc," "Christian Science Monitor HATES peace," "Maybe Divinity School grads shouldn't write editorials?," "Christian Science Monitor, Iraq," "The lessons don't seem to have taken" and "THIS JUST IN! IT'S 'CREATING'!" -- The Christian Science Monitor runs a blood libel about the peace movement, the community responds.
"Still standing with Maxine Waters" -- Betty continues her support for Maxine Waters.
"Idiot of the week" -- Mike awards a deserving group.