Sunday, May 01, 2011
-- economist Joseph Stiglitz on The NewsHour (PBS) last week
Speaking of disappointed followers: this precise pattern has been replicated to a tee by the Obama administration, which has split its most fervent supporters by escalating the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, bombing Libya, and going beyond even its predecessors in asserting and defending (in court) the imperial prerogatives of the presidency. Anyone surprised by this has to be comatose: after all, the leitmotif of the Obama campaign, then and now, has been a self-proclaimed and prideful pragmatism, i.e. opposition to principled politics as such. Especially when it comes to the question of war and peace, this gives the Obama-ites maximum flexibility in the policy realm, and an advantage in making the political argument that Democrats – because of their identity as the Mommy Party – have to “overcome” their recent history of opposition to Republican wars before the electorate trusts them enough to hand them the keys to the White House.
And now that they have those keys, however temporarily, the Democrats in power have acted just like their Republican predecessors: indeed, in some horrific alternate universe, where third term President George W. Bush is in charge of US foreign policy, it is hard to imagine what Dubya is doing differently.
-- Justin Raimondo, "The Partisan Temptation" (Antiwar.com).
Big Media has been lying to the American public for years about the birth certificate issue. A survey of the Big Media landscape yields only two outlets that however belatedly and meekly (and only once each) declared that indeed Barack Obama had not released his long form birth certificate and that Obama could easily acquire and release the birth certificate. Time magazine published a typically misleading article about the birth certificate on April 11, 2011 but to its credit at 5:40 p.m. that same day Time magazine updated the article and quietly published the truth that Obama could easily obtain, photocopy, and release his own birth certificate. Joan Vennochi of the Boston Globe belatedly and quietly also published the truth in early April.
But that is pretty much it. Two tiny articles which buried the story about the birth certificate told the truth and the rest of Big Media lied.
-- Hillary Is 44, "Time For Big Media To Apolgize To Donald Trump And Demand The Truth From Barack Obama."
Another Sunday. We thank all who participated this week which includes Dallas and the following:
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.
What did we come up with?
Okay, I've got to do this quickly because we were done an hour and half ago. What happened? C.I. was going to work on The Common Ills, we were doing a Kill Bill marathon when a friend of C.I.'s at NBC News called to say that in a few minutes the news would be reporting that Osama bin Laden was dead. We had to stop the marathon, put the food on hold and wait and wait and wait.
Once it was announced, Ava said to C.I., "Maybe we need to write this up? Want to do it in place of 'And the war drags on . . .'?" And I (Jim) jumped in saying, "It's not Iraq! It's not Iraq! If you write it, it's a Third piece!" And that's what it became and just went up. And I need to do this note quickly so C.I. can go off and finally get started on an entry over at The Common Ills.
So what do we have?
Kat's review that went up today, it hadn't posted when they wrote this.
And that's what we have. I planned for us to do a feature on movies that you can't find on DVD and noted we'd try to include any readers' wishes we get -- our e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. We got a number of e-mails. We just didn't have time for the feature. It will run next week.
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.
April was "the deadliest month for US troops in Iraq since 2009." But if you heard about that last week, you heard about it from France's AFP wire service and not from a western outlet. (AP did a story today that some outlets have picked up.)
While the children of Iraq live in squalor (photo above via The Great Iraqi Revolution), your US media outlets aren't rushing to report on that, are they?
Last week, a right-wing columnist attacked a number of public figures for refusing to call out Barack Obama for continuing the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War and starting the Libyan War. The problem with the column was that those called out included Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan.
The right-winger -- and all the people leaving comments to his column -- were unaware that Cindy Sheehan has, in fact, repeatedly called out the War Hawk Barack. From her most recent column:
Then there are the King and Queen of America who don't find anything amiss with taking expensive vacations with their Subjects footing huge portions of the bill, while unemployment is still at Depression-era levels, and when the Subjects, who are lucky enough to have jobs, can't afford even a "staycation." When the Obamas took their first $50,000/week vacation in 2009 on Martha's Vineyard, I was incensed and expressed it (as is my custom). One male Imperial Subject asked me, "Cindy, where do you expect him to stay? A Motel 6 in Orlando, Florida?" My answer was, "Hell yeah, if it's good enough for us, it's good enough for them."
And while we know that, we're aware that a lot of others don't. Why is that? In the same column, Cindy Sheehan explained:
Anyway -- if one has an insatiable thirst for institutional violence on a massive and very extravagant scale—like Miss Crowley -- then whom else would you have on your program to talk about the US/British/NATO war crimes in Libya? Certainly not Cindy Sheehan, Cynthia McKinney or Dennis Kucinich? Heck no, if one of us were interviewed on CiaNN, we may actually tell the truth about what's really happening in Libya and the tiny cat's paw of doubt may begin to creep into the minds of the average consumer of CiaNN's "All war, All the time," news-o-tainment.
You can't know what's not covered.
What we have is a media failure.
That only becomes clearer with each day.
Michael T. Heaney and Fabio Rojas recently authored the 'study' entitled "The Partisan Dynamics of Contention: Demobilization of the Antiwar Movement in the United States, 2007-2009." If you're not getting how extreme the media failure is, read that study or, better yet, listen to Heaney blather on to a skeptical Scott Horton on Antiwar Radio last month.
Dismissing with both the chicken and the egg, Heaney rushes to serve you an omelet.
Heaney rushes to insist that there are two reasons people participate in protests (only two reasons?): "strong sense of threat" and "they feel their voice is not being heard."
There are many, many more reasons people participate in protests. But let's focus on Heaney's omelet (and maybe a little catsup will help it go down).
Where did people get a "strong sense of threat" about the Bush administration? Where did "they feel their voice is not being heard"? And where do Americans get the information that the Obama administration should not provide a "strong sense of threat" or the foolish notion that their 'voice is being heard'?
It's a media issue.
You can't study the decrease without studying the media.
That is the primary reason. And when you offer bulls**t that is such bulls**t that you're saying "I think" about your supposed study (if it's a study, you know what the study says), you're not helping anyone.
At the end of last August, Barack offered that combat operations were over in Iraq. All that was missing was his Mission Accomplished banner. The war wasn't over. But find the outlets that noted that. Only one.
Memo from AP Deputy Managing Editor for Standards and Production Tom Kent:
Whatever the subject, we should be correct and consistent in our description of what the situation in Iraq is. This guidance summarizes the situation and suggests wording to use and avoid.
To begin with, combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials. The situation on the ground in Iraq is no different today than it has been for some months. Iraqi security forces are still fighting Sunni and al-Qaida insurgents. Many Iraqis remain very concerned for their country's future despite a dramatic improvement in security, the economy and living conditions in many areas.
As for U.S. involvement, it also goes too far to say that the U.S. part in the conflict in Iraq is over. President Obama said Monday night that "the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country."
However, 50,000 American troops remain in country. Our own reporting on the ground confirms that some of these troops, especially some 4,500 special operations forces, continue to be directly engaged in military operations. These troops are accompanying Iraqi soldiers into battle with militant groups and may well fire and be fired on. In addition, although administration spokesmen say we are now at the tail end of American involvement and all troops will be gone by the end of 2011, there is no guarantee that this will be the case.
Our stories about Iraq should make clear that U.S. troops remain involved in combat operations alongside Iraqi forces, although U.S. officials say the American combat mission has formally ended. We can also say the United States has ended its major combat role in Iraq, or that it has transferred military authority to Iraqi forces. We can add that beyond U.S. boots on the ground, Iraq is expected to need U.S. air power and other military support for years to control its own air space and to deter possible attack from abroad.
What we have is a media failure. It's benefiting Barack Obama so don't expect to hear a lot of complaints from the left. They only pretend to be outraged by the media when their heroes aren't being fawned over. But it's a media failure and those who really care are people who object regardless of whether their 'side' benefits or not.
At the same time the paper was posting that online, ABC viewers heard -- mainly from George Stephanopoulous -- that Osama bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan.
bin Laden is considered to be the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001 attacks on NYC and the Pentagon. For those who've forgotten, the Afghanistan War started over these attacks. The US government asked Afghanistan to turn over bin Laden and Afghanistan responded that they would if evidence of his involvement was shared with them. Then Secretary of State Colin Powell responded that they would recieve "proof" after they handed him over.
Afghanistan refused. They were correct legally. Extradition's require that the government requesting a person present certain paperwork. Why the Bush administration didn't want to do that is a question that's never been answered.
A few years later, it became news when it was learned the FBI did not list 9-11 on their most wanted poster of bin Laden. Even today, the FBI does not list 9-11 in connection with bin Laden.
Key point in above screen snaps: "Usama Bin Laden is wanted in connection with the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. These attacks killed over 200 people. In addition, Bin Laden is a suspect in other terrorist attacks throughout the world."
On ABC, on NBC and on CBS they blathered on and on. They never addressed the above.
They didn't really address anything because they didn't have anything except for a headline: "bin Laden dead."
While we agree running that as a crawl across the bottom of the screen wouldn't have been enough, we do think that running it as a crawl with "President to address nation shortly. . . We will broadcast President's address" would have covered it. Barring that, a quick interruption to toss to someone stating that onscreen would have been fine.
But blather serves no one. And watching a network attempt to tease a headline into 15 minutes of coverage only demonstrates how sorry the state of news is today.
If you thought a presidential address would expand on the death or answer the above confusion regarding why the US wouldn't provide proof to Afghanistan or why the FBI didn't list 9-11 on their Most Wanted poster, you were wrong.
"Good evening. Tonight I can report to the nation and to the world," Barack declared at the start of his address, bearing down on the term "report," while, in fact, reporting nothing.
It never got deeper than that greeting. There were kind words for the Bush administration. There was no analysis and there were no real information.
Near the end, he declared that "justice has been done."
Justice is bringing someone before a court to faces charges.
Vigilantism is what took place.
You can cheer that or boo it or shrug.
But you can't honestly claim justice -- in a legal sense -- took place.
In the lead up to the 2008 elections, much was made that a Constitutional professor in the White House would lead to a renewed respect for the law. In fact, Naomi Woolf was fond of insisting that repeatedly (including in her endorsement of Barack during the Democratic Party primaries). But that respect for the rule of law -- so absent during the Bully Boy Bush years -- never arrived in the Barack years.
The targeted killing only demonstrates that further.
And as a result, look for the White House's anonymous press feeders to begin stressing in the coming days that, actually, there were attempts to bring Osama bin Laden in alive so that he could face charges; however, the situation didn't allow for it and US forces were forced to take him out.
It'll be a cute little add-on or upgrade to the narrative and, the press being what it is, no one
will bother to ask why that wasn't noted in the original statements?
Osama bin Laden's dead. If you're ignorant of the way terrorism works, that's a great thing. If you have any background at all in what breeds terrorism, you're aware that the 'triumphant' movement ABC, CBS and NBC couldn't stop yacking about actually just made things worse.
Again, blather never helped anyone. After giving no details in his address, Barack asked for God's blessing on the United States. He'd have been wise to have also asked a deity to provide a better press.
A better press would have asked questions we've outlined above. A better press would have presented their anchors delivering the news if they were going to break into programming -- that is the standard practice though ABC apparently couldn't rouse Diane Sawyer -- or was it that someone at the network felt the news had to come from a man?
A better press would've noted what a contradiction the presidential address was. After all, it was only last week that Barack was addressing the nation about his birth and, at the top of that televised event, he declared, "I was just back there listening to Chuck -- he was saying, it’s amazing that he’s not going to be talking about national security. I would not have the networks breaking in if I was talking about that, Chuck, and you know it." So what was tonight? Was bin Laden's death about national security or not? And if bin Laden was the reason the US went to war with Afghanistan (that has always been the stated reason), does bin Laden's death mean US forces finally (and immediately) leave Afghanistan?
A functioning press would have a ton of questions. Instead, ABC served up Spring Break DC! very MTV style.
Thursday night bitchy Tina Fey had her revenge on 30 Rock. Or thought she did. You may recall Tina's whining to the media that they had a perfect spot planned for Bill Clinton but couldn't get him. Wah, wah, she whined in public.
Even though they'd already 'fixed' it by adding a 'joke' to the John Riggi scripted episode. Avery was sent to various locales by the network. In North Korea, she discovered her stay was 'extended' by Kim Jong-Il. Avery was a political prisoner. Who could save her?
Tina's Liz suggested to Jack (Alec Baldwin) that he ask Bill Clinton, who'd helped with Laura Ling's release, to get Avery out of North Korea but Jack explained Avery had never forgiven Bill for not making a pass at her in 1996. Screwing up her sad little face, Fey nodded and said Avery was too skinny (to interest Bill). Oh, that was funny (not).
Since Bill was out of the picture, who could they call? Condi Rice showed up playing herself. Jack asked Condi (whom he broke up with early in the series) to help.
And Tina was so proud of the episode.
Not only did she attack Bill Clinton with a tired and stale joke, but was her message supposed to be: Barack Obama is weak, ineffectual and not to be trusted?
That's what the episode broadcast. Avery was a hostage in North Korea. Liz and Jack brainstormed on who could help. Neither thought to contact the current administration. Says a great deal, doesn't it? Dropping back to the guy who was president from 1993 to 2000 for help or the woman who served in the Bush administration.
But Barack? The sitting president? No one thought to reach out to the Christ-child.
The real problem here is that pathetics like Tina Fey have been happy to make every politician a joke except Barack. And they've sheltered and protected the little fellow to the point that he's about as strong as a penned in veal.
There were moments early on when ABC's Wednesday night fare Better With You was just as weak. But it had a number of things going for it including James Burrows, a solid cast and a live studio audience.
Rough spots will emerge in any show. The first 13 or so episodes of Roseanne, for example, are not the show's finest. Many members of The Mary Tyler Moore Show cast (especially Ted Knight) took a few episodes to really get a handle on their characters.
A show like Mr. Sunshine is never going to get better than its first (awful) episode. It's not playing to an audience. It's a bunch fo tired actors filming bits and pieces throughout the week and it's just never going to be better or any different. By contrast, a show filmed before a studio audience is going to give immediate response and feedback. The behind the camera team can shape a role to include an unexpected and unplanned bit so that it becomes part of the character. An actor or actress can learn quickly what's working and what's not.
That's taken place as the season's moved along.
Better With You, for those who've missed it, tracks three couples: newly in love Mia and Casey (Joanna Garcia and Jake Lacey), Mia's sister Maddie and her live-in boyfriend Ben (Jennifer Finnigan and Josh Cooke) and Mia and Maddie's parents Vicky and Joel (Debra Jo Rupp and Kurt Fuller).
Most TV viewers know Debra Jo Rupp as Kitty on That 70s Show. They saw glimmers of Kitty at the start of the show. But as the series has moved along, Debra Jo's performance became stronger and stronger. There's a chilling quality to Vicky that's really not in the early scripts but that Debra Jo provided, audiences responded and it quickly became part of the character with the scripts tailored to include it.
After Debra Jo, the most well known cast member was probably Joanna Garcia who starred as Reba's oldest (and blond) daughter on Reba and she's brought Mia down, scaled her back as the season went along. (We're not picking apart any of the cast, we think they all do a great job, and Joanna's Mia had every reason to be exhuberent -- she was in love and pregnant at the start of the show -- but she was a little too happy about everything.) The entire cast has shaded their performances as the season went along.
And the writers were able to use the audience feedback provided during tapings. It's why Jake Lacy character is not the big problem it was at the start.
When you do any TV show, people will relate and that's especially true when there are recongizable situations. Better With You provides many opportunities for the viewer to cast her or himself as a character while watching.
And Jake's Casey was the show's biggest problem. Casey is beloved by Mia and Maddie's parents while Ben, on a good day, is beliked by them.
If you've cast yourself as Ben or Maddie, that's not funny.
It's not funny to see Ben bust his ass to try to please them or reach them or do for them and to repeatedly see him treated like a guest and not part of the family. (Ben and Maddie have lived together for nearly a decade. Maddie doesn't belive in marriage.)
Casey has many good qualities and those could have been embraced for the start but instead audiences were tabulating what Ben was doing for Vicky and Joel and how Casey was the epitome of irresponsibility (where's the job, Dad-to-be?) and really starting to dislike Casey.
This was not Jake Lacy's performance, this was about the way the storyline was plotted.
And in a single camera, no audience show, that storyline would have stated exactly the same. Better With You, by contrast, was able to tinker with it to get to the point where audiences could enjoy Casey.
Cooke was the best thing about Four Kings so his strong work here was not unexpected. Jennifer Finnigan is miles beyond her performance in Close To Home and that was a surprise from the very first episode of Better With You. But the real satisfication for those vierwers who stayed with the show has to be just how strong everyone is. That includes Kurt Fuller who is a constant surprise.
The biggest problem Better With You has currently is finding viewers. Airing after Dancing With The Stars last Monday, the show pulled in over 11 million viewers -- which was better than many other sitcoms ABC has placed there did. It usually airs on Wednesday nights and, for much of the season, only on Wednesday nights.
ABC better get its act together this fall. It cannot air TV shows anymore that cannot also be streamed online. It's not 1979, Barney Miller does not rule the airwaves. The inability to stream V online hurt that show. There was tremendous interest in the show's second season until it started. Viewers waited and waited to stream it and quickly realized that they couldn't. That created a huge backlash for the show that not even bringing on cast members from the first V series could diminish. Better With You is now streamable at Hulu and at ABC. So it works both ways, viewers can learn from networks and networks can learn from viewers.
If ABC were smart, it would renew the show and air it every week over the summer to help further build its audience. Will they renew it? ABC suits tell us they'll be closer to that decision May 12th when they see the overnights for the episode Mia gives birth in.
When speaking at the White House, he was addressing some of the controversies surrounding his birth -- they included was he born in Hawaii, who was his father, is dual citizenship the same as "natural born" and more (and, no, they weren't all addressed). If he were worried about the rumor -- now over three years old though he calimed Wednesday that it was only two-to-two-and-a-half years old, he could have addressed it sooner. What he was worried about was how it was effecting him.
With Barack, it is forever about Barack. Which is why in the same speech Wednesday he called for civility and an end to villification before apparently referring to Donald Trump as a carnival barker (video here at White House website) following up on Saturday with an elaborately staged 'comic' attack on Donald Trump and his abilities and work demonstrating yet again that, with Barack, it's always call for civility and then lash out.
And the media will applaud it like good little lap dogs. They'll pretend that the president of the United States attacking an American citizen with prepared remarks and an audio-visual presentation is just the sort of thing the Founding Fathers had in mind.
The media's always been eager to reach inside Barack's panties and stroke away but the percentage of the public still cheering the media's efforts at whoring continues to dwindle.
And that's also in part why Barack gave his little Wednesday here-is-my-documentation presentation. It's also, in full, why his move was idiotic.
Barack should have released additional documents some time ago. By waiting to respond until the issue was raised by Donald Trump, Barack embarrassed himself and further cemented a growing public image of weakness.
The story (reduced solely to whether or not Barack was born in Hawaii by the press) refused to die. It gathered steam every week. And Barack decided he was above it all and could ignore it.
We disagreed with that strategy (and over a year ago, Dona called for the document to be released to end the issue); however, it was the strategy the White House thought best.
Judging by Barack's bitchy reaction over the last days: Donald Trump.
What Barack ignored in 2008, in 2009, in 2010 and in the early months of 2011 suddenly had to be addressed?
Barack gave away his power and fed into an image of weakness.
The economy just gets worse. Neil Irwin (Washington Post) reported, "The 1.8 percent pace of increase in gross domestic product in the first quarter, according to a Commerce Department report Thursday, is down from a 3.1 percent gain in the final months of 2010." In other words, there is no steady climb for the economy. Unemployment is far worse than most want to admit and people are hurting -- a fact Barack insisted upon making in his Wednesday speech . . . before jetting off to not one but three million dollar fund raisers.
The economy just gets worse but Barack doesn't break a sweat. Exccept on the golf course where he's now logged more time than George W. Bush did in his first term.
The economy just gets worse and he's whining that he can't "go through Central Park and watch folks passing by ... spend the day watching people -- I miss that."
That's what he's whining about.
He has no idea how weak he sounds every day of the week.
And independents began bailing when he began bowing to foreign leaders. Happens once and the White House lies that Barack wasn't bowing? Some independents will give him the benefit of the doubt. Then Barack goes to Japan . . .
And bows again.
The president of the United States is supposed to work for the American people and they bow and scrape before no one. (Unlike the American media.)
Repeatedly, Barack Obama is caught making mistakes that no president should -- mistakes that if made by others would be big news. And the media coddles him and babies him and the American people see that as well.
Along comes Donald Trump who people see as rich and successful and he and Barack knock heads. Barack does what Donald demands and the White House couldn't see that it would make Barack -- a lousy attorney who couldn't even make junior partner at a piddly, little law firm -- look weak?
The talk about the birth certificate and where was Barack born?
It never benefited Barack.
There are people who do not believe he was born here.
There are people who believe that 9-11 was an inside job and George W.Bush helped carry it out.
Those 9-11 rumors? They didn't help Bush. They did help erode confidence in him. They did create a murky layer of distrust around him.
It's the same thing with Barack's birth. All those rushing to defend Barack? They just kept the issue alive and ensured that everyone would hear about it, that everyone would know it. They helped ensure that the distrust would breed.
His defenders did more harm than good. Not only did they keep it alive, but they were repeatedly wrong which made them appear to be liars.
Take Bob Somerby who can't stop cursing at his site these days.
Friday, Somerby was calling the media out for "gross incompentence" and had a long list of culprits. But somehow, he forgot to add his own name to the list.
"As things turned out," Somerby insisted, "Smith and Tau were right--Obama had to get a special legal ruling to let him release the 'long form' document. But as late as Monday night, CNN still didn't seem to understand this, even as the channel launched a special two-night attempt to clarify this general topic."
You know who else didn't understand it? Bob Somerby.
A legal ruling comes from a judicial body -- and only from a judicial body. A legal ruling cannot be issued by an executive body. That's not how our government works. Strange that Bob Somerby couldn't grasp that.
Last Friday, Obama signed a short letter to Hawaii Director of Health Loretta Fuddy, asking for two certified copies of "my original certificate of live birth."
Obama's private attorney, Judith Corley, that day sent her letter to Fuddy asking, on Obama's behalf, for the health department to waive its long-standing policy not to release the "long-form" certificate.
On Monday, Fuddy said in a letter to Obama she would "make an exception" to policy in part to stop the "numerous inquiries" that had flooded her department, enough to be "disruptive" to her operation and "strain" state resources.
According to Sweet's account, the official made a decision that was within her job duties to make. This is not a legal ruling. Members of the executive branch do not make legal rulings. Even attorneys for the executive branch do not make rulings, they offer legal opinions. It's not a minor point.
It's also not a minor point that the account Sweet (and a few others) repeat is being questioned by reporters in Hawaii. Someone might want to verify what exactly took place because copies of the long form certificate only require the letters Barack wrote (the additional letter was required only because Barack was not picking it up in person himself or having it mailed to him).But Somerby inflates it to a legal ruling.
He also accepts a false report that Barack was prevented "by law" from releasing the certificate. If that were true, the Director of Health would not have the power to waive it. If it was prevented "by law" the legislative branch would have to repeal the law or vote an exception. If a judge decided that, it would destroy the alleged law for all because you can't have a judge make a one-person only ruling. (And, if it didn't, that would invite a class-action lawsuit -- and class-action law suits against governmental bodies were not effected by last week's Supreme Court decision.)
We're not telling Bob Somerby to stop pursuing the topic. We're not supporting Barack in 2012 (nor did we in 2008). We're thrilled that all of his helpers are so eager to ensure that doubts float in the public's mind about Barack.
If you're thinking fact checking is the answer, you don't know what you're doing. But we're okay with that because things like this Tell Me More (NPR) roundtable are no help to Barack. So keep bringing up those issues and ensuring the the public unease grows.
You've spent months denying the claims that Barack was born outside the US and that worked out so very well, right?
Nope. As Stephanie Condon (CBS News) reported April 11th, "A quarter of all Americans incorrectly think President Obama was not born in the United States, according to a new CBS News/ New York Times poll."
The problem with a cypher will always be that people fill in what they see with their own eyes. And once they do, you can't alter the image, it's frozen in time.
Listing off the show's credits on air ("Sandra Pinkard, Nancy Robertson, Susan Nabors and Denise Couture, Monique Nazareth and Sarah Ashworth") may impress unless you've listened to the actual show. If you do listen, you'll notice that each broadcast day, one of her guests, she's fond of saying, is always you. That's homey but it doesn't change the fact that people actually sitting in front of the microphone are predominately male.
A woman who moved over to radio from dispatch should know a thing or two about obstacles to women. And a woman who's fond of showing up at events celebrating women's accomplishments should be willing to celebrate women.
If this were 1951, the two preceding sentences might seem controversial. But it's 2011, and there's nothing controversial about parity or equality. In the United States, women are said to make up 50.1% of the population. Equality should have arrived.
But it hasn't and one of the reasons is that women are forever overlooked while men are forever overbooked on the various gas bag programs. Men pontificate and women listen.
'If only we had women in charge of programs, then we'd get some parity and equality.'
That thought, actually, was one of the primary things pushing National Public Radio. NPR was created (true of PBS as well) to provide the voices that were not getting air time on corporate media. And in its early days (NPR began broadcasting in 1970), National Public Radio was one of the few broadcast outlets where women could advance.
A number of NPR women with prime real estate on the public airwaves got their start at NPR in the 70s. So you might have thought these women would work to pull up other women. You would be wrong. For example, Terry Gross is one of those seventies women and the host of Fresh Air. That's the program, for the uninformed, made it through 2010 with women making up only 18.546% of the guests.
In the early seventies, that would have led to a call for a sit-in at the offices of NPR. Today, people just shrug. And NPR's ombudsperson, Alicia Shepherd, plays dumb and cute and insists that she can't track the guests on Fresh Air because it's not a NPR show. (As we've noted, when NPR slaps a copyright on it, it becomes a NPR program. If that's confusing to Alicia, she can consult with one of the CPB's attorneys. We have.)
April kicked off the first of a six month study we're doing on The Diane Rehm Show to determine the gender equation on her show. The results weren't encouraging. Terry Gross is a Queen Bee who never gives back to the community so her lack of awareness -- or concern -- wasn't surprising. But Diane does fancy herself a friend of other women.
Diane needs to work at her friendship skills. For the month of April, women made up 34.48% of her guests.
When women were on they were chiefly journalists, biographers or artists. And listening all month long, it was really disturbing to realize how many of the people brought in to talk about the economy or issues of war and conflict were men. Are there no female economists in the United States?
This is the first of five months we're studying. Possibly, future months will see an improvement? If so, The Diane Rehm Show will be the exception.
Past studies have demonstrated that programs and outlets will happily attempt to derail studies, beg you to drop the study, encourage you to alter the study or include their airy 'plans' for the future (for instance, when studying the huge gender imbalance at The Nation, we were lobbyied repeatedly about all these big changes that were going to take place yet years later they still haven't done what they swore was about to take place). They're just not happy addressing the actual problem.
Of all the programs and outlets we've covered thus far (as well as the ones we have on a list for future coverage), The Diane Rehm Show is the only one that we think could improve. That's because Diane wants to be a friend to women. If she can turn that desire into action, she'll be the exception to the rule.
But equally true is that, in 2010, we did a study of her show and found 232 guests booked of which only 30.17% were women.
Free will means you write your own history. We've got five more months to find out what Diane's will be.
April 1st, 5 men, 1 woman. April 4th, 5 men, 1 woman. April 5th, 3 men and 3 women. April 6th, 4 men and 2 women. April 7th, 3 men, 2 women. April 8th, 3 men, 3 women. April 11th, 2 men, 2 women. April 12th, 2 men, 2 women. April 13th, 5 women (no men). April 14th, 5 men, 1 woman. April 15th, 4 men, 2 women. April 18th, 5 men, 2 women. April 19th, 2 men, 2 women. April 20th, 5 men, 2 women. April 21st, 6 men, 2 women. April 22nd, 4 men, 2 women. April 25th, 2 men (no women). April 26th, 4 men, 1 woman. April 27th, 4 men, 3 women. April 28th, 4 men. April 29th, 4 men, 2 women.
Stop deportations!On May day, demand solidarity and legalization
By Teresa Gutierrez
More than 1 million immigrants have been deported since President Barack Obama took office. One million! This is a tsunami of injustice.
This mass deportation of immigrants takes place amid a wave of anti-immigrant legislation sweeping the country. Many such bills have already been passed by state legislatures, most recently in Georgia. Many more are pending, as in Florida, making this the ultimate hour of “show me your papers” in the U.S.
But whatever the stage of the bills, the legislation has already achieved its goal of contributing to a racist, anti-immigrant climate. This witch-hunt is calculated to instill fear in immigrant communities, driving workers to go further underground or to self-deport, and to prevent immigrants from organizing for their rights.
Furthermore, the anti-immigrant climate is meant to break solidarity between workers born in this country and workers born elsewhere.
These attacks come in the context of the deepening economic crisis. What is the solution of the corporate bosses and their representatives in government to the crisis they created? It is to attack teachers, steal workers’ pensions, increase layoffs and foreclosures, and sabotage unions, including the fundamental right to collective bargaining.
To carry out this program, the bosses must foster divisions among the working class. The capitalist system counts on social peace as it dismantles workers’ rights to a job, health care, education and so on. Only solidarity and a fighting spirit can push their program back.
May Day 2011 is more important than ever. May Day was born as a day of righteous struggle, of revolutionary militancy, and that spirit must be revived again in the U.S.
Solidarity. A united, militant fightback. These are the only things that will stop the deportations as well as all the attacks against workers and the oppressed. Only by reviving the class struggle can we not only defend past gains but win new victories.
Washington, not local laws, behind deportations
Behind the 1 million deportations is a federal policy initiated by the Obama administration in 2008 called “Secure Communities.”
Writing a series of articles in Counterpunch last summer and fall, Stewart J. Lawrence commented that Obama’s Secure Communities may be more dangerous than the laws emanating from Arizona.
A half-year later the facts show this to be true.
Secure Communities was sold to the public as a program that would deport alleged criminals without documents.
The fact is that a million workers have been deported, many of them under the Secure Communities policy. This demonstrates that this program is meant to round up the undocumented under any pretext, demanding papers to prove their official immigration status and then consigning those without papers to the deportation process.
Legal experts, human rights and immigration activists have all denounced this as extreme racial profiling. Only people of color are stopped and asked for their papers.
Chicago activists point to the case of an immigrant who was stopped because a cop alleged that the Virgin Mary hanging on a string in his car blocked the driver’s vision. (Medill News Service, Northwestern University)
The 1 million people who have been deported are not criminals. They are workers — workers who were forced to come to this country because of U.S.-orchestrated economic and political policies, such as NAFTA and the kidnapping of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti.
Often, what police use to justify stopping workers are things people are doing simply to survive. For example, a woman in New York was stopped, and ultimately deported, for selling CDs, allegedly illegally.
However, even that small group of workers who might have committed a serious anti-social act must be defended. Otherwise, the movement would be going along with ruling-class attempts to divide “good” and “bad” workers, while the real criminals drop bombs in Libya or foreclose on homes.
The movement cannot go along with this divide-and-conquer attitude of the ruling class that wants the movement to take sides and agree to deport “those bad immigrants but not these.”
Lawrence pointed out that Secure Communities targets “low-level misdemeanor offenders, including people who may be guilty of little more than running a stop sign or driving with a broken taillight.” Many of these people are innocent. “But,” wrote Lawrence, “they are getting rounded up and processed for deportation just the same.”
The program began in North Carolina and Texas in October 2008. Now, about 500 jurisdictions in at least 25 states are working with the Department of Homeland Security to implement the program. Lawrence noted that is more than six times the number of jurisdictions working under the earlier immigration legislation, Section 287(g), which authorizes local police to act as Customs agents.
To add insult to injury, the Department of Homeland Security originally told state government officials that they could opt out of Secure Communities. This turned out not to be true.
In mid-April, Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California called for an investigation of federal immigration officials who she said lied about whether states or counties had the right to opt out of Secure Communities. Opponents of the program say this deception probably prevented officials who do not want to go along with the program from filing lawsuits in time to prevent the collaboration.
According to a commentary by Bill King in the Feb. 16 Houston Chronicle, it costs about $23,500 per person to deport a worker. Imagine if that money were used for human needs instead of repression.
Jobs, legalization and health care for all would result in real secure communities.
Obama meets on immigration
On April 19 President Obama met with several elected officials as well as community and labor leaders. Participants included New York billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg as well as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and the Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network. The meeting was about reviving the national discussion on “comprehensive immigration reform.”
The specific call for CIR has been dropped by many immigrant advocates, because much of the legislation in and out of Congress called CIR would actually do the opposite of what the progressive movement is demanding.
That’s why the right-wing, anti-immigrant forces have also called for CIR. Their CIR often includes guest worker programs and compulsory biometric identification systems that would hurt all workers. These bills grant legalization to almost no workers.
What much of the pro-immigrant movement continues to demand is immediate and genuine legalization for all. And it will not stop until legalization is won.
This wing of the movement condemns any and all guest worker programs and considers them a slap in the face not only to foreign-born workers, who are brought here with little or no rights, many in slave-like and abusive conditions, but to unions as well. Guest workers have been used in the past to break union campaigns.
AFL-CIO’s Trumka will be speaking at a May Day rally in Milwaukee organized by Voces de la Frontera and others. This is an important gesture of solidarity.
Trumka will be representing immigrants, especially the undocumented. In any further discussions with President Obama he must make sure that legalization is front and center.
Furthermore, a moratorium on deportations is long overdue.
The 2011 May Day rallies around the country must send a clear message of independent struggle.
May Day rallies must say to all those involved in the debate on immigration — to the bosses who want to place the burden of the economic crisis on workers’ backs; to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who conduct vicious, racist raids in immigrant communities; to all the right-wingers who are blaming the budget deficit on workers and their unions: Stop the war on the working class!
Wisconsin showed the way. Now we must take it further.
Only an end to all the attacks on workers will suffice — whether they are teachers or students, dishwashers or nurses, autoworkers or miners.
Until this war ends, we must not only continue to march and demonstrate but revive the militant spirit of the Haymarket struggle for the eight-hour day, from which May Day was born.
Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
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