Sunday, February 26, 2012

Truest statement of the week

There is no monetary value large enough that can be placed on a human life or the love of a mother for her child.
I consider that my debt to this country was paid in full when my son, Casey, was recklessly with no regard for his safety (remember the rush to war with the “Army you have” which was not properly trained or equipped?) murdered for the lies of a regime, whose members (Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Yoo, Wolfowitz, Perle, etc.) roam around the world free and unfettered by threatening prosecutions or persecutions after committing war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes against the peace, and high crimes and misdemeanors against our own Constitution.
After the interview with Cornell was over, he said to me, “you appear so calm, most people would be freaking out if the US Attorney filed a lawsuit against them.” I replied, “Cornell, what are they going to do to me? Kill another one of my children (god forbid)? I had the worst thing happen to me that could happen to any mother and I am still standing.”

-- Cindy Sheehan, "Surpise, the US Attorney Has Filed a Lawsuit Against You!" (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox).

Truest statement of the week II

In one interview Lin spoke of watching Michael Jordan on TV as a kid and then running outside to his backyard goal to try to duplicate MJ’s shot. Yet having a black hero isn’t enough to satisfy some. Boxer Floyd Mayweather tweeted: “…Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise.” Some of the bigotry even perplexes Lin: “People say things like ‘he’s deceptively quick’ or ‘he’s quicker than he looks.’ What does that mean?” Maybe the answer can be found in Knicks’ fan and movie director Spike Lee’s tweets describing Lin as: Jeremy “Kung Fu Hustle” Lin, Jeremy “Crouching Tiger” Lin & Jeremy “Hidden Dragon” Lin. After a stellar performance from Lin, Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock took to his Twitter to congratulate Lin. “Jeremy Lin is legit!” he tweeted. Then he followed with a penis joke: “Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple of inches of pain tonight.” There was also the Madison Square Garden Network airing a spectator-made poster depicting Lin’s face above a fortune cookie with the slogan “The Knicks Good Fortune.” On the Nick and Artie show which runs weekday nights on Cumulus Media’s San Francisco station KNBR 1050, one host urged listeners to call in with the most racist joke about Lin they could think of. He offered a “joke” about “Lin having to do teammate Carmelo Anthony’s laundry as an example of what he was looking for.”

-- Kevin Alexander Gray, "Ignorance Is No Excuse" (Black Agenda Report).

A note to our readers

Hey --
Another Sunday.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition 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),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

First we highlight Workers World often. Usually every week. Reader John e-mailed asking that we highlight an article by WW on Whitney Houston. We were interested. Most of us read it and it seemed fine. C.I. read and said, "No way in hell." She explained why and we agree. We didn't stream or watch the funeral. So Kevin Costner in all his Whiteness got up there and tried to play The Great White Man who got Whitney into the movie, did he? Over objections because she was Black. As C.I. said, "Damn f**king liar." The Bodyguard goes back to the seventies (no, we didn't know that either) and was planned as a film starring Ryan O'Neal and Diana Ross. Tina Fey's pal Sue Mengers was a super agent and part of the reason Diana Ross film de-railed. Diana had her as an agent. Time and again when a script came in for Diana, Sue rushed it over to Barbra. Most of which Barbra Streisand eventually refused to make. But that was months and years after she started 'meetings' to explore doing the film. C.I., "Point is, that film was written to be an interracial and when Lawrence Kasdem wrote the script, that's what he wanted. When the script was finally filmed, Kasdem was no longer a struggling screenwriter, he was one of the industry's most successful producers and he was the producer of The Bodyguard. He made the decision, the second he decided to produce his old script, to return to the interracial romance. Kevin Costner's a little s**t and he's trying to play Dances With Wolves yet again, where he's the Great White Man coming to the rescue. It's exactly this behavior that's put his career in the toilet. Shame on him for lying about Lawrence." So we're not noting that piece, John.

Here's what we did manage:

Cindy Sheehan.
Kevin Alexander Gray.

This was actually going to be a short piece. Elaine and C.I. suggested the 1967 event. We decided to go with it as the editorial to switch things up.

Ava and C.I. This takes on the Water Cooler Set. And I'll just say I couldn't believe it when Ava and C.I. walked me through the story. That show was huge with the Water Cooler Set. Funny how when the interview appeared that gets the show cut, the Water Cooler Set walks away at the same time. Strange. Who pays them? Apparently it's more than just their news outlets. The man, if you didn't get who it was by the clues Ava and C.I. dropped, wasn't walked away from by everyone. While the domestic press acted as though they'd suddenly never heard of him, he got nominated for a 2012 Golden Globe -- but then, those awards come from the foreign press.

Because Ava and C.I. had to go to the Academy Awards, we tried to do one of our Let It Be editions -- wherein every member of Third contributes an individual feature. So Ava and C.I. (as always) do TV. Jess didn't feel like writing but said he could do a transcript piece. So he did this mini-roundtable with Elaine and C.I.

The Hedges lawsuit is important and we do try to note it as often as we can.

Dona went with the Archies for her piece because her two previous pieces have resulted in mountains of e-mails on the topic.

I write/babble about movies.

Ty uses the corner to reflect on seven years online.

A repost of Workers World.

Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.

That's it for this week.


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

Editorial: When the left had ethics

With a War Hawk in the White House from the Democratic Party, a number of apologists insist that it's just not possible for the left to stand up for what's right. What a load of crap.


When LBJ, a Democrat, was in the White House, the left didn't fall silent as he fluttered his War Hawk wings. Mobe (National Mobilization Committee to End The War) called for action and protestered poured into DC on the weekend of October 21, 1967. Among those arrested were Norman Mailer and David Dellinger.

Feminist Jo Freeman shares her memories of that action here and notes:

While a few dozen chanted, a few thousand marchers bypassed the parking lot for the Pentagon entrance. They were met by 2,500 federal troops and 200 U.S. marshals. The troops formed a human barricade protecting the Pentagon steps. Ropes also demarcated how close the demonstrators could get. U.S. Marshals arrested anyone who got past the lines of troops, or stepped over the ropes.
Those who wanted to commit civil disobedience repeatedly challenged the line. At one point a couple hundred young demonstrators charged up a vehicle ramp. They were surrounded and eventually removed. A few found an unguarded entrance used by the press and tried to invade the Pentagon. They were physically thrown out, leaving some bruised and bloody. As they bounced down the steps many more rushed up. They too were repulsed, with the help of rifle butts and a little teargas. The crowd around them sang "America the Beautiful."

So the next time someone tells you it's just not possible to protest, remember it is. And it was. The only thing different today is that a lot of 'peace' and 'anti-war' types are nothing but whores for the Democratic Party and have placed a person over the people of the world.

The Cult of St. Barack have, with their silence, become minions for the Empire, workers on the Death Star.

TV: Now You Know Why the Caged Hamster Squeaks

March 6th may be a night of miracles. It takes miracles these days, what with the Water Cooler Set doing the bidding of the industry while pretending to be an 'independent' press. And March 6th already appears to be something of a day of saints. For one thing, the dreadful Breaking In relaunches and it's actually funny now (largely due to the addition of the supremely gifted Megan Mullally). It's part of a comedy block and maybe, if everything works, I Hate My Teenage Daughter will click as well.


The half-hour comedy debuted in November and was off after four episodes. A lot of people like to note the decline in viewership. What they forget to tell you is that episode four saw a huge ratings increase. And then it was off the air for two months. Not really the way you build a loyal viewing audience.

Jaime Pressly's had a following since Jack & Jill and her Emmy winning performance on My Name Is Earl. Now she's playing single-mom Annie whose best friend and next-door-neighbor is also a single mom (Katie Finneran as Nikki). Alex and Nikki have teenage daughters Sophie and Mackenzie -- both 14.

The daughters are fairly popular which is good news to the mothers who went through high school very unpopular. Nikki weighed over 300 pounds and suffered from alopecia as well as was overweight and had nasty rumors spread about her (the current high school principal was in Nikki's class and spread the rumor that Nikki was so hungry she once at her own cat). Annie's parents were religious zealots who allowed no movies, no TV, no anything. For example, when Nikki, buzzed on peach schnapps, fakes an identity to get access to Mackenzie's Facebook page, they both learn that their daughters share a lot of information with everyone except for their mothers.

Jack: It's pretty normal, isn't it? Did any of you talk to your parents when you were their age?

Annie: I tried. But when I told them I had a crush on the pastor's son, they locked me in my room until I fasted the lust from my heart. But yeah, we talked.

Jack (Kevin Rahm) is Annie's former brother-in-law and long standing crush.

The premise of the show is fairly straight-forward yet the Water Cooler Set -- especially the ones with ovaries apparently trying to pass them off as testes -- pretended to not get it.

Two women who had an awful time in school (not just high school) want to be sure their daughters don't have the same problems or the same hurts. So they over indulge them. And that's going to cause a problem, even more so when the fathers aren't involved. But at the same time, these are teenagers, new teenagers. It's a phase (hopefully).

And you have to wonder if anyone in the Water Cooler Set has parented?

Not had kids, we know many have kids, have they actually parented?

Teenagers are self-involved. Not because they're 'bad' but because they are the center of their own universe. Your body's growing and sprouting and exploding and all this as you're being asked non-stop questions: are you dating, do you know what you want to be when you grow up? On and on. Internally and externally, they're encouraged to focus on themselves. It's natural that they would be self-involved. For most, it's a phase because part of becoming an adult is grasping that you're not really the center of the world.

Along with playing dumb about the show's premise, the Water Cooler Set has treated the title of the show as if it were a mortal sin. The title was meant to be attention getting and a format that's already spawned My Mother The Car doesn't really have a high ground to cling to when it comes to titles or, for that matter, when it comes to the portrayal of mothers.

The title reflects the interesting premise Sherry Bilsing and Ellen Kreamer came up with and the series moving along just fine, a mixture of one liners, observational humor and physical comedy. We'd suggest that they go to town on the rumor of Nikki eating the dead cat throughout the first season because Finneran is comic gold when playing Nikki's discomfort. The cast is excellent and that includes Chad L. Coleman as Nikki's ex-Gary. (The 14-year-old daughters are played by 18-year-olds. Since they're playing children and they're just 18 we're going to lump into child actors and follow our rule of making no comment on the performances of child actors -- that doesn't mean that they're bad, it doesn't mean they're good, it just means we're not commenting on child actors.)

The show has everything going for it so maybe March 6th will bring a miralce and people will say, "Hey this show the Water Cooler Set warned me against is actually funny!" And maybe the ratings will do well. Not that it really matters. As the year drew to a close a show with respectable ratings and one-time Water Cooler fascination got the axe.

We've accused the Water Cooler Set of many things including bad taste and failure to do their job but now it appears they've got a few moral sins of their own. See, we know why the show got the axe. The show got the axe because of something an actor did in the fall, an interview he gave. And it was cute to watch the Water Coller Set ignore that -- the British press was all over it. It was cute because it's the one thing that kills you in the entertainment world but the entertainment press is not supposed to take marching orders from the industry on what to cover and what to ignore.

When Anne Heche, for example, went public about her involvement with Ellen, the concern wasn't over Anne or her promising career. The industry concern was over the name male actors Anne had previously been linked to and would they now be considered gay? (At least one is gay.) That's why Anne's promising film career flamed out.

So, back to today, the actor of this Water Cooler endorsed show gives an interview where he speaks a little too freely about his past. A little too freely because it's already known that a name actor, in the 90s, took a role in a film, a supporting role, just because the actor was in it, just because he hoped to hook up with the actor. (Known and laughed about and hinted at by Charlie Sheen in one of those 90s drunken interviews where he was prone to tearing apart other actors while listing the actresses he'd like to "jam.") Suddenly closeted-gay Hollywood performers could be forced out of the closet rather quickly and the industry is in a panic.

And that's why the show got the axe. And it's strange because all those Water Cooler Critics who praised it in years prior somehow just knew not to mention it during its final seasons. Somehow, they just knew the industry didn't want it or its passing even noted. So remarks go public in print and the industry responds by axing and erasing the actor's show and the Water Cooler Set really wasn't involved?

Seems to us the Water Cooler Set's failures go beyond running with the pack and they're now collaborating with the industry they're supposed to be covering. Suddenly it becomes very clear why they zoom in on the title of "I Hate My Teenage Daughter" -- they're so busy ignoring the things that actually matter that all they can do is wallow in the trivia. In other words, now you know why the caged hamster squeaks.

Occupy: A conversation

Jess: This is a talk about Occupy Wall Street and about violence and what it is and what it isn't. For this piece, it's me and Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz and C.I. of The Common Ills and of this site. Occupy Wall Street is considered a movement by some, by others not so much. OWS started in NYC and then spread across the country. With winter and winter's cold, the encampments in various cities might have taken a break or become smaller. Instead, mayors began cracking down on the encampments and that actually resulted in even more press coverage for OWS. This is supposed to be a regrouping period for those who have been participating. Into this calm or calmer period, Chris Hedges tossed "The Cancer in Occupy" earlier this month. He argues that there's a violent thread in Occupy that could overtake the movement and that it must be denounced.

Elaine: We're not going to pick on Chris Hedges. We disagree with him on this. We understand that he's writing out of concern.

C.I.: And what he sees and what, for example, Michael S. Smith sees are different things. Not just because they're different people -- all witnesses to the same event will have variations in their testimony, even under oath -- but because they're exposed to different things. Michael Smith hasn't advocated for violence, but I mention him because he's also very passionate about Occupy.

Elaine: And both of them can be very protective. We actually think that's been the worst thing for Occupy -- all this 'protection.' These are adults, treat them like adults. You need more than a slogan. You need some actual demands. If you don't have any demands just say you're camping out. It is honestly embarrassing that they've been petted and stroked and brushed for weeks and months instead of people insisting that they either come up with a set of demands or go away.


Jess: At this site, we have offered strong critiques of Occupy and one of the strongest is the piece Ava and C.I. wrote entitled "TV: Scandals and bumper stickers" from November 20, 2011. But there is a sense among many that you just can't criticize. It's highly paternalistic and condescending. The participants are supposedly trying to start a movement. I think they need criticism. Michael Smith is someone who has come off, to me, as wanting to give the movement a big old hug. And there's probably a place for that. But he's one of three hosts, of the weekly radio program, Law & Disorder Radio and I wish that if the ground he's staking out is hugs and encouragement, one of the other hosts would've staked out other ground.

C.I.: To be fair, one of the most balanced reports -- in MSM or 'independent' media -- was done by Heidi Boghosian and Geoff Brady for Law & Disorder. They went to the NYC Occupy and presented a wide variety of voices -- supporters, detractors, observers and participants. No one has matched their report. It stands as the finest one on the movement. But I do understand what you mean. And we are in agreement that you don't treat a movement like a small child. Though we are aware the left seems to be on infantalizing kick of late.

Elaine: Such as the 2008 presidential campaign. No hard questions for Barack, we must embrace without question. B.s. When we surrender our critical faculties, we surrender our abilities to reason and think. I don't and will never endorse that.

Jess: Agreed. Now let's talk about violence. The first definition that pops up online when you search "violence" is Wikipedia's definition: "Behavior involving physical force intend to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something."

Elaine: And, in that definition the "something" is generally seen as animals. It's not seen as inanimate objects. The FBI, for example, has a long history of attempting to equate property damage with violence. They've used it most recently with regards to the so-called "eco-terrorists." I don't agree that violence is something done to property. I agree that it can be illegal. But I don't agree that that's "violence." Now I saw an online discussion and possibly among the highly uneducated, that's an acceptable definition. But for those who have any education in the field or any expertise, no it's not violence. If you burn my home down, you've hurt me -- I have feelings. My shelter was an inanimate object. It is not a victim of violence, domestic or otherwise. Now if your my lover and you beat me, I am a victim of violence. If you also beat my cat, my cat is a victim of violence. If you punch a hole in my wall, my wall is not a victim of violence. You did, however, do property damage.

C.I.: Of course I agree with Elaine.

Jess: Let me note the roots of this piece go to a pitch that you both have made for a feature at Third for at least two weeks prior. When there wasn't time for it last week, the two of you wrote a draft yourself last week, e-mailing back and forth. And Elaine showed it around -- as C.I. explained Friday morning and Elaine explained Friday night -- for feedback and to be sure especially that they were clear on the violence aspect, clear on their meaning, and one of the ones Elaine e-mailed it to was a speechwriter for a politician who stole the key phrase for a speech. At which point, C.I. wanted nothing to do with that piece. Nor did Elaine. So it ran at neither site. I did ask to read it and I'm bringing up topics they wrote about in this discussion. The online discussion Elaine was just referring to is a rather pompous discussion. It's one that makes many mistakes for people who claim to know what they're talking about.

C.I.: Right. Do they know a damn thing about anything? They're acting as though every movement was made up of people who alla greed to sit there and do nothing. That's not even what Ghandi was about. I don't know where they get their history but it's not from the real world. Take Toledo April 1934. What happens there. Labor's had enough, they take on the armed henchmen and the strike breakers and do so with bricks in hand. Even with the National Guard shooting at them, they didn't back down, they didn't issue a cry for good vibrations all around. They continued fighting and they won. Women led the strike in Boston in 1919, shutting down most of the northeast telephone service when the New England Telephone Company refused to pay a living wage to female telephone operators. When male telephone operators walked out in a show of solidarity, college students were brought in as strike-breakers. Did the workers hand out roses and hugs to those strike-breakers? No, they beat them up. Violence in the US labor movement is generally aimed at workers but let's not pretend that all workers just smiled and said "Peace be with you" every day. That's not reality. Nor should it have been. You can find similar examples in the US student movement. April 23, 1968, one example, that's 19 days after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated, by the way, Columbia University students demonstrate against racism at their own university and they end up holding a number of college officials hostage. Is that 'non-violent'? Again, that's reality, it happened. It's part of our history.

Elaine: The reality for the people writing the piece supposedly on violence? I was struck by what namby pamby lives they've lived. I'm a trust fund baby, I don't claim to be from the school of hard knocks. But I am damn well aware that many people do not grow up fortunate and I'm damn well aware that when you whine about someone throwing a brick through something in their neighborhood, you better check yourself because more than likely the brick throwing wasn't the first step. More than likely, the brick throwing was a response. And it is who gets to tell the stories, who the gate keepers allow, that get to determine what was the initiating action. Until you can deal with that reality, you'd do everyone a world of good by just writing about your own little world because you know nothing beyond it.

Jess: I'm reminded of the song by Jackson Browne, "Lives In The Balance," where he sings, "Or the people who finally can't take anymore so they pick up a gun or a brick or a stone."

Elaine: Right. At that online piece I'm referring to, there was talk about how, basically, 'those people' -- meaning Blacks -- had destroyed downtown DC with riots and the response was that no one wanted to do business there. Let's provide the context that wasn't provided there. This was part of a series of riots that went on across the country in 1968 after MLK was assassinate. In DC, that was five days of rioting. To try to pretend that was years and years of rioting is outrageous and so is it outrageous to claim that the riots are the reason downtown DC was destroyed and remained that way for decades. Watts didn't disappear, Baltimore didn't disappear. I'm aware it's a conservative talking point that those five days destroyed DC. I'm also aware it's a racist argument as well.

C.I.: And let's talk about initiating incidents. The DC riot started the evening of MLK's assassination. And as Elaine noted, they took place in other cities as well, over a hundred if I remember correctly. And it is a racist argument, as Elaine notes. And anyone putting it forward is either ignorant of the facts or racist. DC was leveled by those riots. But the section harmed considered "White" saw rebuilding and reinvestment. The section labeled "Black" didn't. And we've seen similar results in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina. So stop pretending it was about violence. It was about race. Decisions were made based on race. And I think if you looked back at those who did riot, that in addition to the great loss of MLK, you'd find other harms that had been done to them. MLK was the tipping point to a long simmering outrage over social and economic injustice. That injustice was often papered over by the fact that DC had a sizeable upper class that was Black. But there was also a large underclass of African-Americans that didn't have any breaks, that didn't feel they had any future -- remember, these young people are the first to feel the economic downturn that would later characterize the 70s for so many White people -- and when someone like Dr. King is shot down, that becomes a last straw.

Elaine: And I'm bothered by that website supposedly addressing violence in a political movement using the DC riots as an example to begin with. The DC riots were not a part of the Civil Rights Movement or the Student movement or the women's liberation movement. As C.I. noted, you're talking about the first hit by the economic downturn and a group of them responding to MLK's assassination. I'm not seeing how that's a political movement or a political action. Again, it was awfully racist for the person who brought that point into the other site's conversation.

Jess: Okay, so we accept violence as something done to persons and animals. We note that destruction of property is a seperate offense in the law historically and that we don't include property as a victim of violence. So the big question is do you favor violence or not?

Elaine: We've covered this before in discussions of the Weather Underground. While they were active, we were doing peace actions, assisting war resisters, assisting in many things. The Weather Underground chose a path of direct confrontation. That was their choice. We did not go down that road. We didn't condemn them for their decisions. We didn't label their attacks on empty buildings and areas -- such as the Senate's women's room -- as violence but as political actions. They weren't the actions we were engaged in and we personally wouldn't be engaged in those actions for a number of reasons including our own attitude towards the death penalty. C.I.?

C.I.: Elaine, Rebecca and I were in college together. Long ago we were all in agreement about our opposition to the death penalty and we could never, on a jury, vote to convict anyone if the death penalty were the end result. Why? What if the person were innocent? Even on a jury, you don't know everything. By the same token, if tomorrow Elaine and I were outraged by the FDA over something and decided, "Let's bomb the FDA. We know it will be empty at whatever time." Well you're told it's empty but is it? Back then, our argument was, we're in the campus library all the time, at all hours, even when it's closed. When we're not supposed to be. So if someone took the attitude of, "The campus library is empty, let's bomb it to protest against the war," they could do that but likely end up killing us.

Elaine: So you never know. And that's why we didn't engage in tactics like that. We also understand that the Weather Underground -- and its supporters -- had the attitude that the government was declaring war on half the world including its own citizens and that the Weather Underground was delcaring its willingness to retaliate. There is some logic to that argument. Just as a sidenote, supposedly a judge was killed by Weather Underground actions. I never heard of that until 2008. When I heard of it, I made a point to call that out. That is violence. Now Bill Ayers will tell you repeatedly that Weather wasn't involved in that. He may be telling the truth. I don't know. I wasn't there. But I do know that the second I heard that someone had died from an action like that, I called it out. I've never called out the bombings that had no victims because no people were present.

C.I.: And since we're stuck on Weather right now, probably because it is apt. We were invited to participate in real time and we chose not to. Many of our friends chose to. But while we're on that topic, Bernardine Dohrn, even now she doesn't renounce violence and won't. She reserves the right. I don't know that Thomas Jefferson would look at any differently than she does. We live in a violent culture, many people choose to engage in violence, some as a reply or reaction to violence already aimed at them. I choose not as does Elaine. That's our choice based on our experiences, our beliefs and who we are. Others will have to make their choices. But we certainly don't condemn, for example, WTA protesters in Seattle who protested without breaking windows or those who chose to break windows. And we don't consider the window breakers to have done "violence." They did property damage. That's about it.

Jess: Chris Hedges thinks violence could take over Occupy.

Elaine: Thus far I'd argue the greatest to Occupy remains that they will be co-opted into a Barack Obama re-election campaign. I know the DC crowd thinks they own Occupy which is hilarious since it started in NYC and they're but an off-shoot. And I know the DC crowd thinks they ran off Van Jones and all the other sell-outs. But here's some reality for the DC crowd, outside of your own small circle, people aren't impressed with you. You should be protesting the White House every day. But you're too chicken s**t for that. What's worse, being co-opted or being silent? I'm not seeing a great deal of distance between them and Van Jones.

C.I.: And I agree with that completely. I also object to using -- misuing -- homeless people across the country. I've been at the DC Occupy, when it was active, for example, and encountered homeless people who were pretty much the only ones at the 'overnight' encampment. I didn't make it to the Denton, Texas campus Occupy but I am aware a homeless man died when the area was very cold and I am aware that a student with the leadership of that Occupy pompously told the media that if he died from the cold they felt very bad but she would feel differently if it turned out it was drugs because he had a drug habit. Little priss with a roof over your head, it's really not up to you to stand in judgment on a homeless person. And you were more than happy to use him -- knowing he had an addiction -- so that you could claim your occupy was 24 hours, non-stop, 7 days a week.

Jess: You've both visited a number of Occupy actions.

Elaine: I've visited Occupy NYC, I've visited Occupy Boston, I've visited Occupy Chicago and one more than I'm forgetting. Sorry. C.I.'s visited a ton of them, it would be easier for her to list the ones she hasn't visited.

C.I.: Well the one I would want to speak about is Oakland. Because it's been attacked by a number of prissy people. Do you live in Oakland? Then how can you stand in judgment? Most have never been there. I live in the San Francisco Bay area -- when I'm off the road -- and I know people involved in the Oakland action. It's 100% for real, there's no pretense or playing. And they get slammed like crazy by a bunch of White people who live in areas not remotely like Oakland, California. Violence in Occupy Oakland really stems from October 25th when the police came through shutting everything down. As I understand it, a group of Occupiers chose to defend the camp. I'm not seeing that as "We started violence!" They responded to riot gear garbed police coming in and smashing their camp. They defended it. I don't find that surprising or shocking. I'm not going to condemn them for it. Had I been present, having many years on me, I would have tried to make sure all resisting the raid knew, "They've got guns, you don't. This may not be the stand you want to take." I would have wanted to be sure they knew that. If they had said they were going to stay and they were going to actively resist, that would have been their decision. The people of Oakland made it clear they supported Occupy Oakland by turning out downtown and demanding the space be returned. This was a cross-section of people. The police chose to attack the people. What some little idiot thinks doesn't matter a damn bit to the people of Oakland. They were -- and this was much more than Occupy, this was the city's population in all ages, occupations, races -- marching and the police attacked them. This is where Scott Olsen gets injured and ends up hospitalized. That was the police's actions.

Jess: There was a death, Kayode Ola Foster died from gunshot wounds.

C.I.: Foster and the suspects were passer-throughs. They'd been a part of Occupy briefly and then dropped out. The shooting was not connected to Occupy, to Occupy actions nor did it take place at the Occupy site. A shooting in Oakland is not a rare thing. Meanwhile, whether it's the Newspaper Guild or the California Nursing Association, one thing has been consistent, condemning police actions against Occupy Oakland. Maybe Prissy White Blogger can consider that before she condemns Oakland again -- something she's done repeatedly. She's also, please note, the piece of trash that brought the DC riots into the discussion. Prissy White Blogger seems to have a real problem with people of color and forever leaps to the assumption that anything that goes wrong must be the fault of a person of color.

Jess: On your comment about "A shooting in Oakland is not a rare thing," I'm glad you mentioned that -- you two mention that in the piece you wrote as well -- because I have a link here to Oakland CrimTimeline. And, of course, what might be normal at a music conservatory in Ames, Iowa, isn't necessarily going to be the reality for everyone in the country. It's really amazing that some people expect the entire world to be photo copy of their own existence. Bascially, you two are in complete disagreement with Chris Hedges.

Elaine: Correct.

C.I.: But we understand where he's coming from. The same with Michael S. Smith. Our approach has not been to apologize for them or to offer excuses for them. Our approach has been to critique them as a movement or a would-be movement. There are many people with hopes around Occupy. Some of them are blogging about that now. That's not really helpful in our own opinion. Feel free to disagree.

Elaine: Right. I'm not giving out "A"s for effort. Sorry. You're going to have to work for the grade and there is more than enough immaturity on the left without us engaging in it by shutting down our critical abilities. And let me remind you that on this one, on C.I., those critical abilities, that's why the CIA tried to recruit her. Those are among her biggest strengths.

Jess: You can't see her, Elaine, but C.I.'s rolling her eyes. C.I. and I are at her home in California, Elaine's participating by phone. You've noted that at your own site but since you've brought this up, talk about that.

Elaine: Yeah. Okay, the Graduate Record Examination is the GRE. C.I. took it to get into grad school. Her results were off the charts. She scored in the top 4% in the country on analytical thinking and in the top 5% on critical thinking.

C.I.: And in the top 98% on math!

Elaine: I hear her laughing. No math, was never her strong skill. Unless it's cash. But uhm what happened? Oh yeah, her results were the talk of the campus. And one of our favorite professors asked her to meet someone and C.I. did because it was a favorite professor asking. That's when we all found out just how far into academia the CIA went.

Jess: And to be clear, C.I. turned it down. Highly offended by the offer and turned it down. So it's kind of funny that, online, you're now known as "C.I."

C.I.: That's for The "Common Ills." A phrase I grabbed from the late political scientist Judith N. Shklar. But anyway, I took that test without any sleep, I'd been up all night, I almost didn't show as a result and I just sped through it. I wouldn't put a lot of weight into standardized testing. I don't. I'm proud of my top 98% though a very good friend of mine tells me it gets higher and higher each decade. He swears that when he first met me, it was the top 88% of the country. Maybe so. I prefer to say the top 98%. And for those who are reading along and thinking, "Wow," which I would be, that means I actually scored in the bottom 2% on math. The top 98% is nothing to brag about and that's why I like to brag about it. Elaine, of course, is trained in analysis and that's her career and she has a wonderful manner and a great practice. She started doing pro bono work for veterans when the Iraq War started and some of the Afghanistan veterans were coming back. And she quickly ended up turning that into all pro bono. He entire practice for several years now has been nothing but veterans and all pro bono. She recognized the PTSD crisis when no one wanted to talk about it. She recognized the veterans health crisis when no one wanted to talk about it. She's a very smart and very loving person. And a forever friend.

Jess: That actually brings up the last question. I cover e-mails for this site and for The Common Ills and people seem scared that the two of you are mad at each other. I think that died down Friday night when Elaine did her post. But for most of Friday it was, "Is C.I. mad at Elaine? Is Elaine mad at C.I.?"

Elaine: That was true on my end as well. Sunny told me about all the e-mails that had come in. Which is why I included that in my post. We aren't mad at each other. I stated I was mad at myself for sharing with a friend who was a speech writer. Especially due to who he writes for. But, no, we're not mad at each other.

C.I.: No, we aren't mad at each other. Nor am I mad at you, Jess, for including the phrase that was stolen earlier in the conversation, yes, I did catch you working that in.

Jess: I thought you would. Okay. So consider this a rush transcript. Occupy Wall Street is a website where you can get more information on the various occupies. We'll continue to follow it and our role will continue to be that of the critic, of the skeptic. Our e-mail address at this site is, Consider this a rush transcript.

Radio moment of the week

An important lawsuit is being brought on behalf of Chris Hedges.

chris hedges

Hedges is the author of many books including the just out in paperback Death of the Liberal Class which we selected as one of the ten most important books of the last ten years and a top ten book of the year in 2010 and in 2011 in Martha and Shirley's survey of The Common Ills community. He is also suing President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta over the NDAA. We've previously noted Hedges discussing this lawsuit on Black Agenda Radio with host Glen Ford. Last week, he was on Law and Disorder Radio discussing the lawsuit with attorneys and hosts Heidi Boghosian and Michael S. Smith. Excerpt.

Michael Smith: The National Defense Authorization Act was signed by President Obama on December 31st of last year and takes effect this coming March. The act authorizes the military to begin domestic policing. The military can detain indefinitely without trial any US citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism. Vague language in the bill such as "substantially supported" or "directly supported" or "associated forces" is used. We're joined today by returning guest Chris Hedges in his capacity as a plantiff in a lawsuit that he's just filed against President Barack Obama with respect to the National Defense Authorization Act and its language about rounding up even American citizens and salting them away forever.

Heidi Boghosian: Chris, welcome to Law and Disorder.

Chris Hedges: Thank you.

Heidi Boghosian: Can you talk about the significance of codifying the NDAA into law essentially several over-reaching practices that the executive has been implementing for awhile now?

Chris Hedges: That's correct but it's been implementing those practices through a radical interpretation of the 2001 law, The Authorization to Use Military Force Act. You remember old John Yoo was Bush's legal advisor. It was under the auspices of this act that Jose Padilla who is a US citizen was held for three and a half years in a military brig. Remember, he was supposedly one of the other hijackers that never made it to a plane. Stripped of due process. And it's under that old act that the executive branch, Barack Obama, permits himself to serve as judge, jury and executioner and order the assassination of a US citizen, the Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

Michael Smith: Two weeks later his 16-year-old son.

Chris Hedges: Yes, exactly. So what this does is it essentially codfies this kind of behavior into law. It overturns over 200 years of legal precedent so that the military is allowed to engage in domestic policing and there are a couple of very disturbing aspects in the creation of this legislation. One of them is that [US Senator] Dianne Feinstein had proposed that US citiens be exempt from this piece of legislation and both the Obama White House and the Democratic Party rejected that. Now Obama issued a signing statement saying that this will not be used against American citizens but the fact is legally it can be used against American citizens. There was an opportunity for them to protect American citizens and to protect due process and they chose not to do that.

Michael Smith: Well he also announced that he was going to close Guantanamo.

Chris Hedges: Right, so it's very disingenuous.

Heidi Boghosian: And signing statements really carry no legal force.

Chris Hedges. Right. And if they wanted to protect basic civil liberties, they certainly had a chance to do so and it was there decision not to do that. I mean, the other thing that's disturbing is that it expands this endless war on terror. So the 2001 act is targeted towards groups that are affiliated or part of al Qaeda. Now it's groups that didn't even exist in 2001. There are all sorts of nebulous terms like "associated forces," "substantially supported." When you look at the criteria by which Americans can be investigated by our security and surveillance state, it's amorphous and frightening: People who have lost fingers on the hand, people who hoard more than seven days worth of food in their house, people who have water-proof ammunition. I mean, I always say I come from rural parts of Maine. That's probably most of my family.


Chris Hedges: It's a very short step to adding the obstructionist tactics of the Occupy movement.

Michael Smith: Well that's what we've wanted to ask you because we've thought all along with the beginning of this war on terrorism that ultimately these laws stripping us of our Constitutional rights would be used against the social protest movements at home and the latest development is absolutely chilling and we wanted to ask you about that.

Chris Hedges: We don't know what the motives are. We do know that all the intelligence agencies as well as the Pentagon opposed this legislation. Robert Muller, the head of the FBI, actually went before Congress and said that if it was passed it would make the FBI's work in terms of investigating terrorism harder because it would make it harder to get people to cooperate once you hand the military that power. So I think it's interesting, to say the very least, that the various agencies that are being pulled into domestic policing -- especially the Pentagon -- didn't push for the bill. I don't know what the motives are but I know what the consequences are and that is that it hands to the corporate state weapons, the capacity to use the armed forces internally in ways that we have not seen for over two centuries. That is the consequence of the bill. What are the motives? You know I haven't gone down and reported it in Washington.

Heidi Boghosian: Chris, you know I'm thinking of
the Supreme Court Case Humanitarian Law Project and the notion "providing material support." [Center for Constitutional Rights analysis here -- text and video.] And in that case it was also very vague and things that seemed benign could be construed as providing support but it strikes me that under this piece of legislation also the notion of associating with others that the government may deem terrorists becomes possibly vague.

Chris Hedges: Well it is vague. And that's what's so frightening. And the lawsuit was proposed by Civil Rights attorneys Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran who approached me and said that I needed a credible plantiff. Now because I had been the Middle East bureau chief for the New York Times and because I was in the Middle East for seven years I spent considerable time with both individuals and organizations that are considered by the US State Dept to be either terrorists or terrorist groups. That would include Hamas, Islamic Jihad in Gaza, the Kurdistan Workers Party -- or the PKK as it's known in southeastern Turkey, northern Iraq. All of these organizations -- I mean, I used to go to Tunis and have dinner with Yasser Arafat [President of the Palestinian National Authority from 1996 until his death in 2004] and Abu Jihad [the PLO's Khalil al-Wair] when they were branded as international terrorists. And there are no exemptions in this piece of legislation for journalists. And the attorneys felt that I was a credible plantiff because of that. We have already seen under the 2001 law, a persecution of not only Muslim Americans in this country but Muslim American organiations -- in particular charity organizations and mostly charity organizations that support the Palestinians. And under this legislation, it is certainly conceivable that not only -- many of these organizations have been shut down, their bank accounts have been frozen, their organizers have been persecuted -- but under this legislation they're essentially able to be branded as terrorists, stripped of due process, thrown into a military brig and held, in the language of the legislation, until the end of hostilities -- whenever that is.

The Archies (Dona)

Ah, sugar, sugar. No, I'm not writing about the song but the Archies did accomplish something not even the Flintstones or the Simpsons or the X-Men or Batman ever accomplished -- they are listed as the group on a number one single.


The Archie comic books are American touchstones, much more so than Richie Rich. I read both growing up (and more) and Richie often had an exciting adventure (I'm serious, if you didn't read the comics, you don't know what I'm talking about). But Archie, Veronica, Betty, Jughead, Reggie, Moose, Miss Grundy and the rest represented something different. Reading Richie Rich, a lot of us were reading about a kid -- a fantastically wealthy kid -- on our own age. Reading an Archie comic as a child of six or seven was thinking you were peaking into your own future. Would you be like Archie or Jughead or like Betty or Veronica?

(I longed to be a Veronica but always knew I was a Betty.)

You saw a calm and laid back future. A fantasy in fact. The only two high school girls in most of the comics are in love with the same guy but still manage to be friends? Did that happen in your high school because it sure didn't in mine.

I've recently written two pieces on the Archie comic books (here for December, here for February) and the e-mails just keep coming in on those pieces. I'm not foolish enough to think it has anything to do with my writing 'style' or 'talent.' It's the topic.

And reading the e-mails, it's amazing to me to see how much these comics have meant to so many people. It's especially surprising to me because I know comic book fanatics and they tend to roll their eyes when I bring up my love of the Archies and even within Third I'm the only one who loved and loves those comics.

Archie Meets KISS

But we love the Archies, those of us who read them. And as I read over the e-mails, I think about Meryl Streep on NPR's Fresh Air recently. She was talking about men and women -- of her generation -- and how until she did The Devil Wears Prada, no straight man had ever approached her to tell her he identified with her character. She spoke of Huck Finn and other male characters in literature that her generation grew up with and how it encouraged girls to identify with men but there was nothing similar encouraging boys to identify with women.

And I think that's been something the Archies has changed. I read a man who writes about how he identified with Betty because he never felt good enough for his first wife, for example.

I'm not arguing that was the goal of the Archie comics. I am saying when you have to create several comic titles a month with the same characters, Betty and Veronica just can't be standing in the background going: Yeah!

No, they have to be part of the action. And the Archie comics had to shuffle in a way that, for example, The Simpsons really doesn't. We get a Lisa-centric episode maybe twice a season. Even after all the Bart storeis told for all the years.

And maybe that's the greatest accomplishment of the Archie comics? Not just the equality of the male and female characters but the equality period?

Sly Stone sang, "Everybody is a star." But it's the Archie comcis that backs that up. To keep readers happy, they had to give Midge a star turn and Moose one and Mr. Weatherbee and Ethel Muggs and more.

And, on top of the characters we relate to, maybe that's why we embrace Archie so warmly? It argues that each of the 99% have a story worth telling.

Jim's World


"Is Jim's World on hiatus," asked reader Lawrence in an e-mail, "and is a nod to Wayne's World?" Last question first: It absolutely is!

But I didn't realize that until Lawrence wrote. When I was little, I loved Wayne's World. The first movie and the second movie I watched all through middle school and high school. I know both films by heart -- and most of the SNL skits that Mike Myers and Dana Carvey did as Wayne and Garth. When I decided to do this feature the first time, Dona sarcastically suggested "The Gospel According To Jim" or "Jim's Word." Others joined in with suggestion but I hollered, "Jim's World! Jim's World!" It sounded like a song.

Now I know it was, the theme to "Wayne's World." Thank you, Lawrence. "Jim's World" is done as last minute filler or planned when we know we don't have a great deal of time to struggle with features. It's the latter for this week.

Movies. Tonight the Academy Awards will be handed out. Ava and Jess and C.I. (and a date) will be there. I may fill in for C.I. tonight at The Common Ills if she's able to do an entry prior to the Awards. But Oscars are the movie crazy days and with Ty working for a production company, that's only more so around here this time of year.

This time of year, in fact, makes the whole country feel like they're an expert on movies. And why not? The largest international audience for a US TV event is the Academy Award broadcast. Movies are one of the few things America still knows how to make and still makes (to a large extent) in the US.

My big shock this year is the complete shut out of Bunraku.

And there are people who are laughing right now and think I'm joking but I'm deadly serious.


The film had a very limited release in the fall of 2011. It got some awful reviews but even the bad reviews noted the visual look to the film so I was expecting that they'd get some kind of a nomination.

But nothing.

The film hit the festival circuit in 2010. Director Guy Moshe also wrote the screenplay. The cast is headlined by Josh Hartnett, Gackt, Woody Harrelson, Demi Moore and Ron Pearlman. It's a story of violence and the addiction to it.

It has some spectacular moments in it and I don't just mean the fight scenes.

And I honestly liked the movie beyond the visuals. I was talking to the guy Ty works for about this movie and he said Blade Runner was basically disowned when it was first released, so-so box office and bad reviews. His point was that forward looking films sometimes need a few years for the public to catch up.

And certainly the Academy Awards are not known for being forward looking. They overlooked Pulp Fiction as best film to give the award to the reactionary Forest Dump. And Marilyn Monroe never won an Oscar, never even got nominated. (She was nominated for Golden Globes. A fact I did not know until Ava and C.I. wrote their piece on Smash.) Charlie Chaplin never won an Academy Award for acting or directing. This year, Gary Oldman's nominated for the first time.

First time. Not nominated for Prick Up Your Ears, JFK, Dracula, Romeo Is Bleeding, The Contender . . . What were they thinking?

And Charlie Chaplin never won for screenwriting either. And lost out, in 1948, to Sidney Sheldon. Sidney Sheldon!!!

So what it all proves is that it's not really about the best or even the best at this moment. It's about whom the Academy feels comfortable honoring. Though we claim it as "our" show, it remains their show.

Ty's Corner

Looking back on seven years, here's a few things I've learned.


Most recently, I ended an e-mail with "Piss off, Ty." It's rare that a type can piss me off, but they still can. We started this website how many years ago? Seven. Wow. And, yes, some idiots who e-mail can really piss me off.

Like that piece of work who wanted to whine about 'poor Judy Collins' and tell me about how offended she was by "Trapped in an AA meeting with Judy Collins (Ava and C.I.)" Let me start by telling all the whiners who e-mail to gripe that it's your responsibility to know what you're writing about. Not mine.

The aol dummy will get it right away. But moving on to the idiot's criticism, "hot little number" is calling Judy Collins a whore.

No, it's noting that in that book (which I have read), Judy's forever attesting to how great she thinks she is or was. It's as thoguh she recorded (and repeated) every compliment she'd ever received on her looks in her long, long life.

The writer wanted me to know that she was just like Judy and now she wasn't a hot number either and that was from stress that society put on you and it must be real sad to be so all alone and blah blah and blah and whine and blah and bitch and moan and whine. And for some reason, the idiot wanted to bring sexual assault into it and apparently insist that Judy Collins was sexually assaulted by a family member when she was a child. (Ava and C.I. say not only has Judy never written of that, she's never claimed it in conversations either.)


The e-mail was fragments of rants that were never fully developed as a thought or a sentence. Leading me to believe the writer was 'feeling no pain' when she wrote.

Judy Collins wrote a book. Ava and C.I. critiqued it. I've read the book, I've read some of the reviews. It's amazing but I believe the only ones to offer a serious critique of the book were Ava and C.I. The New York Times offered two supposed reviews. Those weren't reviews.

So AOL trash, I'm sorry that like America's educational system, your mind is in decay.

However, Ava and C.I. wrote a critique. You don't have to agree with it, you don't even have to read it. But don't pretend that they weren't describing what was in the book. They quote from the book, they often provide page numbers, they compare and contrast the book with earlier efforts of Judy Collins telling her own story in book form.

That's probably the strongest book review of that book and, I'd argue, it's probably the strongest book review I've read in years. It's also been read 187,651 times -- specifically read. That doesn't count the Sunday we published it and people read it just by scrolling through the edition. That only counts people specifically clicking on it.

This site turned seven-years-old last month. And, for the most part, e-mails like that roll off my back. But sometimes they still really get to me. Probably because they are so rare today. We've established a following online and I read the bulk of the e-mails to this site ( and maybe I'm just not used to the negative attacks the way I once was?

What else has changed in the seven years?

I've laughed as other sites have briefly attempted to do what Ava and C.I. do. That's been fun to see. Since I'm reflecting, let me share the story longterm readers already know. It's the first writing edition. C.I. was speaking at our school. Jim dragged her back to meet us and told her that we had wanted to start a website (we were all Common Ills readers). So she comes back and meets us (she and Ava will later discover that she already knows Ava's aunt and mother). And Jim's like, help us out. So C.I. agrees to help with the first writing edition. Not realizing (no one did) that it would be an all nighter. And we're going over what needs to be covered and what doesn't -- we is Jim, Dona, Jess, Ava, C.I. and me -- and Jim is very adament that this weekly website, this online magazine, has to cover TV. Jim points out that most college students watch TV (and this started as a publication for college students). Ava and C.I. are the ones objecting. They don't want to take part.

And they'd never seen the show. (Joey.) But when the final draft wasn't working, C.I. came up with a recurring phrase for the piece that managed to hook the elements together. Ava rewrote the ending. She and C.I. had been suggesting things throughout. And it was their input that people quoted back in e-mails and in phone calls. And that was true of the second piece. And on the third, they really just take over. I don't mean that in a mean way. I mean we all want to write about Will & Grace but they're writing so fast and we're basically shut out. (That was the first piece they worked on about a show they actually watched.) They were creating dialogue for scenes that show should have. And getting it correct. And that review really turned the tide. We probably -- Dona, Jess, Jim and me -- contributed what amounted to a paragraph to that piece. And this was the most popular TV piece up to that point. And though they never read the e-mails nor their own writing, they were so jazzed on TV that they said, "We should cover Medium next week." "We" meaning all of us. So when the next Sunday rolled around and we'd read the 'reviews' (e-mails), we were all decided that Ava and C.I. were going to handle TV on their own. And their piece on Medium kicks that off. (Dona, Jess, Jim and my sole contribution is three sentences on the polling we did during the week.)

And it's Ava and C.I.'s writing that made us.

And they make it look so simple. They make it seem so easy. Which is why various outlets (including print magazines) think, "Oh, I can do that!" And then they try. For a month or two or an issue or two. And then they go back to their campaign coverage that they try to pass off as political coverage (yes, I agreed with Ava and C.I.'s point a few weeks back on that). Because it's not easy at all. It's really tough to write like they do.

Right now, they haven't started their latest piece. Right now, they have no idea which show they're going to cover even. They, like everyone else working on this edition, are in a mad rush to try to haul together new content and complete the edition.

In seven years, I've learned that the best writing often isn't planned at all. Often, it consists of nothing more than Jim saying, "We need a piece on ___. Go write it."

I've learned that accidents are often miracles if you take a minute to breathe.

I've learned not to panic when I'm trying to open the last Lays Stax cannister and the plastic covering comes off all around the rim leaving nothing else to pull it off with. As I was in a panic one weekend, Dona grabbed an ink pen, slammed it down on the plastic covering and then pulled it up. When you've been up for over 24 hours and are trying to write, you can get punch drunk and miss the obvious.

I've learned that trusting your own instincts matter. It was Jess (though Jim will disagree) who first suggest our now popular feature "From TESR Test Kitchen." Jess suggested it because he was already surprised to discover there is an entry on "TESR" that comes back to us online. Ava and C.I. use that phrase in their CSI pieces (for the main show, the Miami show and the NYC show). Ava and C.I. came up with the phrase just for the CSI pieces. We tend to shorthand the site as "Third" here and that comes from Betty who has a relative who is a III and is called "Third" by his friends and family. So Jess had been on us to think of some way to use TESR since a web entry existed that explained TESR was us, The Third Estate Sunday Review. And Trina had sent something back with Ava and C.I. for us to eat and Jess just seized on "From the TESR Test Kitchen!" Jim then asked what it would be about and Jess said "this" referring to the conversation Jim and Dona had been having for at least 15 minutes about some candy (I think it was Junior Mints) and whether they tasted the same as they always did (Dona) or were actually sweeter a few years back (Jim). It had nothing to do with anything related to writing but it was consuming a large amount of time. Jess had a point. And he repeatedly brought it up until we finally made it a regular feature. Once it was a success Jim started with: "Well whoever created it . . ." But it was Jess. And it's been a huge success.

I've learned that when you're tired of something, stop doing it.

During the time Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House, one of our regular features, at least once a month, sometimes more, was a collage. We'd do a comedic piece with one paragraph to describe the visual we'd come up with. And it was political and it was funny and Kat does collages and that's where we got the idea. But it was too popular and too much pressure and when Barack got into the White House I believe we tried it initially and then just stopped. How it originally worked was we would have a ton of newspapers and magazines ready to go through and we'd offer different ideas for features for this week -- it was our bull session. Ava and C.I. would take notes and the rest of us would go through and clip and clip and clip. And soon we even had files of clipped photos we wanted to work in at later dates. But around the time that the Bush folder was two inches thick, we were bored to death.

We could have kept on until the readers were bored to death. Fortunately, the feature was still popular when we discontinued it.

And that really underscores that one day we're going to shut this site down. We do want to go out when we've still got an audience. And we're lucky that, thus far, it just keeps growing.

But when we started, there really was a community type feeling about the online world. And people e-mailed you and stuff. (I'm talking about other websites and about bloggers.) And a lot of those people were run off by the Cult of St. Barack. A lot of really great writers are no more because of that Cult. That's especially true of women writers online. The sexism and the violence ran off a number of political women. I know because I've heard from them. Usually e-mails that say, "I just couldn't take it anymore." And I do understand that.

Equally true the Cult includes a large number of 'professionals' -- they're the ones who started the purging of blogrolls. The online community was a community in 2005. In 2012, it's really not. You've got a group of professionals who write ad copy for the Democratic Party and try to pretend they're a community or about reporting or some other b.s. But they're nothing but ad men (and I use "men" intentionally) eager to turn readers into suckers so that they can fatten their wallets.

I keep waiting for a remergence, a rebirth of the internet. I don't think that's possible while Barack's in office. He instills group think and kills individuality.

I like Joe Biden. But last week, he made a fool of himself. And I bring that up because that's how a number of websites lose credit with me. Wally and Cedric called Biden on it in "THIS JUST IN! FINGER POINTING JOE!" and "Joe's the last one to talk." Joe decided that the easiest way to kill off his critics was to paint them as racists. In 2007, Joe was painted as a racist for the way he complimented Barack. By the same token, after Barack entered the White House, I lost a lot of respect for a number of websites (The Confluence, for example) that felt the need to insist others were racists. They seemed to think they'd ride that back into the Boyz Club. I found it hilarious. There are few sites that even have a right to talk about racism in others as far as I'm concerned. The Confluence? Did they even have one Black voice? Here at Third, you've got me and countless others. And we have serious conversations about race. We don't just bring it up when we want to attack someone. As I write this, I've got an ear on the piece Jess is doing, he's doing a discussion with C.I. and Elaine and they're bringing up racism, a pattern of racism. That's what we do here. We don't just cry, "Racist!" and move on. And yet a lot of people seem to do that online. Some to shut down discussions, some to try to tar and feather others to make themselves look better.

Want to prove you're not racist? Create a community that empowers all. All the websites in this community followed The Common Ills. That's the community C.I. created and she did it by being smart and being aware. We've got Betty with a site, Cedric with a site, Marcia with a site, Stan with a site and Ann with a site. That's five African-American sites that sprang up because of this community.

But what I've learned in seven years is that people don't want to help out Black bloggers, they don't want to assist them. They just don't want to be called a racist. That's why so much of the web communities remain segregated today.

Stop the destruction of the postal service (Workers World)

Repost from Workers World:

Stop the destruction of the postal service

Published Feb 24, 2012 9:07 PM

Community Labor United to Save Postal Jobs & Services issued the following media release on Feb. 18 after newspaper, TV and radio media barraged the public that same day with reports that the postal service is broke. The group is organizing a rally on March 17 to protest attempts to lay off postal workers and close post offices.

“The spin is in full swing,” said Johnnie Stevens, coordinator of Community Labor United to Save Postal Jobs & Services, “to spread lies that the [U.S. Postal Service] is broke in order to justify layoffs, post office closings and union busting when the current moratorium expires May 15.”

“Any reporter spending two minutes to research the claim that USPS is broke should honestly report this is a lie,” said Anne Pruden, retired Service Employees 1199 member and coalition organizer. “Instead, they are parroting USPS lies. Raising stamps to 50 cents is meant to falsely convey that USPS has no money. Meanwhile, they are not raising the very low corporate [postal] rates.”

In a Feb. 6 letter to Rep. Bernie Sanders, USPS Postal Inspector David C. Williams wrote that the USPS “has built a war chest of more than $326 billion to address future liabilities.” He states that no other private or public entity has been required to pre-fund their retiree and health funds, as Congress has demanded of USPS. Williams says there are billions of dollars in overfunding that could be returned to the USPS now, without requiring future payments to these funds for 21 years.

“This is really about taking the people’s postal service and turning over its technology and business to private communications companies that wine and dine Congress,” explained Charlie Twist, a letter carrier whose union is backing a March 17 protest. “We have already lost more than 100,000 jobs. We are going to fight layoffs of 200,000 more. We know that their real intention is to destroy the entire postal service, bust our unions and deprive communities of critical service.”

President Barack Obama’s “compromise” to end Saturday delivery is unnecessary. Along with all the other proposals, it is calculated to make the postal service inoperable, and then claim private companies are needed.

“Privatization of the postal service will increase customer costs, lower wages, and deprive seniors, communities of color and rural communities of services and jobs,” says community activist Rosa Maria del Torres. “In New York City and around the country we will fight this all the way.”


This piece is written by Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Marcia of SICKOFITRADLZ, Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends, Ann of Ann's Mega Dub, Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts and Wally of The Daily Jot. Unless otherwise noted, we picked all highlights.

"At least 62 dead, hundreds injured" and "Chasing 'al Qaeda'" -- C.I.'s two al Qaeda pieces from last week were the most requested highlights by readers of this site according to Ty.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Scaling Back The Years" -- Isaiah's latest comic presents Barack's campaign problems.

"Kat's Korner: Absorb the Graffiti" -- Kat reviews the new album by Graffiti6.

"Whitney," "Whitney,""revenge," "Cougar Town,""Whitney," "Is Peter home on Fringe?," "Nikita," "Unforgettable," "Body of Proof," "Desperate Housewives," "Unforgettable," "The Good Wife," "Smash" and "Fringe, Isaiah, Third" -- TV coverage from Betty, Ann, Rebecca, Ruth, Marcia, Mike, Stan and Elaine.

"The little punk from the playground" and "THIS JUST IN! PLAYGROUND POUTER!" -- Cedric and Wally on the dish-it-out-but-not-take-it cry baby.

"The Airhead Speaks" -- Ann on a 'writer' who shouldn't be a speaker either.

"Ben Smith is a damn liar" -- Ruth calls out Ben Smith.

"Booze" -- Kat on a topic we can all relate to.

"The Softer Side of Narcissicm" -- Isaiah digs into the archives for this one.

"The little punk from the playground"

"Unemployment at 9%" -- Trina on the real unemployment number.

"drones" -- Rebecca covers drones.

"THIS JUST IN! CARNEY BREAKS IT DOWN!" & "Half an excuse? Try full on offensive!" and "In Black History Month?" -- Wally, Cedric and Ann on offensive Barack.

"The economy" -- Trina zooms in.

"Roemer who?" -- Kat offering a basic tip to POLITICO.

"Phyllis Scherrer" -- Elaine on public education.

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