Sunday, June 12, 2005

A note to our readers

Hey you lazy smart butts, where the heck did you go? Did you forget your note to the readers?

No. But we didn't have a great deal of organization this week. We had an idea but decided to hold it for next week (a theme). Ava and C.I. were going to do their TV review as other people (we can't say more without giving away the theme) and when we dropped the idea, they were stuck having to review a show they hated (CSI Miami) without the joke behind it.

We also had a great deal to talk about. Betty's son got hurt this week. Rebecca had the centrist bothering her. C.I. had the e-mail coming in first to The Common Ills. Then there was the Times reporter, the first to want to be quoted, being quoted. And the uproar that ensued. Midweek, Dona's aunt had surgery and Dona, Ava, Jim, Jess and Ty were all present at the hospital. Add in the week post-Watergate which left the press with no glory days to recount and just fluff to dispense and you know we talked about that!

After we completed our first article ("Dear Third Estate Sunday Review"), Ava and C.I. went off to watch CSI Miami and we were going to do our Blog Spotlight. We ended up debating which of Rebecca's two entries to spotlight. When Ava and C.I. rejoined us an hour later, we were still debating. Which led to Ava and C.I. having some choice words, some very strong choice words.
We went both and we also presented Common Ills community member Miguel's summary of last week's news, via Democracy Now!, in Spanish and in English. Democracy Now! is doing their headlines in Spanish and in English and we wanted to be sure to note that.

"Five Books, Five Minutes" repeatedly turned into personal conversations. We left one part in, at C.I., Rebecca and Ava's insistence. They thought it summed up the process this week.

That 'process' also led to our mini-interview with Rebecca, so we won't knock it. Read Rebecca's feelings on getting out the message, we think she's on the money.

Via BuzzFlash we found the focus for the editorial. Ava and C.I. had already gone to BuzzFlash before they went off to do their TV review. While they did the review, we went ahead and published what we had completed, read The Sunday Times of London article and, honestly, took a nap.

Which didn't please Ava who'd been slaving with C.I. over a review of a show they hated and only agreed to watch to execute the theme that we decided to drop at the last minute. (Like C.I., Ava really doesn't watch TV. When the theme was nixed, there were no shows that they had already watched in the past week that they could substitute for the focus of the review.)

So we said when the editorial was completed and posted, we'd treat Ava to breakfast. (C.I. wasn't with us physically or we would have treated C.I. as well.) As we now all prepare to crash, we got back online to do our thank yous.

As always we thank our readers. Hopefully you'll find something in this edition that makes you laugh or enrages you. We don't try to be detached here.

We thank Folding Star, Rebecca and Betty for their assistance and help. Folding Star participated in the "Five Books, Five Minutes" article as did Betty and Rebecca. Betty and Rebecca also participated in "Dear Third Estate Sunday Review," the blog spotlights, the mini-interview with Rebecca. Betty took her leave after that (we don't blame her). Rebecca stayed on to add her input to the editorial.

C.I., as usual, participated in everything here except this. And of course the TV reviews are done by Ava and C.I. We've claimed C.I., even used the term "honorary member." We asked Ava what she thought would be a better title. She groaned and said, "Type faster, Jim, I'm about to fall out right now!" Then when she realized we were all waiting for an answer, she shrugged and said "special guest star." What?

"You know," she explained, "like on Melrose Place. Heather Locklear was always billed as 'special guest star.' Episode after episode. At least I think she was. I'm tired. I just want to go to sleep."

So that's how we'll leave it. Thanks to special guest star C.I.

-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava

Editorial: Mainstream press, do your damn job

MINISTERS were warned in July 2002 that Britain was committed to taking part in an American-led invasion of Iraq and they had no choice but to find a way of making it legal.
The warning, in a leaked Cabinet Office briefing paper, said Tony Blair had already agreed to back military action to get rid of Saddam Hussein at a summit at the Texas ranch of President George W Bush three months earlier.
The briefing paper, for participants at a meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, said that since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal.
This was required because, even if ministers decided Britain should not take part in an invasion, the American military would be using British bases. This would automatically make Britain complicit in any illegal US action.

The above is from Michael Smith's article in today's Sunday Times of London ("Ministers were told of need for Gulf war 'excuse.'") Yes, Michael Smith again. Yes, The Sunday Times of London, again. And yes, thanks to BuzzFlash for making it the big story on their website this morning.

Last week, we said it was time to connect the dots. Forget connecting them, there are so many now that it's a pointalism work of art that says "We were lied into war!" That comes as no surprise to many of us who were against the invastion/occupation from the start.

But is the clampdown on these revelations from our media not just deriving from a need to kiss Bully Boy ass, but also from the fact that the mainstream media was complicit by acting like cheerleaders instead of reporters?

We have no idea. But we know that wishing the revelations coming out of England wouldn't reach American eyes and ears is a futile desire.

The people are ahead of the domestic press on this issue. Unless the mainstream press desires to become completely superfluous it better begin to do it's job.

In case anyone's forgotten, the role of the press is to inform the public.

Oh that might not be as fun as fluffing for the Bully Boy. It might not provide the "access" that results in so many false claims (but don't it feel good to have Dick Cheney name-check you on Meet the Press!). It might mean, shudder, that the administration might say some mean things about you.

Well those are the breaks. You're in a profession you elected to go into, a profession that is supposed to demand accountability from those in power.

Want to be trusted, do your damn job.

As it stands, you've become the person who denies your spouses drinking problem while the whole neighborhood's whispering about it. Sure we nod to your face and act like we believe you, but as soon as you walk off, we shake our heads and wonder "Who does s/he think s/he's fooling?"

It's become the elephant in the room.

And the press better start addressing it because it's an important topic and, at least right now, we have internet freedoms that China doesn't. We can read papers from outside the US. We can find out what's being reported away from the clamp down.

There is no excuse for a New York Times D.C. editor to claim that the Downing Street Memo may not be verifiable or any other nonsense. Forget that no verification was ever needed for the witch hunt of the Clintons, any second year journalism student knows you report something you're not sure of as, "Others are saying . . ."

We know you're familiar with that method. You use it all the time when you cite unnamed officials. Here you can cite The Sunday Times of London. "The Sunday Times of London is reporting . . ."

There's no excuse for the clamp down. It's making the press look like something worse than cheerleaders. It's making them look like liars with their heads stuck in the sand (or up the Bully Boy's butt).

William Greider titled a book Who Will Tell the People. We know The New York Times is at least familiar with the title because they used it in an editorial not all that long ago. So we ask the mainstream press, who will tell the people?

This isn't esoteric information. It's not arcane. And obviously, the clampdown hasn't prevented Americans from learning about it. You can fluff it all you want (and you have) but the word is getting out. Word will continue to travel. With or without you (to cite a U2 song). But if it continues to travel inspite of you, despite you, you better find something better than "arm chair media critics" and "circle jerk" to slam the new information sources because it's the "arm chair media critics" and the "circle jerk"ers, Bill Keller, that have been doing the job that mainstream press is supposed to do.

A month later, you can finally kind-of, sort-of address the Downing Street Memo that The Sunday Times published May 1, 2005. When will you address it fully? And when will you inform your readers and viewers of other revelations?

When will you address Michael Smith's "RAF bombing raids tried to goad Saddam into war?" From the opening of that article:

THE RAF and US aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs on Iraq in 2002 in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war, new evidence has shown.
The attacks were intensified from May, six months before the United Nations resolution that Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, argued gave the coalition the legal basis for war. By the end of August the raids had become a full air offensive.
The details follow the leak to The Sunday Times of minutes of a key meeting in July 2002 at which Blair and his war cabinet discussed how to make "regime change" in Iraq legal.

And do you have plans to explore Charles J. Hanley's Associated Press article entitled
"Bolton Said to Orchestrate Unlawful Firing?" If you missed it, here's an excerpt:

John R. Bolton flew to Europe in 2002 to confront the head of a global arms-control agency and demand he resign, then orchestrated the firing of the unwilling diplomat in a move a U.N. tribunal has since judged unlawful, according to officials involved. A former Bolton deputy says the U.S. undersecretary of state felt Jose Bustani "had to go," particularly because the Brazilian was trying to send chemical weapons inspectors to Baghdad. That might have helped defuse the crisis over alleged Iraqi weapons and undermined a U.S. rationale for war.

Your silence has been embarrassing. Your continued silence will render you useless. With you or without you, the word is getting out. To the print press, we ask what happens when your readers realize that you've been playing clamp down? Don't they pay for your paper because they expect to learn what's happening in the world around them? To the electronic press, we ask what happens when your viewers find out that all the chatter about Michael Jackson and other dubious topics have filled the airwaves while real news, news that matters, has been ignored. Ava and C.I. caught The Chris Matthews Show while they were writing their review.
Chris Matthews had time to address the very important, we're sure, topics of Hugh Grant and John Kerry's college grades. While we're sure there were plenty of chuckles from some viewers, you think they'll be laughing when they realize what you've been sitting on?

We don't think so. We think if the press wants the public's trust, the press needs to do its job.
That's not been happening. You can whine about the mean old bloggers all you want, but you're trashing your own image far worse than any blogging "arm chair media critic" in the midst of a "circle jerk" could. (To use some of Bill Keller's favorite phrases.)

Do your job. Report. Do what you were trained to do.

Dear Third Estate Sunday Review

Dear Third Estate Sunday Review,
What do you do when you lose your heart and soul?
Depressed in Sacremento

Dear Depressed in Sacremento,
You become a corporate media whore schilling for the Bully Boy. While we're sad that you're spirits are low, if they're truly broken, baby, get your resume together because when you've lost your hope, your pride and your common sense, it's time to send out that resumes! Start with MSNBC but don't neglect CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC. For ice breakers, we suggest this with Brian Williams, "You wrote Nixon as a child? You f**king panty waist, I wrote Mussolini!" Remember, when you've fallen so low that there's no where else to go, think corporate media!

Dear Third Estate Sunday Review,
Did you catch Saturday Night Live tonight? It's just started as I write and I can't believe that they did a racist skit where Sammy Sosa was saying baseball been berry, berry good to him. Can you believe it?
Richard, Chicago

Dear Richard,
Our Saturday nights, live and otherwise, as well as our Sunday mornings are taken up by turning out these editions so we're not able to catch Saturday Night Live. Therefore, we can't rule on whether a skit, that we didn't see, was racist or not. We can, however, note that if the line you refer to was mentioned, SNL is now copying itself since Garrett Morris made that his catch phrase on the show in the seventies.

Dear Third Estate Sunday Review,
I'm sure you've heard of belly button lint but I'm more concerned with these hard crusties that form in my navel cavity. What are they?
Lara in Utah

Dear Lara in Utah,
What are they? They're disgusting. Please remember to bathe regularly and that gross stories may make for a shocking opening but won't endear you to strangers.

Dear Third Estate Sunday Review,
So let me show you something: Ava and C.I. crayola penned TV reviews are both juvenile and
old. See, I can do smart ass too. Guess I should write for Third Estate Sunday Review.
Holbert in Oklahoma

Dear Holbert,
We turn this over to C.I. and Ava. Well, Holbie, way to give it the old pre-K try. We'll assume that you're quite the cut up in after school day care. However, there's smart ass and there's dumb ass. Don't strain yourself trying to figure out which one houses your brain. Thanks for writing.

Dear Third Estate Sunday Review,
I try to be open to all sources but if I'm to believe everything I read, Bully Boy is actually an alien from a lizard race in outer space, while also fond of gay sexual acts in coffins, stock piling money to hide out in his solar powered ranch in Crawford, Texas during the coming global drought and energy shortage, while also being controlled by the financial industry which is actually working to bring the Soviet Union back together so that it can be this century's super power, a plan that was plotted by the Rothschilds and carried out by the water carriers of Skull & Bones, that will lead to one world government, one world rule and one world domination. What do you think?
Nicholas in Seattle

Dear Nicholas,
We're still trying to get a fix on whether Poppy Bush was Deep Throat or not so we really have no background on any of the stories you're referring to except to correct you on one obvious misconception -- Bully Boy does not have a ranch in Texas. Destroying greenery (brush) isn't ranching.

Dear Third Estate Sunday Review,
As someone who identifies as a strict linguist and takes great pride in being grammatically correct, I was wondering if you were bothered by your typos?
Franklin in Denver

Dear Franklin,
Bothered? By our word puzzles to you? Please, say "thank you" for our intentional attempts to serve you as well as our less prissy readers.

Dear Third Estate Sunday Review,
This is not the sixties, Iraq is not Vietnam and you continued confusal of the two periods leave you well equipped to criticize.
Anne in D.C.

Dear Anne,
Are you Annie Apples of the Washington Post? Honestly, we haven't seen such a load of horse shit since we last attempted to tackle one of her columns. (Ava and C.I. advise she's even a bigger gas bag when appearing on the "think tank" right-wing show PBS airs that NO ONE apparently knows of since it wasn't created to "balance" Bill Moyers the way the looney Wall St. Journal bore-fest and the Tucker Carlson show that they thankfully pulled the plug on. We'd suggest that people not accept the "fact" that until Ken Tomlinson came along to take a big leak all over PBS, it's right-wing programs were something that ended when William F. Buckley's who went off.)
Annie Apples, it's not the sixties. The sixties had better music and films. Not to mention a Do It Yourself culture that managed to break through the drone of the mainstream. (But don't you go counting DIY out just yet, Annie Apples, we think it's making an impact and that it will continue to reach larger and larger numbers.)
Iraq is not Vietnam? We never said it was the sixties and we certainly never said Iraq was Vietnam. We know our geography.
But Annie Apples, do you know the meaning of "quagmire?" (If not, check with Franklin, strict linguist that he is, he should be able to provide you with a definition.)
Here's the definition we're operating under: a difficult, precarious, or entrapping position.
Sound like anything you know?
Annie Apples, you're living in a state of denial and, for the record, no, we didn't just compare Iraq to a river in Egypt (though, with your limited comprehension, humor impaired tone, and questionable analytical abilities, we'd understand if you were confused).

How much did you ingest to write that stuff? If you're in my area and looking for a supplier, let me know.
Waylon, NYC

Dear Waylon,
Our high, like our looks and brains, comes naturally. But what's your best deal on rolling papers? Uh, Dona's . . . giving herself a home perm! Yeah, a home perm! And the kit has more curlers than papers! Yeah. Home perm!

TV Review: CSI Miami

Summer repeats allows us the misfortune of addressing shows we might otherwise ignore. Take CSI Miami. Take it and drop kick it and toss it in the trash can.

It's not just the fact that Jerry Bruckheimer has churned out so much trash over the years that makes us avoid this show. It's not even the fact that he's had his head so far up the administration's ass that we wonder if he gets a concussion whenever the Bully Boy eats beans. It's just that his work feels like it's been churned out by someone who has no spirit or hope left within them, by someone who is either scared of the world or wants to appeal to all the other reactionaries who are.

We wouldn't say that Don Simpson was a saint. Please, he probably crawled over ten hookers most mornings to get to the first line of blow that would carry him through his various meetings and conference calls. But Simpson believed. And while he was a partner, a Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer Production stood for something Simpson believed in. Which was? A fascination with the flesh. That's why you get Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer and others doing a towel parade in Top Gun or Jennifer Beals in various stages of undress in Flashdance. If the "feel good" plots seemed sometimes to exist only to get you to the disrobing, at least the films got somewhere (to undressing), at least they had a point.

Bruckheimer has no point. It's "feel good." Feel good for feeling good. Feel good for feeling good about feeling good . . .

As he's gotten more mechanical, the films have gotten worse. Pearl Harbor was the kind of disaster that should kill a career. Don Simpson would have demanded some nudity and probably wouldn't have fallen for the phase that plauged Hollywood for a few years, the "let's all be long winded like James Cameron because Titanic was so huge!" Simpson, always one to focus on the costs, would have noted that at less than two hours, a film could be shown more often and increase its potential profits.

But Bruckheimer wants you to feel good. He wants so badly for you to feel good that he became a pest. Movie goers have learned to avoid him for the most part.

So he took his tired act into another medium and, possibly a little bitter over the way the whole thing worked out, he's not interested in uplifting you, he's interested in playing to your darkest
thoughts about society, freedom and the state of the world.

Reactionary has apparently worked for him. He's quite the success on TV. (We hear Simpson cackling from the grave, "Couldn't make it in the big league without me!") If sex scenes give you the heebie jeebies, where do you head? Why CBS of course. And it's there that he's become the Tiny Tim to the Depends-set as he tiptoes through the perceived depravity of the world today much to the amusement of arm chair victims of the cultural wars.

Quick shots of sex and murder. Those are real popular. That's combined. We don't mean a sex shot, then later in the show a murder shot. Sex and death often go together in Bruckheimer's reactionary world. We'd like to say, "Hey, get your murder out of our sex!" But we're afraid, like an old TV commercial, he'd shoot back, "Get your sex out of my murder!" and we be caught in an endless back and forth.

It's a pitch older than Cecil B. DeMille (though he utilized it more than anyone until Bruckheimer trotted his tired act over to television -- but DeMille did it on the big screen -- again, we hear Simpson cackle). The correlation allows for cheap thrills without anyone getting too bothered by the "sin factor" since, after all, "the sinners" have been punished. (So has the audience, though many don't seem to grasp that.)

CSI Miami was the first attempt to spin off the franchise. Kim Delaney was a part of the package originally but this show's not about acting which is probably why a Kim Delaney leaves and a David Caruso stays. And stays with the cast, if you can call them a cast.

The acting is beyond laughable. Does Caruso think he's Robert Blake in a David Lynch film or is he just trying to play a trick that's grown far too old and wrinkled to market anything other than eccentricities?

We're not sure. But we love how some critics rush to assure that Caruso can act. He can't. It's the same "performance" he gives in everything from Jade to Kiss of Death to Proof of Life. And goodness if they didn't hiss and howl as he trotted out the same old song in film after film. Put him on TV doing the same old song but surround him with corpses and suddenly he can act! What is that? By comparison to a lifeless corpse, Caruse can act?

Caruso is older (and creepier, he looks like Bill Macy's older brother these days) so they keep him dressed in black and sporting sunglasses but that won't make him Don Johnson. (Whom we're sure is the personfication of cool to whomever puts together his wardrobe.)

In the episode we watched, the plot, such as it was, revolved around a drug dealer, we think, who beat up on his old lady (we use the term intentionally) and then killed her while well- off kids were discovered to have sex, do drugs and cheat. A lot and a lot and a lot.

This show feeds into every stereotype possible. It's the sort of thing you'd see on an old TV show and laugh your ass off at. But when you watch, for instance, Hawaii Five-O, today, you're at least treated to some really outlandish fashions or a sure sense of what decade you're supposed to be in. Style, on this show, seems nonexistant.

Speaking of Hawaii Five-O, we're personally fond of a really cheesy episode starring Susan Dey of The Patridge Family and L.A. Law fame. She's a hippie trying to get her act together and stumbling around the beach while hoods hunt after her. It's complete and total cheese (not unlike Andrea Mitchell's new haircut and use of way too much base and eye liner -- unless, on the latter, she's attempting to bring back Streisand's sixties glamor) but Susan Dey manages to cut through the cheese quite often and it's great to see her with the famous hair and in the period clothes uttering period phrases.

No one can cut through the cheese on CSI Miami because they're not even trying for characterization.

For a moment on CSI Miami, a young actress almost broke through. But while Hawaii Five-O would have made her the focus (she was integral to the assorted crimes), CSI Miami seems far more fond of focusing on Caruso who, honestly, can't hold your attention because even the creepiness wears thin after a bit.

Along with Caruso, we get Emily Procter who was so obviously meant to play Mavis in The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion! (Which, for the record, she did.) Listening to her chatter away in that thin voice we wondered what exactly was so irritating about her. Then she said "Oh please, I do not even have time to go to the mall!" at one point and it hit us, she's like those women, those white women, Wal-Mart chooses to emphasize in their TV ads. You know the ones. "I could work but dad-gum how would I find time to spend my life at Wal-Mart if'n I did!" With smile lines carved into the sides of her face and "hick" tatooed on her ass, Procter wonders around in clothes that look like they came off the racks at Wal-Mart.

Before you think, "Thank God! Someone who's not dressing above their character's budget," remember that we said Wal-Mart. The hideous white, body hugging, breast-line plunging shirt might fill the racks at Wal-Mart, but it's hardly what one expects a crime scene investigator to be wearing to the office (with or without a jacket tossed over it).

With her montone expression and monotone delivery, we're not sure what she'll do after CSI Miami goes off the air. (Do they still have the Hee Haw "honies?") But voice lessons are strongly recommended (that tinkly-winkly voice is irritating and it has nothing to do with a southern accent, it has to do with sounding like an airhead). To hear her squeak "Anything on Danny's clothes?" is to go running for the Tylenol and ear plugs.

Anything on Danny's clothes? "Lip stain" on his boxers. Which leads to a "flash" of young Danny about to make out with his teacher. This is what passes for adult drama.

Caruso (what, you thought we were done with him already?) attempts to pass himself off as George Clooney. He tries to steal mannerisms and do the "I'm talking to you but notice how I'm not looking at you" move Clooney favors. But there's a difference between them besides the obvious aesthetic one, Clooney can, after all, act. It's why Clooney has a career and why Caruso is back on television in a cookie-cutter, assembly line show that depends soley on the actors not getting tired of playing blank cyphers who ask endless questions over and over.

The show wants so badly to be stylish. And possibly to the traditional CBS viewer, it is stylish.
The camera moves aren't anything you've seen on Barnaby Jones, after all. They're about two decades behind MTV, but they probably seem "fresh" to eyes more used to Nash Bridges and Walker, Texas Ranger. While those last two shows didn't kid themselves about being anything other than the standard TV corn that's been junking up television for years, CSI Miami wants to be the Ikea of TV shows (long after Ikea has lost it's freshness).

At the end of the show (yes, by gritting our teeth, we did make it to the end), Caruso's Horatio comforts the brother of a victim (the "old lady") in a series of "flashes." We consider them snapshots. And poorly done ones. The music blares throughout as time moves so slowly that it's rendered in still photography.

The word we hear is that the show's in trouble. Both from viewers (who are bored) and the network (which worries that since America can no longer want to love Raymond, Monday's are about to go into the crapper). Instead of worrying, all should celebrate the fact that this piece of condescending crap ever managed to grab viewers to begin with. Forget that Caruso never connects with anyone that he's on camera with and seems to float around like the Rod Sterling of the show. Forget that Procter's voice grates on your nerves. Forget the bad wardrobe, the "special" effects of sound and video that aren't that special. What's most shocking is that the hope-I-die-before-I-get-old crowd would, as they close out their middle-aged years, watch this nonsense.

Isn't this all that they railed against as teenagers?

Last week's review led to two e-mailers questioning what we saw as the glorification of the "law" and the "of course he's guilty" attitude of Law & Order: Trial By Jury. For those two, and any others missing the obvious, we offer the following dialogue exchanged during the show.

Procter: Do you think the parents have any idea that they are paying for their kids to have sex with teachers and buy their grades?
Adam Rodriguez: I don't know but it makes me realize what an angel I was.

Makes the audience realize that too. Makes them feel really smug and satisfied the way their parents did watching those wacky hippies on the cop shows of the sixties and early seventies. We'd argue that anyone from that period who watches this nonsense today was never interested in opening the floodgates to all, just opening them to themselves. Fair or not, that's why the baby boomers have one of the worst generational images. We're glad that we can say the boomers we choose to hang around don't share that selfish, 'Me-Decade' quality, but this crap obviously sells to those who do -- as well as to the reactionaries of all ages who need to be reassured of how wicked the world is.

There's no need for characterization in these type of shows or for strong acting, they're morality plays, little parables about the wickedness that is all around you and how only the strong arm of the law can save you. So you smirk as Caruso strongs arms a meth user or as Proctor has an entire school turn over their cell phones. (Proctor rolls her eyes when a campus security guard says he's there to make sure she doesn't trample the student's civil rights.)

These type of shows are what the boomers once rebelled against. Forgive us if badly acted, badly written, reactionary sermonettes don't strike us as entertaining. It's not that there's not a place for shows like these, it's just that the place is PAX and not CBS.

Five Books, Five Minutes

Once more to the libraries, we cried. Five books, five minutes in efforts to encourage people to use their public libraries, to encourage reading and to give you the kind of instant analysis that passes for deep thought on the television networks!

Your book pundits are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava along with C.I. of The Common Ills (and we claim C.I. as a Third Estater), Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Folding Star of A Winding Road and Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man.

Jim selected Hunter S. Thompson's Generation of Swine: Gonzo Papers vol. 2 "because C.I. had excerted to note Thompson's death and it also got prominently featured, after C.I.'s post, in the New York Times. When two who disagree on so much agree on one thing, I'm curious."

Betty: I found it riveting reading. I was very, very young during the time period these essays cover and much of it was new to me.

Jess: And it pointed out that there have been bad times for America before and with a little luck we can survive the current damage coming out of the White House.

Rebecca: I enjoyed it but it's the first thing I've read by Thompson and I was wondering why C.I. elected to highlight this over some of the more famous works?

C.I.: As I remember it, I pulled the book off the shelf at random. I hadn't planned to focus solely on it but I ended up reading it. All the way through. And I just thought that this was a book that had a lot to say to today. You have the mechanics in play, the hushing of this scandal or that one. The "message" that has a subtext no one comments on. That was a period where there wasn't a great deal of journalistic bravery, not unlike today, and I felt that was worth noting. We didn't wake up in November, 2000 with Repubes suddenly controlling the message and the medium. His earlier works are strong but it was obvious that everyone would comment on them in the obits the next day. This had the potential to be overlooked. The essays are humorous but they also have a great deal to say.

Excerpt from pages 120-121:

Meanwhile, back in Washington, CIA Chief William J. Casey was filing charges of treason against NBC News, and Ronald Reagan himself put the whack on the Washington Post. . . . When Casey was unable to prevent the Post from publishing a massive Bob Woodward article on the current CIA operations, good old Dutch just smiled and said shucks -- and then picked up the phone and spoke personally with Post publisher Katharine Graham, who called the story back for major cuts and re-editing.
Woodward bristled and bitched, but the lawyers called him paranoid and his piece was eventually gutted, for reasons of national security. It was such a clear case of censorship and journalistic nut-cracking by the White House that even USA Today called it shameful. "The Post gave in," said columnist Michael J. Gartner, "and published a censored article that was five feet nine inches long and that was as bland as it was lengthy.
The collapse of the Post sent a rumble of fear and confusion through the whole journalistic community. It was like spreading rumors in Boston about Larry Bird shaving points, or priests selling fat young boys out of vans behind Fenway Park.
Nobody wants to hear these things. If the Post can be intimidated, who else can feel safe? NBC was still holding, but Casey was pushing for serious criminal penalities and a final decision by Attorney General Ed Meese, who is currently tied up in his own campaign against pornography, and will soon be publishing the findings of his controversial commission's investigation.

Betty picked Goldie Hawn's A Lotus Grows in the Mud. (Co-written with Wendy Holden.)

Betty: I picked it because Rebecca mentioned it and I was interested in it. I like Goldie Hawn and the title told me right away that this was going to be an exploration on some level, like Jane Fonda's My Life So Far, that was about a journey and I enjoy those type of books.

Dona: I really enjoyed this book, I wasn't sure what I would be reading, to be honest. It wasn't a tale of a life lived only on Hollywood sets, obviously. It was informative.

Jess: And getting to larger issues in its way. I think it's great that a book like this is out there for people to enjoy because Hawn's written in her voice about how she sees things and we need more voices, as C.I. always says, but we especially need to hear from voices that don't chant "Destruction! Destruction! Destruction!" all the time. A lot of people might want to dismiss what this book can do but I think it can do it a lot. In chapter after chapter, sentence after sentence, she speaks to our relationships with one another and with the world around us. It's not a wonky book. It is a thoughtful one. I read it early in the week and mentioned it to my dad who picked it up and we both agreed it sounded like my mother. Footnotes are great but sometimes you need someone to pour their heart into something for it to really connect. I think this was a labor of love for Goldie Hawn and Wendy Holden. If it's not, give Goldie another Oscar, because she's as convincing on the page as she is onscreen.

Excerpt from page 358, selected by Jim:

Later that night, I sit around the campfire having dinner with Papa and the crew, learning more and more about elephants. Papa is full of wonderful stories, many of them from firsthand experience. He tells me that when an elephant goes into labor, she is tended to by three or four other female elphants, who act as midwives.
"And when an elephant is dying, the rest of the herd try to hold it up. Using their trunks, they lift and caress and encourage, until they can do no more. Then they hold a funeral. They cover the body with leaves and twigs; they gather around in circles and they weep. Later, they return to draw the tusks, burying them deep in the jungle or smashing them against trees, almost as if to defy the ivory invaders."

Ava picked Nancy Chang's Silencing Political Dissent.

Ty: I was really glad when I got ahold of this one and saw it was only 137 pages of text. We all had busy weeks and this small book on an important topic was easy to read and highly informative.

Betty: We should note that Howard Zinn did the foreword because that will add to interest in the book.

Ty: And I'll note that C.I.'s mentioned this book at least once a month at the site and constantly to us. It's one of those things that you mean to pick up but something else comes along. So I'm really glad Ava made a choice for this week.

Jim: This is just a really strong book and the fact that it's a small book should encourage people to pick it up all the more. The Patriot Act is, sadly, still with us. If you're wanting to know about that and other issues, about our rights as Americans to speak out, this book is a powerful one that you should pick up.

Excerpt from page 92-93, selected by Ava and C.I.:

When the U.S. national security is threatened, our committment to the First Amendment and the democratic values it embodies becomes all the more essential. Crises force us to make decisions on the weightiest of matters -- whether to declare war, whether to take military action and compel military service, whether to curtail our political and personal freedoms, whom to call friend and whom foe. The specter of casualties -- both military and civilian, American and foreign -- looms in the balance. Once made, these decisions are certain to carry long-lasting repercussions extending far beyond the geographical confines of the United States.
Public participation in decision making is the hallmark of a democratic society. Open debate that invites the vigorous presentation of opposing viewpoints both enriches our understanding of the problems we face and challenges us to find innovative solutions. Yet, it is precisely at moments like the present, when the national security is under threat, that First Amendment values are most likely to be abandoned in favor of authoritarian rule. With a growing sense of uneasiness, we have witnessed the Bush administration amass enormous new powers in the months since September 11. And we have witnessed the administration in an effort to maintain a free hand in the excercise of its new powers, employ strategies that are calculated to silence dissent. First, it has questioned the patriotism of those who oppose its policies, thereby fostering a climate of intolerence of dissent. Second, it has sought to discourage political activism by imposing guilt by association. Third, is has restricted access to government information, which has stymied the press, the public, and even Congress in their efforts to hold the executive branch accountable for its actions.

For fiction this week, Dona chose Gore Vidal's 1876.

Dona: I knew Gore Vidal based on his essays and was curious about his fiction. I think that's a point Ruth brought up in one of her Ruth's Morning Edition Reports. Vidal had been on Jack & Bobby and Ruth was surprised that her daughter --

Ava & C.I.: Granddaughter.

Dona: Granddaughter knew of him. But I see that all around. On campus, for instance, his name comes up a lot. Despite reading his essays, I'd never read any of his fiction. This was a book that made me want to explore more of his fiction.

Jess: And this focuses on a stolen election so, having lived through 2000, everyone should be curious about it for that reason. This is a fictional book, but it's based on history. What do they call those?

Betty: Historical novels.

Jess: Right. I enjoyed it. Folding Star is a huge fan of Gore Vidal's work so we'll let FS have the last word on it.

Folding Star: Okay, I'm not exactly impartial when it comes to Gore Vidal, I have to admit. I'd have to say he's my favorite writer. It was through his historical fiction that I first discovered him, and 1876 is a major part of that American chronicle. In 1876, Vidal brings us American politics and society at the time of the country's 100th birthday, just in time for a contested Presidential election that those of us who lived through 2000 would find strangely familiar. What makes this book, and indeed all of Vidal's historical fiction, so amazing is that he manages to breathe life into the people and events that are often treated as dusty relics painted with the black-or-white brush of history. He does this in a way that shatters all the pretentious myths which are taught to us as historical fact. Vidal debunks the idea that our leaders have always been larger than life Gods and grounds them all in a very human light.
Many tend to romanticize the past, but 1876 reminds us that the past isn't much different from the present. 1876 brings to life a corrupt politicalsystem in which the loser in a close Presidential election is picked as the winner by the machinations of back room dealing among the select few. If there were to be a worthy 21st century successor to Vidal in chronicling our country's history, you can easily imagine the 2000 election brought to life in the same way for future generations. In the meantime, reading the book will give you insight into our political system and our leaders, then and now.

Dona selected the excerpt from page 202:

Finally, the President was recognized. Two political types (of the lobby, not the Congress: I've got so I can tell them apart with a glance) emerged from the barrom and, rather drunkenly, presented themselves for Grant's attention. The hero's face did not once lose its puzzled expression while the blue eyes did not, to say the least, invite any intimacy with the strangers.
As Grant got to his feet one of the men seized his hand. The President allowed the hand to be held for an instant. Then he pulled it -- and himself -- away. The two men suddenly were faced not with the President but with the tall detective who had placed his large presence between them and the retreating small figure. In an instant the scene was done.
"Is he stupid?" I asked, genuinely curious.
"No. But limited. Without much curiousity. Yet he has come to know a good deal more about government than most people suspect. But he has -- obviously -- no gift for presiding over the country."
Rebecca picked Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber's Weapons of Mass Deception.

Rebecca: I honestly picked it because of the cover. I read Tom Tomorrow's This Modern World and recognized the art style. I figured that any book smart enough to put Tom Tomorrow on the front cover was one I'd enjoy reading. Ava and C.I. have been especially quiet so I'm thinking, unless they're making notes for their TV review, they should discuss this book.

Ava: We have no idea what we're going to write for our TV review. We know what show we're covering but this will be a pull it together at the last minute thing. But Rebecca's probably correct that we're sitting here focusing on our TV review. Okay, I liked this book. It was straight forward. If you didn't support the invasion, you were probably aware of a great deal of information in this book. But there's been so little from the mainstream --

C.I.: Connecting the dots.

Ava: Precisely. So little connecting the dots that I found myself reading the book and thinking, "Oh yeah, I forgot about when that happened."

C.I.: And for people who were either not sure what to think prior to the invasion or who have begun to realize that we're stuck in a quagmire, sorry Annie Apples, this book will turn them onto some facts that they may not have heard before. I've been quiet because a) I'm thinking about the TV review and b) I wanted to hear what everyone else thought about the books. If I disagreed with anything or felt something important wasn't added, I would've noted it. Also, I'll cop to it publicly, everyone here knows it, my week was so crazy, I never got around to reading 1876. Whether it was getting the e-mail "to Rebecca"

Rebecca: Put quotation remarks around that.

C.I.: From centrist Ed or then the Times reporter, whom I'm not griping about and am glad she weighed in with her take, and dealing with the reaction from the community to that, it's been a crazy week. And thank you to The Third Estate Sunday Review for helping me go through the 603 e-mails on that.

Jim: 604.

C.I.: 602, 603, 604. It was a lot and everyone had a great deal to say in them. So thank you all for that. And of course Betty ended up in the emergency room with one of her children which was probably much more taxing than anything I could whine about.

Betty: Everyone who e-mailed was so nice about that. They all said, "Hey, we understand. Post when you can. Hope your kid is okay." Jess picked the excerpt for this, right?

Jess: Yeah. I think we need to be aware of the propaganda efforts to demonize the environmental movement and for that reason, I selected the passage.

Excerpt from pages 148-149:

Corporate spin doctors, think tanks and conservative politicians have taken up the rhetoric of fear for their own purposes. Even before 9/11, many of them were engaged in an ongoing effort to demonize environmentalists and other activist groups by associating them with terrorism. One striking indicator of this preoccupation is the fact that Congressman Scott McInnis (R-Colorado) had scheduled congressional hearings on "ecoterrorism" to be held on September 12, 2001, one day after Congress itself was nearly destroyed in an attack by real terrorists. (The September 11 attacks forced McInnis to temporarily postpone his plans, rescheduling his hearings to February 2002.)
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Republican congressman Don Young of Alaska speculated publicly that environmental extremists might be the real masters of the attacks. On the Reagan Information Interchange, a web site run by Ronald Reagan's son Michael, columnist Mary Mostert speculated that the culprits were probably "other Americans" -- specifically, "environmentalis and anti-globalist groups . . . . the radicals of the left." Even after it became clear that Islamist fundamentalists were behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, conservative attacks continued. On October 7, 2001, the Washington Times published and editorial calling for "war against eco-terrorists," calling them "an eco-al-Qaeda" with "a fanatical ideology and a twisted morality."

As always, we offer links. You're welcome to order the books from those links, but we do that to provide you with more information about the books we're noting. Your local libraries are wonderful resources and you can show your support by using them. A few e-mailers have noted that in their area, the libraries are small and the collections less than impressive. Most libraries have an inter or intralibrary loan program. Check with your librarian about requesting a book that you're interested in but isn't on your library's shelves.

Rebecca breaks down basic marketing for the Democratic Party

This wasn't supposed to be an interview. We asked Rebecca (sex and politics and screeds and attitude) for comments on a Double Dog Blog Spotlight we were doing on her entries but during the comments it turned into a mini-interview.

To make sure it receives the attention it deserves, we're taking it out of the comments section and making it an article all by itself.

Rebecca: Wendy had written me about how things were at her high school and I could identify because it was like a version of the whole Ed thing. Every time I post about how I will not let some man bully me around with an e-mail about what I should write and how I should write, I hear from female bloggers.
Now I'm sure most women who blog about politics are used to the nonsense but I know from their e-mails that a lot of women gave up even addressing politics because of this sort of shit. I also know a few female bloggers who hang in there and talk about politics but are so damn sick of this shit. I think it's time for all bloggers to stand up to this bullshit. I wish they would. I know C.I. did a post this week on "side issues," on how centerists rush in to say "side issue" or some such shit whenever talk turns to issues that are a concern to women.
So what's it's going to be in 2008? We'll the Democratic Party again try to woo the white male voter and expect women, GLBT, ethnic and racial minorities to just go along out of loyalty even though their needs aren't being addressed? Don't give me that workers shit either because there was nothing in the campaign that seriously addressed the working poor and said "You are welcome here, we want you with us."
It was a focus group campaign that focused on who can get the more white, male, middle-class voters. The excitement came from the 527s, not from the campaign. The excitement came from outsiders, not from the campaign. When John Kerry gave that weak ass answer in the debate about abortions, I wanted to cringe. He should have said, "Do you want me to tell you to have an abortion?" Then the simpering idiot would have said, "No!" To which he could have replied, "Then don't try to tell any other woman that she can't have one."
We didn't need to hear his long winded spiritual reflection on the state of abortion. And in 2008, we better have strong messages and a strong speaker. We better have a policy that says to the base, "You're welcome in this party" because if we don't, it's the death of the party.
I was in Boston on election night and I heard, not from your average voter but from party activists, that the continual refusal to embrace African-American voters is going to destroy the party. They have been a loyal base for the Democratic Party.
And it didn't stop after the election. When Slimey Simon Rosenberg was asked by Lizz Winstead and Rachel Maddow what he would do, if he were DNC chair, to address the concerns of African-American voters, he didn't answer. He started talking about Latino voters.
And therein is the problem. The party needs to stop acting like the White Male Middle Class Party that can find time each election cycle to address one group that's not White Male Middle Class. It's past time to start reaching out to all.
But when the people deciding on the "message" are mainly from one group, you get one message and then they think to speak a tiny bit, throw out a morsel, to one group that's not just like them. They pass that off as "inclusive."
It's not. Nor does the leadership reflect the base. We don't need to fancy talk or spiritual guidance, we need plain talk that is welcoming to our core voters. If we can't do that, we can't get them to the polls. I'll get off my soap box now.

Third Estate Sunday Review: One point before you do, you were in public relations, we want to note that, so what you're saying right now, are you basing it on that?

Rebecca: Absolutely. Let's say Pepsi finds out from research that most people who drink Pepsi fall into two groups: women and African-Americans, with overlap for women who belong to both groups. If Pepsi then hires all white males and crafts commercials to white males in a series of advertisements over and over, they're going to find that that their core is scratching it's head and wondering, "Does Pepsi even want me to buy their products?"
If this continues, as it has in the Democratic Party, you'll find that word of mouth is growing very negative towards Pepsi from those two groups, again with overlap for African-American women.
Now if you're a long term consumer of Pepsi, you obviously like the taste. So some will stick with it and some will stick with it out of brand loyalty. However, you'll find that your advertisements have seriously alienated a number of people who will no longer buy your products. Peeling away a very small slice of consumers can make a huge difference in where you fall, in terms of success, on the grid.
But more important, this is important in marketing, in the long term, the bad word of mouth reaches future Pepsi buyers. They haven't established a loyalty to the product and they're not going to because Pepsi isn't catering to them in their marketing. They're going to buy something that is catering to them. Over time, Pepsi can find it's market share dwindle to the point that no one buys Pepsi products in enough numbers to keep the company in business anymore.
The Democratic Party better be worried about where future members are going to go. The Green Party has a much more exciting image to young people who are concerned about the environment, women's rights, the working class, etc. Throwing together their own concept of a prayer vigil won't bring in the new voters.

The Third Estate Sunday Review: Give us five quick tips on what, from a marketing stand point, the Democratic Party should be doing.

Rebecca: Okay.
1) Stop sending out every white male you have to the chat and chews. Get the Black Caucus out there. The party can make requests on that, they have the power to do so. As it stands right now, Condi Rice is a fixture of the chat and chews. If you watch them, the underlying message is that the Republican Party has a strong female, African-American spokesperson. And the Democrats? They've got Joe Biden with his receding hairline representing who?

2) When you're walking out of a meeting, you stand next to a Barbara Boxer or a Barak Obama.
The photos being run in the press by Republicans are of an Olympia Snow or Kay Baily Hutchinson with a few men. It sends a message over time.
Someone's snapping a photo, you say, "Wait a second" and call someone over who's not white, male and balding.

3) The party has a few straight talkers.
While Maxine Waters is welcome on The Randi Rhodes Show and The Majority Report, the
party should do more to get her voice out there on the weekday programs that revolve around guests -- and others like Russ Feingold, Barbara Lee, etc. These people speak plainly and with passion. Air America is on the Democrats side, it should be used to take the strong voices that the mainstream isn't paying attention to and to note them repeatedly thereby forcing the mainstream to acknowledge them. Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer are probably the three biggest "stars" of the Senate. No offense to the first two, but Boxer's admiration comes not from what the mainstream covered, but from what Air America and others covered. When the mainstream won't highlight your people, you work twice as hard to build up "stars" in other media.
As people become aware of them, they start e-mailing This Week or Face the Nation or whatever and asking why those people aren't on? They read an article in the paper and wonder, "What does Russ Feingold think about this?"
If an Air America show revolves around guests, leadership should be working hard to make sure that elected officials who aren't all over the chat and chews are available for each show during the week. (I say during the week because, like C.I., I think the weekend shows are very strong. Laura Flanders, for instance, doesn't need any help, or doesn't appear to, in order to book guests.) At a mimimum, leadership should be offering up ten guests a week. I'm not a fan of Al Franken's but I'm sure he'd be willing to feature anyone who was offered. Morning Edition's best moments have come when they've featured down to earth elected officials who came off as knowledgable but also as regular people. When the mainstream won't let you build an a-team, you build it in any and all outlets you can. There was an ad campaign that I worked on where TV buys were out of the question for a variety of reasons. We didn't say, "Well, there's nothing we can do then." We got focused on what other mediums we could hit and we hit them hard repeatedly. It worked. And if that's confusing, think of the Downing Street memo. The mainstream didn't lead on that, they remained silent. It was bloggers and other alternative media that informed the public and made it an issue.
Look at some of the weirdo Republicans on TV today. You wonder where they came from and how they got a "name?" The party used something other than the mainstream. They looked at the landscape and figured out a way to build outside the mainstream. We need to be doing the same.

4) No more bullshit about "I don't agree with Howard Dean."
Someone asks you about that you say, "Who did the tax breaks go to? Who did Bully Boy say 'I like to think of you as my base' to?" Quit being on the defensive. The Republicans control the message because they set it and then Democrats go on the chat and chews and say idiotic things that respond to trumped up charges.
Pull an Eleanor Roosevelt and start off with something like, "I'm saddened . . ." that you follow up with how time's being wasted on discussing that charge when we need to address serious problems like the environment, like worker's wages, etc. Every time some question pops up trying to divide us, don't play that game.
With your answer, take the question somewhere else.

5) Our stands are popular.
Start talking about what we stand for and get the base excited. C.I.'s talked about the bean counters a great deal and I say "exactly." They're so focused on one race that they repeatedly allow the needs of the party to go unattended. Howard Dean needs to get vocal about the war, I agree. But one thing he is doing right is getting back to the base. Reaching out by going around the country and not just to safe states.
A national product can not be marketed regionally. This is a huge problem and no one wanted to address it. C.I. did the whole "Red" state series dealing with the realities of a lack of voter outreach. I'm thinking of the county that the party didn't even decide was important enough to open a party headquarters in.
I don't care if you only get one walk in a week, you open those headquarters. The elderly man who wrote in about how sad it was for him because this had always been a place where he could go and discuss politics and get campaing literature, that broke my heart. Yes, we have electronic meetup potential via the internet but face to face remains important.
People want to criticize the 527s and say that they didn't have the impact by traveling to states as did groups of Republicans who lived in them. No shit. And they never would and that shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone. The 527s did motivate people. But it's always better to have your own local organization.
Instead of trashing 527s, the complaint should go to the fact that they were out there doing their job and the party's job. They did strong work and deserve praise. The failure was in the party's inability to build up the local organizations.
Howard Dean knows that and he spoke of that when he was campaigning in the primaries. That's why The Common Ills community supported him for DNC chair.
And when you go out into the nation, you don't do it by charging fifty bucks a person to attend an event. You're not Oprah. You're working for a political party that needs as many voters as possible. Stop sending out the party "stars" for fundraising and start sending them out to excite the public.
You can set up an area for donations but the idea that you send Teresa Heinz Kerry to an area that John Kerry's never visited and that she hasn't either and charge a hundred bucks to attend is insane.
Billie was for John Kerry, [Billie is] a Common Ills community member. When I did my post on Teresa Heinz Kerry, whom I respect, she e-mailed me about how John Kerry never came to her area, John Edwards didn't, Elizabeth Edwards didn't. Teresa Heinz Kerry did. Billie got the invitation. And if she could fork over a hundred bucks, she could attend.
This was while we were trying to win back the White House, people.
That's insane. Billie wasn't for Howard Dean in the primaries but she did go see him because he spoke to people for free. That's why she eneded up supporting him for DNC chair.
And think about that for one second. She wasn't for him, but he came to her area and she heard him speak. When he went for DNC chair, she wouldn't settle for anyone else. That's the power that face to face can have, perfect example.
You want to have your fundraising luncheon, have it. But you damn well better provide something in the same area for the voters who can't afford that or else you're sending out a message that you don't care about them.
Get your butts out there before the people. Word of mouth on the events will be more than worth the monies spent to stage them. Citizen D may only make $18,000 a year, but he or she will not just go to that event and then forget about it. He or she will tell his or her friends about it, "Well you know when John Conyers was in town last month, he said . . ." Or, "I don't agree with that and neither does Shirley Tubbs Jones. She was in town a couple of months back and I got to hear her speak . . ."
That's what you want. That's what the 527s can never do. They do great work and I'm not slamming them and I think people who do should be ashamed. But the only way for the party to reach local people is to interact with them.
Then when you're on Meet the Press, for instance, and Tim Russert starts trying to put on his "just an average Joe" persona, you can stop him and say, "Well actually Tim, I was just in Shreveport and what I heard people saying was . . ."
Gas bag Cookie Roberts can repeatedly say on NPR, "The Democrats have no message" because the party wastes time responding to nonsense instead of taking a question and turning it around.

When we told Rebecca we were going to feature this as an interview, she wanted to add this.

Rebecca: I'm not trying to come off as the next guru for the party. They've had more than enough of those. The things I'm talking about are common sense things. It's not about crafting your message or catering, it's about getting it out there.

Democracy Now: Senador Conyers realizará audiencias sobre caso del Memorándum de Downing Street

Democracy Now: Senador Conyers realizará audiencias sobre caso del Memorándum de Downing Street

Miguel: Hola. De "Democracy Now!" diez cosas que vale notar esta fin de semana.

Senador Conyers realizará audiencias sobre caso del Memorándum de Downing Street
El congresista de Michigan, John Conyers, anunció que como demócrata evaluador de la Comisión Judicial del Senado, programó audiencias sobre el llamado Memorándum de Downing Street y señaló el "esfuerzo del gobierno por alterar los libros con información anterior a la guerra". La audiencia está programada para el 16 de junio y Conyers advirtió que piensa aportar nuevos documentos que confirman la veracidad del memorándum de Downing Street, que son de hecho actas clasificadas de una reunión realizada el julio de 2002 con Tony Blair y sus principales asesores. Las actas muestran que el gobierno ya se había comprometido a atacar Irak, que manipulaba información y que ya había iniciado bombardeos a ese país para preparar la invasión al territorio. Esto sucedió casi un año antes del comienzo de la invasión. Conyers expresó ayer que la audiencia del próximo jueves procurará responder lo que denominó "serias preguntas constitucionales surgidas a partir de estas revelaciones". Entre las personas que prestarán declaración, se encuentran el ex embajador estadounidense en Irak, Joe Wilson, el ex analista de la CIA Ray McGovern, Cindy Sheehan, que perdió a su hijo en Irak y el abogado John Bonifaz, quien exige un proceso de impugnación contra el presidente Bush. Conyers afirma que finalizadas las audiencias, presentará a la Casa Blanca una solicitud firmada por medio millón de personas. La solicitud exige que el presidente Bush responda sobre su plan secreto de invadir Irak.

Kennedy y Kerry elevan memorándum de Downing Street
Ahora pasamos al documento de Downing Street. La visita esta semana a Washington del primer ministro británico, Tony Blair, suscitó una investigación del Congreso donde queda en evidencia que el gobierno de Bush habría deliberadamente engañado al Congreso y a la ONU los meses anteriores a la invasión y ocupación de Irak. El denominado "memorándum" incluye las actas de una reunión de los máximos consejeros de Tony Blair realizada en julio de 2002 en las cuales queda claro que los funcionarios estadounidenses le dijeron que la guerra era inevitable y que Estados Unidos estaba aumentando sus ataques contra Irak, prácticamente comenzando una guerra aérea, meses antes de que la ONU o el Congreso voten el tema. A principios de esta semana, se le preguntó a Bush sobre el tema, a pesar que el memorándum fue publicado hace más de un mes por el Sunday Times de Londres. A continuación escuchamos a Bush, durante la conferencia de prensa que realizó Tony Blair el martes."Bueno, leí las caracterizaciones del memorándum, especialmente cuando "largaron" el documento en medio de su campaña. No estoy seguro a quién se refieren con "largaron", pero tampoco estoy sugiriendo que todos lo hicieron. (RISAS) Y alguien dijo, "decidimos utilizar la fuerza militar para enfrentar a Saddam". Nada más alejado de la verdad. Mis conversaciones con el primer ministro se trataron de cómo hacer esto pacíficamente. Y esta reunión, evidentemente se llevó a cabo en Londres, sucedió incluso antes de que recurriéramos a las Naciones Unidas, o de que yo recurriera a las Naciones Unidas. Y en definitiva, ninguno de nosotros quería utilizar la fuerza militar."Escuchábamos las declaraciones del presidente Bush el martes. Ted Kennedy fue el primer senador en elevar ayer al Senado el tema del Memorándum de Downing Street. Kennedy expresó que "los contenidos de las Actas de Downing Street confirman que el gobierno de Bush estaba decidido a comenzar la guerra con Irak, sin importar si había una justificación creíble para hacerlo. El gobierno distorsionó y tergiversó información en su intento de vincular a Saddam Hussein con los terroristas del 11 de septiembre, Osama bin Laden y con las armas de destrucción masiva que Irak no tenía". Agregó que "las Actas de Downing Street confirman lo que hace tiempo es evidente, que la guerra estuvo relacionado con las elecciones del Congreso de 2002 y que los planes del gobierno luego de la guerra de Irak eran inadecuados en todos sus aspectos. La permanente crisis que atravesamos es una consecuencia directa de esa incompetencia". Mientras tanto, un portavoz de otro senador de Massachusetts, John Kerry, también se refirió al tema. En una declaración al diario Boston Phoenix, Setti Warren expresó que, "el senador Kerry considera que todos los estadounidenses merecen una explicación detallada del memorándum de Downing Street. El gobierno y los republicanos de Washington que controlan el Congreso insultan a los estadounidenses al negarse a responder las preguntas más elementales que surgen del memorándum sobre la inteligencia antes de la guerra y la planificación de las consecuencias de la guerra. Eso es inaceptable, en especial cuando se trata de las vidas de los hijos e hijas de Estados Unidos. John Kerry exigió respuestas en el Senado."

Eduardo Rodríguez asumió como nuevo presidente de Bolivia
Luego de semanas de rebelión encabezada por manifestantes indígenas, Bolivia tiene un nuevo presidente. A las 11:47 de la noche de ayer, el presidente de la Suprema Corte de Bolivia fue investido luego de una jornada marcada por protestas masivas y miedos generalizados al derramamiento de sangre y guerra civil. Aunque la situación del país sigue siendo tensa, muchos consideran que se evitó que sucediera lo peor. En el día de ayer, el senador de derecha y presidente del senado boliviano, Hormando Vaca Diez, realizaba maniobras de todo tipo para asumir el control del país. Por otra parte, líderes indígenas y grupos de oposición se comprometían a derrocar a Vaca Diez por la fuerza, en caso de que asumiera el poder. A principios de esta semana, el presidente Carlos Mesa renunció en medio de masivas movilizaciones contra su gobierno, posibilitando que Vaca Diez asumiera el poder como su sucesor constitucional. Tras la renuncia, Mesa se unió a los llamados de la oposición para que Vaca Diez y el vocero del Congreso se alejaran y permitieran que el presidente de la Suprema Corte asuma la presidencia y llame a nuevas elecciones. En el día de ayer, Vaca Diez debía reunir al Congreso en La Paz, lo cual fue imposible debido a las protestas masivas. Luego trasladó los legisladores a la capital histórica, Sucre, para lograr que se reunieran, pero una vez más las protestas impidieron que el Congreso sesionara hasta altas horas de la noche. Antes de la reunión, Vaca Diez fue trasladado por fuerzas militares a una base segura, donde anunció que no buscaría la presidencia. Luego de un día lleno de tensiones, que incluyeron la muerte de un manifestante y rumores de un golpe de estado, Eduardo Rodríguez asumió como nuevo presidente. Luego de tomar el juramento para asumir el cargo, el graduado en derecho en Harvard se dirigió brevemente al país. "La democracia y el sentido de unión y paz es el mejor destino para los bolivianos." Escuchábamos al nuevo presidente de Bolivia, Eduardo Rodríguez. Asumió ayer a las 23:47. Tendremos más noticias sobre este tema en un momento.

ONU: Estados Unidos violó derecho internacional
El Secretario General de las Naciones Unidas, Kofi Annan, informó ayer al Consejo de Seguridad que muchos de los seis mil prisioneros detenidos por las fuerzas estadounidenses en Irak sufren violaciones a lo establecido en las Convenciones de Ginebra. Una parte del informe de Annan señala que "el derecho internacional prohíbe la reclusión prolongada sin acceso a abogados y tribunales, incluso en los estados de emergencia".Mientras que la Cuarta Convención de Ginebra permite que las fuerzas de la ocupación detengan a individuos, no hay ninguna disposición que permita la internación luego de que la ocupación finalizó oficialmente.

Jimmy Carter pidió cierre de Guantánamo
Mientras tanto, el ex presidente Carter fue el último funcionario que exigió al gobierno de Bush que cierre la prisión militar en Bahía de Guantánamo, al igual que otras cárceles en el mundo.

Senador Biden y el New York Times: Cierren Guantánamo
Un importante senador demócrata y el New York Times pidieron al gobierno de Bush que cerrara la prisión militar de Bahía de Guantánamo. Joseph Biden, el senador demócrata de mayor jerarquía en la Comisión de Relaciones Exteriores, realizó el pedido el domingo en el programa This Week de ABC. El New York Times condenó a Guantánamo en un editorial del domingo señalando que "es un regalo de propaganda para los enemigos de Estados Unidos, una vergüenza para nuestros aliados, es perjudicial para el sistema judicial estadounidense y una herramienta de reclutamiento muy eficaz para los radicales islámicos, incluyendo futuros terroristas." El viernes por la noche, luego de que los informativos fueran trasmitidos, el Pentágono publicó nuevos detalles sobre los maltratos al Corán en Guantánamo. El Pentágono confirmó que un soldado pateó deliberadamente el libro sagrado de los musulmanes. En otra oportunidad, un interrogador pisó el libro y el Pentágono confirmó al menos otros tres casos en que el libro sagrado fue dañado. En uno de los casos, el Pentágono denunció que el Corán fue mojado con orín luego que un soldado orinara por un tubo de ventilación.

Juez español interrogará tropas estadounidenses por la muerte de Couso
En Madrid, un juez español anunció su intención de interrogar a tres soldados estadounidenses vinculados a la muerte del periodista español José Couso en Irak. El 8 de abril de 2003, un tanque estadounidense abrió fuego en un hotel palestino de Bagdad, asesinando a Couso y a su compañero camarógrafo Taras Protsiuk. Un informe del Pentágono sobre el incidente concluyó que las fuerzas dirigidas por Estados Unidos no son “culpables, ni actuaron con negligencia.” Si bien no se presentaron cargos contra los soldados en España, se los considera sospechosos por crímenes contra la comunidad internacional.

Encuesta: Mayoría de estadounidenses no creen que guerra de Irak haya mejorado seguridad de la nación
Mientras tanto, una nueva encuesta revela que, por primera vez, la mayoría de los estadounidenses no sienten que la guerra de Irak haya logrado que Estados Unidos sea un país más seguro para vivir. La encuesta realizada por el Washington Post y ABC News descubrió que el 75% de la población del país cree que el número de bajas estadounidenses en Irak es inaceptable. Casi 1700 soldados estadounidenses murieron desde que comenzó la guerra y el martes se anunció la muerte de tres soldados más en Tal Afar.

Mayo trágico para reserva estadounidense en Irak
En Irak, el Pentágono reveló que mayo fue el mes en que se registraron en Irak más muertes de hombres y mujeres estadounidenses en servicio militar. Un total de 31 soldados murieron, entre ellos 14 miembros de la Guardia Nacional del Ejército y 12 de la Reserva del Cuerpo de Marines.

AP: Nivel de aceptación más bajo registrado para Bush.
El índice de aprobación del presidente Bush disminuyó al mínimo desde que Associated Press comenzó su encuesta en diciembre de 2003. Solamente el 43 % de los adultos aprueba la gestión de Bush y tan solo el 41 % expresó que apoyaba su manejo de la guerra de Irak.

NEW FEATURE: Democracy Now! is now offering the program's daily news summary translated into Spanish. Los Titulares de Hoy

Miguel: In English, here are ten stories from Democracy Now! that I wanted to highlight.

Conyers to Hold Hearings on Downing Street Memo
Congressmember John Conyers of Michigan has announced that as the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, he has scheduled hearings on the so-called Downing Street Memo and what Conyers calls the administration's "efforts to cook the books on pre-war intelligence." The hearing is scheduled for June 16. Conyers also says that he plans to introduce new documents that back up the accuracy of the Downing Streets memo, which is actually the classified minutes of a July 2002 meeting of Tony Blair and his senior advisers. The minutes paint a picture of an administration that had already committed to attacking Iraq, was manipulating intelligence and had already begun bombing Iraq to prepare for the ground invasion. This was almost a year before the actual invasion officially began. In a statement released yesterday, Conyers said next Thursday's hearing will attempt to answer what he calls "serious constitutional questions raised by these revelations." Among those scheduled to testify are former US ambassador to Iraq Joe Wilson, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son in Iraq and attorney John Bonifaz, who has been calling for Bush's impeachment. Conyers says that immediately following the hearings, he will deliver a petition to the White House signed by over half a million people. The petition demands that President Bush answer questions about his secret plan for the Iraq invasion.

Kennedy and Kerry Raise Downing Street Memo
Now to the Downing Street memo. Coming on the heels of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's visit to Washington this week, momentum is building for a Congressional investigation into new proof that the Bush administration deliberately misled Congress and the UN in the months leading up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The memo, as it is being called, is minutes of a meeting of Tony Blair's top advisers from July 2002 in which they make clear that US officials have told them that the war was a foregone conclusion and that the US had begun escalating its attacks against Iraq, essentially beginning the air war, months before UN or Congress voted on the issue. Earlier this week, Bush was finally asked about it despite the fact that the memo was published more than a month ago by the Sunday Times of London. Here is what Bush said Tuesday when he and Tony Blair held a joint press conference:"Well, you know, I read, kind of, the characterizations of the memo, particularly when they dropped it out in the middle of his race. I'm not sure who "they dropped it out" is, but I'm not suggesting that you all dropped it out there. (LAUGHTER) And somebody said, "Well, you know, we had made up our mind to go to use military force to deal with Saddam. There's nothing farther from the truth. My conversations with the prime minister was how could we do this peacefully, what could we do. And this meeting, evidently it took place in London, happened before we even went to the United Nations -- or I went to the United Nations. And so it's -- look, both of us didn't want to use our military."President Bush speaking on Tuesday. Yesterday, Senator Ted Kennedy became the first senator to raise the issue of the Downing Street Memo in the Senate. In a statement, Kennedy said “The contents of the Downing Street Minutes confirm that the Bush Administration was determined to go to war in Iraq, regardless of whether there was any credible justification for doing so. The Administration distorted and misrepresented the intelligence in its attempt to link Saddam Hussein with the terrorists of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden, and with weapons of mass destruction that Iraq did not have." Kennedy continued, "The Downing Street Minutes also confirm what has long been obvious – that the timing of the war was linked to the 2002 Congressional elections, and that the administration’s planning for post-war Iraq was incompetent in all its aspects. The current continuing crisis is a direct result of that incompetence."Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the other Massachusetts Senator, John Kerry, also addressed the issue. In a statement to the Boston Phoenix newspaper, Setti Warren said, QUOTE "Senator Kerry believes every American deserves a thorough explanation of the Downing Street memo. The Administration and the Washington Republicans who control Congress insult Americans by refusing to answer even the most basic questions raised in this memo about pre-war intelligence and planning for the aftermath of war. That’s unacceptable, especially with the lives of America’s sons and daughters on the line. John Kerry will demand answers in the Senate. Stay tuned."

After Weeks of Mass Rebellion, New President in Bolivia
After weeks of rebellion led by indigenous protesters, Bolivia has a new president. At 11:47 last night, the President of Bolivia's Supreme Court was sworn in after a day marked by massive protest and widespread fears of a bloodbath or a civil war. The situation in the country remains tense but many believe that the worst case scenario has been avoided. Throughout the day yesterday, the right-wing head of the Bolivian Senate, Hormando Vaca Diez, was manuevering behind the scenes and in public to take control of the country. Meanwhile, indigenous leaders and other opposition groups vowed to bring Vaca Diez down by force if necessary if he took power. Earlier this week, President Carlos Mesa resigned amid massive protest against his government, giving Vaca Diez an opportunity to take power as his constitutional successor. After resigning, Mesa joined opposition calls for Vaca Diez and the Speaker of the House to step aside and allow the president of the Supreme Court to assume the presidency and organize new elections. But throughout yesterday, Vaca Diez seemed bent on rejecting those calls and was said to be negotiating with the military. In order to take over Vaca Diez needed to convene the Congress, which he could not do in La Paz because of the massive protests. Yesterday, he moved lawmakers to the historical capitol, Sucre, in an attempt to meet. Again protests prevented that from happening until late last night. Before that meeting happened, Vaca Diez was taken by the military to a secure base, where he announced he would not seek the presidency. After a tense day in which one protest leader was killed and rumors floated of a possible coup d'etat, Eduardo Rodriguez was sworn in. After taking the oath of office, the Harvard Law graduate briefly addressed the country."Democracy and the sense of union and peace is the best destination for Bolivians."Bolivia's new President Eduardo Rodriguez. He was sworn in at 11:47 last night. We'll have more on this in a moment.

UN: US Violating International Law
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan reported to the Security Council yesterday that many of the 6,000 [six thousand] prisoners detained by U.S.-led forces in Iraq are being held in violation of the Geneva Conventions. Annan's report read in part, "Prolonged detention without access to lawyers and courts is prohibited under international law including during states of emergency." While the Fourth Geneva Convention allows occupying forces to detain individuals, there is no provision allowing internment after an occupation has officially ended.

Jimmy Carter Calls For Guantanamo to Be Shut Down
Meanwhile Former President Jimmy Carter has become the latest official to call for the Bush administration to shut down the Guntanamo Bay military prison as well as all other secret prisons around the world.

Sen. Biden & New York Times: Shut Down Guantanamo
A top Democratic Senator and the New York Times have both called for the Bush administration to shut down the Guantanamo Bay military prison. Senator Joseph Biden -- who is the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- made the call Sunday on ABC's This Week. The New York Times condemned Guantanamo in an editorial Sunday saying "It is a propaganda gift to America's enemies; an embarrassment to our allies; a damaging repudiation of the American justice system; and a highly effective recruiting tool for Islamic radicals, including future terrorists." On Friday night -- after the evening news shows had already aired -- the Pentagon released new details on how the Koran had been mishandled at Guantanamo. The Pentagon confirmed that in one instance a soldier deliberately kicked the Muslim holy book. In another case, an interrogator stepped on the book. In addition the Pentagon confirmed at least three other cases where the holy book was damaged at the prison. In one case, the Pentagon claimed a Koran was splashed with urine after a solider urinated through an air vent.

Spanish Judge Seeks To Question U.S. Troops Over Couso Death
In Madrid, a Spanish judge has announced he wants to question three American soldiers connected to the killing of Spanish journalist Jose Couso in Iraq. On April 8th, 2003 a U.S. tank opened fire on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad killing Couso and fellow cameraman Taras Protsiuk. A Pentagon report on the incident concluded the U.S.-led forces bore "no fault or negligence." No charges have been brought yet against the soldiers in Spain but they are being considered as suspects for murder and for crimes against the international community.

Poll: Majority of Americans Feel Iraq War Didn't Make Nation Safer
Meanwhile a new poll shows that for the first time, a majority of Americans no longer feel the Iraq war has made the United States a safer place to live. The Washington Post-ABC News poll also found that seventy-five percent of the country feels the number of U.S. casualties in Iraq to be unacceptable. Nearly 1700 US soldiers have been killed since the war began. The deaths of three U.S. soldiers in Tal Afar was announced on Tuesday.

May Marks Deadliest Month For U.S Reserves In Iraq
In Iraq, the Pentagon has revealed that last month was the deadliest month so far of the Iraq war for part-time U.S. service men and women. A total of 31 died including 14 members of the Army National Guard and 12 from the Marine Corps Reserve.

AP: Lowest Approval Yet for Bush
And President Bush's approval ratings dipped to the lowest point since the Associated Press began its poll in December 2003. Only 43 [forty-three] percent of adults said they approve of the job being done by Bush and just 41 percent said they support his handling of the war in Iraq.

The above is from The Common Ills web site and thanks to C.I. and TCI community member Miguel for their permission to post in full.

The Common Ills has been attempting to get the word out on the new feature at Democracy Now! that provides Headlines in Spanish (in text and audio). Folding Star has noted it at A Winding Road and we wanted to do our part. Speaking for the five of us (Jim, Dona, Jess, Ty and Ava), we could easily do without World News Tonight, Nightly News, etc., but we make it a point to catch Democracy Now! Monday through Friday on the radio (and we do go online if we miss an episode).

We support the strong work that Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, as well as everyone behind the camera and in the control booth, do at Democracy Now! and urge you to get the word out on this new feature offered by Democracy Now! It's an important feature regardless but Ava (who speaks the most Spanish of any of the five of us) thinks it's very important as the Spanish broadcast networks in this country have become less diverse and more likely to act as cheerleaders for the Buly Boy. If you speak, read or comprehend Spanish (Ava: un pequeno o mucho) or you know someone who does, please help get the word out on this new feature offered by Democracy Now! that allows you to read or listen to Headlines each Monday through Friday. Consider it as doing your part to strengthen democracy.

We also want to say "Great choices!" to Miguel because that choices he made from throughout last week are strong ones and we think they flow together and present a strong look at last week.

Double Dog Blog Spotlight: Rebecca to Centrist Ed: I will not eat your shame, I am your worst nightmare

We're doing a "Double Dog Blog Spotlight" this edition because Rebecca (sex and politics and screeds and attitude) had two entries that blew us all away. The first has to do with "Centrist Ed" and we highlight it here. The second is her follow up.

When we discussed this entry with Rebecca, we noted it was the longest thing we'd ever read at her sight before. It was an essay, it was a pamphlet, it was practically the opening three chapters in an manifesto.

Rebecca: (laughing) Womanifesto! Humanifesto! I'm just sick of men who try to tell you what to write. Or how to write. Or ask that an e-mail "to you" be forwarded when they don't even have the balls to address you in the e-mail supposedly "to you."

ed lorenzen feels the need to supposedly write me but really just complain about me to c.i. of the common ills

so i get a call from c.i. 'rebecca, have you checked your e-mail?'not yet today. what's up?seems a ed lorenzen felt the need to kind of, sort of write me.

i say 'kind of, sort of' because with most people pushing 'centerist' thinking, ed can't quite figure out what it is that he wants to do.

i'm reading over it while c.i.'s on the phone and i say, 'isn't this supposed to be to me?'

i mean right there at the start, big ed's saying could you forward this to rebecca?but it's not written to me. it's written to c.i.

i'm in 3rd person in the e-mail supposedly sent to me. such are the zany ways of the 'centerists.'

before i get to the e-mail, i want to go over a few things.

1st my e-mail is up on my profile and has been for some time now. c.i. always forwards things meant for me that are sent to the common ills. that's because c.i. helped me set up this site and felt guilty that the e-mail didn't display at the start. but it does now.

so let me deal with that first.

ed, when you e-mail me, write to me. forwarded or not, take your problem up with me, not with c.i.

i'll deal with it or not as i see fit.

you probably don't realize this, ed, but at the common ills, c.i. gets a lot of e-mail. we spoke a little after mid-day and i said, 'c.i., what's the count on the unread e-mails?' 651.

in the course of a day a thousand or more e-mails will come in at the common ills from members or visitors.

now besides the fact that c.i. does have a life, there's also the fact that members of the common ills, of which i am 1, are in the midst of an election.for that reason, members' e-mails need to take priority right now. while shirley is answering questions about instant run off voting, every question along the lines of 'what does this plank mean?' or 'when is the absolute latest i can send my vote in and have it count?' are going to c.i.'s mail box.

ed, that's on top of the e-mails that members compose where they share something - personal or for the community.

let me repeat, c.i. does have a life.

c.i. also has work and last week alone that mean two flights out of town. twice leaving on a jet plane, twice coming back.

with that and health that is, thank god, improving, c.i. still manages to post several entries a day.

so as a friend of c.i.'s - and i've been a friend since before this blog or the common ills - i'm saying don't plead your case to c.i.

as a community member of the common ills, i'm frankly wondering why you wrote me in the 1st place.

like the common ills, i am of the left, not of the 'center.'

you're bothered by an entry that's old, really old. now look, i love all my fans and readers. even the slow 1s. even the really slow 1s. but ed's upset about an entry from april 3rd and my calender on the wall says it's june 6th. somebody want to explain that to me?

ed, and this is most important, you're clogging up the community pipeline.

i asked c.i. 'did you write him back?'

no.good for c.i. i hope the plan to stick to writing only those who need a reply stays because otherwise there won't be any posts at the common ills anymore with the rate the e-mail keeps increasing.

but ed, you didn't write me. you wrote c.i. you vented and griped. now if you were a common ills member, i'd say nothing. lots of people e-mail c.i. to vent about something going on in the world. but really now, who are you to write c.i. and gripe about me?

did you think you'd get a papal blessing?

or a presidential pardon?

or maybe you just thought c.i. would clamp down on me.

c.i. saved a reply to you to draft. i said, 'send it my way.' so while we're on the phone i'm reading it and c.i. writes 'rebecca can write whatever she wants.'amen.

here's the reason c.i. called, ed's mother has had some health issues. i won't go into them here because c.i. asked me not to. but ed, if it hurt you that bad that i asked obvious questions (does your mommy cut your hair, do you still sit on the phone book?), i'll say 'i'm sorry.'

i hope your mother gets well.

now tell me ed, is your next issue going to be that you had an aversion to fashionable hair cuts?

will you next tell me how mean i am (or tell c.i. and ask that it be forwarded to me) because when you were a little boy, while everyone else was playing cops & robbers, you were in the sandbox playing 'let's privatize social secuirty' and therefore my comments on social security touched on an issue with you?

i didn't insult your mother. i did insult your hair cut. now maybe you want to go through life looking like an overgrown d.j. tanner from roseanne. hey, emo phillips has, maybe you could pursue stand up?

i thought your e-mail was pretty sad, ed. it couldn't have been more sad if you'd written 'does rebecca not know that i grew up in an orphanage and never knew my mother!'

to quote a line from sleep with me, i don't know you from the beginning, edsie, i only know you from the middle. that would be when you decided privatize, privatize! tag sale on social security!

you're sometimes bothered by my 'personal attacks' and at other times less so. (but note to his fellow fence sitters at, he never takes a moment to defend any of you.)

but what's coming through loud and clear from your e-mail is this: 'i would have been fine if she'd just debated policies with me! i enjoy that! that's what she should do! that's how it is done.'

good for you that you enjoy it. we all need a hobby.

but maybe you missed that it would be hard to debate your half-baked policy recommendations from your presidential commission report since you refuse to allow quotes for it. (as i noted in my april 3rd post.) oh sure, you post it online. but, as i said on april 3rd, you play the riaa coming down on napster saying 'do not quote!' now if i can get your permission, i can quote from it.

you say you read my entry from april 3rd. so if you were taking all the trouble to write me (or write c.i. to bitch about me), you could have taken a moment to say 'tell rebecca i give permission to quote from that report and then we can have a real debate.' you didn't do that, did you ed?

but, and pay attention to this part, i don't have to do what you want me to.

somewhere along the way you decided that every 1 must behave as you do.

you are mistaken. again.

to pull a c.i., 'in fairness.' in fairness to ed, i will note that his photo i commented on was taken at a very stressful time in his life. i'm sorry that it was a stressful time. but ed, let's go over some of what i wrote about you (directly or indirectly):

which brings us to eddie lorenzen who might want to be called 'big ed' but would have to first give up that peter pan, bowl cut hair do. does mommy still cut your hair in the kitchen, eddie? are you a big enough boy now that you don't need to sit on a phone book while mommy cuts your hair? horizontal striped tie, blue shirt with vertical white stripes and what appears to a dark shade of pea green jacket (maybe it just needs dry cleaning?) you're look is all you ... because no one else would have it.
folks, these are the fashion disasters who want to steer our party to the right. they'd be kicked out of applebeas but somehow they think they can be power players in d.c. it's sad. looking at them. real sad.

do you get the point? none of you dresses well. none of you's a fashion plate or has a good haircut. i looked at your photos, which your organization elected to post online, and noted how out of it you all dressed. guess what, ed, women can talk about fashion and haircuts. feminists can. it may not fit your stereotype of feminism (which i'm sure is negative) but we can do that. and some of us do.

ed, i didn't start a blog to be a wonk (or a wonkette).

i started this site to speak my mind.

that's what i do hear.

i don't claim to be 'miss manners.'

ed, what kind of site did you think you were going to when you saw sex and politics and screeds and attitude?

i mean, come on now.

as i've noted, and kat has as well, the common ills is very in on college campuses. they get a variety of readers (some of whom become members). me, i'm popular on the high school campuses. i get a vareity of readers (i have no members). but more and more, that's where my audience comes from.

where does your audience come from? people steered to you from the new york times that presents your group as a democratic 1? (we covered that april 3rd - they are non-partisan.)maybe you walk on egg shells but i don't.

'screeds,' ed, it's in the title. so is 'attitude.'

here i talk about sex. i do my sexual analysis of men. i talk about politics. i talk about fashion. i talk about hot guys. (no, ed, you didn't come up because you were hot.) and mainly, i talk about who you should trust and who you shouldn't.

blue-dog dem that you are, i would never tell my audience to trust you.

you want your policy debate.

guess what, ed? i don't.

i don't want to waste time going over your 'destroy social security' plans. your ilk has been pushing the unfounded notions that social security is on the verge of disaster for over a decade now. it's a nice myth, ed, but it's not reality. you can check out the daily howler for reality about social security.

i'm guessing you supported the invasion, am i right ed? i didn't.

you're probably still stumbling around on your hands and knees like scooby doo's velma trying to find her glasses. only you're trying to find that center road. keep looking, ed.

i'm guessing you're trying to find that 'common ground' on abortion as well.

now maybe all the ladies in your life (don't write me to tell me that your wife, girlfriend or anyone else is sick) (and don't write c.i.) nod and say 'good for you, big bad ed.' i don't.

i'm your worst nightmare, eddie, i'm the woman you can't control.

i'm the woman you can't shut up.

i'm the woman who doesn't waste her time assuring you that it does happen to every man. that it's not really a problem.

i'm the bad girl you fantasied about but knew was way out of your league in high school.

sure you'd get your rocks off cruising my tits at the pool during summer break, but you knew you couldn't speak to me. maybe that's why you spoke to c.i. about me?

ed, i've done entries here on michael phelps' sexy butt crack.

you think you and I have common ground? not unless you're gay. (if you're gay, please write back. i love talking the male body with gay men or straight women. hell, i love talking sex with any of my readers regardless of the parties involved.)

ed, i am your nightmare.

i will not vote for whatever 'centerist' you push in the primary. i won't donate to them either.

ed, in the words of a carly simon song, 'i'm no virgin' - does that shock you?

i wasn't a virgin when i married. i continue to have sex now that i'm divorced. and i use birth control and don't fret that i'm going to hell.

again, i'm your nightmare.

i'm the woman who won't eat your shame.

i'm the woman who won't back down.

i'm the woman who belives her place isn't in the back room or 2 steps behind a man.

i'm the woman who's front and center and in your face calling you on your shit.

i don't play nicely in the sandbox with those who want to destroy social security or dismantle a woman's right to privacy.

i don't tolerate the right's attacks on america and i won't tolerate the actions of people who want to aid them.

again, i'm sorry about your mother. i hope she's better.

but you lack sincerity with regards to a real debate since you refuse to allow people to quote from your posted online report (without permission!) and you write, supposedly to me, to say that you long for a debate.

you don't.

but that's cool because i'm not interested in debating you.

i'm only interested in alerting my readers to the fact that your organization isn't for those of us on the left.

i'll offer you a tip as well, if you're having a bad day when it's time to take pictures (apparently every 1 in your group was), you say 'no, just run an old photo.'

as for the way i speak or don't speak, guess what, if i'm the first woman who's ever made fun of your chili-bowl haircut (at your age! no less), then you haven't heard many women's conversations. trust me, your haircut's been discussed by women in your life, whether you've heard them or not.

this is my space. i come on here, i talk about what ever interests me at the moment. and i speak the same way i do when i'm talking to my girl friends. that's why i will talk about sex here. i'm not embarrassed to. women do talk about sex, ed. not just on hbo, but in real life.and we will talk about hair cuts as well. and clothes.

you can call that gossiping or dishing but it's as valid as a steroetypical male talking sports statistics or how a game went.

and i've talked about sports here, ask sherry. we talk about our mighty cornhusker and the joy of seeing him and the cornhusk move around in those red shorts.

that's what i do here.

we'll talk about issues as well and i said everything i needed to say on social security some time ago. but you weren't mentioned in that entry so it didn't interest you - and they say women are vain!

all you were interested in was letting me know that you had a bad patch and there wasn't time to get a good haircut.

ed, take it from me, you've posted that photo online, it was a mistake. take a new photo. or put up an old 1. you're not helping your 'centerist' cause with those bad photos.

i am sorry you had a bad patch. i do hope it's improved.but don't write c.i. about what you think i should have written.

i'll write what i damn well please.

to my readers who've had to suffer through this long post, you know this is a topic i've gone over before. some guy discovers the site and feels the need to write in with tips of what i need to talk about or how i should talk about it.

a lot of men have a really inflated sense of self. (ladies, straight ladies, a lot of that is our fault. we've done way too much stroking and i don't just mean egos.) that's why they think they can come along and say 'you can talk about this but do it my way.'

that's not how it works, little ed.

not here.

maybe in your world every woman bows and scrapes. (if that is the case, hopefully - like celie in the color purple - they're planning their own revolt against mister.)

maybe maxi shoulder pads in your group chuckles at every 1 of your 'jokes.' she has a queen bee look to her so i wouldn't be surprised. (please, talk to her about those shoulder pads -- the 80s did not have a come back!)

you can talk however you want. i'll note it here if i want to. but i don't fire off e-mails telling you how you should talk or what you should talk about.

but then i'm not a man who thinks he can push women around.

this is my space. if you don't like it, don't read it.

i started to post ed's e-mail in full because i'm sick of men feeling the need to share how i need to speak or what i need to say. because it went through c.i.'s inbox 1st, i won't. this time.

but ed, you don't like my site, you don't like the way i talk. what are you doing reading me anyway? is it vanity or are you one of those timid types who come here for the sex talk but can't cop to it?

quit thinking it's okay to tell women how to write. it's not. i'm not maureen dowd, i don't need a daddy mentor. i'll say what i want the way i want.

this is only your 2nd mention at this site.

i felt the need to warn my readers that despite what the times said, your middle of the road org. wasn't a democratic 1. it's full of republican and democratic refugees from the cultural wars. the people who are always the 1st to sell out women's rights in my opinion.

i don't support that.

i firmly support a woman's right to choose. i firmly support a woman's right to never have to explain that choice. not to a judge and certainly not to some middle of the roader.

ed, i hope you don't end up road kill. playing in the middle of the road puts you at that risk.

but i hope, even more, that you learn you don't control women. or, at least, you don't control this 1.

again, i'm your worst nightmare. i won't be brow beaten. i won't be shamed. i won't be silent.

next time you want to recommend writing tips, wait to be asked.

i know i'll hear from female bloggers on this. i do every time i write on this topic. ed, a lot of us are sick of this crap. of men coming along trying to tell us what to say and how to say it.

go play with your bull mooses (meeses?) and any 1 else who wants to betray what this country stands for. but i'm not ready to act out margaret atwood's a handmaid's tale, even though you appear ready to direct the production.

chip away at social security, women's reproductive rights and whatever you want to somewhere else but don't expect me to play along.

stick to your wonky circles, on the outside peering in - i'm sure - and i'll stick to speaking my truth here, the way i choose to.

i'll decide what's 'unwise' for me to write about and what isn't.

i didn't ask for your advice.

i'm especially pissed that you involved c.i. in this because that strikes me as cowardly. you can claim you couldn't find the e-mail address. but there's no excuse for an e-mail supposedly to me that says 'ms. winters' did this or 'ms. winters' did that.

you go into your personal problems. c.i.'s recovering for surgery. so maybe it's 'unwise' for you to dump all this crap on c.i.? to present your problems with me to c.i.? maybe instead you could have written to me in this way:

i couldn't find ms. winter's address, so please forward this to her. ms. winters, i am offended by your statements _____ and _____ and ____. i think it is unwise for you to write in that manner. policy debates are what i enjoy so i think in the future you should stick to discussing those.

you didn't write me. you wrote c.i. you ran to c.i. and tried to hide behind c.i.

if you thought you were going to have some 1 on your side, you were wrong.

the fact is that c.i. and i go way back. even when we disagree, and we do disagree from time to time, we do not turn on each other.

maybe you didn't realize how far back c.i. and i go? well then perhaps it was 'unwise' of you to write that e-mail? perhaps you shouldn't whine about me to my friends?

you asked that it be forwarded. it was. because you mentioned your mother (and because c.i.'s mother passed away a few years back), c.i. phoned me to make sure i read the e-mail.

i asked c.i. 'do you think i need to apologize?' c.i. said 'you need to speak in your voice about what you believe.' guess that didn't work out quite the way you wanted, did it?

i have disagreed with c.i. here (and in roundtables at the third estate sunday review) and it's never been a problem between us. it's never resulted in directions of what i need to do or how i can be more effective. see, some people just want people to speak in their own voices. others, such as yourself, want to play gatekeeper and tell me what i can write and how i can write it.

i wonder how many men your centerist organization writes to with advice on how to discuss something? i can't imagine it's very many. but you see 'rebecca winters' and apparently think, 'oh i can offer advice because i'm a man.'

all you'll get from me is that i hope your mother is better. on the issue of what i should say and what i shouldn't, your organization is online. why don't you make up a list for women of what they should and shouldn't say? that ought to get you a lot of traffic from other men who think women just don't know what to say or how to say it until a big, strong man comes along to tell her how it's done.

you don't like what i wrote.

readers, ed didn't like what i wrote. there i've informed them of that. not that i have to.

ed thinks i need to stick policy discussions.

i don't.

and let's point out something else, ed wrote me, i didn't write him.

obviously, my writing got to ed. which means on at least some level it was effective.

but see, that's why, dear readers, exists. to try and silence the voices that people respond to on the left so that they, the center, and the right can dominate the discussion.

i won't be dominated.

no 1 will give me orders on what i write or how i write it.

i'd post something in my heading like 'this is conversations from the ladies' room' except that would exclude some of my really great readers like wally who aren't threatened by a woman speaking her mind in her way.

so i guess i'll have to continue to put up with the boys who want to play the big man by telling some woman what to write about and how.

i'm of the left, ed. you're in the sandlot with republicans. when they play rough, don't come crying to me. i won't kiss your wounds or pretend you were working to protect my rights.

centerists are the 1st to sell out sell our our right to choose, you sell out our right to be heard. you reduce our issues to 'special interests.' check the electorate, ed, we are the majority. we aren't a special interest.

and, not that you asked, i do quite well. i have readers. i have people who respond to what i write. you aren't 1. well then you've learned something, you shouldn't read what i write.

although i wasn't able to discuss your presidential report (because 1 needs permission to quote from it), i did provide a link to it. i'd argue that was much more fair than anything the centrists do. but i never promised to play fair.

my only promise here is to speak in a strong voice and defend a woman's right to choose and a woman's right to be heard. i'm a feminist ed, not some adult woman calling herself a 'girl' and giggling each time a man manages to string three or more words together.

my heroes are people like gloria steinem, jane fonda, alice walker, maxine hong kingston, sandra cisneros, janeane garofalo, robin morgan and the margarets (cho and atwood). i doubt you or your oganziation could make a supportive statement about any of those women without a 'qualifier' or 2. that's what comes from being in the middle and obsessing over what some 1 might think about you.

each of those women had to learn what all women should learn, that we have to be true to ourselves. i'm being true to myself. (which isn't to suggest that my writing is on the level of any of the ladies above.) i owe them that because of all i have learned thanks to their examples.

i owe you nothing.

if you'd made your e-mail about how i hurt your feelings, i'd be more receptive. but when you felt the need to weigh in on how i should write and what about, you blew your right to a fair hearing. especially since you were unable to speak to me directly but instead elected to direct your comments to c.i. and ask that your comments to c.i. be forwarded to me.

it's so strange that 'civil' in your world includes attempting to dictate how things will be done.

that's not 'civil' that's controlling.

again, ed, i am your nightmare. accept it.

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